Currently Browsing: Motivation

How to make 100% sure you never get your big break as a writer

  Indie publishing queen Zoe Winters, who keeps accidentally inspiring me to write these mondo-long blog posts when I’m innocently trying to procrastinate by reading her blog in the first place, spoke today about the myth of The New York Gatekeepers of Publishing. From Zoe’s post: There is a lot of hullabaloo about “good writing” vs. “bad writing”. And how do you know if you’re a “good writer” or not? The sad truth is that you can’t. I think one of the reasons the gatekeepers hold SUCH strong sway over unpublished authors is that they NEED to know if they’re good or not. And the reason they need to know, probably more than other types of artists, is that EVERYBODY thinks they can write. Whether they can or not. Everybody believes they have a book in them. It’s not like other forms of art like painting and sculpting and film where people seem to have some basic grasp of whether or not they suck. So many writers don’t have enough self-confidence. And those that do often end up being the ones everybody mocks for self-publishing crap. So people are afraid if they have self-confidence it must mean they suck and are just deluded. So much ego is wrapped up in the act of writing. When a NY publisher says: “Yes! We will buy this work!” They are validating you. They’re an authority figure. To many writers these gatekeepers mean more to them than end readers. She’s right. Validation is a slippery thing. I’ve found more trouble dispelling that crazymaking need for outward validation than any other aspect of the illusionary writing life. Every time I thought my big break was imminent, something always came along to knock me back down to my comfortable place on the bottom rung. Usually, it was me. And before you say, “Well, I don’t care what other people think, I’m writing for myself,” let me tell you: writing to publish “for yourself” as an end goal is impossible emotional level to hit and score against. Here’s why. As a naive college kid, I remember thinking, “I’ll be a professional writer when I send out my first query letter to a major publishing house.” Then I did just that, and it turned out to be not that big of a deal. My family was unimpressed that the Highlights editor hand-penned a couple of words on one corner of my green form letter. If I remember... read more

100 years are simply not enough

  I read a blog the other day (3 Shared Paths, one of my favorites), and the latest post discussed the recent solar eclipse and how long it would be until the next one: 19 years. Rebecca mused on how long 19 years feels—not is, chronologically but really feels—and how much a life can change in that time span. My favorite gem: What will be the themes in your life 19 years from now? Take some time to really think about it because you’re building that time in your life right now. That hit a nerve. Definitely. 19 years ago, I was a different person. Hell, that was three whole people ago. In 1991, I was idealistic, lazy, depressed, and hopeful. Yes, all at the same time. I had my whole future ahead of me and I knew it, so I didn’t waste much time with the present. Unfortunately, that particular present was the last place I had the chance to see my great-grandmother alive. Or visit my childhood home which was later bulldozed for the maintenance area of a public golf course. And it wasn’t long afterward that I had a crisis of faith, my first broken heart (which is really the only one that matters, isn’t it?), and a breakdown in the identity of my youth. So much has changed since then, and I must have been the one that changed it—for better and for worse. I’ve rebuilt, and I’m better for it. You always are. It takes a lot of breaking to make a solid person. That doesn’t mean it was simple. When you’re a kid convinced of invincibility, as all kids are, the first problem is always the hardest. You disbelieve that bad things really are going to happen, or that your turn for old age is just around the corner. Rebecca’s blog post reminded me of a tiny poem I wrote when I was in my 20s: ~30~ when I am thirty I shall believe that I will die for as a child, both thoughts were equally impossible. I find it in a folder again every few years. Umm, yeah. It happened, just as I suspected it would. I was right. The poem’s a bit overdramatic, as many of my twenty-something and teenage poems were, but the concept still fits. Now I know, without a doubt, that I am going to die. I will have a last breath, leave my body, and go wherever... read more

Next Entries »