For 2016, how about forgetting goals, and resolve to push your boundaries.

I know every year, we all do the same thing. We make some goals. We are going to get richer, thinner, smarter or come up with a way to make our life better. All the books and all the pundits tell us that goal setting is the one thing that will help us.

Great. You set some goals, some pretty big ones, where you’re going to lose all that weight that has been magically appearing around your middle, you’ll take that course, and get around to decluttering your life – in essence, a magical new you.

The problem is, and we all see this. By this time next year, you’re writing  the same goals. Somehow, those pesky pounds fell off then jumped back on. You find you’re no wealthier, and the magical new you faded sometime in June.

So, what if you just resolved to make little changes. Things that would stick? The reason I’m putting this out there, in the past year I resolved to just make small changes. I wrote just a little more every day, and I submitted some of my work to a National Newspaper.

Strange thing was, I ended up finishing another novel, and getting an essay published in the Globe and Mail. I hardly felt like I did anything strenuous. I just added a bit more effort and pushed my own boundaries.

I heard this story of a man who was extremely overweight and unhappy with his life. One day he walked out his front door and walked around the block. It was a struggle. He continued the next day and the next until he was walking a mile every day. Then two miles. He lost all his weight and felt wonderful. But he’d done it in small steps. Not by trying to jog three miles a day.

For those who are  amazed at the world of writing. No writer completes a book in a day, a week or even in a month. They may do a short story in that time or they may pound out a first draft of a novel in a month, but then they go over it, painstakingly word by word and sentence by sentence until it’s finished.

They may have a goal of a short story or a novel, but to get there, they need to push their boundaries and personal limits each day.

I also participate in road bike racing. We have these 90 and 100-kilometer rides that we do with large groups. To get to a 100-kilometer bike ride you start with a 25, then you push it to 35 and then 50. All the time you’re pushing your limits of endurance on the bike.

There are some road bikers that call this pushing the pain. If you can’t take the pain that your body is going through after a solid three hours on the bike, you’ll never make the four hours it takes for the race.

This, indeed, is pushing boundaries. However, to get there, you make small steps and before long, there you are at the finish line.

So, if you’re like me, and you’re tired of writing those lofty goals and seeing them crumble and wonder what happened? Try small steps. See what your boundaries are, then push them out a bit. Walk a bit further if you want to get healthy, write a bit more and submit more if you want to be a writer.

We all know what our goals are. We just don’t know how far we can push our boundaries until we try. I wish all of you happy reading, writing, and a new boundary by the end of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 60 year old is asked by the 30 year old – what would you have done differently?

About a month ago, I boarded a flight from Kelowna, British Columbia to fly to San Francisco to attend a writers workshop with James Scott Bell.

The young looking man who sat beside me on the plane for the first leg of the flight to Vancouver, turned out to be a Movie Producer. His name was Daniel Stewart. His company 144 Productions did commercials, and Independent Films. It turned out we had a lot in common. We’d both been to Israel. He’d spent almost two years there working with a production company in the past several years.

I had been there in 1971, and been an extra in Johnny Cash’s movie, called Gospel Road. We shared stories of our adventures, his in working in the film industry, and mine in my new vocation of writing, and we enjoyed a pleasant one hour flight to Vancouver.

The plane landed in Vancouver, and that’s when Daniel asked me the question, “Is there anything you’d have done differently in your life?”

Well, my life isn’t over, it is in the late innings (to use a baseball term) but I got what he meant. Daniel was 30 years old. I am 60, perhaps the Movie Director/Producer in Daniel was looking for the story in the story. I have no problem with that, and I think many of us should ask ourselves that question. Perhaps we should ask it when we’re 30.

Here is the answer I gave. I had told Daniel I developed this passion for writing in my 30’s, but I put it aside to start a business. The business did well, and from the business profits, I developed a second business in purchasing real estate, and that did well. I did retire early with a decent income from my profits – but here was the thing that always bothered me – I should have kept writing.

It was the thing I missed. I gave myself over to my business ventures, and for that 22 year period from 1988 to 2010, I was immersed in business and commerce. Did I have fun? Sure I did, making business deals and making money can be great fun. Just ask Warren Buffet, he can’t think of anything else to do…well maybe playing Bridge…he thinks that’s fun.

Before I started my business, I was enrolled in a University course to complete my degree in English, I gave it up to do my business. I was writing and getting published in magazines. I gave it up to do my business. I was working on my first fiction Novel, and yes, I gave that up to do my business ventures.

My final answer to Daniel Stewart? I’d wished that in the 22 years of working hard to make the money, that I’d kept up my love of writing. I did do some writing – I wrote business letters, proposals, and ad campaigns, but no fiction.

I am now a late blooming writer, one who is going through the learning curve, again, of writing, editing and publishing. I admit, I’m having more fun than I ever did in my business. This requires the imagination to take flight, the Muse to drop by and give the imagination a lift at times, and it’s a wonderful process.

I can only suggest to all those with a passion for something in their lives, that they do not give it up solely to make money. We all need money, it is a force that makes things easier for us in our lives, but it will never replace our inspiration, or our passion.

To all of you, who toil by day at your jobs, and work by night at your passion, whether it be writing, painting, acting or photography – don’t give up. At least keep the wheels turning, the well full of your passion as you make your money.

Who knows, one day, you’ll find yourself retired and living out your life saying, “I’d wished I just kept motived at my real passion.” Who knows what could happen.

I’m a late blooming writer, who waited 22 years for it happen to me. It is a long time to wake up again.

A strange lesson in rhythm from Steve Martin, and his movie The Jerk

I admit, I find lessons in life from some of the strangest places. I found one from Steve Martin, and his movie The Jerk. The movie was in the 1970’s and it depicted Steve Martin’s character as a white man living with a Black family in Mississippi.

The gag in the movie, was that he thought he was Black. The Black family knew he was white, but he didn’t seem to get it. They’d play this amazing rhythm and blues music and Steve wouldn’t get it. He’d snap his fingers, and he couldn’t keep time. They shook their heads, and carried on.

One day, some Big Band music came on, what the Black Family called “white music,” and Steve Martin, started to dance, he kept perfect time. He began to glide in perfect rhythm to the music. He’d found his true rhythm.

I thought about that movie from so many years ago, because, I’ve seen so many people, including myself, who are out of rhythm with what they should, or could be doing. For me, for so many years, I really wanted to write, to be a writer.

I held myself back. I wanted money, and well who doesn’t. Most writers know, all to well, that writing is not a road to riches. It is actually the opposite, it probably has kept many writers poor. And as for Poets, well there’s no helping Poets, that’s just the road to the poorhouse. Sorry about that, just my bias.

For many years, I was a salesman, I had my own company, and I did well, but there was a thing, that feeling, that I was out of rhythm, out of tune with myself. I waited until I retired from my business to renew my writing career. It feels great, yes it feels like I’m more in tune, there is a rhythm, now. No I’m not snapping my fingers at my desk, but I’m often humming a tune.

Perhaps, there is a relaxation now. I don’t need to write to make money. I write because I want to, well actually, some times I need to. There is a rhythm when I write. One word follows another, characters appear, they say things, and they interact with one another. Like a small orchestra or band making music. A nice feeling is generated at the end of the day, as I look over pages of writing, and see something that was transformed from a blank page.

I think we know what makes us more in tune, more in rhythm with ourselves. No, it doesn’t have to be writing, or music, or anything to do with the arts, just being more in tune with ourselves, and who we are, and feel as human beings. Perhaps writing, gets me more to my human side, and that’s why I it like so much.

I can only recommend, if you feel out of rhythm, similar to Steve Martins’ character in the Jerk, perhaps try a new tune, something may happen. It did for me, and it is very nice.

I wish all of you who write, great writing, wonderful reviews, and fantastic sales.

Getting back to writing after too much Grits, and dodging Gators

I admit, I’ve been away from my writing chair for over two weeks. If anyone has done that you know how it feels to get back to it. It’s hard.

I was way down south, in Charleston South Carolina, and Savannah Georgia. Yes, the food was great, especially the great Grits, and the Gators were very large. I recommend looking before you step up to your golf ball, to ensure one is not watching you. I still have some nightmares over that.

Now, I did try writing while I was done there, and I will say I was highly unsuccessful. The beaches, the bike rides under the living oaks with the Spanish Moss, it all seemed to get in the way.

Well, now back home, time to get back to writing, and it’s a struggle. I started out by doing something that several writers suggested to get “back in the saddle,” so to speak. First start to read again. Read what you just wrote. Read it out loud. Somewhere in there, the thread comes back. It always does.

Then read someones elses work, as Stephen King once said, “You need to read a lot, and then write a lot.” He is absolutely right. Who can fault a man, like Stephen King, who has published so many works – even if some scare the daylights out of you!

The final thing I like to do to get back into writing, is just write. I take a writing pad, and I sit down, and just write and write. I have no idea what comes, but it does. One amazing lady, her name is Gail Bowen, and in her class, she told everyone to “prime the pump,” which meant to keep the well full, and write as often as you can.

So, if you’re like me, and you find yourself a little dry, after a nice vacation, wherever that is, then do these things I’ve mentioned. I’ll be doing all of them. I missed my writing, more than the grits and the gators!

I wish all of you good writing, many downloads, and wonderful reviews.

A late blooming writer learns about editing and rewriting a novel

I admit, coming to the world of writing late in life, I was somewhat naive about the amount of work it takes to get a novel to print. I have had several articles published by Newspapers and Magazines. That was a matter of doing a query, getting acceptance, and then sending the 500 to 1,000 word article off.

There is the angst of seeing the editor slash your work to make it fit their framework, and their angle. But the timeline of an article can be as little as 3 to 6 months. Novels on the other hand, can take years, and require numerous rewrites, edits, and proofs that would try the faint of heart to even attempt it.

In my very first attempt at a Novel, I thought, no problem, this 109,000 word novel of fiction has been worked over by myself several times, and read by five good friends. It should be great. Now, remember, I said friends did a reading. Friends are great, but they are your friends – mostly because they haven’t really annoyed you that much.

For true feedback, and to get annoyed – you need a good editor! Yes, there it is, I’ve said it. A good start with your editor is a Manuscript Evaluation. This is where you’ll find out if your plot works, your characters are developed, and if there are dialogue issues.

Yes, a manuscript evaluation editor will find, and alert you to, the things that will make a reader want to put your book down. My first Manuscript evaluation was done by Iguana books. I waited two months, for 9 pages of notes to appear on my laptop. I was thrilled, well at first…until I saw the amount of work that needed to done to make the Novel presentable in the editors eyes.

In the next 5 months, I cut 20,000 words, dropped 3 characters that did not need to be there, and then came forward with what I thought was a shiny and new 89K word novel. And then the novel went into a Copy and Stylist Edit. Sentence structure is changed, dialogue is reworked, and commas are put in the right place, or removed.

When I received my Novel back from the copy and stylist edit, the pages showed a sea of red, where the editor had made her remarks. I could either change or ignore. In most cases I changed to her suggestions, unless I thought a message was being lost.

Now, after all of these edits, there is only the final proof read, after the Novel is formatted. And that is where your eyes start to jump as you reread every sentence looking for the error that you know, will end up on the EBook or in print.

Is all of this worth it? There is a more simple system. I believe there are several new applications where a program will edit your work for you, and you upload it to Amazon. But there is something about an editor, a real human being, questioning, and asking you why you put that word there, and challenging your interpretations. There is the evolution of the novel, that would not be the same with these editors.

I think good editors make good writers, or make good writers even better. They take us to task, they make us toe the line in our words. They do it for the readers, and isn’t that, in the end, what this is all about?

My non resolutions for 2013, that involve writing, and not taking myself seriously

I Realized today, that we are ten days into this year. Another year, that to me spreads before my like a white canvas or blank page. Many years ago I used to make resolutions, and take all of those resolutions quite seriously.

It was twenty odd years ago, I discovered that if I made goals, depending on where I wanted to be in one year, 5 years or 10 years in the future, I often found that when the future arrived, many of the goals were achieved. Funny thing that, setting something in motion, that when set in motion, would develop into what you wanted.

I have done the same thing with writing. As I wrote in previous blogs, I really could not come up with my next career, and decided to do something I’d always loved, writing, but never made time for.

My goal was to learn to write, I thought that might be more advantages to my readers, and also enjoyable if I was doing. Numerous writing courses later, a library full of how to write the best novel every type of books, and here I am, about to have my first Novella published later this month, a Novel ready to go to proof reading in March, and working on a third Novel.

I sometimes wonder what drives me to do it, and I decided, it is because I don’t take myself seriously. I take my writing seriously, I love to write, but I don’t listen to myself, when that little voice tells me I can’t write, will never be a writer, or just not good enough to be read.

That’s when I have to laugh and smile, and just say, “if you don’t write, you’ll never know if you are a writer, and if you don’t publish, how will anyone else know.”

So I write, and I do have a goal for this year. To publish Dolphin Dreams my fantasy Novella this month, then my Novel Polar Bear Dawn, and then a third Novel by late this year, or early next year. My total overall goal is One Million words in print in the next ten years. I would be 70 years old then. Now that would be a wonderful thing to look back and see some goals that I set out to do get accomplished.

To all those who make goals, I wish your reach all of them in your future.

When you don’t write #Erotica or #YA – what then?

I received a GoodReads note from a friend the other day. I realized most of her picks were Erotica. I think there were several mentions of Fifty shades of whatever. On reading a Blog from an author I follow I noticed that everything they mentioned was for YA. Young Adults rule the reading lists. Hunger Games and Harry Potter.

Where does that leave me? A late-blooming writer finding his genre. Am I too late to the party? Should I be getting out my dictionary of 50 ways to excite your lover or an old Kama Sutra? Which to anyone from the 70’s was the original 50 shades.
Should I be hanging out at the mall, and trying to delve into the depths of the 12 to 16-year-old market. I barely understand the over 50 market, and they move somewhat slower. Although they speak with a slurred speech after multiple cocktails.

No, I have found my own field of writing. I’m calling it Eco-Terrorist Fantasy. I rather doubt if it’s a new title. It’s probably already coined somewhere. Perhaps already studied in University as a make up credit course, or as a parody on YouTube. But there it is.

My first Novella has a fantasy element, and ecological element, and a slight terrorist element to it. It’s called Dolphin Dreams, it will be available from Iguana Books, hopefully at the end of this month or early next, and no Young Adults will invent a new kingdom, and no men or women writhe in ecstasy from some form of sexual pleasure.

I realized some time ago in my writing, although it was late in life, that I have to write what excites me. What evolves around my cerebral cortex. I am sure there are many other writers like me, and reader as well.

If you’re like me, you want your fantasy somewhat grounded, just inside the realms of this planet, but with the edges blurred. I call it writing over the edges. Perhaps that’s a new genre as well – or just new to me.

I wish everyone, no matter what you write or read, a great experience with whatever you writing or reading.

A late blooming writer is asked the quesiton, “do you ever wish you’d started earlier?”

I was asked this question last week.  Getting my haircut, nice and trimmed up for Christmas, and my upcoming 60th birthday, the young hairstylist asked me what I did.  “I now write books,” I said.

She was mildly impressed, and asked me what I wrote, and what genre.  Turns out the young lady was as Sci-Fi fan.  Then she asked me the one question I may have asked myself, “do you ever wish you’d started earlier?”  She probably got that from the long locks of grey hair falling to the floor that I was not just fresh out of school.

And here is the answer I came up with, I was too involved with so many other things in my life to write.  Sure I thought of it many times, driving down the highway when I was in sales, or on long flights on business trips.  So many things got in the way, so much noise in my head.

I was offered, by my lovely wife, the opportunity to just write at the age of 35.  Yes, I could explore the world of free-lance writing, write a novel, even go to Journalism school that had accepted me.  And get this – she would support me.  How many people get this opportunity!  Not too many I assure you. I tried for three long months, and so many things got in the way: writers block, writers angst, and basically writers avoidance.

Now, 25 years later, what is different?  I have finished a Novella that is soon to be published, have another Novel ready for final proof reading, and working on a third novel that I am half way through the first draft.  I know what is different.  The noise in my head, it’s calmer up there.  I’m no longer worried about the deadlines of my business, or investments, or meetings.

It is now just me, meeting with a keyboard, creating characters, and one scene after another.  Could I have started earlier, maybe, If I were someone else.  Perhaps John Grisham, he started his writing after his daily work as a Lawyer.  Stephen King worked in a closet in his laundry room in his double wide trailer, while he worked as a teacher.

And me, well I had to wait until I was ready.  I am sure every writer has their own timeline, the day that the stars aligned, and they could work with the characters in their heads.  I have been a very late bloomer.  Something that I deal with.  But, my time to write is now, what I write now in the present is all I care about.  The past is gone.  I can not look back, and can not even look ahead.  I can only look down at my page, as one word after another appears before me, and be very glad that I started now.

I wish all of you, who started early or late, or started and stopped, and started again, I wish you all good writing, and if you have a story of your journey to write, then I would love to hear it.

Good Writing and good journey,

Lyle Nicholson