Browsing Tag


Most of it is Junk (it’s not just you!)

(I most often write for and work with kids. This post is not limited to Kid-Appropriate Language.)

“I like to try to apply [the] spirit of crate-digging to everyday life. The only way to find the good stuff, the special stuff, the genuine moments and the true inspiration, is to first engage with the everyday, the mundane, the seemingly useless, the things nobody else seems to care about. [To dig through the junk].”

Robert Walker, talking about DJs digging through crates and crates of shitty records

I really like the context of MOST THINGS ARE JUNK– it’s very Ecclesiastes: we’re all gonna die and life is hard, so drink and be merry with your friends once in a while and don’t worry about it so much (you can’t do anything about it anyway).

Isn’t it interesting and strange that I feel so much better when the context is IT’S ALL A MESS? Because I no longer have to worry about fucking it all up– it is crap. Nothing I do can make it more crap.

And if I only have to do better than Total Shit… Well, I can do that (at least some of the time)! That’s doable, bite-sized. I mean, I won’t always achieve that, but failing won’t actually make anything worse than it already is. I CAN’T MAKE IT WORSER, AND I CAN’T MAKE IT “GOOD” aka PERFECT. I can only maybe make a moment more bearable.

But if the Law says I Must Not Mess Shit Up because otherwise society will fall to chaos because of my dumbass– there’s no room to even begin, to even answer an email– if I answer it promptly today, I know it’s only a matter of time before I fuck up, because failure is inevitable. As with that time Jay gave me lessons in snowboarding, each success only only moves me higher up the hill and lends me more momentum when I inevitably come crashing down (thus, all successes are really evidence that it’s gonna hurt even more when I fail). (But it’s possible Jay was right in telling me to move up the Bunny Hill: that more momentum makes it easier to succeed, to get the hang of it. Maybe we should be learning how to fall better).

If EVERYONE is shit at email, at dishes, at folding their laundry, at going to bed at a reasonable time and eating enough leafy greens, if EVERYONE is wiping out all the time… then… maybe I’m not so terrible?

This is such a backwards-sounding wish, but I want to see how everyone is fucking everything up and actually no one (well, not including Michelle Obama) no one is actually better at adulting than I am… because then I could actually HELP people. I could DO stuff. Perform a little triage, staunch the bleeding, sit in hospice with someone. (And not delude myself with hopes of defeating the inevitable death that comes for them and for me).


I’m not “qualified to help them” because I’m Amazing and Advanced– I’m qualified because I care. Because I want to try. Because I’m Here. Because I’m a mirror for Beauty. And even in a junk pile, people are beautiful– IT’S LIKE A HOMEMADE PIE: NO MATTER HOW MUCH OF AN OOZING MESS IT IS, IT IS BEAUTIFUL– truly beautiful, because it is alive, it has soul, it has ATTENTION, and

“attention is love.”

Karen Maezen Miller

Wow. Living well is the same as making a pie from scratch. No matter how it turns out it’s beautiful. Something magical happens when you make a crust and fill it with fruit and bake it for an hour– things merge and it’s they transform. (I hadn’t fully articulated before how making pie is a spiritual act– it’s so redemptive BECAUSE YOU CAN’T FUCK IT UP. IT’S LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO FAIL. A bad pie has to be really, really, really impossibly bad to be Bad– I don’t think it’s even a pie anymore at that state– and even then you can still eat the filling).

So, it’s extremely important for my freedom and full expression and health and creativity to really know I am not actually able to fuck things up any worse than they are: The house is burning/falling down– why worry the paint you chose might be too “loud?”


So, write a shitty book. Draw lazy illustrations. Don’t bother with an ISBN. It doesn’t matter! Doing it right isnt a real thing! Sing the wrong note– sing almost all the right notes but sing sharp. It doesn’t matter! The world is a mess. Everyone is a mess. Everyone will die. There’s no redemption because there’s no sin. There’s no fault for the chaos of being a person– this “oh, shit” feeling is not a punishment– it’s just the weird truth, like gravity.


Congratulations: if you’re fucking things up left and right you are 1000% normal, you’re right on track.

See lots of JUNK everywhere? Congratulations again. Nothing is wrong with you— you’re just paying attention. (And attention is love: keep looking– it’s the only way to find something wonderful).

We are all 8th graders / 3rd graders / overly-tires toddlers who happen to be allowed to drive cars and use the stove and there’s no one to tell us when not to spend money or when to go to bed.

I think we’re doing pretty well. We could certainly do much worse.

*(I do believe there are some “cardinal sins,” like not recycling– that hurts my heart! This rant is about how it’s not my fault life is so fucking uncomfortable– there’s no linear correlation– so I can stop being afraid of someone blaming me for everything and kicking me out of the treehouse.)

The Week: January 22

What did I do?

This week I asked Kelsi if she would read “Moira” and give me feedback on whether or not it’s done; she said yes.

(This is the very first book I ever wrote and has sat untouched for a few years. I have only had one reader/critic on this book, and he was not a writer. Editing this story has been hampered by his feedback: I haven’t felt clear on whether or not to use it and I’ve lost my footing a bit. I also have some insecurity that it’s too revealing of my angsty, young adult nature.)

       Next: print the MS and mail it to Kelsi.

Jan 15-22 2016

I attended Joanna Penn’s webinar on the Seven Steps for Successful Writing (or something like that). I usually adore everything she does, but this went a bit fast for me, and it was repetitive info to what I’ve been reading/listening to lately.

The webinar was hosted by Joel Friedlander, and I learned that he offers book cover feedback, and has annual cover awards on his website, www.thebookdesigner.com. I took a peek at that and am interested in perusing more.

I sent out The Creative Life Quickie to my email subscribers! (You can sign up here; you’ll even get a free audio download of 5 of my favorite stories).This is something new I’m starting up: a one-sheet guide for a writing-/story-related topic every month exclusively for my email community. Since it’s been ages since I’ve done anything with email marketing, this task also included making a new template on Mail Chimp and updating lists and groups. I referred to the emails I get that I actually want to open and read (Seth Godin’s blog updates, Alex Franzen’s letters, and Austin Kleon’s weekly list of 10 things); all of them are clean, rather short, and the latter two had plenty of links to good content. It felt a bit tricky to write something that was valuable in the body of the email and not just rely on someone to click the free download for the worksheet. (I’m subscribed to some list where the emails say only what the topic is and have a “read more” link. I never click it; it feels click-baity, and I don’t like to be dominated or tricked).

I edited five chapters of “Jorian.” It was really lovely and fun to revisit this middle grade manuscript, written a year-and-a-half ago. I could feel myself doing a very different sort of first edit than I’ve done before– really using what I’ve been learning about outlines, structure and three acts. I also chatted with my sons’s principal about it, and about the three act structure. He said that in the second act the characters show their flaws and vulnerabilities. That was really helpful! (And I’m seeing all these patterns showing up in “Harry Potter,” which I’m currently re-reading for the umpteenth time.)

I checked in with my layout guy, Blake. I’ve had questions (perfectionist for sure, but legit) about my cover image. I’ve had it uploaded at IngramSpark for over a month but have worried that some layout lines will show up in the printing (and I’d have to upload a new image and pay the additional fee). Blake, and my design-savvy friend, Kat, have played around with it and concluded that the lines only show up in pdf formats… so it’s off to the printers! He also finally got the Library of Congress info, so I think he’s uploaded a revised interior for the book that includes that.

Next: take the plunge and do this last step in publishing “The Marvelous Imagination of Katie Addams!”

What didn’t I do? (Why not?)

I did not spend an hour on my taxes. Why not? Because that did not sound fun, because I have a habit (verging on tradition) of putting it off, and because other tasks seemed more immediately relevant. However, I wasn’t saying I would complete my 2015 taxes, just spend an hour; an hour would really set me up well for getting them done without drama.

I didn’t edit a “Love Letter” audio recording. Probably mostly because I spent most of my time on the Mail Chimp email. But there could be some resistance since these meditations are pretty intimate and vulnerable for me to share– flying my freak flag, as Leonie Dawson might say.

It would help to schedule the week itself rather than just having a list and risking one item dominating. (I have been thinking about estimating how much time a task needs, and using that to see if I’m being at all realistic in my to-do list; or if I will be taking on the challenge of getting something done quickly rather than doing it perfectly).

I also didn’t watch another video for the 10K Readership course. Again because I didn’t set any time for it and viewed it as “easy.” But I know I’m still a bit daunted by the large scope of this topic. It would be supportive of my business goals to watch at least one video a week, and have time to reflect on it and brainstorm actions to take so I’m working through the levels as I learn them.

I didn’t edit a third of “Jorian.” I did about a ninth of it. I clearly made email the priority, and this the second; I worked on this here and there in small snippets of time. I appreciate that I grabbed that time, but it’s important going forward to actually plan when I’ll do it (not just get a chapter or two in while my son plays on the playground after school). That’s part of not being overwhelmed and getting buried under guilt, believing that I can’t rely on myself and that I’m faking being a professional/adult.

What next?

Schedule more time for next week’s wrap-up so I’m not dropping off without a bigger reflection!

How Marketing Can Be Fun

Seth Godin talks about ‘New Marketing’ in his book Meatball Sundae.

In  short, he says that Old Marketing (inundating an unsuspecting but captive mass audience with your product in hopes that some of them would buy it) only worked when people had no choice or control.

Now we can skip commercials via Tivo or online streaming, tailor our ads; we never have to watch a commercial.

Now the winning approach is based not on HOW MANY but WHO.

It’s about finding your tribe and sharing your story (and services) with them.

There’s no one to convince or Stun into submission– it’s all connection.

Instead of trying to make you believe you want what I’ve got, marketing is about finding the people who already want it.

And that’s more of an adventure, a treasure hunt.

That’s being an explorer.

That’s how marketing actually sounds fun.

The Tweet-Sized Essay

The Copy Cure (Marie Forleo and Laura Roeder) said you can write a blog post with a tweet– that no one ever opened an email and said, “Man, that was too short!”

When I started thinking about life in facebook posts, (as in, “Oh, I’ll say…”) I felt a little worried.

It’s gross to always be broadcasting.

For a w hile I decided if I wanted to post a status, I actually had enough to say in a blog post– and I did.

Now I’ve been cutting way back on online time again– ‘Living Locally’– and I feel the shift happening again: I want to write.

To people.

But I want to write a letter, pass a note– sign your yearbook– not shout in a megaphone.

It feels beautiful to write out compact thoughts, to explore and give value and time to snippets.

And it’s true:  There’s a whole blog post or poem or letter in a tiny tweet.

Evidence: This one is written on two sides of a recipe card.

Why Creative Blocks are a Good Thing

On Writer’s Block jumped into my box at the Friends of the Library Book Sale.

I was wary– I’ve done The Artist’s Way, this could be old territory.

But Victoria Nelson had me Aha-ing with every chapter.

Primarily, she says that a block can be the sign of creative integrity.

It shows up and halts all activity when the Ego is trying to muscle the Soul/Unconscious into something that isn’t quite right.

We should use blocks as guideposts.

Stop and uncover what is at the cause of it.

What is the resistance?

I know this, but it was powerful and helpful to see it all written out so matter-of-factly.

A block safeguards the work until Ego can handle it.

A block stops you from digging around to see if the seeds are actually growing (an act that would kill the garden).

A block is a sign of creative health, not ever of failure.

Avoiding the Gate: When the Project Feels Slow

I’m publishing my first book and it’s going so slowly.

Not too slowly, but slower than my imagination.

I’m a skittish colt leaping around instead of running straight through the open gate.

But the colt (and I) aren’t wrong.

We’re not lazy or bad or even distracted.

We’re young and there’s a lot of extra energy and it’s spring and everything is new– and, most importantly– there is time.

There is time for leaping and snorting, pawing at the ground, tossing our heads, putting on a show.

This isn’t a term paper, and we don’t have a death sentence.

Sometimes the rhythm and goals of life are urgent, pressing– but all things happen in their right time.

There is no mistake.

It always goes exactly how it must go– but sometimes I had other predictions or step-skipping hopes.

But in the end, I know I will be satisfied and the gate will be beautiful– even my friend.