Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Tap dancer at Tokyo Disney SeaImage via Wikipedia
Dear You--

It is curious the number of skills a writer needs today. I seem to recall that there was a time when drinking too much and having a creative personality (being moody and depressed) being broke, and living in a garret were the primary requirements, but now – in these days of e-books, self publishing and rapid change, one is expected to be futurist, networker, relentless self promoter, analytics expert, book cover designer, typographer, public speaker, direct mail expert, and much more besides - all rolled into one. And I guess it probably helps if one can write. Then again, that may be a fast vanishing requirement given that e-books are soon destined to feature movie clips erupting forth from the printed page, doubtless in 3D before too long. Just imagine a tap-dancing book. It’s a damnably disconcerting concept.

This imperative to be a writer of many talents – mostly to do with self-advancement - has been much on my mind recently because I’m on a countdown to launch a number of titles as e-books and I’m acutely conscious that not only am I woefully lacking in some of the necessary expertise,  but my carefully honed ability to focus is being chopped – metaphorically speaking - into a regular mise en place as if destined for a wok. This isn’t to say that I’m not enjoying learning all these new things but more that writing is hard work, requires all the creative energy one can muster, and deserves as much commitment as good sex.

I’m not sure how I’m going to resolve all this so I think I’ll exercise my author’s prerogative and change the subject and expose you to the kind of activity one is supposed to be involved in as a professional author these days. I’m not knocking it – it’s fun – but it seems like a lot of work as a way to get known and my conscience says I should spend the time writing real books!  

The following is from a writers group, Writing Mafia, on Linkedin.

Let's get this community connected - If you accept LinkedIn invitations from members of this group please post here!

Donna Wood • I think I just evolved into a writer. I grew up in two storytelling cultures and it grew from there. As far as what do I hope to accomplish as a writer? I hope to continue the tradition of storytelling in the family in a different venue. To entertain the masses. To write books with substance and meaning. To cause the average person to take pause and question their own thoughts and beliefs. That's about it in a nutshell. What do I hope to accomplish as an author? My greatest dream is start the Butterfly Phoenix Foundation with funding from my books. I don't see this happening anytime soon, but it's always good to dream.

Ross Brown • Lee, I'd start a new discussion if I were you. If we're all connected, we'll see the topic on our LinkedIn Home page. I think that starting a discussion in this thread may get lost. I'm looking forward to sharing ideas with all of you.

Susan Thwing-McHale • Yes, happy to connect.

AJ Miller • Count me in! Great group. My writing has been primarily been in the areas of ad and marketing copy, as well as formal with regard to composing strategic plans. I am ready to broaden my creative skills.

Victor O'Reilly • Early in my writing career, I was once told by a Best Selling Author (God as far as I was concerned) that writers were genetically programmed to be jealous of other writers. Needless to say, I never harbor such low feelings.

Paul Callaghan • I'm not the jealous type either Victor. I just look wistfully at the vast numbers of connections that other people have and sigh. :)

Victor O'Reilly • I'm not sure writers should have friends. Given all the good work produced by people in dire straits in freezing garrets, I have the notion that all this cameraderie may be undermining our need for that well known creative stimulant - misery. The next thing you know is that people will be suggesting we ease up on being moody, depressed and angst filled. I shall now rise and kick the cat just to prove that I'm still moody and difficult. Good grief, it was never like this back in Ireland.

Ben McDonald • Agreed, Victor! A lack of friends and, I would argue, a surplus of booze and cigarettes are key to any good writer. Being a happy family man has certainly not helped inspire any masterpieces lately!

Victor O'Reilly • Thank you, Ben. I had forgotten the cigarettes. Fortunately I come from a large and dysfunctional family who can generate stress under any and all circumstances so I'm probably sufficiently traumatized to be able to be creative without adding cancer. Also I live in Seattle where the weather can be relied upon to be unreliable and depressing. Add in the Great Recession and continuing unemployment and we're going to be knee deep in creative genius before too long.

Suzanne Wendt • Oh Victor, Just bring on the Absinthe!

Victor O'Reilly • Suzanne, I was just pouring that very liquor for my cat, Toulouse. One should never drink alone as you know though I suspect that writers are allowed to. Toulouse is, of course, stuffed since that means I don't get distracted by the damned thing. Of course the downside is that it's tough to drink booze from a saucer. Then again, a certain degradation is de rigeur for us author types as well - and to be found licking up spilled absinthe from the floor - while one's stuffed cat looks on sardonically - serves more than adequately in that regard. But shame on me for giving away the secrets of my craft. I shall next be accused of being convivial.

Paul Callaghan • But Victor you have forgotten the chocolate. And coffee makes a great mixer for that absinthe. Stuffing sounds a good way to stop the cat's distractions, I wonder if it would work as well for teenagers?

Veronika Kaufmann • Excellent. Then I should have a bestseller in no time. I live in the most miserable place on earth. And i smoke. Although today I gave up for an hour, opting to sit inside to avoid the pigeons outside.

Victor O'Reilly • Just so long as you don't smoke on Linkedin, Veronika. We have our standards here. Your vices apart (feel free to elaborate) where is the most miserable place on earth? As for you, Paul - you'll never drink yourself into fame if you dilute your absinthe with anything other than contaminated water. As for teenagers, I thoroughly recommend stuffing though it's best to do the task when they enter that phase. They get a little hard to handle later on. A side benefit is that placing a stuffed teenager in one's passenger seat allows one to use HOV lanes.

Farewell. As always, I miss you.

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