Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Fast Track to Clarity

It's easy to get lost, to lose perspective, to live an unbalanced life. There are times when I not only forget to stop and smell the roses, but I can't smell the coffee, and the stench of some dead creature in the corner of my office cupboard fades from my olfactory register. Sometimes I run but I forget where I am going.

For five days this week, I banned myself from social media. I fasted from something which in itself is neither good not bad. For me, however Facebook and Twitter, had begun to distort my view of myself and of reality. One of my best lines, when my children show me something on Facebook, is that Facebook makes me despair for humanity. Lately, it had been making me despair for myself.

The problem is I don't like to communicate in a vacuum, and who does? If I say something, I would like a response. If I ask a question, I would like an answer. My experience of social media is that it is mostly one sided. Roughly half a dozen of my Facebook friends interact with me, and the figure for Twitter is even lower. This dearth of interaction annoys me, and the reason I get irritated is because I am self centred.

I am looking for love in the wrong places. Social media is a tool not a barometer. The popularity game promises great rewards but delivers superficiality. I chose not to play this week, and as a result I wrote four chapters of my next novel. Fasting something which I enjoy (usually) but do not need, helped me to see clearly that I am an author, and I am important regardless of how many hits, friends or tweeps I have. This clarity led to productivity.

I also fasted from Coke for three days, but that is another story.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Last Hard Sell

I could have written this yesterday when, despite strenuous combatative mental efforts, I felt somewhat despondent. I could have used this forum to vent: to decry the appalling waste of six hours of my life, to lament the vanity of my efforts, to call into question the wisdom and value of my actions. I could have done that yesterday, but I was hoping a good night's sleep would take the edge of my disappointment. It seems I may have been mistaken.

As part of my continuing efforts to sell my novel, Loathe Your Neighbor, I travelled to Gerringong where a street market is held once a month. At short notice, I was able to get a table, in a good location just inside the entrance to the Town Hall. It was a fresh, sunny morning. My mood was hopeful, and doubtful.

I greeted nearly everyone who walked past.Twenty six of these greetings turned into conversations. I handed out a dozen or so business cards. People talked to me, asked me questions, gave me advice, encouraged me, looked at my books, talked about what they liked to read, and what they had written themselves. Just before nine o'clock I sold a copy of my debut novel, Devolution. Forty five minutes later, I sold a copy of LYN. With that sale, I covered the cost of the table, my mood was bouyant. However, that was my last sale.

A number of people said they would think about it. Still more said they had already spent their money. Others said they simply couldn't, or shouldn't buy any more books. They wished me well. They walked away.

I couldn't help think of my taxi driving days when I once worked ten hours and took home thirty dollars. I couldn't help consider the fact that I had sold two books accidentally, a week ago when I was having dinner with a group of guys from my church. I couldn't help but be hurt but the words 'It costs too much.' I couldn't help but be discouraged by the guy who self published a book and walked into bookshops, and sold fifteen hundred copies. I received so many suggestions on how to sell LYN, and I have tried most of them, but my success has been underwhelming. I've had enough.

Was I only making conversation with people yesterday because I wanted them to buy my book? Yes. Do I like talking to  people? Yes, but I wouldn't go anywhere specifically just to say hello to people, and have a chat. Am I tired of devising new ways to reach people? Yes. I'm not a salesman. It's time to concentrate on the next book. I've done all I can. Enough is enough. This post is too long and I don't want to write any more like this. When I cannot enjoy the fact that two complete strangers risked $20 of their hard earned money to buy my books, I know it is time to step back from this marketing madness. As Kenny said, "You've got to know when to hold 'em, and know when to fold 'em."

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Are you Happy?

Today is Mother's Day in Australia. My Mum has brought me untold happiness. She was the first to make me happy. She showed me what happiness was, and how to find it. She also taught me how to make others happy. Happy Mother's Day, Mum. This post is dedicated to you.

While everyone would readily agree that happiness is good thing, actually defining the word is more difficult.

Is happiness a cause or an effect? In other words, is it an intrinsic quality or is it the result of external stimuli? Many things makes me happy. My team recovered from a 0-16 deficit in last night's game to record a 24-16 victory. When I heard this news, I was happy. I didn't see the game because I was dining with friends. Their company made me happy. I enjoyed the food and the conversation. I felt happy before I even arrived there, in anticipation of the happiness that spending time with my friends would bring. My answer therefore, is that happiness is the outcome of pleasurable circumstances. Our happiness depends to a large extent on the happiness of others, especially our family and friends.

Although we all know happy people, happiness, for most people, tends to wax and wane. It comes and goes. Life is a mixed bag of lollies: a collection of sweet, sour and downright unpalatable experiences. Some address the fleeting and often fickle nature of happiness by contrasting it with joy, which is said to be a more settled and permanent state of happiness, and one which is not dependent on circumstances. That distinction is probably a semantic illusion.

This is how I define happiness: pleasure, peace, contentment. How would you define it? What makes you happy?

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

2013 A-Z Blogging Challenge Reflection

My mind feels fat and lazy as I reflect upon the intriguing and entertaining blog-a-thon of April 2013. It wore me out a little.
It was my first time, and I possessed the comensurate level of anxiety as I contemplated 26 posts in 30 days. I usually only blog once a week. To have reached the end, not missed a day, and stuck to my theme was incredibly satisfying.

Before I continue with my extremely abridged highlights/lowlights package, I want to announce VR Barkowski as the winner of the inaugural Square Peg Award, (I just thought of that!) for the best interactor of the challenge. VR was a faithful visitor and a sagacious commentor. For her efforts she has received a free digital copy of Loathe Your Neighbor, (first of only two book plugs). You can find her at

There was a huge increase in the number of visitors to my site, but not many commentors. I became extremely green when I saw how many comments other bloggers were getting. I think I may be too heavy for many people. I made some new online friends, and was constantly intrigued, challenged and inspired by the posts of my fellow bloggers. I praise God for the amazing diversity of his creatures who, like me, creatively interact with the world through their words. I thank you all for participating and congratulate you for surviving.

I said I was going to promote my book twice. I've been told that it is uncool to ask you to buy Loathe Your Neighbor, so I will just tell you that it would be in your best interests to at least check it out.