“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”
—Virginia Woolf

Is It Possible to Market Your Books and Write at the Same Time?

This post was originally published in August, 2012.

As I’m writing this, it’s a cloudy morning in Georgia. The sticky heat of summer has finally let off. The crickets are still going away and the trees look marvelous. That’s one thing you don’t get in California, at least the part of California where I grew up: huge, green trees everywhere.

And as I’m looking at them, sipping my coffee, I asked myself, When was the last time you noticed those trees? When was the last time you were this grateful just to be alive?

It’s been my experience that my best writing—and most satisfying writing time—comes out of this place of gratefulness, this rootedness in the moment.

However, I’m in the process of marketing a book right now, and I don’t have time to look at trees or even write very much. All I have time to do, it seems, is to market. Of course, every author today is struggling with the same thing. In today’s publishing world, it’s inevitable that you have to market your books. We all have to hustle if we want our words to spread. Which leads us to the question:

Is it possible to write and market your books at the same time? Or is today’s publishing reality keeping us from creating our best art?

market your books

Romeo, Romeo, Why Haven’t You Tweeted Me, Romeo? Photo by Mike Licht

The truth is, I don’t know the answers. I also don’t know if what’s true for me will be true for you (it probably won’t be). However, in the last year, I’ve learned to market my writing, and in doing so, I’ve had to break my habit of keeping to myself, which is what I thought writers were supposed to do.

Here’s what I’ve learned in the last year about the challenges of trying to write well while marketing my writing:

1. It’s Easier to Feel Creative When You’re Not Marketing.

In the olden days (i.e. ten years ago), you locked yourself in a cabin or a villa in Italy or a garret in Paris, and wrote all day and all night, coming out pale and thin with a manuscript tucked under your arm.

In other words, if you wanted to write, you did it alone. Now, however, there’s Twitter, Facebook, email, and blogs that we can’t seem to ignore. It’s hard to feel like a real artist when your iPhone keeps buzzing at you.

When I was just out of college, I would go to coffee shops to write and read. I felt very Bohemian, and imagined the world was just a big canvas that I could paint at my pleasure. In other words, I was feeling very creative.

But what was I actually creating? Scraps of descriptions. A few over-written letters to friends. Some quasi-poems. I was feeling very creative, but I wasn’t actually creating very much.

Now, in this more marketing-focused version of my life, I’m creating more than ever. I’ve written or edited over 150,000 words this year.

What’s disturbing to me is I don’t feel very creative. In fact, feel pretty uninspired most of the time. I’m learning that feeling creative and being creative are two different things.

2. Marketing Can Make You More Productive

I wouldn’t have written all those words if I hadn’t been marketing myself. With marketing comes the expectation of future work. My ghostwriting client would be pretty upset if I decided to stop writing his book because I didn’t feel inspired. You probably wouldn’t be too happy with The Write Practice if we stopped posting just because we didn’t feel like it. Expectations make you more productive (even when you don’t feel like producing).

On top of that, successful marketing forces me to create deadlines, and as an unstructured, artistic kind of person, deadlines are essential for me to finish work.

Marketing has increased my productivity more than I can measure.

3. Too Much Focus on Marketing Can Cause You to Create the Wrong Things

Marketing can increase quantity, but does it improve quality?

While marketing can make you more productive, you can also create the wrong things—namely more marketing. If most of the writing you’re doing is marketing for your “real” writing, then how are you going to write the things you want to be writing?

I think this is why so many people are frustrated with the upheaval of traditional publishing. They’d rather be writing their novel than writing about writing their novel.

This problem is inherent with self-publishing and probably isn’t going away, but you can still find time to write what you want. Make a decision to spend at least fifteen minutes writing creatively.

4. Marketing Can Cause You to Create the Right Things

The best inventions come out of a relentless search to find solutions to real problems experienced by real people. I’m convinced this is how Don Quixote was written, a novel often called one of the best of all time. Cervantes saw how obsessed people were over chivalric romance stories, and he thought, “I can write a better book than that.” In other words, he saw a need and he met that need.

Good writing, like good marketing, meets other people’s needs. Bad writing, like so much bad marketing being done today, just meets the author’s needs, their need for self-expression or their need to make a name for themselves.

By getting out of the garret and talking to real people, you will find out what they want to read, and that will make you a better writer. You will be writing for others, not just for yourself.

I’m not saying you should go out and write another Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey. I am saying you should get to know what people are reading, and ask, “Why do they like these books?” Then, go write something better.

Incorporate Your Creativity Into Everything

Maybe it’s too much to say marketing can be art, but when I look at interviews with Bob Dylan, I don’t see someone pandering to reporters and trying to move more copies of his record. Instead, I see someone creating a performance as authentic and artistic as a stage play. I see a man who wants to thrill and challenge and inspire people every moment, even during “marketing” interviews. I don’t see someone who’s trying to sell his work. I see someone who’s trying to sell ideas and experiences.

Your marketing can be an extension of your art, a chance to communicate your ideas and your perspective for the world in a new way.

Can you think of marketing as an opportunity rather than a burden?

It’s started to rain in Georgia. I open the door and let the sound fill my little living room like incense. You can’t get away from marketing your work, not if you want to see your words spread, but when these moments come along, still try to pay attention.

Do you struggle with balancing marketing and writing? Does marketing make you more or less creative?

PRACTICE

Wake up to what’s going on around you, the weather, the sound of birds. If you’re in a public place, notice the small conversations, the way people walk. What are they thinking about? What are they struggling with? Or imagine yourself in a place far away, perhaps a place that doesn’t exist or a place that may exist someday. How do people live there?

As you let your mind drift, let your soul, the innermost parts of you, dwell in the moment. Invest yourself there.

And write. For fifteen minutes. When you’re finished, post it in the practice.

Happy Saturday.

About Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).

  • this is KIND OF about the post.. but i am subscribed to TWP obviously because i truly love it, but i didn’t get this post in my mail box. i was wondering why that was. 

  • Marla4

    I wake alone this morning, my husband off to work.  He’s a director the morning newscasts for a local
    TV station, and someone called in sick, so he left our bed at three this
    morning, while I was dreaming of an old boyfriend.  In my dream I was saying, “I do love
    you.  I will always love you.  I just can’t be with you anymore.”

    Which is almost an exact transcription of our actual breakup
    scene.

    I am tangled in the bedclothes now, the blue sheets and the
    white comforter, and when I get up there are four schnauzers waiting for me,
    their stub tails wagging like tiny windshield wipers.

    It is good to have dogs that see you looking your worst, and don’t
    have the ability to pass on that information.

    Outside, the chickens wait. 
    Ulysses, Gilead, Velta, and Honey. 
    They call to me from inside the coop, anxious little birds, and when
    they stumble down the board that leads to the run, they look like drunken
    pirates on a gangplank.

    The sky has gone pink, off to the west, and the hawks are in the
    hayfield again, swooping so low they cast a shadow across me.  I used to love the hawks, before I got chicks,
    and now I only think: chicken killer, chicken killer, chicken killer.

    There is a rhythm to the morning.  I feed the dogs. I feed the chickens.  I make tea and toast.  I love the quotidian feel of morning, the necessary
    adjustments of everyday life.

    But this morning, the dream is troubling me.  The man I broke up with, his name was
    Michael.  He used to cook for me on
    Friday nights, pasta dishes mostly, and he’d pour wine for me, and he’d draw a bubble
    bath for me while I waited for dinner, and he played Schubert from an old
    record player he’d restored.

    On the drive home the next morning, I’d listen to Trisha
    Yearwood, and Mary Chapen Carpenter and Roseanne Cash. I’d stop at the store
    and get a Red Bull, because I always felt like I was in a fog when I left.  I’d try to shake Michael off of me, all his
    good intentions and rich food and deliberate music.

    Michael had a way about him, a kind of introspection that made you
    stop and look at your own life.  And when
    I looked at mine, I realized I was false when I was with him.  Who hasn’t felt that way?  I made myself over for him.  I read what he read, dusty books from used
    bookstores, some of which I loved.  “Zen
    and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” stands out.

    I bought hiking boots and stuffed granola in the pockets of my
    pants, so I wouldn’t starve on the long hikes we took. 

    His life was nearly perfect, I think. He was an architect who wrote
    poetry, good poetry, and painted abstracts that he sold in pretentious little
    shops in tourist towns in the hills of Arkansas.

    The only part that wasn’t perfect was me.  I was a mess, and I tried so hard not to be
    that I lost myself in it.

    When I broke up with him, I had to take off the engagement ring
    he gave me, the biggest diamond I had ever owned.  I slipped it into his hand, and he would not
    close his fingers around it. 

    He looked astounded.  He
    was the far better catch, and I think we both knew it.

    “I hope you find what makes you happy,” he said, and he meant
    it.  That’s how good he was.

    On this morning, I’m mourning him a little bit.  The breeze is picking up, and the leaves that
    have fallen too soon because of this awful drought, are tumbling across the
    porch.  I am listening to Mary Chapen
    Carpenter’s “I Feel Lucky.” 

    My dog, Scout, barks at me. 
    He thinks it’s time for a treat. 
    Well, it is Saturday.  I go inside
    and find a milk bone, and he jumps up to get it, and the world keeps going, no
    matter how many hearts get broken.

     
     

    • Marla. The problem with your writing is that it makes me read every word when I should be promoting my book. Just kidding. 🙂

      This is beautiful—perfectly structured and perfectly realized.

      15 minutes? I don’t believe it.

      • Marla4

        What a wonderful thing to say! And you’ve already sold me on your book, so think of it as marketing. I think I wrote for about 30 minutes. I love these exercises.

        • Well that makes me feel much better about myself. I could never write that many wonderful sentences in 15 minutes.

    • Mariaanne

      This is wonderful Marla.  I think he may have gotten the bad end of the deal though.  

      • Marla4

         I like you Mariaanne!

    • haguejason

      That is gorgeous. I love it. The last line, especially.

      • Marla4

         Thank you so much.

    • Ah that makes me want to cry Marla, and think and ponder and actually celebrate as well. If sorrow wasn’t a part of our story, and beautiful moments gone awry, I wonder what we would value and if the rhythm of morning would mean very much. Thank you for sharing such beautiful thoughts. Truly I’m a better writer because of all of you here sharing words.

      • Marla4

         Beck,
        Thank you.  I feel the same way about this group.  So much talent here, and it’s inspiring to be around it.  And I do think loss is a big part of all our stories.
        Marla

    • B00kWorm

      Beautifully worded. I really enjoyed how you wove the everyday things, like your dogs, in with reminiscing about your breakup and boyfriend.

      • Marla4

         Thank you BookWorm!  I’m a little in love with my dogs.

    • Incredibly poignant, Marla. I found myself unable to skim over anything. Every word seemed perfectly placed and intentional. I could really sense the angst from the bit of regret, yet at the same time, there was a quiet resignation and resolve that you were able to embrace the beauty of the everyday rhythm of life as it was. Great job!

      • Marla4

         Thank you Tom.  I do feel grateful.  Every single day.

    • Mirelba

       I’m not sure anymore what I contribute by replying to your writing.  I love everything you write.  Different mood than most of your writing that I’ve seen, and still beautiful.  When you write, you automatically promote.

      • Marla4

         You are so sweet.  You’ll never know how much your encouragement means to me.  I love these exercises, but when I re-read my work, I see lots that’s wrong, so thank you.

        • Mirelba

           Maybe, but I hope you’re submitting.  How much is wrong because it’s really wrong, and how much is wrong because you’re a perfectionist and maybe afraid to let go? 

    • Mariaanne

      I agree adamantly with Mirelba.  This should be submitted.  If you edit it and want someone to look over it again for you, I’ll be glad to do that. Mhvest@yahoo.com

      • Marla4

         Mariaanne,

        I am so going to take you up on this!
        Thank you.

        Marla

    • Oddznns

      So much of what you write is RIGHT Marla that I’ve stopped posting “LIKES” because I didn’t want you to think I was a stalker. I think you need to get out of your editor’s head when you read your own writing and just SUBMIT.

      So there. Said my piece. Your VOICE. It just shines through.

      • Marla4

         Oddznns,
        I sitting in my office, smiling.  Thank you for this.  Best Monday I’ve had in a long time.
        Thank you.
        Marla

    • As always, amazing Marla.  It leaves our hearts feeling your ache- and that’s when writing has turned into magic.  I think you’re being outed by us all, Marla – it’s a unanimous decision that you have to publish!! 😉

      • Marla4

         Thank you Zoe!   And I do feel outed, in an entirely good way.

  • Mariaanne

    Outside is a green tree, a dogwood. The leaves are hot and green with a dry yellow glow.  A bird feeder hangs empty.  A cardinal sits on it and looks at my window.  The camellia is dark green and glossy, not dry looking like the dogwood.  I know how they feel without touching them. 

    The storm split the big dogwood out front right down the middle.  A man is coming next week to look at it and see if it can be saved.  I have too many trees why am I spending money to save that one.  It was there when my daughter was little.  She would run away to that tree when she was mad.  I need to keep the markers.  I know it’s illusion but I cling anyway.  

    I read a poem this morning that had a jaracanda in it. I looked them up. I want one and can’t have it because they don’t grow here.  don’t want to think about where they grow because I won’t ever go there. I want to think about where they grow because I will never got there in my body.  Can I float there in my mind? 

    The fan is winding back and forth. It jiggles and shudders as it turns.  My husband says he can’t stand the fan.  I like it to blow right on my face while I write. It reminds me that I sit here with a face that feels it’s coolness and ears that hears its humming and rattling.  I’m not in another place entirely, a place where words spin and voices prattle and coo, a world where Virginia Woolf lives, where she watches the sun rise on the old school and the waves throw a skirt across the beach, and I sit beside her.  

    • Marla4

      This is beautiful. I love the line about knowing how the trees feel without touching them. And I love the ending. So good.

      • Mariaanne

        Thank you Marla. I’m so glad you like it.  

    • B00kWorm

      Wonderful. I love the second paragraph, especially the last two lines.

      • Mariaanne

        Thank you BookWorm for you kind words.  I like those two lines myself.  

    • The dissatisfaction and comfort in things familiar is so evident. I appreciate the tension it’s definitely realistic. I like the flow of thought too. It’s like the past and present and then the past are blurring.

      • Mariaanne

        Thank you Beck.  It is easy to feel both sad and content at the same time, very easy.  

    • Great Marianne. I love the line “I need to keep the markers.” Reminds me of how I hold on to junk that reminds me of my grown kids.

      • Mariaanne

        Tom I’m so glad you said that.  I wasn’t sure if I was clear when I said that and I would likely have ruined it by trying to explain what I met.  Thank you so much!

    • Mirelba

       Beautifully written.  I also loved the 2nd paragraph.  And know what you mean about markers.  Way back when, we had a wall that we used to mark our kids’ height on.  When we finally got the house painted, it killed me to have it painted over.

      And BTW, come visit sometime in May- I’ve got a Jacaranda growing in my back yard 🙂

      • Mariaanne

        I know.  It’s great to have the adults the kids become but I miss my curly headed little girl.  

    • I like the emotion the second paragraph adds to this piece. And the in-the-moment feel. It’s an active and present piece of writing!

      • Mariaanne

        Thanks Caroline.  It was definitely what came to mind as I looked out of my window. 

    • Oddznns

      Specially for you Marianne!

      There was a wafting purple mist hovering over the sides of the road. It was the jacaranda’s. They’d finally flowered in the hot spell. This is Lakewood, Los Angeles County, Southern California. It’s hot here. But never hot enough for the jacaranda’s to flower. Until that spring.

      I stopped the car and got out. Walked all the way down one side of the road, then up the other, under the purple mist.

      A jacarandas flower is a pale blush of purple, with a small yellow centre. Like morning. A finger nail piece of morning. They’re shy. They come up together, in bunches, on slender branches that sway in the wind.

      I look up through purple flutter at the dazed blue California sky.  Something blows. I’m showered in purple.

      It’s like at home, the other place I come from, twenty hours across the ocean.

      Back there though, I’d never stopped to bath in the lilac light filtered through our jacaranda trees. They’d been just another wayside plant. Too familiar to miss.

      Until I left them. 

      • Mariaanne

        That is gorgeous. I would love to see them “a fingernail piece of morning” and I can imagine how you would miss something like that if you moved away from it.  Reading about them makes me happy.  

      • Marla4

         Well, that’s gorgeous! Pure poetry.

    • Oddznns

      I love that line about “I need to keep the markers. I know it’s illusion but I cling anyway. ” It’s so true.

    • Wow! The flow in this piece is amazing… it reads so well, which is surprising I realised as I read it again – because you talk about a LOT – but it doesn’t feel like it at all.   Especially from your thoughts to descriptions and back again.You uncover deep things without being emotional and without weighing down the reader.   And I LOVE your last sentence – you and Virginia and the skirt of the waves.

      • Mariaanne

        Thank you Zoe.  I love Virginia Woolf. 

    • BenWWalker

      Dreamy. I can smell the salty air. And it is late summer. Wonderful.

      • Mariaanne

        Thank you Ben.  

    • Marianne, way to describe a beach in a new way! I have often grappled with beach descriptions. That was great.

      • Mariaanne

        Thanks Yvette Carol.   

  • haguejason

    This is my first time posting practice. It’s a little embarrassing, but here goes…

    The seagulls are playing tag with the waves. They’re just like children. Back and forth they run with their wings open and ready, should their fear overtake them. I can’t help but think of the words their brethren spoke in Finding Nemo: “Mine! Mine!”

    Nemo? No. I have to forget Nemo. Trying to get away from the kids. Trying to write. Can’t write with the kids around. That’s why I’m at the beach.

    Oregon waves are the best writing soundtrack on the planet. Full of breathy cadence and heavy on the chorus peddle. The cliffs behind me echo back the rhythms. Soft rhythms, not at all like the hard thumping of my six year old on the microwave.

    Oh, for the love of sand, I did it again… Focus you fool. Forget the kids and just write! Fill your nose with salty wind. Stretch out on the blanket. Let the baked sand warm you. Write. You are not at home. Your half naked son is not couch diving on the cushion next to you. The baby is not scratching the corner of your laptop. Your wife is not vacuuming beneath the coffee table. It’s all an illusion. You are at the beach, you silly, distracted man. You can make it happen. You can go there if you just… focus…

    • Marla4

      This is wonderful! Love your description of the Oregon beach. It’s so beautiful there.

      • haguejason

        Thanks Marla! I was just at the Newport beach two days ago, and I wish I was back there right now. In case that wasn’t clear 😉

        • Marla4

          I did get it. What a good ending.

    • Mariaanne

      This is very descriptive of how hard it is to quiet ones mind so the writing can “happen”.  I got a book on meditation the other day and it helps.  I don’t even have kids anymore, but I do have several fractious cats.  

    • B00kWorm

      Great description of how distractions can creep up on you while you are trying to do things. I love your description of the seagulls- and the wonderful Nemo reference! The ending was excellent too.

  • Although I don’t have any experience with promoting a book, I think that any sort of networking and marketing is extremely stressful.  I guess the way to look at it, from the scope and lens of “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne (love that book), is that you need to say thank you to the universe for giving you this opportunity to promote your book, to reach out to people, and to express something that you are doing.

    Marketing is hectic though, I can understand that.  I guess it’s a good thing though to look at, because maybe this just shows how your enterprise is growing, and that maybe, because of all the success you are attracting yourself, you will need to hire an assistant to do all this grunt work you aren’t enjoying!  Consider it a blessing to be able to promote and market, some people try and never get that far.  You are doing great.

    PS
    I am half way through “Let’s Write A Short Story” right now, and it’s freakin’ fantastic.  Look forward to an excellent amazon review post!  take it easy, marla

    • by the way, i am new to this sort of posting, so I am just checking t see if this is working…

    • Mmm… I really like that, Marla, being grateful for the opportunity rather than seeing it as just another stressful task on the to do list. 

      I’m so glad you’re liking the book. I hope others get as much out of it as you are.

      Thanks Marla!

  • My fingers curl around the paper-ish blinds on the window so I can steal a peek outside. Trash. It crinkles like what I used to call “trash” inside those fancy new pocketbooks and purses at the mall when I was around seven years of age. 

    “Why are these pocketbooks all filled with trash, Momma?” My mother still laughs when she retells that story. To a seven-year-old, a new pocketbook stuffed with wadded paper to “keep its form” doesn’t make much sense. Really, it doesn’t make much sense now either.

    But this crinkly trash here lifts and light shines on the wall behind me. Pure, white afternoon light. Not the golden light of dusk yet with a few daylight hours still in line to make an appearance. Flexible branches on a crepe myrtle lean over, loaded with burdensome but beautiful weight of blossom clusters. Light glimmers off dark-green, waxy leaves. Leaves that might look a little tired, wilting a touch. But not the even darker leaves underneath the top branches. Those leaves look full, perfectly rounded, well-rested.

    “Well-rested” is something I’m not. But I’d never give up the reasons for my constant fatigue. Reasons I can hear giggling and playing downstairs with their daddy, my husband. 

    The window curtain teases the baseboard with a ticklish touch as it waves like a flag in the flow of cooler air. Too many thoughts and to-dos crowd up my head, but focusing a bit just like this brings peace, calm, gratitude, reminders of provision and love.

    • Mariaanne

      This is interesting especially the part about the crinkly noise that venetian blinds and the paper inside of purses make.  I like the stream of consciousness  feel of this. It’s funny that nearly everybody today has written about trees, being outside and/or their children or pets.  It’s summertime for sure. 

      • It’s the first thing that came to my mind when I wondered what these blinds sound like. :-)And  I suppose trees, outside, family, and pets are what Saturdays include, eh? Thanks for your comments! I appreciate the feedback.

    • B00kWorm

      I really like the bit about you not being well-rested, and the reasons why. Wonderful.

    • Marla4

       I love how one memory from your childhood sparked this.  Good writing.

    • Aaah, we’re at the end of winter, and your description of that strong light and ‘burdened’ blossoms makes me ache for summer!  I can see it so clearly.  I love the playfulness of this piece, especially the line ‘reasons I can hear giggling and playing downstairs with their daddy.’  

      • Thank you, Zoe! I’ll take that a good sign that the scenery could be envisioned. 🙂 I hope you’ll see some of those full, weighted blossoms soon.

  • B00kWorm

    Well, I got a disqus! I find sitting in a tree gives me inspiration. Here’s my practice:

         The green engulfs me, swirling around me in a comforting way. The tree cradles me in her gently sloping arms and whispers encouragement in my ear. Fat bumblebees languidly circle in the still, humid air, searching for sweet flowers. A lizard smiles at me, showcasing his psychedelic dewlap. If I’m still enough, he might stay. 
        My feet grip the smooth bark and I stretch my arms high into the sky, saluting the sunshine. I can see the ocean now, sparkling blue-grey, and hear the buzz of boat engines, carrying people off to play in their paradise. The tree is my paradise. 
       Leaves are getting in my hair, tickling my forehead. I laugh and brush them away, but they just bounce back. Some have strange patterns, like fingerprints. I look up, and the mangroves wave at me. I wave back. 
       I have forgotten all about the looming school year, and my worries about the new school. I just exist, alone with the tree. This is what summer should be all about. 

    • Mariaanne

      This is wonderful.  The “the mangroves wave at me. I wave back” .   The whole thing has a feeling of escape from pressure and reality.  I hope you find a similar place to go to when it gets cold outside.  I also like the lizards “psychedelic dewlap” but I like the energy of the whole piece it’s joyful but not frenetic.  

      • B00kWorm

        Thanks. I almost described the colors, but decided that psychedelic would work fine. Ugh, just discovered I reposted this. Should I delete the reposting?

        • Mariaanne

          No don’t worry about it. We all do it from time to time.  I only worry about it if it’s a contest.  

  • The rumbling, glowering, crashing, washing skies of Alabama have hung over me all summer. Moments of sun, intense in it’s ardor,  have been washed away by a beautiful rainy cadence.

    My fingers have labored and toiled almost as much as my heart. Deep down in the rich, life giving soil I plunged them. Plucking truth as rich as the produce in days filled with layers. The earth taught me, and allowed herself to be worked, and gave good gifts for my efforts. 

    Late into the night the tap-tap of those dirt stained fingers danced and sang, creating, striving, deleting, re-writing. Birth pains gave way to a black and white baby emblazoned with my heart and tied up with “the end”. I sighed, glad and sorry to be done, though not really finished, not by a long shot.

    And in the midst of it all I did a whirling, twirling, jelly smudged, laughter peeling, mommy dance. Three sets of bare feet running in the rain. And my heart found room for a couple of wayward babes from across the street. I tucked them under my wing and they joined the rain running. 

    A whisper started last winter. It came awake with the earth and turned itself into a shout. An invitation. Come over here, and see. I had to make a decision not every good thing could have me. My babies have me, a man who is good needs me, my home and garden and community pull. And the words shouted, write us! But over it all the whisper rose and shouted and cried, “come”.

    I will never stop writing, if I did it would probably mean I had died. But the time for calling come and see, read, hear, love, is not now. It’s not time for writing and promoting, not today, not with the intensity demanded. Today it’s time for living and going and seeing. 

    As autumn dries out the edges of the leaves I will board a plane and fly. My heart says “I’m coming.” I know that when I walk out of Serbia’s musty wards, holding human hurt, mental brokenness, physical pain, to travel back, words will pour out as cleansing as an Alabama rain. But the living, for this season, must come before the writing. 

    ***

    As I prepared my garden for fall planting I thought back over the summer and the coming fall. I mulled over my growth as a writer and every aspect of my life. What I wanted to keep, what I had to keep and what I just didn’t want anymore. The pressure to succeed a certain way as a blogger/writer was one of them. I’ve been pondering the  very thoughts you shared. I hate the constant promoting necessary to succeed as an author. I’ve decided, for now, to try a different tact. I can afford not to be a success. I’m going to focus on the writing, living rich, writing deeply, and see if the writing doesn’t sell itself. The best way to sell books is still word of mouth, my goal is to have a story that so needs telling that it get’s told. We’ll see, it’s possible that I’m a chump!

    • This is beautiful, Beck. Such ornate description for mundane moments.

      • Thanks Katie. I guess the moments didn’t feel mundane. I described what I felt as much as what I did I suppose. Although I think the language probably actually hid a good bit of the action.

        • I was especially thinking of this section: 
          And in the midst of it all I did a whirling, twirling, jelly smudged, laughter peeling, mommy dance. 
          Three sets of bare feet running in the rain. 

          • Well yes, that is definitely mundane! Sometimes the constant corralling and wiping and hushing feels like it will go on for ever. Once in a while though it feels like the most exquisite celebration. 

    • B00kWorm

      Your descriptions, not only of the places, but of the events, are gorgeous. I wish I could say which line, or even paragraph, I like the best, but I can’t.

      • Thank you, I appreciate that. I’m glad beauty was woven through the entire telling.

    • Mariaanne

      I think you can “write deeply” Beck and that it will pay off.   This is one of the best things I’ve seen by you, but admittedly I like “poetic” writing.  I like the way the words and the rain and the dance all work together here, and I know it’s hard to write like that.  Just don’t stop writing when you go to Serbia and come home with a new “love”.  I would really miss reading your stuff.  

      • Thank you for your kind words Mariaanne! I hope that the trip will fuel my passion for expression and not detract. I can’t imagine not writing. I’m not planning on taking my computer on the trip and will be writing everything I see and feel in a notebook. I’m curious what that will be like. It will certainly be interesting to see how my writing is influenced and shaped by these new experiences!

    • Mirelba

       Beautifully expressed, exquisite writing!  Too many expressions that caught me up to list them all 🙂

      And I agree, there is a time and a season for everything

      • Thank you Mirelba! I felt the rhythm as I wrote and was trying to express the flow of this season of my life. Sometimes I’m tempted to fight the seasons but I’m learning to embrace them!

    • Marla4

       I think this is wonderful.  It left me wanting to know more about your trip, and your commitment to go.  It seems your life is at a turning point.  How exciting is that?

      • Thanks Marla! It is exciting. I feel like my summer has been a rich incubation time and now the action is beginning in earnest. If you would like to read more about the trip I’m planning to Serbia you are welcome to visit my blog. Here’s a recent update http://beckfarfromhome.blogspot.com/2012/07/when-serbia-calls-your-name.html

        • Marla4

           I’ll check your blog out, Beck.  Thank you.

    • So much heart and so much life in this.  Beautiful.  And what an absolutely profound truth that you make simple, into a sentence – ‘not every good thing could have me’ – wow.  I have battled my own battle with that, and that understanding is so powerful.  

      • Thank you Zoe! It’s been a hard lesson, and one I’m still working on, to learn that just because something is good doesn’t mean it’s the right time for it. Sorting out the good from the best is hard work!

    • Beck, as usual, your words paint intricate (and particularly active in this piece) pictures. Beautiful, emotional, strong.

      • Thank you Caroline! I really enjoyed writing it.

    • Oddznns

      Beck, the way you paint the season. And I agree, there are times to promote and times to write. It’s the creative tension of it you bring out so clearly, the words and the story calling.

      • Thank you Oddznns. I think sometimes the tension is less of a distraction and more of an inspiration if we let it be. I’m learning not to resent it.

    • I’m glad you said that last part, Beck. I”m with you, totally. I also think there is a groundswell movement back towards ‘content’ rather than selling.

      • I hope that’s true. It just sits better with me to focus on content rather than promotion. I think there is room for a lot of wonderful, beautiful stories. The most poignant and timely will naturally rise to the surface. At least that’s what I like to tell myself!

        • Well I’m reminded of the writers like Margaret Mahy, who wrote 300 books in her life, and never even had a website! Mind you she died recently, and therefore it was the 70 years leading up to today. The problem we writers face now is all the noise that’s out there and how to be heard above it. My personal view is, do what sits right within you. Que sera, sera.

  • B00kWorm

    Well, I have a Disqus now …. Here’s my practice. That’s one thing I love about The Write Practice; it doesn’t just give you advice, it also gives you a challenge!
         The green engulfs me, swirling around me in a comforting way. The tree cradles me in her gently sloping arms and whispers encouragement in my ear. Fat bumblebees languidly circle in the still, humid air, searching for sweet flowers. A lizard smiles at me, showcasing his psychedelic dewlap. If I’m still enough, he might s
        My feet grip the smooth bark and I stretch my arms high into the sky, saluting the sunshine. I can see the ocean now, sparkling blue-grey, and hear the buzz of boat engines, carrying people off to play in their paradise. The tree is my paradise. 
       Leaves are getting in my hair, tickling my forehead. I laugh and brush them away, but they just bounce back. Some have strange patterns, like fingerprints. I look up, and the mangroves wave at me. I wave back. 
       I have forgotten all about the looming school year, and my worries about the new school. I just exist, alone with the tree. This is what summer should be all about.

    • Mirelba

       Seems to be that you rose to the challenge 🙂  Well done!

      • B00kWorm

        Thanks- I just love the practices on here!

    • Themagicviolinist

       Yes indeed that should be what summer should be all about. 😀

      • B00kWorm

        Yeah, summer should be a nice relaxful time I think. Too often we get caught up in trying to do all our fun summer things and forget to relax!

    • Marla4

       I love the line the line, “I just exist, alone with the tree.”  Beautiful.

      • B00kWorm

        Thanks. Being up there gives you a nice peaceful feeling and I thought that the line conveyed it without using the actual word peace.

    • I like the observer feel of your thoughts here. My favorite phrases: “saluting the sunshine” and the description of the leaves’ “strange patterns, like fingerprints.”

      • B00kWorm

        Thanks. I like those phrases too. I almost called them swirls, but after looking at them decide that they looked like fingerprints.

    • BenWWalker

      Reading this I actually sense that you investigated the scenery with great detail. As you had not committed it to memory, but had in fact wrote ‘on the fly’. Keep it up.

  • The two story red brick house looked as if it could have been on the parade of homes back in the day; back before the blacks ran the white folks out west. Well, maybe they didn’t run them out, as much as they just moved next door. The white folks did the running.The house sat alone surrounded by acres of vacant lots and empty malt liquor bottles.Brother Ken met me at the door. His hands were wet, or maybe sweaty, perhaps both.  He welcomed me to the hood and laughed.”The ladies are fixing a spread, so I hope you’re hungry,” he said loudly with a big smile revealing a wide dark gap in his front teeth.We stood on the front porch, or what used to be a front porch and got better acquainted. The gentle giant of a man proudly proclaimed his 30 years of sobriety. He stopped to visit with the man and his son walking through the vacant lot next door. The man set down the bottle he was carrying in a brown paper sack and bragged about having thirteen children. Brother Ken swooned and hollered from that revelation, then invited him to their next meeting.

    Brother Ken’s ministry in the hood is in my city, but it seems light years away from my suburban sanctuary. Yet are we really that much different? We both minister to broken people addicted to drugs, alcohol and sex who struggle with broken relationships and broken dreams. The only difference is my parishioners just have more resources to live in denial longer than my brother’s.  

    • Mariaanne

      That’s very simply told Tom but very profound.  It sounds like Brother Ken has a great way about him,  “swooned and hollered” from that revelation.  I like the last line the best.  I admire both Brother Ken and you.  

    • Mirelba

        You would think that we would realize that under all the external
      trappings, we are more similar than different, yet so few do.  You
      brought the point out very well.  I also liked the “swooned and hollered” sentence.  Interesting how this post got us all serious, even the normally humorous writers.

    • beautiful Tom

    • B00kWorm

      It’s so interesting how different places in one city can be, and you expressed that perfectly. The last paragraph is great, especially the last line.

    • Marla4

       This reminds me of Mitch Albom’s “Have a Little Faith.”  I love Brother Ken, and the line about the 13 children is perfect.  This is so good.

      • Yes!  Albom’s “Have A Little Faith” is a great book, I recommend it highly to anyone — it’s inspiration in the midst of the inalterable.

    • This is great!  The candidness just fits perfectly with the hood, and your descriptions add so much to the tone.  I absolutely love the line ‘brother Ken swooned and hollered from that revelation, then invited him to their next meeting.’  

      • Yeah I was going to say that line jumped out at me, too!

    • Some of the best writing from you I’ve ever read, Tom.

    • Man, this really resonates with me.  My hometown has neighborhoods — “hoods” — exactly like the one you describe, right down to the weedy vacant lots and empty malt liquor bottles.  And yes, it was the white folks who did the running. It is such a gritty-real description, and good character development too, for such a short piece IMO.  Your last line really grabbed me : “the resources to live in denial longer . . . ”

      Many of us struggle with the same issues no matter what area of the country we live in:  “addiction, broken relationships, broken dreams”.

      Excellent!

    • BenWWalker

      Absolutely profound. The atmosphere and the character development in such a short span of words takes my breath away. All I can utter is more.

  • It damn sure better be possible to do both or we’ll starve.  This writing thing is one part art, one part business.

    I think laptops and iPads have made it easier to do both than it was in the days when people tried to lug their typewriters around everywhere.  😉

    • Ha. Good point, RD. For a joke, I once brought my typewriter to the coffee shop. People stared and came up to play with it. After about 15 minutes I realized how freaking loud typewriters are and stopped.

  • Mirelba

    I need to do write more before I can begin to promote, so it’s a non-issue for me so far.  But I know that although I have worked in sales, I HATE IT!  I’d rather just write, sigh.

      I find it hard to do description for description’s sake.  It creeps in while I’m writing other things, but hard for me as an exercise. So since I just wrote that I need to write more, I figured that this is what I need to practice, so tried 2 spells of 15 minutes (one inspired by Marianne).

    A.

     

    The heat has invaded the house, penetrating the thick stone
    walls meant to keep the elements at bay. 
    The cool winter seems far away right now as I sit at my desk
    writing.  The whirring of the fan keeps
    me company as I write, postponing for while the inevitable drips of sweat sure
    to accumulate as the day warms.  Another
    scorcher is predicted for today. 

     

    Not too long ago, scorchers were days for turning on the
    sprinkler and hearing the children shrieking in joy as they cavorted through
    the water.  Days of taking the children
    to darkened, air-conditioned movie theaters to hear characters speak amid cool
    and quiet, dark relief.  Or of hearing
    the kids’ complaints, ‘Mom, it’s too hot to move.  It’s too hot to do anything. I’m bored.’  Days of afternoon siestas and Disney videos,
    waiting for early evening to bring with it wisps of refreshing, cool air.

    Now they are quiet days, calm days filled with the sounds of
    blades turning, air-conditioners humming. 
    We are left with only the sound of the fan whisking time away to fill
    the background.

     

    B.

    I close the book I have just finished and look up in time to
    catch the most beautiful of sunsets.  As
    the glowing yellow sun lowers to embrace the hill before me, I can see its warm
    orange-red fingers stroking the white stone houses scattered along the
    hillside.  The sparse vegetation sprouting
    below the houses, down towards the ravine seem to have been there since the
    beginning of time.  In these few moment
    before darkness envelopes us, everything is still.  Not a donkey brays, not a sheep bleats.  Homes bathed in the last of daylight have not
    yet put on their electric lighting.  Time
    seems to stand still.  It may be 2012 on
    the calendar, but outside my window, it could just as easily be 1712 or 1512.

    A glance to the left catches the traffic on the distant
    highway that meanders around the mountains and hills as it leaves the
    city.  The city’s soft, diffused light washes
    over the tired cars as they ascend the mountain returning home , while the
    highway continues to disgorge the daily workers headed for their commute.   This is my home, where past and present are
    constantly at battle as they lie locked in a close embrace.

    • B00kWorm

      Wonderful. In the first one, I liked how you showed the past and the present, not exactly lamenting the loss of the past, but more reminiscing. In the second one, I loved you description on the sunset, especially in the second line of the first paragraph. And the last line is great too.

      • Mirelba

         Thanks.  A very smart woman (my mom) taught me to appreciate the day and not lament the past, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look back and appreciate what we had at the time :-).  It’s another link on our chain of (enriching) experiences.

    • Marla4

       This is beautiful and melancholy and so insightful.  I love this line, “We are left with only the sound of the fan whisking time away to fill
      the background.”

      I also love the “tired cars.”  This is so good. 

    • Mariaanne

      How absolutely beautiful, beautiful. There is so much here to like, and you say so much with your description, the subtext of a home once full and busy but now quiet is shining through the description. There is a feeling of melancholy, The beauty that is felt, an almost sad eternal sort of beauty.  I keep writing beauty, beautiful and I don’t know how to articulate this better.  The line “only the sound of the fan whisking time away” is perfect and the “sunset stroking the white stone houses”.  It’s all so quiet and soft with echoes of busy summers and workweeks that have been swept away.  The line it could 1712 or 1512 is great.  I’m very flattered that you wrote that I inspired this.  I think it’s really the fans.  

      • Mirelba

         Well, the fans too, but your lines about the markers influenced me as well

    • I like the line Homes bathed in the last of daylight have not yet put on their electric lighting. The description of a countryside lying between antique and modern times is very wistful. The description suggested far off, muted sounds of life and quiet reflection. Nice job!

  • It’s raining, again. Global warming is on the news, but, here it rains. Today the rain is proper wet rain, the kind that fell in Key West in May on the one day I was there. Douglas wrote about a rain cloud that followed this one guy because he thought he was a god. I feel like the rain follows me.

    Hollywood likes rain, it is used to make romantic trysts, to darken a mood, as an atmospheric effect. I felt like I was in a movie moment today, I had one of those times when the answer to a question leans a person on one journey and a different answer leads to a different route.

    I got my answer and it wasn’t no, so it can rain all day everyday and I will  dance through it, I will splash in the puddles because my heart is on fire and onward is the only way to go.

    • Marla4

       I love your writing, Suzie.  It always feels so mysterious, like there’s rumbling just beneath.  This is beautiful.

    • Mariaanne

      This is like a prose poem like your work often is.   For some reason I’m left with a feeling of soaking rain falling on a warm heart, and of some of the things that can imply.  and feel that I need to think on that for a while.  

  • Themagicviolinist

    I am in a crowded coffee shop. I can smell coffee and food. I can hear at least five different conversations from all different directions. And yet I can’t write.
        Inspiration is all around me. I am surrounded by people. Coffee shops are supposed to be the place where you can go and write without any hesitation. This is supposed to be the place where my fingers will fly across the keyboard. And yet I can’t write.
        I sigh and slowly type in my password. I scroll through ten facebook posts. I check my e-mail. Nothing. No spark, no light bulb.
        I look around the coffee shop as if I’ll see my main character strolling along as clearly as J.K. Rowling did. I chuckle to myself. Who am I kidding? I’m no J.K. Rowling. I can’t get inspired in a freakin’ coffee shop, so why would my character come waltzing in, plain as day?
        I straighten suddenly and peer around my laptop at the counter. All talk has stopped. All eyes are on the sobbing woman holding out a crumpled dollar bill and a few coins. She is also holding a baby almost a year old. They are both thin and wearing clothes that are dirty and torn.
        “One sandwich,” she sobs to the lady across the counter. “That’s all I ask. Please.”
        “I’m sorry,” the lady says, although it is clear she’s not. “You need five dollars for a ham and cheese sandwich not,” she counts the money in her hand. “One dollar and twenty six cents.”
        “My daughter and I are living on the streets,” the woman says shakily through sobs. Tears are streaming down her face. “We have no job, no money, no where to go. I am asking for one sandwich. That’s it. I’ll sweep for you if you want. Anything.”
        “Five dollars. That’s what you need for a sandwich.”
        “I don’t have that kind of money!”
        Anger is boiling inside of me now. My fists clench. I open my wallet and pull out a five dollar bill.
        The homeless woman and the lady across the counter are still arguing.
        “Excuse me,” I say to the homeless woman. I gently push her aside. “One ham and cheese sandwich please.”
        The lady goes to the kitchen and when she comes back out, she holds a steaming sandwich. I hand her the five dollars and turn back around to the woman. Not only is she crying, the baby has started to wail, too.
        I hand her the sandwich and she cries even harder as she says, “Thank you.”
        I smile at her and go back to my laptop. All eyes are on me now. Everyone is smiling. A girl who looks like she could be in college comes by and pats me on the back and says, “That was a good thing you did.”
        I watch as the woman and her baby devour the sandwich and leave after waving to me. I turn back to my laptop.
        And now I can write.

    • Marla4

       Oh my goodness, this is brilliant.  I love the way you set this up, and how the story isn’t around the protagonist, it is the protagonist. 

      • Themagicviolinist

         Thank you so much! 😀 I was thinking about our little coffee shop in the town I live in and this story popped up in my head.

    • As I read, I notice I got really wrapped up in the story when the action amped up, especially where the dialogue began. I stopped reading to edit and read while envisioning the scene. 

      • Themagicviolinist

         I usually get wrapped up in stories when there is lots of dialogue.

    • Mariaanne

      I think your forte is action.  You always have a good rhythm to your writing and keep it moving forward.  I wonder if that woman would also be seen beside the dumpsters. Very sad.  

      • Themagicviolinist

         I find it easier to write when everything is exciting and there is lots of action. For me, description is harder to write.

        • Your writing is wonderful. This piece had a great balance of action and description. There was nothing lacking; in my mind’s eye I could see your characters fully formed in my own local coffee shop. The story left enough room to feel what was going on rather than adding to the mental work of trying to reconstruct from words what everything looked like. I was very touched by the scene.

          • Themagicviolinist

             Thank you! 😀

    • This is so good, MV. I like how your character moves from self-pity and frustration to serving others. The best heroes, in life and in fiction, always focus outside of themselves. They do things, in other words. Your character does something noble and brave, and that’s why she’s a hero.

      • Themagicviolinist

         Thank you! 😀 I was just inspired by our coffee shop and I knew what the last line was going to be, so I just wrote whatever came to mind.

  • ameliorated

    The hotel is in the process of converting the lobby into its ‘evening’ mode. My latte, still hot, has been flanked by a candle in a see-through votive, and while the sun is still burning a thick 90 degrees outside, the air conditioning insinuates a much cooler night.

    I’m dressed in dark jeans and an equally dark shirt–clothing entirely inappropriate to summer in Cologne–but after seven days in the Koelnmesse, there’s little left in my battered carry-on. Across from me, an old man in a wrinkled white tee pretends to read a hotel manual, raising his eyes every now and then to consider the rear of a young German woman occupied at check-in.

    I am, as usual, trying to write.

    I have my laptop balanced on my thighs, heating them to a temperature just south of Hell’s core, and my phone lies slightly more out of reach than usual. (Not far enough to ignore it if it rings, of course, but if I were serious about writing, why would I be setting up in a hotel lobby?)

    “The people-watching,” I tell myself.

    Of course. “Material.”

    “Material” is one of those lies every writer has told herself at one time or another.

    “I can’t write until I finish researching ancient Mesopotamian fertility rituals.”
    “I just feel like I should read the Bible one more time. I want these references to come second-nature.”
    “Let’s check out the beer bash on Hyde. There’re bound to be some characters there.”

    So I’m in the lobby. Waiting for a character.

    Who knew that he’d actually arrive?

    • Themagicviolinist

       I like the ending to this one. It’s an ending where you aren’t quite sure what happens next. Very mysterious. Nice job! 😀

    • Marla4

       Oh my gosh, this is perfect. And I’ve felt the same way.  How beautifully you’ve captured this.  It’s wonderful.

    • Mariaanne

      The hot laptop in your lap, waiting for characters to arrive.  I think they always do.  I appreciate the authenticity of this.  

    • Ha!  Great flow here… I LAUGHED at the old wrinkled man – oops, old man in wrinkled shirt ‘considering the rear’ !!!   And now I want to know more about your character who arrived.

  • The tang of salt is in the air.  Sometimes the sea is shy with her scent, and other times she assaults you with her misty breath.  Today haze covers the lagoon.

    I walk the pavement as the waves bombard the shore, no longer blue but a foamy white, clinging to the sand.  A woman rumbles in the preschool-blue cooler and takes out a bottle of coke.  I hear it fizz as she pours the liquid in a cup and takes it to her lips.

    Beach umbrellas are kaleidescopes in the wind, turning in one place, parading giddy images of  pineapples and palm trees.  Two little boys watch a wave crash against the rocks, the white spray tossing into the sky.  They are still.

    Romeo’s truck is still out there, loitering for a week, red and sturdy in the parking lot.  A family is sitting opposite the truck, fold-up chairs in two straight rows with lunch between.  

    I walk past the house of cats, and they’re expectant when I go to say hello.  I count at least 14, and more dart from the bushes and the path as they see a human.  The roosters come too, the gawdy welcoming committee shrieking from the bushes.

    I walk on.  The wind picks up, and I feel it in the holes of my maroon jersey.  The wind signals the approach of spring, where the tops of the trees dance from morning to night.  

    • Wow, what a great line here: ” Sometimes the sea is shy with her scent, and other times she assaults you with her misty breath.” And several more very descriptive, yet still active lines. Gorgeous writing.

      • Thanks so much, Caroline!!  I feel so inspired by the beach.

    • Mariaanne

      Being from a beach area this really takes me home.  I like the line that “the sea is sometimes stingy with her scent  . . . “.  The umbrellas turning in the wind, and feeling the wind through the holes in her shirt are all great great images. Well done. 

      • Thanks Marianne…  We’re approaching the windy season, which I hate, but if I see it all as fodder for writing… my attitude may change… That, and buying a kite!!!!!

        • Mariaanne

          And the leaves on the dogwoods here are starting to dry up. 

    • I really enjoyed this Zoe! You took me right to the beach, wandering along barefoot and enjoying the sites and sounds, it’s great. The line about Romeo’s truck is very enticing, too — makes me want to read more!

      • Aaah that’s great!  Thanks Shannon!  It’s actually a funny story – there is a big red truck out in the parking lot opposite my flat (apartment!) that’s got ‘Romeo’s Trucking’ written on the side!!  It’s been there for 2 weeks!  Story there for sure!!

  • I woke up to a cooler world here in Texas this Sunday morning, after the blessed rain.  Some of the old frustration is still gnawing, showing itself in the troubled, murky dreams I can’t quite remember from just before I awoke.  There are the little aggrivations — financial challenges, my e-mail stopped working on Thusday, will my twelve-year-old car pass inspection this month?, and my own old and outworn thinking still pops up any number of times daily to challenge my recovery. 

    But:  I have enough gasoline to make it to my church today, and people are glad to see me after two weeks and I’m glad to see them.  Our guest speaker told of a meditation in which you extend compassion first to yourself, then to a person you’re fond of/close to, and then to a person you tend to see as your adversary,  your enemy. 

    “I wish for (myself; my friend; my enemy) every blessing, every prosperity, every gift of growth and progress, every success.” 

    I institute this practice into my day, and I commit to continuing it every day without fail. 

    Can I really change my consciousness to the point where I have no enemies, no matter what anyone does, no matter what anyone says to me?  We’re fixin’ to find out.

    My friend the computer whiz gives me a procedure to try on Mr. Computer.  I come home and try it.  It’s not exactly like what I thought he said it would be, but I work with it.   I try.  Nothing.  The problem’s still there; no e-mail.  I try again.  And then again.  Same result.  I call his numer and get voice mail. 

    Deliberately putting my anxiety on the back burner, I get my “new” bike, a multi-speed mountain bike with a smaller frame than my old one that fits me better, and I take a long ride, first making sure my phone is at my hip.  It does not ring.  That’s okay.  The woods are cool and sun-dappled and ancient.  A cotton-tail rabbit looks up at my approach, then scampers. 

    Today my friend in the local theater group told me to just come to the box office next Saturday night, give her name, and I’ll get in to see A Midsummer Night in Texas, the play she’s assistant directing. 

    There are such gifts that come every day — when I show up for life; when I do the work that can only be done by me. 

    • Oddznns

      Thank you for this meditation. It showed me what’s out there. Every minute. We just need to be open. And grateful. And receiving.

  • Candi Sary

    Well written! 

  • I really hate promoting. Maybe I’m just not cut out to be a writer…

    • I DON’T think that’s true. William Blake was the worst promoter of any writer in history. He lived in near abject poverty all his life. And yet, today he’s considered a genius on the level of Shakespeare. You can still be a great writer without being a widely read writer. And who knows, your work might be so good you’ll make it despite not promoting.

  • Delora Dennis

    Thank you so much for this post.  It helps to know I’m not the only one who struggles with  write/promote dilemma. When I’m writing I feel guilty I’m not promoting.  When I’m promoting I feel guilty I’m not writing. Sometimes it really drives me crazy.

    • I know. The expectations we put on ourselves and allow others to put on us are impossible to fulfill. Sorry your stuck in the middle of them. 

      The truth is you’re more than what you produce. You’re free from the endless need to create more and more, to accumulate more and more stuff. You’re free to do absolutely nothing, if that’s what you want. Don’t buy in to the expectations. You’re bigger than them.

  • I have mixed feelings about promotion for the writer these days. I like what Bob Mayer said on his blog today, In these days of self-publishing don’t waste time on promotion and marketing like most people.  Focus on content.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
    Also, in the same vein, I have kept this quote for ages by yet another author encouraging writers to focus on the work rather than the marketing; “So don’t give up; be patient, be authentic, and give yourself the time to grow into your writing and your audience.” Ron Hogan

    • Good advice Yvette. I imagine some amount of marketing, even if it’s just telling your friends about your work, is unavoidable. I really struggle with the amount of promotion that’s expected of authors these days. I don’t mind the thought of a radio interview, or guest posting, or public speaking about something I really care about. But just for promotions sake it doesn’t sit well with me.

      • Yes, I know exactly what you mean, Beck. This is the very thing all writers have to grapple with these days, even those in the upper stratosphere like Neil Gaiman, who I’ve heard speak of the problems of being expected to speak here, there, and everywhere, which leaves no time for the actual writing. Apparently, on the Myers-Briggs personality type scale, salespeople are directly opposed personality types to creative types. Certainly feels that way to me!

    • Good quotes, Yvette. I don’t disagree that content is king, but I also know the depths the people who say content is king went to promote their content. 

      The best promotion is about relationship, conversation. I think what most of us don’t like doing, probably rightly, is monologue. It feels sleazy. I’m learning that relationship promotion can be SO much fun. It DOES take much more work though.

      • Wow, what a great way of putting it, Joe. Promotion should be about ‘conversation’ vs ‘monologue’. Ever thought of being a poet?

  • Puffy

    (I felt like writing this because I have been thinking about what I should write in my blog and my mind kind of wandered to nursery rhymes and felt like I should make it sadder and kind of darker…for some reason. Weird, huh?)

    Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All of the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.

    How sad Humpty must feel, then.

    He was sitting on his wall, minding his own business, when great tragedy came and he just shattered on the hard, cruel pavement. The King was definitely kind enough to send his soldiers and magical egg-fixing horses to fix Humpty Dumpty, but they couldn’t.

    Now the poor Egg Man would have to live his life as seventeen little shattered pieces of egg shell. He wondered how he would be able to get dressed the next morning.

    ***

    Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown, and Jill came tumbling after.

    The poor children weren’t aware that it rained last night. There they went, skipping hither and thither, Jill clutching her red checkered apron, Jack holding on to his paper crown colored in with yellow Crayola marker.

    Jack’s foot slipped, and he shot down, down, down to the bottom of the hill. He fractured the crown of his head and lay motionless in the mossy, moist ground.

    Jill went to fetch his parents and tell them what happened, dropping her pail of water. She slips, she falls, she joins Jack.

    All this happened because they needed a pail of water.

    ***

    I shivered as I read these nursery rhymes on the poster of a preschool classroom. It was right beside the children’s drawings of Humpty Dumpty and Jack and Jill.

    The teacher would probably be aghast if I told her about the thoughts that came into my mind after I read these rhymes–which I haven’t recited ever since I lived abroad in Dubai, which had a very different set of nursery rhymes–so I kept quiet instead.

    “The things we teach children these days,” I sighed, shaking my head and exiting the classroom.

  • As an aspiring novelist with little chance of breaking into the traditional publishing world due to the change in the outlook of the publishing houses, I had already realized I would need to approach my self marketing a bit differently.  I have been working with a few good writer friends, great people I met in a novel workshop class, and together we believe we have solved the promoting and writing in one fell swoop.  We are creating a website that puts it all on the line, the complete journey of crafting our novels.  Because we have created this website, it becomes the public promise to actively work on our writing.  In working on our writing on a “live format” we are hopefully promoting our talents.  We are, literally getting out into the world and asking people for their opinions.  The website, novelodysseys.com is a work in progress.  It is new, only a few days old, really, and the template and formats will change until we get the technical aspects the way we want them. It’s absolutely terrifying and wonderful at the same time.  We know we aren’t perfect, but we believe that by sharing of our journeys at the same time we create the product we will be able to build that community platform that is necessary for writers today to have. Just thought I’d share, since your post was so timely and insightful to our efforts.  Thank you.

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  • Great post and very timely for me. My first novel is scheduled for release in December or January by Dreamspinner Press. Thanks for all the suggestions!

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     I find there is a fine line between writing and promote your work. You don’t want it to seem spammy, but you definitely want the reader to be informed about what it is you do.

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  • livin’likelarry

    This entire website sucks… I mean EVERYONE who has posted on her take a look at yourselves…over eager much? On every forum the comments and articles are written like a stick coming out of someones butt, if you want to be portentous while online go to facebook. Everything about this website eerks me… I regret joining.

    • Dear Larry,

      This comment makes me laugh. I hope you’ll stick around so you can make more portentous comments like this one. Thanks for making my day.

      Joe

    • Larry,

      I wanted to check out your website to see what a good one would look like, but alias you didn’t have the guts to leave a comment with your website attached. I hope you come back and tell us your real name with a real website so we can see how it really is done.

      Darrell

    • Larry–Maybe a better website for you to start with would be https://www.writecheck.com/static/grammar_checker.html—…..”eerks” is not a word. Thumbs up for use of that classy single syllable intransitive verb (sucks).:)

    • Maybe a better website to start with would be https://www.writecheck.com/static/grammar_checker.html—“eerks” is not a word. Thumbs up on using that classy single syllable intransitive verb “sucks” though….nice.

  • This afternoon I finished mowing my lush green yard just as the afternoon storm broke loose. The crickets were quiet this morning but the rumble and toots of the freight train at 6 a.m. rambling up the track to Atlanta came through on time. Yes, I too am enjoying summer heat in Georgia just southwest of Atlanta.

    Marketing as I see it has become the buzz factor for publishing these days. A lot of poor books have been marketed to death and some really good works never got off the ground because of a lack of marketing. Goes back to an error most will not remember in the early 70s – selling of the “Pet Rock”. This was a smash success because two Madison Ave advertising geniuses made a bet. An entire ad campaign with fancy box and instructions as to how to use and command the rock to do its routine of tricks, like play dead and stay. It made millions when it was launched just before the Christmas season! A rock packaged right created one of the MVP marketing strategies of all time.

    America will buy anything if they are convinced by a great marketing campaign. Now staying power and lasting success requires quality, but marketing can launch even a rock.

  • EndlessExposition

    The entrance hall of my aunt’s house smells like old ladies. The kitchen smells like garbage. The living room has a fairly neutral smell. And the second floor smells like lavender soap. I’m not sure how all of these smells – some truly horrific and others very pleasant – can cohabitate without mixing, or even how they can all exist in the same house period. But they do. I’ve learned to start breathing through my mouth as soon as I hit the stairs and in which spots I should stand for the best olfactory experience. I’m tempted to just tell my aunt to take out the trash once in a while, but she is seventy years old and I suppose can’t be blamed. On the other hand though, she’s a senior citizen, not totally decrepit. The two don’t necessarily go hand in hand I’ve learned, although the only examples of this I’ve seen in real life exist solely on my mother’s side of the family. Online blogs sport pictures of octogenarians boasting they hike dozens of miles a day, but I have yet to see them in action. And in any event they still have white hairs sinking down out of their scalps and reemerging through their nostrils and ears.

    My aunt lives in a suburban townhouse in Oregon. Her neighborhood is comprised entirely of townhouses: blue townhouses with a door on one end, space for a garden and the garage at the other end. With small changes here and there – such as the placement of windows and whether the door is on the right or the left – all the houses are exactly the same. It feels a bit like I’ve stepped into a dystopian novel, and the effect is more than a little unsettling. The suburbs of Oregon are so stereotypical it borders on living parody: the perfectly sculpted gardens and manicured lawns, next door neighbors discussing their sons’ lacrosse games, the gleaming Subarus, the endless amount of cul-de-sacs. Something about this place makes me want to laugh out loud. Holden Caulfield would’ve had a field day out here, screaming “phony” at everything in sight. What makes this town even more remarkable is its proximity to Portland. A few days ago, while walking through the city, I saw a man in a thong and winged mask riding down the street on a bike shouting something at the top of his lungs. It’s little moments like that that make me fall in love with the Portland more and more. I love it’s contrasting dull buildings and vibrant society. I love the Saturday market, Powell’s Bookstore, the new age boutiques and the dive bars. I love the hippies, the hipsters, the punks, the goths and the hapless normal people just passing through in bewilderment. I could spend a week discovering Portland and I fully intend to someday when I’m not on my aunt’s schedule.

    I think what I love about Oregon in general is the contradictions. The greenest state in the country houses these human settlements that are so bizarre they could be some kind of social experiment. The most resolutely normal suburb I have ever seen resides next to the proudly weird Portland. And the house in which I am currently residing smells like lavender on one floor and old ladies’ underpants on another. Oregon is never predictable, I’ll give it that much.

    • Thanks so much for sharing this! You definitely helped me get a clear picture of your aunt’s home and this part of Portland in general. I really liked when you got into the strange parts (the man in the thong with the winged mask). Do you think this is a story that’s going somewhere?

      • EndlessExposition

        Well, I am still in my aunt’s house and will be for a few more days, so if anything interesting happens in that time this might make a nice little memoir.

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  • JohnathanBrightonJR

    It actually is possible

    • Jonathan brighton JR

      I did it through an online publisher called freeditorial. Sold them the digital publishing rights for a few grand.. So basically instead of promoting myself directly to readers, I just convinced this jury to buy my book. Next people will download it for FREE which is great because then more people will see my book, hence I get more exposure. They make money through ads apparently, and that’s how they afford to pay writers

  • I totally agree. I think there is a difference between Marketing and Selling. People tend to confuse the two sometimes