Stop the Carousel, I Want To Get Off: Commentary on “Tearing Our Passions to Tatters” by Porter Anderson

Stop-the-carousel

Last week, I read a thought-filled blog on Writers Unboxed – Tearing Our Passions to Tatters by Porter Anderson.

Initially, I simply sat and stared at that title for a moment before I could continue reading. Anything written by Porter is well worth reading but Tearing Our Passion to Tatters was poetically perfect. My passion for writing was in shreds.

After reading, I was relieved….or, more accurately, reassured that someone had articulated the frustration deep inside me.

I can’t do justice to the entire blog. Please do yourself a favor and read it for yourself.  But, for the sake of my commentary, here is a snippet:

Within a couple of generations’ spans, we are the first humans who can cover-to-smithereens our news events the way we do. (Thank you, digital.) And within that same time period, our creative people have become exposed to a remarkably deep, seductive capability online to talk about, talk about, talk about, talk about the work…instead of doing it.

When I decided to switch to Indie publishing, I knew the learning curve would be steep. I took time off from writing to absorb tons of information – book formatting, copyrights, bookseller contracts, uploading to booksellers, ISBNs, author platform, marketing, promo, author website designs, SEO, Excel sales spreadsheets, and much more.  Did I need to learn everything? No, I could have hired someone to do some of the work so I could continue writing. But I must comprehend as much as possible to decide what I need versus what I want. Handing over control without full understanding leaves me confused and (usually) paying to redo or add elements I had not considered, such as re-loading a book to a bookseller after I add information about new books.

The problem is the endless learning process.

I have fallen into an obsessive compulsive addiction to the latest news in the publishing. I know there must be a line and I have definitely crossed it. I skim dozens of blogs and business articles. I “Click & Share” about ten percent of what I read. I edit my own industry e-newspaper, The Gillian Doyle Daily, that curates content from across the internet.  Yes, I suppose that makes me another info-dealer to other addicted authors. But this also my solution to following my favorites (including Porter Anderson) by pulling them into a central location to read throughout the day, solving at least one of my issues with writing-related time-management versus the actual act of writing.

Don’t get me wrong. I am glad I put in the time to learn. I am grateful for all the information available now.

But I feel like I’m on a carousel spinning out of control. I want to stop and get off for a while.

I want to ignore the marketing gurus advising me to maintain high visibility on social media. (That does not mean pimping my books.) I want to kick my Klout score to the curb. I want to forget about my Discoverability Quotient.

But I’ve invested too much effort to lose momentum now.

On the flip side, too many of my author-friends seem to be still living in the days when bookmarks and book signings were their primary promo. They don’t want to deal with the reality of the author platform today. They don’t want to know about using Pinterest and Instagram for their PR. They aren’t interested in updating their website, if they even have one. Forget about ads with Bookbub or Facebook, let alone Google analytics or Search Engine Optimization.  I’m not saying they must do all of these things, but they should learn what is available so they can make the best choices for their own careers.

I strongly believe that writers not keeping up with the industry will not have writing careers in five years. This is not to say they must spend all of their time reading “how-to” articles or posting on social media. Find balance. Choose what can be done without sacrificing writing time.

As Porter pointed out  – “What if you stopped thinking you had to read more, comment more, engage more, and instead wrote more?”

Writing must come first. 

So, instead of stopping the carousel, I’ll slow it down. Waaay down.

And mend my tattered passion.

 

STORY MASTERY with MICHAEL HAUGE

 LVRWA-Michael Hauge Seminar

Story Mastery with Michael Hauge

WHEN: November 14, 2015 @ 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
WHERE: Sunset Station Hotel & Casino
1301 West Sunset Road
Henderson, NV 89014
COST: $75 LVRW members, $100 non-members

During this special, all-day seminar, Hollywood script and story consultant Michael Hauge, best-selling author of Writing Screenplays That Sell and Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds: The Guaranteed Way to Get Your Screenplay or Novel Read, will present STORY MASTERY – his unique approach to creating compelling fiction, and to eliciting emotion in your readers. Using clips from recent blockbuster love stories and romantic comedies, along with hands on exercises, Michael will help you strengthen your story concepts, plot structure, love stories, character development and pitching skills. Topics covered will include:

  • The primary goal of all story
  • The power of desire, need, longing and destiny
  • The essential conflict all characters must face
  • Turning plot structure from a complicated concept into a simple, powerful tool you can easily apply to every story
  • The single key to creating character arc and theme
  • Creating unique, believable and fulfilling love stories
  • Adapting your novel to film
  • The indispensable elements of a great pitch

If you want to elevate your fiction writing to the highest possible level, this event is a must.

Cost:

  • $75 for LVRW Members with current RWA membership
  • $100 for non-LVRW Members

NOTE: If you are already an RWA member, you can become a local member of LVRW, the Las Vegas Chapter, for only $25. Get more information here. You can pay for this workshop via PayPal using the drop down below. If you wish to pay via check, please mail the check to:

Las Vegas Romance Writers
P. O. Box 371573
Las Vegas, Nevada 89137-1573

Be sure to include your name and email address with the check.

To use a credit card, please go to the website: http://lvrwa.org/event/story-master-michael-hauge/

“Success is an indefinable term… “

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I have been in this writing game for a long time. Over the years, I have taken extensive notes from workshops given by authors who have spoken at the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America

Today’s quote is from best-selling author, Jayne Ann Krentz

“Success is an indefinable term, a fleeting, ephemeral thing, a ghost. The more you chase it, the more remote it becomes. But the writing originates somewhere inside yourself. You can nurture it, control it, experiment with it. It’s yours and yours alone. Take your true satisfaction from inside yourself, not from the outside world.” 

How Writing Has Positively Influenced My Life

I was six or seven, sitting at the redwood picnic, my feet dangling from the bench, unable to touch the concrete. I had a thick green pencil in my hand. The blue-lined tablet paper had random chunks of wood that caused staccato breaks in my printed letters. I loved the words, “Once upon a time.” Every story started the same way. I don’t remember if I showed my stories to anyone. Probably not. If I was caught writing or reading, my mother would say, “If you have nothing better to do than sit around, I have some chores for you.” She was an educated, working woman with a four-year degree in nursing. Not until I was an adult did I wonder why she did not encourage me.

However, I did have a junior high English teacher who nurtured my writing, inviting me to write for the school paper. But when my family moved to a large city, my high school guidance counselor insisted on filling my schedule with science classes. In twelfth grade, I finally found room in my curriculum to join the school newspaper. After turning in a sample article to the teacher, she asked where had I been for the last three years. But her effusive praise did not endear me to the other students who had worked their way up from newbies to senior staff. They made it clear I did not belong.

Despite my apparent writing skill, reading comprehension was difficult. I struggled to maintain good grades, hoping for a scholarship to a college where I could major in journalism. But that didn’t work out. I enrolled in a junior college where I discovered I had more success writing English essays than analyzing classic novels or breaking down sentence structure. I also didn’t have the chops for the highly competitive career in journalism. (Or so said the instuctor.)

Leaving my writing dreams behind, I married a wonderful man and started a family. An eye exam disclosed astigmatism and and myopia (nearsightedness), which explained my difficulty with reading as well as retention of what I read. With prescription glasses, my world transformed from a pencil sketch by Van Gogh to crisp, clear images. I no longer had to re-read a page several times to absorb the information.

Even though I wrote in my journal every day, even though I read more and more books, even though I secretly wished I could go back to college, I didn’t think I would ever become a “real” writer. I was happy to be a stay-at-home mom, enjoying doing things with my kids that I never did when I was young. In hindsight, I know now that I had no self-esteem from long-buried childhood trauma. I battled food addictions intersperced with bouts of bulimia and addiction to diet pills. As a result, I was forty pounds overweight.

Searching for a healthier lifestyle, I followed a friend to Richard Simmons’ Anatomy Asylum where he had designed a program specifically for the overweight member. First, a half-hour motivation class addressing the reasons behind overeating, then an hour of low-intensity aerobics, ending with a brief cool-down as the instructor shared an inspirational thought for the day.

After I lost most of the excess weight, the club manager suggested I become an instructor. Though the idea seemed crazy, I really loved motivating others to reach their goals. So I gave it a shot.
Soon I was teaching three mornings a week. My biggest challenge was finding new topics for the half-hour motivation. One morning, I asked everyone to think of one thing that they’d once wanted to do but never got around to it. It could be anything–ride in a hot air balloon, skydive, see a Broadway show, paint a picture. Sometimes we are unhappy with ourselves for giving up on our dreams so we reach for food to fill that void. We need to look back on those old dreams, and see if there’s still a spark of desire. If so, we can take small steps, like signing up for a painting class. Or save loose change in a jar for that balloon ride.

One of the members asked if I was living my dream. I laughingly replied that a motivational weight-loss instructor had never entered my mind! I had always loved to write. The next day, that same person gave me a college class schedule with “Writing 101” circled in red! She had also picked up a registration packet for me. In one of those “put up or shut up” moments, I signed up for the class, of course!

During the second semester, the teacher read my assignment aloud. I braced myself for his critical analysis. Instead, he looked around the room and held up my paper. “THIS is good writing.” That assignment is the first page of the first chapter of my first book published by St. Martin’s Press.

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At my first booksigning, my dear friend Gail Dawson presented me with this sweatshirt decorated with the title of my book.

Shortly afterward, a friend said she admired me for going after my dream of being a writer and becoming a published author. She seemed wistful as if something was on her mind. Once again, I found myself asking, “What is your dream?”

She answered dismissively, “Oh, it’s too late.”

“No. Tell me.”

“I wanted to be a nurse. But I’m too old now.”

“No, you’re not! Your boys are in school. You could take classes at the community college during the day. If you want it, do it!”

She did! She graduated and eventually became a lactation specialist. A few years later, I met a young couple at a dog park. They were expecting their first baby. After the little one arrived, they raved about an amazing nurse who was a God-send, giving them her phone number so she could answer any questions. I was thrilled to learn this sweet nurse was my dear friend.
Not only has writing influenced me in many more ways, it turned out to influence others, too!

 

Disclosure: I am participating in the “Writing Contest: How Writing Has Positively Influenced My Life,” hosted by Positive Writer. – See more here.