Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Zen of Self-Publishing

The stars have aligned, and you've already received visions from on high. You've decided to self-publish. I know how you feel. I'm in the same boat. Self-publishing is like thumbing your nose at the establishment in one hand while becoming the establishment at the same time. This plunge takes moxie and something more.

I'm talking Zen, Urban Dictionary Zen. This is a "total state of focus that incorporates togetherness of body and mind." It takes bravery and insanity to put your work out there with no vetting but something called BETAS.

Self-publishing has changed the game of publishing. Vetted stuff with agents and editors and fancy folks drinking cocktails in lovely hotels is so 2000. The publishing game has changed forever. It's about your voice being heard in the NET noise without an advertising budget like a Disney blockbuster behind you.

Yes, you plan to HORTON HEARS A WHO this thing and say, "Yopp." But you have no idea if you are the voice that breaks through or just so much static.

You are here because the establishment is not for everyone. So of us must march to the beat of our own drummer. Self-publishing is about doing your own thing and hoping and praying you're not old American Idol worst singer for comic relief.

So here I am. In the coming month, I'm plunging again into the icy waters of wannabes. This time it's with an urban dramedy called WEIRD AND WONDERFUL. I've got the glorious pages edited. I've got a cover designer hard at work. Me? I'm losing sleep at night.

I'm lying on the bed thinking about dreamy greens and blues. I am procrastinating as much as I can. That's followed by energetic bursts of work that feel like solar flares. The words are on the page, but where is the love? Will there be love? As the great poet Paul McCartney said, "All you need is LOVE. Everybody, now." I need love.

Consider: your heart is in this dream. My heart is in this dream. Who wants a broken heart?

So I am breathing deeply. Perhaps this will be the breakthrough that moment that will cause my voice heard. Perhaps this will be one more misstep in a wild journey toward an unknown future. The thing that is important, my yeoman friends. For me and you. We have cultivated our pieces ground, our books. Our words.

Be Brave. Be insane. Soak in the Zen. Soak it in.

Here is a doodle for you.




Here is a quote for your pocket.

Either this is madness or it is Hell.” “It is neither,” calmly replied the voice of the Sphere, “it is Knowledge; it is Three Dimensions: open your eye once again and try to look steadily.
Edward Abbott Abbott

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Have You Failed at All Attempts To Be Conventional?

Hey, Artist, you started hearing it in elementary school: Gosh, that girl is weird. You remember wondering what the Dickens weird was. In your head, you were a slice of Wonder Bread. And what was weird about that?  It is true conventional is not your style. The whole "be at work at eight a.m. and leave at five" meme is just weird to you. 
What happens if you have an idea at one in the morning?  It won't wait for the "correct" time frame.   When you work all night, it is tough to get up in the morning. Some manager person at work points a finger at you and says you are trying too hard and bucking the natural order. You feel that you should receive a medal, but instead, you get a pink slip. 
Now you are out of work again. And you are supposed to unhappy about that. Instead of being unhappy, tripping glee is coursing through your veins. It had been a dumb job. Now you finally have time to work on the art projects that on the back burners. You pull them out and take long walks at the park and enjoy the chance to breathe. You are a bubbling cauldron of "toil and trouble" and that is a wickedly good thing. 
One day at a lunch with your friends, strangely your friends always have the time for lunch, you mention that you don't understand why people think you are weird.  Someone leans back in a chair and entreats. "Dear God (Insert your chosen deity here, or not), why would you want to be normal?" That makes sense and you forget about being weird and focus on that important discussion about Star Trek that you and your friends have been arguing about for the past five years.  
The next day between your stare-out-the-window time and your hour to stare at a painting that you think is cool, it occurs to you that you have failed at all attempts to be conventional. You have been fired from every conventional job.  People call you lazy, but you know that you are the busiest person you know.  The truth is immutable. You are an off-beat Bohemian. 
You know the solution for world peace. You know how to stop all inequality among people. You even know the how to stop world hunger. This kind of rebel knowledge does not endear you to the world at large, but leads you to hard knocks from "The Man." You wish you had a nickel for everyone that has told you that you will never amount to anything.  It has not gone beyond your notice, that those folks are specks of dust on a small planet, in an average galaxy, in a mongo universe, that's probably part of infinite multi-verse. I mean. 
Here is my bit of advice, avant-garde Weirdo.  Thank your lucky stars.  Thank them every day. Do your thing. Never stop. 
You need a doodle. Here you go: 
Here is a quote for your pocket from a werido, the great poet, John Lennon. 
You may say I'm a dreamer but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us and the world will live as one.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Do Your Best Writing But Remember To Frolic

Oh, I know you want to shake the foundations and rattle the bones, but maybe it is time to stop taking yourself so seriously. Humor doesn't win awards but the right touch imbues your work with humanity.  Heck, it imbues you with humanity. Open your soul to frolicking. 
It's the beginning of the new year. You are probably making plans. You are dreaming dreams. Here's a thought. What would be fun? I mean since when has creative work had to be a drag? You are a dreamer at heart if you want to write. Writing is about making other enter a waking dream. Whimsy is part of every dream I've ever had. So paint the town. Go on a spree. 
Even the best horror is helped by a bit a comedy. This willingness to create a world of shaded values will make your work stand out. Go to your WIP and stare at it.  Ask your main character what would make the good times roll. Let the character tell you this in his or her own voice. Be a diligent scribe and write all the nonsense down. Whoop it up!

Adding humor to work is a little like grabbing ahold of the rope swing at the swimming hole. The rope burns as you swing out over the reflective water and then let go. For a few seconds, you are airborne until you plunge into the shockingly cold pool. This water floods your ears and shoots up your nose. You know you are alive. You break the water's surface with shouts of laughter.
Perhaps that is the best part of adding humor to the mix. It makes the everyday boring moments of life bearable. It makes your writing breathe. 
Finally, don't just add humor to your fiction. Add it to your life. I hope as you plan for your new year, you make room for fun. Insert time to laugh. Take time to cultivate grins. If your schedule leaves no margins for doodling, dancing, and dreaming, you are missing the mark. Stop being so uptight.
Do your best work this year, but remember to have a good time. Laissez les bon temps rouler. Please take this to heart. 
Here is a doodle for you.


Here is a quote for your pocket:
Everyone needs a fantasy. Andy Warhol
This blog was reposted from Reposted from Niume.  
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Thursday, January 05, 2017

This Coming Year, Elevate

Sleeping is a horrible way to live your life. Here at the end of 2016, it's time to wake up. How do I know you are asleep? I have read the writing on the "subway walls and tenement halls." (Thank you, Paul Simon.) Have you read the writing on the wall?  "Mene, mene tekel upharsin." Our days are numbered. 
This life we are living is the only one we are sure of. Don't spend it enamored by pop icons and puff pieces. Dig into some arguments. Who are you? What is driving you? Elevate, Artists. This coming year, elevate. 
Strip off your pride garments. I see you walk naked in the streets. Everyone sees. Invest in hard work. Add depth. Pour in Value. Don't pile up some clothes and call it art. You can do better. Take those clothes and hand them to the homeless. Then dance with the blue dog or spin with the green cat. Grab that magic carpet and watch your art explode with invention. 
Now share your story. Share your color. Share your kind. Name, and name, and rename. This bankrupt world is about people not leaving margins and living on Wonder Bread and Squeeze Cheese. Invest in forgiveness. Join the up worthy force, my friends! Help each other. Bring out your art and shock the numb minds. Open those eyes!
Here is some serious truth: nothing will happen until you open your blasted eyes first. What lies have blinded you? What must you let go? Jump off the cliff and don't be afraid. You are meant to fly. 
Here is a doodle for you. 

Here is a quote for your pocket: 
What I would say to the young men and women who are beset by hopelessness and doubt is that they should go and see what is being done on the ground to fight poverty, not like going to the zoo but to take action, to open their hearts and their consciences.
Abbe Pierre

Finally

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Be Happy. Do Good.

Happiness must be woven into your art. Create what makes you happy but know this - only you know what makes you happy. After you embrace happiness, seek goodness. Do good. Wherever. Whenever. 
Your happiness journey must include uncovering negative emotions. This takes effort, but you are captive until you release your anger, sorrow, and pain.  Release empties you, making room for new feelings. You may have to talk to someone. Please do. Releasing your negative emotions is a step to do good in this life. 
All artists want to hear the words, "great job." The desire to connect with others is something deep and truly human.  The happiness of art must be disconnected from the praise that may or may not follow your work.  The art must be enough.  If it isn't, dream a new dream.  Time for new dreams is always available. 
Plunge into what brings you joy. Connect with ideas bigger than yourself. Feed your art with positive words. Stop the negative talk. I don't believe in positive thinking, but I do believe in happiness. It's the best state for us all. Happiness' pursuit is the business of your art. Happiness is about lifting burdens and setting captives free, you first. My faith in Love is unwavering. Love is the warp of the universe. It holds all together. Seek this Love and you will find it. Your work will rise.
 Whisper to yourself, "I am loved. I may not see it or feel it, but it is just as true as the gravity that holds me to this planet."
Allow love to infuse your work.  Anger, bitterness, hate, this stuff will only take your art so far. Cultivate happiness. Stop speaking and speaking, creating and creating, and listen. Listen to critics. Listen to the wind and the rain. Listen to your breath. It whooshes in and out. So wonderful. Don't be afraid to take risks after you've listened. 
Finally, do good. Give your time and your efforts. Don't be too busy to listen to someone's story. This may be what you need for your art to blossom.  Art is a conversation. Suffering abounds in this world. Alleviate it. Remove it. Your art is an arrow to pierce the heart of darkness. Share your skills. Be generous.   
Yes,  dear friends, be happy and do good.  Let your art be dedicated to these pursuits. Enjoy your precious days. 
Here is a doodle. 

From the great poet, Bob Dylan, a quote for your pocket. 
Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again

And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’

For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’