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Thrift Shop Band

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Gregg and I like going to thrift sites to find interesting and random things. I’ve found some really cool statutes, and really crazy masks. It’s fun, and relaxing, and occasionally we bring home good books, or useful items.

Yesterday we found ourselves in yet another isle in yet another thrift shop. We found a couple rain sticks, and every time I found a new one I picked it up to listen to the rain. In this Isle I picked one up, listened to it, then walked a couple get to find another. As I picked it up a girl at the other end picked up the one I found earlier.

“Oh look, we can start a band,” I said, and we both made it rain.

Her friend giggle, then I handed her a minny thumb drum and said “you shouldn’t be left out.”

“One more instrument and we can have a four man band,” said the first girl with the rain stick.

I obliged and handed Gregg a maraca.

There, in the middle of the thrift store Isle, we played a little ditty. It was terrible, but it was fun.

You’re never too old to have fun.

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Posted by on August 2, 2015 in Commentary

 

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Why not both?

book vs kindleWe see it a lot these days, “Ebooks are killing print books!”

They pull up stats, and show us how ebooks are starting to outsell physical books. Physical book readers fight back and say how awful ebooks are. Then we get more stats from publishers saying print books are outsold ebooks. Back and forth like an endless yo-yo.

Why can’t we have both?

Ebooks are convenient. I love the fact that I can take my kindle filled with a thousand books anywhere I go. I can read on the bus, at the park, poolside, or just during my lunch at work. The text and e-ink are easier on my eyes then the computer screen or smart phone, and I have a paperwhite so I can read in bed with a low level of light if I really want to. If text is too small I can adjust that. If text is too big I can adjust that too.

But I have to admit that my digital collection of books isn’t as awe inspiring as my physical one. I don’t rush to see my own book on kindle, I want the paperback in my hands so I can show it off. I like the smell of old books, and the look of their covers on my shelf. I love having a non-fiction paper book that I can write notes in the margins, highlight, and fold pages. Bookmarks in kindle aren’t quite the same.

The music industry is a fantastic counter example of where the publishing industry is going. They had iTunes, then other music shops open to regulate prices. We had Amazon. They had access to iTunes, soundcloud, and other services where indies could go straight to the public, we had Amazon, then Smashwords, and others. They struggle with the same “go free or don’t go free” quandary that faces writers.

Just as writers can see a correlation with their indie writers, readers can see a correlation to their music lovers. CD’s, and even LP’s, have not faded away to obscurity because of MP3’s. On the contrary, they have become collectible, sometimes specialized to give them greater value to the listeners. While lovers of great music continually search out the new, and fill their technology with MP3’s they are also sharing, buying, and trading CD’s and LP’s.

Why wouldn’t books do the same? Print books aren’t going to disappear into the ether. There will always be those who shun technology, who can’t afford it, or simply enjoy the feel of a good book.But like music book publishers are going to have to be a little more creative in how they market, or stick to the big boys who sell the most books. As print on demand becomes easier, and even more cost effective, fewer bulk books will be available.

One of the biggest markets hit by the change in the music industry may have been music stores. Many of them failed while others changed their model, becoming more specialized and catering to specific crowds. Book stores are doing the same thing. While Boarders disappeared Barns and Nobel adjusted their business model and is surviving.

It’s nice that music lovers no longer care if it’s digital or physical. They’ve gotten past the logistic of how their music gets in the hands of the fans and just gone on to make great music. Hopefully that will soon be the case for authors and readers as well. Then we can get back to the business of writing good books, and getting them in the hands of those who love to read.

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2015 in Commentary

 

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What makes you think you’re so special?

I’ve been in writer forums, workshops, blogs and more, and invariably there is someone who says something like this:

“I want to write, but I’m afraid to write a bad story.”

One… no you don’t, or you’d be writing.
Two… why the hell do you think you’re so special?

Stephen King writes for years in the corner of his living room before he finally produces something worth selling. But you’re going to produce awesome prose on the first try?

Do you know how many times an author re-writes, re-vamps, throws out, and tries again… on the same project?

But you’re special. Right? Whatever comes out of your head must be perfect and wonderful the first time or you’re not going to write.

Let’s look at it from the view of an author who writes, puts out, and publishes a book, or several books. I’ve labored for hours, months, and possibly years to produce this book. I’ve tortured myself about what to write on that page, or who to kill on that page. I’ve lost sleep because of deadlines, skipped dinners, and missed out on fireworks… all to finish a novel.

And it sucked. The first draft was horrible. The second draft less so, and the third draft finally started to look like something worth publishing.

But you…. you think you should be special and everything out of your hands should be pure bliss to read?

I think it’s time for you to re-evaluate what it is that you really want. Do you want to write? If so, WRITE! That is all you can do. It will probably suck. People might laugh. So. If you are writing because that is what is inside you to do then none of that matters.

Unless you are Motzart, Pascal, Akrit Jaswal, or John von Neumann, you’re going to have to fumble and screw up just like the rest of us poor mortals.

I wasn’t a prodigy. I write. I suck sometimes. But I still pick up that keyboard and write.

What’s your excuse?

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2013 in On Writing

 

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Excuses, Excuses

You walk through the door after a hard day at work, plunk down on the couch and turn on the TV.

You deserve a break. It was a long day, your boss was an ass, and the talk at the water cooler was draining. Plus your customer got in your face over some little thing that you had no control over.

You’re home… it’s time to relax!
Right?

Over in the corner of your living room sits that thing (piano, guitar, novel, painting, etc) that you keep meaning to get to. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.
Right?

I mean, it was a HARD day. You just need a break. Anyone can understand that!

Listen, we’ve all been there. We all tell ourselves these little excuses, or give them to someone else.

I’ll get to it tomorrow. But tomorrow never comes.
I deserve some relax time. But you need it every day.
I don’t know how to do it. But you never do the research to find out how.
I’m not in the mood. But the mood never really comes.
IT’S HARD!

It’s the last one that really gets us. It isn’t even always that it is hard. Sitting down at a keyboard and plunking in a few words or sentences isn’t difficult. Children write stories all the time. They come in with excitement holding up pictures, or plucking out keys on their little piano saying “Look mommy! See what I did?”

Then something happens. We start caring what others have to say about us, or our work. We start worrying, and fretting, and labeling ourselves according to how others see us.

So we build up walls of excuses holding that thing we WISH we could do at bay, but we never really get to it.

Those who do it… those who write novels, learn to play piano, paint landscapes or sew dresses… those who indulge in their creative ideas… somewhere along the line they said “This is important to me! I am going to do this!”

My boyfriends father took up the piano later in life. Every morning or evening when he is home he goes down to the music room and practices the piano. No one tells him to. He doesn’t often play for people…. but it became important to him.

Now, this is a busy man with a lot of things going on. Meetings, work, business lunches, a wife, and kids… but he makes time for the piano because it’s important.

If it’s important, you’ll make time. Or you’ll never learn.

I’m still learning this myself. But in the end, it’s worth every moment.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2013 in Writers Block

 

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