3 Comments

The Post No One (Including Me) Thought Would Ever Happen

Hi there.

If I’m still on your email list, it was probably a surprise to see my blog show up in your inbox. Thanks for your unfailing support! (Or for forgetting to unsubscribe. Either way . . . WIN!) I’m just as surprised to be writing a post. So, hey . . . I feel you. We’ll get through this together.

The past few months have come with lots of changes, the biggest one being a move from my lifelong home of New York to North Carolina. Even though I was excited for the move, it was (and still is) a big change. But it’s positive change, in a lot of ways like hitting the reset button for my life.

There’s a lot of awesome in New York, but for my life and how I wanted to live it, there was a certain level I’d get to there and that was going to be it. It’s scary to feel like your life has plateaued WAY before you thought it would.

North Carolina had been in the back of mind for years as a good place to move, but we can think about tons of shit without ever doing any of it. Big difference.

So, I started job hunting last summer.

Once I started that ball rolling, I was amazed at how fast things moved. Once I had the job, there was a little thing called a “start date” they informed me about. They were expecting me there on a certain date and time. No more thinking about moving, I had to DO THIS. Thank goodness for my wife, she never lets me down. We busted our butts packing and researching apartments in the area and got it all done in a few weeks. Number one lesson learned? Go through your stuff at least yearly and either sell or throw out the crap you don’t need. It might’ve meant something to you before, but time changes tastes. I’d say fifty percent of my packing was going through stuff I hadn’t looked at in years. Lesson learned.

Then came the drive.

Google said eight and half hours, I did it in ten, including stops for gas and food. That wasn’t so bad, but leaving my wife in New York was. My new job wanted to me to start sooner than we expected, so she had to stay behind for six weeks until she was ready. In the eleven years we’ve been together, I don’t think we’ve ever been apart for more than a few days. I knew I’d be sad leaving her, but I wasn’t expecting tears from my eyes. Just what I needed for night driving in the rain. Thanks a lot, brain.

Aside for not having my wife with me, walking into the new apartment felt pretty good for the obvious reason of driving-for-so-long-want-to-sleep-for-the-next-ever, but also for what it represented. The apartment was just like all the other models. Same design, same paint, same appliances, same everything. But as we unpack our stuff, it looks more and more like a home, which is an extension of our personalities. We can decide how it’ll look and anything we didn’t like about our old apartment, can be different in this one. It’s like instead of a “Welcome to your new home” sign there was a “Here’s your chance to do it better” sign. And we plan on it.

A more personal thing the new apartment represented was an overwhelming feeling of I DID IT.

I updated my resume.

I applied for jobs until I found the one I liked.

I researched apartments.

I packed my stuff and moved it to a brand new place.

And like all big endeavors, I had invaluable help along the way. My wife being my partner every step of the way through the process. A close friend helping me make my resume the best it could be. Friends and family giving me advice about moving and the new area I was heading to. But it all would’ve been useless if I hadn’t followed through with what I set out to do. So, as I write this, I’m super effing happy with what I accomplished. And now I’m wondering what else I can do if I set my mind to it.

5 Comments

No More Stupid Words

This’ll be my last blog for the foreseeable future. Two reasons for this.

1. Time Seems like I’m at an all time low on free time, which may or may not be true. Could be that changes in my life over the years have altered how I use my free time. Same amount of free time, just used differently with not much left over to concentrate on blogging. I don’t know.

I don’t write posts fast, either. It’s rare I spit out a coherent post in one shot. Usually, I write down some thoughts and rework them until I have a readable post. When it’s all said and done, it’s probably the one and only thing I’ll get done in an evening. Maybe two evenings if the post needs extra sprucing. But since I’m only posting weekly (at least trying to) this shouldn’t be that bad if I want to keep blogging. This brings me to reason two:

2. Interest It’s pretty much gone. My motivation to blog was initially a desire to build a following to help me sell my books once I started publishing. It was fun to do, but some weeks I’d be struggling to think of something to talk about. I know many you guys have told me you like everything I talk about and I love that. But there are plenty of posts I’ve scrapped because they had zero substance. The fact that the stuff I post is well received tells me my instincts are pretty good for what to post.

Anyway . . .

At some point, I came to the conclusion that the only way to build a book following was to write good books. Blogging and social media does give you a presence and helps you make friends, but, in my opinion, it’s not how your books are sold. It might be how you get interest in your books, but if they’re no good, all that time spent blogging was kind of a waste. At least in terms of getting book readers. For other things like fun, making friends and finding a writing voice, it’s great. If you have the time.

In my case, it became clearer and clearer that I could only focus on blogging OR writing. No fifty-fifty split and certainly nothing where I concentrated on one with intensity and the other when I could get to it. This is when my interest started to dwindle. I thought shifting my focus to writing whatever I felt like would help, but it was just a band aid. The Dwindle bus continued on to Quitsville.

And now we come to today where I say goodbye to blogging. Maybe not forever, but for a while. I could be shooting myself in the foot with my social media presence, but it’s kind of pointless to me if I don’t write. Because the passion for writing hasn’t dwindled.

I want to publish my fiction. I really do.

And not just for me, because my time on this blog hasn’t been a total waste. It’s been a wonderful learning experience which has lead to meeting some awesome people who are now my friends. It’s you happy few I’m writing for. I hope you like what I come up with. I hope you can’t wait to find out what happens next. And if you tell a friend about me, well, that’s a nice bonus.

So, please excuse me while I go write some fiction.

1 Comment

Finding Hope in the Face of Hate

I have to admit, when I started seeing news reports about the Boston Marathon bombings, I felt all the common emotions: anger, sadness, fear. But they were dulled. Like I expect these thingsĀ will happen. It’s a depressing outlook, especially when I think about the influence of hate. I’m sure there were people watching the news who were glad it happened. Maybe some of them have children they’re teaching this hate to. What type of a person are they going to grow up to be? Well I got my answer in an article from the NY Post about Libby Phelps Alvarez leaving the Westboro Baptist Church.

If you’ve never heard of Westboro, they are, hands down, the most hateful church I know of. They are the people who will picket the funeral of a homosexual to tell their family and friends their loved one is going to hell. They hold up signs that say things like, Thank God for 9/11 or AIDS Cures Fags. Nice, right? And the crowds at these demonstrations are all ages, so it’s not uncommon to see small children holding signs or wearing t-shirts sporting their disgusting slogans. Imagine that for a moment; growing up in a cult of hate. Kind of seems like your life is doomed before it starts.

So, I’m reading about Libby’s life growing up in the church and it’s mind-blowing. There are around seventy members, all related in some way and the kids weren’t encouraged to make friends outside that circle. When they did hang out, it wasn’t at the movies or the mall. It was a picket line because that what they did . . . every day. Church sermons, according to Libby, were topical, but always lead back to how homosexuality is dooming the country. But through all the daily lessons of hate, Libby sensed something wasn’t right.

Her initial reaction to 9/11 was like most people’s, but when she got home, the rest of her family was celebrating. Saying that God was punishing America. It didn’t feel right, but she went along with it because it was all she knew.

Another time she had a similar conflict when she met her soon to be good friend, Blake. She never asked, but always had a feeling he was a homosexual. But he was always nice and friendly with her, despite knowing full well what family she was from. Again, she had this conflict of what she felt vs what she was taught.

The final straw came when she was on vacation with her sister. They took a photo of themselves in their bikinis and when the church got wind of it, they confronted her. The initial problem with the photo ballooned into a much bigger issue because she had the gall to stand up for herself.

Two days later she moved out and left the church for good. Once her parents found out, they told her they never wanted to speak to her again. I wouldn’t put it past them to use their own daughter’s story as an example to reinforce their hateful brainwashing.

But that’s not the end of Libby’s story. Not only was she able to escape the cult of hate, she now works with an organization fighting for gay equality. And the icing on the cake is that two of her sisters and a cousin have recently left the church too.

I know there’s a lot of hate in the world, but in most cases, it’s not who the person really is. It’s more like a sickness hiding the good. This story gives me hope that there’s a way out.

5 Comments

Read, Enjoy, Quietly Move On

I really do want to journal once a week, but some weeks I have nothing to say. It’s weird because I always have things on my mind, but they don’t always come together in a coherent way. I seem to hit these dry spells periodically. Blog, blog, blog, then . . . nothing. I kind of feel like this is a symptom of my introversion because in real life there are days when I have lots to say and other days when I don’t. I’m fine with that in terms of my blogging because I’m not actively trying to build a following.

This change in blogging attitude is probably another reason weeks can go by without me having anything to say. I used to be focused on pop culture topics and for a while, I was on a pretty good system of two topics a week. But that’s not where my head is anymore. There’s so many people talking pop culture that I’d be better off getting a job with one of them if that’s what I really wanted to write about. Now I prefer talking about me and what’s on my mind.

According to my stats, this blog isn’t found much by new people. On top of that, email subscribers can read a full post without clicking to the site. So I have no clue who reads this blog, who likes it, who doesn’t. It’s like shouting into a void of nothing. I like that. I like that someone might read a post, enjoy it, and move on without me knowing. Maybe that person comes back or maybe the one post was all he needed. Maybe he’s a big fan, but isn’t the type to comment. I can relate. I read plenty of articles without commenting because I’ve got nothing to add. But the idea that people are passing through the Internet and might be affected by something I wrote is pretty cool.

5 Comments

I’m Speechless About Why I’m Always Speechless

I’ve got issues with my smarts in that I feel I’m lacking them. It’s not that I think I’m dumb, but I don’t think I have all that much knowledge. It’s one of the factors that makes me uncomfortable when I meet new people. Everyone in the conversation (All people meeting for the first time) seems to know a fair amount about the various topics being thrown around. Everyone but me. So, I stay silent unless I’m absolutely sure what I have to add won’t make me sound stupid. Needless to say, me speaking to new people doesn’t happen much.

Thank goodness for my wife. She can talk to ANYONE with ease. It’s like watching a magic trick and as long as she’s with me, she does the talking for both of us. The thing is, I wish she didn’t have to.

In a few weeks we’re going to her high school reunion. I have no clue how many people are going, but they’ll all be new to me and for once, I’d like to have things to say. No so much because I care what strangers think of me. I just want to feel like I fit in with the rest of world. And I don’t want my wife to have to tell people, despite my silence, I’m having a good time.

The good news is I know my problem with social situations, which is less a problem and just who I am. I’m introverted, which carries a host of traits including brain freeze when under pressure. Like in groups of people I don’t know. I didn’t know much about introversion, so I figured if found some books that could explain why I’m this way, I’d feel okay at the reunion and . . . life in general.

I found two. The first one, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, is really interesting because it goes into the societal changes in America that created the terms introvert and extrovert. It also goes into the shift in extroversion being the more desired personality. I’m only fifty pages in, but reading about where the terms came from and what society thinks about each group (Extroverts outnumber introverts two to one) is giving me a lot of insight into myself.

The other one, The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World, hasn’t gone that deep into the history like Quiet. What’s it’s done is given me numerous examples explaining why my brain works the way it does. Here’s a particular line that struck me:

Many introverts don’t feel as if they know enough about a subject until they know almost everything.

It’s not often I feel like a book was written specifically for me, but the author could’ve easily have replaced “introverts” with “Andrew.” I’m guessing after I finish the book, I’ll conclude it should’ve been titledĀ The Andrew Advantage.

But it’s not enough to tell me I need to know everything before I think I know anything, the author tells me why:

  1. Introverts can imagine the vastness of any subject.
  2. Since we have experienced our minds going blank, we overcompensate by acquiring as much information as we can.
  3. Since we don’t always say what we’re thinking, we don’t get a lot of feedback to tell us we know more than we think we do.

Well . . . well shit. This author has me pegged. In a paragraph she managed to explain why I’ve spent my whole life feeling awkward in groups of people.

I’m glad I bought both books because of the different, yet awesome perspectives on the same subject. As a gatherer of information, this is essential. I feel a little better about the reunion and might be more inclined to talk since I probably know more than I think I do. If anybody reading this is introverted and wants to learn more about yourself, I highly recommend these books.

2 Comments

Hooray!

So, I woke up to a fantastic email from Susan saying my latest piece had voice! That’s like Simon Cowell telling me, Yes, you CAN be an American Idol!

I’ll leave it at that for now because I need to get ready for work. Hooray!

7 Comments

Word Of Mouth Or Bust

If I wasn’t already convinced of the power of word of mouth, the Veronica Mars movie proves it beyond a shadow of a doubt. This cancelled TV show has been off the air for ten years. Since then, show creator Rob Thomas (The other Rob Thomas) has been working to get a movie made.

Kickstarter was his last ditch effort.

If he could prove to Warner Bros (The guys who own the show) that there was enough interest in a movie, they’d pay for marketing, distribution, etc. So, Wednesday morning the campaign was started with a two million dollar goal to make within thirty days. But, TEN YEARS. That’s a long time to forget about the show.

The goal was reached in ten hours and donations are still coming in.

All day Wednesday the internet was on fire with people spreading the word. All the major entertainment outlets, celebs and schmoes like me. Did I mention TEN YEARS off the air? And it hasn’t lived on like Firefly has in comics or conventions, but people still managed to find and get sucked into it’s awesome. So, when Rob Thomas asked the fans to help him make this movie, we heard. That’s all he had to do. Ask. His product was THAT good.

*Fun factoid: Joss Whedon loved the show so much, he had a guest spot in an episode. You can look up which one if you want, but I say it’s more fun to watch the show and be surprised when you see him.

So, I’m thinking about how awesome word of mouth is as I see promo after promo passing through my timeline. Free book this, slashed prices that, if you like this, surely you’ll like my book, and so on. At face value, it’s not horrible promo, but it’s pretty useless if the product sucks.

There’s also more and more workshops and social media experts popping up. And since getting started is just an internet connection away, most of the advice is either recycled from better sources or worse, just plain bad. I think it gets people focusing too much of their energy on the wrong thing.

When a comedian is working on his act, he doesn’t offer free drinks to get people to come see the same material. He keeps reworking his material until it’s funny enough that you’ll pay anything to see his act.

If a band wants more fans at their gigs, they’re not going to light themselves on fire. Well, some might, but they still have to play some awesome songs to get people to come back. Lighting yourself on fire is only fun the first few times.

And if I want to sell books, endless promo isn’t going to do it. Only more awesome books will.

Because people talk about awesome. They tell their friends about it. They don’t talk as much about promo.

That’s why I’m taking my time to get better. There is a little of If I Don’t Finish Anything, I Can’t Suck going on, but it’s mostly a feeling of not ready yet. Still hanging in the Meh Zone. And if I put out a book that doesn’t do well, I won’t blame the system because it hasn’t changed much since the beginning of time. Kind of like that Who song: “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”

The people are the boss. Always have been, always will. The way they use their powers might change, but it’s still all in their hands. And, yes, I’m sure there are ways to manipulate people into liking my stuff, but I don’t think those tactics last in the long run. I don’t think Star Wars was a manipulation. I don’t think J.K. Rowling pulled a fast one on me. Their products were just REALLY good and will stand the test of time. Because people still talk about them.

So, I’m putting all my eggs in word of mouth. And if the words coming out of people’s mouths isn’t what I want to hear, it’s back to the drawing board as many times as it takes until I figure it out.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,528 other followers