I’m on vacation. Which means I hike for miles and miles every day, sometimes go out backpacking for days at a time, and then, like yesterday, come back into civilization to take a long, hot shower and find some great coffee. Not that any coffee I can drink in the tent while wrapped up in my sleeping bag and watching my dog play with a stick isn’t great coffee, but still, the coffee I can get in this little mountain town really is the best in the world, and I’m not kidding.
I also read a lot of books while I’m away. I read once that back when he was running Microsoft, Bill Gates used to pile up under his bed any books he wanted to get to some day, and when the pile reached his box spring, he’d declare a vacation and go off and read for a few weeks. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I still like it.
So while I’ve been away I’ve treated myself to a few books I think you’d all be interested in, and that makes me want to mention a blog series I think some of you might be ready for. But first, the books.
Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing is one of my favorite writing books of all time. That and Stephen King’s On Writing. If you already are a writer or want to be one, please treat yourself to both of these books. Your heart will lift, and at the same time you’ll learn some valuable lessons about the business.
The other book I’ve relished up here in the mountains is Garrett B. Gunderson’s Killing Sacred Cows: Overcoming the Financial Myths That Are Destroying Your Prosperity. I heard about this book from my favorite business-of-writing teacher, Dean Wesley Smith (more about him in a second), and it really has opened my eyes–not only about the “common truths” about money that actually happen not to be true at all (things like “Everyone should contribute to a 401K” and “High risks equal high returns”), but also about my own hold-over beliefs from my childhood about what having money means. But that part is personal–I’m sure we all have our own twisted ideas about money, and this book will really make you reconsider those.
The point about all of those books I’ve listed above is that they are there to help you think through writing and business and making money from your writing when you’re ready to really think about all of those things in a clear-eyed, clear-headed way. And not everyone wants to do that. I know from experience that it’s fun to be stuck for a while in the fantasy part of writing and wishing, and to be too scared to actually move forward in a “No, I’m really doing this,” kind of way. But once you are ready to really make writing your career and your life, it’s so, so valuable to learn from people who are already on that road, and who have already thought through some of the experiences and issues you’re going to have.
Which brings me back to Dean Wesley Smith. He just finished a year-long blog series called Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing. I’ll warn you, there’s some scary stuff in there. Not because you can’t handle it, but because you might not want to.
Dean and his wife Kristine Kathryn Rusch, author of one of my other favorite business-of-writing series, The Freelancer’s Survival Guide, are both famous for approaching their writing careers in a clear-eyed, clear-headed, business-like manner. Some writers love to learn from them, some run from them in terror. Only you know which you’ll be.
I encourage you to spend some time reading through Dean’s series on publishing. And in addition to the posts themselves, you’ll find HUGE value in reading the exchange of information in the comments, especially between Dean and another great business-minded writer, Laura Resnick. But be prepared to watch some of your own misconceptions and stubborn beliefs fall into tatters. Because some of those beliefs are just wrong, and won’t survive having the bright light of facts shined on them. I love it, and other writer friends of mine love it, and you might love it, too. I hope you do.
That’s it from me for now. I haven’t blogged in a long time because I’ve been busy writing books. And I probably won’t blog again for a while, because once I finish playing in the wilderness, I’m going right back to working on a new book and a few short stories I’ve had in mind. It’s a great schedule for me: write like crazy for months and months, and then completely leave it behind to go play for a while. True bliss.
Hope y’all are having a great end of summer, and that you, too, have spent it reading some fabulous books. Now it’s time for me to go get another cup of great coffee. Later!