The change in the cold weather finally got me. While I lay wrapped in my shroud of aspirin, cold medicine, and roll of toilette paper (no more kleenex to be found), I found myself aimlessly searching youtube videos and thinking of the old typewriter days. I started to picture Ernest Hemingway at an old Paris cafe sipping from his shot-glass penning into his notebook of inspiration. I had this romantic scene stuck in my head until I came across his true personality when someone listed his quotes. His tall voice would yell to his friend across the table, “write drunk, edit sober” before he headed home from the bar for a two hour session at his typewriter. The next day I pictured him crossing out nearly half of everything he wrote the night before. In the afternoon, he met with a local paper when new magazine reporter leans over the table and asks, “How is latest work going?” His reply is, “The first draft of everything is shit.” I laughed out loud at the scene playing out in my head and looked around to see if anyone noticed. I stopped laughing to myself when I remembered my first interview for a local newspaper. My notebook and pen wrote furiously. I forgot to turn on the voice recorder a few times. Then, there were the awkward pauses while I fumbled for my list of questions. I was the new and naive reporter pretending to interview the world’s icon. What was the problem with the fantasy interview in my head? I didn’t want to be the reporter or even interview him. I wanted to be him. Let me specify, I wanted to be the writer in the scene, so what the hell keeps stopping me? Well, in exploring this thought at least I managed to finish one paragraph. I imagine Hemingway himself would say- “get your pen out and see what the hell you have to say about it.” As writers, we don’t know our voice until we let the pen bleed dry. So, get writing! Hey, it’s a little bit nicer than what Mr. Hemingway would say to you.
“Write drunk, edit sober.” Ernest Hemingway
“The first draft of everything is shit.” Ernest Hemingway
Dear Courting Panda,
Thank you for writing to me with such a heartfelt story. There are many other male mammals wondering the very same thing. Take heart when I say studies show that courting the female panda may be the most difficult of all species. In fact, trying to get Pandas to court is always under study. It also sounds like your counterpart is giving you mixed signals and there is no sure way to tell if she is playing hard to get. Remember, I am no expert at animal relationships but I would suggest continuing to court her the old fashioned way. Woo her. She kept the flower. Place one there regularly and try not to watch her. Get know what kind of bamboo she prefers. Place a few near her favorite tree and see if she accepts them. You can always resort to lines of poetry or finding out things she likes. Sit near her and go about your business as usual. Say “hello” to her even if it makes you uncomfortable, but give no hint to her that you were the one leaving the love notes or flowers. Always be the polite gentleman. Let her get used to your presence every day. Try this for a few days and work your way up to introducing yourself. She may be shy. Continue wooing her but don’t say that it’s you. Sit at enough distance from her and take your leave before her at the same time every day. Never stalk her – that will definitely scare her off. Have patience. Try to have small talk after your introductions and listen. Wait for her replies. Try this for a while and then be gone one day or two. Have one of the squirrels see if she looks for you. Then, return as before but this time hand her the same flower left for her the very first day. See how she reacts. If she snubs you or doesn’t return then forget her. She will only ever be your lunch buddy. There are other pandas in the forest. Write back to me and let me know how things went even if they didn’t turn out the way you hoped. I’m sure the other pandas in the forest are waiting to hear how things went. You may want to enclose an email for the other pandas if you are turned down. I’m sure they will want to meet to the panda that went to all this trouble for one lunch date.
Dear Little Lucy,
I write to you because I have a confession to make. I let the dog take the blame. I was the cat in one of those youtube videos. My owner finally caught me in the act. I was the one who tore the toilet paper to shreds and chewed on the remote. Poor Jake, the mixed chocolate lab had to run around the house with his tail between his legs for weeks. He didn’t know what he did wrong. He was in the doghouse for weeks. Most cats would just laugh but I’m worried about him. He mopes around the house and when our owner comes home he immediately runs to the corner. You know dog habits. I feel guilty. When my owner finally caught me my video went viral and now I’m going on tour at the local film festival. Poor Jake has to stay home because there will be too many cats present. How can I make it up to him?
The Guilty Kitten
Dear Guilty Kitten,
I know he’s a dog but you can start by telling him you’re sorry. Try to do it without sneering like cats can do. Encourage him to come out of the corner. Find something to distract him from his worries and trained behavior. Throw a ball his way instead of sabotaging him. Most of all go back to your toys instead of ruining your owners things, unless you want a one way to ticket to the pound. Sometimes I ask myself if we are any better than those who try to tame us. Unfortunately, those humans put our bad behavior on viral display or perhaps they just sympathize with one another as pet owners. Try to live in harmony with your roommates and don’t let the fame go to your head. If you’re that much smarter than a dog then why don’t you have him trained yet? The entire cat community is waiting. On the other hand, who knows what he would do for you if he was your friend. In an emergency I think a dog is more likely to dial for help than a cat. Think of that next your stuck in a tree.
The weather has turned here in the upper Mid-West. I am waking up in the dark and going home just as the last few rays of sunshine fall behind the downtown Minneapolis Skyline. How can I create my own sunshine without hitting the local tanning bed? Maybe I should invest in a sun lamp. Despite my sleepy, hibernating body I signed up for my first meet-up group with innovators and entrepreneurs in Minnesota. I was surprised to find so many groups on their home page. There were groups of people posting their passions, interests and hobbies. I had to smile when I saw groups like, The Twin Cities Dr Who Meetup Group. The best part is most of the groups are free to join or charge very little to attend their meetings. I think it’s time to come out of our studios and hobbit holes for a social event. Go to Google and type in meet-up groups or your own personal interest. This might be one way to help find your niche or realize that you’re drawn to something else. Try something new and tell the dullness of winter you’re not going into hiding this time.
Dear Little Lucy,
One day, deep in the bamboo forest I came to a clearing and saw a beautiful sight. She was sitting there bathed in sunlight and the stripes on her fur looked as soft as flower petals. I sat and stared while I chewed on my lunch. I was too overwhelmed by her beauty. Later, I heard from the other animals that her name was Meili. Her very names means beauty. She was relocated to my part of the forest a month ago. She doesn’t seem to mind my presence when we sit near each other. We look quietly at each other in our meeting place every day. Neither of us speak. We just sit and eat. Every day, I try to work up the courage to say something – anything, but alas no words pour out. I know female pandas are difficult to court. What do I say to such a beauty? A few days ago, I arrived early and placed a flower near her favorite tree. She sniffed around and found it. To my surprise, she placed the flower behind her tiny ear. Then she smiled at me! My hand shook and my mouth went dry. My heart thudded and then nothing. I was speechless. What am I to do? How do I make the next move? Please help. I don’t know what step is next in courting my love.
The Courting Panda
(Look for Lucy’s reply next week. What are your thoughts? How does a Panda court another mate? Send Dear Little Lucy a comment to include.)
As an illustrator/artist I know about online portfolios that focus on visual representation but have you heard about online portfolios for writers? I was doing more research when I came across a site called writing.com with over a million writers that allows you to share your work online. I also found inkspot.com which is associated with writing.com and offers the similar services. This may be good for all those still lugging around our manuscripts. I know I have a pile sitting at home. This option may be great for those pressed for meeting time, or for those who have an editor that is too far away to make it to the local coffee shop. Some of us may have trusted peers in different places around the country or world. This is one more way to share your work with someone and keep your pieces on hand for easy review. I know I’ve maxed out some of my online storage folders. In addition to the portfolio this sites offer a contests, tools and resources for writers. One advantage that I see with these websites is an immediate community of writers. Lastly, this may be a good starting point for someone who doesn’t have their own blog. If you aren’t comfortable in starting your own blog, then you can ask people within this community to review your posts or ideas before you hit the publish button. Just remember, the best time to start is right now! I’m waiting to hear about someone else that made it into the writer’s market.
If you have any other great resources, please let me know so I can reblog/reference them. So thank you for all your likes and comments!
If you’re thinking of becoming a published author, or already won over the publishers, then consider expanding your market reach. Make the most out of the years and months you spent pressing your fingers down onto the keyboard. I happen to know a few people who have limited eyesight or just have problems reading those tiny fonts on our mobile devices. I have to admit I’m addicted to listening to podcasts in the car. I like to make the most of my time when I’m on the move. There is another audience waiting for your book. If you visit the large publisher sites then you see they noticed all the changes in the market. If you have a contract, then I would suggest you speak to your agent before you consider this option. I recently witnessed one author get their project pulled from Kickstarter because of an argument over copyright ownership. So, do your research before considering any option. For those wanting to research the visually challenged audience or those sitting in traffic on the highways, creating a professional audio book would be a great benefit.
Where do you go from here? Take a look at Amazon’s audio platform for books. ACX is a place that invites authors, agents, and publishers to upload their audiobooks onto their website and make money. As far as I can tell, it’s the same concept as uploading your ebook onto Amazon but there are differences. You have the option of pitching your audio book to a producer and making a deal, or you can work with a non-ACX publisher. Working with an non-ACX publisher may give you less control of the percentage you’ll receive but it make give more life to your book. There are also other online publishers that are willing to help promote and create your audiobook. Many other sites that try to help authors self-publish offer free resources and advice on how to create your own audiobook without having to giver over your first-born. When the time comes to create your audio files the only time you may want to consider handing over your money is hiring a professional sounding voice to read your book. You can visit places like Fivver.com to find a cost-effective professional. They may be more willing to negotiate a reasonable price for recording your book per page. While it might be called Fivver, a 250 plus page recording is going to cost more than $5. I know other entrepreneurs and professionals constantly find reliable people on this site but be sure to screen the person your going to hire. I hope these resources help you during your journey as a writer. Continue typing away!
Resources and Links:
Amazon guide and help for audio: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A3CISEMGMV9KR5
ACX for audio publishing: http://www.acx.com/help/about-acx/200484860
Lulu Blog (how to for audiobooks): http://www.lulu.com/blog/2012/11/audiobooks/
Dear Little Lucy,
I don’t know if you can help me but lately the music has gone quiet in my world. I’m a cricket and I’m supposed to hum songs into the night. Rain or shine I play my songs. Lately, when I look up at the stars I can’t find my inspiration. I thought a cat with knack for writing would be able to help me. I used to find joy in playing my songs. I used to play whether anyone was listening or not. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Am I going through a mid-cricket crisis?
The Quiet Cricket
Dear Quiet Cricket,
I admit I haven’t met many crickets but I think I can help. All creative people tend to have bursts of creativity followed by time for recovery. I see it happen with the humans in our studio. They make, make, make and then sleep for a few days. I think our brains just need a rest once in a while. If you feel lack of inspiration, then think back to why you started playing in the first place. If you still get nothing, then watch old Disney movies. I think there’s one about a cricket. Take time to look around you and open your eyes. Hop onto a new blade of grass or into another garden and just listen. Enjoy the quiet. Recovery and quiet can keep us from becoming mechanical robots. Practicing over and over again mechanically is far from inspirational, just as writing without feeling can create a flat piece. Both be done by a computer program. Stop and listen to the sounds of nature. They can be quieter than you. Ask yourself what sounds a blade of grass makes or how the stars would sound if they talked to you. Think of the notes they make. They can be like poetry if you listen hard. Remember, it’s okay to question yourself once in a while and take time to relax. I know said something about a robot but if all else fails keep playing even it feels mechanical. You’re bound to reach another high note again. This is a normal process we all go through.
Thank you Cosplayers! Some of my new creations sold at our last show! Talk about experimenting with different media. I went from literary works to clay miniature sculptures last month. It was a challenge to sculpt using a needle and toothpicks for creations the size of a quarter.
Take a look at my other new creations online:
Hello Everybody –
I recently came across an article in the news about a new book store that opened on September 14th, in San Antonio, Texas and had to share. It’s good to stay informed of all the changes taking place in the market for writers, and this is one big change for those thinking about publishing. The future look of our beloved book stores may not carry any books in the future. Yes, you read it correctly. This book store, Biblio Tech, only carries ebooks for purchase. They took the concept of Amazon and created a retail end store. How many of us would have guessed the market would end up in this direction? Will this be the future Barnes and Noble? We go to a store to get the same old feeling of entering an real store only to purchase a download? This might be great news for those in the ebook market. It’s something to consider for those still publishing in traditional format. Keep this store in mind – this may give new life to those of you already published. You can recreate your print version in ebook form. It may end up in the download library of this new store. You can decide how you feel about idea by reading the article yourself (click on the link below). Let me know how you feel about this change by leaving a comment or if you have any other market changing news to the writing world.
Biblio Tech store link: http://money.cnn.com/2013/10/08/technology/innovation/bibliotech-ebook-library/index.html