Your Entrepreneurial Soul

How can an old-fashioned Detroit assembly line worker walk away from the factory and become a creative, independent 21st-century entrepreneur?

That’s the way I now see the situation faced by fiction writers today.

Here’s what happened. Last month, I picked up Robert T. Kiyosaki‘s Rich Dad Poor Dad for a dollar at a library book sale. I was interested because I had a poor dad—a “progressive” teacher and administrator, strangely enough the same as Kiyosaki’s poor dad—and a rich uncle, my dad’s brother—a businessman who created a chain of discount record stores… “and never the twain shall meet.”  My family background made Kiyosaki’s ideas shockingly personal.

Since then, I’ve been feverishly delving into this new-to-me world of entrepreneurship and business and money. I now have an sense of the chasm between Amazon and the publishers formerly known as the Big Five.

In his book Retire Young Retire Rich, Kiyosaki mentions the difference between the corporate mindset and the entrepreneur mindset.

This is simplified, but listen: corporate publishing is a bureaucracy. In contrast, Amazon, big as it is, still has an entrepreneurial soul.

What does this mean for fiction writers, especially indie fiction writers?

We fiction writers create products that didn’t exist before we invented them, new products that other people are willing to trade money to get.

In the past, we turned our inventions over to bureaucrats. We were like craftsmen who left their workbench because they were too focused on craft to be businesslike. When times got hard, they had to get an assembly-line job. 

Think of each car coming off the assembly line as a short story anthology, a compendium of the collected works of all the workers. Except each worker keeps writing the same story over and over.

Is it any wonder we now see copies of copies of an author’s original idea? It’s like different models of assembly-line cars. Take the original idea of the car, give it a slightly different shape, color, accessories, horsepower, mechanical tweaks. It’s the same basic car, just a different model.

Take the original Twilight, The Hunger GamesFifty Shades of Gray, give it a few twists and tweaks, turn out a dozen other novels, TV shows and movies, even a new genre, all based on the original invention… and what you end up with is different models of the same basic car.

It’s no longer enough for us to be craftspeople at heart who work on an assembly line, turning out stories for a bureaucracy to sell, tweak and reproduce. It’s not enough to hand over our copyrights—our only assets—to a bureaucracy that knows better than we do what assets are for.

We as fiction writers have to approach this process differently. What would it mean to be a fiction writer-entrepreneur?

Nora Roberts has famously said that writing is her job. Writing need no longer be a job within an enveloping corporate context. Writing is now the personal business of each indie writer. We must approach this as business people, not as employees, assembly-line workers or baby bureaucrats, but as entrepreneurs, like Amazon.

Amazon is currently the farmer’s market where we take our crafts to sell.

Many of us still have the craftsman’s view of the marketplace. We have to enlarge that view.

Now I understand better what Kristine Kathryn Rusch has been blogging about for a long time. How can we ourselves become entrepreneurs, each of us a mini-Amazon?

Some writers have taken the first steps, but there are so many questions.

What’s the best way to protect our copyrights, which are our assets?

Should each author become a Limited Liability Corporation? Would that provide enough protection for our copyrights? Would it give us a tax advantage?

Do some of us need to band together—not into unions, which are for job-holders—into some form of mutual entrepreneurship?

What’s the next step for us after the current Amazon farmer’s market develops into something else? Will we be absorbed into a new corporate bureaucracy? Or can more of us become this new kind of fiction writer-entrepreneur?

How can an old-fashioned craftsman who could no longer make it on his own and who spent years working on a Detroit assembly line walk away from the job and grow the skills needed to become a free entrepreneur?

By S.J. Driscoll

Serena Dracis: Between Lives? Don’t Micromanage the Universe

Being Between: a series about moving from our current day jobs and life situations toward our true vocations and life goals.

In this fifth installment of the Being Between series, Serena Dracis shares her three-step plan of how to work with the gods when they push you into a new life.

Thank you, Sally for inviting me to guest post on your blog! I’m thrilled and honored to be taking part in this series; it’s a subject near and dear to my heart.

Recently I wrote about reincarnation, a subject I love and will probably revisit again and again. If you have a chance and are interested in the topic, I invite you to hop on over and check it out.

Do we live more than one life? The answer is yes—and not always in the soul migration sense.

I often refer to my animal training career as “my past life.” I worked at the sea lion show of the San Diego Zoo for eight happy years during my late 20’s and early 30’s. My life was all about animals, training and educating people about the environment. It was so much fun! Really, I look back at the zoo as the best job I ever had, and the award from my peers for Excellence in Training still hangs proudly on my wall, alongside my animal pictures. I was single, young, and I loved my life. I used to say they’d have to pry my cold, dead body out of the zoo to bury it.

So how did I end up as a married nurse in Seattle, with the wildest animals around me a flock of chickens? It’s a little bit like the old me died and a new me was born.  Continue reading

Charis Maloy: Between Now and the Next Adventure

Being Between: a series about moving from our current day jobs and life situations toward our true vocations and life goals.

In this fourth installment of the Being Between series, Charis Maloy talks about living from day to day while planning for future happiness.

The mad writer Copyright 2012 Charis Maloy All rights reservedWow, Sally really didn’t know what she was getting herself into when she asked me to do a guest spot about transitioning!

Most of my readers know that I’m a busy girl. Multiple jobs plus trying to write and start a small business make for chaos. What Sally wasn’t really aware of are some of the major transitions in my personal life that are affecting the way I relate to work, and the sacrifices that I am making in order to do what needs to be done.

For the last year and a half, I’ve had my status as family doormat thrust down my throat. For the third time in my adult life, I allowed a certain few members of my family to bring me to the brink of bankruptcy. All while I was working nearly 100 hours a week.

In February, the characters in my head demanded that their story be told. On a major writing binge, I began to tell their stories. Then I had to stop and start building timelines to keep them straight because I had anywhere from 8 to 10 characters talking to me at once, telling me that I had, not a book, but a series.

Last May, after nearly twenty years of hiding my true self, I finally worked up the strength within myself to acknowledge that I am lesbian. This, in a small Wyoming town where my biggest support system has always been my very LGBT-unfriendly church. This is also the place where I once put my job on the line by mentioning in an offhand comment that my brother is gay.  Continue reading

Lena Corazon: Learning to Love the Space Between

Being Between: a series about moving from our current day jobs and life situations toward our true vocations and life goals.

In this third installment of the Being Between series, Northern Californian poet, novelist and sociology doctoral candidate Lena Corazon talks about her multiple lives and shares one of her poems.

Even though I’ve been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since I was a little girl, I always considered it to be little more than a hobby, something I did for fun. The route of academia seemed far more practical, and so I decided that I would study for a PhD and become a college professor.

I was lucky enough to get my wish. I entered a PhD program in sociology straight out of college, and quickly learned that grad school, like academia itself, is one big juggling act. For the last four years I’ve been student, teaching assistant, and scholar. I slog my way through 300+ pages of reading each week, grade what feels like mountains of assignments, and look for spare time to cram in my dissertation research.

It’s little surprise that during my first couple of years as a grad student, I didn’t pick up a single novel or write one word of fiction. Why? I had a skewed fantasy in my head about what it meant to be a “serious” scholar. Serious scholars, as far as I was concerned, did not prance about in make-believe worlds. Serious scholars didn’t waste time having conversations with imaginary people. Serious scholars did Very Serious Things, like immerse themselves in social theory and write books filled with academic jargon.  Continue reading

Louise Behiel: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Being Between: a series about moving from our current day jobs and life situations toward our true vocations and life goals.

Today I’m honored to welcome romance writer-translation manager-psychotherapist Louise Behiel.

When Sally asked me to consider contributing to this series, I had to smile—so very often I consider myself caught between a rock, a hard place and a mountain.  Think of me in the middle of a triangle where the walls seem to be closing in.

I’m blessed with many interests, a need to serve and a passion to write.

During the day, I’m the manager of Interpretation and Translation  for the Health Authority in Alberta, Canada. It’s my job to make sure that our limited English-speaking patients have access to trained and highly competent medical interpreters.

I am fascinated by the practice of medicine and by the amazing care given in our facilities. But, given that I don’t like blood, needles or body fluids, this is as close as I can come to the action.

Just in case you’re wondering, I speak only one language. But many of my staff speak three or four. One speaks eight. They work with medical professionals across the spectrum of health care. They can explain medical procedures, outcomes and information in each of those languages. It’s a big job (imagine keeping up with the ever-evolving medical terminology) and I’m honored to be part of the team.  Continue reading

Being between lives

This is the introduction to a series of guest posts about moving from our current day jobs and life situations toward our true vocations and life goals.

Do you have each foot in a different life—or a few different lives?

I do. Feels like I’ve been trying to transition from one life to another for as long as I’ve been alive.

There was a time when I almost crossed over from everyday life to being a full-time writer. My short stories and poetry were published, a play was produced and I wrote two novels (bad ones).

Or maybe that time just looks idyllic in retrospect. I was pretty much a single mom to my son and daughter for ten years since my husband was away on business five days a week. Then I went to graduate school and worked part time as a graphic artist, while still being a mom.

After that, I started teaching college and thought I’d found the perfect career. That’s what so many writers do, isn’t it? Teach class, then close the door and immerse themselves in their real work.

But teaching drove me crazy. I couldn’t write and teach, too. The words of my lectures drowned out the words of my fiction.

So I became an editor on a medical journal. At last, silence!

I could write again, but found myself transitioning to a different kind of writing. I’d always written short stories, but now I was trying to write novels. Real ones.

That’s not easy. Short stories are like paintings, novels are like movies. Hardly the same thing at all. I had a lot to learn.

Years passed. My children grew. I moved from New York to Baltimore to San Jose to the Texas Hill Country. I divorced and found a new relationship. I left my editing job, tried working for a literary agent, then went back to the old job.

All the while, the writing continued, stopped, continued, stopped— I don’t know how many times I quit absolutely, positively for the last time.

Finally, I gave up.

Now, whether I write for a few stolen hours a week while working as an editor, succeed and make a living as a novelist, or have to wait to write full time until I’m old enough to retire, I accept that writing fiction is and always has been the focus of my life.

There’s a kind of peace in that.

Coming in November: writer-psychotherapist-translation manager Louise Behiel and writer-sociology Ph.D. student Lena Corazon.

By S.J. Driscoll

Happy birthday to us, WANA1011!

In October 2011, I took an online course in social media taught by Kristen Lamb along with almost a hundred other writers. Little did we suspect that one year later most of us would still be in touch, celebrating our successes and easing our struggles.

Happy one-year birthday, #WANA1011! Let’s have another. And another. And another after that.

Human cycles: history as science

Aside

Human cycles: History as science : Nature News & Comment.

In the current issue of the weekly science journal Nature, freelance science journalist Laura Spinney writes about cliodynamics, the application of scientific modeling to history.

Peter Turchin at the University of Connecticut, who developed the method, suggests that we should anticipate severe political upheaval around the year 2020, similar to the political instability of the post-Civil War period, the Roaring Twenties and the flower power era.

We may live to see even more interesting times! (Wait a minute—isn’t that a curse?)

By S.J. Driscoll

Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy. 

One of my favorite writers has passed away.

Maeve Binchy made everyday life more fascinating than

Vampires, werewolves and zombies

Interstellar travel

Regency dukes

Lost civilizations

Ménages à trois

Secret societies

Aliens

Cannibalistic but intellectual mass murderers

Wizards, warriors and witches

Elves, dwarves and dragons.

That’s a lot for one writer to do

In a single lifetime.

Real is better.

Thanks.

By S.J. Driscoll

I want it.

It’s art. No, it’s soap. No, it’s art?

My daughter just sent me this photo of her newest soap creation. I’m posting it because I’m flabbergasted. Seems a shame to call this soap! It’s art you can wash with. She told me it’s called “Cruise,” and smells like a sea breeze with coconut and orange.

Too bad, though–I can’t get any of this batch until it cures. That takes three or four weeks. I’ll wait.

By S.J. Driscoll

Epub number four

Ellie’s responsible for her job, her little boys and the old man she helps when she can. Until now, she’d never realized that her responsibilities are what make her strong.

Yesterday, I epubbed my fourth short ebook to Amazon and Smashwords. It’s a short story that originally appeared in Ellery Queen’s® Mystery Magazine under one of my previous names (I’ve had too many of them).

Last night I was hoping to epub another, but I’ll take the time to go over it once more. A few points can be developed to make it more fun to read.

There’s the temptation to submit it somewhere, but at this point I feel that would only hold me back. Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong, but it seems that would be moving backwards, marking time, and I can’t do that anymore.

Having these five epubs available was one of my goals, and it’s almost done. Just in time, too, because I’m in Candace Havens’ comprehensive writing course and any minute now we’re going to #fastdraft. Time to clear the decks! I haven’t gotten as much done on my WIP as I’d wanted during this ROW80, but it is up to 30k. Surely I can get rid of it–I mean, finish it–in another two weeks if I don’t freeze up.

I refuse to grow old and die with all these stories trapped in my head! Isn’t that how ghosts are made?

By S.J. Driscoll

One day at a time

My third little ebook, a 3,600-word story called “Sleep,” was edited and then published to Amazon and Smashwords yesterday.

Like my story “Rage,” epubbed on Amazon and Smashwords last week, it’s in a genre I call “mommy noir.”

I find that one extra thing can get done per day. It might not be a very big thing, such as a few minutes spent on social media here and there during a brief break on a workday. More involved projects can get done during the weekend.

Yesterday I also set up my Amazon author page and did some social media. Today there’s this blog post.

This week is already filled, so I don’t know how much extra will get done. There’s an work deadline coming up, and a couple of meetings at the end of the week. On Thursday night a few of us from South Central Texas Authors are meeting in Wimberley, and on Friday night I’ll try to make it north to attend the digital authors subgroup of Austin Romance Writers of America.

Life is busy. Sometimes too busy. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m not bored!

By S.J. Driscoll

Some failure, some success. Surprisingly, more success

Time to look back at my original real and fantasy goals. Some that I thought would be easy still seem impossible but, to my surprise, some of my fantasy goals are going strong. Some are turning out better than I’d anticipated, like the one on the left.

1) Real goal: Health: sleep (lights out at 10:30 p.m.), move (get up from desk every hour, spend at least 20 minutes outside morning or evening, gardening, walking or looking at forest).

Fail! I do get outside to water the garden, which counts as exercise since I haul the water in 5-gallon plastic buckets, but sleeping seems like a lost cause. If I want to do more, I have to sleep less. After I stop work, I go to work. If anything’s going to get done, that’s the way it has to be.

Some things to keep in mind: As long as I hold to a modified primal/paleo diet (modified to include unsweetened soymilk, which seems to do me good) and eat almost no grain, sugar or dairy, my strength holds up so I can maintain a strenuous schedule. I’m chafing right now because I found a new CrossFit gym ten minutes from home, and I yearn to try a stand-up paddleboard. My budget’s holding me back more than my lack of sleep.

2) Real goal: Work my job only 8 a.m.-5 p.m., 1 hour for lunch, no evening or weekend work. Fantasy goal: Maintain the quality of my science editing and other job obligations while meeting my deadlines and not stressing out. Continue reading

Interview: SJ Driscoll « Live Wonderstruck

Aside

Interview: SJ Driscoll « Live Wonderstruck.

Today S.M. Hutchins was kind enough to interview me for her Wonderstruck blog. Previous interviewees include writers Carrie Daws and Shay Fabbro.

If the interview were about someone else, I’d think it was excellent. If those accomplishments had been achieved by someone else, I’d be impressed. But this is me, so nothing I do is good enough. Why is that?

Maybe I’d better go back and reread some of Louise Behiel’s series about the coping strategies of children that carry over into adulthood.

Thank you, @smhutchins!

By S.J. Driscoll