Floathome memorabilia that fits

binocular case

I’ve never been a collector. Mostly it’s because once you start collecting something then I expect every birthday, every Christmas, every single occasion, someone will give you something related to what you’re collecting whether it’s a tasteful version of what you’d want or not and pretty soon your house is crammed full of angels or elephants, owls or bird nests, robots or wooden tugboats, turning you into the next contestant on Hoarders Anonymous.

If you move a lot, the challenge is to collect as little as possible.

The two women who own the floathome that I’m staying on may or may not be collectors. I don’t think they are collectors in the true sense of that word but they do have a knack, and I’m not sure which one of them to credit for putting together the interior of this place, their West Coast home, in a way that means everyone who comes here is impressed. From the artwork to all the little touches that add up to create a unified physical space the way a painting can, or a garden, or even an office, when it’s designed with love and attention.

Last night, I had six friends over for a BBQ, and one of them asked me, “Do the people who own this place have roots in Newfoundland and Labrador?”

“I don’t know, why?”

“Oh, it just has that feel to the place.”

“Oh, I said, absentmindedly, “well, they do have a house in Newfoundland and that’s the only reason I get to stay here.”

Oh yeah! Then it all made sense.

We had been focused on familial roots, sharing how we had arrived in B.C., either by leaving Ontario or Boston Bar or Nelson and from as far away as New Zealand, so my attention had been focused on the past and family roots, not the present when I answered the question.

This person had just come back from a first-time trip to Newfoundland in June and she said the house really reminded her of being there.  Of course it would.

Here are some of the treasures I like here.

beach chairs

These beach chairs are lined up on a kitchen ledge. They are always facing in the same direction and that always bugs me. People would never sit at the beach one behind each other like that. So, I moved one. They, of course, will move it back as they should.

bathing beauties

There is a three -foot long line of bathing beauties from another time in a wooden frame in the kitchen. This is only a fraction of the bevy of beauties lined up in it. You can never have too many female friends.

painting by Bobbi Pike

Who wouldn’t want to sit outside just soaking in the scenery from the vista of this yard painted by a person named Bobbi Pike.

wooden fish

I sit in front of this fish every day and do my work on the computer. I like him.

shellbox

This is actually an entire box covered in shells. Sometimes those are beyond tacky. Strangely enough, this one isn’t. It’s in front of the fireplace.

fish wall

They have a whole fish wall with fish heads and starfish. This guy facing you as you climb the first set of stairs means business. No getting away with anything around here.fishing basket

It’s imperative to have a basket to put all your special things -flys and lures and bubble gum cards. Huck Finn would have had one of these.

beaver teethmarks

The wood on the bottom left has been branded by a beaver. The other morning, I was at my computer (where else?), and I heard this weird sound and when I looked out the back screen door, I saw a beaver knawing on something right out the back door. He dove under before I could photograph him. For reasons I’m not sure of, Pat likes to collect these branches that Mr. Beaver has sunk his big teeth into.

What would you collect if space and money were no object?

Germany: Where Publishing Dreams can come true

This is a tale of publishing success far and beyond what most writers will ever come close to accomplishing, and yet few North Americans know this author’s name.

He was born in Germany, as a child he barely survived WWII. He emigrated to Canada at 10, grew up in Kitimat, went to university, gained an M.A. and became a college instructor in the humanities. He is a husband, father, and educator, who, in the 1980s, traded academia for the creation of a life carved from his own talents as compelling as the stories carved into the iconic poles of the First Nations artists in his adopted home.

ulrichHis name is Ulrich G. Schaffer. He lives in Gibsons, BC, in a house with an unobstructed sightline out into the Strait of Georgia where, perhaps the water helps waves of inspiration wash over him as regularly as the waves that lick the beach.

After initial success in the 1970s, with eight books published by U.S. publisher Harper & Row (Fitzhenry & Whiteside in Canada), he’s continued to write and to try and get the attention of publishers in North America to no avail. He still receives small royalties from these early, previously published works.

When he turned from North America as a place to market his books, and headed to Germany, his birthplace, he found his niche. Ulrich has written over 150 different books, poetry, novels, large format coffee-table photography books, illustrated texts and calendars.

To date, he has sold more than 5 million copies of his books, (yes, 5 million!), published and sold in Europe. They have been translated into 10 languages. His poetry, some traditional, most what he refers to as spiritual texts, is often accompanied by his stunning nature photography, a few of his reflection images here.

Ulrich-Reflections

Ulrich-Reflections2

I think of his story as a tale of what happens when you’re a round peg trying to fit into a square hole and in a time of ever-shrinking traditional book publishing real-estate. But that would diminish his accomplishments.

For me, he offers an inspiring glimpse of what’s possible when you believe in your work, stay true to yourself and your dreams, and find a way to be entrepreneurial; to think differently about what’s possible.

It’s a story about how much a faithful audience matters, how loyal readers can take the soul of your books to their own hearts and remain keen to explore what you have to say, book after book, year after year. Perhaps it’s an extreme example of what happens when you find your audience, no matter where that might be in the world.

“Many people tell me they’ve lived with my books for 30 years. They write to me. They tell me stories about what the book has meant to them. They eagerly await the next one,” he says.

He is a man at the beginning of his eighth decade, married for 50 years to Waltraud Gursche. He’s especially intrigued by the complexities, the mysteries, and the possibilities in the connection between human beings. Fascinated by all types of love -deep, real, complex -not the idealized and bastardized version most of us have been raised on via television romantic comedies.

Ulrich first came to my attention in a conversation with Cathy MacLean, a classmate from SFU’s Writer’s Studio (2012). She met Ulrich when she was a student in one of his humanities classes at Douglas College in New Westminster in the 1970’s. It just so happens, they both now live in Gibsons.

In spite of more than a few anecdotes at frustrated attempts to get any publisher’s attention in Canada, he’s still hopeful he might find one again.

This year marks his 53rd trip to Europe in 33 years. On book tours, he typically visits 25 European cities and sells approximately $2000 worth of books a night. Without coming across as boasting, just matter of fact, he says, per book, he makes five times what he would make from a royalty off a book published by a trade publisher, which is how, in Germany, he’s made most of his income. He’s only switched to self-publishing in the past few years. He is currently working on a book about the relationship between Francis of Assisi and Clare.

I want to know why he even wants to bother with Canadian publishing given his success in Europe? Why does it matter to him? Is he still labouring under the stigma that only a book published by another is more valuable? Not really. After all, he has worked with those publishers in Germany. He says it’s this:  At 71 years of age, he would like to focus solely on what he’s most passionate about: writing and photography, not publishing his own work.

Ulrich Schaffer’s desk

Desk of Ulrich

The view from his deck
Ulrich-Viewfromdeck

***

This is how I decided to write this blog post. One morning I woke up, perused my Twitterfeed, and read a link that detailed the potential that exists for English writers via self-publishing in Germany. I immediately thought about a friend, Cathy MacLean, and Ulrich, a friend of hers that she’d mention in passing. I sent her an e-mail, got his number, and picked up the phone to enter into a delightful conversation. He’s sent me the PDF of a short novel called Izzabelle and Erich that, after his compelling description, I can’t wait to read.

So what do you think? Has your way of thinking about self-publishing changed in the last couple of years? Or are you staying steadfastly committed to the idea that landing a traditional publisher to push your story out into the world is the highest form of success when it comes to writing? If so, why?

Vancouver, I need a housing hug. Work with me!

KizmitWent to the really great marketing ploy, Gesamtkunstwerk (be careful how you pronounce it), to listen to Jeff Derksen, a poet and English prof at SFU speak to the future of the city and how social housing might be re-imagined in Vancouver.  Enjoyed some wine and a very tasty pretzel bun dipped in grainy hot mustard too. Thank you very much.

The first thing I learned, or had reinforced, given that I already sort of knew it, is that if you want to market something, give it a really cool name that’s hard to pronounce for everyone who isn’t fluent in German.  Get some intelligent, in-the-know and interesting individuals as speakers. Put it in a stark space. Include an exhibit with architectural drawings and small models. Turn it into a “go-to” event. They, whoever they are specifically, did a really great job at putting this on.

Derksen was comparing the approach to social housing in Vienna versus Vancouver. What I’m saying here is my bastardization of what he said. But it will give you the idea.  They actually have a will to do social housing in Vienna which ranks as the top place it the world for livability.

In Vancouver, social housing only ever seems to gets imagined in a very unimaginary way and always in relation to those on the lowest rung, (actually, they’re not even on a rung, they’ve dropped onto the street). In contrast, in Vienna, 60% of people live in some form of subsidized housing and Vienna is ranked as the No. 1 livable city in the world. Gee. I wonder if there’s a correlation? Ya think?

There is imagination in Vienna around social housing that is apparently lacking in Vancouver. Or given the gold mine of creativity that exists here, I guess it’s really just the will that’s lacking. Derksen did seem to be treading lightly of course, given that the people hosting him have the main goal of selling more condos.  Specifically at a cool looking place called Vancouver House.  Interesting but not quite as exciting for those of us who can barely afford the furniture in the lobby of new said building when it’s done, let alone a whole condo in an architectural sculpture. And just to be clear, I’m not knocking it. I just want Vancouver to provide more options based on a spectrum of bank accounts.

Sometimes when you live in Vancouver and purchasing a place to live is not a option, you begin to feel like it’s normal to be on the outside looking in all the time. Like that’s the way God wanted it.  The chosen ones are in condos. You’re not. Oh well. And it’s not that I even desire to live in a condo. I’d rather live in a yurt or a couple of shipping containers that have been architecturally renovated, one arranged like a block on top of the other and in a little sunny clearing in a forest. That’s way more my style.  A condo does not factor into my dreams.

It isn’t until you go to a talk like this that you begin to think, hey, just a minute, who made the rules anyway? Who said that the only thing dictating everything has to be money?  Is it enough for a city to receive all the love? Doesn’t it have to give some back? This unrequited love thing might have gone too far in Vancouver.  Is there any other city in the world that’s as self loving as Vancouver? If so, let me know where. I don’t ever want to go there. Is it enough to love a city or should we also expect that the city might give more of us, proportionately, some love back? This is sort of what Jeff Derksen asked. Read his essay on it (unless you’re over 50 and then the teeny, weeny print will mean you won’t because it will be too hard to read).

While you’re at it. Take a look at this short description of the approach to social housing in Vienna where 5,000 to 7,000 social housing units built each year and that equals 85 percent of the new housing stock there annually. It’s a  big fat bear hug if not outright love. It’s commitment to everyone, rich, poor, elderly, youth.

So, that’s the long way of saying what kind of city would you rather live in. Exclusive or Inclusive?

* The photo above, taken on Salt Spring, is the entrance to the house behind a very creative little coffee place/gallery called Kizmit that’s kind of its own little exhibit, Salt Spring style.

Fundraiser for a Revolutionary Daughter: Carmen Aguirre

AguirreBefore I went to the Salmon Arm Writer’s Festival, I knew next to nothing about playwright, actor and author Carmen Aguirre. I’d heard her name. That was it.

I vaguely recall hearing about her book: Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter. It was published in 2011. Aguirre spent 8 years writing it plagued by fear of what telling her story might mean for her safety and for what it might mean for the future of her young son.

I did not know that she was out $60,000 in royalties because the Bank of Montreal called a loan on Douglas & McIntyre which put them into bankruptcy according to Howard White who through his Harbour Publishing purchased the bankrupt company.

Aguirre’s book, although it came out to critical acclaim, sold barely 1,500 copies when it was first released.  Typically, a publisher won’t take on a book in Canada if it thinks it can’t sell a minimum of 3,000 copies. Then, Canada Reads happened in 2012 and the singer Shad backed Aguirre’s book. It won the Canada Reads competition that year and suddenly it began to sell and she became an in-demand guest speaker on talk shows, thrust into the spotlight, meeting with First Nations leaders and even an unlikely guest speaker at Vancouver’s exclusive Terminal City Club.

In Salmon Arm in May, I took Aguirre’s workshop because it was about memoir and monologue but mostly because it sounded interesting. Some of her advice: “Put your theme in capital letters and keep it in front of you when you write.  Find one word that describes your theme. Then, find the opposite of that word. What is the conflict? When there is no longer conflict, when there is no longer a struggle, the story is over. The character(s) have to have a super objective; they have to feel that they will die unless they achieve it.  Do this in every chapter. Every chapter has to have an objective that will move the story forward.”

During the workshop, the best workshop I attended there of many good ones, when Aguirre spoke, what I noticed most was her personal strength communicated through the precision of her words. Think of a sword slicing a blank page in one fell swoop. That is what comes across in the way she speaks with such intensity. She knows where she’s going in front of an audience. She wants you to find your own committed path to where you’re going as well, at least on the page.

In 1997, on vacation during a Christmas vacation, I was standing in the lobby of a hotel in San Cristobal de las Casas when our GAP tour leader explained that there had been a massacre, 22 kilometres away at a place called Acteal. Fear rose inside me but only momentarily. Then, like a suitcase ready and packed, that horror, distant, unreal, nothing to do with me, easily slipped back inside, remote. A remoteness born from a Canadian upbringing and ignorance about the realities that occur in the lives of people who aren’t as lucky in the random geography of their births.

Outside the workshops when I passed her on the wharf she seemed remote. Maybe a little bored. Professional. Polite. Given her past, perhaps that remoteness is a way of being that can’t ever be fully released. Her face is riveting. Her jawline as sharp as the edge of the tool that plastered the walls Diego Rivera painted his murals on.

This morning I finished Carmen Aguirre’s memoir and it is the kind of book that will accompany you forever once you’re done.  I can’t begin to imagine how it would be possible to experience what she describes on the pages and then to return to Vancouver in all its safe and pleasant banality and not feel that you weren’t in a constant state of disassociation. Moving forward and embracing a future might be surreal in a very different, yet just as unsettling way. I don’t know. I’m just surmising.

On June 9th, there will be a fundraiser for Carmen Aguirre put together by those who worked on the book at D&M and bringing together communities her life intersects with in publishing, the theatre, literary.

It’s taking place at Heritage Hall on Main Street, 7:30 – 11pm. You can contribute virtually without even attending.

Get tickets and/or contribute through the Eventbrite website.  Online sales end June 8th.

A Road Trip on the Rocky Route to Publishville

Salmon Arm Wharf

The Word on the Lake Festival. Salmon Arm, B.C. May 2014 long weekend.

I peruse the list of presenters. Diana Gabaldon. Gary Geddes. Carmen Aguirre. Anne Eriksson. Gail Anderson-Dargatz. David Essig. C.C. Humphreys and others.

My gaze then passes over two more names: Howard White. Owner of Harbour Publishing. Carolyn Swayze of Carolyn Swayze Literary Agency.

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAT? Are you kidding me? The two people I most want to talk to in BC publishing? In Salmon Arm! Together.

Where else would I have an opportunity to talk to these two and why, God, must it be there, in that place named after a West Coast fish and a rather useful but wholly mundane human appendage: Salmon Arm.

Now. Let me be clear. Salmon Arm is really pretty. A cute little town. For some people, I’m sure it’s a great place to live. Never mind that Trudeau gave it the finger. You have to have lived there, hated it, and survived to relate to the gesture.

Someone has written, ‘Smile, God Loves you,’ on a building. And that’s the first hint. There’s something creepy underneath all that tidy organized. That subtle crack in the Leave it to Beaver brings a sense of relief to me, reaffirms just one of the reasons I grew to hate the place and here are a few more.

In 1979, I played on a championship high school basketball team ranked No. 1 in the province and we lost to the Salmon Arm Jewels in the final game of the BC Girls Basketball Championships. Years later, when my eldest sister was terminally ill at only 43 years of age; when she lay dying from breast cancer that had metastasized, she went into a coma while spending her last days at Eagle Bay, a nearby area. My first love/hate relationship with journalism began at the Salmon Arm Observer, a sentence that lasted 18 months.  It was also the first place where I lost it enough (the first time) to need to go to counselling and god knows that did not end well–not for me, and definitely not for the counsellor.

I haven’t set foot back in Salmon Arm–on purpose–for more than 14 years and I had no intention of ever going there again in this lifetime.

“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world…” It’s as if the Salmon Arm city limits are my very own fiery gates of hell; a test I must keep passing. Way too many important life exchanges, proportionately, have happened for me in the confines of its geography. Surely, I must have lived a couple of past lives there as the only plausible explanation.

An internal pull of intuition persisted. I knew from experience it was futile to resist.  Just shut up, get in the car and drive.

So I did.

Before I left, however, I made sure I had my query, the first 10 pages of my manuscript, my bio, and just in case there was any opportunity to hand it to either Swayze or White, a manila envelope to put it in.

Five hours later, I arrive. The next day, I miss an appointment with Howard White that some fabulous volunteer had to work really hard to get me. They call it a blue pencil. Might have even involved a sexual favour for all I know. Only one problem. They forgot to tell me. At the end of the afternoon, I hear the sad news. Appointment? What appointment? I missed it? With Howard? Are you kidding me? Damn!

Oh well. Not meant to be. I walk towards the elevator to go back to my room. When I look up he’s standing beside me. I suddenly forget his name. We move into the elevator. I don’t miss a beat. His name comes back to my adled brain.  I introduce myself. I ramble off the premise of my manuscript as quickly as an auctioneer trying to sell antique jewelry. He looks back a little dazed and wholly uninterested.

The festival continues. Mingling and learning abound. Fast forward to Sunday.  Carolyn Swayze’s workshop ends. It’s now or never. I ask her if she’d be willing to look at my query and my first 10 pages. “As long as your contact info’s on it,” she says. She takes the envelope.

It’s not much, but it’s something. I’m happy. I try to imagine the pile it will get chucked onto back at her office on Tuesday.

I proceed to the last workshop of the day. Howard White begins at the front of Room 136, Okanagan College. Next thing I know, Carolyn Swayze enters the room and takes the seat directly in front of me. I overhear a conversation that indicates she’s only there to wait for her ride. She begins to fidget. Of course she’s bored. She’s heard all this before.

She reaches down and takes something out of her bag. Oh my god. Is that mine? Is that my manuscript? She lifts the manila envelope and removes the white pages. She puts it down on the table in front of her, her head bends and she begins to read.

I inch forward in my seat.  I hold my breath. I’m almost close enough to lick the back of her neck. I’m bobbing left and right, past her head, over her left shoulder, straining to see what page she’s on.  I feel like a stalker but, hey, just a minute, I was seated first.

I’m horrified and ecstatic as I watch her turn the pages.  It’s like witnessing a bad car accident and being proposed to in the very same second.  I’m watching Carolyn Swayze reading the first 10 pages of my manuscript to pass the time while Howard White drones on, directly in my line of vision, at the front of the room.

Is she still reading? What page is she on? Why’s she looking up? Is that part boring her? I can fix that. We can fix it together, Carolyn. You can get me an editor. Focus on the potential. I will my thoughts to penetrate her cranium with laser beam precision.

It’s as if my dead sister looking down upon me has intervened. She’s saying, ‘oh, for heaven’s sake, can we just get on with this. Can you just get on with the next chapter of your real life and start living again, not writing? You’re boring me and I’m already dead.’

Howard White’s voice continues to dub over this surreal scene.

It’s too funny.

It’s enough to bring a big fat smile to my face and keep it there – Cheshire cat-like – all the way back down the Coquihalla Highway.

Mission accomplished.

Just add personality

personalityforwebsmallIt’s pretty obvious, after going to countless number of book readings over the years, that it’s no longer good enough to be a great writer.

If you’re a great writer and you’re really boring then do yourself (and the audience) a favour and don’t read in public. Bask in the book sales that your story, your intellect, your unique take on the world, or your research has garnered.  In other words, let the audience read your magic but don’t inflict yourself, in person, on them. None of us can be all things to all people and it’s good to know one’s strengths.

Not only do writers have to write a great story these days but they also have to be able to tell the interesting stories behind that story, to be equally enticing a character as the characters they’ve brought to life on the page.  Are you worthy of a paragraph or two according to someone other than your mother?

But it’s not fair, you say. Writing the damn thing was hard enough. Now you want me to be Margaret Cho as well?

A friend who was a bookseller a decade or two ago told me her Farley Mowat encounter story the other day. She was in her twenties or thereabouts. She was standing with another young attractive female employee outside the bookstore at a large department store in downtown Vancouver where Mowat was going to be reading/signing books. When he showed up and  they went to the door to greet him, he said, “I won’t come in unless you kiss me.” He was in his late 40s or thereabouts then.  I’m not sure that’s personality as much as just your run-of-the-mill randy old guy (and he wasn’t that old then) but on the wake of his death it captures an aspect of his personality that, apparently, was well known. Afterwards, he went on to write a salacious little snippet in the book purchased by the other young woman.

Of course I want to hear a bit of the author’s writing when I attend a reading but mostly I want to hear the stories behind the story. Why this idea? What prompted that plot? Your struggles with writing it. Your process. The people you met while you were standing on that desolate beach trying to get a feel for the place. All the other wannabe writers hoping one day to be on that stage where the featured writer is presenting are just as eager to receive a PetSmart-styled literary treat as well.

I think back to a few of the personalities who also happen to be able to write who are/were masters at entertaining their audiences:

Tomson Highway at the Vancouver Writer’s Fest some time in the 1980s reading from The Fur Queen.

The late Peter Matthiessen on Salt Spring at ArtSpring in 2008 because of the stories he told about the on the ground research he did in writing The Snow Leopard.

The late Maeve Binchy in the first very funny 15 minutes of her intro to the reading of her book Tara Road back in 1998. At least, I think that was the book. See. I’m a little unclear about the book, but I didn’t forget her intro at the Vancouver International Writer’s Fest.

Patrick Lane at a reading at the Sechelt Writer’s Fest introducing his new book, There is a Season: A Memoir. I now can’t even recall why but the way he was, his persona, stood out for me.

Gail Anderson-Dargatz because she is really funny and once again, I’m not positive but it may have been the release of her book Recipe for Bees, but it could just as likely have been Rhinestone Button. I don’t remember. I do remember it was at Sechelt and she kept the audience in stitches leading up to her reading.

The late Frank McCourt at the Chan Centre at UBC, in his glory, centre stage, and yet he might as well have been having a chat at his local pub with the audience sitting in the next booth eavesdropping his interaction he was that elegant in the casualness of his storytelling. Damn Irish! They’ve got an advantage.

The biggest shock to this day, for me, was probably Margaret Atwood. Maybe circa 1985. UBC. A Saturday night on a cold fall evening. She was wearing a floor-length black cloak, hood up, and when she opened her mouth to read, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe the voice of the woman whose words on the printed page had kept me riveted was as monotone as white paint drying. It was almost painful/irritating to listen to her. It’s still hard for me to believe that the person I saw and heard then is the same Twitter feed personality now, and with a sense of humour. I guess she’s loosened up a bit.

You get the idea. I don’t live in New York.  I haven’t been to too many readings of the cream of the crop of glorified literati. And my choices have been limited by my ability to remember.

What about you? Any really interesting authors who are also great readers/presenters stand out for you? Do tell! Or maybe you find the whole idea of authors having to be dog and pony shows offensive. Whatever.

Honesty the Holy Grail of Memoir

logandrocks-web

After all the writing and writers, and being part of a writing community, I’m starting to feel like I’m getting a little sidetracked, mentally that is.  I’m not 25, 30, or even 40 anymore, and therefore, it’s beginning to feel like if just one more piece of information about writing comes my way through Twitter, Facebook, through web sites, at writing events or via Shelagh Rogers on CBC, then I am going to run screaming from the room and not stop running until I find the nearest pier.

When I get to the end of the last slat on that pier, I’m going to hurtle myself off it doing the biggest cannon ball ever.

In short, just one more reference to writing and I think I’m going to puke.

I realize that, for me, there is only one person I really need to listen to; really need to try and hear as loudly and clearly as possible in order to get the thing done and that’s myself. Writing, like therapy, might be the most difficult thing any of us can ever do in life. And the most difficult part of all of it is being honest with yourself – really honest about your human experience. More honest than you’ve ever been to anyone.

If you have done everything humanly possible to make whatever it is you are working on complete, then after that, whether it reaches the world or not, you’ve done the first part of the job only if you get keep going and finish the thing. Submit it to the journal. Send it to the publishing house. Find an agent. And let it go.

One of my most challenging things to live with as a writer is to keep believing in what I’m doing, to push aside my monkey mind and my negative self-talk that suggests I’ve dropped into some black hole of delusion.

I have to keep finding a way to believe that it makes sense to keep writing regardless of the fact that I am making next to no money to feed myself. I have to push aside every bit of advice about these being my top earning years with that voice screaming back every bit as loudly. I have to remind myself that getting to the end of life with a pile of money as one’s primary goal in life is an empty goal that has been blown way out of proportion.

The thing about writing is that if you have a compulsion to do it and do it daily, then you are a writer. A lot of people in our fame-crazed world don’t get that. You, as a creative person, have to find a way to come to terms with being able to stay strong in your rationale to yourself; a rationale about how you want to live and a definition of success that has very little to do with money because you must give your head a shake if you think that money’s current prominence as the only meaningful yardstick of everything makes sense.

You have to be willing to fail. And then get back up again.

All that matters is the writing that you are working on at the moment. All that matters is the story you are trying to get down and get right with right being your right, like your moral compass right. You have to be sure that the writing is first and foremost meaningful to you  because by accomplishing that first highly personal goal, you are doing what you  can to hope a few others might find it worth reading later.

In all those hours when you are alone and in your head, it’s hard not to get bogged down, to think that you have completely lost your mind and every once in a while you find yourself typing “Cheap rentals on deserted  islands” into Google because you just want to escape.

When I see myself acting the way I am lately, yet the word count continues to add up and the rhythm of the piece is beginning to sing and the story feels like the reader will embark on a journey, I sense that it’s even more important to keep going.

I have to believe it’s that same inner voice; the one that I’m trying to access to write, to get to the purity of what I’m trying to convey, that’s suggesting, as well, that I must be getting close.

PS: If you’re feeling the way I am, don’t read this.