Evolve or Die?

First thing this morning I read an article on Huffpost Books titled:  With Traditional Publishing Dies The Passive Writer-Victim by Leonce Gaiter

And now I can't sleep.

I first started writing on an old Mac Powerbook I picked up at a garage sale for thirty bucks.  Back in the wild days when I first started I had little skill and big dreams.  I would pass out face down on the keyboard in the wee hours of the morning after writing garbage that I thought was surely going to land me on the best sellers list.

Years pass, the skill changes, but the dream stays the same.  I will be at home when I get a call from an agent at a major agency.  They will fawn over my manuscript immediately sending me the details of a lucrative contract.  Publishers will be having bid wars over me while I decline six figure offers in lieu of higher royalties.  Signings and book tours with clog my schedule and Charlie Sheen will follow me on Twitter.

Yes, that's right, I was a victim of traditional publishing.  And a part of me is sad to see the dream die.  Even if it is for the better.  In this day and age the publishing world is faced with the same peril as many other antiquated business models, evolve or die.  And in a time when it is easier than ever to get published and start selling, it was about damn time the ball has been thrown into our court.  Now you can write what you want, design it how you want, sell it where you want and all while retaining your profits.  Now the market truly determines what is popular literature, not the suits.  And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

Welcome to the new way of pursuing art as your dream.  If you're talented and can market yourself, I think you will enjoy your stay.
Why the forty hour work week is killing us.

I think a lot about work.  It's what we do, but not necessarily what we want to do.  We work in order to finance the lives we want.  But what happens when forty or fifty hours doesn't fit in with what we want?  We force ourselves through it and that directly effects our happiness.  Unfortunately if art is your thing, whatever form it may take, your life will be a support system for that art.  And that right there is what is killing us.  We are not truly free to do what we want.  When bills, student loans, past debts, car payments and taxes all crush down on us it takes away something inside.  And it forces us to trudge through a long work week constantly looking forward to Friday.  The weekend reprieve.  The occasional Holiday.  And one or two weeks off a year.  But more and more often I wonder what is the point of looking forward to Friday if it just resets on Monday?

Something Different 

I took a small break from updating my blog this month.  Actually I took a small break from writing all together.  I realized that if I am to have any semblance of a writer's life it can't be lived confined to the four walls of my office.  That and I wanted to quit smoking.

Everything was fine until I started thinking of writing.  Then I started thinking of this blog.  And it all made me wonder when is enough enough?  Some of the greatest writers in history are built of off epic lives.  Fighting in wars, drugs, partying and enduring societal abuse are common.  The drive to write becomes an outlet, a way of coping with these lives.  But when we sit and write we are channeling these experiences not creating more. And it is inevitable that the creative well will go dry after enough draining.

So I pose a question; where is the middle ground?  How do you find balance in your life between living it and writing it?

On a side note it has been 432 hours since I smoked a cigarette.
Are you a Rockstar?

I was drinking my morning coffee today, Dunkin Donuts breakfast blend, and thinking about personification.  Who are we and what do we reflect?  Your identity as a writer in todays market is far more important than most other aspects of your career.  When developing yourself as a brand there is a fundamental question to ask yourself.

How memorable are you?

When people read books like The Shining they are not reading horror they are reading Stephen King.  You don't read Twilight you read Stephanie Meyer.  And nobody picks up Fight Club they read Chuck Palahniuk.  When people pick up your book or short story they need to be experiencing a piece of you.  Don't sell your book, sell yourself.  And more importantly don't censor yourself for fear of offending.  Offense is part of building a personal brand.  Inevitably some people will love you and some people will hate you.  Cherish your readers who love you, and feed the ones who hate you.  They can both be great for business.

This doesn't mean run out and attack any critic who doesn't like you.  And it certainly doesn't mean you have to explain or defend your work.  But it does mean you shouldn't be afraid to tell someone to go fuck themselves.

The most important rule when brand building is to be yourself.  People have incredible bullshit detectors.  You don't have to run out and be a coke snorting, tour bus hopping, shark fucking rockstar.  But you can be awesome in everything you do, and that is what builds a brand.
A Social Media Implosion  

Last night I was working late trying to get more followers on Twitter while participating in several LinkedIn discussions.  After that I went on to staring at my languishing blog for an hour or so without typing anything.  I was quickly side tracked from that by an email from a friend requesting that I "Like" her Facebook page for an upcoming book and help spread the word.  At some point after that I found myself back on Blogger but this time just clicking "Next Blog" repeatedly.  When I realized I was no longer being productive I opened my word processor to begin writing.

It took realizing that I wasn't being productive to light my writing fire.  Now I am thinking back on it wondering if I had actually done anything productive at all.  The essence of writing is to actually put words on a page.  With everyone from publishers to agents pumping the word platform into us it is easy to get lost in what we are supposed do.  Remember that as writers the only criteria that need be met is writing.  When we cease to do that, for whatever reason, we cease being writers.

Having given much thought to this I have resolved to put myself on a more strict writing schedule.  A schedule that doesn't include marketing or networking as part of my writing process.  A well developed media platform may be the key to success, but it is nothing without a well developed product along side of it.

Just a thought.
Under Payed

If you were to map out how much time you spend on research and writing; would it be worth it? In truth I probably make around $0.10 an hour if I am lucky. I spend a lot of time both researching and polishing my material. This makes writing for dollars somewhat frustrating. But we didn't get into this to become billionaires did we? No writing is a passion. Writers don't choose to write, it chooses them. I write to survive, get the voices out of my head and be heard. Why do you write?