It’s been a while, but I previously posted a bit on how the voices in your head sometimes take over your story. Oh, wait, I just said what this entire post is about. Rats.Continue reading “Character Hijackery Part II”
I’m working on my third million dollars. Yes, I gave up on the previous two…Continue reading “Finishing Things”
Damn their eyes, these characters!
They say things you didn’t expect, do things you didn’t think of, steal your gosh darn story right out from under you.Continue reading “Character Thievery”
I grew up in the pre-digital age, spending many an early adolescent hour at the worktable, building plastic model kits. Airplanes and ships – those were my specialties…
Wait, wait, wait… don’t go skipping away thinking this is some nostalgic, back-when-I-was-a-kid kind of thing. Just hang tight for just another couple of paragraphs or so and you’ll see that this applies to you – yes you.Continue reading “The Curse of the Black Falcon”
So, here we are at Year Five, the Year of Independence. This is the goal, the island to which we’ve charted our five year course, the one thing we’ve focused on and worked on and planned on.
So, like, what is year five?Continue reading “Five Years to Independence: Year Five – the Year of Independence”
Here’s something you hadn’t thought about. Think about this: you’re a writer, you know how it goes. You live in words. A well chosen word is worth a thousand pictures.
If you’re like me (you have my pity) you find yourself working more and more on the tiny keyboard of your phone. It’s so easy to just jot down ideas.
However. Howevuh. How Ev Er.Continue reading “A Penny at a Time”
Welcome to year three of the Five Years to Independence program. Or system, or scheme, or deal… what it’s called isn’t as important as what it is. What’s in a name?
Name notwithstanding, this is not a self-help program, or a get rich quick scheme. This is just a different way to view the road you’ve traveled, and to adjust your thinking to find success in the way ahead.
Here’s something I hadn’t considered but is true: although this program is meant to help you if you know you’re talented, have spent your life hiding from it, but now realize you must become who you are, this scheme actually works if you’re living on your talents, but want to move up to a higher plateau. I know this because I developed this thing to turn my own life around, and am now using it again to further my products (the novels Droppington Place and Marigold’s End). You marketers: did you see this shameless plug? Shameless.
Year one, as we recall, was the Year of No Regrets, in which you stopped whacking yourself upside the head for not having explored your talents when you were younger. You changed the way you looked at the past, recognizing that the road you took led you to this new road.
Year two was the Year of Confidence, in which you viewed yourself as the creative talent you know yourself to be. If you dance, in this year you become a dancer, or a writer, or a painter, or a videographer. The Year of Confidence is the year in which you stop hiding behind the ordinary to finally be the extraordinary person that you are.
The secret behind these two years of mind-changing is that you were also practicing your art: working on your talent, albeit behind closed doors. You did this so that, when you announce to the cosmos that you ARE a singer, you’ve been singing for at least as year. That’s the keystone to this whole project: stop hiding from your talent, stop regretting that you’ve waited so long, and USE IT!
If we do a bit of math… let’s see, carry the one… that brings us to Year Three: The Year of Accomplishment.
Here is where the chicken hits the road. In this year, we move our art from inside ourselves out into the world. Yes, into the world.
Years ago I worked for a major international bank, helping people find solutions to their mortgage problems. The management catchphrase in use there was “if you didn’t document it, it never happened.” Essentially, if no one saw the transaction, it never took place.
In my revision of myself, I realized that a writer who thinks about writing but doesn’t do it is not a writer – he’s a thinker. A writer writes.
But that’s not quite right, is it? If I wrote beautiful poems every day, but kept them hidden in a closet, or burned them, is that writing? A writer’s work needs to be read, just as a painting needs to be seen and a song needs to be heard. A song sung to one’s self may be beautiful, but does not further one’s career.
So, this year, we stop singing to ourselves, and we put our talent out there. Out there on the world stage, come what may.
The glory of this age in which we live is that you now, finally, have a world stage at your fingertips. Now you can do your stand-up before a world audience – every nation in the world can see you dance, hear your song, read your words.
That’s an accomplishment, to get your work out there into the world. I’ve advocated doing that throughout the previous two years, if you’re brave enough. If you haven’t been brave enough to do it before, then this is the year you overcome that fear and let ‘er rip.
So, here’s how I faced my fear of the World Stage: It’s a busy place, with a hundred million voices all clamoring for their moment in the sun. Being one in a hundred million is a pretty safe, anonymous place to be. (For example, my books (see the shameless plug, above) are out there, waiting to be read. and have only sold 17 copies so far). That’s a nice comfort. On the other hand, I’ve sold 17 books so far, which means that a shaft of sunlight DID shine on my work, at least 17 times.
So, that’s your job this year. Put yourself out there, either in the safe and comfortable way of YouTube or Instagram, or, as I did, pushing my online published work to literary agents (can you spell “rejection letter?”).
Do it. Don’t hide from it. If no one sees your dance, how can you become known to the world as a dancer? Don’t forget, that’s the point of this whole exercise.
You’re a talented individual who has hidden from that talent all your life. You can keep hiding, or you can become who you really are.
“Be brave, little Piglet.” Owl’s stentorian tone emboldens little Piglet to hold on and endure the flood of the Hundred Acre Wood, according to A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh.
You and I, we must be brave. What is talent, except the bravery to do the unusual, isn’t it? The talented have a vision, a world view, that needs to be shared.
You’re talented. Let’s get out there and share it!
This is really long-winded, I realize, but it’s important.
Ideally, by the end of the Year of Accomplishment, you’ve exhibited your talent in a place that will get you noticed. Ideally, that shaft of sunlight will illuminate your work, and you’re on your way.
The first time I ran this program, my Year of Accomplishment took two years, at the end of which I made the leap from under-employed customer service rep/novelist to technical writer/novelist. I became a writer.
I’m in another round of the program, with the goal of accomplishing the title change from technical writer/novelist to novelist/technical writer. I’m in year two of that accomplishment. The accomplishment will be to get seriously published: that’s a big one.
Like the speed limit on the freeway, the five-year structure of this program is just a suggestion: it may take you seven years, or six months.
Thanks for staying with me. Two more years to go!
If you’re just tuning in, this series of posts is about a self-improvement (ick, I hate that term) a self-developmental program that I’ve put myself through twice (yes, twice) which I call Five Years to Independence. If you follow the steps, yes it takes a long time, and no, no harm will come to you, and, in the end, you’ll feel better about your talents, and will find yourself accomplished in your field.
This plan works for you if you are not currently using your chosen talent to support yourself. If, for example, you are a fine painter, but you spend your days checking tax returns for a living, this plan is for you. I myself spent half of my life trapped in a succession of customer service positions before I figured this out.
Year One was all about not looking back, about honoring the road you’ve chosen so far in life. Although it hasn’t led you to success in using your talents, it has led you here.
And here is where we begin Year Two – The Year of Confidence.
Although this year is about self-confidence, it’s not the point. The point is that this year you express, believe, and totally embrace confidence in your talent. Whatever it is.
If you dance, this year you are a dancer. If you write, this year you are a writer. If you act… and so on and so forth.
This is the year in which you give yourself permission to be who you really are. You stop making excuses as to why you’re not that person: you be that person.
It takes a lot of courage to stop thinking of your talent as “well, you know, I dabble in watercolor,” and to instead refer to yourself as a painter. But that’s what this year is all about: courage.
One of the key parts of last year, the Year of No Regrets, was that, while you stopped kicking yourself for never having trusted your talent, you also worked in your art. You wrote, danced, sang, built a resume, even if only you saw it, which says Yes, I Am That Artist.
So, in fact, you are that artist. You write/dance/sing/act/paint. Whether anyone has seen it or not is immaterial. There is now artwork in the world, which you created. Artwork, by its very definition, is created by an artist. And that’s you.
Now, if you skipped the working part of the first year, it’s okay. Start working now. Now. Don’t put it off, or you’re wasting your time.
So, yes, that is who you are, but it does take some courage to admit it. You don’t have to go get new business cards. You need to tell your heart of hearts every single moment of every single day that you are a practicing artist. If you doubt yourself, look at the work you’ve accomplished.
If you are a performance artist, your road is both more difficult and more rewarding. A painter’s painting is a forever thing, but that moment when you catch the audience’s heart – that is fleeting. If you’ve ever done it, you feel it in your soul. For you to practice your art, you need to put yourself in front of an audience so you can pursue and perfect those moments. It’s harder, because you need to be cast in role – I recommend acting classes, either in workshops or for college credit, or both. Community Theater is always a very useful option. But it is so rewarding, because those little moments are such emotional highs. I know, spoken like a true actor. Funnily enough, I chose writing instead.
So, do you now what to do here in Year Two? Be it. Live it. Stop dreaming of it and become it.
So, here is my caveat about the Five Years to Independence: you have to define success. You don’t quite see my name on billboards, or find my novels at Barnes and Noble (yet).
Here’s how the plan has worked for me: I spent literally twenty-eight years in the customer service industry. Starting as a simple rep, I worked my way up through the ranks until I was a corporate director. When that company was sold, I moved on to become a partner in a service business, where my primary function was customer service. All the while, I dabbled in acting, in voice-over, in writing. The Great Recession crashed my business, and I found myself working part time at Bank of America helping people negotiate their failed mortgages.
It was then that I started this program, having built it as I went, and figured out who I really was, and what I wanted to be. I wrote my brains out in the Year of No Regrets, and sold my work for pennies to a number of online publishing sites. In that year, I became a writer.
In the next year, I decided to focus on a practical use for my writing, and learned how to be a technical writer. In the summer of that year, I got myself hired as a full time technical writer.
That, to me, is a huge success. I make my living, pay my bills, support my family, through my art as a writer. I no longer say that I dabble in writing – I do it every single day. It’s not prose or poetry, but it’s my art. And I love it.
To be sure, there’s much more to come – I have two novels, Droppington Place and Marigold’s End, that I’m marketing right now (for you marketers out there, did you notice how I slyly built two links right into this post? I know, I know, brilliance at it’s best).
The caveat, then, is that you must define your success. Getting to where you want to be requires mapping a road. Now that you are confident as an artist, you need to start thinking about where you can ply your trade.
That comes next, in the Year of Accomplishment!
You’re a writer, you know how it goes. You settle on a project, or maybe two, and you burn the midnight candle until it’s just a smoldering stub, and you tell everybody what your project is and how it’s your end-all-be-all raison d’etre and stuff…
But it isn’t. You fight the words and wrangle them into place. You beat yourself silly trying to find that structure, that style that sets you apart.You work until your mind bleeds to find the description that’s never been made.
But it doesn’t come.
It’s all the same hack.
I know. I’ve been hacking at the same project for, like, ever…
What to do, oh what to do.
Here’s something terrible that I shouldn’t tell you, but maybe you’ll see it.
I invented a producer, my writing boss. I gave her, (she’s a she) the complete and total task of managing my writing.
With Sydney (her name’s Sydney) in charge, I can mentally offload the task of managing my production to her. It sounds crazy, and I’m certain that is, but it has made my writing much easier.
Sydney’s a breeze to work for, because she doesn’t really exist, which means she hardly ever yells at me!
Yes, it’s nice to have a boss in the writing biz, even though, and I know you’ll agree, it’s crazier than a bag of wieners.
Now I just have to figure out to hit her up for a raise!
Stand by to eject bathwater on my mark.
Standing by, sir.
The bathwater is terminated.
Nice shooting, Lieutenant.
Roger that. The baby is outta here. Repeat: the baby is out of here.
Big ten four. Stand by for towelage.
Uh, negatory. Sorry. No can do.
Disregard that. Stand by to commence towelage on my mark.
Uh, sorry, skipper. No can do.
All hands, stand by. What’s with this gloomy Gus guff, Lieutenant. I believe I gave you an order.
Ten four on that, skipper. But, we don’t have, a, well…
Don’t tell me you ran out of towels.
Negative, sir. It’s just that, well, we ejected the baby with the bathwater.
Mongo Santamaria! You’re telling me we tossed the kid out the window?
Like a bullet, sir.
Well, there goes the towelage. All hands, prepare for battle stations. Angry mom at eight o’clock!
It turns out, writing a book is great fun. And it is great fun. Even though your imaginary friends, all those little voices in your head, drag you through the very depths of despair and pain and agony, the fact that you share that with them, that you are a witness to their travails – is an honor and a delight.
Oh, sure. That’s the cat’s pajamas, that part. Like ice cream for dinner every night of the week. Best of all, you tell all your friends that writing is the pits, it’s the worst – you feel like a zombie…hour after hour, typing, thinking, scribbling, coffee, beer, whatever. While, actually, your inner you goes “teehee, this is the best!”
Welp. The party’s over. They ate the pretty balloons. It’s crying time again, and you’re gonna leave me – I can see that faraway look in your eyes. Why must we get offa this cloud?
BECAUSE I PUBLISHED MY BOOK!!!
Yes, there is one more moment of glee, and that is when you join the Club of Shakespeare. All the world is a willing audience, hungry for your written words, longing for your thoughts, your ideas… and, once the book is published… Yo, lookit me, feedin’ the masses!
It’s a cerebral joy, and stunningly short-lived. I found no Disney at my door. Discovered Dreamworks dreaming of someone else. Ran across Random House randomly choosing someone else’s house.
No, the party’s over. Now comes the drudgery, the mind-numbing torture, of figuring out how to market this darned thing for real. It’s no longer a game, or a funny idea. Now it’s work, work, work, to get this product sold and out, into the sunshine where it belongs.
What? What’s that? How can you find it? Well, bless your generous soul, you have come to the right place. Let me pull your chair closer to the fire. Move it, dog. Make way for this most spectacular person.
Because you are you, and you’re a friend, I’ll let you have the book…for free!
No strings attached. Freebie. You go. Although, if you found it in your heart to write a dazzling review, I’m sure no one would be opposed to that…
Find DROPPINGTON PLACE here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/618049
Now, this is important: type in the coupon code NJ38D. When you do, the most wonderful book you’ll download with your free coupon will be yours – for free!!!
Of course, you could also visit the author’s site, PhineasCaswell.com.
Now, to find that baby…