But, I’m not published…


Actually, that’s not entirely true. I had an ebook published in the early 2000s called How to Become an Event Planner. It was through a company, now long gone, called Dream Jobs to Go. It wasn’t a bestseller, but I sold enough to have to report the income. It’s probably not very good and it’s seriously out of date. But I can send you the PDF version if you’d like.

I was also published multiple times in Bearing Drift Magazine. I know that because I was the editor and graphic designer. That was in the mid to early days of blogging when we were actually generating some conversations and having an impact.

And, while the only copies are those out of someone’s printer, my play, while not available from Samuel French, Inc., is being produced.

But you can’t find any of my novels at your local Barnes and Noble, or on Amazon. Not even in the severely marked down section.

My novel, or novels as the case may be, are what will one day define me as a writer. Will they not?

Not really.

I just finished reading Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott. You should recall that I’ve mentioned the book a time or two. One of her last chapters is about getting published and the agony that is for writers.

But here’s the example she used that, I think, will stick with me. She talked about the Jamaican bobsled team that was the subject of the movie Cool Runnings and what the coach told the team..

Lamott writes:

“The men on his team are desperate to win an Olympic medal, just as half the people in my classes are desperate to get published. But the coach says ‘If you’re not enough before the gold medal, you won’t be enough with it.’ You may want to tape this to the wall near your desk.”

So, that’s the thing. I’m not a writer because I have published books on The New York Times Bestseller list, or in the bargain bin at Walmart.

I’m a writer because that’s what I do. Daily.

Someday I hope to get at least one of these books published.

Or they may end up in a box that my boys find one day, next to the box that they label “why did Dad keep this crap?” Or, it may be the same box.

Being published doesn’t define me as a writer.

Or, to say it this way, I’m not a writer because I’m published. I’m a writer because I write.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not snarking at being published. But until that advance check comes in the mail, I’ll keep writing.


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Taking Note(s)

Oh freddled gruntbuggly,
Thy micturations are to me,(with big yawning)
As plurdled gabbleblotchits,
On a lurgid bee…

Because nothing says Monday quite like Vogon poetry. If you don’t know the reference, just consider it brilliant and remember that I said last week that it’s about time to re-read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series.

As I also mentioned recently, I’ve been reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. By the time you read this post, I may well have finished it. But it will go on my desk as one of those books that I’ll need to read again, and perhaps again. There are many lessons to be learned.

Friday was one such lesson. If you follow me on Facebook you’ll perhaps recall that I joked about miscalculating the time for the alarm. I did not make it up in time to write and to get to the gym before work. My point was that math is unhealthy.

But I read that morning Lamott’s chapter about index cards. She noted that she carried them all the time to take notes and make observations. Some that she would use later. Some that she would never use.

On a side note, I wonder if Ms. Lamott still uses index cards. The book was written and published in the early 1990s, before we are all carrying Nasa-sized computers in our pockets. Perhaps if one of you shares this post with her, she can answer that question.

So, as things happen, I had one of those chains of thought that turned into an illustration of Ms. Lamott’s points.

I made the snarky, yet brilliant post about math which led me to think about high school and grades. There were a couple of subjects, you may or may not read about them in the book, but math was one of them, that helped keep me from being an honor graduate.

From there I thought about college and, in similar fashion, the subject there that kept me off the honor roles. Those were mostly general education subjects that were not a part of my major. Ironically one of them was Spanish, one of my best subjects in high school.

Let me stop here and say that you shouldn’t take this the wrong way. I wasn’t a slacker as a student. I was just also very busy with productions and publications…don’t tell me you’re surprised. In my major classes I generally did very well, except for Rhetorical Theory which was required for my degree. I took it the spring quarter of my senior year.

So, that led me to think about the professor for that class and how, for almost forty years, I’ve been convinced he passed me with a very low grade because he knew without the class I wouldn’t graduate.

Never snark at grace.

I’d not heard from or about that professor for years, so I wondered if he was still living. Through a conversation about another college friend whose memorial service was Saturday, I found that the professor passed away in recent months.

I thought about the many other professors and mentors of my years at Asbury University (then College) and how we’ve lost so many of them. Very few of the leaders of my era are still with us.

The phrase that came to me was “so great a cloud of witnesses.”

That’s from Hebrews 12:1:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…

Read the whole chapter, it will do you good.

So, before I left for the office that day, I managed to write down that stream of thought. I realized that I had outlined, at the very least, a blog post. And, perhaps for future reference a novel, or even a sermon should the need ever arise.

That was a bit of a revelation to me. It helped me to understand that sometimes I have trouble finding subjects about which to write because there is so much material. And it was also a reminder that I need to do a better job of making notes, and writing down story ideas.

The reality is that, as much as I tell myself I’m going to remember something, odds are that I just won’t. Something else will happen. Something else will come up.

Someone will piss me off…sorry got distracted there.

Writing isn’t just about sitting down at the keyboard and having everything you need to type out your story. Sometimes you have to go down that rabbit trail that takes you to high school and college. Sometimes you have to scour the Interwebz to find out the side effects of a particular medicine.

And, as difficult as it may be for an ISTJ, sometimes you have to phone a friend.

And always make sure to keep index cards on hand.

In other news, this is my latest design project for CAT Theatre.

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