Oof – that hurt, but it needed to be said. If we’re in the business of murdering our darlings, this published author just torched a big one. Author communities exist to help us improve our craft, network, and commiserate.
There’s a flip side to that coin. As this post points out, and as I’ve long-suspected, there’s a half-life to that helpfulness that needs to be understood. At a certain point, we can talk the talk, but we have to start walking the walk. Nobody is immune. So, if you’re wondering if you’re spending too much time talking about writing, read this and then make your choice:
Wow – we lost a few bright sparks over the past two days. Along with R. Lee Ermey, We said good-bye to Art Bell this weekend. Ermey, of course, is near and dear to everyone’s heart but I was more affected by the loss of Art Bell. Bell, of course, was the mad genius behind the Coast to Coast AM radio show.
Because of his interest in conspiracy theories and the paranormal, Coast to Coast was destined to be outliers of radio and pop culture. Rather than running from this reality, Bell embraced it, and this gave him a certain level of freedom when it came content and programming. It worked for him too – 2.75M people still tune in every week to hear whatever junk science or Hollow Earth theory is currently popular.
Out of this carnival, Bell’s show occasionally took us on journeys that make surreal podcasts like Night Vale green with envy. Take the following clip, for example …
Bell understood that radio was ‘theater of the mind,’ and used that to his advantage. Sometimes the best storytelling doesn’t sound like a story at all.
We’ll miss you, you crazy nut. I hope they have a mic and a transmitter, wherever you happen to show up next.
Had to unplug for a bit, and get my head together as I work on turning Mesh into the story it deserves to be. Where many writers say that you need to write 1-2K words per day, I’m from the school that says ‘what’s the point of writing a thousand words no one wants to read?’
Love him for his talent, love him for his afro, or love him for his voice … I’ve yet to find someone who doesn’t love Bob Ross. It’s always a surprise to people when they learn that this gentle man was also a Master Sergeant in the Air Force. Bob Ross inspires me because he didn’t find success until the second or third act of his career, but once he did he seemed happy and content for the rest of his life.
With Ross, the tension and the action are in the work, not in the man. We’re free to let our minds go, experiment, and try new things. He seems to navigate the line between art and commerce without compromising either. He found his niche, occupied it comfortably, and we still enjoy his legacy today.
I see this as a learning lesson for me. Maybe you’re also trying to figure out how to write, how to make, how to do without sacrificing your values. In a perfect world, I could crank out stories night and day, with no thought to rent, bills or adulting. I haven’t found the secret sauce, yet.
However, I remain confident that if I keep looking, that I’ll find a way. Bob Ross found a way to make it work. Maybe we can, too.
If it’s true that we rise by lifting others, then I want to make sure I’m doing my part. Two artists caught my eye this week – Hobo Johnson and Jacek Pilarski – both independent makers doing amazing work in their particular genre.
Jacek Pilarski is a matte and VFX artist. He makes wonderfully realistic paintings of fantastic locations. I was particularly drawn in by his London 2033 painting:
I’m in that low period of creation. Everything seems wrong. Nothing seems right. Every instinct I have about writing, storytelling is being put to the test as I edit Mesh.
Googling for inspiration, I ran across this quote by Guy Kawasaki. He was the original marketer for Mac back in the eighties and he’s been behind several monolithic Silicon Valley inspirations since then.
I respect his story because like him, my journey is a series of efforts in pursuit of a larger goal. Will Mesh be the book I want it to be? Will it find the readers I want it to find? I have no idea. I do know that I have to try and so until my destiny arrives, I have to keep grinding.
I hope you have found something worth grinding out, too.
Welcome to March. Here’s another free wallpaper – this one’s been sized to work with your favorite mobile device. Been working on this one a while. I’ll see a free picture on Unsplash and reimagine it in a sci-fi context.
I started out with this picture:
and now it looks like this:
From the very beginning – the boy looked like he was getting abducted by aliens or something – so I ran with that idea. Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it. Welcome to March, 2018.
I was about three chapters into ‘Ready Player One’ when it hit me: Ernie Cline is the Dave Grohl of authors. As in, I love the guy, but I’m not a fan of his work. Logical dichotomies invited my geek-auteur brain to divide by zero. Thankfully, Reddit was there to help me out. I created a thread on /r/writing to talk about it. This is about everything that happened next.
Before I say anything else, let me say this: I love Ernie Cline. Been a fan of his since 2002 or so, when I fell in love with his spoken-word performances about dorky topics. Cline has a brilliant knack for tapping into nerdly zeitgeist into a Robin Williams-style stream of consciousness. You can’t help but respect that.
It should be no surprise then, that I’m happy for him and the success of Ready Player One. Seriously, isn’t that every author’s dream? Your debut novel turns into a Spielberg project. Who wouldn’t love to trade places with Ernie Cline for a day, to experience that level of ‘you’ve arrived,’ in your life?
“But you said you didn’t like Ready Player One,” you might be saying. Yes, that’s true … but that’s not the point. As one Redditor put it: “as a writer myself I know how much easier it is to trash a book than to write one. Completing a novel is a huge accomplishment.” So make no mistake: this post isn’t about trashing Ready Player One (RPO). This is about what RPO’s success can teach us. Continue reading