The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Taking time to relax and recharge the batteries – and Saturday’s seven writing links: Patterson, Alex Cross, the last Stookie

Yesterday as I read the  quiet and relaxing “Today is the Day” post by author Smoky Trudeau Zeidel (“The Storyteller’s Bracelet”), it occurred to me that those of us who preach about the value of books, smelling the roses, and occasionally watching the grass grow, are still leading frenetic lives as though everything must be done NOW and that knowing the latest Tweet moments after it appears really matters. So much of our online fix comes from outside ourselves that keeping up with it second to second is a habit that takes us away from ourselves.

Of a day she has her house to herself, Zeidel writes “Today is a day for meditation, for quiet reflection, for me to drink deeply from the pool of silence that surrounds me.”

I relax while floating down rivers, but seldom take the time.

As writers, it’s easy to find excuses not to relax and charge the batteries. A world of constant deadlines draws us away from prospective silent moments. So does the need to keep up with our competition and to keep our platforms new and fresh. I just read a story somewhere about how it’s impossible these days to make a living by writing just one book per year unless your Rowling or Patterson. It usually takes me at least a year to write a book and then to recuperate after I’m done. Yet, I’m feeling the push to blog, to write faster, to be on the latest and greatest of every social network, to do more blog tours and to always know the best and the brightest of “THE EIGHT WAYS TO USE TWITTER” and the ‘TOP TEN WAYS TO WRITE FASTER.”

So, at the end of the day, at the end of the week, and the end of the year, where am I? I suppose, for those authors with a big following, they can say they did 25 book signings, 20 talks, 15 panels, and 10 conventions AND saw a noticeable sales boost after each event. I’m happy for them. But otherwise—and even for those with real author events every week—where are we when all is said and done?

Happier, more spiritually grounded, relaxed? Are we ever recharged? I doubt it. And, all this keeping up with the world is sapping the strength of my muse—and myself.

Today’s Writing Links

  1. News: Author James Patterson says Tyler Perry will “wow” as Alex Cross, by Zorianna Kit “Author James Patterson may have sold more than 260 million books worldwide, but he still has not tired of the thrills as his fictional detective, Alex Cross, once again comes to life on the big screen in the upcoming film ‘Alex Cross.'” Reuters
  2. Viewpoint: Philip Hensher: Why handwriting matters, by Philip Hensher – “Our rituals and sensory engagement with the pen bind us to it. The other ways in which we write nowadays don’t bind us in the same way. ” The Guradian
  3. Feature: Amazon’s Next Big Business Is Selling You, by Marcus Wohlsen – “Facebook knows who your friends are. Google knows what you’re interested in finding on the internet. Amazon knows what you’ve bought, and has a pretty good idea of what you might want to buy next. If you were an advertiser, which company’s data sounds most valuable to you? If you had a product you wanted to sell, which of those things would you most want to know? ” Wired
  4. Bellon

    Interview: Michelle Bellon (“Embracing Me Embracing You”) with Beth Fehlbaum – “An aspect of writing that I was not prepared for happens to be my least favorite; the business of writing, the self-promotion. Most of us writers would be perfectly content to just hide away and write until our eyes fell out of our heads. You can’t do that though. You have to tap into this whole other side of the writing business which has to do with being a sales person and understanding how to market a product to the consumer. And you aren’t just selling your book. You’re selling you.” Beth Fehlbaum Books

  5. Feature: The Most Dysfunctional Families in Literature, by Jami Attenberg – “In literature, as in life, every family is pretty much dysfunctional in one way or another. So what makes one dysfunctional literary family more memorable than the next? Personally, I prefer a little wit with my disaster, not to mention a little soul; it makes the pain go down easier.” Publishers Weekly
  6. News: Cover reveal: Final book in Sookie Stackhouse series, by Carol Memmott – “Dead Ever After, the 13th and final novel in Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series, will be published May 7, and USA TODAY has this first look at the cover, which shows Sookie walking off into the sunset.” USA Today
  7. News: This Week’s Hot Reads: Oct. 15, 2012, by Mythili Rao – “This week, from stories of New Delhi’s day-laborers to a woman who chose to leave a career as an international gun runner. ” The Daily Beast

“Book Bits” links are compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of contemporary fantasy,

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8 thoughts on “Taking time to relax and recharge the batteries – and Saturday’s seven writing links: Patterson, Alex Cross, the last Stookie

  1. Smoky Zeidel on said:

    I’m glad my post made you stop and think, Malcolm. And, if you need recharging, I hope you will take a day or two and do exactly that. Go float down a river. Or simply go for a hike, or take a chair out into your woods behind your house and just sit and meditate. It’s amazing how little it takes to jump-start a dying battery. The key is to learn to do this often enough the battery stays at the right pace, where it just hums along. But finding and maintaining that balance is so hard for us creative types.

  2. As a kid, leisure always seemed like something one had to justify. If the homework was done, there were always plenty of chores waiting around the house. I think I’ve taken too much of that mindset into my adult life. Yes, it is hard to find and maintain a balance.

    Malcolm

    • Smoky Zeidel on said:

      I had a blessed childhood. Yes, I was expected to do my homework and my chores. But my parents never looked around for extra work for me to do, and once the books were hit and the furniture dusted and trash cans emptied, I was free to run around with the neighborhood kids playing hide and seek until well after dark, to bike ride out to my best friend’s farm, just outside of town, to play in the hayloft and attempt to ride the sheep (challenging!), and whatever explore whatever else our small town had to offer. I was constantly grubby and mosquito bitten. And I think that’s what kept my inner child so alive to this day. I am forever grateful to my parents for allowing me this freedom to relax and explore and play. And I realize it was a gift, and not many kids received that gift.

      • We had a multi-acre wood beind the house that was a wonderful place to play. Better yet, it that same wood backed up to the house of my best friend on the next side street. The wood seemed infinite then. Weekends were spent on a farm where there were fields, an abandoned lime house full of hay, and a creek. So, it wasn’t all work and chores. So, I’m not sure why taking time for leisure kicks in those old parental injunctions that weren’t there as often as they seem to have been.

        Malcolm

  3. Smoky Zeidel on said:

    That’s a good question, Malcolm–why do you seem to feel guilty for taking time to play? I’ve got a suggestion: get a notebook, and every day for at least 20 minutes, sit and free write about your childhood. Don’t try to compose a blog out of it; don’t monitor what comes from your pen. Just start with “When I was a kid I… ” and let the words flow. I bet if you do this for a few weeks, suddenly some epiphany will flow from your pen about your relationship to work vs. play. Once you know what that is–what’s holding you back–you’ll be able to figure out what to do about it. It’s important to use a pen and paper to do this, not the computer. Pen and paper uses different neural pathways than using a computer, and you need to loosen up/free those neural pathways for this exercise to work. And it DOES work–I’ve used it often.

    (Psychiatrist Smoky steps out from behind the PSYCHIATRIC HELP 5 CENTS sign).

    You can mail me my nickel… 😎

    • I might just do that. But rather than mail you the nickle, I’ll give you something better. Take a look at the link above in item 2. Hensher makes some other good points about why we need to pick up a pen from time to time. (I almost never touch a pen except for scribbled notes on scraps of paper.)

  4. Pingback: BOOK BITS: Amazon in Brazil, ‘Lighthouse Road,’ Jami Attenberg, Sister Spot, Weird comments in bookstores « The Sun Singer's Travels

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