The idea of taking a risk has been on my mind lately. In particular, I’ve been thinking about those risks people take that don’t necessarily end with a fabulous success story. So here’s a video about it.
In this video, I fixate on one particular topic: Scott’s quest to turn his second book (a novel in progress) into a deeper story. And more generally: can you turn something formulaic (and in your head) into something deeper (and in your heart)?
Not only is Scott smart, he’s also funny. So you’ll notice that I can’t help but giggle through a lot of Scott’s stories. Sorry.
Regarding the making of this video: I forced myself to create it mostly through still shots with my iPhone (while also learning how to crudely edit video in Final Cut Pro!) just to make things awkward for me (and maybe for you too). Hope you enjoy it just the same…
Thanks again to all those who submitted hug photos. I hope I did those great photos justice.
For more information about this half-baked series (and how to subscribe to it), check out The Creative Turn.
In this podcast episode, I talk with Scott Sparling about the challenges of writing the second book. We talk about bringing a work-in-progress into your heart when it wasn't born in the heart. We talk about the egomaniacalness of comparing your work to the Beatles. We discuss the pros and cons of having a deadline for your writing project. We discuss bad book sales, writing in tree houses, stones on the beach, delusions of grandeur, depression, tenacity, stubbornness, and masturbating while writing. Enjoy!
- Scott Sparling's website
- Wire to Wire by Scott Sparling
- An article that Scott referenced before the conversation about Reynolds Price's take on publishing a first novel: “…you publish the damn thing and nothing happens. You’re the same social misfit and compulsive masturbator you always were.”
- Sgt. Pepper's and Jimi Hendrix on iTunes
- A Brilliant Novel in the Works by Yuvi Zalkow
- My Failed Writer video called “Failing as a Failed Failure” relates to what we discuss at 42m:53s of the podcast where Scott gives me a quick therapy session on how my dysfunctional world view might help the writing.
The week that John Gruber and Merlin Mann linked to my video tribute of their SXSW conversation, I started getting (temporarily) 8,000 hits a day on my website. As opposed to the previous 50 hits a day. I don’t count these things too closely, but it was a shocking change. I’ve had a few other notable spikes in attention. Once for writing about my Twitter code of conduct, once for talking about my failures with the New Yorker magazine, and once for talking about my failure to read Malcolm Gladwell’s book that discusses 10,000 hours.
Why am I telling you this? Well, because numbers are tricky. [Read more...]
Have you heard of the Espresso Book Machine?
What I love about the this device is that it seems to embrace both the past and the future. A device that allows you to print a real-life, old-school, physical book. In one way, the machine looks like a relic from another era. But also, this machine is tapped in to an online database of books that can be printed on demand. Within minutes, you have a new, warm book in your hands.
Today, Laura’s book (BRAVE ON THE PAGE) is one of those magical books. It is a fabulous collection of voices and insights about writing, with a focus on Oregon writers. Eerily enough, I’m interviewed in there, and I say the word “shame” seven times in this interview. But there are some great writers in here. And the book is beautiful too.
And check it out at an Espresso Book Machine near you.
I’ve said before that I’m terrified about reading in public… especially this upcoming weekend in San Francisco where I’m reading with Cheryl Strayed to celebrate the release of her enormously beautiful new book TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS. I’ve also admitted to being scared of how people will review my book once it comes out on August 14. Even more than these two fears is my fear that I can’t tackle my next novel. Or that I won’t be able to figure out where to take my failed writer video series. I’m scared of failing on all these fronts. I’m not talking about one of those fakey failures where everything comes out just fine a week later and I’m better for it. I mean one of those big messy failures where I’m crushed by the disappointment of book #1 and I grow too disheartened to write book #2 or make any more videos. Or where I start drinking heavily instead of writing or my marriage gets really rocky due to my paralyzing self-loathing. Or something like that.
This week, my friend Kate Maruyama coached me through yet another writing life crisis. So permit me to spill the borcht.
Now that my book is close to publication, now that I have a galley copy in my hand, now that I can see this beautiful thing right in front of me, I’m horrified. Because: what if my book is actually no good?
In this episode of my writing crisis, we walk through my take on networking as a terrified coward. But it gets more complicated because I’ve mistakenly succeeded in a few areas, while failing at others. More than other Failed Writer videos, this is an area of the writing life I’m still pretty undecided about — even more of a work-in-progress than other areas. But it’s something I’ve had to confront as my book approaches the publication date.
So here goes, Failed Writer Crisis #12:
I intended this video to be about the way I once organized my whole submission plan for magazines. I had this fancy pants spreadsheet characterizing my every step. But a few minutes into making this video, I realized how much I have changed over the years. Now there’s a wife. There are kids. I don’t have time to fetishize the process. But it’s more than that. I also see how we writers are so compelled to obsess over the accolades we think we deserve before fully maturing our writing chops. And so this video turned into a talk about the need to write. To write a lot.
Without doing a lick of research (or even bothering to read his book), I swiped Malcolm Gladwell’s notion that it takes 10,000 hours to master a particular craft. (Don’t quote me on this!) I just love the idea of that number because it is a damn big number. And I think it is roughly true. It takes a long time for most of us mortals to get good at writing.
And so here is my not-entirely-educated take on it: