Monday, October 31, 2011

My Project List: In Brief


My projects. I keep thinking about them as they build and multiply. Pretty soon I need to actually get one of them to a stage of completeness so I can publish.

A quick rundown of what I’m working on:
  • Family history book about the camp where my wife’s family gathers every summer and which plays such a central role in the lives successive generations. This is meant as a personal project that I would act as the editor more than writer and I hope to have it complete in the spring. All the proceeds are to go to research for Parkinson’s disease in honor of my wife’s grandmother who recently passed.
  • I’m working on the possibility of gathering and expanding my blog posts to the point where I can put them into book form. Not sure about this one which is very speculative at this point. Not sure if I have enough highlights in my blog so far to turn into book format.
  • I’ve been working on a non-fiction book called Yes Dear about home improvement projects. This one is going slow.
  • Then there is the main fiction book that I’m working on that tentatively calling The Hunt about four troubled teens who runaway from a group home in search of a bobcat. It’s more exciting than it sounds and this is the one I really hope turns out well.


Then there are the short stories. I have one that is a post- apocalyptic story that is really exciting- though it is threatening to become more than a short story despite my best intentions. I feel a little overwhelmed.

That is my quick review. More tomorrow.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ten Part Rant On A Sunday Morning


First snow this morning, and though there are a couple of inches at my house, the short ten miles between my house and work is far enough that there is nothing on the ground as I sit at my office desk. I came in at six on a Sunday morning after looking outside at home and saw the snow covering my walkway. I put on clothes and got ready for work on my day off, thinking that the walkways here would be equally snow covered.

They are not.

Truck, work, snow. Damn.
The wind is blowing off the lake with a fury and there is snow falling. It just isn’t sticking to the ground. So after after a long ride in this morning behind a snowplow that may have touched twenty miles per hour once when going down hill, I wait and wonder what to do besides eating a five day old doughnut and drinking the awful coffee that is provided for free here at work.

(Can I just say that sometimes free sucks? We get free coffee at work, and we eat for free at the campus dining hall. Both experiences are generally terrible but because both are free, it is difficult to complain. What can you say, really? This is terrible! I demand better! Then some smart ass will point out that you can just reach into your pocket and pay for better. True. But I think I reasonably low standards when it comes to food- the half eaten doughnut in my hand should be proof of that- and so it is demoralizing that finding myself faced with a standard even I have trouble tolerating, that complaining is taken from me as well. Funny how the big wigs can screw you even when they give you something for free.)

First snow, which here is just strong wind, cold, and soggy ground.

Second annoyance is Blogger, which for some reason has stopped tracking page views for individual posts. No point in having a top ten list of posts on my blog if I can’t track popular posts. You know, that sucks, too.

Thirdly. (Step away now if you haven’t already because I’m not sure I can stop.) Thirdly, I have three more weekends left before my New Zealand trip and as the weather is going, I’m not sure that is enough time to get my shed built. Too many damn projects, not enough time.

Number four. After thirdly, the numbers just sound stupid by adding the ly, when before they sounded cool and that sucks.

Fifthly (see?). It’s still dark and it’s almost seven in the morning.

Number six on the annoyance list. I am still trying to carve out time to get my editorial calendar up and running. So far my calendar has added headaches instead of relieved them. I can now see my inadequacies and the tremendous amount of work ahead of me.

Seven. I watched part of Twilight with the wife last night and having never seen it before, or read the books, it crushes me that someone with so little talent, judging by the half hour or so of the movie I saw and the accompanying story (if it can be called that), has managed to make so much money. What business do I want to join where so much garbage is rewarded and so much that is truly special, left ignored? There has to be better written vampire stories than the one I saw. Has to be.

Am I on eight? Yes. I have to write a style guide for my blog. Having never done so, I have tension. Anxiety. A confused furrow lives almost permanently on my brow, potentially marring what little is left to my looks.

Nine. Candy temptation is too great at this time of year. I have trouble dealing with my own impulses without having to worry about mass impulse control problems. If I have a candy addiction, so be it, but when millions of people are sharing the same addiction- well that just sucks even more. How can I escape when everyone has secret stashes of candy that guilt makes them share or their perverse need to thrust addiction onto those around in an attempt to assuage their inadequacies?

Tenthly. This sounds like a cantankerous Andy Rooney tribute piece. That sucks.

And I’m done. Deep breath, count to three, do a mental check and yes, back to normal- only twelve degrees out of plumb as usual.

Now for the snow...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Editorial Calendar For The Organized Writer


Am I a tease? I keep saying I’m going to write about an editorial calendar, and everyday I write about something else and only allude to this editorial calendar thingy. (Feel like I should have slipped and used the word ‘elude’, but that’s really extraneous and hardly worth anyone’s time, and just because it struck my fancy, it doesn’t excuse the colossal waste of time that this run-on sentence has so far been and continues to be.)

I’m rather exhausted, but since I’m here and have this keyboard in front of me and have not suffered a recent head trauma that has rendered me unable to recognize the alphabet and basic rules of grammar, well, I might as well jump into things, right?

I tend to ramble. I easily lose focus. I won’t go so far as to say that shiny objects become my entire existence when spotted, but my interest is easily bought, you might say. I will gladly abandon a project when there is something more interesting to do and so finer, more tedious details, they lead me astray more often than not.

I’m a serial unfinisher. (Can I in good conscience use such a stupid made up word like unfinisher? Ah, I’m too lazy to reword or erase. So move on.)

Will all this rambling, this tendency to abandon projects, to leave things unfinished, I knew I needed to rein myself in somehow.

My first inclination was to write things down in a notebook, to track blog ideas, to schedule posts, to chronicle design changes. The biggest problem, folks? My handwriting has seen a steady decline in readability since I was twelve, and at this point in my life, I can usually read one of every three (and most of that just from memory because I know what I wrote).

Then I tried excel. I’m not that guy. Wish I were, but using and creating are separated by a vast gulf and I’m not inclined to leap. So I kind of stayed cool. Until my New Zealand trip was a looming reality and I knew I had to get my shit together and fast. Back to google and to my wonder, someone actually designed exactly the thing I envisioned. And as it turns out, the concept of the editorial calendar has been around for awhile and is widely used and (this is really disappointing) yet again, I wasn’t as innovative and original as I had thought.

The editorial calendar is a well-used tool for writers. I found a great template at Reach Customers Online created by Tim Slavin. I modified it a bit and then my wife, who uses spreadsheets all day tracking info for the autism program she runs, made it pretty, adding colors and such. I’m sure the colors will add value and is probably lost on my guy brain but subtly I will be affected and end up more productive.

But now I need to learn to use the editorial calendar. Maybe when I get it sorted out, my posts will no longer twist and turn, go no where, abruptly diverge, drift, go back to no where and then mercifully end, stunted and broken and sad.

Or maybe I’m not that kind of writer. We’ll see.

Friday, October 28, 2011

My Wife, My Life, My Writing


A word about the pick of the week post from yesterday, if I may.

No objections, then? Everyone duly silent and relatively compliant? Good.

It was a pleasure to write the post on Julia yesterday and then interact with some wonderful people afterward both here n the comment section as well as on twitter. Being small and new in a fairly dusty and unused part of the blogging world, it has not often been my experience to feel part of the larger writing community. I felt that yesterday and for that, I give my thanks.

Now, enough of the sappy feelings and whatnot. On to my regularly scheduled post. (Though if I may again interject, I do still have this warm glow about me and a fuzziness in my belly. Just sayin’.)

It has been my desire to be a writer since I was a little boy and first understood the concept of what a writer was, what they did. I had no organization, no grand plan. Being shy, the stories looped in my head, my own private amusement and refuge. I wrote, but mostly I daydreamed and created. Prolific in my mind more so than on paper, I was a writer unequaled up until my early teens when, well, hormones took possession of me for awhile and writing themes became rather limited and... diverting. Diverting, but decidedly of a repeated and base nature that I’d be more comfortable alluding to than I would in describing. Moving on.

My writing enjoyed a renaissance once hormones regulated and in my senior year of high school I wrote a book- mostly (as I diligently avoided doing as much as I could that was actually school related). And I wrote on paper. It was derivative, juvenile and I cringe when I try to read it now. What I learned from the experience, though, was that I truly had the bug; I wanted to be a writer.

It was time to get serious, to get organized.

So blah, blah, blah and many years later, here I am. Not published, no second book, no closer to being a writer. I preferred keeping the stories in my head where they couldn’t be subjected to judgement or ridicule or rejection. I never grew out of being the shy introvert and was far too comfortable with the obscure, unremarkable me.

I began to write this blog because my wife prodded me when we were newly engaged. I dabbled. Felt awkward. Quit.

She kept after me, my wife. She encouraged, pressured (in a good way) and kept me going when I wanted to hide. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating; my wife is awesome. I love her for many things, but maybe at the top of the list is how she won’t let me settle or feel sorry for myself.

When I need a kick in the ass, she obliges. (Sometimes I don’t realize I needed the kick in the ass, but after reflection and grumbling, I have to admit I really did.)

(The direction of this post, by the way, is way off script. My intention, my careful planning, all stove to hell. That’s fine.)

Ass sore, but with my head on straight, I plugged away at the blog, this blog. My wife held my hand through several re-designs, made a banner for me, read each post, inquired on progress and gave suggestions. I was in the habit of posting everyday, seven days each week for nearly three full months but I still lacked organization. I have written posts about a lack of focus and direction. I write each post the night before or the morning of each day.

Some days I am desperate. Some days I am flat. Some posts suck. I know I can do better.

What I found was an editorial calendar, a thing I never knew existed. I looked several over before settling on one template which I am learning how to best modify for my purpose. Since my wife won’t allow me to settle, I am doing my best to learn and to improve and to improve I need to be able to create some order, to organize my thoughts and my writing, to be a writer instead of a wild man, stealing moments while at work to jot down thoughts and to sweat out last minute blog posts.

The better part of me is my wife. If I succeed as a writer, it is because of her and any failure due to reversion to a daydreaming boy who is too disorganized and ultimately too scared, to become a public writer of words instead of a private thinker of thoughts tucked safely inside his head.

Tomorrow? More technical, folks, with less ramble.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

POW: It's Julia Rachel Barrett!


So there’s this lady, she keeps commenting on my blog, and she has a book cover that would definitely make my mother blush (it made me blush a bit, but then I remembered I’m an adult, a married man, and blushing is so not cool or manly).

Julia Rachel Barrett; her comments are better than my blog posts. They are insightful, uplifting and encouraging. I am almost inclined to go so far as to say that she might be considered my comment therapist (only, if I call her my therapist, that might mean I owe her some cash and I’m cheap, not to mention broke, so I suppose I’ll settle for saying Julia is a much appreciated voice).

I am embarrassed to note that up until now, I have been neglectful, as a I noticed that in my list of links, Julia Rachel Barrett’s wonderful blog was not included. This was an honest oversight and not intentional. When trying to do too much, it often happens that a person ends up not doing enough; or hardly accomplish anything at all. So scramble though I might, I forget things and feel like like I spin my wheels in an ineffectual race to nowhere in particular.

I admire Julia Rachel Barrett for many things, one of which being the design of her blog (can’t go wrong with long legs and panties suggestively pushed down to mid-calf, right?) but more so, it is her words that are most impressive. She wrote, in her last post, about a spider, about travelling about her life and I was drawn along as usual in her easy flow.

Dropped Panties? I'm a guy, my eyes are yours
One thing I must admit, and forgive me for making an excuse; I haven’t yet purchased one of Julia’s books. (Another thing on my list that I have yet to do and for that, all apologies, Julia!) I have encountered so many new authors, that I am backed up in the reading department. Lots of of desires, not enough of me to fulfill those desires. For now, I must content myself with Julia’s blog, but I will get to her books soon, because, well, they sound cool as hell.

I would encourage everyone to go to Julia Rachel Barrett's website, read her blog, then go ahead and buy one (or more) of her books. My Pick Of the Week deserves the support and your most generous time.

Check her out.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Of Being Stupid And Having It Confirmed


You know the moment. You’re in the middle of a discussion, let’s say this discussion is about Egyptian history (you’ve seen all three Mummy movies with Brendan Fraser, so you’re an expert), and as you’re talking, you realize that one of the people standing there  is a full-fledged Egyptologist (who strangely enough, hasn’t seen the Mummy movies and has no idea who Brendan Fraser is).

So there are, talking out of your backside, and you suddenly feel like the dumbest person alive. (This feeling is very similar to times when you go to the bathroom in the late afternoon while at work and realize that you don’t have to unzip your pants because they have been unzipped since the last time you used the bathroom, roughly four hours previously.)

No one wants to feel stupid. No wants to be proven stupid in the bright lights of public scrutiny. AND- (most important perhaps),  no one wants to be the only Brendan Fraser fan in the room. That’s truly embarrassing.

(I thought Encino Man was a brilliant film that captured the social teenage angst in a clever, and amusing way. I especially enjoyed how Pauley Shore acted as a comedic foil as a means to juxtapose absurdity with- Huh? What’s that? You have a… PhD? From Harvard? Oh…)

I had that moment yesterday, folks. Here I was, blithely ignorant, when suddenly, the lights in the room were snapped on and I saw for the first time how huge that room was, the room I thought I knew in general at least, where the furniture was located. Turns out I was really in a mansion, not a New York walk-up apartment.

The writing world has rules and it has established best practices. I mean, people have figured out a whole hell of a lot before I showed up and there is more to this writing thing than simply finding a keyboard and smashing the letters.

I discovered the idea of an editorial calendar. I’m going to talk more about that tomorrow but for now, I just want to apologize for being so stupid. I never knew there was more to writing a blog than yellow sticky notes, old envelopes and last minute desperation to get a blog post done. I need to study and learn more, but hopefully tomorrow I can chronicle what I’ve found out and how to apply it to my blog.

I also want to finish my Pick Of the Week post. So either today or tomorrow, I will have my very first double post day. Very exciting.

Anyway… off to work. And the Brendan Fraser stuff? Yeah, well, I wasn’t serious about that. You know that, right? Though those wrist bands his character Rick wore in the first Mummy  movie was kind of cool and he had a cool hat and there were some bad-ass mummies and scarabs and…

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

E-Book Revolution Alive And Well


I had meant to write about a post I recently read by Derek Haines over at The Vandal, that is before the proposal bug swept through this past weekend. So here I am a day late, but the conversation is still timely.

Derek wrote about e-book garbage in his post titled Who's Killing The E-Book Revolution?

The argument is quickly becoming a tried and true, old-hat kind of discussion found throughout the indie publishing world. JA Konrath calls it the race to the bottom and he repeatedly denies that it exists. The race to the bottom, not the discussion. 

The basic viewpoints are as follows:

  1. There is a glut of self-published authors who have saturated the market to the point where it is impossible for readers to find authors and authors to connect to readers. Derek refers to a pond of writers becoming an ocean.

  2. JA Konrath opines that cream rises. Basically, there has always been a glut of writers and somehow readers find what they want. He has in the past pointed to the internet as an example how there are millions of sites and still, the best of them get the views while the rest are ignored.

Where do I stand? I don't believe there ever existed a guarantee that completing a book or a short story meant people would read what you wrote or that they would pay for the privilege. There has to be a confluence of conditions met in order for you to succeed, and writing well is just one condition. I don't want to call it luck alone but luck too is a needed condition for success-

Okay. Here it is. The e-book revolution is just fine, thank you much. I was trying to sound all diplomatic and smart when in fact, I chafe at diplomacy and being smart is overrated, especially when it is used to obfuscate rather than illuminate (see, that's me being all smart and such and not saying a damn thing).

The truth is, too many indie writers are not getting it. There is work involved beyond writing and if you don't want to put in the work, then you have almost no chance of getting ahead. You certainly can't count on a paycheck. You have to learn about your craft and you have to learn the business. It is about writing well, it isn't about writing period. Indie writers who know the market, have connections, make smart business choices, they can worry a lot less about writing because presumably, the writing is the least concern for a writer.

If you are a writer, the words come, but sales? That's another matter. The e-book revolution has a glut of authors who won't or can't promote and that is because they consider the e-book revolution as simply a matter of writing. Stop that!

The successful writers will continue to sell and make livings and too many good folks will sit and be baffled by why they have sold a couple copies of their books (probably to enthusiastic friends and family).

The e-book revolution is alive and well for those who understand what the revolution means. Get on board. Put in the work. Support, be supported and learn the business instead of bemoaning how difficult it is to get paid. I haven't been paid for thirty-five years and yet here I am, still plugging away and the only difference now?

I am not as stupid as I once was. I'm learning. You all should, too. Let's get the revolution rocking, already.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Married? Yes, Please


Here is my life, an example what it is like being me.

I proposed to my wife almost a year ago and like most men, I was stressing and not so much about the decision to ask my future wife to marry me. I stressed over the way I asked. How, I wondered, am I going to ask her, to show her how much I cared.

I came up with taking her to the coastal town of Rockland and the Samoset Resort- in the off season.

I felt pretty good about myself. I had the big plan all set, the walk along the breakwater on the ocean, the romantic dinner, the room with a view. Of course it was November. It was cold. My future wife wanted to go to Goodwill. She definitely did not want to take a walk by the ocean.

My plan was shot. All except for the answer, which was thankfully yes.

I ended up taking a knee in the hotel room and we toasted the occasion with wine in plastic cups.

How romantic.

Flash forward to this past weekend.

My wife's cousin just proposed to his girlfriend. He had a sign made, took her on a plane, flew her over the sign that was attached to the roof of their house and on the sign were the words, “Will you marry me?”

Pretty awesome.

Then, on a long planned trip to Italy, my brother-in-law asked his girlfriend to marry him. In Venice, Italy.

Now, that's romantic. And pretty awesome.

Now let's recap. I invited my future wife to an off season resort that was almost deserted, it was too cold to enjoy the beautiful grounds, we had plastic cups for our wine and we spent about an hour or so shopping at Goodwill.

My wife? She is pretty awesome.

Just saying. Who else would put up with me?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Family and New Friends


Three of my five nieces stayed over for the night, ages 4, 6, and 9. This, as far as I can recall, is their first sleepover ever. We carved pumpkins, ate pizza, watched a Disney movie (Tangled) and then it was a bedtime story and the lengthy process of settling for the night.

My house has strange noises (baseboard heat) and the combination of lights that needed to be kept on was an issue that had to be divined. (Hallway bathroom light was nixed eventually by the office/ bedroom light across the hall from the spare bedroom.) Then sleep came and no pitter-patter of little girl feet was heard all through the night. A bit surprising considering I was prepared for at least a dozen requests for water, and made-up questions that were really disguises for comfort and assurance.

Anyway. A very good visit. Now I wait in my bedroom for the girls to wake up so I can begin to make pancakes for their breakfast and after that my wife will do their hair and then off with them to meet their mother who will be at church, hopefully well-rested from having a night off. (Well, she did have my 2 year old nephew because there was no way my wife and I would consider swinging that fearsome foursome.)

So all this is preamble for an incident from yesterday while I was conversing with the very lovely Quillfeather (or Wendy Morrell) on twitter about New Zealand. I had, as is my custom, posted a link to my daily blog post and then I received what I thought was a negative comment. ( After a couple of direct messages, I realized I am, as usual, too sensitive).

It illustrates a point that with family I am on sure-footing, with the world of twitter and such, not as much. There are many opportunities to misunderstand when out in the greater world and what is important is to have a clear head and to make allowances for the unknown. I was mildly upset yesterday for no reason and that is plain stupid. It is easy to be unproductive simply because you don't know all the rules.

The interpersonal issues are hazards I had never considered.

There is always a new challenge to study and overcome. This is just the latest. Not the last.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Greatest Sin (as a writer)


I give myself a task. I try not to over-complicate things because it's a perk that I am able to bestow upon myself as both boss and grunt. I can dictate the relationship at both ends, so in the the end, I give myself a task and I try to make that task reasonable.

That means that the task assigned is one that is easy enough to be accomplished but not so terribly dull that I get bored and uninterested.

By now, you, my wonderful readers, are probably wondering, “What the hell?”

That's fair.

My point is that I think of this blog in terms of a two dimensional affair when I should think more of the third dimension. The third being you, the reader. Reading through my posts, I see too much of the 'I' and not enough of the inclusive 'you'.

This past week, especially in the previous few days, I have struggled with the notion of what this blog should look like, what the purpose is and if that purpose is achieved. You have to have constant reassessments, or, as I seem to state every other post, you risk stagnation. So now, for this particular post, my task is to puzzle over my purpose.

I have done a spreadsheet (as suggested by my wonderful wife, with color coordination, too), filled that spreadsheet with planned blog posts for the two plus weeks I will be out of the country starting next month, and seen a potential flaw.

I write lots of personal posts. In multi-hued excel format, I saw clearly my tendency to write about my life, far more than I write strictly about writing.

I mean, the title of this blog is Fifty Book Quest, and yet- When do I actually get around to writing about the actual book part? Right? Lots of meandering quest stuff, not so much book stuff.

So here I am, looking at my pretty spreadsheet, my plan all worked out for my New Zealand trip and I see, writ like a blazing message from the land of Zeros and Ones, My Great Sin.

Or is it? Is it My Great Sin?

I write about my life mostly within the context of writing, but when it isn't all about writing, is it still okay? I thought about this yesterday and as I was driving home in the afternoon, I was reminded of a post I wrote about the ocean a short time ago. I can see more of the ocean now because the trees are mostly nude, the leaves dropped brown and dry on the ground, and the views of the ocean are unobstructed for far more of my trip. So I see the ocean, I think of that post I wrote, I make a connection with this tendency I have to write personal shit.

I feel much better.

Anything internal is shaped- gathered/ found- from external sources. If I write a story about the ocean it will be because of my life spent living beside the ocean and if I write about some landlocked place, it will be from the perspective of a person who grew up with the ocean as a constant companion. That post about the ocean is part of the story of me as a writer. It explains me internally by explaoning my external surroundings.

Perhaps I exclude the third participant in this blog relationship too much but if so, I do it because I'm honestly trying to chronicle the quest I experience. Without the quest, there are no books. Everything in life is intertwined. Everything in life is fair game for a writer, opportunities for stories.

The new writing dynamic, as I see it, must include process. Process is chronicled, for me, here, every day. It isn't enough to have a static, bound and printed, book. The digital nature of publishing demands fluidity, and I think what that means is that simply providing readers with a completed book no longer is the goal. The reader demands process, demands a level of interactivity; e-books with links, note taking ability, book message boards and fan pages and maybe well-done book trailers.

And I think readers want to know the whys and the hows.

Most important, though? My blog, my rules. Selfish and potentially alienating toward readers? Yes. But- and here is the deciding factor, the main point I kept coming back to in my head:

I enjoy writing this blog. As it is, in the manner it is, and I feel no compulsion to change.

Sometimes, readers, you make decisions, not based on best practice, but based on passion and love. Then you have to make the business choices that make passion and love work for you financially.

So. Here is my mind at the moment. I set a task for myself, I try to make that task reasonable, I move to the next task...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Trailers- Another Tool for Writers


Book trailers. I've never heard of such a thing, which I suppose id unsurprising considering my newness to all things publishing. I have been, up to a few months ago, all about the consumer side of books, and even that was limited mainly to my local bookstore and forays onto Amazon for my favorite authors.

So today, as I tried to consume the entire interweb (don't do that by the way; it causes terrible indigestion and personally, I got a bit of a sore head), I encountered the notion of book trailers. I haven't spent much time researching this concept except a cursory google search.

Top on the list is a site Book-Trailers.net. Not sure about that one. Moving to the second, I find Book Trailers for All.com. That one is for children's books and YA. Haven't made it quite yet to number three. Sorry about that.

Anyway. When I first heard about book trailers, I was instantly aware of a how much times have changed and the amazing possibilities that exist. There has been vlogging for years and social media has obviously opened up the world of networking and marketing. But really, there is so much more and maybe that includes book trailers, just perhaps not like the ones I have so far found.

I can see an integration of video, social media outlets, blogs- the world of digital that expands and exploits more than was ever possible in print alone. But print exists too. It's still okay to exploit print as well by talking to your local newspaper and getting some ink in the form of reviews, making your book available on Amazon's CreateSpace, or utilizing fliers if you are feeling especially ambitious and creative.

Promotion, avenues for marketing, the very essence of what it means to publish, all these things are becoming so user friendly, so in favor of the indie author, that it isn't an issue of how it is an issue where, as in where do I start?

So, the question is, where do you start?

I think for me, I need to look more into book trailers. Anyone have any good sites to share?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Celebrating My 100th Blog Post With Muddy Waters






100th blog post. Yeah.

Am I underwhelmed? Not really. What I am is realistic. It is a milestone that is rather meaningless because it is arbitrary, because there remains a long road to travel. This is a step, the 100th, but not the last.

What I am becoming aware of, what I am learning step by step, is that I have yet to see the great big world out there. I'm not even close to walking out of my hometown, I'm just a neophyte, a newbie with much to learn, much to see.

Sit back, folks, listen to a tune and consider this:

You will fumble, you will struggle, you will feel despair that your words just float into nothingness, that no one cares and no one ever will. The highs will be followed by lows. You will think that finally you are gaining ground, that maybe you are making progress that you know what you did not know before.

You are almost there.

100 blog posts. Tomorrow will be 101 and then 102 and then? I'll write a post with the title, 1,000th Blog Post. Eventually. And I will be pleased, but only if I'm not walking in circles because that is a possible outcome. It is scary to venture into deep water and once you find a comfortable niche, a small group of folks who support you, you are tempted to settle.

I get 40-50 daily views. That improves on my 10-12 from a month ago. I want to build my site by the end of the year and get an average of 80-100 views per day. I'm in this for the long haul and I suppose what I'm saying is don't despair. A slow increase is okay. Objectively, I can see that I have made improvements. I see where I need to make more.

You need to do that, folks, see the possibilities and exploit them. Complacency is a killer that will keep you from reaching your potential. I exist in a state of agitation and the only remedy is to seek that which I don't know.

Drive forward, and improve. Settle and perish in obscurity.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

POW, It's John R Phythyon!


In what I anticipate to be a weekly feature, I have thought over who to write about for my second Pick of the Week, my so-called POW recipient. I decided to be swayed by flattery, retweets on twitter and, well, continued excellence in blogging.

My POW (not much of mystery is it, judging from the title, huh?) is John R. Pyhthyon. Cool name backed up by equally spot on writing.

John has consistently been a supporter- on twitter with his consistent retweets and mentions, and on my blog with his almost daily comments. A true writer friend who in a short time I look forward to reading and hearing from. He has a tendency to refine the essence of my posts to simple sentences, gleaning the point in a clearer way than which I presented.

Now, so far, this has been me, me, me.

I want to highlight John.


Yesterday he wrote about a novel he wrote and why he decided to shelve that novel. His reasons and the manner in which he explained his reasons, impressed me because for most writers, finishing a novel and not publishing it, would be unthinkable. John gave valid points as to why he did not publish that book and at the root?

Marketing and business.

I have harped on that theme for a few days now and it refreshing to see that writing and business are being applied in the real world. Sometimes business decisions have to trump the writing, even when the writing is good enough to be published. Sometimes, as was the case with John, timing is just wrong. He saw that his novel would better be served by sitting on the shelf unpublished while a more timely novel took it's place.

I would bet (not much as I am poor, poor, poor) that his decision will pan out, that he will benefit from being smart about his publishing. Publishing everything you write might be tempting, but is probably not wise. Don't wait for the perfect novel or you might never publish, but perhaps waiting for the right novel, as John decided, is the smartest move you can make.

Check John R Phythyon out, give him your time. He's worth the read.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Writer, Doomed To Fail?


Odd how a seemingly singular thought coalesces in several places at roughly the same time, and how the conclusions of that singular thought can be subtly different. I wrote yesterday about making business a priority when writing and the same day, The Vandal , a blog run by Derek Haines also discussed the business side of writing.

Okay. I admit, the above is hardly earth shattering as I imagine thousands of blogs were discussing the same topic yesterday. It is hardly obscure. I suppose what struck me was the tone of the blog posts and how the two posts seemed responses to each other, though written in two places separated by time.

I proposed an aggressive approach to writing, making it a serious business venture. Derek cited a source that claimed that 80% of authors will sell less than 100 copies and only about 3,000 authors would sell more than 100 copies per week. Derek's point? It will be increasingly difficult to sell and make a living as an author, independent or otherwise. The overall feeling after reading Derek's blog, especially coupled with some of the comments, was that failure was inevitable.

Perhaps the odds are poor. Hell, let's say the number are spot on and optimistic even. What assures an independent writer of failure?

Going into the process with defeat on their mind. I hate the oft stated advice to write because you love to write. The sentiment behind that statement is that a writer should be happy to write because there is no future in writing. It isn't a career choice but feel free to dabble.

Writing is not a hobby, folks. If it is your passion, why relegate it to second-class status? If writing is truly a passion, doesn't it make sense to try to assure that you will be able to engage in that activity more? In order to write more, to have that time, is to make it a career, or at least make every conceivable effort to make writing a full-time activity.

If the odds scare you, then how strong, I wonder, is your supposed passion? Fail? Sure. That is a possibility and most of us will never be full-time writers, but to start with failure, to be defeated in the starting gate?

I can't accept that. There are writers who take writing jobs they don't care about just to get paid, to finance the writing they really want to do. Is this ideal? No. But if I could split my time with 75% of my time writing simply for a paycheck and 25% for the joy, I would do that gladly. I would accept a 90-10 split.

And you know what? I'm going to do everything I can to get where I want to go, no matter the odds. I'll accept failure if I've tried to succeed. Those are the odds I understand.

Monday, October 17, 2011

It's All About The Hustle, Writer


It’s all about the hustle, folks. Get yours, or sit in the corner out of the way.

Is that harsh? I was reading a blog post where the author stated her dissatisfaction with people who had ‘too many twitter followers’. I wrote about this as well, from a slightly different viewpoint and the conclusion I made is also similar but different the one made by the blog’s author.

We agree that people should come first. One of the emerging principles of the new writing dynamic is community-centered support systems; kind of gatekeeper-ish, kind of self-help, kind of online group counseling. Basically, writers helping writers to get ahead.

Now, it is critical to define why exactly you write (beyond of course the innate passion you obviously need, the driving desire to communicate the thoughts and dreams, the whims and fancies, that bounce in your head-or creep and slither).

Hobby and pleasure and fellowship; worthy reasons to write and I can’t find fault with any of them. Go to it and write casually, bring pleasure and joy to yourself and to others.

But.

The moment you put anything you write up for sale (or place ads on your website even), then it isn’t all about hobby and pleasure and fellowship. You have added an element of commerce that changes the equation.

You are trying to make money.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you loose pleasure or that you have to sacrifice fellowship. I do believe that it isn’t merely hobby, however. It is work that you enjoy, though it may only be part time work, it is still work. That means making business decisions, that means that you are mindful of brand, of networks, of intent. That means that even if you do have thousands of twitter followers, you can still have mutually beneficial relationships that are meaningful. You can find as much fellowship as you could ever want.

No sacrifices needed, folks. If you write for money, don’t be ashamed or embarrassed. It is perfectly fine to make a living or have the desire to make a living. Making money does not make you a bad person, it doesn’t make you evil. Embrace your inner business person, but understand that you can be a positive business person who helps your competition instead of trying to crush them.

I find it annoying when I read a blog or a comment from a person who is selling a book or putting ads on their website, who then decries the practice of making money. We all have the right to make money, we simply have a responsibility to make money conscious of the impact has on others. Ruthless and cutthroat or mindful and mutually supportive?

So, make your money, be proud, or stop passively selling and then complaining that others are doing better because doing better isn’t all about being underhanded, not for everyone, not anymore.



Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's Like I'm Chasing Forever

I surpassed the one thousand follower thresh hold today on twitter- around 5AM actually, because, you know, I happened to be awake and since I was awake, why not check twitter, right? Sure. I was excited. Almost like waiting for Christmas as a child when I was certain that I was getting a present that would absolutely blow my mind with joy. Of course, that never happened.

Oh, I enjoyed Christmas morning, enjoyed the gifts my parents could afford to buy me, but each year I felt deflated. If there was a toy I wanted, and I got that toy, then I would think, I really wish I had that toy instead.

One thousand twitter followers and I thought this morning, I need to get to two thousand.

Why?

My one hundredth blog post is coming up next Thursday, another milestone I had been looking forward to achieving. Somewhere in my mind I suppose I imagined that the bright shiny newness, or the act of possession perhaps, that would somehow transform me in a dramatic fashion. My writing life would be altered, I would be elevated to previously unimagined heights and life would be grand.

One thousand followers left me deflated; I was depressed.

Most of the day I moped inside, knowing the writing gods would not fracture my ordinary world with a big-ass lighting bolt, breaking open for me opportunity, fame and wealth. I was, I am, still me.

It's like I'm chasing Forever, finding only Now and somehow satisfaction continues to elude me.

You can't live like that.

I have met great people on twitter. I continue to meet great people. I need to remind myself that chasing milestones is not nearly as important as the people along the way. Numbers are meaningless in comparison to people.

And as far as lightning bolts and bright and shiny wonder toys? I need to remind myself that those things don't exist. There is no magic transformation, just hard work and to get that work done, a writer needs to keep a firm grasp on what is important and as I said, that ain't numbers, folks.

Never was, never will be.