Late Start

Off the cuff post.

It’s gonna be full of errors and grammar issues, and ramble a bit. One reason for this is I just hung up the phone from one of those annoying to me robo-tele-marketing phone calls. Which gives me a topic to discuss here.

Marketing is not one of my favorite aspects of business; it’s like toilet paper. Everyone uses it, and everyone has their preferred brand that doesn’t irritate personally or clog the plumbing. Something that along with the woes of writing and publishing, is a necessary evil.

Maybe if you don’t intend to share your artistic and creative crafts beyond a limited audience of your family and friends, my personal definition doesn’t hold up.

Which makes me ask myself, for the Nth time, “Do I really want to be doing this?

Some other questions that pop in my mind frequently—

  • If most people don’t even know I exist and won’t notice my work, does that make what I am doing worth the effort I am putting into it? 
  • If my immediate family and some really tight friends are the only fans I ever have, am I ok with that?
  • What if I am rejected because I don’t meet the perfection level of mastering the craft of writing that others think is necessary before publishing?

And the big one—

  • What if I am a fool?

The other reason this is rambling, back this summer I went off plan.  I had a schedule. I was posting once a week. This was a down-produced once a week schedule because I was busy for a couple of years trying to go to school to become a better writer, then learn to draw to finish the picture book illustrations. My time was eaten up by stuff that seemed to be important to this craft of writing.

Let me see!

Cut to finishing that picture book and look over my shoulder at the research into marketing and advertising, again. Something that I had done prior to my first blog post way back in . . . wait it will come to me . . . I think it was 2003 or 2004.

I have come and gone from this writing career, since the early 1980s. I didn’t think I was smart enough. Yet, I kept coming back to storytelling. My imagination is, dare I say it? Legendary, at least in my own personal circles.  I have been pretty comfortable with “what if” games.

Social media is part of the marketing necessary to be successful in pretty much anything any more.  Or, you have to be content to struggle for however long it takes for enough people to discover you and create a flurry with “word of mouth” references to generate an consumer base large enough to get you out of tiny circles or pockets locally.

If you want to make marketing complicated, you can. There are dozens of posts and sources out there telling you where, how often and what kind of posts, tweets, and photos to put on the web and traditional advertising. My guess is it probably changes to some degree every so often.

So after reading and researching, I have to be still and quiet for a moment and ask myself some questions.

  1. What marketing annoys me the most as a consumer? Not going to do that, so marking that off my list.
  2. What marketing seems to be just too time consuming of an effort for the return? Draw a line through that.
  3. What seems doable that will allow me the time to create something to market? CIRCLE AND STAR THOSE!
  4. What can I follow through on, keeping my sanity and life in balance? Add some hearts to those.

So, the circled items with stars and hearts it is. That’s what I am going to do. This process was not much different to the one I had to go through around 2013 in order to get my first book published, though I didn’t really market it. I would have kept editing and rewriting to perfection. Second guessing and just red penning myself to death. There is a huge fat

line between getting it right, and getting it good enough.

If you never move forward to the next thing, you can’t make new mistakes. We, or at least I, learn from mistakes. I learned how to be ambidextrous as an off shoot of trying to become a mountain bicyclist (which I quit because broken bones aren’t my thing).

From all the times I quit writing, I learned that this is my jam. I keep coming back to it. So, I have to stick with it and keep working at it. Failing, failing miserably even, embarrassing myself possibly in order to get better at it.

If you are just joining me on my journey, welcome. You aren’t late to this party. It is still getting started. And thank you. Let me know how I can help cheer you on to your dreams.

Peace,

J.

 

 

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I’M BACK!

Hey! How are you?

Me, I am good-ish.

Busy, definitely busy. The last month has been a frantic finishing of the children’s story book for my “By Julie Kolb” pen name, Bad Dream. Over on my children’s author blog, www.byjuliekolb.com  there is a post with links to purchase a copy.

With that done, the next item on the list for September – work up a plan for publishing Sinister. The plan is having it available for purchase on the anniversary of the blog post that began that story, October 31, 2018.

That done, trying to decide about blogging. Do I resume or not. If I do, what is the purpose, direction. How does blogging fit into marketing my stories, does it?

Sure, there have been courses and books and blogs and research stuff looking at how other $uce$$ful indie writers/self publishers have done this. But how do I do that for me, without being annoying, sleazy or whining.

My crazy dream is over time by the slow as molasses “word of mouth” reference marketing of my readers to other readers from their enthusiasm at enjoying my stories. This slow build as my skill at storytelling increases. The romantic finding each other, reader to writer and vice versa as my published works grow.

Truth told, I am feeling pretty damn successful today, having had some pretty awesome complements from people who connected with the stories thus far between their finalized covers. The elusive financial gain that many identify with success wouldn’t be turned it down if it showed up, but I would want to read the fine print before signing.

So, what would you like to read here? Tell me. Thanks for your input.

J.

 

 

Shh, I am not really here.

A moment of quiet in a very interesting year (translate that to complex, complicated and busy), gives me just a few minutes to update this blog. Like the new digs? With help from the WordPress-Appearance-Themes I did a little remodeling around the place over coffee last week.  Not sure how long it will last, but for now, I like it.

I have added this new Category of posts, related to a blog I originated years ago and then converted to one of my “author” blogs – from me to Him. My spiritual posts to my higher power that is sharable to the public.  It was cathartic. I think I need a little cathartic writing every now and again.. Thus, you are reading this. (Thank you.)

I was walking one morning and passed a man on his way to catch public transit bus to work, I assume.  We exchanged “Hello!”s and “Have a nice day” never stopping.  I wish I could have frozen the moment and let that be my presenting self to the world. The day before, my public contact had been last than pleasant. I had been  a ‘BLEEP!’ because the representative of a store was not listening and I had repeatedly answered and re-answered their same series of questions. We were both speaking plain English, but there was a something in the air between us that prevented either of us from understanding and making ourselves clear with the other. It wasn’t pretty.  This was my memory flash after the nice exchange in the sweltering heat with the worker on their way to work.

Why can’t my best be the only social self that everyone sees. Leave my less than nice moments hidden like the lost sock that didn’t make it out of the dryer. Just leave that ugly me as something only I know about, not anyone else. No one should have to co-exist in any moment with my bad self.

The only reconciliation I have is knowing that we all have those moments, or potentially those moments. You, you might be more self controlled and be able to remain the nicest person in the world to everyone all the time. If so, um, could you be my role mentor?

Well, this contemplation has to come to an end. The dog just jumped up and put herself between me and the keyboard. I also have a long list of things to do today. Have a nice day!

Out of My Control

Recent circumstances have made me confront that nasty awful feeling of being in a state of mercy— both giving and receiving compassion.
Perspective, opinion, and circumstances always place us on one side or the other of receiving. Receiving is hard. I hate it. Ok, so, hate is a strong word. It is uncomfortable, unpleasant, and requires graciousness that I don’t always have. It causes me to step outside of myself.
This crossroad in my life path is also an opportunity, if I let it be, to self correct, gain experience, grace and reintroduce myself to what has become a sub focus for my year—joy.
Self respect begets joy- a discovery that I probably knew and then forgot. Perhaps this is part of our purpose in life, to give joy. (Which is hard to do if you aren’t at least near or on the cusp of joy yourself.)
Writing brings me joy.
Life is that simple. Even if we have to do things we don’t particularly enjoy to the nines, we still must find and participate in joy to spread it and share it with others.
Getting to choose how to react to news or status changes is control that is easy to forget but still available to us no matter what. In a state of joy my ability to choose my reaction is easier to make.
Choice of reaction, action and perspective can be influenced by current feelings, but feelings are fluid, ever changing and there isn’t one we aren’t allowed to feel. We also don’t have to cling desperately to any of them.
Loss of Control.
Sucks.
Flow and fluidity, learning about working with serious distractions, a wonderful lesson to learn right now. Figuring out how to do so is a challenge, but breaking it down to what can I do right now this instant and take it all moment to moment makes it a little easier.
Thoughts that evolved because of and in spite of circumstances beyond my control and stepping back to just be, and meditate before making a decision. Not an ah-ha moment, but more of an “Ah!” moment; no ha involved.
I think this maybe one of those things that until you have been at this place in your own life, it may all be gobble-d-goop. If you have been there, it is likely familiar ramblings and you might be nodding and contemplating where you were and what was going on at the time.
We aren’t alone in this, which is somehow comforting. Also why I shared my meandering thoughts. It didn’t fix or change anything; it did bring me a moment when I felt understood. For my friend that gave that to me, this is my way of paying it forward. Thanks.

Does It Bring Me Joy?

So, all this, that as well as the other thing, have left me stewing a bit for a few days. As I approach my work week and try once more to get on track, this question is now being applied to my work, and creativity as well.

A discussions with my grown daughter concerning illustrations grew leaps and bounds as we discussed tweaks to the layout and perspective of views. What is my perfect ideal and what I feel competent to attempt are sometimes at odds; but as always, she advises me to follow my own intuition and gut, try to do it and only settle as a last resort.

So, somehow one afternoon while staring out a window, it occurred to me that this question that I have been putting to myself as I cleaned out another drawer of things, could also be asked when I approach my list of to dos regarding my work, my writing work.

How far from my original voice have I wandered in the name of becoming a better writer? And has any of that brought me joy? Something that while I know this or that is the way to go, just grates against my nature. What am I talking about? Oh, I am questioning my focus this year to submit. I know, without any doubt I have rejections behind and ahead of me. I know without a doubt that my writing still needs work.

My question is whether how I am going about practicing is making that work harder or easier. To whom am I pandering? Me, the reader, or some great unknown that may or may not have bearing on the favored storytelling of the future?

If I revert to bucking the system, going my own way, is that going to be better than continuing to conform (or attempting to conform because my efforts aren’t all that dedicated)? Sometimes the hard path is also the path that you learn the most, but it is a very personal decision. I know writers who are succeeding because they are taking a traditional approach and some taking what has become traditional for self publishers and I have considered what they have accomplished and wonder if that is right for me.

Truth is it just isn’t how I want to do this. And my lame reason is that those paths, don’t bring me joy. In fact, it sucks the joy right out me. So maybe that isn’t lame after all.

Finding my own way to success is what my path is, seeing others succeed only encourages me to do my own thing. Thank you to my fellow writer friends who are also my mentors. You are encouraging my joy.

(Credit to the Konmari Method)

Shock

It has been a while since I had to deal with shock personally. Then all of a sudden, POOF! The last time I was faced with it was the death of my mother.

This thankfully was not involving anyone’s death, though it has thrown a kink in my work plans, but as always this self publishing biz is malleable, so making some adjustments in the near future, but still expect to publish this year.

For the moment, I want to address knee-jerk reactions to those moments of shock. Possibly because of recent meditation practice, there were moments that concentrating on breathing and just being in the moment came easier. Or maybe I have just matured?

The decision that had to be made right then was the only thing I tried to focus on, letting my reaction and thoughts exist for their brief life as they rushed in and out of my stream of consciousness. Not worrying about judging them as useful or not, it probably did appear that I was calm, only trying to be.

Afterthoughts that came in the days following before I forget about them are: We all live in a bubble. We have friends, family, our little circles, and some of those circles overlap depending on how big and close they are, but then even as we orbit in each other’s worlds, there is still a much more intimate orbit within our selves and the people we live day in and out with that perhaps only we and maybe one other person know and understand, yet how often do we jump to make judgement about events that happen to others?

My perspective of the situation made me think about other people, because to me, the event looked dire and something was amiss. Or, maybe it was just my writerly imagination working overtime. Still, there are marks that were left behind that will probably always leave me wondering. What is another person’s intent? Innocent or something more dire, we just don’t know because we don’t have that knowledge.

Just be, in the moment. Let the reactions and emotions flow. It was hard to do, but my perspective after the shock wore off has been much easier to live with than times in the past. I hope this become a habit.

Spring Break

Yes, it is a late spring break for me. Taking time off from illustration attempts that have been taking up all my focus and time. So far the yearlong plans have had a fifty-fifty chance of remaining. Scrapped some ideas, and even replaced some priorities as well.

It is hard to admit being an over-scheduler. Its all that empty space. There is this drive to fill empty calendar lines. It didn’t served me well. Created stress, and ate away at the focus on what is really important.

During the abandoned spring clean, yes it was abandoned. I couldn’t do it and work. So . . . back to a beloved FALL clean. Do that right before the holidays and marketing the next book sounds like a smart move to me, time out of the office and running amuk hither and yon to local events won’t stress me right before the holidays— will wait and see how that really goes to reinstitute that permanently into my routine.

However, that brief clean out did uncover the original long term plans for my writing and our business. The bad thing has been that we are years behind where my plan had us for two reasons. First was college full time for a year and second that nasty bicycle accident. Allowing for those two things, we are on target that sort of relaxed some of my agitation. You know, stuff happens, all who do their best but fall behind raise their hands . . .

Yep, there is a bunch of us. Nice to be among you.

This is exactly why my current plans for this book project got knocked off due to illness. It took some extra time to revamp my plans and build some down time in. It wasn’t easy, I am a hard task master to myself (and probably to others as well). Discussion with my kids, husband and pretty much anyone who would listen went as a more doable projection formulated.

Sitting down once more to look at what I could do lead me to this Spring break (yes, honey, I did take off federal holidays). Relax and keep things simple. Less is more, even in scheduling. Ah ha! I think I’ve got it! Slow and steady. Turtling on.

Self Respect

So, about that journal entry thing, to make it sink in and leave me with a strong inner impression, reorganization of the words others supplied was necessary. (http://byjuliekolb.com/2017/01/07/focus-2017/) Taking those words and making them into a sentence that would speak volumes to my soul and spirit wasn’t difficult.

“I am an outgoing, caring, smart mess; a friendly, caring, intelligent, indomitable, imaginative, funny, active, creative, strong, gorgeous woman; a loving, intelligent, strong, tenacious, mother.”

After four months this statement has begun to settle in. There is something to this whole positive thinking thing; along with some prayer and meditation that go hand in hand to make self respect and confidence increase.

So with a month of solid yoga stretching under my belt, which was haphazardly begun at the first of the year, my daily flow is starting to evolve into a work habit and exercise habit and eating well habit. It still isn’t what I had envisioned but they exist a more solid consistent form.

Procrastination and resistance were absolutely a problem. As you will see next week, I was pushing and expecting way too much, way too soon. From my research and readings, it is a common problem, nice to know I have company. My original idea was so restricted to fitting within a set expectation of norms, there was no room for my creative imagination to play; no room for my relationships, even the most important spiritual ones.

It wore on my energy, patience, and yes, even my happiness. It wasn’t any one thing that made me stop pushing and expecting so much to happen within the limited hours of the day; it was a lot of them. Taking the time to respect myself, my personality, my way of doing things.

Thus far it has been a little of this and a little of that, making adjustments for what works for me. Or, maybe it is reincorporating things that always worked with me. A little shift of perspective, sure sometime new is better; but then again the tried and true works, too. Putting new and old together works.

I have had this before, and I do again. 😉

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