First words, screwing off, and other matters

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You’re probably wondering why there’s a picture of a fox on your screen, and what it has to do with this post.

Welp. I don’t know, really. I was looking at something that might go well with the topic, and since I couldn’t come up with anything, I settled on a cute pic of a young fox. A child really. I guess that’s the point.

My son is ten months old, almost eleven, as I write this. Today, he just said his first real words. Hi dada (which counts, in baby speak, especially since he repeated it on demand). He also tries to say “hot”, which is what I tell him when he tries to grab my coffee mug. I’ve never been so proud of something in my entire life. It amazes me that it’s possible to love someone so much in such a short period of time, automatically.

I think about how small he is, and how quickly he’s grown in such a short time period. Just January he was born; he’s crawling now. I try to spend time with him every day.

If ever we need a reminder why we do the things we do, it’s for our families. Our loved ones. I think about the things I pursue – writing, as my example – I do it because I love it, of course, but that isn’t always enough. Why not? Because I am a father. 

To do something for one’s self is selfish. Parents no longer have that luxury, despite anything they say. Everything a parent does from the day they conceive a child has to revolve around that little person. Bringing him or her into the world is the absolute most important thing a person can do. Raising that little person to be an adult, a responsible, thriving adult, is no mean feat.

I’m not knocking hobbies or things done to blow off steam here, and I’m really just speaking for myself. A lot of times the things I write on this blog are just for me. It’s my way of documenting something so I won’t forget. Also to keep some accountability.

For me, because I want to write for a living, I can’t afford to screw around, pretending I’m doing this “just as a hobby”.I want this thing to give me Freedom with a capital F. Freedom to stay at home and watch my son grow up, kick a soccer ball around with. (No football!)  I want to see him play his first game, first piano lesson, first recital. I want to teach him all the things I think I can give him to prepare him for the larger world out there. Most of all, I just want him to know that his dad loved him. And that, my friends, is why I toil on.

I’m done screwing off. Back to writing.

 

How to Kill Your Success:3rds

 

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Everyone is probably familiar with the image from the show Quantum Leap. A guy gets caught in some kind of loop where he jumps from person to person, righting wrongs and fixing their love lives, among other things. Great show from the 80s.

In this series of posts, I’ve been covering the things that will kill your success. These are common things that get in the way of whatever it is you want to become or do.

The quantum leap I’m talking about is the get rich quick kind, the hurry up and have success. This is the thing that everyone wants to happen. “Be a success overnight!” “Win the lottery!” “Must have it now!” That kind of thing.

See, most people when they start an endeavor think, “I’m going to write this book, publish it, and it’s going to sell a bazillion copies and I’ll never have to work again.” That actually goes for just about anything people attempt to do. “I’m going to start an xyz business and it’s going to be instantly successful.” If they aren’t saying these things, they are thinking them in some form. And of course, they already set themselves up for failure.

It’s normal to want to be a success at something. In fact, you SHOULD want to be successful at whatever it is you’re doing. That quantum leap, though? Most likely not happen.

Movies show the quantum leap all the time. The hero goes from zero to hero in less than 2 hours. The truth is, that rarely happens. When we hear of some break-out business, or author, or athlete, most likely they have taken the everyday simple steps, DAY IN AND DAY OUT to achieve their success. Sorry for the caps.

Take Andy Weir for example. Most people think he’s an overnight success. That’s not true. Andy had been writing since roughly 2002, and had multiple attempts and getting published. his novel The Martian was free on his website for awhile, and readers were clamoring for an Amazon edition. He put it together and stuck in on Amazon for 99 cents. The rest is history.

The point is, he kept at it. He didn’t just write The Martian. He wrote other things first. He kept writing. He didn’t just write a single novel. He developed a readership over time, and when that readership clamored for an amazon version, he made one. His readers bought it, which catapulted it to success. He didn’t just write it and stick in on amazon and right away become an instant success. The fact that it’s a success has little to do with some kind of flash in the pan success. It has more to do with the fact that he kept doing things over and over.

Stephen King.

Everyone knows how Carrie was turned down umpteen times. He wrote the first chapter and threw it in the trash can. His wife fished it out, read it, and told him he was on to something.

King kept submitting that book over and over and over until someone picked it up. No one saw him do that except maybe his wife. Anyone who doesn’t know that story probably thinks King was a flash in the pan.

There’s hundreds of thousands of examples of people who did tiny little steps, every day, that eventually got the ball rolling so fast down the hill it appeared to be a quantum leap.

If you’re running a business, there’s a lot of things going on behind the scenes that you know about. You may be writing, making covers for your book. Maybe marketing, using facebook ads. Interacting with your readers. Telling people about your book. Either way, it’s the little things, the seemingly small things that take you up or down.

The problem is, everyone’s just waiting for the quantum leap to come along. The people who are successful, aren’t. They know that by making a plan, sticking with it day in and day out, they will eventually achieve their goals. That mentality comes with having the right philosophy, which is something I’ll talk about later. For now, just remember this:

The only way to get where you want to go is by DOING. And THERE IS NO QUANTUM LEAP to success. That is all.

 

How to Kill Your Success, Part Deux

 

 

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Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! This is the day when we all look back over our lives and remember to be thankful for everything we have. There’s definitely lots to be thankful for. My wife and I had our first child, and it took us fifteen years to crank out the little guy so I’m definitely thankful for him. And of course, the lovely woman who birthed him. Yes, that is me with my early morning wildman hair and no glasses. (The little guy kept pulling them off while trying to press his head against my head.)

The last few years have been crazy. I was fortunate enough to spend my father’s last 5 years with him, getting to know him, his likes and dislikes, his love for his family. He was a spiritual man who felt the need to impart his knowledge and wisdom to his children. He also encouraged my writing, and as I continue on this journey he continues to stay in my thoughts.

This thanksgiving I want to talk about one of the things that keep me motivated, and should hopefully help you keep on track as well.

You are going to die.

Wait, what? You thought I was going to say something else?

I can’t take credit for it. A guy by the name of Gary Vaynerchuk said it. But it’s awesome, so I stole it. But what does it mean? It means that time is short. If you want to accomplish anything meaningful, you can’t waste it.

Time is the one thing in this life that has any real value. We all trade time for money. We spend time in ways we hope will produce income, whether it’s writing or some other pursuit that interests you. People place a monetary value on it. But the reality is, it’s all you really have.

We also waste a lot of time. we do things that don’t move us forward, towards the things we want in life. We waste time being mad at people over petty things that don’t matter. We write each other off over political differences, personal choices, pie recipes, cat pictures. (By the way, I don’t have cats so don’t post pics of them. I’m allergic.)

We waste time everywhere. Society keeps us busy with TV, internet, social media, video games, all designed to hold our attention (and rake in revenue, of course).

I’m not going to knock people’s past times. Everyone has hobbies for relaxation, I know I do. But if you’re one of those people who complains about not having enough time, you may need to rethink where you’re spending your existing time. Most of us have jobs, things to take care of. So ask yourself, what are you doing with your time? Write it down. Write down where your existing time is going, so you can see it in front of you. Then, after deciding what it is you want to do, start cutting the things out that are eating the precious bits of time you could be spending somewhere else.

Someday, you’re gonna die. None of us can stop it, none of us can take time back once we’ve spent it. The biggest thing people do to kill their own success is wasting the one thing that they have that can give them success.

The good thing about time is that even if you’ve wasted some, life isn’t over. If you’re still breathing,  you still have time. You can still do all the things you want to do. You just have to keep trying, and stop throwing your time away.

Cheers.

How to Kill Your Success, Part 1

 

I feel like a frikkin cheerleader lately.

Seriously. Give me some damn pompoms and I’ll jump up and down and wave my arms about. Give me an A…

The reason I feel this way is that I keep running into people that continually spout the opinion that not only will a very few people succeed at (__fill in the blanks___), but they keep shouting it like someone cares, as if they need to convince someone else of it as well. So I keep jumping up and down, shouting “Hey! iT DOESN’T NEED TO BE THAT WAY!” in the hopes that someone will listen.

There are three major things that will kill your success.

The first thing I’m going to cover is Attitude, because it’s the most ‘visual’ of the things that will kill your success. By visual, I mean that it’s easy to see if someone has a bad attitude.

Negative attitudes plague everyone. Writers specifically tend to suffer from either innotgoodenoughitis, icantmakealivingdoingthisneosis, or better yet, itrieditanditdidntworkformesis. I’ve heard this type of thinking called practical, pragmatic, or realistic. You know what?

It’s none of the above.

What I’m about to say isn’t just aimed at writers. It’s aimed at anyone who has ever tried to do anything that they really wanted to do, but gave up on. Maybe you tried to publish a book and it didn’t sell. Maybe you started a business but didn’t get the sales or customer base you wanted, or there wasn’t enough demand for what you were offering.

Either way, you gave up and put the blame on something else other than your own actions. Your attitude is killing your success. There, I said it. You may not want to hear this. You may think I’m full of kaka(which is partially true. Hey, I am a writer after all). When it comes to this though, you’d be wrong.

Why is attitude so important to success? Because your attitude shows your outlook. If you fail at something, or something didn’t turn out the way you wanted, and you have a positive attitude, you’ll think, “That’s okay. I learned something. I’ll try again.” If you have a negative outlook, you’ll think, “I failed, This doesn’t work, I wrote a good book but nobody wants to buy it,” etc. Instead of taking that failure, analyzing it, learning from it, and doing better next time, you let that failure beat you over the head until you don’t want it anymore.

Worse, you let that attitude infect other people by spouting your opinion wherever you go. You might call yourself a writer. Heck, you may still write, but that diseased attitude is never going to let you win. Ever. And it might drag a few people down with you.

Don’t believe me? ask anyone who has ever owned a business and succeeded. Most of them have failed, and miserably at one point and time. Your focus becomes your reality. If you focus on how big of a failure you were, guess what? you’re just going to fail more. Failing is okay. It’s part of the learning curve of well, everything. It’s normal. The more you do something, over time you will get better at it. If you’re in an industry, you learn more about it. You experiment and find things that work.

Because I can’t approach a problem without providing a solution, here’s a fix: Every day, listen to or read something positive. Get a good book such as Think and Grow Rich, The Slight Edge, or 7 Daily Habits of Highly Effective People. Or any number of other good books.

I can’t guarantee your attitude will change overnight. It probably won’t. But if you listen or read to positive things, a little bit, day in and day out, I promise you it will change. And you will be all the better for it.

You will not always succeed at everything.

But you’re never going to succeed if you don’t fix that attitude.

The Plan, Part 1

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In my last post, I talked to myself about a plan I was formulating. Everything needs a plan, and writing about it keeps me honest about it, and about any success, or failures I may have along the way.

Phase 1

The first phase of my plan is simple. Restart my author facebook page and get as many people as I can to like it(and hopefully share it).

Fire up my Twitter account (Hense forth it shall be known as Tweeter) and start using it. I don’t know how many people I have following me currently, so while I’m in goal setting mode I will set the modest 2000 as my goal.

Start an e-mailing list. I’ve never done one of these. My plan for this is to offer a free short story in exchange for an email address. That will allow me to send out new book information, sales, and freebies to people who might be interested. There’s a lot that goes into this and I don’t yet understand all of it, but I’m learning.

This is the end of phase 1. getting those things up and running properly will take some time. I’m giving it two weeks from Monday.

Phase 2

Learn facebook ads. Obviously, I’m not talking about a large budget for this. I’ll keep it low to start after I’ve pestered all my current friends and family to help me spread the word.

Expand my mailing list. my initial goal on this is 500. don’t ask where that number came from. I pulled it from the aether. Or my butt, maybe. either way, it showed up in my head just now and I wrote it down, so that must be it. In phase 2, my plan is to grow it to 2000. That’s the limit of the email program I’m using. hopefully, by that point, it will pay for itself, and I can expand the number of emails I can gather.
So, to recap, and because I like bullet points:
Phase 1

  • Launch my author facebook page (done, needs more content)
  • Get the status of Tweeter, gain at least 2000 followers.
  • Start a mailing list and gain a modest sum of 500. (Seriously, I feel very modest. Typing the word modest makes me feel British, for some reason.)
  • In between phases, relaunch book.

Phase 2

  • Build my email list to 2000.
  • Start testing facebook ads.
  • Finish book 2 in the series.
  • More to come.

I will roll out phase 2 once I can Guage (with a capital G) how phase 1 is doing. Except for the book writing. that will be ongoing.

Re-releasing my first book falls somewhere in between phase 1 and 2. I don’t want to re-launch it until I have the email list and short story up and running. You can be sure that once it is, I’ll be pestering all you people.

Quick, run while you can.

Feet first, again.

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I am part of a writing group on facebook. A wonderful place where I can get insight on writing, submit pieces for critique if needed. That sort of thing.

Out of curiosity, I made a post inquiring how many people were making a living writing. Needless to say, there weren’t many.  Some were writing copy, one was a ghostwriter. maybe a few were making a substantial amount from writing-related things such as editing(one was making 6 figures at her job and had not yet replaced it with book writing).

I also ran into comments from some people who seemed to think a writer couldn’t make a living as an author. Some seemed to think that unless a writer is selling millions of books, or making seven figures, they aren’t successful.

I took a long break from writing regularly after my father passed away. He was a big part of my endeavor to build a writing career.  He was also my initial editor and reader, and next to my wife was my biggest supporter. He helped me immensely with my first 2 books. When he died, I stopped trying.

It took a long time to get the fire burning again, but the great thing about being human is that we get to start over, to try again. To remake what was broken. (Ok, that last bit was from Lord of the Rings.)

By now you may have some questions. I will try to answer them in no particular order, and one at a time.

I don’t get it. What’s the point?

Well, the point is I’m a glutton for punishment. I Intend to prove them wrong.

How are you going to do that?

I made a plan, which I’ll explain in another blog post. The short of it is, I’m going to write more books, and fast.

This is dumb. You can’t just leave me hanging like that. 

Okay, okay. This isn’t technically a question, you know. I’ll give you the gist, then I’ll detail it in another blog post. First off my plan is to build an audience and prepare for a book launch. I want to re-launch my book, confessor, but only after I establish myself. I need to grow my online presence, set up a web page, and start building a mailing list. I also need to write, write, write.

What makes you think you can make a living writing? What makes you so special?

That’s two questions. didn’t I say one at a time?

Oh yeah.Sorry.

Sure you are. I think I can make a living because I’m an egotistical prick. That was a joke. I think I can make a living writing because I believe that I can. I also don’t like being told no. That just pisses me off. I’m stubborn and hard-headed,  and I refuse to lose. Besides, its a dream of mine. Dreams are good, right?

I guess so. What else are you going to do?

Document. I’m going to document everything.

Why? are you a glutton for punishment? Aren’t you afraid of showing your failures to the world?

Of course. Why wouldn’t I be? I’m doing it because it will be a good incentive not to quit. Sometimes, if you tell a bunch of people what your plans are, they will support you. or at the very least, give you crap if you want to quit. Say things like, “dude, you told the whole world you were going to make a living writing. are you some kind of moron?” or something like that.

I don’t know. Sounds pretty dumb to me.

That’s okay. You’re like all the other people out there telling me what I can and can’t do. I’m jumping in feet first. Again. Also, talking to myself is healthy. I promise.

But answering questions you ask yourself isn’t.

Shut up. Not you. I was talking to myself.

 

 

Sometimes, it’s fine

Over the last couple days I’ve reread my book, Confessor. In preparation for a relaunch and possibly continuing on with some more writing (I still have a sequel or 2 in mind) I wanted to fix errors, perhaps do some rewriting, etc. I’ve been away from the book long enough, several years in fact, to hopefully be objective about what I’d written and be able to see trouble spots, sections I would need to rewrite for clarity, maybe having to rewrite the book completely. 

When I’d finished it way back in 2012, I was relieved. Eccstatic. This was a novel I had poured my heart and soul into. I felt, at the time, that it had good premise, decent flow, and a semi-brilliant ending. Even though I knew better, a small part of me hoped (and prayed) that it would take off like a rocket. Of course that didn’t happen. But as I said, I knew better. A writer makes money on a body of work, not a single novel. 

At any rate, my expectation was that I was going to read it and see a disaster.  The plot would crumble beneath my perfectionist gaze.

Only it didn’t. It’s amazing what a few years can do. Sure, I found some errors. Some words that were missed. A few paragraphs I deleted all together. I added a few words for clarity. 

As a whole, though, it read well. Way better than I expected. Did I catch everything? Probably not. I still read well published author’s books and fine errors of one type or another. We are human, it happens.

However, having been away from this book for so long and coming back to it, I realized that it’s not bad. I didn’t change the story, delete any chapters, rewrite any large sections. I’m still a perfectionist, but for once I didn’t get the insane urge to scrap it and rewrite the whole thing. 

Sometimes, it’s fine, just the way it is.