In Anchorage to give the Brown Beast the medical care he deserves. Apparently, the BB has many leaking wounds, but according to the doctors, if I keep giving him transfusions on a regular basis, the BB should be good to go, for a long time...how about that?
Joe has joined the tour for the rest of the summer and he's set a goal to sell all the books in my truck. It is definitely more empowering to be a team of plural than a mission of singular, and the books are definitely selling. At Chair Five in Girdwood, I had people following me to the bathroom to buy a book - yippee!!! It is so much easier to have somebody else promoting me as a dreamer who is trying to manifest fantasy into reality. When I do it, I sound like a geek. At least for the next month, I don't have to endure the surface polite nods of those who can smell blood, while underneath the kitty sharpens its claws...okay, so I'm blowing things out of proportion.
Done with the Kenai Peninsula, and manana we're heading to McCarthy for the Blackburn Music Festival where we'll lay out a blanket and sell books. Heard good things about this festival, so it should be good, and then we'll be heading up north - we may even go to Prudhoe Bay just so we can say we did because I doubt a bunch of republican oil-drillers will be into fairy tales featuring my heart-eating seductress, but you never know. Then we'll be meandering on down to Fairbanks, and then...who knows.
Joe asked the I Ching a couple of questions...about chicks of course. And one said the great departs and the small approaches - after he made the decision to not spread himself thin to go see a gal on the other side of the world and the other was "The Marrying Maiden" with "The Arousing, Thunder" as the upper trigram, and "The Joyous, Lake" as the lower. Since that girl already compared him to a flower, because he's "sweet," that made Joe's day. He's been referring to himself as "I am the Arousing Thunder" ever since. And he's totally sold on the I Ching.
It's like traveling with my kid brother.
Anyway, my journal list is starting to get bloated, so I have a request of everybody...if you would like to keep hearing of what's going on, drop me a line and let me know one way or the other. If I hear nothing by the end of the month, I'll assume the answer is not and you're too considerate or too chicken to say so.
Anyway, hope all is well...
PS This is the 5th email I sent to my friends of what are now some cherished memories of my DIY booktour/roadtrip in Alaska in the summer and fall of 2005. It was literally called “I don’t know what to call this one; this is the fifth email.”
Aren’t most people resistant to criticism. Some may even be terrified of it, especially writers when it comes to their work. For me, my anxiety around criticism started in my college creative writing class. In each one I took, there were students who loved to revel in their brilliance when it came to incisive criticism. To say I was traumatized might be going a bit far, but by the time I came to the Extension Writers Workshop at the University of Washington, Seattle in the 90’s, I was truly defensive (still am, really) and very apprehensive about the critique process.
The Writers’ Workshop was divided into 3 capsules of roughly 2 ½ months with breaks to make up a 9-month program. The Cage-Escape-Quest-Dragons-Home structure I wrote about in the blog on August 1st I learned in this course, in the 2nd and 3rd capsules.
But the most awesome teacher of the course was in my 1st. Margaret Grossman was so fantastic, all of us wanted to keep her. In her evaluation, many of expressed a preference to have her teach our 2nd capsule, and if we could, have her as our teacher for the whole course. Our praise of Margaret was so lavish that she almost got in trouble for it. Too many ruffled feathers and bruised egos, I suppose. Either way, she talked to us about the value of having a variety of teachers so we would learn more about the craft of writing, and to please be at peace with moving on for the next capsule.
In her mid-to-late forties, Margaret had the ageless quality that prompted her elder daughter’s friends to say: “That’s your MOTHER?” She had thick, dark, red hair, and hippie overtones to her style of dress. She had the good sense to prefer comfort over fashion, casually dressed in jeans and cozy sweaters (this capsule started in January).
“It is ridiculous for anybody to get an MFA right after undergrad,” Margaret said one night. “If you want to be a writer, give yourself something to write about. Get out there and do some living.”
Margaret was living proof good stories came from a vivid life. Her life story was as fascinating as anything you would read in a novel. She grew up rough. Alcoholic parents – her father drank himself to death by the time she was in her twenties. Her mother was still alive, but if Margaret didn’t call her by 11am, she was already incoherent. Margaret was a huge fan of Jack Kerouac before alcoholism sucked his soul dry. She had lived the On the Road lifestyle as a young teenager, leaving home to hitchhike at 14. When I expressed shock at how dangerous it must have been to throw herself in the world like that, she said: “With what was going on at home, I felt safer on the road.” She listened to Alan Ginsburg read poetry to the urchin runaways who found themselves in his backyard – she was one of them. This was the early days of Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. Somewhere in all this, her mother got her married off to some guy she didn’t like all that well, with whom she had two daughters. She left him, managed to get an education (with an MFA), and remarry somebody she liked a lot more who took on her daughters as his own. Since they had no relationship with their bio-father, I think that made things much simpler.
“My husband’s pretty aware,” she said. “He knows sperm doesn’t really matter.”
Obviously, Margaret Grossman was a very intriguing human. And it was Margaret who taught us how to critique effectively. In fact, it was the first thing she taught us before she let us anywhere near each other’s writing. Her technique was simple. Rooted in kindness.
“Writers are insecure,” she said. “We all are. Just admit it. We don’t get enough nourishment, so always put the positive before the negative. Point out everything you like about somebody’s work before you criticize it.”
And the more we waxed eloquent over the qualities we liked – even loved - about a piece the better. Flattery was the silver bullet of criticism. For the recipient of the critique will receive what you had to say after you compliment their work. Also, as the giver of the criticism, you’ve been primed to deliver in a way that is softer and gentler. Instead of focusing on your critical brilliance, you find yourself with the desire to help your fellow fledgling writer.
Of course, for anybody who LIKES to give incisive, crushing critiques to kill the spirit of vulnerable, beginning writers, this blog is not for you. Unless you’re an editor of a major publishing house or at least an average literary agent, people are probably going to think you’re a douche bag, so I hope the ego massage is worth it.
Speaking of massage, that works the same way as an effective critique. Pummeling is a healing technique. When done with excellent timing, after the body is warmed up and relaxed, pummeling brings the recipient to even deeper relaxation. It is actually a pleasure when the therapist literally punches your back with their fists, if you’ve been massaged first.
Imagine that! What could be painful feels really good if it’s delivered after a whopping dose of praise! Healing massage and good writing - who would have thought the 2 had this much in common?
For the record, Margaret wasn’t all sugar and sweetness. She had an editing symbol reserved for irredeemable pieces of shit. From what I remember, she made a mini-tree, and what that symbol meant was: “You killed a tree for this!” She said she only had to use it once. She also said she still found something she liked about a piece that she thought so awful she used the dreaded murdered tree editing symbol. To my relief, Margaret did not use it on any of my work.
I haven’t thought of Margaret Grossman in years. I never saw her again after her workshop. I’ve used her critiquing technique ever since I learned it, and this came up in my most recent gathering of writers. I mentioned that I should write a blog about this, and their enthusiastic response: “Do it!”
Anyway, with my memory jogged, I tried to Google Margaret Grossman to see what became of her. All I found was something vague, but it looks like she died in 2001. She from the University of Washington had her in her journal footnotes – “Margaret Grossman’s death.” Why that was on the internet, I don’t know. I only know that my heart hurt when I read that.
RIP you spectacular, warrior woman. You inspired me more than you will ever know.
Massage before Pounding. Positive Before Negative. Kindness Before Criticism. It’s the only way to critique. In writing and in life.
Margaret Grossman’s legacy is worth remembering.
This road trip was shaping up to be an exercise in humiliation until Joe showed up. For instance, in Homer, at my first open mike, I had right in front of my stage the Christian kiddie contingent. They were there to play cards, talk loud, and make smart-ass speeches after different musicians played just to show how cute they were, while the folks that were actually listening attentively were behind them.
I was lucky though, they got even more obnoxious when the guy after me went up to play his guitar and sing.
At the Land's End in Homer, my first night was the exact same time and date as the post-Memorial service for Drew Scalzi, a former state Representative, so everyone there was going to that. One couple tried to get me to go upstairs, have some food and drink and let people know I was there, but there's just something about going to somebody's funeral, especially someone that I'd never met, to hustle some business that is...distasteful to say the least. The same couple came down and bought a book - probably out of sympathy because nobody showed up that day, and the wife suggested that I should come in the winter when people are looking for things to do during that time.
The next day, a couple of acquaintances and a couple of total strangers showed up. I sold two books. All I could think was that it was a mighty fine thing that I did not pay a dime for that space and that my beginner's luck had run out. And I'm back in the time and space of being a novice...again.
I packed up the Brown Beast (that is burning through the oil, but other than that is running beautifully) and headed for Seward.
It seems like every year I decide to do something different that I know nothing about, just so I can be a novice all over again. Perhaps Zen Buddhists would applaud my embrace of Zen mind by constantly being a beginner; but given that I learn by making sooooo many mistakes, the novice/beginner period can be agony.
In Seward, at the Resurrect Art Coffee House – an old church that was converted into this little gem, I had set up a tableside storytelling for the sake of promoting my book. The owners are every artist's dream come true as they support the arts and would let me do whatever I wanted. So I set up for three days, hoping positive word of mouth would help.
Day one: I told several stories and sold...nothing.
Granted, I'm sure it could have been worse, I could have been insulted on top of it. But to be in a place for four hours and have people nod politely at my efforts is...awful and humiliating.
Why would any sane person put herself through all this?
It didn't help that I had a Homer friend tempting me to go back to Homer, go charter fishing and party. It was so demoralizing, I almost went, but I made a commitment and as much as it hurt, that commitment must be kept. I gritted my teeth to bear it on Thursday, where at least the day would be mercifully short.
Day two: I told two stories to four people...sold two books. I perked up a bit. I've survived painful learning curves before and it was always better. I even sold two more books to a waitress and one of her followers at the bar where I refreshed myself with a beer after hiking.
And then came deliverance...
Friday brought the arrival of Joe, who has absolutely no boundaries, and therefore, no inhibitions. A born balls-to-the-wall salesman type. For those who know Joe, after fishing in Bristol Bay, his dreds got inflected with fish bits, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. He said every morning when he woke up his head smelled like fish and he couldn't take it anymore. What should surprise everyone was that he shaved them off, along with his beard. And damn! He now looks like a respectable young man. He’s not, of course. But at least, he now passes.
Joe listened to a couple of stories, and even stopped being a smart-ass half-way through the first one. A Colorado woman who calls herself "Soozie Creamcheese," bought a book, and the two over-friendly studs I'd met at the youth hostel bought none. Then Joe took it upon himself to take a few books and hit the bars. He took four books, and within 45 minutes, came back with forty bucks, and left with ten more books. By the time people were only caring about getting drunk he sold seven more books. While I stayed put at the Resurrect Art Coffe House, told more stories, and sold two books.
I couldn’t believe it.
Here I am, busting my butt telling stories and recommending myself to strangers and all Joe has to say is: "Dude, you should REALLY buy this book," and he’s usually chatting up a female.
And it works.
I just might have to pack up Joe in my luggage...
Thank God for good friends.
PS These were some great memories of my road trip book tour in the summer of 2005. FYI, the Resurrect Art Coffee House is still around. If you’re ever in Seward, go check it out!
Cole has busted out some pretty fabulous memes in the form of writing prompts and inspiration! Their style is different from mine, but that makes for broader perspective and more choices for all the writers out there to find those pearls of inspiration to get those creative ideas flowing and the pen moving across the page or fingers dancing over a keyboard. Things tend to flow from there. So enjoy!
On another note, this weekend, I'm heading for my first festival as a vendor for the first time in a coon's age. Imagine Orcas Island, with sacred music, late night dance parties, aerialists, fire dancers, nature, beauty, and lots of rain - that's where I'll be with Cole and my partner, Morgen, trying to tell some stories and sell some books. I have an updated and revised version of The Golden Pedestal for the kiddos with some gorgeous new illustrations, as well as Ella Bandita and the Wanderer for the adults. I'll also have some older copies of my original collection of stories, Ella Bandita and the Wanderer, which will go for a $4. A lot has changed in the self-publishing world since the DIY booktour odyssey I did in 2005/2006. One positive change on my end is that I'm not doing this alone. That is a huge relief!
I hope it's a good weekend, and if anybody reading this happens to be on Orcas Island for Imagine this weekend, come find us. In the meantime, enjoy Cole's writing prompts and inspiration!
I’m about to put out a children’s book, The Golden Pedestal. This original fairy tale is written in the classical style, with black and white illustrations interspersed throughout the story. There is no technology, the characters are archetypal, and there is a moral to the story. I wrote this story years ago, and a reviewer described it and the other kids’ story in the collection, Why Roses Have Thorns, as “gentle parables about the dangers of pride.” I concur.
To be more specific, I describe The Golden Pedestal as a cautionary tale about narcissism and how destructive it is to a community. My partner says The Golden Pedestal makes an effective allegory for popularity contests that gain momentum in high school.
Originally, the title of the story was Preacher Man and the Golden Pedestal, a friend of mine did about 7 illustrations, the books were handmade on 8.5x11” paper that I printed at the local copier and then bound with mini black binder clips. The cover was an illustration of the Preacher Man on top of the Golden Pedestal against a bright yellow background, whereas Roses was red. These were part of the DIY book tour/roadtrip odyssey that I took in 2005, and that I drop one of those old emails in this blog from time to time.
Perhaps because it was a pourquoi story, Roses sold noticeably better than Pedestal on that trip. Yet a lot of people preferred Pedestal when they read it in the collection.
So after messing about with the title and deciding to keep it simple, I hired an illustrator with some experience as a working artist to provide a fresh perspective, not to mention a lot more illustrations, and a book designer fresh out of a graphic design program who is eager to work in her new career. She did a lovely job with taking pieces of the illustrations and sprinkling them all over the book. Thus The Golden Pedestal is transformed into is a beautiful gem of a book. At least, I believe it is. I’m excited to get it out there.
I also am pretty clueless on how to market this to the general public because it’s completely different than the adult novels I usually write. It also complicates things just a bit that I write children’s fairy tales using my first name (Mary), and my adult fairy tales under my middle name (Montgomery).
I was advised to use different names to prevent confusion, especially for parents who might get scared off by the nature of my adult work. The Ella Bandita Stories – I’m at work on the second novel right now – cover the darker themes of sexuality, yearning, seduction, grief, loss, alienation, and these novels are for an adult audience. Although the sex scenes are not the majority of the story by any means, the sex scenes are explicit enough to be considered erotica. There’s only 1 scene like this in Ella Bandita and the Wanderer, but in The Shepherd and the Courtesan, there will be many more.
Although it may be the better part of wisdom to separate my children’s work from my adult work, I think it’s a shame. Sexuality and morality are two completely different states of being, and this really shouldn’t be necessary. Yet I was raised with the belief that good morals had far more concern with “not having sex before marriage,” and not enough concern for being honest, kind, and humble; having integrity; playing fair; living with courage and authenticity; acknowledging the dignity of others; and respecting the rights of others. It is very possible that somebody could have a sex drive so high they are what is considered “promiscuous,” but still embody all these beautiful traits that make a truly moral being. Yet how often is such a person given credit for having sound principles?
The cold, hard truth is we live in a highly sex negative society. That has not changed after decades of sex before marriage is the norm; many couples live together before getting married, and many young people have at least a few lovers before they do settle down.
Truthfully, I am so turned off by the word “moral,” I often substitute it with “principled” because it doesn’t have the emotional charge that makes my skin crawl. I often cringe when I hear “morals.” What comes to mind is the hard edged voice of an embittered dowager who is usually slut-shaming a girl or young woman for being sexual – whether she is “promiscuous” or not.
I could go on and on about this, and frankly, this last could be a long blog in its own right, and maybe it will be later. So I conclude with – I’m about to come out with a children’s book. I promise The Golden Pedestal will encourage good morals in your kids.
So what is The Golden Pedestal about?
A fable for ages 8 and up!
The Purple Princess has it so good. Her best friends, Sir Highbrow Olive and Miss Blue Begonia live on either side of her. The Purple Princess loves to play piano. Sir Highbrow Olive loves to study. Miss Blue Begonia loves to garden. They live with a view of the Golden Pedestal that drew their ancestors from the mountains to this valley. Harmony rules this village until the Preacher Man falls to his knees before the Golden Pedestal. Every day, the Preacher Man preaches of the glory of gold, begging the question: Who is good enough to be beholden on the Golden Pedestal? Then the people choose the Purple Princess as the one they should worship, the one who stands above all the rest. Sir Highbrow Olive and Miss Blue Begonia rush to her aid, and the three friends must find a way to reclaim the peace and harmony of their home before it is too late.
I hope you enjoyed some of the illustrations throughout this blog post. If this sounds like the kind of story you'd want for your kids and you'd love to pre-order a copy, write to me at email@example.com, send me a Paypal of $10 with both your email and physical addresses by September 15th, 2018, you'll get that beautiful book by the end of September. Unless you live in another country. It may take longer.
Thanks for reading!
As I said in an earlier post, I got to making lots of memes to promote my existence here in this world and in cyber space. I think Cole and I came up with some pretty awesome images, and thought it would be cool to share some of our collection in the blog.
These memes are original in the pairings of images with words. Many of the quotes are from those who are wiser and more experienced than I - not to mention famous. Unless the author is unknown, I always credit brilliance where it is due. And of course, I didn't take the pictures. But many are quotes from my work, and in one meme, my perspective.
These are some favorites of mine as well as those pinned often on Pinterest. I don’t know how all of this will shake out, but for the sake of passing on some good advice, I recommend Canva as a great place to design memes for free. My second choice is Quotes Cover, which is where I got started. I was pretty limited with how I could design the image and where I could put words on Quotes Cover. I think Canva makes a cleaner, more pristine image, so I use it all the time now. But I had to figure it out and have somebody show me a little of how to work that site. Both sites are free to work with, which is always a bonus. That said, I hope y’all enjoy the images and feel free to share them on your own social media – especially those that have Free Flying Press on them. ;)
So there y'all have it. There are many more. I hope y'all enjoyed viewing these as much as we did making them! It's a lovely creative pursuit to make some memes!
Are you a writer? Or someone who likes to write?
Do you love fantasy?
Do you love fables and myths?
Do you love the idea of taking fables and myths in a different direction?
Did you like that prompt above?
If so, have a look-see at these bits of inspiration to get your creative juices flowing! Some are also rather pleasing to look at, if I say so myself. ;-)
Most of these are take-offs on myths and fables, but there are also two suspense prompts, and Rogue and Babe promise to make a romp of a romance – or a spoof of a romance if that’s how you roll.
The possibilities are endless…
FYI, these prompts are original and unconnected to my creative work, so use them however you like and enjoy!
Much has changed in the world of publishing and self-publishing. This past weekend, I attended the Willamette Writers’ Conference in Portland, Oregon. This was my first Conference in several years.
About 10-12 years ago, I went to quite a few. At that time, I was hungry for an agent or an editor or both because, like most of us who had been writing for many years, it was my dream to get published. By my 3rd Conference, I was a pro at finding where the agents and editors would be, at angling for an opportune conversation where I could pitch my story that was not yet a novel. I had an agenda. So did every other writer who was at the same conference. We were sharks circling a handful of meaty minnows. It was exhausting. And I’m pretty sure it was highly unpleasant for the agents and editors who attended these conferences. There wasn’t an agent or editor at any conference I went to that didn’t have some over-the-top stories of being stalked by 100’s of writers – some more overzealous than others.
One of the classes I went to this weekend taught me that my mindset back then had been a mistake. Since I am committed to the self-published path, I hadn’t signed up for any pitches. I couldn’t care less about who the agents and editors were – unless they were freelance and good, because I need one. I went to this WW Conference because they had a lot of classes on self-publishing and marketing tips. I was there for what I needed to learn.
Russell Nohelty taught most of the classes on self-publishing, building an audience, and making a profit. His core theme surprised me though. In his class on building an audience from scratch and on pitching, what he had to say came down to one thing. Connection.
“Publishing is a long game. And it is a game that is built on relationships.”
In his talk on building an audience, Russell said he spends about 10 hours a week communicating with some of his fan base. He asks questions about themselves, their lives, their favorite books, movies, shows, hobbies, and interests.
“Instead of treating them like a $20 bill, I find out who they are as 3-dimensional humans. Be a human treating somebody else like a human. Then go out and find other humans who have similar interests to the human that likes your stuff. Chances are you will find more.”
When I went to his pitch class, he said pretty much the same thing.
“Go into the pitch session and take a minute to find out what the agents like, and what they are looking for. Treat them like a human, not an opportunity. Even if they don’t want what you are looking for, you might have something like that later. And in the meantime, you’ve made a friend because you’ve treated them like a human. And if they can’t help you, they might direct you to somebody who could.”
And in that class is when Russell said.
“This is a long game. And it’s built on relationships. Chances are none of you will sell your book or your script from this conference. But you can make connections. From those connections, you could make some friends. That is what will serve you in the long game.”
As I listened, I cringed a little when I thought back to those early conferences, my sharp eyes, and restlessness that probably made the agent or editor very uneasy. I was not being a human trying to connect with another human. I was a predator looking for something to feast on. That had to be very unpleasant for them. And when I think back on those conferences, I’m pretty embarrassed.
My agenda mindset may have accounted for some less than fabulous perceptions I had ultimately of the publishing industry. Yet in defense of hungry writers stalking agents and editors for a chance, the Monolith of Traditional Publishing set it up that way when it became a business rather than a forum for the art of the written word.
Ours is an aggressive culture that is very focused on the outward trappings of success measured in tangible units like money, and less tangible ideals of elitism and exclusion. Something happens to creativity when the focus is on money, not the finished piece of art, whether this is writing or painting or music or theater or film or dance. When the focus is on getting in, getting up, and getting more, how can the creative juices flow? How can new ideas and fresh perspectives flourish when the pressure is on to make money, Money, MONEY?
To backtrack to the Conferences I had gone to more than a decade ago…
My journey through the Conferences started during my DIY booktour/roadtrip, an odyssey of self-publishing. With the Beast filled with 100’s of my self-published copies of “Ella Bandita and other stories,” I went to the San Diego Writers’ Conference in the spring of 2006. Yet the advice given to me was: Do NOT bring attention to the fact that I had self-published. There was a strong stigma to being a self-published author, and I was told that would be the kiss of death for anybody who was somebody in New York publishing. Marla Miller, an editor and writer who had her non-fiction published, but still couldn’t get her fiction published, was very blunt in talking about how publishing was a tough business and we all had to play the game. A lot of classes talked about all the rules and regulations, the have-to-do-this and the don’t-you-dare-do-that RULES TO LIVE BY, for any of us to have even a snowball’s chance in Hell of ever getting published.
Oh, and the market for fiction was shrinking faster than a receding glacier.
The pressure was on. Those who were in the Industry were all-powerful. Those who had been published in that Industry had oversized egos. They were the cool kids and the writers (unpublished) were the outsiders. Of course, many of the cool kids were very nice people. Most of them were quite reserved – obviously necessary for the sake of self-preservation with all the hungry writers stalking them. But it wasn’t long before I began to feel like the pathetic geek trying to get the cool kids to accept me.
That really sucked. And frankly, I think the dynamic of in-group vs. outcast is grossly inappropriate. Writers are, as a general rule, odd and eccentric people. Most of us were not in popular crowds in high school, college, or even adulthood. We were the introverts, the watchers, the geeks, and the freaks. Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club) said in a fantastic speech: “I believe writers became writers because we were the ones who were never invited to the party.” This was at the last Willamette Writers Conference I went to several years ago. Of course, this pithy line was part of a hilarious story he shared about an exclusive yacht party he’d been invited to because he was now “THE Chuck Palahniuk, Famous Author.” But he was so right it hurt. A publishing industry constructed on popularity dynamics becomes an environment where the creative minds of voyeuristic screwballs cannot and will not thrive.
I remember many of the agents and editors wanted something that was “a lot like Jodi Picoult.” A lot were looking for Urban Fantasy, which was really hot at that time. One agent suggested I rewrite my pre-Industrial Revolution fairy tale of Ella Bandita into an Urban Fantasy, and maybe she’d be interested. What did I write that was a lot like what somebody else had written? We were encouraged to define ourselves as effective copycats of somebody else who had already succeeded.
They were looking for the next hot book to be the next runaway bestseller. It was all about money.
The world was addicted to self-help. A non-fiction book on how to lose 100 pounds in 6 months or less, or how to get rich in 3 years, would have a shot. But the fiction market was shriveling up.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with ambition, wanting to do a good job, wanting to be successful, or even wanting to make a profit. But there has to be a limit and there has to be balance. And if the publishing houses want profitable stories, they need to nourish and support the weirdoes who will be the ones to bring them something different – that might actually become that next runaway bestseller. But you have to support them, not choke them. Creative minds don’t flourish under pressure like that.
Also, the upstart Amazon was stirring things up at this time.
With the burgeoning ebook market, Amazon was coming out with guns blazing and suddenly, there was an endless vista of possibility for self-published authors. Many agents and editors expressed nervousness about what was happening, because of course, Amazon was totally undercutting the Monolith of New York Publishing and their overpriced books. One agent compared Amazon and the state of publishing as the Wild West where anything goes because it was lawless. In other words, New York Publishing was no longer all-powerful and invincible. What was going on at that time would change the world forever, when it came to publishing and even better, doing away with the stigma of self-publishing. It’s a badge of courage to claim yourself as an Indie Author. It also sounds more rock star.
Of course, publishing and those who played in that arena have adapted to the changing market and what needs to be done. The Big 6 publishers are still going strong. But there are now hybrid authors who do both traditional and self-publishing. Even those with Big Publishing Houses behind them still have to do all the promotion that Indie Author has to.
Back to this past weekend…
Since I didn’t go to any of the panels with agents and editors lined up like ducks in a row, I have no idea the current attitude of the players from the Big Publishing World. So there’s no way to compare then and now.
It was refreshing to go to a Conference, and not give a hoot who the agents and editors were - unless they were freelance and good, but stalking is not necessary; I can simply hire one. I’m sure there were writers stalking agents, but none of those sharks was me.
Instead I focused on the classes geared towards Indie Authors, what I could learn, and the only thing I kept an eye out for were other writers who needed a writers’ group. I found them too. In the classes geared towards Indie Authors. Our first meeting is at the end of the month.
So, in this long game built on relationships, perhaps now, I’m on the right path.
Thanks for reading!
This is the “Inverted C.” I learned this basic story structure about twenty years ago during a 9-month Writers Workshop at the University of Washington in Seattle. I really, truly desperately wanted to become a novelist, and I had no idea how to get started. Being a voracious reader of novels did not make me adept at writing them.
The Inverted C is very similar to the Joseph Campbell’s narrative structure that is known as the Hero’s Journey. I like the Inverted C because it is simple and flexible. However, if anybody struggles with a Quest cursed with a sagging middle, the Hero’s Journey would help to flesh out the meat of the story.
The Inverted C is perfect for beginners. Over the years, I’ve shared this in 5-10 minutes with friends who were natural writers, but didn’t know what to do when it came to structuring a story.
When it comes to the Inverted C: 1. The arc of the entire novel is to fit the curve of the Inverted C; 2. Every chapter is to be structured on the Inverted C; 3. Every character should have an inverted C storyline, even the minor players.
For the purposes of simplicity, I’ll stick with the protagonist.
Cage: This is where the Protagonist begins. The Cage could be attractive, the protagonist a Lucky Dude who has everything – beautiful and loving wife/girlfriend (or both), exciting career, beautiful home, Master of the Universe status, etc. Or the cage could be the prison of misery. A Wretched Dude has a broken spirit, broken bank, addiction, depression, despair, etc.
Escape: Enter the Intruder and the Protagonist leaves the Cage. The Intruder can be a friend or a foe. A murderer could kill the Lucky Dude’s beautiful wife/girlfriend (or both), and the character is now kicked out of his Cage of a wonderful life. Or Wretched Dude could be visited by an angel or a demon (or both) and be challenged to change, heal, grow, or perish. Thus Wretched Dude leaves his miserable life to start the Quest.
Quest: What does Protagonist want? What does Protagonist yearn for? No Longer Lucky Dude wants vengeance for his dead and beautiful wife/girlfriend (or both). So he has to find the killer, find why the killer chose him and his loved ones, figure out the best revenge for killer, and meet all kinds of characters along the way, one of whom is a Comely Lady Cop. Wretched But Wanting a Better Life Dude yearns for wholeness, healing, abundance, and redemption. Wretched Dude is in a battle against himself and his inner demons that lead him to make such bad decisions. He still meets friends and foes along the way, those who would help him grow and heal, and those who would keep him stuck, addicted, and toxic. These adventures and journeys make up the bulk of the novel story.
Dragons: The moment of truth. Challenges/confrontations lead to the Crucial Choice. Not Lucky Dude finds the killer of his wife/girlfriend (or both), and they battle. He has his chance to torture and kill the killer, and avenge her death (or their deaths). But he has met the Comely Lady Cop is on his tail, knowing that he is on the killer’s tail. Does he let Comely Lady Cop bring killer to justice or does he take it in his own hands? Not So Wretched Dude has conquered his addictions and is feeling renewed hope in life. He goes to a party to celebrate his acceptance into school, but there are cocaine and a Hooker there. The Hooker’s Pimp is a dealer and it is her job to get Not So Wretched Dude back into his addictions. She pressures him to snort and swallow. Wretched Dude feels an uprising of his self-loathing and takes that silver straw to snort. But then he thinks of all he could have ahead of him. Does he give in to habit and the temptation of his weaknesses, or does he choose redemption and the unknown of a sweeter life?
Home: The destination at the end of the Quest. Back to the original Cage, on to an open wide Vista, or descending into a deeper and darker Cage. Has the protagonist changed? Or did the protagonist remain the same. What did the protagonist learn? Did the protagonist find liberation or did the protagonist die? Home can be anything from a happy ending to the abyss of despair to emptiness. Lucky Dude could become Transcendent Dude if he forgives killer enough and chooses a second chance at joy and love with Comely Lady Cop. Or Lucky Dude could become Convict Dude in the Cage of prison by killing killer and getting caught by Comely Lady Cop who lives by her Cop-ly duties even with a man she’s fallen in love with. Wretched Dude could become Healer Dude if he says no to cocaine and the Hooker, goes on to school, and becomes a therapist. Or Wretched Dude could become Homeless Dude because he succumbs, and goes down the spiral until he loses absolutely everything.
If every chapter and every character has the story curved on an Inverted C, and you’re golden. This works for short stories, novellas, plays, screenplays, novels, and it would probably work well with poems too. This is a structure, not a formula. And it is ancient. Myths and fairy tales are structured along the Inverted C. Even Pulp Fiction was told along the Inverted C. Every character in that crazy movie had an Inverted C storyline that was spliced up and rearranged.
Hope this helps. Thank you for reading and happy writing!
This 2nd email from my road trip journal is of the first event I did on a year long booktour roadtrip of telling stories and selling a book out of my rig - the Beast. Looking back, I can't believe my mindset. I really was half cocked and had no idea what I was doing! It is a huge regret of my life that I did not get any pictures from that time. These photos here are much more luxurious than what I had to work with at that time, but they evoke the "vibe" I was going for in setting up my first booth for my first attempt at DIY writer/storyteller glory. Enjoy!
That enemy of common sense, I had a mighty vision of massive book sales dancing in my head as I drove my poor, little, injured Brown Beast to the end of the road - also known as Homer, Alaska. There was a Concert on the Lawn weekend event happening in a town that was known for its artistic hippies. It was my first stop. How could anything go wrong? I pushed my broken Beast to the limit to get there.
The bands were my first clue that my vision and reality were not in alignment. Many of the bands playing were the baby-faced offspring of the artistic hippies. Therefore, most people in the audience were...kids.
But, I get ahead of myself...
I made a new friend at a coffee shop. Something about living in your rig really makes for fast and furious bonding glue when you meet somebody who's doing the same thing. Ann had arrived in Homer four weeks before from Montana. She's one of those who always needs something to do, so Ann was more than happy to play the role of my lovely assistant in setting up the cheap Wal-Mart special that was my canopy, and lining it with silk tapestries and sarongs, and putting blankets and pillows on the ground, as well as scented candles to make our booth smell nice. The idea was to make our space more appealing to the passerby. Our master plan was that people would be lured in by the atmosphere, would want to come in and sit for a spell while I captivate them with stories about my heart-eating anti-heroine. My mythical audience would be so enthralled they would have to buy the book. Of course, they would. To find out what happens next.
It didn’t exactly work out that way.
One thing I didn’t consider was how loud the music would be blaring into my cozy, seductive, storytelling space. Kind of hard to create a mesmerizing-sit-down-and-chill-so-you-will-buy-my-stories vibe when the background music is the off key screeching of 14-year-old punk rockers. They might have even been twelve.
As the day passed, several people asked how much the sarongs were. Even though there were books displayed with price tags. Many commented on how cozy we looked as they passed by. One guy offered me ten dollars to sit under the booth while Laura Love was playing, if it started to rain. He did end up being my last sale of the day.
But that's not the point.
Three teenage girls came up to the booth and said: "Okay, we're gonna do it. How much for all three of us?" Fortunately, by that time, word came around that everybody thought I was fortune teller reading tarot cards, so at least I wasn't caught off guard. When I told the girls I was a writer selling a book, they sneered and walked off. These kids wanted face paint, exoticism, and angsty teenage punk rock played by kids who had been doted on by their parents.
A red-headed Tinkerbell who came to my booth, declared she had participated in
the love-ins of the 60’s. She said that's what my booth reminded her of. I wasn’t sure what to make of that, but decided to take it as a compliment.
An artist/writer named Nancy said "Eeewww" when I told her what Ella Bandita was about. Her disgust about my character was not enough to repel her away from my booth, however. Nancy proceeded to tell stories from her own life, about how much she had gotten jacked. She took up all the space – physically and psychically – and managed to repel any people who came by and showed some interest in my booth and my book. Possible customers craned their necks around her, but couldn’t seem to fit past the chip on her shoulder. So they moved on. After a few minutes of me saying: “Thanks for stopping by, Nancy. Nice to meet you! And have a great day!” Nancy finally left, after telling me she didn’t like to receive hugs from “strange women.”
I hadn’t been inspired to hug her.
A very sweet Swiss guy named Remo bought a book on CD after buying the collection of stories. He is in Homer, living in his van and staying out on the spit. Really, the fellowship of homeless travelers is pretty gorgeous. The next day, Remo brought me people to buy my book. One dude he roped in didn’t buy anything, but he sold me the “Key to Art” for $50. This Key to Art was mixed with chocolate, so it would even taste better.
Day one. 10 “Ella Bandita and other stories” sold. 2 “Why Roses Have Thorns” and 1 book on CD of “Ella Bandita.” That morning, I had had grand visions of 50 books a day. That evening, I knew that was unrealistic. It’s good to have dreams, I suppose. But it’s not so good to be attached to them.
The 2nd day came with tempered expectations and a more reasonable sense of promise. A guy who had stopped by the booth at the Concert on the Lawn, and had shown interest in the book but didn’t buy it was at the coffee shop that morning. I was there to brush my teeth and recharge my battery with a frothing mocha. His sister prompted him to buy the book before I got the Concert on the Lawn.
Ann and I rearranged the interior to make it more open. People were stopping by for a reading earlier and things were looking up. Around 3pm, I noticed a common trend that much of the interest coming my way was not exactly from my target market. It seemed a lot of interest was from 55 year old men who wanted to know me better. I’m no complaining. At least, not really.
In all, I sold 22 books. One was an exchange with the Reverend Poor Child and his CD of love songs. I didn’t have the heart to say no to a trade. Within hours, somebody told me that the Reverend Poor Child was considered the bad seed in town, and to “stay the f*** away from him.”
Oh gossip! Oh small towns! A friend in Juneau who knew the Reverend Poor Child from Anchorage didn’t go quite that far. But she did say that he was a prick.
This is an adventure. I’m meeting lots of really cool people and having a lot of fun.
Did you know that it takes 40 days to change a habit?
According to the late Yogi Bhajan, it is so. It also takes 90 days to confirm the new habit; after 120 days, the new habit is who you are; and if you keep it up for 1000 days, you have mastered the new habit.
I’ve found that 120 days will make some profound changes. 120 days was enough to quit smoking. I did this by replacing a bad habit with a good one. Instead of puffing on a cigarette, I practiced the Kundalini breathing exercises Yogi Bhajan passed on to Western culture. I focused on 1 or 2 meditations and mantras at a time for 40-day runs. At the end of that winter, I had transformed into a non-smoker rather than an ex-smoker craving a cigarette. That was more than 15 years ago. Some would say Yogi Bhajan was a cult leader. And maybe that is true. Either way, smoking is a gnarly addiction for a lot of people; it was for me, so the man and his memory have my respect, as well as my gratitude. Since then the 40-day method has been my standard go-to when it comes to making constructive changes in my life.
I’ll get back to this later.
A few days ago, a gentleman responded to a meme on my Twitter page about writer’s block. From what he had to say with very young children to raise, I gathered that he doesn’t have time to write. Since I’m new to parenting via the stepmother path, I could sort of relate to what he was talking about.
I got to thinking about all we have to juggle in life – and then there’s the writing. It’s a balancing act that I’m not comfortable with. There was a time when I had the time to isolate for several weeks to write a rough draft because I didn’t really have to worry about anybody but myself. Even if the loneliness of being that single got to me so much that I suffered some serious writer’s block as a result, I miss having that kind of space to immerse myself in another world. Now, I only get 2 hours of daily writing time - 4 if I’m lucky - before I have to move on with everything else that needs to be done.
As an independent author, I’m also a publisher. I have to find my editors, artists, graphic designers, printers, and whoever else will be involved in the process of giving birth to a new book.
Independent author or not, there’s no getting away from all the social media stuff that needs to be done. Instead of simply working on the creative juice of novels and stories, writers now have to have a platform. We have to blog, tweet, pin, Facebook, and Instagram, etc. all for the sake of getting our name out there in the hopes that the world knows our stuff exists and will come to read it and love it. Published authors have to do the social media thing just as much as the Indies do.
Then there is the stuff of life - relationship, friendships, parenting, day jobs for most people, and beloved hobbies for those who have the time. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems there are much more demands on time and attention and energy than there ever have been before. Or maybe it’s because a child has been thrown into the mix of life, and I’m still getting used to that.
I’ve never been organized in my life, and now I have to be at least a little competent at it. Which brings us back to habits because I had to improve mine.
So about that 40-day method of creating healthy habits…
Or 90 day.
Or 120 day.
In March, I made a commitment of 4 small yet mighty changes of habit - daily meditation, walking, chores, and writing. I started the day with meditation and walking before getting my morning coffee. Then I wrote at least 2 pages every day and did at least 1 chore.
Yesterday was Day 120.
Small changes lead to big results.
Meditation has balanced me a lot more and I can concentrate so much more. I’ve lost about 15 pounds from walking – just walking. I usually write more than 2 pages a day. One chore often leads to at least another chore, sometimes 2 or 3 more. I’m not saying that I’m a neat freak now, but I tidy more than I used to and it has made a difference in how functional I am. In 120 days, I’ve finished a rough and messy draft of a novel. I’m almost finished with rewriting and polishing a fairy tale I wrote years ago.
I’ve been more productive during the last 120 days than I have been in years. With all the demands on my time and energy, I’m more productive than I was when I had the time and space to dive into an imaginary world for weeks at a time.
Just in case anybody would like a to-do checklist on consciously changing habits, I got some great tips from the guys at JumpCut, and their Viral Academy on making Youtube videos. Here ya go:
1) Identify the bad habit you need to change.
We lie to ourselves all the time about our habits, and justify them. Don’t do that.
2) Replace the bad habit with a good one.
We rely on our habits to get through the day. Taking away a bad habit without putting something else in its place won’t work. For example: Meditate for 5-10 minutes first thing in the morning, instead of opening your phone to check Facebook. Or do deep breathing exercises that will give you a head rush instead of reaching for a cigarette. That’s what I did.
3) Plant a seed habit.
Start small and build from there. It helps if you put yourself in the position that you have to do it. That makes it easier to do it every day. For example: Walk or ride bike to work. Write 2 pages before checking social media, etc.
4) Don’t break the chain.
This is where the 40 days comes in. If you don’t have a wall calendar, get one. Put a big fat X in any color you want on each day that you do your new, healthy habit. Do this for as many days as you can. Doing this feels deliciously satisfying.
If you make it to 40, try to push it to 90 days. Maybe spread to 120 days. And then…
I should probably aim for 1000 days to make sure these new habits stay with me forever.
Are there any writers out there who have any healthy habit forming tricks you’d like to share? What tools do you have to make it all happen? If you have any insights, please check in with a comment or two. Check in if you struggle with the juggle. Because I’m pretty sure we all do.
Thanks for reading.
So… I’m making memes now. It was that something new learned this week.
For the record, I’m very proud of the meme that starts this blog.
In my personal life, I’m addicted to Facebook in a love/hate kind of way. My partner hates it and I wouldn’t say I love it, but it’s become a habit. An annoying habit. Anybody who is not addicted to any kind of social media and does not participate -especially if that somebody isn’t a hermit in a cave somewhere in the Rockies – has my respect.
But I’m a sucker for memes, especially the good ones. It’s such a succinct way to get a pithy message across with words and a visual. Thanks to my flailing in the world of Pinterest, I came across a blog on how to make memes.
So I read it, and started. And I think I’m kind of hooked.
If I’m not careful memes will take over and I will stop writing. And that would be a bad, bad thing. Perhaps these are natural growing pains that come with donning lots of new hats?
It’s good for my brain to learn new things. That’s what I’m telling myself right now. I’m overwhelmed. I’m trying to embrace it.
But I loved learning about memes. I made 10 memes on my first day. Self-expression feels good to choose images and quotes – sometimes I even use my own. Or I use an image from the piece of artwork from Ella Bandita with a punch that fits in in a different way, and thus alters the meaning. The possibilities are endless. So what’s not to love?
The best part is that I already taught something the day after I learned it. My friend and former housemate, Cole is stepping in to help and I taught her how to make memes too. The ones she made were completely different from mine, but fabulous! Maybe we will rock cyber space with our fresh take on things and our memes that go viral.
Or maybe we’ll simply do a great job of getting people’s attention to this website and my stories. Because that’s what I’m really here for, you know?
What about you, dear reader? Do you like to pass the time making memes, finding memes, or both? What are some of your favorites? Let’s have some show and tell, please.
PS: Here’s the link to a site that makes it really, really easy to make a meme:
PPS: Cole found her medium through the Adobe Spark app. And here is one of hers.
In 2005, I was extremely blessed to receive a grant from the Rasmussen Foundation in Anchorage, Alaska to self-publish a collection of original fairy tales and hit the road, telling stories and selling a book out of the back of my truck. I was on the road for a year. It was one of the greatest adventures of my life. I kept an email journal that I sent out to my friends, which eventually became a blog due to one of my friends being into it on Juneaumusic.com. I don't know if that site is still up, but if it is, my blog is not there. And self-publishing has changed a lot since then. We rely far more on the internet and more people are doing what I did now. Whereas no other writers were then. Anyway, it seems fitting as adventures in self-publishing continue to resurrect those stories from that time. It is a huge regret of my life that I did not get any pictures of me in my beloved Beast from that time. But above is a picture that looks a lot like the old rig that I traveled in. Enjoy!
Ode to the Brown Beast
King of Resilience
(At least, I hope so)
Cursed be the blockhead that twisted the oil cap too
The Brown Beast lost precious blood on the first run
of his long journey.
Clanking its death rattle into Tok, Alaska,
the rider of the Brown Beast was alarmed to
receive the news from a twelve year old with braces
that the Brown Beast would be lucky to make it to
The Brown Beast would need bypass surgery, if not a
"It's got an old heart, and old hearts get tired,"
said the shaman grandfather of the boy.
The boy offered to buy the Brown Beast, if the rider
cared to sell...
No, the rider most certainly did not.
The Brown Beast rattled and rolled its way out of Tok,
determined to make its way to the City of Muck.
The death rattles wound down to an occasional clank on
slowing to a walk and stop, and the rider was
reassured. Sort of.
The Brown Beast made its way to the city, coming to
life when called upon to do its duty.
But the need for a doctor is imminent, if not
Will the Brown Beast ride again, valiantly to the end
of the road, holding out for the Carnival?
Or is it a terminal case?
Either way it sucks that my emergency fund is needed,
At least I had a place to crash...
It is overwhelming taking the helm and learning the steps of the social media dance that Jessica set up in the last four years. On one hand, I’ve never been a huge fan of social media. Yet, on the other hand, I use it in my personal life and I’m a little addicted – my partner would say I’m addicted A LOT. Be that as it may, I might as well use it for my work and work with it until I “get it,” which I really don’t right now.
I will learn a lot in the coming months. I’m pinning on Pinterest without a clear idea as to why I should do this. I’ve heard that it has helped with driving traffic towards my website, where people can find out I exist and about my work, etc. So I’m going through these images and pinning, without really understand what I’m doing.
Also, this lovely young woman I interviewed - who is likely to be the book designer for The Golden Pedestal - said she used to use Pinterest as a knitter, but she has found it to be full of ads and not as useful as a marketing tool. I'm scared she may be right, but I don't know enough to know that yet. So I continue to pin on a daily basis, and hopefully that will do something wonderful. And if it doesn't, I'm sure another social media site will come up and maybe I'll get in on that as the wave is coming up, not after it has peaked and crested and fallen down.
But I'm here now and I can see why people get really into Pinterest. It’s pretty amazing all the stuff I am finding there. In fact, it's fascinating enough that it’s distracting me from what I should really be doing.
Which is writing…
Any extra insights on how and why to use Pinterest would be gratefully appreciated. Thoughts?
Something wonderful happened for me on June 30th and I’m so excited!
For the first time, somebody bought an ebook off of my website!!!
As silly as I feel getting euphoric over 1 penny less than a dollar, it is so thrilling to have made a sale off my website and not Amazon.
How did this happen? I look forward to the day when I won’t be certain of the answer to this question. But in this instance, I do know.
I was browsing a royalty free website for pictures that might work for a video I’m putting together. Yet instead of taking advantage of the free pictures, I donated a dollar per picture to all the photographers. As a writer who has done my fair share of giving away excerpts and doing storytelling for donations, I prefer to support other artists who are in the same boat as me. Any sale, no matter how small, gives me a boost. It gives me hope that maybe…someday…this will actually work and I will actually make a livable salary off work I love to do. Out of all the photographers who I supported, one came back to my website and supported me with a purchase.
It made my day! I was high off the sale, but it warmed my heart that another artist came back and supported me.
So to anybody who reads this and is tempted…well, go ahead and check out my ebooks and get the one that looks good to you.
Which ebook did the photographer pick? The sexy one. Of course. He picked “Challenge,” the ebook that is censored by Amazon because they don’t like sensuality and skin.
That also made me happy.
This is Montgomery Mahaffey writing, the author behind Free Flying Press. Allow me to introduce myself, because the manager for Free Flying Press, Jessica Cox, has been doing the blogging for the past few years.
I’d like to thank Jessica from the bottom of my heart for her excellent work over the last four years. As the manager and promotions consultant, Jessica has single-handedly created the infrastructure for Free Flying Press, and I could not have done this without her. This pipe dream of mine would have tanked had she not been here.
But now, Jessica is moving on to new opportunities with her own business - Work Lunch PDX. For anybody who wants to have healthy, vegan, plant-based, and delicious lunches made with love and delivered to you, check out her new gig at worklunchpdx.com – you will not regret it. The picture is a lovely one of her next to the array of gorgeous food she did for my book release party 4 years ago! It was not all vegan, but it was delicious!
From here on out, it will be me doing the blogging, as well as trying to follow in the footsteps of the social media dance Jessica developed as I try to figure out my own.
So yeah, my input and feedback is likely to be very different from Jessica’s, but I hope all y’all enjoy it!
Change is beautiful. Good times!
Every so often we get a great up and coming author to share with you their personal story. Today we have Fioina Tarr, an Australian Fantasy writer.
Dig in as she discusses why she writes fantasy, and gives you an update about her latest work!
I have often wondered why I chose fantasy as a genre, but I have come to realise that I think it chose me.
Like most kids, I used my imagination; singing like a superstar in front of the mirror or making spaceships with sheets and cushions in the living room on sleep over nights, but fantasy is another step away from reality; or so I used to believe.
I became addicted to the fantasy genre when I read British author David Gemmell (since deceased). His novels are full of magic with good and evil characters, but what I most enjoyed about his writing style was how his evil characters often turned out to be heroes and his heroic leaders were sometime quite nasty people in private. This got me thinking how fantasy was not really so far removed from our reality as I had once thought.
Now I write fantasy adaptations of Old Testament bibles stories (among other projects).
Depending on who you speak with, the original stores are considered anything from pure speculative fiction to religious law. Over the years, as I have researched and worked with these Old Testament stories I have come to understand that although they are old, they still reflect so much of the cultural diversity we find today. Even though I reproduce my version in a fictional way, the reality and relevance of the context never seems to fade away.
The Jericho Prophecy is more than a retelling of a biblical tale, it is a fantastical reimagining of a time when genocide was normal practise, refugees were often murdered and women were traded as commodities. I never set out to be confrontational with my writing which is why I believe fantasy chose me as a genre, but it is my hope you enjoy the fantasy elements of my books and find the deeper humanity of why I chose to write the way I do.
No matter how hard you try, you can't stay in the same place. The thing is, you can either choose to let life's whims direct you, or you can grab the bull by the horns and see how you are at steering.
If you want to choose your own adventures as a writer that will help you learn more, grow more, and write more (and more better), you should be thinking about ways to push out of your comfort zone and give your creativity more room to wiggle.
I once heard someone talking about growth. He used an interesting metaphor: the lobster. When a lobster grows, he begins to push against his shell. It becomes uncomfortable.
Once the discomfort becomes too great, the lobster retreats to a safe place and sheds his shell, so he can regrow a newer, more roomy shell.
The process repeats.
Growth comes from doing things outside your comfort zone.
This post is all about how to break out of rut of familiarity and routine and into new realms of creativity, growth, and progress.
Routine is good. Routine is bad.
Routine, that thing that gets you out of bed in the morning, has you eat three regular meals a day (or six, like me), and has you brush your teeth before bed.
But routine, when it breeds familiarity and comfort, can be bad.
Creativity benefits from outside perspectives. If you go to the same cafés to write, or hole up in your writing space, you'll suffer from a lack of "fresh air" that can really blow your abilities up.
Do | Learn | Discover new things.
You can change up the location of your writing space and see what new influences you can find to stimulate your story.
You can invest in a community college course that will inform you of new ideas, perspectives, and challenge old assumptions.
Make a list of all the things you'd love to do but don't have time for, and DO one of them.
Experiment with a hobby one of your characters has.
Dress like the opposite gender for a day.
Take a day trip to a town you've never been before.
Practice silence. Dedicate a day to complete silence. Even texting.
Read outside your genre. Love mystery and hate romance? Give a top rated romance novel a whirl!
You can come up with your own ideas for how to break out of your comfort zone. And when you do, interesting things will happen.
Leave a comment below with your own suggestion for pushing past your comfort zone!