Tag Archives: writing

How can an old-fashioned Detroit assembly line worker walk away from the factory and become a creative, independent 21st-century entrepreneur?

That’s the way I now see the situation faced by fiction writers today.

Here’s what happened. Last month, I picked up Robert T. Kiyosaki‘s Rich Dad Poor Dad for a dollar at a library book sale. I was interested because I had a poor dad—a “progressive” teacher and administrator, strangely enough the same as Kiyosaki’s poor dad—and a rich uncle, my dad’s brother—a businessman who created a chain of discount record stores… “and never the twain shall meet.”  My family background made Kiyosaki’s ideas shockingly personal.

Since then, I’ve been feverishly delving into this new-to-me world of entrepreneurship and business and money. I now have an sense of the chasm between Amazon and the publishers formerly known as the Big Five.

In his book Retire Young Retire Rich, Kiyosaki mentions the difference between the corporate mindset and the entrepreneur mindset.

This is simplified, but listen: corporate publishing is a bureaucracy. In contrast, Amazon, big as it is, still has an entrepreneurial soul.

What does this mean for fiction writers, especially indie fiction writers?

Continue reading

Serena Dracis: Between Lives? Don’t Micromanage the Universe

Being Between: a series about moving from our current day jobs and life situations toward our true vocations and life goals.

In this fifth installment of the Being Between series, Serena Dracis shares her three-step plan of how to work with the gods when they push you into a new life.

Thank you, Sally for inviting me to guest post on your blog! I’m thrilled and honored to be taking part in this series; it’s a subject near and dear to my heart.

Recently I wrote about reincarnation, a subject I love and will probably revisit again and again. If you have a chance and are interested in the topic, I invite you to hop on over and check it out.

Do we live more than one life? The answer is yes—and not always in the soul migration sense.

I often refer to my animal training career as “my past life.” I worked at the sea lion show of the San Diego Zoo for eight happy years during my late 20’s and early 30’s. My life was all about animals, training and educating people about the environment. It was so much fun! Really, I look back at the zoo as the best job I ever had, and the award from my peers for Excellence in Training still hangs proudly on my wall, alongside my animal pictures. I was single, young, and I loved my life. I used to say they’d have to pry my cold, dead body out of the zoo to bury it.

So how did I end up as a married nurse in Seattle, with the wildest animals around me a flock of chickens? It’s a little bit like the old me died and a new me was born.  Continue reading

Charis Maloy: Between Now and the Next Adventure

Being Between: a series about moving from our current day jobs and life situations toward our true vocations and life goals.

In this fourth installment of the Being Between series, Charis Maloy talks about living from day to day while planning for future happiness.

The mad writer Copyright 2012 Charis Maloy All rights reservedWow, Sally really didn’t know what she was getting herself into when she asked me to do a guest spot about transitioning!

Most of my readers know that I’m a busy girl. Multiple jobs plus trying to write and start a small business make for chaos. What Sally wasn’t really aware of are some of the major transitions in my personal life that are affecting the way I relate to work, and the sacrifices that I am making in order to do what needs to be done.

For the last year and a half, I’ve had my status as family doormat thrust down my throat. For the third time in my adult life, I allowed a certain few members of my family to bring me to the brink of bankruptcy. All while I was working nearly 100 hours a week.

In February, the characters in my head demanded that their story be told. On a major writing binge, I began to tell their stories. Then I had to stop and start building timelines to keep them straight because I had anywhere from 8 to 10 characters talking to me at once, telling me that I had, not a book, but a series.

Last May, after nearly twenty years of hiding my true self, I finally worked up the strength within myself to acknowledge that I am lesbian. This, in a small Wyoming town where my biggest support system has always been my very LGBT-unfriendly church. This is also the place where I once put my job on the line by mentioning in an offhand comment that my brother is gay.  Continue reading

Louise Behiel: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Being Between: a series about moving from our current day jobs and life situations toward our true vocations and life goals.

Today I’m honored to welcome romance writer-translation manager-psychotherapist Louise Behiel.

When Sally asked me to consider contributing to this series, I had to smile—so very often I consider myself caught between a rock, a hard place and a mountain.  Think of me in the middle of a triangle where the walls seem to be closing in.

I’m blessed with many interests, a need to serve and a passion to write.

During the day, I’m the manager of Interpretation and Translation  for the Health Authority in Alberta, Canada. It’s my job to make sure that our limited English-speaking patients have access to trained and highly competent medical interpreters.

I am fascinated by the practice of medicine and by the amazing care given in our facilities. But, given that I don’t like blood, needles or body fluids, this is as close as I can come to the action.

Just in case you’re wondering, I speak only one language. But many of my staff speak three or four. One speaks eight. They work with medical professionals across the spectrum of health care. They can explain medical procedures, outcomes and information in each of those languages. It’s a big job (imagine keeping up with the ever-evolving medical terminology) and I’m honored to be part of the team.  Continue reading

Being between lives

This is the introduction to a series of guest posts about moving from our current day jobs and life situations toward our true vocations and life goals.

Do you have each foot in a different life—or a few different lives?

I do. Feels like I’ve been trying to transition from one life to another for as long as I’ve been alive.

There was a time when I almost crossed over from everyday life to being a full-time writer. My short stories and poetry were published, a play was produced and I wrote two novels (bad ones).

Or maybe that time just looks idyllic in retrospect. I was pretty much a single mom to my son and daughter for ten years since my husband was away on business five days a week. Then I went to graduate school and worked part time as a graphic artist, while still being a mom.

After that, I started teaching college and thought I’d found the perfect career. That’s what so many writers do, isn’t it? Teach class, then close the door and immerse themselves in their real work.

But teaching drove me crazy. I couldn’t write and teach, too. The words of my lectures drowned out the words of my fiction.

So I became an editor on a medical journal. At last, silence!

I could write again, but found myself transitioning to a different kind of writing. I’d always written short stories, but now I was trying to write novels. Real ones.

That’s not easy. Short stories are like paintings, novels are like movies. Hardly the same thing at all. I had a lot to learn.

Years passed. My children grew. I moved from New York to Baltimore to San Jose to the Texas Hill Country. I left my editing job, tried working for a literary agent, then went back to the old job.

All the while, the writing continued, stopped, continued, stopped— I don’t know how many times I quit absolutely, positively for the last time.

Finally, I gave up.

Now, whether I write for a few stolen hours a week while working as an editor, succeed and make a living as a novelist, or have to wait to write full time until I’m old enough to retire, I accept that writing fiction is and always has been the focus of my life.

There’s a kind of peace in that.

Lizards, tea and pantslessness

Nothing extraordinary. Top o’ the world and bottom of a pit, as usual. It’s all movin’ along.

Let’s see, did anything interesting happen? A large lizard with a gray and tan diamond-patterned back now lives in the garden. I found him while watering. He tried to convince me he was a piece of rotted wood that got stuck in one of the tomato plants. Didn’t work.

He’s a much larger version of the lizards that live in my plastic garden box. I store some old newspapers in it and the lizards made themselves speckly gray to match the type.

They’re all welcome to stay since they’re carnivorous, not herbivorous. Something else carnivorous was sighted here a while ago: another mountain lion. Stay in the fenced garden, little lizards, and eat bugs.

I now hear Prudence MacLeod reiterating: “Gods, Sally, you have such an interesting life!” Continue reading

Da Voidick

On Monday I didn’t read. Instead, I carried around a clipboard and wrote longhand a bit at a time. On Tuesday and Wednesday I wrote like “work” and read during the in-between times of my job and meals.

The verdict? Two days with reading and with writing done during a specific period: about 250 words a day. One day without reading and with writing fit in here and there without any special effort: 650 words. That couldn’t be clearer. Continue reading

Killing Audrey II—again

Yesterday @DeidreKnight of The Knight Agency, literary agent and romance writer, held a Q&A session for Austin RWA. She was inspirational—at least I found her so. She approaches the business of running her agency in a way that’s both very creative and very directed. That’s what’s so inspirational.

Creative as well as directed… that’s what we all want to be, isn’t it?

So my question to myself this Sunday is whether I can be more creative and more directed. That’s why this time I’m assessing my goals in a different way. How do the goals affect each other? Am I letting my priorities have priority? Seems like I’m doing okay… but am I still approaching what I want to do in a self-defeating way? Continue reading

Crossing the chasm from here to there

My initial 17 fantasy goals are now realigned into what I believe can get done during the next 80 days. The original fantasy goals are in italics behind the achievable goals.

1) Health: sleep (lights out at 10:30 p.m.), move (get up from desk every hour, spend at least 20 minutes outside morning or evening, gardening, walking or looking at forest). [17) Take better care of my health—for instance, get up from my desk, spend time outside, go to bed before midnight (fail!).]

2) Work only 8 a.m.-5 p.m., 1 hour for lunch, no evening or weekend work. [1) Maintain the quality of my science editing and other job obligations while meeting my deadlines and not stressing out.]

3) Write 250 words/day on my current novel, Continue reading

Burning the Script

Guest Post by Kana Tyler
“The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.” ~ Anna Quindlen

We used to operate within limited lives, my husband and I—limited by the ruts of our career paths, by our addictions, by former spouses, by people’s views of us, by the “scripts” we believed we had to follow…  We both started over three years ago, via the troublesome technique of first destroying everything with our addictions—we met in rehab (proof that God has a sense of humor!) and if our new life and our marriage have a theme, it would be the phrase, “Because we can.”  It’s a joyful ritual of ours, this oft-repeated answer to so many questions.

Why have I covered myself with stories-in-ink? Because I can. Why do we swing-dance fully dressed under the sprinklers in a state park, or put Spam on our pizza, or go fishing in the middle of a weekday, or stop to learn the life-story of a stranger in the produce section?  Because we can.  So please ask me why I would cut loose from the safety of a scheduled work-week and paycheck to WRITE.  Don’t ask because you don’t know the answer; ask because the answer itself is a celebration:  Because I can.

Here’s a question for you (not rhetorical—if you’re reading this, I’d actually be interested in your answer).  Please introduce yourself by completing the following sentence:   “I am a _____.”

And here’s why I’m interested—I’m wondering if most people would automatically fill that blank with a job title.  I’ve certainly done it.  “I’m a school administrator.”  “I’m a restaurant owner.”  But although both of those were things I DID, neither of those phrases express the things I AM.  Sometimes there’s an overlap –“teacher,” for example, describes both a natural inclination and a one-time profession of mine—and I suspect the most fulfilled folks are those with the most intersections between their “I-Am” and their “I-Do” descriptors.

A month ago I was sitting in the entrance booth of a state park, wearing my cute little ranger-hat and pondering how the incoming drivers would answer if I asked each of them fill in the “I-am” blank… So I grabbed my notebook and began to scribble what grew into a two-page list of words that I might use about myself.  “Writer” topped the list. (“List-maker” also made an appearance.)  My husband and I pow-wowed that evening and (because we can) concluded that if I wanted a job description that matched my “I-Am” list, if I wanted to write…  I should.

A month later, I’m writing for an Idaho travel magazine.  I’m picking up freelance jobs.  Last week I was writing about Scuba-diving destinations around the globe (I AM a Research Diver).  This week I’m writing 400-word blurbs about travel destinations for a car rental agency (I AM a Traveler).  They aren’t glamorous gigs, but I just cashed my first-ever paycheck for writing.  And because I’m at the keyboard, I’m also resuming my long-neglected practice of writing for myself.  I’m relishing a life in which I’m not limited to “safe” choices.   Our existence is spicier since we burned the script.

Plus, I love my new commute. 😉

This post first appeared here on September 23, 2011.