Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Sometimes, when things aren't working super-well, you can turn them around by a mere matter of a few extra days’ (weeks’, months’) persistence.

And sometimes not.

Over the past several years, I’ve been “trying” to do a lot of different things. I’ve been trying to build a freelance writing career—which has meant, at times, being at the laptop when I should have been elsewhere. In one instance, I remember typing away on an assignment for which I had a Monday deadline…only the Monday was the Monday AFTER EASTER.

Uh-yup. There I was, between making Easter Sunday dinner and seeing The Boy out the back door afterward from his holiday visit, playing catchup on an assignment that continued into the evening hours. And this wasn’t because I’d let anything slide beforehand…the assignment simply WAS what it WAS. A lot of work, time-consuming and time-intensive…with no other day to do it on but a holiday.

Yes, it was insanity. But when you’re building a business, you frequently engage in insane behavior because you believe you HAVE to.  I believed I had to.
I don’t believe that anymore.

Because, in the end, I didn’t succeed in accomplishing what I intended to do with the freelance income. Various factors contributed to this, everything from the economy slowing down to simple human limitations; there are only so many late nights and weekends and holidays one can give up before one pays the price for it.  So, sadly enough, the yeoman sacrifices I made didn’t do what they were supposed to do.

In retrospect, I would have done things differently. MUCH differently. But unfortunately, one can’t act from hindsight.

Except, of course, for the future.

And so I have decided, over the past several weeks, that my future actions need to be different from the past, and even the recent present.

For years, I have taken a mile or so walk outdoors every single morning—the only exceptions being of glare ice underfoot or lightning from overhead. At times, this walk has been the only thing that has kept me reasonably contented. It’s given me fresh air, it’s restored my soul, it’s been a balm after some of those late nights when I felt like hell warmed over.

But it at times, also, has become a burden and a chore.

So recently…once in awhile…I have foregone it. 

Which led me to think about some other things I can also forego.

Like setting the alarm earlier than 6 in the morning. (If I prepare well the night before, I have almost nothing to do in the morning that takes very long—and I can still walk, if I wish. J)

Like weighing myself every day.

Like…dare we say it…fretting about my weight and trying endlessly to lose.
This has also been a futile effort of late. I’m not sure what all it will take to make the effort successful, but for the past couple of weeks, I’ve decided that for a little while, anyway, I’m going to stop trying…since TRYING didn’t work at all. I lost 10 pounds on Atkins, five years ago, and then that stopped dead. When I get extremely busy doing something extremely wonderful (like the nonstop holiday cleaning and preparing), I can lose as much as 7 pounds in a week.

Unfortunately…I’m not that busy all the time. Fortunately…because that kind of activity leaves me EXHAUSTED for an entire day or more afterward.

Which is why I’ve started to think that maybe, just maybe, all this “discipline” I’ve been trying to exert over myself has been greatly overrated, especially since most of it has not accomplished what it was “supposed” to do.

So maybe those folks who talk about “trying easy” have had the right idea all along. Not that I can tell, since most of them talk that job, but are just as driven and overworked as the people they’re trying to get to slow down…

…but I digress.

Long blog short (even if it’s too late for that), I’m conducting a new experiment. I’m going to challenge every single thing I’m thinking I “have to do” or “ought to do” that wasn’t bringing me the results anyway…

…and I’m going to try something different.

Different might just be much, much better.

I’m hoping so.

It’s at least going to be easier on me, my emotions, my sense of self, my overblown shame and “duty” complex, and—hopefully—my overall health in the long run.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010

Okay, Here's Your Chance!

During a moment's lull at the day job, I remembered thinking, "If I ran a publishing company like this one,  it'd be truly author-friendly. They'd all tell me that couldn't be done, but I'd like for us to at least TRY."

And then I started thinking of other stuff...

If I ran a publishing company...I wouldn't start it until I could pay everyone fair advances against royalties. Yes, I know publishing companies are running away from that like an attack of paper wasps. Tough. It's the right thing to do. Publishers should do this. The advances don't have to be huge, but they ought to BE THERE.

If I ran a publishing company...I'd love agents, because I'd consider we were on the same side. Heck, in reality--we are. If my company doesn't make money, neither does the agent, and neither does the author. So I'd do my best to work with agents, rather than considering every single person wearing the "a" tag to be, by definition, an adversary.

If I ran a publishing company...EVERYBODY would be subjected to editing. I don't care if your last name is Roberts, King, or Rowling. You're still going to have an editor, and you're going to listen to what she says. For all the talking some of these people do about how "We're all just learning the craft, none of us is perfect, a good editor's worth her weight in gold, yatta, yatta, yatta..." we all KNOW differently, because we've seen it in their books. No, you don't get away with writing a good book every third one--unless you're willing to give the other two books away at half price, and proportionately smaller royalties. If you're not, you get edited, and you do not have the right to subtly threaten that editor "under the table" for daring to suggest changes to your deathless prose or throw hissy fits during the process. Be a professional, like you expect the rest of us to be.

If I ran a publishing company, there'd be no such thing as "superstar" authors who can't write a lick. If you get a ghostwriter, her name's on the cover "as told to," or "with," or you go somewhere else. If you can't write your way out of a paper bag, don't lie to your public and pretend you can. Chances are the thing that got you to celebrity status in the first place had a lot to do with pretending, smoke, mirrors, airbrushing, or a really good sound man. In the case of "your" book, that buck's gonna stop here. And yes, I'll lose some celebrity authors that way--maybe. Or maybe that'll just impress the socks off the ones who really matter, and they'll be glad to share the glory with someone who helps them look better.

Want more of these? I've probably got a million of 'em. But I'll bet YOU do, too. So...
Tell me. If you ran a publishing company, what would it be like?

Don't worry. The sky's the limit here. We're painting the picture we'd like to see, not what we think is possible. This is the publishing company of your dreams...so what does it look like?

Have at it, and bring your friends!


What Every Catechist Needs to Understand...NOW

Listen, and learn....

More in a bit,