ponder

News and Updates

Self Publish or Traditional?


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I’m nearing the point where I will have to make a decision. Do I self-publish my memoir or should I go the traditional route? I am having a hard time deciding. Here’s why.

My first instinct is to go traditional publishing for a few reasons. First and foremost, respect. Not everyone can get published through a publishing company but anybody can self publish a book, so it would make me feel more like a legitimate writer. As a writer, at least for me, there is constant doubt as to whether or not my writing is any good. Getting published through a publishing company and having a literary agent would make me feel official and I hopefully I would have less doubt.

Next, traditional publishing handles everything…for a price. I don’t know about you but I am not great at marketing. I know what to do, I can picture it all in my head, but when it comes time to follow through, consistently, I have zero interest. I don’t like to bother people. I know exactly how it feels to talk to someone and then they start trying to sell you something. I don’t want to do that to anybody. Of course I want to get paid to write, it’s my dream job, but selling yourself is part of writing, unless I go with traditional publishing.

A publishing company gets paid when your book sells so it is in their best interest to market your book. They will put it on the front of their website, post it on social media, and if you get really lucky, they’ll know somebody that knows somebody and before you know it, you’re talking to Oprah. (Or whomever is her equivalent today). At the very least, they will try to make some money from your book and so there will be effort on their part. However, as stated before, that comes with a pretty heft price, or a percentage of all sales. I don’t know the exact numbers but i’m pretty sure it’s akin to the old record label days when the artist gets like 7% after it’s all said and done.

Which brings me to self publishing.

If I self publish my memoir, I can either sell it through my website and get to keep any profit (minus cost of production and distribution) or I can host it on Amazon or something and get to keep a decent portion of all sales (I think it’s like 35% or something). However, I will have to market myself. *gag*

I hate marketing. I know it’s everywhere and anything I’ve ever purchased is probably influences by some brilliant marketing, but when I think of what it really is, it makes me sick. Marketing is influencing an audience to purchase a product. What does that really mean? Influencing is a fancy way to say manipulating, and audience is a way to generalize (or “other”) individual people. Marketing is manipulating people, and because we live in a capitalist society, it’s supposed to be ingrained in us that its okay. Really, what other way is there to make enough money to survive?

However, I can’t seem to do it when I try. You have to be consistent, selling yourself every single day, every chance you get, if you want to turn a profit. We do it with “likes” on social media, or even to get traffic (views) to my website. The ONLY reason that this website doesn’t have a larger following is because I suck at marketing. If I were to let everything go and really push this site, people would visit it daily and tell their friends about it and it would grow. And if I could do that, then self publishing would make sense because I would be able to cut out the middle man and sell my own book.

The possibility that I could some day do this is what prevents me from reaching out to a literary agent. Let’s face it, digital is the future and traditional publishing is a dying breed. Just like record labels, and cable TV, everything is going online.

I want two things from my memoir (and my writing in general)

I want it to be the best it can be. I want people to want to read it because they connect to my writing and enjoy the escape. I want people to look forward to my next book or my next article or whatever.

I also want to be able to not work a regular job and live off my writing. I don’t want to write things that I don’t want to write though, like working as a freelance writer, taking whatever writing job I can get to get by. I’d rather cut my dick off.

So I sit, still wondering what path to chose. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I need guidance from someone who has done it before. Thank you for reading.

Musings

God Exists, But He Isn’t a Man


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God is real, but he isn’t a man.

If you’re religious, or have any knowledge of the Abrahamic religions, then you’ve probably heard that “God made us in his image.” Because of this, many people depict God as an old man with a long white beard. God is also depicted as a single dad that loves us all. If we trace human nature back as far as we can go, this just can’t be true.

Men are not loving by nature, we’re tolerant. Read the old testament, God was vengeful, and full of wrath. But, what about women?

Women were supposedly created from the rib of men. I don’t buy this. If that were true, then why wouldn’t it be the way in which women are created today? That would be pretty cool though.

Imagine being a young boy, playing and hanging out with your friends, but once you hit a certain age, and “grow up,” you could decide to settle down, remove one of your ribs, creating the perfect wife for you, and have a family. It would make it clear that men are superior, and women are here to please us. Sadly, that is not how it works.

How do we make people? Sex! Men and women are both required to make a new person. That alone should tell you that we are fundamentally equal and that whatever story was written about women being inferior to men is BS. We are equal, but opposite, and that’s okay.

There are exceptions, but in general:

Men are external. We act OUT. We wage war on the world. We hunt, we kill, we provide. Our sex organ is on the outside of our body. We are strong physically, our outer shells made of steel. We are dominant and intimidating. We overtake by force.

Women are internal. They act IN. They wage war in their bodies, growing life from within. They sheath us. They receive. Their sex organ is inside. They are strong emotionally, their inner shells made of steel. They are submissive and cunning. They overtake by strategy and persistence.

Fire and Water.

Fire can boil water. Water can extinguish fire. Fire can warm a home, or fire can scorch the earth. Water can nourish life, or water can drown it. Neither better; both necessary; both deserve respect. It isn’t better to be a man, nor is it better to be a woman.

God is a singular word that represents the duality of life. Broken down, God would be two Gods; God, the mother, or Space, and God, the father, Time. Space and Time. Without one, the other can’t exist. If there was no space, just time, what would that even be? It is impossible to describe, because nothing could exist without a space to exist in. The only way we know that time exists is by measuring the changes in space. When you see a banana rot, it is indicative that it has been sitting out for some time.

On the other hand, space, no time. The universe would be like a photograph, or a model. It would just exist, but nothing would ever happen, nor change. No moving parts, no clouds, no rain. No wind, no us. Beautiful, but pointless.

No, we need space AND time. God, the father, made love with God, the mother, and he seeded her womb, space, where life grows and is nourished. Not every sperm makes it to the egg, not every planet sustains life, it takes a miracle. We live inside our mother’s womb, and when we die here, perhaps we are really being born there, wherever “there” is. Call it Heaven if you’d like.

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News and Updates

100 Pages


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I have officially passed the 100 page mark for my memoir. I never would have dreamed that I would find the discipline to sit down and write this book. I had the idea nearly a decade ago, and I wrote a few pages here and there, but I have made it my goal to sit down and finish this project once and for all!

I am thankful to my friends that have been helping me along with encouragement and feedback. I can’t even describe in words how much it means to me.

The more I write, the more I believe I am a writer. I have fallen back in love with my passion and I hope you all enjoy it when it is finished!

100 pages and counting!

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Musings

How To Write a Mean Letter


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Dear _____,

I hope you’re having a day as terrible as your breath. How don’t you notice that you’ve consumed nothing but coffee and cigarettes for the past four hours? We all talk about it, but I’m on to you. I think you know. I think you do it on purpose as a little social experiment. You’re trying to see how gross you can be in the office and still get away with it aren’t you? Well, not anymore! I am writing this letter to tell you that your breath is so bad that it makes me want to light a match and burn off my own taste buds. (I hear those are necessary for smell). I have taken the liberty of including a care kit for your breath with this letter. Enclosed you will find a tooth brush, tooth paste, Listerine, and Listerine strips. Please use them immediately, and especially when you need to speak with me directly. Otherwise, contact me via email or text message.

Down-wind and ready to vomit,

(Your Name Here)

Motivation

How to Get Back on The Horse


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“If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.”

That was my motto for many years. If I was great at something, I showed off. If I sucked, I pretended it sucked and that I wasn’t to be bother with whatever it was. Loser mentality. However, I’ve grown into a person who admits failure, and that is something that I’m proud of.

We’ve all seen them, the people who are amazing and never fall. Well guess what? That’s BS. They fail, all the time, but they, like I used to, don’t admit it. When you see a photo on Instagram and you think, “Wow, why can’t I look that perfect?” What you don’t see is the 100 photos that got deleted, or the number of filters put on it, or even some Photo Shopping that happened.

When you see a video of someone doing some crazy stunt, a flip or trick, they’ve got hours and hours of footage of them falling, failing, and trying again. You just see the final product.

Even your favorite TV show or movie has an outtake reel.

The point is, no matter what you’re trying to be better at, the road to success is built on failed attempts. I’m not perfect at any of the things I preach. My diet slips now and then, and I’ve gone on a 3-day Chinese food bender. I’ve skipped workouts, and I’ve even missed some writing days. It happens, and that’s okay.

Don’t let your idea of perfection ruin your attempt. Be proud of your failures, because that’s what makes your story great! Nobody wants to read about someone who was born amazing and never lost. We all love a good comeback tale. I learned that lesson early. My brother was the “screw up” and I was mommy’s perfect little angel.

I couldn’t understand why, even though I was the “favorite” child, did my brother get all the attention. He got unbelievable praise for basic stuff. Like if he didn’t misbehave in public, he’d get candy or a compliment. I behaved all the time, but nobody rewarded it. It was expected of me. I got good grades, and my brother didn’t do his work. If he ever did, he was showered with love. It wasn’t until I fell off my pedestal that I got attention, but negative attention. When you do the right thing all the time, people notice when you don’t. When you do the wrong thing all the time, people notice when you do the right thing. It’s a strange dynamic that we all tend to do. We grow accustomed to people’s behaviors and expectations form.

After a while of doing bad things, it wasn’t shocking to my family any longer. I was expected to be rebellious. Then, whenever I did something right, I got that praise I longed for. I learned that people love to see you fall from grace and come back up. They will criticize you the whole way down, but, depending on how far you fall of course, they will build you back up too. There’s no hope for Cosby or Weinstein, but we’ve seen many celebrities fall down and come back. Robert Downey Jr. Brittany Speares, Mike Tyson, etc. Their failures give them character, and it makes them interesting. Yours do too! Embrace them. Yes, people will judge you, and that is why we hide, but I’m telling you, they will forget and/or move on and suddenly you will be revered for overcoming your failure.

So make mistakes, fall off that horse, but don’t destroy the evidence of trying, embrace the error, learn from it, get back on that horse and maybe fail a little less next time. Repeat and before you know it, you’ve succeeded at whatever you were trying to accomplish, and ready to fail at something new!

 

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Motivation

Quotes I Adore


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“A wise man has something to say, A fool has to say something”

“Don’t speak unless you can improve the silence.”

“A single raindrop feels no responsibility for the flood.”

“Remember, you’re just a walk on part in everyone else’s play.”

“Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.”

“Pay no attention to what the critics say; no statue has ever been erected to a critic.”

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”

“When you start yelling, you lost the fight.”

“What we think, we become.”

I love quotes like these. They help me ground myself when I am off balance.

 

Motivation

What’s Your Story?


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Last summer I was taking a course called “Literary Sites and Spaces.” It was one of the best experiences I had ever had with a class. We took field trips for a week, visiting literary places around Massachusetts. For example, we went to Walden Pond and read excerpts of Thoreau in the woods, near where he had gone “into the woods to live intentionally.” We visited Louisa May Alcott’s home and saw the very spot that she wrote “Little Women” by hand. We headed to Salem, Ma. and took a tour of the “House of Seven Gables,” and read excerpts of Hawthorne’s novel of the same name. There were several other places we visited but you get the idea.

While on this trip, a group of us formed a bond and swapped life stories. I gave some examples of my past which often shocked the group. They came from stability and I must have seemed like Oliver Twist or something to them. I’ll never forget what one girl in the group said to me. She said that she didn’t feel like she had any stories to contribute because her life was so boring compared to mine. I assured her that her “boring,” normal life is what intrigued me. I was fascinated by people who got along with their siblings and actually hung out with them. I was fascinated by people who called their parents on a regular basis and met up with them for meals. I told her that her stories are like fairy tales to people like me and I would love to hear them. She eventually shared, and she explained how her sister is the “favored” one because she was married and pregnant, which their mother was excited for, and my friend was pursuing a career over family at the moment. I said, “See? You have some stories after all, and that one has some drama to it!”

I believe that everyone has a story. That’s what makes us unique. Although the path of life is linear, birth, career, death, when we zoom in to any one person’s lens, their path varies in their own way and that is fascinating. Even if your life isn’t filled with explosions, or adventure, and if you lived in a little town your entire existence, you still have a story to tell. Your life isn’t boring. Your life is your own, and you might think that nobody wants to hear about it, but I’m telling you that people do. I do. I love life experiences more than anything else in this world. Oddly enough, I despise reality TV, but that’s a separate issue. I want to hear your story. Pick up a pen, or start a blog! Write it down, and be brave enough to share it. I guarantee, somebody out there will read it and they might even say, “Wow, my life is boring compared to their’s” about YOU.

 

Typewriter What is Your Story

Musings

Diligent Dilettante


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Remember that old Planet Fitness commercial with the big guy who repeats, “I pick things up and put them down?” Well that’s me, only not with weights, but with everything I do.

As a writer, I am told, “Find your niche and stick to it.” If I want to make any type of living off my writing, I am supposed to be an “expert” at something and write content in that area. Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t I be that way?

I love too many things to pick just one or two. I have always been that way. A jack of all trades, master of none type of guy. I have a gift/curse that allows me to be “naturally” good at most everything I try, which creates motivation enough to stick to something for a little while, while it is fun.

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Then I reach a point that it isn’t as fun anymore, because it takes real dedication and time to get to the next level. That’s when something else will pique my interest and surprise surprise, I’m good enough at it to want to do that instead.

Some activities that I’ve done include:
writing, rapping, painting, crafting, cooking, gaming, Tae Kwon Do, boxing, power lifting, calisthenics, poetry, running, gymnastics, etymology, English composition, teaching, dog training, food critic, movie critic, relationship advisor, motivational speaking, plumbing, electronic technician, chauffeur, customer service, waiting tables, light construction, hiking, camping, survivalist, archery, how to bulk on a budget, protein powder reviewer, dress nice on a budget, yoga, mediation, etc.
The list goes on.

I loved every moment I spent pursuing these momentary passions, and I learned so much doing them, but inevitably, they all came to an end. Some were picked up again, and some lasted longer than others, like rapping, which I did almost daily for 10-15 years. Poetry was sporadic, but something I still do, and writing motivation comes and goes, though I am currently on a hot streak of daily writing with this blog. I stay in relatively good shape, though I don’t hit the weights nearly as hard as I used to. I got my degree in English Composition, and I teach at Umass Boston, but that is coming to an end because there aren’t enough classes available next semester for me to teach any, being lower on the seniority totem pole.

Either way, I don’t know what I can write about to build an audience big enough to allow me to write as a profession. I have a vast amount of knowledge through life experiences, but I haven’t the slightest clue how to create a niche with it, nor do I really want to.

I never want to become something I’m not just to make money. I never want to be locked into something I no longer enjoy. Being a niche writer is putting me in a box, and that’s something that I cannot do. To quote Roy from Shanghai Noon,

“I am like a wild horse, you can’t tame me. You put the oats in the pen though and i’ll come in for a nibble every day, but if you ever shut that gate, i’ll jump the fence and you’ll never see me again.”

 

News and Updates

10,000 Words


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Today is a very special day for me. I have reached 10,000 words of my memoir. It was my first goal, and milestone when writing this book. I feel like I have accomplished a great task and even though I have tens of thousands of words left to write, I am proud.

Like a house is built one brick at a time, a book is written one word at a time. Just keep writing!

 

Musings

Vietnam Trip


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I’m currently writing the section of my memoir about my trip to Vietnam back in the summer of 2005. It’s a strange experience looking at the old pictures that I have locked away. I want to share some of them with you.

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Check out this view!

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Wait guys, I come in peace!

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Why am I looking satisfied like, “Hmm, this is a nice rock.”

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That money exchange rate though…

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Check them Jesus sandals! Also, our dumb prison poses

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Had to take a picture with these two. No clue what’s the deal with that unfinished wooden structure behind us though.

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Ok, so this was actually in the Hong Kong airport on our way TO Vietnam, but I just thought it would be a good one to share because it is important to laugh at yourself!

 

Overall, I had the best time ever, I can’t even describe what it did for my perspective in life. I only knew my small chunk of the world in Massachusetts and our way of life there. It is amazing how different life is on the other side of the world, and also how similar we all are in other ways. If you ever get the chance to travel, do it. Those memories and lessons are irreplaceable. I recommend Vietnam to everyone because I had an absolute blast! Thanks for reading