Jan 162015
 
If there's an exit in sight, I'll take it. Therefore ...

If there’s an exit in sight, I’ll take it. Therefore …

I up and did it. I’m tooling along on a draft and had no idea what to do next. Not a clue.

Red alert.

Now, here’s the thing. If I had just a hundred pages or so, it would be easy. Just junk the whole thing, or set it aside and revisit it a couple months or years or decades later. But I had way more than that invested.

No way out.

Funny thing. When my back is up against the wall like that, interesting things happen. It’s what Andrei Nana called it in Psych Central: The no-exit strategy.

Simply put, if there’s an escape in sight I’ll take it.

If my only option is to complete the work, I’ll complete the work.

This idea isn’t new, Nana says. A couple of thousand years ago Sun-Tzu laid it out in the Art Of War:

“Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape, and they will prefer death to flight. If they will face death, there is nothing they may not achieve. Officers and men alike will put forth their uttermost strength.”

Implementing any sort of change often requires the no-exit strategy. If someone decides to lose a whole bunch of weight to look good in a bathing suit, it may or may not happen. But if a doctor tells that person to lose that weight in order to stay alive, that ups the ante considerably. The only exit is feet first, so that becomes the commitment strategy.

Okay. Changing a habit to save your life is a whole different animal than finishing a writing project. The stakes are different. However, the strategies remain the same.

Get rid of the exit strategies and there’s only one way to go. Through it.

#endit#

Dec 192014
 
Your crowd is one of the things that shapes you.

Your crowd is one of the things that shapes you.

I can’t remember who said it, but if you want to know what someone is like, look at his five closest friends. If they hang out at the tavern every night and watch football, you can bet the person in question does the same thing.

If the person runs with people who live from paycheck to paycheck, you can almost guarantee it. You know our friend also does. Especially true if our man (gasp) asks his friends for investment advice.

I totally believe this. Which is why I like to hang out with talented people. Writers, musicians, entrepreneurs. It’s likely I’ll catch what they’ve got, or at least pay more attention to those special things I bring to the world.

I think I wrote about it once … matter of fact, I built an entire novel around that concept. But the idea remains the same. Talented people band together even if they’re not involved in a group project, and the end result is greater than the parts.

I’m not even thinking about folks I might want to work with or people who might buy whatever it is I’m pushing. These are folks who can set an example for me, who might encourage me, and especially people I might encourage.

It’s even better if the people I run with are at about the same level as I am, with some who are ahead of me. This isn’t a contest to see who’s the smartest guy around; I’d rather have at least a few folks who can show me a thing or two. Even better if they’re willing to push me.

Hang around with the pros. That’s a good recipe for growth.

Gregg Allman said in his autobiography that if you moved a bunch of random people into a strange town, the musicians will find each other faster than anyone else. I’m finding this is true as I set up shop in this strange town I live in now.

I’m using sites like Meetup to run across other writers and musicians. Going where the people hang out. Getting into networking. As 2015 kicks off one of the #giantsteps I plan to do is hook up with a Toastmasters group. That organization is top-heavy in high-achieving types, just the ones I want to hang with.

###

Nov 212014
 

I recently read Walter Isaacson’s “Jobs,” the recently-released bio of the Apple/Macintosh/Pixar pioneer. While I didn’t care much about his personality, his ideas and approaches were amazing. His original iPod Shuffle had no display, little in the way of actual controls, but was as simple as it gets. Jobs built his computer brand around simple operation, a stripped-down interface, around Zen art.

He liked to keep things simple, and maybe even idiot-proof. Although the old SPARC operating system played with the concept of a graphical interface, Jobs and Steve Wozniak were the first to really pull it off with the old MacIntosh. This made computers much more accessible, because clicking on an icon is a lot simpler and friendlier than trying to remember what to type at the command line. And despite what Microsoft loyalists say, the first Windows system looked like a dead ringer for the old Mac interface.

I don’t know if it’s the ease of operation and the art of minimalism that drives Apple’s success these days or its cult factor. I’d say both, but I’ll give extra weight to simplicity.

But Jobs still had his over-engineering (or more correctly, over-designing) moments — the company could have slid down the toilet while he vacillated between a pure white or smoke-gray computer housing. Even in the name of simplicity, the wheels sometimes fall off.

Keeping things simple. That in itself is an art. Charles Mingus, the great jazz bassist put it well:

“Making the simple complicated is easy. Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”

Think about it. It’s like the hoary tale about the public speaker who said if you wanted him to talk for 15 minutes he could have it ready in a couple of days. If you want him to speak for two hours, he’s ready now.

Anybody can come up with a convoluted mess. The real art is in trimming it down to a manageable size and simplicity.

Notice this. Mingus did not say anything about making things easy. As a bandleader he was a taskmaster with an explosive temper, and he liked to change timing structures right underneath the soloist. His piece “Passions Of A Woman Loved” shifts through multiple time signatures, and the band really had to be on the ball.

But if you can get something as densely-packed as a Mingus composition or as wide-ranging as Apple’s computing concept and make it simple, that’s creating.

(Video: Charles Mingus, on a 1964 concert tour. He wrote this song for his alto sax player Eric Dolphy, who was the second sax soloist.)

#endit#

If you’re so inclined …

You can get Jobs for your Kindle here. I think I rated this book four stars out of five.

Disclaimer: I get a small commission for copies sold through this site. If enough of y’all order, you might even defray the cost of my own copy. But it’s a good read.

 

 

 

Jul 312014
 
Sometimes I have to do my work on the side.

Sometimes I have to do my work on the side.

 

“I’ll never regret the time I spent driving a taxi. That was fun, profitable and educational. But I do regret frittering away a whole lot of perfectly good downtime.”

If you can’t make a living at something, do it for love. If you can’t do it full time, love the time you do spend with it.

I’m reading several articles on the value of having side projects, and the whole concept really resonates with me. Been a part of my life for as long as I can remember — as long as I also remember that I’m working on a side project.

It’s not just me. I already mentioned the barista at your favorite coffee shop. You may or may not know she’s a thriller novelist, and while she’s making your double-chocolate latte she’s shoving someone into a wood chipper. As soon as she’s done with your latte she’ll dash back into the break room and throw down a quick note: “Turn the wood chipper on before you insert the body.”

That’s what keeps her sane. As long as she delivers your latte the way you like it — sans chunks — no one’s the wiser. She’s doing her job. She’s pursuing the side project while she works.

Google’s onto this. If you work for them you’re allowed to spend 20 percent of your work time pursuing some creative side project that pleases you. The rationale is that you’re refreshed and the 80 percent you do give Google is a whole lot better than the 100 percent you give some company that owns your butt full time. You’re taking a break from work. That’s all.

Now, understand there are some restrictions here. Using that 20 percent to cure cancer or write that great jazz composition is a good use of that time, though Google may frown on you using that 20 percent to write code for a direct competitor. I mean, there are limits.

Admittedly, Google’s reaped the benefits of that 20 percent rule. Gmail is one of those projects that sprouted from someone’s 20 percent time.

But that’s Google. San Francisco State psychology professor Dr. Kevin Eschleman studied the idea of employees with side projects and how they help keep a worker at his best.

“The results indicate that organizations may benefit from encouraging employees to consider creative activities in their efforts to recover from work,” Eschleman reports. “Creative activities are likely to provide valuable experiences of mastery and control, but may also provide employees experiences of discovery that uniquely influence performance-related outcomes.”

An article by the Hiut Denim Co. outlines what makes a good side project: It must be:

  • Low risk: You can take your time with it, screw it up all you want and you’ll still survive. Your paycheck does not depend on the outcome of your project.
  • Low pressure: There’s no deadline. It gets done when it gets done.
  • A labor of love: Since you’re not getting paid for the work up front and you’re gambling on the future, something’s got to keep you going with it. How about because you love the work, you love the project?

My own career track has been especially bizarre. Delivery driver. Journalist. Casino employee. Taxi driver. Railroad employee. Freelance writer. Most recently, well, I guess caregiver is now the occupation. That’s all over the map. While I’ve never been dumb enough to tell any of my employers this, the occupation is the thing that makes my side projects possible.

But I found that the best side projects have little to do with the actual occupation. Which means writing that novel wasn’t the best use of my off time when I was out terrorizing politicians and land developers for the newspapers. Been pounding out words for 10 hours today, so why do I need to go home and do a whole lot more? But I could go out and play a few sets with the local jazz group, get some creative juices flowing and have a nice break.

I considered music my “hobby” back then, though I was getting paid for it and was declared a professional by fellow pros. What was funny about my choice of labels here was that this was in the 1980s, when baseball player Bo Jackson said he was going to play NFL football as a hobby:

I did a lot of writing while toiling with the railroad company. A dumb job, hot, sweaty, low pay, but I made good use of the occasional down time. Got a lot of writing done then.

For me, though, a key is remembering I have a side project and actually doing it. Those years I spent driving a taxi? I wasted a lot of that.

See, taxi driving has lots of down time. I’m hanging out in some parking lot waiting for my phone to ring or the dispatcher to holler or someone to walk up to the cab. Could have finished what? A dozen novels doing that?

Nahh. Not even one. Didn’t even think about that then. I’ll never regret the time I spent driving a taxi. That was fun, profitable and educational. But I do regret frittering away a whole lot of perfectly good downtime.

It wasn’t a total waste, though. I did further my music education and played a lot of music during those years.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the survival game or other drama that I lose sight of that side project that means so much to me.

While many say a professional writer or musician does that at the exclusion of everything else, I’ll have to disagree. It’s your attitude that makes you a pro, not the time factor. But I never wanted to play music exclusively, and writing exclusively isn’t so good for my head.

Guess I’d better post this thing; duty calls.

# # #

 

May 232014
 

Tick tock ... tick tock ...

Tick tock … tick tock …

I got into a discussion — okay, call it a debate — about the best motivation to push a project forward.

Put a date on it.

That’s the final leg of the so-called SMART goals that are all the rage these days. Depending on who you listen to, the other four parts may include (s)pecific, (m)easurable, (a)ttainable and (r)ealistic. It’s that fifth one that remains the same no matter who interprets the goals, so it must be important.

In the acrostic, T stands for time-sensitive. There’s a deadline attached.

I’m an old journalist and I know what blowing a deadline means. It means you’re fired. So it’s important stuff.

In the real world of creating and hopefully finishing things, a deadline means something else:

It means you’re serious.

It means you will start, and finish. Or at least you’ve improved the odds considerably.

You’ve made a date.

Michael Hyatt gets more projects and requests than any person can name. He’s a busy guy. But when he’s really serious about getting something done he puts it on his calendar. He’s adamant about not blowing off appointments.

For me, the simple act of putting a date on something became a revelation.

See, I’ve always had a gazillion projects going on.I’m busy, reasonably unfocused and admittedly manic enough to load my to-do lists until they break. So I’ll stuff things in there, give it a shake in the hope that everything will settle on shipping, then load it some more.

With my first fiction work, I decided to try something different. I experimented with deadlines.

I set one for completing the first draft, one for the second draft, another for the final draft and a fourth for shipping.

Nailed ‘em all. And this is a guy who can’t complete anything.

Until I put a date on something I’m just screwing around.

I’m a wanna-be with an amateur’s attitude.

Professionals take their work seriously. Pros also get stuff done.

If I look real hard at those twin statements, I just might find a connection.

I have another fiction project in the works, and am now finishing the second draft. That’s the one where I sort through the hastily-thrown-down first draft and ruthlessly kill those wonderful turns of phrase I fell in love with but they don’t move the story forward.

My self-imposed deadline for the second draft is May 31, and based on my progress I’m going to achieve that with time to spare. And that’s after taking several days off for a cross-country drive.

I’m gonna knock it out of the park.

If you’re a real killer in the getting-stuff-done world, you can double your fun by publicizing your deadline. Put it up on Facebook, Twitter, even on LinkedIn.

As I wrote this I decided to eat my own dog food here. I posted on Twitter:

creativedanger May 13, 6:26pm via HootSuite

On 2nd draft of my new novel Damage Control. Self-imposed deadline is May 31. I’m gonna nail it. #amwriting

That’s going public. What’s even more public is putting it up on LinkedIn, which goes out to a more professional network. These folks know me and are about something.

So I guess that means I’m kinda serious.

#endit#

Talk to me: Do you impose deadlines? Do you publicize them? Please share.

May 092014
 

 

That's me doodling on a large scale, whiteboards and all. Don’t let the boss catch … oh, I am the boss.

That’s me doodling on a large scale, whiteboards and all. Don’t let the boss catch … oh, I’m the boss.

Employers are funny. They say they want creativity in the workplace, but it’s usually nothing but lip service. Most don’t want to see the stuff that goes with creative thinking in the office or on company time.

That means no staring out the window, no screwing off, no bugging the other workers. Look busy. Productivity is how all things are measured in the workaday world, and all except the most visionary of owners/stockholders want to see the good productivity numbers right now.

Kate Taylor of Entrepreneur.com laid out a few ideas for someone to exercise that creative streak, even someone who works for someone else and draws a regular paycheck.

  • She advocates shaking things up, breaking the routine. Now, the cool thing about this is it can be done at home. Even if it’s singing in the shower — she said that, not me — can be enough to move things around. I’ve heard other ideas like taking a different route to work or keeping a journal in the morning. Larger shake-ups can include hanging with a different bunch of people.
  • Embrace your weirdness: Uh, I have no idea what she’s talking about. Maybe it’s my thing for index cards or ability to tune out a conversation because my mind is galloping elsewhere? Hey, if you’re creative you’re probably weird anyway. I guess if you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em.
  • Doodling: Remember Sergio Aragones of Mad Magazine? He drew all those cartoons in the margins of almost every page, and those may have been the funniest thing about the publication. It seems Steve Jobs was quite the doodler, and of course Leonardo da Vinci. I have two 4×4 whiteboards I can go crazy on, plus those index cards. Don’t try it on that sales report at work, though. I mean, there are some limits.
  • Analyzing those ideas: Ever hear of “Creatalitics?” Neither have I until I read Taylor’s article. For me it’s taking that goofy idea I picked up on one of my walks and picking it apart. Is it doable? Is it worth doing? Inject a little bit of that logic in there; right brain gives way to left brain just like a relief pitcher in the seventh inning. Incorporate that step with a little doodling — like a mind map — to double your fun.
  • Goof off: This is another one of those don’t-try-it-at-work things, unless you can get away with that. But even if you’re working stupid long hours on the job you can chisel out a little time to do this at home. Act the fool. Paint something on your garage wall. Break out the Play-Doh.

If your employer decides exercising creative thinking and having fun on the job is important (I don’t mean company bowling tournaments which only happen off the clock), go for it. If not, pick your spots.

#endit#

Talk to me: How does your employer handle your creative streak? Please share in the comments.

Apr 192014
 

If you run across the Muse, shoot her.

Like dead. Like graveyard dead. Tango Uniform. On the slab. Life-challenged.

I know, that sounds like blasphemy of the highest order for an artist.

Who wouldn’t love a whole bunch of Muse dust dumped all over your head when it’s time to create? I know I’d take it.

But the Muse is fickle. A crazy lady. Left to her own devices, the Muse is an excuse.

We all have our own vision of a writer. Of any creative person, for that matter. He’s there, typewriter or computer in front of him, a blank sheet of paper or blank screen. and he’s staring out the window.

Waiting for inspiration.

Of course, he never gets much of anything done.

If every artist worked only under the influence of the Muse, a whole lot of wonderful works would never see the light of day. There won’t be nearly as many great books. Very few amazing musical compositions or performances. Art galleries would be empty. Very few great inventions or business ideas. Bill Gates and Richard Branson would be assembly-line mates in some yarn factory or someplace, trying to talk over the machines and retiring for a cold one after knocking off.

Let’s just say we’d be back in the Stone Age. Hyperbole? Probably, but not all that much.

Inspiration is overrated.

The Muse is an excuse.

Let’s follow that logic for a minute, just for grins. If the above is true, there’s no such thing as writer’s block either.

In this great TED talk, writer Melissa Gilbert discounted the idea of writer’s block and explaining the fickleness of the Muse. Her father, she said, was an engineer. No one ever approached him to ask how that engineering block is coming along. And engineering takes as much imagination, as much soul sweat as writing or playing music any old day.

Many of the big-name writers say the same thing. The Muse is a fleeting thing, but she may stick around if she feels like it. The best way to curry her favor is to look busy when she arrives. Check out the conversation (yeah, shameless plug) between Karen and her short-time boyfriend Darren on how the Muse works:

* * *

“I don’t see how you do it,” Darren said, breaking into her thoughts.

“Do what?”

“Write every day. And I mean every day.”

“Because that is what I do.”

“I can’t. I have to be inspired, you know.”

“Me too. That’s why I write every day. The Muse knows where to find me. At my desk at 9 a.m. sharp.”

“What if it doesn’t show up?”

“Then I kept my end of the bargain and I write anyway. Then she shows up, or sometimes she doesn’t.”

“How much do you write, anyway?”

“At least 250 words. I try for 750, three pages worth. I can sometimes get that in an hour.”

“No way.”

“Been doing it that way for years. Used to do way more than that, probably around 2,000 words a day at the newspaper.”

“I don’t see how.”

“You just do it, that’s all. Don’t worry about the Muse showing up in a newsroom. Too noisy for her.”

* * *

Darren never did get it, and he’s probably still working on that same short story he was tinkering with.

Here’s the deal. It’s so easy to get enslaved by the Muse. You can let her dictate whether you do your work or how you do it.

The best way I found to freeing myself from that evil old gal is to go to work anyway. It doesn’t matter whether I feel like it or not. Just show up. I make an appointment just like I’m going to work.

I dress up like I’m going to a day job. No flip flops, no sweat pants. Writing’s a tough enough business that steel-toed boots and a hard hat may be the thing to wear some days.

But dressed for battle, I show up. At a certain time every morning — usually 8 or 9 a.m., but it’s prearranged. I’m up, at my desk, in firing position. Just like a real job.

Because it is.

As long as I remember that, I will continue to take it and my work seriously.

-endit-

 

 

Jan 302014
 

I really like this:

“There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.”

– Terry Pratchett

There’s no such thing http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ThePassiveVoice/~3/U42orEI-UHs/

Strong words. But is this statement true?

I’ve always denied its existence. Quite adamantly, too. With one newspaper job I’d pause for a couple of minute and stare at a spot on the wall. Sure enough, that’s when my publisher would stop by my desk.

“Writer’s block?

No, you idiot. Concentrating, until you broke it. Go away.

“Ain’t no such thing,” I’d tell him. Sometimes I’m just too nice.

But see, there are so many moving parts in the process of creation. This is especially true when you’re going it alone. You generate the idea. You put meat on it. You beta-test to make sure it works. You ship it. You promote it.

With writing – even if it’s comparatively soulless like newspaper work or Web content – goes through similar steps.

• Generate the idea.

• Find an angle.

• Develop the story.

• Get the research.

• Draft the thing.

• Dip back into the research while editing.

• A lot of back-and-forth among the levels.

• Keep an eye on how you’re gonna present that thing – keywords, headlines, placement.

That’s a lot of moving parts. It’s the same thing when you do anything creative like, say, cooking a meal.

• Decide on the ingredients (which can to open).

• Come up with some ways to improve it as you go (more Texas Pete).

• Taste as you go (still more Texas Pete).

• Have someone else try it (it hasn’t killed you, so it must be okay).

• Present the meal properly (why doesn’t it look the way they always show on the can?)

• Put the final product out there (if you don’t like it you din’t have to eat it.)

See, a whole lot of moving parts there. If one bonks out it’ll probably affect the result and maybe even my attitude toward completing the work. Like if my beta-taster in the cooking example croaks I may decide to never enter a kitchen again.

Maybe it’s me, but I find the writing to be the easy part. Really, though others would say it’s the hardest.

Consider: I’ve been writing professionally for 30 years. (Yeah, yeah. Off and on, I know.) I’ve come up and developed with some really squirrelly ideas for even longer than that. I’ve worried about headlines maybe five of those years. I’ve paid attention to keywords for less than a year. I’ve promoted things for maybe about 15 minutes.

Not only are these steps interdependent on each other, all require at least some cooperation from the outside world whether I’ll admit it or not.

Y’all probably figured from reading this blog that I’m big on the “just start” mindset. And I am. Always. Can’t get anywhere unless you start; that never changes.

But finishing. It’s not what it once was. It’s no longer done when you type “endit” or sign your work. There’s more, and all of these post-finishing thoughts can screw up your thinking enough that you’ll tank a project at a very late stage.

Right now I’m finishing Part II of B.I.C. Cartel, a fiction work. I’ve already typed “endit.” It’s formatted, cover art ready, Part I has been up a month. But this thought of marketing the stupid thing again paralyzes me. It’s way out of my comfort zone. My promotional efforts are laughably ineffective. Nobody’s going to read the book except the crickets and maybe some family and close friends, and only if it’s free.

That’s what I tell myself.

Am I full of it? I never am, and that’s my default setting until proven wrong. Even though I believe this novel is an excellent work, I’ll sure enough find a way to sabotage it.

Will this defeatist mindset affect my release schedule on Part II? Hope not.

Will this affect how I write Part III? Hope not.

Will this affect whether I complete/ship Part III, the completed version, the print version, the deluxe version?

Better not.

Writer’s block? Creativity block?

Nahh. Still no such thing. Call it moving-parts block.

But whatever you call it, the result is the same.

# # #

What say you? What’s your personal moving-parts block? Please share.

Jan 142014
 

You probably heard the one about the guy who never finishes anything.

For the purposes of this story let’s call him Little Johnny. That’s generic enough for now.

But this guy Little Johnny always had a gajillion projects kicking around. They weren’t even specialized; they ran across several disciplines. He wanted to record an album, help Franz Schubert come up with an ending to his Unfinished Symphony, climb Mt. Kilamanjaro, write a novel and be home in time for cornflakes.

I’m reading The DaVinci Dilemma, which tells all about Little Johnny. A true Renaissance man, great at many different things and able to finish exactly none of them. These DaVincis act, paint, play music, write, invent things, start many businesses and snap off a mean backdoor slider. Kind of like the original DaVinci.

The folks who wrote that book act, write, sing professionally in a choir, do street performances, engage in some stand-up comedy, coach people and produce art in various media. And that’s two people, not five or six.

These DaVinci types have a terrible time getting things done.  All these shiny objects floating around, it gets durned near impossible. Many are given Adderall or Ritalin or some such thing. I can sure appreciate that; my mind is a veritable playground.

A good friend of mine works as a counselor. He spent a career in the Navy, and he has all these interests. He plays a pretty good rhythm guitar. He’s run marathons. He’s ridden a motorcycle down the Tail Of The Dragon, which has something like 300 curves. He told me he has at least one book in him, and he was playing with that off and on. He’s planning to join me on a hike in western North Carolina in a few months. A busy guy, and admittedly quite ADHD.

Guy like that, it’s amazing he ever gets anything done. Somehow he does; he recently finished his Ph.D. The guy totally makes me sick.

A hole in my bucket list

I’m rather infamous for starting things and never finishing them. I’m like Little Johnny here; tons of ideas and maybe a few completed projects if you look hard enough. Here are a few ambitions I’ve played with:

• Record a solo album, all instrumental.
• Get a bus, gut it and make the coolest bus conversion of them all. To this day, every time I ride a bus I measure it off I my mind and decide where to put the bathroom.
• Drive that totally cool bus conversion on a “four-corners” trip of the USA, writing about everything I see.
• Of course, through-hike the Appalachian Trail. Well, yeah, that’s a no-brainer. Write about it, particularly relating the stories of people I meet. Kind of like something Studs Terkel would write.
• Write a novel, blow out the bestseller lists and have lunch with Stephen King. Just as long as they’re not serving finger sandwiches.
• And so on and so on, ad nauseum.

So I have all these notes and mechanical drawings and half-completed music charts on a hard drive, but that’s about all.

It got to where my parents would roll their eyes every time I mentioned yet another project. Have you ever heard eyes roll on the phone? Trust me, you can, especially when it’s your parents.

It got to where even my ex-wife took to social media to push me into finishing something — just once. She’s in another part of the country, got married again 15 years ago, and we have not laid eyes on one another since I moved to South Carolina. And she reminds me; what’s up with that?

Triggering finish mode

While on a training hike with a friend, I related my predicament. He’s also talented, a trail-grabbing fool like me, and he’s been there a time or three. He was one of the two I went with on an Appalachian Trail section hike a year ago. And I had a revelation.

It wasn’t until I got back from that AT hike that I actually started finishing stuff. That’s when I found out that completing a project is actually a rush. It’s addictive.

The AT hike didn’t go as well as planned; one of our party had health issues that couldn’t be ignored so we shut it down a day early. But something happened anyway; something very cool.

Soon as we got back I sat down and wrote. A short ebook, no more than 20,000 words, but I completed it within a couple of weeks. Shipped it, too. Knocked out something from my bucket list was all.

As I write this I have Part II of a novel on hard drive, a few days away from a completed final draft. It was something that had been kicking around in my mind for 30 years; well it’s about time.

Also in queue is another fiction work, now in the time lag between first and secnd drafts. I hope to start releasing it in parts around the middle of the year.

Okay, what’s the secret sauce here? How is a chronic non-finisher able to finish things all of a sudden?

Lots of possibilities. Improved mental attitude. Good support system. The Lamictal’s working. A sense of urgency that starts showing up when you hit your mid-50s. All of the above. None of the above.

Only thing I can guess is that time on the Appalachian Trail. Yeah, part of it was an abortion on wheels, but in many ways it was still a victory. I got there and did something I’ve never done before.

I think it was Thomas Merton who said we need a taste of victory to gain possession of ourselves, to keep our hopes alive. A person has to know what victory is and decide it beats the pants off defeat.

Or something.

But that’s how it works. Victory tends to beget victory. Didn’t you know?

# # #

What say you? What victories can you claim right now? Can you ride them to the next victory? Please share.