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Adventures in pre-hermitting

First thing: Thank you for all the good words and scary stories after Friday’s out-of-the-blue tree fall. MamaLiberty’s tale of random mystery destruction definitely takes the prize, though Karen’s lightning-from-nowhere story also reminds me of Mother Nature’s notorious temper.

One reader, C, even made an extra little contribution to the roof fund. Its timing was lovely (“Take that, damned tree!”), and the fact that it came from somebody I know has very little to spare made it even more appreciated.

—–

I’m now looking at November 1 as the most likely date to commence a serious year of hermitude.

I was aiming for an earlier time, but a volunteer project came up that I absolutely couldn’t say no to. Ain’t that the way it goes? And this really was a couldn’t say no situation. I had a standing offer to help out with something, and after a year or more of repeating the offer, it was finally, suddenly, and direly needed.

The bigger trick, I think, is saying no to the less dire daily tugs and pulls. One way to do that is simply to withdraw from the situations and people who need all those daily yesses.

Email is the puzzler. It’s both a lifeline and a burden, both a joy and a responsibility. Hey, email is where my friends live!

—–

Ryochiji, who I’m appreciating more and more, has an observation on the old “is the glass half-empty or half-full” canard. He notes, so rightly, that that’s not the real question.

Let’s say you arrive at your table at a nice restaurant, you sit down, and you notice that there is a liquid in your wineglass. Whether the glass is half empty or half full is the wrong question to contemplate. What you’ll be asking is “Why is there stuff in my glass that I didn’t ask for?” And if you call over the waiter and they offer to top off the glass, you might respond, with rightful indignation: “No, just give me a clean empty glass.”

He then gets Zennish before moving on to personal observations about emptiness and fullness in his own recent life. Very worth reading. Very familiar dilemma to a lot of us.

—–

One thing I’ll be looking at this winter is work and how earning a living (that strange phrase) interfaces with actual living. Again, not a new subject but one that needs a revisit now and then.

Though I am not a millionaire tech nerd, the words of Minecraft maven Markus Persson, whose company just got bought out by Microsoft, resonate.

I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.

As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments. If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.

Good for him; he’s now in a position to follow that quirky path.

—–

I’m a writer. I’m just a writer. I think and I dream and I write. Once upon a time, that was what writers did, and it’s certainly what most of us writer-types are designed to do.

But these days, even minor writers like me are expected do everything from incessant self-promotion to studying techniques for boosting sales on Amazon. Which is weird. We also become just a little bit public property. Which is possibly even weirder, though it’s always gone with the territory.

For the rare writer, all that marketing and strategizing pays off and they glory in the public attention. But for most of us, the result is simply that we labor on our writing, then labor on promotion — and end up less well-off and less content than if we’d simply skipped the writing part and instead found some gadget to market.

And if we were selling a gadget, the gadget could be the focus, not us. So theoretically a gadget peddler could be a hermit more easily than a modern-day writer.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m uniquely privileged to be able to make a living with the words in my head and even more privileged to have you guys around. I know that. Not doubting it for a moment. (Also don’t be alarmed; I have zero intention to quit blogging. This place is also “where my friends live” and is a pleasantly peaceful gig, as writing goes.)

Nevertheless, the whole business of writing as a profession is quite strange. And like Persson, when I think of what I do for a living, I nearly always find myself not wanting to be “successful” because being “successful” means doing more of the things that aren’t a good fit for my temperament and my desires.

But then there’s always that pesky business of putting kibble in the dog bowls, gas in the vehicle, and a roof over everybody’s head. And you know better than anybody how vital writing — and you — are for that!

As I contemplate getting the rights back to a couple of my books, figuring out all that Amazonian and print-on-demand stuff, and actually drumming up sales for once moribund items … well, ack. Even though a couple of good people have already offered major help with the technical part of things. Ack.

And for now, ack is all I have to say on the matter. 🙂

13 Comments

  1. Jim B.
    Jim B. September 16, 2014 10:03 am

    Interesting you mentioned publish on demand. One of my recent visit to one of the local Barnes & Nobles, I saw one of those print on demand machines. You know, one of those devices where they take a computer file, print it out and then bind it into an actual book.

    Interesting sign of the times.

  2. LibertyNews
    LibertyNews September 16, 2014 11:06 am

    Don’t forget that BHM has an Kindle expert on staff now 🙂 Maybe tap into that knowledge instead of trying to go it alone.

  3. firstdouglas
    firstdouglas September 16, 2014 11:17 am

    Though I almost never comment anywhere I must say I’m reassured to read you’re not planning on abandoning us here.

  4. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty September 16, 2014 1:06 pm

    I really, REALLY hear you about not wanting to be successful. 🙂 I managed to get my first novel all ready for “print on demand” and an e-book version. Did a lot of reading at Amazon, LULU and a few other places, considered the costs and the potential rewards, and decided to forget the whole thing. I’m not interested in anything but the writing part… so unless someone else comes along who is willing to do all the rest (and take whatever compensation for that they can get out of it), I’ll continue to write more or less for my own amusement. It’s too bad, because the story is really good, I think… It’s called “Consequences,” and I’ll be glad to give a pdf copy to anyone who wants to read it.

    And yeah, I’m very grateful that you are going to continue to blog, Claire. 🙂

  5. naturegirl
    naturegirl September 16, 2014 8:03 pm

    Yay, I was worried we’d have to train carrier pigeons or find some other form of communications with your hermit self.

    This whole post is so dead on correct. And you could take out the writer/writing words and substitute artist or a bunch of other “public contact careers” – so don’t think it’s just a writer problem. It’s an anyone who sells something problem. I’m not sure what happened or how, but in the last 5-10 years it’s become more about “who did the creating” than it is about the actual product. It seems no one can “sell” anything without including a life story and being front and center on every social media sites known. People no longer consume a product, they have to have every detail about the whole process. It’s actually becoming more and more difficult to actually pin point what success is, now a days: a million dollars in sales or a million active fans or any other combination of whatevers.

    I say, define your own success. Decide what it is you want in X amount of time, don’t let someone else’s version of what success is throw you off your trail. Or feel behind/wrong in any way. There are many success stories with people who did it their way, as you mentioned. It always amazes me how many people really don’t know, or take the time and trouble to think about, what they really want and what THEY think success is.

    It may all seem confusing, or new, or overwhelming amounts of work, etc etc. But underneath all of this is the fact that it’s never been a better time to be able to steer your own ship and do things yourself (your way) and not be confined to “the right way” “the only way” “what so-in-so says or does”. There are people in the world who have to have “a formula” to follow, or guidelines to check off the list. Then there are the creative types who go out there and find the better fit, more fun, free-est way 🙂

  6. LarryA
    LarryA September 17, 2014 12:09 am

    Oh, please, please, if you are going to do a year of hermitude don’t make it serious.

    Or do you mean “dedicated” hermitude, as opposed to “grave or somber, weighty or important, giving cause for apprehension?”

    IOW, have fun!

  7. Henry Hill
    Henry Hill September 17, 2014 11:55 am

    MamaLiberty, what is ‘Consequences’ about? Inquiring minds want to know!

  8. CB
    CB September 17, 2014 1:10 pm

    Spot on. Thanks for saying you’ll keep blogging.

    I saw a book you need to read. Its subtitle is “Living a Life of Autonomy in a Wage-Slave Society.” 😉 I saw one recently for sale at $34.99. There you go!

  9. Karen
    Karen September 17, 2014 2:48 pm

    I wish I had some good answer for you Claire, but as long as you’re going to keep blogging, maybe the commentariat will come up with the magic key..

    I do empathize with the situation. I’ve currently got 2 volunteer “jobs” that seem to be energizing themselves to eat me alive. I’m almost hoping for another one of those winters where we get snowed in for a couple of months so they can figure out how to manage without my indispensible self. Ha!

  10. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty September 18, 2014 7:18 am

    Henry Hill (and anyone else interested)… send me an email and I’ll attach the small pdf file to the reply.

    mamaliberty at rtconnect dot net Just replace the at and dot with appropriate symbols and eliminate the spaces. Please write “consequences” in the subject line so I’ll spot it quickly.

    Consequences is a story about how some people might manage to live as self owners, in voluntary association, in the absence of a “state.” Heady stuff. 🙂

  11. Christine Shuck
    Christine Shuck September 18, 2014 11:30 am

    I guess for me I’m still in the “all right, my writing is actually making me a little money!” stage. I’ve been writing for Bubblews.com for about a year. For those who are not familiar, it is basically like posting on Facebook only with a 400 character minimum and you get paid. In no way is it serious, although I tend to try to stay on the more entertaining side of things.

    Self-publishing on Amazon is relatively easy, I’m in the process of waiting for a proof copy of my 4th book to be published there. Not much money to be had, but slowly it is building.

    I’m just happy folks read what I’ve written. I can’t help but dream of my writing actually taking off someday…maybe…hope…hope.

  12. Jack
    Jack September 18, 2014 4:46 pm

    OK – shoot me off your novel “consequences” – I’m anxious to take a gander at it.

  13. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty September 19, 2014 10:57 am

    Jack, don’t know where to “shoot it.” Send me an email… address above. 🙂 Then I can fire away.

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