Above is a video explanation of why I write and why I feel you should write, too (if only to share with yourself and friends). Rather than re-post all of it, I'll just encourage you to watch my video. It's less than 3 minutes, so yeah... good commercial break info.
The essential thesis is Emile Zola's quote, "I am here to live life out loud." In addition, it's about defining yourself and controlling your narrative so others can't make you feel like less than you are. In your writing, you can be you. Be honest, be bold, and be beautifully imperfect. Warts and successes, we are who we are. Never be afraid to be you... even if you're a white-whiskered, chubby-bellied, self-important Parkie rambling about interests few people relate to, you're still you. Be that person who is living life out loud (besides, I'm happy to be all those things because that means that I may have PD, but it doesn't have me)!!
Today is day 2 of 21 straight days to push my blog hard (a new post every day) to move to a place where I can live out my dream to write for more than a hobby. Much of this is based on a decision to educate and advocate for Parkinson's knowledge in places that I go (being visible / being strong / showing my positive). For instance, my wife and I are going to Yosemite in May. Being on a more national front with people helping me spread my story helps show people that I may joke that I'm "Shakes the Hiker," but I'm more than tremors, Parkinson's mask, a dystonia-affected left foot, dysphagia, hyperhidrosis, and many things people don't know about. I'm a guy who's going to push himself to get to places that let others know, "not only are we out here, but we're keeping it 100 (as the kids say)."
Yes, this is about being a professional writer and blogger, but it's about letting people know that we should be choosing to live life and not writing off people when they can still do things (and they want to do them, too!). This applies to anyone with a beating heart. Make your days count! You never know when Godzilla, King Kong, and the other monsters will strike and stop your chances to do.
I won't be posting all of my links on all Facebook pages, so you're going to need to Google follow me or join my Parkinson's Writer Facebook page for constant info. This is because not every post will appeal to the same group, so rather than post about every idea every day, I'll just be sharing links when they're pertinent to the site.
So... for today, I leave you with thoughts on being a writer (both fiction and nonfiction). Here are 12 thoughts on writing based on my experience in the classroom and at the computer.
1. I have written stuff since the late 1980s. Much of the beginning writing was quick story slivers, bad poetry, and pseudo-prose written as rambling literary / emo before I knew much about either.
This fire is what happened to half of the poetry and prose. The rest was shredded. That's OK. It wasn't my baby, and besides, overly emotional in the moment stuff is better to get out and then destroy. Who wants that lying around anyway? In the end, it was all practice. Get your 10,000 hours of practice like Malcolm Gladwell said (no matter who disagrees). As opposed to the rambling emotions, most of my best practice was writing letters to friends while in the Air Force. I could ramble for pages about nothing. Imagine when I had something to say! Additionally, I also learned to type without looking through Instant Messenger. Go figure!
2. I do see that emotional knee jerk expression as a cathartic necessity, but when it comes to the final product, that conflict needs to be resolved and moved beyond before publication. A writer who can control his or her emotions in the moment and just be objective (facts vs. subjective emotions) is achieving one of the first goals in the life of a writer. Commas are further down the list somewhere.
3. The most important trait of a writer is believing that he or she has something worth saying (if you don't, you won't get a word out). Blogging is a great opportunity to write it down and put ourselves out there. I recommend the ready-made fans websites of people like you (that's why I'm publishing to hikers, Parkies, travelers, baseball fans, fans of music I like, and people into the supernatural).
4. It's easy to give it away for free. It's harder to sell it. You only have so many friends and relatives and friends of relatives. That said, when that time comes to sell your books, be patient, figure out a marketing strategy, and make it happen. Don't get discouraged. That's why I have this online blog and this Facebook page for my Parkinson's writing and this page for my supernatural writing. I also have a real deal web page. I encourage you to check them all out! I definitely appreciate the likers and followers. Nevertheless, I wrote the Parkinson's blog for 18 months before I had a 3,000 hit post. More than that, I've written many blogs, and some of them never got near that many hits in all of the posts. When I finally did, the post went to just under 5,500 in 4 days. The comments that went with it felt reassuring. Nevertheless, this isn't overnight success. Additionally, this is still humbling and exciting, though I look to expand my success at getting my experiences and thoughts out to people.
5. Some people are all about creating their brand from day 1. To be a good writer, you need to be all about learning how to achieve the flow first. Practice, practice, practice. Get those words going from A-Z without skipping letters. This is free writing. Don't edit. Just flow. Make Jay-Z proud. Additionally, your brand might be arts and crafts, but you put more into being a parent. You can write what you like or write what succeeds. Which way you go is a value choice. Only you can make that.
7. Before you even think about branding, you better be able to outline and follow it. Remember, you're not Faulkner, Kerouac, Tarantino, or some creative writer flattening out time in a stream of consciousness technique to be artistic. Beginning to Middle to End. The beginning can be Megamind falling to earth, saying, "How did I get here?" That's fine. Then tell the story from the beginning. Gradual reveal is also fine. John Travolta shot and killed in 1 scene and alive and kicking in the next? Don't think about it until you're declared a creative genius. Even then, stay real enough or you'll be Kanye West sampling about being provocative and how nobody understands that. At least he could laugh at himself. Besides, he's got mad bank (even if he's a male Kardashian) should people think he's "cra cra" (and they do).
8. Find a good adviser and a good editor. Don't shake said person off. This person is trying to help you (especially if you aren't paying). Your job is to nod appropriately and do. My editor is MaryAnn (see below). She has done so much to help promote my writing dream. What would I do without her? Mucho gracias! She kept me from writing a Walking Dead ending, and we all know how bad that "who did Negan kill?" episode was for the franchise. As for editing, eventually, you will need to learn grammar. You don't have to be perfect. You'll never get there, but there's acceptable errors and "this is a nightmare." You always want to read out loud for clarity, and keep working on it to get better. When it's done, take a deep breath and move on like Mike Desantis, a stats teacher I learned from, said.
9. There's nothing wrong with being an imitator when you're finding your voice. A lot of my writing is influenced by books I read, movies I watch, songs I listen to, and people I know. At my earliest period of impressionable influence, it was Henry Rollins. The last authors I read that really got to me in that kind of way were Chuck Klosterman, Nick Hornby, Bill Simmons, and other page-turner autobiography / thoughts types. Of course, there was also Henry Miller, Kurt Vonnegut, Jon Krakauer, Edward Abbey, Laurence Gonzales, and Jack Kerouac, but yeah... authors come and go, and we add in as many Ken Burns documentaries as we do of the local ghost story writers flair (here, I think of Charlie Adams). Don't let people make you into Jane Austen unless you're writing about dating customs 200+ years ago. If you want to be Jack London, then make your dogs into the primordial beast persona of yourself! Besides, Jane Austen has nothing to teach about that. All the same, Jack London couldn't write a woman accurately if he had a gun to his head and his life depended on it.
10. JK Rowling was rejected 12 times before she became the first billionaire writer with movies and a theme park to go with her books. Oh, and they reduced her woman's name to initials to sell to little boys, who might not like reading a woman's work. She nodded appropriately, but now she can buy all of us and speak her mind about lots of issues (and she does!). The moral of the story is not to compromise, but rather, it is to know about being patient and tough enough to handle rejection.
11. I didn't meet my wife until 2007 (age 36), but when the time came, I learned from the good and the bad things that I did and others did to me in my relationships to make it work in the now. My wife may not be a writer, but she does support and encourage me. Get yourself some of these people, too. You need love, encouragement, non-writing love, and a ground team. That said, find yourself some writers and readers, too.
12. Have fun with it. Nobody is paying you $1 million for your book until you have something that they feel is worth reading (be it a heroic moment landing a plane on the Hudson or a long story about Hobbits). In our own mind, we may know we have something great, but without that push, we're not even going to be in the bargain bins. I call this the JK ROWLING BLUES. People are told by advertisers what to read, and when that happens, even Wal-Mart sells out of our books. Remember, most people don't just buy a book to buy a book. When they do, they're told what to buy, and then we get 50 Shades of Gray, Stephen King, Dan Brown, Anne Rice, Stephanie Meyer, Michael Crichton, Maya Angelou, Suzanne Collins, and James Patterson. Until then, write to write. Write if people don't buy. If they do, thank them. If they don't, keep writing anyway. In his life, Thoreau would joke about having 900 books in his library, which featured 700 of his own works!
By the way, if you have to give it away to get instant love to get to the paid love later, do it. Here, my 600 pages of The Rules of the Game can be a free download from time to time (on Kindle) in the same way new businesses need to do Groupon. Granted, it's tough to want to pay $10 to give a print book away, but digital love or sample chapters... definitely.
I love me some Groupon! Oh, and I also love me some Tiffany Haddish!
As a bonus, here are Jack Kerouac's techniques for writing (spelling issues are his)...
BELIEF AND TECHNIQUE FOR MODERN PROSE
LIST OF ESSENTIALS (by JACK KEROUAC)
1. Scribble secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside yr own home
4. Be in love with yr life
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from the bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In traced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monologue
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22. Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29. You’re a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven
As of right now, I'm doing a few things differently (as I said earlier) as your support (a 5,393 hit post about my Parkinson's learning) and the release of my 3rd book, The Rules of the Game, which I put out on Amazon (whose site CreateSpace allows people to vanity print on demand) have shown me that other people believe I have things worth saying as I work on the outline plan and writing for my Parkinson's book to be done by July or so.
As for my current book, it's a supernatural action story. For parents looking to see if it's for teenagers, I do discuss ratings ahead of time for age appropriateness. At some point in the near future, I will be releasing it for free on Kindle.
It's not everyone's cup of tea, but it's something I like creating that keeps me from being PD. At the end of the day, my characters need to be fully developed and realized, so let me write!
Thanks again for the love.