In the last post, I laid out why I was embarking on a new project - radical transparency in writing and selling. Here I'll to lay out why this is so radical for me.
There are two things I hate doing most in life: asking for help and sharing core feelings.
I've always been a private person. Friendly, sure. I've heard the word 'gregarious' used on a couple of occasions. But that's surface affect - a mode of extroversion learned by participating in way too many role-playing games until I'd learned to adopt the persona of "super-friendly laughing guy".
It's a role I'm good at playing. I enjoy it. I'd describe it as "nearly me".
"Nearly", because it hides an important fact - no one ever gets below the surface. I'll talk politics and religion with strangers, and we'll part as friends. I can make conversation with someone I met at a bus stop, or in line at the checkout, or just sitting at a counter. I take pride in bringing the newest coworkers into the social network. I listen. I give honest feedback. I make jokes. I laugh a lot. I mean all of it, and I love making friends.
But I don't expose my core. No tragedies. No fear. No desires. Those are mine and mine alone.
I like to imagine this analysis of the self as a castle diagram (because I am a massive nerd). Outside of the walls are the city - the public life. Inside the gatehouse is the courtyard - for friends and family. Inside the core is the keep itself - the personal. I think most people have some version of this, a series of ever-tighter circles of ascending trust. Where I differ from most is that I keep my outer walls nearly always open - I'll talk to almost anyone, anywhere, anytime, and do so easily - but I keep my inner citadel tightly locked.
Which makes talking about my writing something of a double-edged sword. There's nothing more personal than a construction built from your own thoughts, forged with careful and determined labor over a period years, drawn from a lifetime of experiences, learning, and beliefs. I think this is true for any form of art - the work itself is the truest expression of the creator.
So here I am, a person who prides himself on being private, engaging in a craft which at its core involves vomiting up the deepest contents of my mind for the whole world to see. It's a bit of a contradiction.
I think I was always okay with it because I wasn't telling my story. I was constructing worlds for people meant to be appreciated separate from myself. A level of removal, perhaps, from the core I so jealously guard.
And yet, here I am, spilling all of this personal data. Why?
Because I'm flipping the meta. I'm going to talk about my process, my failures, and my triumphs, and I want you to understand that this is something very alien to me.
Which brings me to my second point, the other "thing which I hate".
There's a proud tradition that runs in my family - never ask for help. If you were drowning, and someone asked, "hey, you need a buouy?" Your response could only be, "I got this" or, at worst, "I wouldn't say no". This isn't to say that you shouldn't accept help! Accept it graciously, if it came. Always offer it, if you saw an opportunity. But never, ever ask.
I think the idea is that "everyone's got a lot of shit on their plate right now, don't make that worse". Basically: pull your own weight and don't be a burden. The upside is that you learn good self-reliance and can get out of a lot of scrapes that would bury other people. The downside is that you tend to drown when you can't swim.
With the Flipping the Meta project, I've decided to buck this tradition, and have recently launched a gofundme. The idea was spurred by some new friends, and I think it could help me reach a larger audience. I'll go into more of my reasoning, which works would benefit most from this funding, and what drove this particular decision at a later point, but for now, I simply wish to say that I have done this thing which is supremely unlike myself.
In the next posts, I'll be going over what my methods of writing have been up until this point, what has worked, what hasn't, and how I got smuggled into the Hugo afterparty.
I hope you all have had a wonderful week, and I'll see you soon!
This post is a bit different than anything I've done before. Up until now, I've been mainly professional, keeping a solid "marketing" veil between myself and the reader. That's changing, and I am dialing the communications pipeline wide open. Read on for the "why":
Today is a new day, like every day that came before. The sun comes up, the sun goes down, and hopefully we all end the cycle a little wiser.
Last week at this time I was at WorldCon76. It was some of the most fun I've ever had. I met some great people: the Shrubbery on my right, the Mexicanx Initiative to my left, both filled with awesome passionate people. Across the aisle, there were other self-published authors, jewelry vendors, and a clothes shop. Everyone was there, bringing their A-game and showing their best work. It was inspiring.
My friend Matt came with me. He was super helpful. We sold books to a lot of people, gave business cards to a few more, and sent everyone away with a smile. Then, we partied with our fellow nerds and made tons of new friends.
I'd describe the convention as a victory on a level I was completely unprepared to accept. I'd gone with the intent of meeting a handful of people, learning how the convention scene worked, and adjusting my behaviors for future years. I did all that and more, to an entirely new order of magnitude. It was awesome.
Coming home from that, though, was a bit like coming down from a high. Real life returns, and with it, the daily grind. Get up, go to work, lift heavy things, write words, go to sleep, repeat.
The closest thing I can describe it is like when I came home from a high-school retreat. I'd spent much of school specifically avoiding any "lame" events like class retreats (Catholic school), so when some of my more religious friends talked me into going my senior year, I was apprehensive. Then I went, and it was like I'd been hurled into a jet turbine shooting "human experience" through my core. In that weekend, I understood how cults get their power. I understood the power of communion.
Then it was gone, and I was back in school.
But me, being a data-driven person, I kept a record of how I'd processed the humanity overdose, in all its glorious moments. I locked the experience into my "positive and interesting" vault, in case I needed to draw upon it for writing.
This experience was made of the same substrate, delivered in the same mechanism, and I remembered the best parts of that long-past retreat: how I documented the experience, how I leveraged it towards improving my interaction with the universe, and how I'd gained perspective.
I've spent the past week working on integrating what I'd learned at WorldCon, and I think I'm ready to engage in the next stage of my writing career, a little project I'm calling "Flipping the Meta". Over the next couple of weeks and months, you'll be hearing more from me on this blog and through my social media. I want to open up the channel between myself and my audience, and let everyone see what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.
I hope you'll find this journey entertaining, and for my fellow creatives, perhaps even enlightening. Success or failure are equal in potential, and I welcome them both with open arms.
Enjoy the ride as we embrace of the unknown and all it brings. Feel free to comment, question or advise, because we're all winging it on the edge of known territory.