Balance – Selling vs Writing

When is it too soon to start the next novel?  I know many authors and probably even more readers that would say “right away”.  It’s strange to write and write and write and then stop.  I wanted to pick up with my next novel and actually did start writing it and then realized that my self published book wasn’t going to market itself.  That turned into a daily exercise of searching for writing opportunities to become published to an actual magazine, paper, blog, anything really.  That combined with begging people to write reviews and trying to create a presence on social media, I find that I reach the end of the day before I know it.  It’s a balance, I realize, but it’s one of those chicken and egg situations.  If I don’t get anyone to buy the current book, there won’t be a need for a second, but if there’s a second, there could be more chance for the first one to sell.  Then I realize that I’m getting way ahead of myself.  If no one buys the first one, then there is no need for the second one.  And the cycle starts over again.  I want to write and get sick of searching for a way to get my book sold.  I know, I know.  “Get an agent”.  I’m not out of the hole yet from this book so why would I want to pay an agent – to get the book sold so that I can pay them?  Maybe I’m being narrow-minded.

It’s only been two months since I released it to the public.  Maybe some patience is in order.  Balance issues appear everywhere in my life and I’ve never been very good at it just as I’ve never really been good with patience.  Maybe I should go do some yoga.

Rocks and Trees

Over the past few years, my partner and I have been drawn to places known for their rocks and trees.  This time, we made a trek to South Lake Tahoe.  We stayed in a town named Heavenly.  But it wasn’t about where we were staying, it was where we were.  We drove the windy roads into the mountains and loved the miles and miles of tree covered hills and that we finally got to see some massive rocks.  When we saw the recent devastation of a wildfire, it was quieting.  We stopped talking and tried to take it all in.   A forest fire isn’t like burning a piece of wood in a fireplace, a fire pit or a wood stove.  In those cases, there’s nothing left but ash.  In a forest fire, the trees remain standing.  They turn brown and the land turns black.  The enormity of the fire amazed me.  Thinking about the pinpoint that was us in our car and looking over the thousands of acres that were consumed by the fire was bigger than I could comprehend.  I thought about the firefighters and just how small they were, just like us.  There were signs along the highway thanking them.  I can’t imagine how anyone couldn’t have compassion and admiration for our heroes.

I wondered if the burn on the land was like a burn on our skin.  It hurts but it heals.  It’s never quite the same in that area but it rebuilds itself, mending the pain.  We love trees.  They’re so massive and majestic.  They have a story to tell, they clean our air, they stand tall and proud.  Combine the trees with the rocks and we tend to find where we fit in best.  Rocks and trees hold this earth together for us to live on.  We listen to them, we cherish them and we respect them.

Rollercoaster week

I started my week super excited about a spur of the moment job interview.  It was right up my alley and such a perfect situation that I could hardly contain myself.  I’d missed the call on Friday so when I got back in touch on Monday, they asked if I could come that morning.  It was a bit of a rat race but I managed to make it work.  There was a mixup and we ended up missing each other but once it was all finally worked out, I met my contact and then another for my interview.  I was conference called into another office and the interview started.  By the time I left, I was making my way to the car while pulling out my cell phone from my tiny purse.  The rule we have is to let each other know how things went.  🙂 if it went well.  😐 if it went so-so or if we’re not sure and 😦 if went poorly.  I could feel the tears starting as I typed :(.  I drove home in tears not knowing what to do next.  I’m in some sort of limbo and I feel horrible.  I can’t express the despair and loathing that I go through daily.  I cried and cried.  And then I stopped.  I had to.  I had a guest at the house.  Corking my feelings turns me into an unbearable person to be around.  I’m just miserable and make those around me miserable from my miserableness.  But I trudged through.

Skip ahead to today, midweek.  I get a call for a book signing.  It’s a local thing – nothing huge but it’s a start and the person I spoke with was encouraging and understanding.  I’m excited.  I’m crying again writing this.  I’m happy and afraid and confused about what it is I’m supposed to be doing.  I guess that’s life.

Decade Identity

Today I find myself wondering if each person most identifies with a particular decade.  Is it the decade that they most grew up in.  The one that was most comfortable to them?  Is it true with everyone?  I was a child in the ’70’s, a teenager in the ’80’s, a young adult in the ’90’s.  I mostly associate with the ’80’s, however.  I LOVE the 80’s.  It’s not just how great the music was – don’t get me started because it was great, probably the best ever – but it was also the big hair and poofy clothes.  If I still had some of my high-waisted pants, and could actually get my fat ass into them, I would certainly wear them today.  I’d grab a billowy shirt to go along.  It was such a great look.  Tight at the waist but nowhere else.  The padded shoulders were awesome too.  So triangular.  It’s crazy how the waists of pants have gone from being so high to being so low.

I remember in the ’70’s, I would wear my bell-bottoms to play in.  We had play clothes so that we didn’t mess up our school clothes.  I can’t count how many times I’d get those giant pants legs caught in my bicycle chain.  They were so big that I could get off of my bike and sit next to it while I wound the pedal around to get myself unstuck only to hop back on and get it wound in the chain again just down the road.  There was no way to roll them up and by the time I’d get home, they’d have chew marks and chain grease all over them.  But that’s why we had play clothes.  It didn’t matter if I got grease on them or grass stains from playing football.

Groovy ’70’s clothes weren’t for me though.  A friend of mine reminds me all the time of the big wings I had in my hair in the ’70’s but it was nothing compared to the height I could get in the ’80’s.  I would wind my curling brush through and through getting it higher and higher each time.  And then to top it all off with half a can of hairspray to keep it there.

What makes us identify with a decade?  I hear my Mama talk about Fats Domino and poodle skirts.  Is it just when we were most happy, most comfortable, most aware of ourselves?  I don’t really know.  I know I prefer those loose, comfortable clothes more than I do the tight, clingy things that are today’s fashion.  I miss the ’80’s but perhaps only the clothes.  I couldn’t deal with how long it would take to do my hair now.  And I still have the music available to me.

No One Here is From Here

My partner and I were talking about the people of California the other day.  It stemmed from the fact that it seems like everyone we come across here is out for their own gratification.  I don’t think I’ve ever said “It’s all about you” more times in my life than during the past year that I’ve lived here.  It sort of makes sense though as sick as that sounds.  We’ve started down the road of needing to make a name for ourselves.  If you’re not the standout candidate, the close to genius applicant, then you’re not going to get into the top tech companies that line the streets here.  It’s just crazy.  Every company (tech-wise) you can possibly imagine is here.  It only makes sense that everyone come here to make their name, stake their claim in the golden state.  But it also makes narcissistic assholes who learn, mostly at a very young age, that in order to get ahead, you have to step on the face of their competition.  That’s what we’ve taught the kids turning to technology to make their stake in this world.  I’ve never met an executive that’s not a complete asshole so that’s how we learn to get there.  Unfortunately, I think, it’s why neither of us will ever make it past being a grunt worker.  It’s just not in us.  We do have the hope of changing the world, or at least one tech company, that being a leader doesn’t mean shitting on the little people.

With every techy flocking here, it means that no one here is from here.  My partner argued that she’s from here.  I disagreed saying that just because she was born here doesn’t mean she’s from here.  We went round and round for a bit and decided to agree to disagree.

It made me wonder where the people that are actually from here – meaning, they were born, grew up and have roots here – go to since they’re no longer here.  California is such a big state, maybe they just disperse to the other 49 states.  I guess if you’re not a techy person, there’s not a strong reason to stay here with the huge nerd population.

It’s just sad that everyone is out only for themselves.  It makes me angry which, ironically enough, makes me not as empathetic.  Hmmm.

What’s it called?

I was reading an article yesterday on the difference between a memoir and an autobiography.  I’ve questioned that myself, so found the article to be helpful.  It basically said that a memoir covers an event in one’s life whereas an autobiography covers ones entire life.  Makes sense.

Then, at 4:00 a.m. this morning, my mind decided to re-review this theory.  I could say that my book covers a single event.  That event would be described as the struggle of life.  But not my whole life.  Just some points in my life.  So, it’s a memoir.  Is it too broad?  There could be a follow-up so that definitely means it’s not a whole life.

I think of whole life as someone, an author, writing the story of someone else’s life.  An autobiography of that person.  Do people really write their own autobiography?  Then it wouldn’t be a whole life because they’re writing which means something is happening.

I look at the clock.  4:15.  Two more hours before I get up.  I think back to the last book I read, “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed.  It’s a memoir.  She writes about her trek on the Pacific Coast Trail.  But interspersed was parts of her life outside of the PCT.  That sounds like my book.  Some things happen and while they’re happening, I write about other things happening.  Yep.  I wonder if Cheryl will come out with a follow-up?

The book I’m reading now is “Alcatraz 1259” by William G. Baker.  During a visit to Alcatraz – probably my 3rd, taken while a family member was visiting – 80 year old William G. Baker sat in the gift shop surrounded by stacks of his books.  I was so excited for him.  I grabbed one off the stack and stood in line to have him sign it.  I love talking to older people.  They have such a different view of things.  I eased up to him and said “hi”.  He stuck his hand out and I shook it as he said “hi” back.  He then picked up a bucket sitting next to him and spit in it.  I thought of my granddaddy who, embarrassingly, does this very loud snort, hawk and spit whenever he’s outside.  Usually in a very public place.  I smiled, feeling uncomfortable, not knowing what to do.  He reached out to me again and I handed him my book.  He asked my name so I told him.  He wrote “To Michelle  William G. Baker  Jan 15, 2014”  I smiled and thought I should probably ask him something since that was the whole purpose of meeting the author.  I asked “What did you do to end up in Alcatraz?”  As I said it, I felt this fear come over me.  I was standing there talking to someone that had been in Alcatraz.  He could’ve done something horrible.  He could be a very mean person.  I looked back at him and saw the little old man.  He said he stole a car.  Stole a car?  Damn.  Alcatraz seemed pretty extreme for having just stole a car but then again, Al Capone was just a tax evader, right?  I felt bad for William.  He slid the book to me and I took it from him.  He picked up the bucket again as I walked off.

That’s a memoir.  He writes about being in Alcatraz and reflecting on his life.  I have a memoir.  I have a novel.  Wait, what’s the definition of a novel?  4:35.  Is a book a novel?  I’ll have to look that up.

I think about the post I put on Twitter last night of when I met RuPaul.  It went viral.  Yay!  But I didn’t get any new followers from it.  Booo.  I remember meeting him.  He reminded me of Michael.  Super tall, skinny and fabulous.  For just a minute I stood next to my brother again.  He even smelled nice like Michael would’ve smelled.  I love Ru.  So even after our photo, I was elated to be near him, not just because he’s famous but because he’s a good person.

I wondered what I could write a blog post about today.  I didn’t write one yesterday because I was combing other blogs seeking out book review blogs to review my book.  Then it hit me, whatever keeps me awake should be a blog post.  Brilliant!  It’s so much better than those ideas that are genius that I have just before I fall asleep that I can never remember in the morning.  I wonder how many scientists have cured cancer in their head just before they fall asleep and then can’t remember it in the morning.

5:00 a.m.  Time to get up and write.

The Game of Life

My mom was a guest at my house for a few days last week.  I saw it as an opportunity to pull down my board games.  I’ve loved playing games since I was a kid.  I grabbed the two that were easiest to get to – Life and Monopoly.  We started with Life and I was shocked that I couldn’t remember how to play it.  I went to the directions and still struggled.  The first time through, we missed the STOP to get kids and it really bummed us out.  But we both had really good jobs but I failed to land on a single PAYDAY so I ended the game owing the bank $280,000.  It was such a let down that I wondered how I found the game fun when I was a kid.  It all looked good on paper though.  I had a $100k salary, a farm house.  It’s almost like it was too real to be fun as an adult but loved it as a kid.  Maybe it was the prospect of it all when I was little.  The glamour, the uncertainty.  Now, I just found it too real, too telling, too serious.

We decided to give it another try.  I thought I’d try the college route this time rather than the career route.  It was ridiculous.  It started off in debt and didn’t get a payday until much later so I changed my mind and went back to the career route.  I figured why start off so far in debt with no guarantee of grabbing a career card that would offer a nice salary.  It just didn’t make sense.  It was mimicking my actual life.  I grabbed my career card and was so disappointed by the $20k salary.  But we stopped for kids this time.  I ended up with a ginormous house which was very uncharacteristic for me but the best part was that I ended up writing a novel and won the Nobel Peace Prize.  How awesome.  And I won the game that time.  Not like life at all.

We moved on from there to Monopoly which took so many hours that we basically threw in the towel.  Monopoly reminds me of my brother.  He was a pro at the game.  I think I beat him once which I’m sure he let me.  Early on with mine and Mama’s game, I was able to buy Park Place and Boardwalk which was also very reminiscent of Michael as well.  I ended up winning.  Thanks Michael.

Coming Out

In honor of National Coming Out day (Oct 11, 2014), I thought I’d write about my Coming Out experiences.  I write in my book about first coming out to my brother.  I wrote him a letter.  I was in my late teens so not all that comfortable with verbal communication.  I wasn’t sure how he’d take it but he was ecstatic.  It made us just that much closer.  It opened up a world of Gay Pride Celebrations, learning to become comfortable with myself and living a life out of the closet, not having to look over my shoulder or conjure up stories of “roommates” or “female friends” and why we’d lived together for years or went out together every weekend.

It wasn’t always happy times though.  There was a lot of anxiety to begin with along with the fear of rejection from my family and friends.  When I was a young adult, I decided, along with some pressure from my brother, that I should tell my mom.  She took it ok.  She grieved some over me having a “normal” life but in the end, she was resolved to just wanting me to be happy.

It took a few more years before I was able to come out to my dad.  I guess I knew that my mom wouldn’t reject me but I wasn’t so sure about my dad.  As with my mom, he said he’d known all along but his struggle was with how to introduce me and my partner to his friends.  We went through some practice scenarios until he was comfortable.

I was beginning to be comfortable, wearing my Keith Haring Coming Out t-shirt, but still not truly out of the closet.  My employer didn’t know and the majority of my straight friends didn’t know.  It took even more years to get through to them all.  When we decided to move to another state, it forced us to come out to our employer.  I quit my job and needed to be on my partner’s insurance so it was imperative to not only come out to them but to ensure that they offered domestic partner benefits.  It was a huge hurdle to overcome but it was so necessary.

What made things a bit easier was that me and my partner ended up working at the same place so it sort of forced people to face the fact that they worked with gay people.  It was a bit of forceful acceptance.

What’s funny is that when Facebook first came around, I was terrified to join because I knew that I’d have to come out to more of my old friends from school.  I’d already come out to both of my parents, my only sibling, co-workers and employers but still faced the fear of rejection from lifelong friends.  I expressed my concerns to my partner and heard her when she explained that if those lifelong friends couldn’t deal with the fact that I was the same person that they’d known for our entire lives, then we didn’t need to continue to be friends.  It was loud and clear and I even agreed but I didn’t want to lose my friends.  And I haven’t.  Most already knew, just as my parents and my brother knew and the others that didn’t know, didn’t really care.

I live my life now, not even giving being gay a second thought.  I have an incredible person that I share my life with.  We don’t put a label on ourselves so we don’t expect anyone else to.  We’re just who we are.  We do the same things that straight people do.

I know it hasn’t been this easy for everyone and I don’t take that for granted.  My brother is actually gay as well and I thank him and all those that have come before me.  They paved the way and made the first, crucial breakthroughs that have allowed others to walk after them, with our heads held high.  Having come from a small, rural, southern town, my brother was actually shot at.  He had bullet holes in his car.  That is inconceivable to me today but I know that it still happens and it’s just ludicrous.  How one human being can want to harm another human being just over the person they love is just stupid.  There is no longer room for narrow minded people in this world.

Differentiation is what makes the world goes round.  If there’s anything I could offer to anyone that has yet to come out, it would be to find someone that you trust and are comfortable with and talk it over with them first.  It will allow you to try out your words and find your voice.  Don’t be afraid to stand up for who you are.  And know that you’re not alone.  We’ve all faced the same fear to which I hope you find resolution and comfort to.

Football Follies

It seems that the NFL has been in the (negative) spotlight lately.  They tend to come out swinging, saying they’re going to do this or that and then nothing ever happens.  They make promises and then don’t deliver.  That made me think about a few other things that have seemed to go unnoticed or maybe it’s just me.

First off, what happened to the female referees that were so publicly displayed during the preseason?  They seemed to have disappeared.

And what happened to the Redskins changing their name?  I thought I read an article that said they were going to be the Washington Warriors or something like that.  Why are they still the Redskins?  And not to run down a controversial alley but why not – yes, I do feel they should change their name.

If the NFL is so into head injuries, and the new rules certainly prove that with penalties being more prevalent this year than in past seasons, then why do players still head-butt one another after a great play or a touchdown?  Why do they continue to slap and pound one another in the head to congratulate each other?  Isn’t that just stupid?  I know a slap or a butt isn’t like having a 400 pound man ram you in the head but they get pretty pumped up at times.  I can see the head being moved when they’re celebrating that way.  It just seems like it’s not right when there’s so much focus on keeping athletes healthy.

And when the hell are they going to stop the end zone celebrations?  It’s just disgusting.  I don’t need to see gyrating, humping, or any other pre-adolescent motions.  How is it not considered unsportsmanlike behavior?  It’s just not necessary and I feel it’s actually wrong.  Grow up athletes and set the example you’re supposed to set.

OK, enough of that ranting.  I love football.  I love baseball.  I hated leaving my beloved Red Sox behind and I miss Fenway Park but it’s fun to visit other parks and learn other teams by moving around.  I think the Red Sox will forever be in my heart, however.

I used to love hockey but seemed to leave it behind.  I moved from a warm state where I loved hockey to a cold state where I left it behind.  Weird.  With hockey though, there’s the issue of fighting.  It’s funny that when I went to games all of the time, I thought it was a part of hockey.  You can’t have hockey and not have fighting but now that I’m not that in to it, I’m not sure I still agree with it.  It really doesn’t set a great example for kids.  And of course, it’s all about the children these days.  God help the children.  Don’t get me started.  Oh right, and I was supposed to just be talking about football.

So, it’s Thursday night and I’m already thinking about what type of football food I’m going to make for dinner because sports is actually all about the food, as are most things in my life.

Virally Social or Socially Viral

When I published my first book, my partner and I knew that the only way to get it out there was to get it out on social media.  Duh, right?  Well, what I didn’t take into account was that I’d have to be social in order to get it to go viral.  How does a person, that’s anti-social, become social?  I haven’t quite figured that out yet.  And my book is not selling.  It’s frustrating and ends up taking me to very dark places in my mind.

You would think that going “viral” would be easy.  I hate the term.  It puts such a negative connotation on the thing that I want to go viral.  Having a virus is NOT good.  Catching a virus is NOT good.  But going viral is the best possible thing when marketing. It just doesn’t make sense but a lot of things don’t make sense.

I joined several meetup groups but haven’t been to any of them.  I’m afraid to go.  It’s more of putting yourself out there which I’m not comfortable with doing.  I stay home, I write.

We designed and purchased business cards but I’ve strategically placed maybe 20 of them.  I read an article that business cards should be flowing out of my hands.  So, I put one on the mirror of a restaurant bathroom.  I put two in an empty tourist brochure holder.  I tacked 4 to a community board at the library.  That’s pretty much how it’s been going.  You have to be out and about in order for flow to happen.

I created a Twitter account and found that just between Facebook and Twitter, it takes an exceptional amount of time combing and following and watching everything that’s going on.  So, now, I’m no longer writing, I’m advertising.  I’m on my Twitter account all day waiting for someone to post something that I can retweet, or answer a tweet in order to bring more people to my Twitter feed so that they can become aware of my book.  It’s truly crazy.  And it appears to be making no difference whatsoever.  It’s frustrating.

I’ve been told to be patient, however.  It’s been a month since I published the book.  A month.  I have to give it some time.  I have to go to meetups and meet people (even though I don’t want to).  I have to be patient (which is something I’m so not good at either).  I have to continue to learn the ins and outs of Twitter and maybe create Pinterest and Instagram accounts as well (which will take more time away from writing).  I struggle with what’s more important – writing or marketing.  I’ve figured out that if I can’t get this book marketed then there’s no reason for a second book, so for now, I have to focus on marketing.

I guess that’s enough bitching for one day.  I do get to write on my blog (another marketing tool) which allows me to vent and rattle on about miscellaneous thoughts that cross my path.  I enjoy it the most because it’s marketing and writing all in one.