Sunday, January 11, 2015

#1 Secret of Writing Is...

I went to a conference in 2014 and listened to a famous editor and author list his "secrets" of writing. The beginning of his list was pretty unremarkable. They were things I'd heard before: Write daily. Learn about the craft. Learn about your topic. Learn what your audience wants. Never give up. Read good books.

You know. All the basics.

Then he said something that stuck with me. He said the number one key to becoming a successful writer was...

Wait for it...

Stop watching TV.

I laughed internally. During previous years when I'd researched and written my master's thesis, I quit watching TV because I literally didn't have time to work, take two classes every semester, and read and write 50 pages a night. After that, I was out of the habit. So ha ha, big famous author! I didn't need your advice.

Or did I?

After I went home from that conference I revamped my blog according to his directions and began to get more traffic. So...he was right about that. I read his books on editing and started getting better acceptance rates on my pieces. He was right about that, too. But I wasn't watching TV! Why wasn't I finding time to write and read and do all the things HE was doing?

Oh. Did I mention I have a tablet with apps on it? Fun apps? That are distracting and mind-numbing?

I rationalized the apps as a way to calm down after a long day at work. As an introvert pretending to be an extrovert, having a mind-numbing game at home to look forward to is bliss. Just me and the tablet and some virtual cookies to match, some zombies to explode, some orange pegs to hit, etc. No people to talk to, no pressure, just me and my tablet and silence. Ahh!


One game lead to another and another and soon a five minute break turned into an hour or two. That's enough for several pages of writing and editing. Great work, Cannon. Blew your night's work on a digital sugar/zombie/peg blasting high.

So, I've decided this year things are going to be different. I deleted...YES...deleted my game apps with all the money, all the progress, all the special levels I'd opened and instead am starting a new habit. If I need a break, I'm going to read. Or write. Or edit. Or do something creative. Why?


It hurt. It really did. I felt depressed and angry and deprived. Why did I throw all that effort into the trash? Couldn't I control myself and only play just a little a day? No. I knew with my obsessive tendencies that little doses of something I crave never works, so I took a deep breath and closed the tablet.

And do you know what I've found? Wow! I now have time to make that home made moisturizer I've been wanting to try. And cook a home made meal since who knows when? I've already written two stories and kept up better with the dishes and laundry than I have in years. What can I accomplish now that I have all this time on my hands?

And instead of anger or depression or deprivation I. Feel. Free!

Revising habits is painful. Realizing you're in the wrong is even worse. But admitting you have a problem and fixing it can be freeing. Hopefully, this will mean a new my life. And maybe for some of you, too.



Next week: An open letter/rant to Brent Weeks about his Lightbringer Series.
"Week's Lightbringer Series: A Dark Review"

The Anthology Building Red: The Colonization of Mars
is due to be published summer of 2015 by Walrus Publishing.
Watch for updates and announcements.

If you haven't yet, check out Paradigm Rift a new book by Randy McWilson.
Conspiracy, alternative history, time travel, sci/fi, and thriller never had it so good!

Looking for some steampunk? Check out Brad Cook's Iron Horseman
(I'll be writing a review of it, soon.)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Their Year In Review

Wait a minute. Shouldn't the title be, "My Year in Review"? As in "Cannon's Greatest Hits from 2014"? All my writing achievements? All my running achievements? All the great and wonderful things I've done, seen, and experienced?

Well, who really cares about that other than me? And isn't it a little selfish at the end of the year to focus on only the things I've done and my achievements? What about all the amazing great and horrible things that have happened this year to other folks?

Folks like some good friends of mine who finally ... FINALLY ... have a daughter to adopt after years of having children placed in their home then ripped from their arms?

Folks like a friend of mine who had the courage to leave an abusive relationship, the courage to learn to love again, and the courage to get married?

Folks like my father who turned 80 who can still outwork any single 30 year old man I know simply out of willpower?

Folks like my 69 year-old mother who can power walk a 43 minute 5k and pick five gallon buckets of pecans the next day?

Folks like my brothers-in-law who both had colon surgery within a month of each other (different reasons), survived, and still kept the family business running. Amazing.

Folks like people in my running community who ran 500 miles, 1000 miles, 1821 miles (his number and the number of his daughter who died from cancer), 2400 miles and those I know who qualified to run the Boston Marathon? Again. Yes, I know people who can run that fast.

Folks like the people who own the local running store who help anyone and everyone who come in with advice and support?

However, this year wasn't without pain.

A friend of mine in his 30s died of the flu. It was sudden and all too real.

A friend of mine lost her father. Another lost her husband. Another is going through a difficult divorce.

One niece's husband's father just died. He was a grandfather and a pillar in the community. He'd survived cancer years longer than they expected, seeing his children grow and his grandchildren born. He died New Year's Eve.

Another niece's husband's grandmother died, too. His job wouldn't allow him to take off work to go to the funeral. So much for "family oriented business."

I know of people who work hard every day in service jobs who are underpaid, under-appreciated, and looked down on as "lesser citizens" by others when they are just as worthy human beings as everyone else.

My mother-in-law is in constant pain and none of the doctors know why or how to help her.

Teachers, nurses, firefighters, policemen: people who make it their JOB to help others and are bashed daily for their incompetence based on the behavior of a public few.


Because, dear readers, metaphors are a reflection of our lives. We need to live the story, both good and bad. We can't bury our heads in the sand and ONLY count our trophies at the end of the year and proclaim "I won! I won!" without losing some part of our humanity. As an introvert I'm guiltier than most about hunkering down and hiding when my emotions are overwhelmed, but perhaps that's when I need to get out there and truly feel what others are feeling. Because, dear reader, how am I supposed to write if I can't experience what I'm writing about? And if I lose touch with the world and stop caring, what good am I as a person?

Just some revisionist thoughts on this dawning of a new year. Make it one you're proud to have lived through.



The Anthology Building Red: The Colonisation of Mars
is due to be published summer of 2015 by Walrus Publishing.
Watch for updates and announcements.

If you haven't yet, check out Paradigm Rift a new book by Randy McWilson.
Conspiracy, alternative history, time travel, sci/fi, and thriller never had it so good!

Looking for some steampunk? Check out Brad Cook's Iron Horseman
(I'll be writing a review of it, soon.)