Back in the Saddle
Issue # 18: Virgo Season
Friends, I hope you’ve had a fabulous summer so far. We are heading into my favorite time of year and I wanted to share a few things before we hit September.
Firstly, this Substack publication is nearing its one-year anniversary, and I want to thank you SO MUCH for being here with me.
My goal with this grand experiment was to hold myself accountable with my writing, and to make progress on my next memoir, Library Confidential.
I wanted to do it in real time as I was drafting different parts of the story. I wrote by the seat of my pants - I had no plan, no outline, no theme. My only goal was to get words on the page, and to make it somewhat enjoyable for you, the reader.
I’ve got a good number of words now, rough but ready to go.
(If you’re new and want to go back and read those words, you can check out my archive HERE)
I’ve been working with memoirists and other writers for five years now, and my advice is almost always the same when beginning a memoir project:
1. Memoirs need time to bake and you have to be sure you're ready to process the story.
2. Write what needs to be written. Write freely and intuitively and make sense of it later.
And this advice is true for me, as well. This story is working its way out of me, but now I’ve come to the point where I need to start making sense of it.
I’ve been in the forest chopping a lot of wood, and now it’s time to start building the house.
I don’t plan on stopping this publication, but I am going to take a bit longer between updates. I hope you’ll stick with me as I start the hard labor mental labor of structuring a book.
I’ll keep you posted.
Speaking of books and anniversaries, my first book, Adventures of a Metalhead Librarian, will be three years old in a couple of weeks. I published it on my 48th birthday, and it’s been one hell of an amazing experience. That book changed everything for me.
To celebrate, I’m joining forces with a few of my writing friends for an almost-end of summer free giveaway starting today.
Just pop in your email address and grab a copy of some great books by amazing writers.
AMHL is there, so please enjoy it if you haven’t read it yet. That book is a piece of my heart, and a lot of amazing magic surrounded the creation of it. I do hope you’ll give the other books a try, as well. I’m thrilled to introduce you to some of my friends who are really all just amazing writers and storytellers.
And, of course, if you are a writer, or want to write a memoir and are stuck and don’t know where to begin, pop over to my website and download a copy of The Magic Key: Unlock Your Memoir. Maybe it will help get you started.
If you find yourself wanting something more in-depth, please reach out to me for support. My Writing Help page has the details.
Finally - we’ve arrived at Virgo Season.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
During the month leading up to my birthday, I go into review mode to take a look back and recalibrate, and to get energetically prepared for the new year ahead.
Here is what I had planned for last year:
Teach more memoir workshops - I’ve done a few, but not as many as I had hoped.
Be done with my book (Bwahahaha how FUNNY)
Redesign my website (I’m an IT department of one and I’d fire myself if I could but I can’t so I bumble along and do the best I can.)
But, you know how life goes sometimes - things pop up. The best laid plans go awry. Opportunities appear. You go to where the warmth is.
After receiving a ton of suggestions about turning my AMHL into a screenplay, I finally took it seriously and started studying screenwriting. And then, as I’ve been working on Library Confidential, it hit me that if I adapted my stories about working in a library - it would make an interesting TV show.
It’s a slight detour from my original plans, but it’s all in the works right now. If I can tame my squirrel brain and stay focused, I’m hoping to have a couple of things finished in the next two or three months. I’m still marinating ideas and making notes.
And while that’s all good and well, what is the use of writing a screenplay or pilot if I don’t know what to do with them?
So, I’ve been learning that, too.
I stumbled across a course offering last Spring that sounded perfect: Entertainment Business School.
So I made the commitment and now I’m “back in school” a few days a week learning some very key things about the entertainment industry that had been completely opaque to me before.
And what I’ve been realizing - especially during this past year of being a full-time writer working in what at times seems like a lonely, isolated silo - is that I need a team of people and a community.
I’ve always been attracted to book-writing because it’s mostly a solitary adventure.
What can I say? I’ve always had a lone-wolf mentality. I’m an only child and I thrive by doing things alone. People exhaust me, and although I can extrovert like a pro, I’ve always been very ”self-contained”. I really don’t need alot of external stimuli or validation. Like many creatives, I live in a little bubble of my imagination.
But - I know now that it’s not sustainable. I can’t create my future in a vacuum. It doesn’t work that way.
I guess if I was to evaluate this past year, the biggest, most valuable thing I’ve learned is that past a certain point - creativity is a collaborative business. You find people that you want to work with. Success in the arts thrives on community and personal relationships.
And the truth is - I kind of suck at those things. I’m awkward and feel socially inept and I am often mortified at what comes out of my mouth.
I’m going to be 51 here soon, and I still haven’t outgrown that shit.
BUT - I can try and power through it and just do my best. I can try and suck less.
I’m realizing that my lone-wolf mentality won’t really serve me well going forward. Being a part of a creative cohort like I’ve found in this class is DEEPLY illuminating.
I’m meeting other writers, actors, creators, directors, and producers. Some of them are just starting out. Some of them have been in the business for 25 years. It’s pushing me out of my comfort zone, but I am ENERGIZED.
I am building a community and finding my people, because movie and TV-making - and indeed, even book-writing - is , ultimately, a team sport.
In fact, I’ve had three calls already this month with screenwriters and producers who reached out to me because they want to write books. What a pleasant surprise to be able to offer them support. And what lovely, interesting people.
I’m finding my wolfpack, my community, my team.
And so that’s my focus as I recalibrate and celebrate the next year of my life:
I’m going to get my ass out onto the field and PLAY.
Thank you for your support, friends, and I’ll see you next time. Enjoy your Labor Day weekend and the selection of free books.
Please reach out with any questions or comments at email@example.com
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