Come Sail Away

You are a writer. The normal ship sailed without you long ago.

Terri Main

I learned a long time ago that I didn’t always fit in.

It took longer to accept that fact and run with it.

I remember in my early days of politics when I thought that’s where my career was heading. I had the look. I had the uniform. One day in the summer of 1985, I showed up with my candidate, and met two other candidates on the ticket along with their respective staff. I looked around eight men. Eight pinstripe gray suits. Eight red ties.

A few years later at the current day job, I showed up at a meeting and there were eight black and gray hounds tooth blazers. With coordinating black slacks.

I don’t do uniform any more. Truth is, I rarely wear a tie to work unless there’s a meeting involved, or it’s a particular busy season that might lead to an impromptu meeting. Truth also is that, more often than not, I’ll wear a bow tie.

This isn’t a fashion post. Those are just examples.

There’s nothing abnormal about the above scenarios.

The thing is though that, to be a writer, you need to be a bit out of the ordinary. A bit abnormal if you will.

Writing isn’t just about making sentences pretty. In fact, more often than not, I will intentionally make them not pretty, just to make a point.

Writing is about putting words together in a way that compels the reader to read on.

Sometimes it’s about writing a crappy first draft that either goes through multiple edits or to the round file.

It’s about writing and rewriting.

It’s about coming up with story ideas in the strangest of places.

It’s sometimes about finding humor in a humorless situation. Most of the time I can stifle an inappropriate laugh.

Sometimes it’s about writing things that make your readers uncomfortable because they know they were the inspiration.

Stephen King said in On Writing; A Memoir of the Craft:

“If you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”

I need to read that book again.

One of my draft novels is now ready for the rewrite because the inspiration for the protagonist, and presumably his wife and multiple girlfriends, has passed on.

I am not making that up.

Being a writer also leads to some interesting research. Thank goodness for Google.

On a side note, if I pass unexpectedly, please delete my browsing history.

You don’t have to be crazy to write here. But it helps.

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Cover  Photo by Katherine McCormack on Unsplash

My Three Words for 2019

No. No. No.

I follow a few of the marketing gurus out there. Including the ones that want to just sell me their programs. But there are a few, who would also sell their programs, but also provide helpful information and some inspiration when I need a good kick in the behind.

I enjoy the email newsletters that I get from Chris Brogan and Rob Hatch. They talk annually at the first of the year about their “Three Words” for the upcoming year. The idea is that the three separate words, not a phrase, will be their guide for the coming year. You can check their posts out on their respective websites.

Last year, I modified that and came up with my 2018 theme to “Get Things Done.” I actually got a lot of things done in 2018. Not necessarily many that were on the initial list. Still, I accomplished a good bit.

I didn’t develop a new theme for 2019. Instead, I am again going with a variation on the Three Words Theme.

My three words for 2019?

No. No. No.

Here’s how they’ll apply.

No, I won’t write for you for free. I already told you about that one.

No, I won’t sign onto your project unless it’s also part of my passion and something I really want to do.

No, I won’t step up to the plate just because there’s no one else to. If a job is really that important, then someone will step into do it. Don’t count on me to be that someone. Consider it my partial project shut down, if you will.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’ll still help out when help is needed, I’ll just be a little more deliberate about counting the costs.

We already know I can’t do everything. I can do a whole lot, but not everything.

We also know that I have less time in front of me than I do behind me. I plan to work as long as I can dress myself, and gum my food. I just want my work to mean something.

So when you come knocking with another project, another need, be prepared for me to ask why.

And, brace yourself, ‘cause I might just say no.

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