Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Despite a heroic effort, the Bulls fall to Cleveland--er, to the officials in Cleveland, one of whom, apparently, was LeBron James  for the night. Figures.
Never mind no other player in the league would get away with that. That's immaterial, and obvious, and we all know it.
But plain point of fact is...
If Derrick Rose gets the continuation on that shot on which Shaq about took him apart...at the VERY LEAST this game goes into overtime.
If he hits the free throw, it's game for Da Bulls.
Funny thing is, at least one official HAD called continuation. Shot, and a free throw. Probably, with the way Derrick was hitting the free throws, it's a guaranteed 3 points.
UNTIL LeBron starts talking, and suddenly the call is changed.


The Bulls had to play 5 against 8 tonight and damn near won it anyway.
Good game, guys. Too bad there was an extra un-official referee out there whose opinion apparently carried more weight than the "real" ones could muster.
There are very few words blistering enough for the letter that John Paxson should be sending to David Stern and the head of the NBA officiating crews at this point...
...but I'm sure he can think of a few. :-)


Sunday, April 25, 2010

When It's Time to Say, "Enough."

...when you've been working your bloomin' tail off at the day job to get a book out that is your employer's idea, not necessarily your own...and you still take two projects home from work on Friday evening, something you never do...simply because everyone else is pitching as hard as they can and you don't want to make it look like you don't care about your colleagues' work getting out on time.
...when you, and your colleagues, are IN this position because your employer overcommits, rouses up the troops with rah-rah teamwork talk, and praises you all to the skies when you do well, so you naturally behave like children looking for another pat on the head. (Or, conversely, you can't ever shake the lurking fear that if you should ever refuse to do something like a good soldier, that they'll find some other good soldier who WILL do it with a smile, and they'll kick you to the curb.)
...and when you're a writer yourself. A writer, dammit. A novelist. A person who has her own work to do, her own stories to tell, and her own career to think about...but you're too exhausted working for everyone else to think straight, much less accomplish anything toward that end.

So today, I said, "Enough."
Those manuscripts I took home? They're sitting in the exact same place I put them on Friday afternoon. I haven't touched them. I feel guilty about that. I did, of course, check my day job e-mail and found an e-mail from the proofreader, as promised.
I did nothing with it.

That freelance client with whom I spent almost two hours online yesterday while he fed me all kinds of material he wanted me to go over--as soon as possible, preferably the day before yesterday--so he could get his project put together that he really, really wanted to get out...after I wrote and rewrote web copy for him in a lot of freelance hours this week already? When he saw me online and sent me an IM today...I didn't answer.
I said, "Enough."

I've been pushed to the limit these last two weeks, and tomorrow morning, the last minute crunch to get this rush book out for my employer will start anew. I actually heard one of the authors mentioning that they wanted this thing to production before noon. We'll make it, but I won't be able to do another stitch for anyone else to get it there.
So when it came to more demands from my other client...I said, "Enough."
I've done enough work for other people this weekend.

I was working on Chapter Two of a new story. I like this story. I could, eventually, LOVE this story...if I made it a priority and wrote more per day. But when I was working on Chapter Two, I still had my Yahoo Messenger open...and now I feel guilty that I didn't respond to the client.
I closed Yahoo Messenger regardless...and said, "Enough."

Tonight, I'll be speaking in a writers' workshop room, something I could cheerfully do five days a week if someone would invite me to do it.
I want to do this for MONEY, for a LIVING.
I think I CAN do it.
I think it's possible...through different channels.
But when I have a week or two, or a weekend, like this...I wonder if I'll ever get to it.
So it's time to do something radical.
It's time to ask for help.

If you are a person who runs a writing program...
If you know anybody who runs a writing program...
If you know people who have writing magazines, books, clinics, workshops, informal educational facilities, adult learning situations...
If you know of, or have connections to, ANYONE, anywhere, who's looking for a fabulous writer, editor, and teacher to come in and put the rookies through some basic training...
I give you permission. Carte blanche. With only one condition.

Do NOT pass me along to people who want me to do this for free. I can continue to do it for free online all I want to...all I've got to do is express the desire to do so at a few places, and I'll have all the free work (and all the overbooking that can happen with that!) that I can possibly want.
I'm not looking for MORE WORK.
I'm looking for someone who'll recognize that, over time, I have contributed an enormous amount to the writing trade, in quite a few people's lives, in various ways, and in various venues...

...and who'll be willing to give me some good old-fashioned honest Coin of the Realm for it.

But I'm sick of breaking my back accomplishing someone else's mission.
It's time to say, "Enough," and find the path that will once again put me in balance.

Any takers?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Words to Live By?

From Publishers Lunch:

Portions of Scottish airspace continue to open, though even with the newly-established flying zones London's airports remain closed until at least 6 PM London time today. (Limited trans-Atlantic flights have resumed at other continental airports in such cities as Paris and Amsterdam.) The US Ambassador in London told the White House he estimates that approximately 40,000 Americans are stranded in Britain. When White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was asked if the US would follow the example of the UK's Royal Navy and try to bring citizens home by boat, he replied, "We've got some big ships, but that would be a pretty big ship."

You said it, Admiral. :-)

More later,

LeBron James is a Punk.

And the sooner the Bulls show him the floor at United Center, the better.

Yeah, okay, I know, he’s the “best that’s ever been,” at least in his own mind—although without a championship ring to prove it, his talk is just talk—but isn’t there anybody else in this league who’s getting tired of this little jerk and his on-the-court antics? It was bad enough when he was dancing on the sidelines taunting the Bulls from his OWN bench and no one did a thing about it; now, he’s doing it openly on the court, in the course of a game, and no one’s STILL doing anything about it.

No one. That includes his coach, who clearly cannot handle this kid. That includes the officials, who don’t have the testosterone to get in his face and tell him, “Enough’s enough.” In the NFL, you can’t get away with what this punk gets away with on the floor. You get a penalty for it. You lose yardage. Heck, in college football now, they’re even talking about taking away points for celebration penalties.

So why has NO ONE done ANYTHING about this classless kid and his classless act?

When LeBron entered the league, he was amazing, and he seemed to have a pretty good attitude to go with it. Sure, he had an ego—you can’t get to professional ball without having a strong sense of your own ability. But, unfortunately, unlike many other talented players—Michael comes immediately to mind—this kid has proven that while he’s still an amazing athlete, he can’t handle fame. It’s gone completely to his head. And it’s time someone got in his face and told him so.

Can you see a Bulls team with Michael and Scottie putting up with this nonsense?
Can you see Phil Jackson not allowing his team to put this jerk in his place?
Can you see the officials, the NBA, and all the sports hoses’ reaction if a BULL tried to pull this crap?

Joakim Noah makes a couple of offhanded remarks about Cleveland, and he’s a villain.
Brad Miller delivers a hard foul to someone who probably clobbered him all night long, and he’s a “dirty player.”
Kirk Hinrich gets tossed into the stands by Rajan Rondo, and it’s somehow HIS fault.
And Derrick Rose, the Rookie of the Year and an All-Star, can’t go to the basket without at least one defender hacking him across the arm, shoving him under the basket, or tossing him onto the floor…yet somehow never shows up at the free-throw line.

No, being good at basketball skills doesn’t give you the right to taunt. (Maybe your mother didn’t teach you manners, LeBron, but the rest of us know this.) Nor does it give you the right to get away with goaltending and other repeated violations, and then yammer about how great you are to the point where you’re an embarrassment to your team and your league, with impunity.

It’s time that stopped.

I vote that we take one player—maybe a nice young upcoming star like J.J., with a little meat on his bones—and we willingly send him out there as the sacrificial lamb. The first time LBJ gets the ball, I vote we use some size and some speed to plant him on his rear end in the lane. Or beyond the free-throw line. Or, preferably, somewhere over the scorer’s table. And every time thereafter, we make sure that someone on the floor makes sure that if they have anything to say about it, he won’t attempt a shot without feeling it.

Sure, it’ll get us a technical and ejections and fines. But it’ll be worth every single foul, every single fine, and every single negative reaction the sports hoses have to it.

Pride always is. Self-respect always is. And it’s time we Bulls, our organization, and our city—not to mention our fans—got back some respect.  If the league won’t give it to us, that’s fine; we can do our own dirty work. We usually have to, anyway.

Michael, Scottie, and Dennis (not to mention Stormin’ Norman) would never have put up with this punk longer than it took them to knock him down.

Neither should we.
Enough is enough.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

"Be" Careful What You Ask For...

Wouldn’t you love to have a dollar for every time you mentioned you were a writer and someone said, “Oh, that’s so cool. I’d love to be a writer, too!”?
It’s usually only because of our
Christian charity (or patience, or naïveté—take your pick) that most of us actually play the game that follows. Smiling sweetly, we ask the question to which we probably already know the answer.
“And what are you writing?”
You know what comes next. A stammer, a blush, and a shuffling of feet (figuratively, if not literally). Then, the shy admission, “Well, I haven’t actually written anything yet. But I’ve got this great idea, and someday—!”
Reflexively, you’re probably nodding, because we all know this wannabe is making two key mistakes. First is, of course, relegating anything in your life to “someday.” We all know that day never comes. Second, also obvious, is that to be a writer, you need to write something.
I know, I know. Crazy, but there it is. Go figure.
However, just as the wannabe fools herself into thinking that just having a great idea makes her somehow “creative,” some of us fall into a similar trap in the writing life. Many of us, myself included, have encountered openings for paying gigs (!) in the writing biz and thought, “Wow, it would be so cool to be that."
Only when we start actually doing the job…we don’t like it at all.
How does this happen?
I call it the Bright Shiny Object syndrome. Bright Shiny Objects are everywhere; they’re gigs with great-sounding titles or trappings—but the actual essence of them isn’t bright or shiny. It’s just plain work, sometimes work that—at its heart—is something we actively dislike...or aren’t very good at. In other words, we run smack into the difference between having a title, imagining ourselves as something...and actually doing it. Sometimes, those two things aren’t anywhere near the same.
So, just as the newbie gets snookered into thinking that “being a writer” would be “cool,” we get snookered into some Bright Shiny Object gig that we may regret saying “yes” to but then find it very difficult to get out of.
And it can happen to any of us. Some of us, more than once.
Being a columnist is “cool”—struggling with relentless deadlines, not so much.
Being an editor is “cool”—having really awful writing to fix, when you didn’t buy it in the first place, not so much.
Being a consultant or freelancer is “cool”—having a client stiff you for payment, not so much.
A friend of mine is fond of saying, “Anything you think you want, remember—if you get it, you also get What Comes With It.” Many of us have discovered this to our chagrin; that while we like certain parts of the writing life, certain elements make us cringe.
But it’s doing those things—the stuff that Comes With It—that separates the wannabes from the real deal. A success guru once said, “The only difference between those who succeed and those who fail is that successful people do what unsuccessful people aren’t willing to do.”
In other words, successful people do What Comes With It. They take the grunt work with the glory...the Brussels sprouts as well as the chocolate pie.
So if this writing life isn’t sometimes all it was cracked up to “be” in your mind—if you’re dealing with nagging irritations, blocks, or other obstacles that get in the way of your bliss—you might need to do some honest assessment of what you thought you were getting into. Were there things involved in this career that you didn’t know about before you started writing? Or did you know about them but thought you could get away without doing them—or that someone else could be persuaded to do them for you?
(Bet you’ve found out the hard way about that one.*)
The bottom line is, no matter which step is your next one in this writing life—be careful what you ask for, or what you think you want. Try to learn all that Comes With It before you leap into any opportunity, no matter how much you think you already “know” about it. You may still end up with some egg on your face and need to bow out of the omelet business...but it’s easier to stay out of uncomfortable or ill-fitting situations than to try to get out once you're in them.
And very few things are worse than grabbing for a Bright Shiny Object, only to discover too late that it’s actually a ball and chain in disguise.

*Except for the Brussels sprouts. I actually love them, so you can pass them on.