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Monday, July 30, 2012

I'm an Idiot

Put in nearly fourteen hours over the past week.

Have blog searched the f out of the internet. Also read everything Amanda Hocking wrote up until she quit her job and became famous. 

Side note: this chick, Amanda Hocking, wrote like five novels. No one would represent them and no one would publish them. She blogged the entire time this was happening. Her blog consisted of alternating posts between how great her books were and how bad she felt that no one would publish them. Then within ten months, she goes from lamenting her life to: "Quit my job today. Full time writer now." Congrats! and...Fuck you. That's just the jealous part of me talking. 

All I need to do is start writing young adult paranormal romance novels and the paychecks should start rolling in. Although, I'd probably give myself a new smile from ear to ear before I ever saw one.

This blog post does have a point, believe it or not. One that I've touched on tangentially, but not directly--so I want to comment on it. Obviously, the majority of the stuff I write about is going to be based on my life as a starving writer, but I honestly hope that you can take these thoughts and apply them somewhere to your craft or passion. 

I was talking to a friend the other day about how boring my life was. She said what are you doing? I replied that I had spent ten minutes studying a sentence and trying to decide how to fix it. Exciting, right? 

She said she used to write, but sucked at it, so she quit.

That kind of stunned me for a second. My response was: We all suck. That's why we practice.

God, if you read any of the first pieces I wrote, it's like I had never read a book. Even now, editing this novel, their are whole passages where I just think I should set fire to my laptop and never even contemplate writing another sentence. That's after six years of at least writing thirty minutes every day and probably a lot more. Fuck, that's after 18 years of writing through school and training at universities. I still suck.

I'm not sure about all professions, but as a writer you have to be supremely confident or supremely stupid. Luckily, I was both. I sat down and wrote a short story at nineteen years old and was completely sure that I would be a multimillionaire from writing. Let me say that again: I knew, from the first 2,000 words I put down on paper that I was going to be paid money for the rest of my life to do it. That sounds fucking ridiculous. It would be like a kid picking up a basketball, and knowing without any doubt that he was going pro. In my mind though, I had already become the greatest horror writer of my generation. So it would be like a kid picking up the ball and KNOWING he was going to be the next Michael Jordan. The difference between this kid and eye, though, is that I was nineteen.

Supremely stupid.

I didn't care how much I sucked; I didn't care how far I would have to go. I just didn't care about anything. I was a writer from that moment on, and more, I believe all those things now. My friend quit writing, and maybe that's what separates an artist from someone else. An artist already knows they've made it, they're just waiting for the rest of the world to realize it.

You ever done something and knew from that moment forth there was nothing else for you? That you had met your destiny? Maybe it was meeting your husband or wife. Maybe it was looking at your first born child. Maybe it was killing zombies in a video game. I don't know what it might be for you, but find it. Actively search it out. Then when you find it, don't care about sucking--because you will, and hard, but care about becoming better.

Care about not quitting.

Monday, July 23, 2012


Put in six hours since our last talk.

Settled on my cover designer. He's really into minimalist designs, as am I--so I think creatively we should see eye to eye.

I think that I have a high propensity of fear. Blame it on a troubled child hood or a rough neighborhood, it doesn't really matter why. It's there though. The fear normally takes the form of failure--that something isn't going to work, or that I'm not going to live up to my own expectations. 

Some say fear is healthy, and by some, probably everyone. I'm not sure I believe that, at least not the fear that I feel. Fear makes you want to stop. Writing, working, exercising, dieting, growing--in general, it makes you want to stop trying

Sure, fear of death is good. It makes you stop trying stupid shit like fucking texting while driving--no one does that anymore, right? But fear of life, not death, is detrimental. I cannot fathom a way that fear of life would not be harmful. 

Everyone has fears: my significant other will leave me, they'll find out I don't know what I'm talking about, my work experience isn't enough for this job, I need an education to get a fucking job but don't have the money for school, my dick is too small. I mean this list could go on and on forever. Everyone of those fears those is something that your mind throws in the way to stop you from trying. I heard a quote a long time ago, one of those cliche things people throw around and never really live by, that said: What would you do if you knew you couldn't be stopped? 

If you think about that statement, just really let it sink into your bones--the power of it wipes out all doubts and fears and lets you see what is really important to you. I'm not sure how much luck plays into this life we live, but I'm really beginning to believe the main thing stopping any of us from doing what we want is that twinkle of fear that pops up whenever we care about something. That fear that makes us think, not me--I'm not made for this, something is going to fuck this all up. 

If you get rid of that, all that's left is the entire world. If we can start thinking success is guaranteed; that there is no such thing as failure--how would we change? Every action we make in every day would be different because everything we did would be building onto our legacy, onto our fucking empire, because there'd be nothing to stop us. We should start living by that little mantra, and realize success is our birthright.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pay It Forward, Brah

Put in two hours this morning.

Talked to two people about book covers, discussed marketing strategies with a world famous blogger, researched Amanda Hocking.

So, I'm at a highly ranked MBA school. My grades are high. I'm at a pretty prestigious internship in the field of education. I've written a novel this year. That's a lot of shit to be proud of right there.

However, the single most thing I'm proud of in the past year was when I helped a very dear friend of mine, who was EXTREMELY down on his luck find a job in the career he had chosen but been forced out of. All the rest is just nonsense. That right there made me tear up when I found out he had the job, and even writing this right now, means more to me than all the rest (except maybe the novel, but I'm also a selfish prick).

Today I had a good friend of mine--he runs 70's Big--take an hour out of his day to sit down and talk to me about how he's made that site into basically a fucking movement. He introduced me to two other people that he thinks could help my book (titled Dead Religion in case anyone cares), and also started mentioning ways we could monetize this erotica craze. He didn't have to do that. The dude gets paid to write, workout, and walk around with his shirt off--so what if I used to give him my apples at lunch in 9th grade: HE DOESN'T OWE IT TO ME.

I got off the phone with him and talked to an upcoming 1st year MBA student. I don't know him from Adam. I was honest with him and did my best to explain the pitfalls I went through and the things to expect in school. Nothing life changing, but I tried to help.

Obama was right about that in his little speech that he's taking so much heat for. We all need help. We all need to give help. This writing thing is going to eventually work out. Maybe not this book and maybe not the next one, but at some point there will be a critical mass of fans. Throughout the entire process I'll help as many writers as I can, as well as any other profession that contacts me--and when I have a yacht, I'll do my best to find service in international waters so that I can calls for people there too. 

Helping people is the second most important thing I do in my life, besides write stories. I hope it's somewhere in your top three--because without it, no one gets anywhere. What's worse, I think a lot of what's good in life disappears. Maybe all of it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Getting Lost

Put in about three hours since the last post.

Thought through a marketing plan then scrapped most of it. Researched covers, pricing strategies, distributors, formatters. Trust me, it's about as boring as it sounds.

One of my friends, who is a straight fucking bitch, stopped me in the middle of my spouting off the beautiful knowledge that I always do to say: blah blah, writing, book, blah, angry comment.  

Yeah, she's a bitch.

But, I think she was right too. I got lost today reading other people's bullshit. That's what it was, just their thoughts on publishing and being a writer and oh, how hard it is. Pretty much destroyed my brain; I thought about cutting off my hands so that I could never type out another story.

This game is simple:
1) Love the craft and write something worth reading
2) Make it visually appealing to the reader
3) Get as many people as possible to pay for it.

That's what I have to focus on. Whatever you're doing, business, music, law--that's what you have to focus on too.

Don't let anyone pull you off that track; getting lost is easy to do.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Working and such...

First, I really like the Arial font. I don't know why.
Second, I put in about three more hours of writing since my last update.

Most people go to work for 8-10 hours, come home, and spend time with their family, workout, watch television, or whatever else fancies them. That's fine. That's what keeps this world humming along at its pace. Most people enjoy their work, or hate their work, or somewhere in between--but it's basically a way to supply them with a comfortable life. Once again, this is fine.

For me, however, I think I'd rather peel my skin off and walk neck deep into salty ocean water. 

I write because I feel a basic need, not as strong as breathing, but something close. However, I also need to supply myself with a comfortable life--this is where my work comes in. I've been studying, nightly, the writer's that came before me (or, more accurately, the marketers). This has been work for me--after I finish my 8-10 hour day, I spend another 2-3 studying. Thinking. Planning. This isn't enough though, because all this stays within my own head.

Nothing inside your own head is going to do the world one bit of good.

Given that I feel my stories will add benefit to the world, I have to get these ideas out.

So I need more work. So from now on, every update I put on here is going to have what I'm doing outside of the actual writing--the need I have--to further my name as a writer. This isn't simply to brag, or to show people how far I'm willing to go; I'm doing it to keep myself honest. I can't tell you 6.5 readers I'm going to do something, then not do it. 

Today, I edited a story a stranger sent me. In my response I simply asked him to take a look at my blog if he ever gets a chance. It's a simple little nod, but I absolutely hate it when my first point of contact with someone is: hey man, I got a book coming out, keep up to date with all my stuff and then buy it. That shit happens all the time. Don't believe me? Go follow a writer on Twitter. I guaran-fucking-tee that within a day or two, you'll get someone selling you something. That's silly to me. I want to build a fan base, and fans--to me--are simply relationships. Will this guy ever check out my blog? Maybe. Maybe not. Still, I put my name out there.

I also studied some more. J.A. Konrath is a goddamn genius when it comes to marketing books. I'm not a huge fan of his writing, but the guy just straight pushes the envelope when it comes to marketing. I just used 'when it comes to' twice in two sentences--obviously, I have some work to do with my own writing. I think that the studying will die down within a month or so and I'll begin more action, but I have to know what to do before I can do it.

From now on I won't be as in depth about what I'm doing to further my name, but I wanted to give you an example. I'm sure some of you out there aren't simply doing the 9-5 thing, but have some big goals. If you do, you HAVE to work outside of the 9-5 to accomplish them--you have to be building those relationships. This doesn't only apply to writing; it applies to anything you want to be successful at. At the core, there are only individuals with the only thing connecting us being relationships.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Shaping The World

Put in six more hours since the last post.

I'm coming to realize the writing is the easy part. As a young writer, and by young I mean beginning, I had some really great influences around me. They taught me about the craft, about the importance of words--about the beauty of it all. They taught me about the seriousness you must approach the keyboard with, and that sloppiness isn't acceptable. They taught me how to write, and while I may do it poorly, it certainly wasn't for their lack of teaching. These people though, all of them, focused not one wit on marketing. 

The more I move into the marketing role of an entrepreneur (which self publishing authors most definitely are), the more I realize it's all about relationships. Even this run away best selling bullshit of a book, Fifty Shades, is about relationships. Women's relationships with their own sexuality or lack there of it. 

I have a goal and I'm afraid to actually say it out loud, because that means you're held accountable, right? No one wants to be accountable, not when the fucking coin is still flipping in the air and it's probably weighted so that it's most likely not going to fall on the side you need it to. Still, time's running short. I'm 25, been writing since I was nineteen, and it's time to get serious. My goal is a 500,000 books sold in five years.

That's half a million relationships I have to build. Build them strong enough so that they feel spending 5-8 bucks on a book isn't a waste. Relationships are best built face to face, hand to hand, and all rely on trust. I've got maybe one hundred people right now I can count to buy my book; that might even be a stretch. So all I have to do is find the other 499,900 that are looking for something to read. 

That's daunting and I used to think it was out of my control. I used to think I do the work of writing and the writing will do the rest of the work for me. That's not true. Work your ass for twenty years at work and neglect the politics, see how far you rise. The same is true here. This is in my control, not in an agent's hands, not in a publisher's. It's up to me, and there's something about that I like. When you read about artists, or even business men--people are constantly fucking up their work. Not getting the intricacies and not caring about the brand as much as the creator does. Dave Chapelle hated Half Baked, thought it was movie for kids about smoking pot. He lost his creative control and then lost his movie. With the route I'm choosing, I don't lose the creative control. Everything, from the first word to the cover, is in my control. 

I'm already shopping around for editors, trying to find someone who fits my style--I wouldn't be able to do that with any other route. That's power there; that's the ability to shape the world as you want.

People shirk from that power because it's also the power to fail.

I think you either shape your world or someone else shapes it for you. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Finding Leaders

Been a week since I've last posted. Been busy with a wedding and drinking on the 4th of July--no reason not to lament the destruction of our ideals on the day we were birthed, right? Anyways, put in about 8 hours since the last time we spoke.

Ever since I got into the writing racket, about 5-6 years ago, I've actively searched out the greatest in the field. I've read Stephen King's On Writing three times. I've researched how everyone from Anthony Trollope to Dean Koontz writes their books. I've read blogs until my eyes have bled ink on things from plot to character building. I have had amazing authors completely destroy two of my novels, break me down until I'm a crying child. I read fucking Moby Dick. Have you read Moby Dick? No, probably not, because it was written like two hundred years ago and has no connection to anything now. Wanna know why I read that long ass, ultimately boring novel? Because Herman Melville was a goddamn genius.

I've researched these people because to ever attempt what they've done, I have to know what they've done.

I know a guy who does a lot of work on websites. I mean, the cat is constantly talking about the 11-12 hour days he works. His websites look a shit ton better than anything I could design (notice why I'm using Google's Blogger?), but I'm not sure he's growing as a creator. I can go back and look at something he put out 3 years ago and compare it to today, and the similarities are so striking that it makes me think no growth has occurred. I don't know, I could be completely fucking wrong about it--I'm only going off what the eye sees, but in the end, isn't that all that matters?

I'm finding leaders now in another realm: marketing. Everything in life, whether it's the shoes you put on your feet or the job interview you're wearing them to, is all about marketing. I'm shit at marketing right now--outside of the academic sense of the word, I know nothing. So that's what I'm doing, I'm studying those that came before me: the writers that are millionaires, the bloggers who have massive followings, anyone who can teach me anything about getting this book into the hands of people.

Prolly six people read this site. Six and a half if you count midgets as people, but I don't, so just six. Do any of you six have any leaders? If so, who? If not, why?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Taking Your Time

Put in two hours today. 

I saw a sign yesterday, a huge one in the back of a car that said "not in a hurry to be somewhere." 

It made me stop and think for a bit. Ya see, I am in a hurry. For as long as I can remember I've been in a hurry: to make money, to get till Friday, to have sex--whatever was in front of me, I was in a hurry to get it done.

The first novel I wrote was like that. So was the second one. Both were just balls to the wall, finish this thing so that I can put it out and make a bunch of money. The result? I wrote two shitty novels that could have sold, but certainly weren't up to any sort of a standard a writer should have for themselves.

With this novel, I've slowed down. I mean slooowwwweeeddd down. It used to take me about an hour, maybe an hour fifteen to finish a thousand words. It takes me almost five hours now. I don't know what the results are going to be, whether my five friends will buy it because I make them, or I'll be updating this blog from a yacht next year--or something in between. Either way though, I know the story is much better. I know when I wrote a scene today, I cried in it, that's how strong I feel the characters and their relationships are. I know that I understand the plot, the intricacies, and the parts that need editing much more. 

By slowing down I've created a better product. I'm no fan of Steve Jobs, he was an arrogant, narcissist, who made the lives of the people he was supposed to care about absolutely miserable. However, he understood creation as well as anyone I've ever read about. He understood the product, the good, was all that mattered (besides marketing). The money you made, the fame you got, that was all a side effect. All made possible by the product.

I truly do not care if anyone ever compares me to an Ernest Hemmingway or William Shakespeare (which they won't ever dream of doing, I'm certainly not saying anyone should), but I do care that I've done the best I can given my abilities. I do care that I've looked at my word choices, that I can argue why I've chosen them and if I can't, then I throw them out. 

Take your time on the things that matter to you. I won't say the end results don't matter, because indeed, that's all that does--however, taking your time is the only way to make them happen.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Problem With 20 Under 20

Put in about five hours since my last post, which was probably not the most uplifting thing many of you have read. Just finished a little bit over an hour session, breaking through the 65k word count on the novel. It should be done by the end of August, which is all hunky dory, and I'm sure the five readers of this site will love to buy a copy.

Let's move on though, to something I think is antithetical to the 10,000 'rule'. This 20 under 20 thing that was started recently. The basis of the entire thing is: drop out of college and compete for $100,000 to begin a start up company. Oh yeah, you gotta be under 20 years old too. First, I want to say that I have a huge man-crush on Peter Thiel. He is an innovator, libertarian, and probably a genius. More important, he puts his money where his mouth is. He doesn't just sit around talking about the college bubble; he does something about it. All of that is to be admired and emulated. Especially the libertarian part (hint hint). 

This scholarship though, or fellowship, is a radical step to help fix this economy, but I'm not sure it's the right one. I'm not doubting that these twenty year olds are bright and far more mature than the rest of their peers. They probably have ideas that beat all the ideas me and my friends will ever have, combined. That's not saying much, given that the major decisions my friends make are whether to smoke pot on the couch or in the garage. Still, what I'm doing a poor job of saying is: I think these kids definitely have a lot going for them.

Even with that, what Thiel is doing violates the ten thousand hour 'rule'. These kids aren't experts in what they're doing; some might be, or might be close, but the vast majority just haven't had the time to put in the necessary hours to be masters at their craft. That's probably not what Thiel is aiming for, but the people that change the world--the ones that vault to the head of their class have all put the necessary time in. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Michael Jordan. Stephen King. Tiger Woods. Murray Rothbard, and goddamn it, even Paul Krugamn. Years and years dedicated to reading those before them and evolving their ideas. These kids--smart, gifted, talented--are still just kids. Inexperienced and lacking the skills and knowledge to change the world at this point. His two year fellowship simply isn't long enough for the impact to be there. Even if the kids could work 12 hour days, every day of every week, at the intensity it takes to commit 'deliberate practice'--it would still take them over two years (2.28) to be considered masters. I applaud Thiel for what he's doing, for trying to get people out of the fucking mindset of college as the end all, be all in education and progress. But if he's going to do it, he's got to make the commitment to get the kids the hours they need--to make them masters at whatever business or field they're in.

The 20 under 20 is a great idea, but I don't think it's being executed properly. I know that takes balls as big as melons to even say to someone like Peter Thiel, but if he's wanting to make the impact that he claims to--why not add another two years to the fellowship? Why not make sure when these kids leave your tutelage, they're ready to be the leaders in their field? To take on the world and all other comers? In short, with the power you have, why not make them masters?