Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A preponderance of bass

Last week you may recall I wrote a post titled “Seeking Alpha” in which I described a mantra for authors that helps in finding the best balance between risk and reward (link here).

Today I destroy all that happy-happy-joy-joy crap with a repetitious moan-of-a grunt-and-spew-pisser-of-a-phrase that helps us to just GET BY.

I am talking about SEEKING BETA.

You finance types will see that as yet another method of raping people of helping people with their money, and authors might see it as a plea for someone to proofread a new tome.

Get that outta yer heads right now!

I aint talking about any of that!

I deal in human fulfillment...

In the movie “Risky Business”, in a moment of foreshadowing that aludes to his son’s mental condition, Joel Goodson’s father points out that Joel has left the equalizer on his expensive stereo system in a bad configuration. There’s “something odd” about the sound. A “preponderance of bass”.

Like many teenagers, Tom Cruise’s character Joel Goodson ignores his father. And this act of defiance turns out to be a good thing for Joel.

THIS is what I am talking about... finding a place where we can ignore the father inside our own heads, a way to test with and play with and FIX our own internal imbalance...

A place where we can all just say “What the f*ck”!

A place where we can just give up! Throw up our hands (or just throw up) and give the world a big fat middle finger then turn our backs and walk away from it all until we feel like coming back!

Sometimes “Seeking alpha”, trying hard, persevering, stick-to-itive-ness, and all that jazz just plain SUCKS. Sometimes we WANT to throw in the towel, pass the buck, wallow in the mire, or just WALLOW.

And sometimes that is JUST WHAT WE NEED.

Sometimes it’s good to walk away.

Give it a rest. Wait a few days and then come back with a fresh mind and clean slate of expectations.

And yes there are times that we should consider the possibility of walking away permanently.

I mean it.

Right now I am writing a couple of different projects, and I have about three more in my head that I have made a few notes on that I would like to work on.

The two I am technically “writing” now are another ROMY MALLOY novel and a CULVER BISHOP novel.

I am about half way done with Culver Bishop, and I have been enjoying it.

But with the release of the first Romy Malloy novel, I have been thinking more and more again about Romy and her friends and the next chapter of their lives.

I actually put down Culver and started again on writing Romy’s second. I am also about half way done.

And that’s when the doubts started.

WHAT DO I DO NOW? (whine, cry, whimper...)
I have been considering if it is time to put down the Culver Bishop story.

Look, I don’t think I really WILL kill the story... but listen... and THIS is where it gets important...

It is actually GOOD for me to THINK about KILLING IT!

That’s right... you heard me.

I think it is a very good thing to think about the relative possibilities of success of your works.

Things like: “Is the story working? Is it strong enough? Did I think it through properly?”

Author and self-titled “SOCIAL MEDIA JEDI” Kristen Lamb says it all best right here:

Sometimes the answer is “YES”. Kill it. Put it down and out of its ever loving misery.

Believe me, this will be doing yourself a favor (and the rest of us too!!!)

Joel Goodson (get it... the good son) wanted to get into Princeton so badly that he sacrificed nearly his whole life and friends and social growth just for a CHANCE to go to Princeton. He never took a break to stop and think about if what he was doing was right for him.

But he met a girl and did some stuff and presto change-o he realized that maybe it’s not such a good idea to focus so much on one thing that you neglect all other areas of your life.

It’s the same when it comes to writing (or creating or arting or singing or musician-ing).

Walk away. Do something else for a while. For a day, a week, a month, a year... maybe forever.

Sometime you just gotta say “What the f*ck!”

That project will still be there. And if you look back and realize it’s a major frog with too many warts to even think about saving?

Kill it.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

One day of calm

A rare moment of calm
Take a look at the pic below.

Isn’t that just so peaceful?

Kind of like Earth needed a break or something, so it called off all the storms and set a nice thin layer of cumulus over the oceans to mask a little of the sun and gentled the winds to an easy breeze so that the ships and sailboats could sail a little easier... ahhhhhh....!

But that lasted about a day!

Then Tropical Storm HUMBERTO formed. He made a go of it, and then decided to come back around again.

Now NASA is studying Humberto as the Atlantic’s Second ZOMBIE Tropical Storm!!!!

Great... even the scientists are writing Zombie thrillers!

This whole picture of a freakishly calm Earth has me thinking though... Life is a LOT like this pic of calm... a calm that doesn’t really know that a whole shit load of storms is on its way to upset the calms delicate little sensibilities.

Seems like all’s we get anymore is a day, maybe two if we’re lucky of “calm skies” and then WHAM-O!

Right back to the freaking meat grinder for you, bub!

There’s work and there’s family and then the job makes you work late so you miss the kids recital and then the car breaks down so you miss a day of work and then the job makes you go outta town for an extended period of time so that you can’t see or do anything at home because you aren’t even there and then your wife gets “that call” from the doctor so you have to scramble home hoping and praying that all is OK but the doc says “false alarm” and your boss gets pissed because you had to miss another day and then the kids have another show you have to see but you can’t because you have to work late and then you check the fridge and you’re outta beer...


It just seems like these “storm cycles” are a lot more frequent and last a lot longer than any “calm cycles”.

Let’s face it... LIFE IS TOUGH!

Take a moment and everyone whine for a bit... there we go... let it out... it’ll be OK.

Or maybe it won’t.

Life is like that. Maybe it’ll work out, maybe it won’t, but life just keeps on coming. Never stops. Never gives you a break.

So, how do we DEAL with that? This never ending parade of mostly crap mixed in with a little bit of OK-ness that never really seems to make the crap live-able?

I don’t know.

No, really... I have NO idea.

The ONLY thing I know to do is to just keep going. Keep on keeping on. Never give up. Never surrender.

One thing I CAN tell you is to NEVER STOP WRITING! Never stop CREATING! If you are an artist never stop ARTING. Never stop doing what it is that you do that makes you YOU, what makes you the creative person that you are.

Life IS tough. For everyone. But we need the art, the literature, the creativeness that folks like you and I give to the world. I aint saying that this stuff I do that I call “writing” is invaluable to the world. That’s not the point.

What IS invaluable is the sheer fact that I CAN DO what I do, that I am “allowed” to do it, that we have this great country in which we can live in and be free in and to do this stuff in.

That’s why we have to keep on keeping on, keep on creating.

If we stop... then I fear that one day it will ALL stop.

And I do not want to face a world or live in a country where we are not allowed to be creative.

That would really suck.

So take those days of calm, as few and as infrequent as they may be, and use them to bolster yourself so that you can persevere on those days Humberto comes beating on your door.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Seeking Alpha

I love simple terms with complex meanings.

For folks in the investment world (you know, the world of high finance where money really DOES grow on trees and people drive Porsche's and Lamborghini’s.. yea, that world) the term, or phrase, “seeking alpha” is used as a mantra for the savvy investor who seeks out the fine balance between risk and reward where the benefits outweigh the costs of playing around with the big bucks.

In a shorter, more earthy and understandable definition, it means ya did good with the money. You got a return on your investment. You can avoid breaking the piggy bank for another month.

For me, as an independent author of fantasy and scifi, “seeking alpha” means something similar in theory, but in reality it is something oh so different.

Seeking Alpha for the independent writer means many things: finding the right balance between writing and doing the things you have to do to live and eat; remembering to feed the dog and to finish that chapter; making that date with your wife and providing an honest and brutal assessment to your illustrator about the most recent cover mock up; remembering to shower and…. Well that one stands on its own.

See, balance for a writer means, in essence, finding a way to work multiple jobs all at once (and I DO MEAN multiple jobs!)

It just gets really hard.

And, let’s be totally honest here… MOST people will give up.

Sad but true. Face it… there is almost never an awesome rags to riches story for the independent author. And most people can’t handle that… don’t have the longevity to stay in the race.

OK, sure we’ve all heard the tales of the writers who write that break out novel and make a million dollars the first month on Amazon.

But, even in today’s new Wild West World of Writers Sticking It To The Man and taking the reins of their careers into their own callused and blood soaked hands, that First-Time-Author-Million-Copy-Best-Seller HARDLY EVER HAPPENS!

Just get that in your head right now. Because if you don’t, you’ll have the same silly expectations that most all of us have had at one time or another, that your book is going to be different this time and it’s really good and it’s gonna make all kinds of money… and then SIX months later when your book is languishing in the high six figure ranking range and nearing 1 Million (no, bigger is NOT better when ranking Amazon books)… someone will have to come along and yank that bottle of Grey Goose out of your hand, pry your other hand off the pistol and unwrap that noose from around your neck.

Trust me. It CAN happen to you.

But you can’t let it.

You have to tell yourself right up front, get down on your knees and smack yourself in the face, self-flagellate your back and sides and nether regions with that cat-o-nine-tails over and over again and repeat this mantra until it sinks in to your thick headed skull:


That’s it! That’s right! Feel better? Yea… I thought you would.

Find your balance.

Expect this to be a LONG haul trip.

Prepare yourself for the reality that you likely will NOT be making a living off of this, at least not right away, and hey, maybe NEVER.

And allow yourself to realize that IT’S OK!

If you don’t “make it”… it’s OK!

You’re still writing, right?

And hey… if you are one of those amazing folks who DO make it... one of the few of us who get to walk those halls and sit in the confines of the elite breathing that rarified air of the SUCCESSFUL AUTHOR… then my hats off to you. Kudos. Luxuriate in all the trappings of a job well done.

For the rest of us?

Pass the Grey Goose.