Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Traditional or Self Publish: Game Changer

Inertia: A tendency to remain in a fixed condition without change; disinclination to move or act.

I've always valued open-mindedness. Critical thinking and viewing all sides before coming to a conclusion is the more logical path for me. Yet the subject of self-publishing took on a vivid black and white philosophy that didn't include fence sitting. True confession: I believed self-publication was an act of desperation.

Way back in the days before electronic publishing, self-publishing existed in print format. For a tidy sum one could pay to publish their book. Prices varied depending on the package, some upwards of a few thousand dollars. I checked it out once and when I saw it cost money that I didn't have, I took a pass. Preferring to take the traditional path didn't cost me a single penny - just tons of angst (and I'm not including fees for contests and writing workshops, etc. Those were necessary learning tools). Plus, for me selling to a traditional publisher would give me a huge sense of accomplishment.

I still feel that way, but lately I've considered changing my views of those who choose the self-publishing road. Many of my writer friends, who got closer to a traditional publisher's door than I ever did, have gone the self route. Many of these writers are excellent and extremely passionate about the craft, especially this one. It's just that the luck pendulum never swung in their direction. You know - right time; right place, etc. Thus, rather than leave their babies tucked away on the hard drive, they've unleashed them to the highway of electronic readers, circumventing the traditional route. Plus, they're making money and hopefully enough to justify their choice. (Side note: Those who print self-published of yesteryear most likely didn't recoup their investment.)

And who am I to denounce them for their choice? (A smug snob, that's who.)

Perhaps sometimes it isn't about how to publish but choosing to. Not all who choose the self-published route do so because they're sick of rejection. Not all do so out of desperation.

Maybe they just want to be read. And this notion struck me with brute force recently like a divine intervention. It makes me want to purchase a Kindle (again) so I might read the works by very talented writers. And maybe one day some of them will want to read my works...

That is if I have the nerve to put myself out there. And there's the rub. The self-published author possesses insurmountable courage. They have unleashed their babies for all to praise or call "meh." The latter scares me. Still, the self-published authors of the world , at least some, haven't let the "meh" reviews discourage them.

I wonder if self-publishing fulfills a desire for writers to see their hard work to fruition, which makes me question my former feelings about self-publishing. That's a good thing because to stop self-questioning is a dreadful form of inertia.

All said, I must step up and honor my fellow writers who choose self-publication. It's not about the bling, but always about honoring the art and thyself.

Here's to change and growth! May I remain true to myself while embracing the choices of others.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

One Life To Lose

Of all the despicable acts of betrayal, ABC network has cancelled my favorite soap, One Life To Live. The only soap I've watched for the last two years, it offered everything to keep me entertained. It had great acting, dialog and story-lines. Just one episode sucked me in making it the epitome of every writer's goal: Keep the audience in your clutches.

Alas, daytime television isn't like the good old days when the majority of moms were housewives and soap operas had a captive audience. With the changing times and culture, fewer viewers plummeted ratings, and if a show can't sell the soap, well then honey, you're out.

Sadly the show's writing staff winds down, and with that it appears they have thrown up their hands and said, "Let's just get it over with." The writing has diminished, story-lines rushed like a meal made in a microwave. In a sense they've lost an integral part of an artist's soul - they've become lackadaisical, they've lost all...

Integrity. It's as if the writers no longer feel commitment to the art; they're phoning in the pages in order to get the job done. Doesn't matter if it's well done just so long as it's over with.

And it made me think about how I've proceeded with writing. My current work-in-progress is something I've had an on-again off-again relationship with for the past six years. After several starts and stalls I finally said to myself, "Just finish the damn thing. It's not going to get published anyway."

Is it any wonder that I stray from my work? Why show up at all when I've already proclaimed its end result? And when I do show up to the pages I write stream-of-consciousness; whatever pops into my head I barf to the pages, not because the words come from the heart but because I'm just getting it done. I've set up a self fulfilled prophecy and lost the main part of the writer's equation: Integrity.

To show up at the page with complete disregard for the craft is like learning you've got six months to live. Choices develop. Choose to live; choose to die. Make every day count; make every day the countdown. I pity the writing staff of One Life To Live. Surely it sucks to receive a pink-slip, but it sucks more to finish out their stay like they're choosing to die without honor. Yes, the writing world can be cruel. The real world can be, too. But life is what we make of it. To choose an ending inappropriate to the life lived diminishes an already withered soul. It stamps out integrity, the blood coursing through every GREAT writer's veins.

I like to think I have developed standards (when it comes to writing). I like to believe that the pages I write are works of art even if not everyone else will view them that way. My standard is to do the best job I can - to maintain my integrity and not let myself down. As I reflected on the shoddy end-of-days writing of One Life to Live I realized that I stopped living up to my standards and in doing so, stopped living up to my fullest potential.

Through the cancellation of a soap I've learned a valuable lesson and for that I'm grateful, no matter the bittersweet feeling I have over the end. So whether I've chosen to write with or without the goal of publication, I'll remain true in honoring the craft and produce with excellence.

Integrity: Is it an important cog in your writing wheel or not?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Don't Let Your Rain Come Down On Me, Debbie.

Lately I've noticed a failing in myself. Throughout my life I've allowed the naysayers to control my destiny. This isn't a new revelation, just something I'm more aware of with age.


1. Last year I had what I felt was an awesome story idea. It was one of those ideas that kept me awake at night. I gathered research; a librarian friend helped - she was as excited as I was. And then I shared my idea with a former colleague who responded, "Good luck with that. I had the same idea and just couldn't get it to go anywhere."

2. I once received an A in a college course. This was so shocking that I shared the news with another student. Her response: "I heard that everyone got an A in that course."

These negative reactions sent my confidence and sense of accomplishment to the ninth ring of hell. I don't share information about my life in order to receive praise. It's just something shared in the course of conversation.

In physics we learn that positive (+) and negative (-) charges attract each other. In human nature positive tidings can at times attract negative comments. Unlike physics, in human nature negative comments repel the positive experience. Negative comments discredit goals and dreams; they stop motivation.

They are my personal acid rain.

I have a history of allowing the negativity of others to control my destiny. For instance, I dumped my super-duper story idea within a week after former colleague's response not only proving that negative swamps positive, but that it also stymies progress. Do I place blame on her for abandoning my idea? Of course not. I have since come to realize that I can't control what spews from people's mouths but I can control how I let it affect me.

How do I control its effect? I'm viewing the sources in a different light. Rather than allow negative comments/people to stop my momentum, I point out to the naysayer that they are the "muwah-muwah" of life. Later I rationalize where their negativity is coming from and then let it go without over-analyzing the situation. I'm not Dr. Phil. The id of others is for the experts to figure out.

My attempt to control negative effects is a difficult task. There exists no patch for my ancient habit of allowing negative energy to dim my light. It'll take practice, but I'm a firm believer in old dogs learning new tricks.

As artists we come under a barrage of negative comments from those who feel entitled to dish them out. But as artists we possess the talent to overcome obstacles. It's the nature of our beast. The power is endless and something we tap into daily. Although I have in the past allowed the negatives to get the better of me, I'm living proof that they haven't killed me.

Debbie Downer: The acid rain queen of life. Have you developed your repellent for her next monsoon?