Sunday, August 9, 2015

Lancing the Boil

I don't get writer's block. That's what I tell myself. I can always knuckle down and put words to paper in a workmanlike fasshion. I don't get blocked. But I do get distracted by shiny objects. And very occasionally, get distracted by things that seem very big and dark.

Meditations on Violence, my first published book was essentially a big psychic vomit. Some things that had been in my head, swelling. Things that didn't settle and go away no matter how much I poked at them. Maybe psychic vomit is the wrong word. More like an infected wound.

There's been another one building for the last six months or so. I've barely written on my (other) blog. Barely been able to write on even the projects I'm excited about. Everything seemed so trivial next to these thoughts and, honestly, I was hating the world a bit. Wondering how such a thing could happen and how it could be accepted or invisible to everyone. How it had been invisible to me for a lifetime until I got the verbal slap.

It's been on my mind, and interfering with a lot of things for six months or more. K and MS both have called me on it, repeatedly. Usually, I have a good perspective and regain equilibrium quickly with dark things. But this wasn't settling. It occurred to me, finally, that this isn't my first rodeo. What happened last time poking at things in my own head wasn't working? Meditations on Violence is what happened.

So I wrote it out. It felt like lancing an infected wound. The brain freed up. And, like many things, on paper it doesn't look so big. It still is big, but not as monolithic and unassailable as it had been in my head.

Probably won't share it beyond a very small circle of friends, but that's not the point. The pressure is released. Time to get some work done.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Possession, Demonic

A long time I was told that if I ever made it as an author, my position would be very weak vis-a-vis the publisher in some of the decisions that are made. For instance, it's very unlikely that the cover artist has actually read the book.

Evidently, that's not just a big publisher thing. The niche press doing my next book (my fifth with them) had a really cool idea today-- that absolutely contradicted the entire theme of the book. It's almost like some kind of ancient demon with really dated ideas about marketing has possessed the company.

ConCom would be a hard book not to sell, but it looks like someone is actively trying.

Saturday, February 28, 2015


So I'm in this weird head space right now that I've never been in before, because this is a first in my life. My books are selling.

Not someone else's books. Not books I've worked on. Not magazines that I've contributed to.

I'm not selling a lot, but I'm selling books I've written.

And every damn time a book sells, that day, I'm excited. I've sold something! Someone will read my book, maybe even all the way through! They might even like it!

And then a day goes by with no sales, and another.

This feeling begins to creep in, that I'd sold my last book, and that's it. It was a fun ride, and I had a great time, but it's over. It's not sadness really. Resignation? Not really that either. Maybe gratitude, like the day after my birthday when I've spent time with family and friends and I got a few gifts and ate cake (we don't make a big deal of my birthday). I'm grateful and happy. Although we're together because of the event, it's not entirely about me. It's about sharing a landmark together.

The next day, I'm not let down, or sad. I just feel like the party is over and now it's time to get back to work. I'm happy because I got to see everyone and have some fun, but life moves on and it's not as bright as that day before.

That's the closest I can get, I think, to describing how it feels to have a day or two or ten go by with no sales. I figure, I might not sell another book. That's okay. It has to be. Nothing lasts forever.

Then I sell another book and it starts all over again. It's exciting, and yet the future feels very uncertain because of it. Almost all of my life, I could predict pretty well what the next day, the next week, even the next month would be like. Now I don't know.

I don't know.

That's really nifty. I think I can get used to this.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


Kami talks about the muddle in the middle, the point in a novel where you get tangled in plot complexity and it's easy to just let the project die and move on to something new and shiny. As a non-fiction author, I don't usually get that. Usually, the trajectory of what i want to say is pretty clean. If there's a muddle in the middle (or beginning or end) it's almost always a sign that my message isn't clear enough.

I'm hitting some kind of meta-muddle. things going on outside and between projects. I have lots to do and very little is getting done.

Projects. Writing aside, I have some lesson plans that feel like they need work.  They don't. I've looked them over obsessively. But there are two classes that we haven't taught before and I keep wanting to fix things that aren't broken. To script the lectures in unrealistic and ineffective detail.

Writing. I have six good projects in various stages right now. "Principles" is actually my first book, something I have been working on for years, almost two decades at this point. The big book of things that make other things work. "Concepts" is a companion to "Principles". "Concepts" covers how force professionals think. It will be easier to finish than anything else at this point. "InFighting" is on the back burner. We shot the DVD, that should be good enough for now, but I know it won't be. Both because my publisher likes tie-ins and because there are important things I can explain in writing that won't show in a video, "InFighting" needs to happen. And it's something I love.

The other three are things I'm very passionate about, one on how to teach for emergency skills; one on police and ethics; and one on power dynamics. That's a problem, because I'll be working on "Concepts" and get an idea that needs to be in "Power" and I'm like an ADHD dog in a room full of squirrels. It doesn't help that all three are pretty (fluid? vague? ill-defined? unpioneered?) so it's easy to get frustrated, to feel that if it's never been done right before, who am I to try?

Boo fuckin' hoo.

And, one more writing thing. The exciting projects, particularly "Power" are kicking up a cognitive hornet's nest. Just a little research and a little insight I'm seeing some very uncomfortable things about the way the world works. Things I almost wish that I could unsee, things that make me a little mad and sad and indignant.

A friend of ours says that when you are on the verge of a break through, the world will start throwing you distractions. Evidently. Freelancing is chaotic at the best of times, but in the space of a week we've gone from wondering if we would have to sell something to make the mortgage to looking at the most lucrative month of my life. I've been getting coached by businessmen on how to make the seminars big business. Limited partnership proposals from big organizations. And a 23-page document to fix my website because I have time for that and need more business.

Somewhere in there I caught myself, for a moment, thinking about maximizing revenues. I had to take a step back. That's not me. Saving lives, making people stronger is what I do. I'm not opposed to money, it's easy to show that capitalism is the greatest driver of peace and prosperity in human history, but it's not my core. Not how I keep score. Looks like I need to get down to fundamentals. And write a business plan in tune with my values. And finish some damn books.