“OK, who’s in?” asked Deborah Drake for her scary, post-Halloween blogging challenge. She threw down yet another gauntlet to our delightfully strange circle of creative writers and business bloggers. “It starts next Tuesday, November 1st!”
Slouched in my folding chair with my legs flopped out from once sitting excited on the edge of my seat with my feet planted, I raised my arm. It was as a dead tree limb except it moved. It moved “yes.” My arm stuck up higher than I expected in spite of my reticence. And oh, I was reticent.
It occurs to me as I type we associate dead things as “heavy.” Dead weight. I think of death as lighter. If you’re an animal, well…uh…stuff drains out. Air expires. For a little bit, anyway, right, till decay generates more, uh … gas. Plants decay, too. In the water dead things float, become waterlogged, and sink to the bottom. Now that IS added weight, unlike the Lady of the Lake who turned into soap at Lake Crescent. But if there’s any spirit or soul, well, we’re a few nanograms lighter after bio-death, right? Hmmnnn…no more glazed donuts and Boston cream-filled shuga yummies adding to the scales. But a dead branch still jutting from a tree is dry and hollow, much lighter than a living branch heavy with water and life. Good Lord, see what happens with me living in my own ADHD? Everything relates. Oh, good, I’m now at 217 words.
That’s 117 more than the minimum per blog post. Deborah Drake is fierce in her advocacy for writing, or rather the discipline of writing every day even if it isn’t much or all that great. We return to the mindfulness of the practice of being mindful: we wash the dishes to wash the dishes to wash the dishes, not to hurry up and get out of the kitchen so we can rush off to the next distraction. We create to create. I write to write to write. Strip out the “because to’s” or the reasons why and all the “in-order-to’s.” We hone our craft with the presence of someone sharpening a dull axe or a big-bladed knife. I pay attention and drop into the flow of sharpening my edge whether it’s my axe, my writing, or, more challengingly, my children and my wife.
As a sharp axe will cut and split more wood faster with less potential for injury, sharpening your edge provides you with superior products to market. But first you must write to write for the sake of the writing. What happens next then becomes one of choosing among more choices. For Deborah is passionate about marketing and for doing what it takes to get one’s self and their work out there.
To be successful, however, truly successful and in alignment with one’s deep values, one must be authentic. An awareness of self-awareness grows and continues to evolve once one wakes up into mindfulness. Practice makes perfect. So does the higher, deeper practice of surrender, of letting go before it is “perfect,” to move it on out.
My eyes spy an orange, white, and yellow cardboard sticker affixed to the upper right corner of my computer. “HAVE THE GUTS AND THE HEART AND THE PASSION TO SHIP,” it said, quoting Seth Godin, a revolutionary entrepreneur and culture transformer across the continent in New York. Guts. Heart. Passion. Confronting all those things…those fears…your fears…my fears. As long shadows fall even longer from Halloween to the Winter Solstice, what a perfect opportunity to acknowledge, embrace, and move through and beyond my own ugly unstuckness.
Deborah calls her website “Authentic Writing Provokes.” Love it. And her section “Tuesdays with Deborah” leads with her November challenge to us to embrace “The Reticent Writers Blogarama.” I’m a newcomer to her Writer’s Support Group for Reticent Bloggers. There’re over 20 of us in her circle. November 2011 is National Novel Writing Month. Well, we’re not building any more Moby-Dick’s, although Seattle’s Dick Spady just opened a new Dick’s Drive-In Restaurant. In Edmonds. In the middle of this Great Recession, too! See, there are so many topics to write about and people to write for.
We committed to writing blog posts and putting them on Deborah’s Community Blog, although our blogs don’t have to be published. As a group we vowed to wait a minimum of 100 words per blog and to write five blogs a week. I chose to publish all of mine and to post them to my own website first.
To my surprise, an avalanche of reticence poured down out of my ego, riled up my id, and smothered my mindfulness. Oh, my … Word. What is going on with me?
I wasn’t looking good, and I’m scared. My inner teenager shouts “WTF, dude!??!”
Having worked in sales off and on over the years, I was good at sales, but I don’t get marketing. So I got these two old blogs, great blogs, but few read them as few even know about ‘em. After I announce on Facebook I’ve published a new post on my blog, go see my essay or article, and please comment there on the blog, guess what…folks click and read, but as they’re already on Facebook they jump back to the blue-and-white and leave any comments there. I didn’t really get RSS feeds as I’m so visual I loved to feast my eyeballs, too.
I have two content-rich blogs already, on Blogger, cool stuff there, but I never really pushed them out to market. Kept ‘em as more an archive repository. One began as homework in a psychotherapy and counseling practicum back in 2006. Called “Cultivate and Harvest,” it was more private and intimate. I mixed in autobiography, spirituality, sexuality, dreams, the death of my parents, raising children, contemplations and meditations on life’s lessons, outdoor adventures in the backcountry, poems and more poems, and family history. It morphed over time.
Another I started in 2008 to store dense material for my books Current Affairs and global geopolitics. Called “At the Brink with William Dudley Bass,” (I had to use my name as there were other news sources with similar titles), it was my engagement with local-global issues impacting our species worldwide. I provided commentary and analysis with proposed solutions. I began to push it out with the same results. And now I’m embarrassed as there’s so much stuff on there yet so many years have gone by where one could interpret such time lags as “inconsistent.” Well, of course, I wasn’t marketing my talents. Reticence won out. Chickenshit killed the cats.
Beyond looking dumb and stupid and my lack of driving my focus to learn what to do to market, I buried into my craft. I felt I was a shooting star who not only didn’t get very high but blazed out in smoke and ashes. Won a bunch of awards and got stuff published. And my writing eventually died, slowly strangled by “too busy,” “raising kids,” “long hours at work,” and “gotta fit in” exercise, spiritual practice, and “what, how many hours of sleep!?!”
Even when my first book manuscript was rejected, it wasn’t because of the quality of the prose or the subject matter. “The topic is most relevant,” I was told, “but if we publish your book we’ll get sued.” Found out later two people I described in my book as cult leaders had indeed sued that publishing company for libel and slander and won.
So recently I started a new website with WordPress. Wanted to learn how to build my own. It was pretty easy, but there were little, annoying bugaboos I just couldn’t figure out. Some things look scrambled. And now I want to migrate all my Blogger blog material over to WP. Set up RSS feeds and social media connections. Some e-commerce so I can sell eBooks and other materials. So my new website is much prettier and is a mess. Apparently I got categories and pages sort of mixed up and can’t quite untangle.
Two nights in a row I stayed up till after 3:00 in the morning trying to get my weblogs unjammed and posted in where I wanted them. Didn’t quite work and my first blog piece, written on November 1st, was not able till post till the next afternoon. I hate being late and even more I value being my word, and I’m late. OK, I can deal with it. It’s just what is.
Embarrassment is just that, embarrassment, and me not looking good challenges me to get back in integrity with my authenticity. There’s much for me to learn. And I’m dyslexic with tenses and skewer my malapropisms with onomatopoeia.
So I’m in. My writing usually comes in waves. I write fast. I’m prolific. Do a lot of research. I’ll wing it as I go, build my platform while looking for different ways to generate income. Then nothing. Na-da.
I’ve been knocked down a few times in recent years. My wife and I lost high-paying positions earlier in this Recession, had our investments embezzled only to lose our homes and property in two states. In the spring of 2010 we lost all our material possessions when the rental house we moved into caught on fire from faulty wiring and burned down.
Huge derailment. So as Japanese samurai were trained to do once upon a time, we got back up. I got back up. Knocked down seven times, get up eight. So I can write every day. It’s another practice I take on now. I write to write. Every. Day. Yes!
William Dudley Bass
Thursday 3 November 2011
I endured further severe life challenges for about three years after this was posted. These included separation, divorce, homelessness, semi-homelessness, low-wage part-time jobs, financial struggles, creative challenges, pain, and illness. Things began to improve and continue to do so. There are many people I feel deeply grateful for who stood by me or helped me up during those times. I am grateful to myself for choosing acceptance, forgiveness, and love over rejection, bitterness, and hate. I got knocked down many more times, and still got back up. I still get back up, and I write in some form or fashion every day. Yes!
Copyright © 2011, 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.