On Risk and Writing

This week, two articles I wrote were published:

On Risk and Writing

Compose Journal
I wrote this essay – “On Risk and Writing” – for Compose Journal, which is probably the most personal piece I have ever written. It begins:

“Think about your family, you dolt.”

This is the kind of mean-spirited personal attack that every blogger dreads. It was left four years ago on a blog post I wrote about the risks my wife and I were taking when we decided that I would leave the corporate world and she would quit her teaching job so we could start a small business at the very same time we were starting a family, too.

The piece explores that lonely place of taking a risk to pursue your dream of being a creative professional. You can read the rest of it here.

It was a struggle to write this, and I was helped enormously by Jennie Nash during that process. In fact, this piece was the spark that has lead me to write a book, of which I have now written 60,000 words since September. Beginning November 1st, I have committed to a week-to-week editing process that lasts until mid-March.

Launching a Bestseller Without Selling Your Soul

Poets & Writers
The second piece published this week is an article I co-authored with Miranda Beverly-Whittemore for Poets & Writers magazine: Launching a Bestseller Without Selling Your Soul: The Rewards of Self-Promotion. It describes our process of working together for a year prior to the release of her novel Bittersweet.

This article also describes the many ways that Miranda took risks. The article begins:

Miranda Beverly-Whittemore was a failure, or at least she felt that way. Her first two novels—acquired in a six-figure two-book deal in the mid-2000s—had suffered disappointing sales, and two subsequent manuscripts were met with zero interest from publishers. So when an editor at Crown Publishing fell in love with her next book, Bittersweet, Miranda’s excitement was superseded by her pragmatism. Sure, Crown’s publicity and marketing departments seemed deeply engaged, and her editor was passionate. But Miranda knew this could be her last chance to prove her work had sales potential; for that reason, she wanted to do everything in her power to help find Bittersweet’s readership.

Miranda’s previous experience in self-promotion felt a lot like standing at the edge of a chasm, straining to hear her publisher’s expectations as it whispered from the other side. As founder of WeGrowMedia—a company that offers consulting, courses, and training for authors to find and connect with their readers—Dan Blank helps authors and publishers standing on either side of that promotional chasm build a bridge over it. Before working together, Miranda thought of the Internet as a mask to hide behind, but for Dan, social media, websites, blogs, and newsletters are simply extensions of the physical places where authors can engage genuinely, and generously, with others. In fact, what he believes is not unlike what Miranda was teaching her four-year-old: Be kind to others and they will reciprocate. True connection requires more than simply slapping up a website; you must understand who you are in order to know what you can—and want to—offer your readers.

Poets & Writers put this article in their “Practical Writer” section, which is perfect. My days are spent with writers & creative professionals in that messy “practical” place where they pursue their dreams while kids scream in the background, dishes overflow in the sink, their “real” job beckons with unanswered emails, and they just hit a roadblock with their latest book. That is the place I love being, where every act of pursuing their vision is an act of risk.

Read the full article here.

How does risk play into your life as a creative professional?