Wanted: Writer

Today, I declare myself a professional writer. Whew! That wasn’t so hard was it? But what’s it mean? It means I’ve selected a particular path — and the steps I take upon it, will one-by-one take me to a specific end. From a quick analysis, there seems to be three major components to complete along this path.

The first component is content. I can’t be a writer if there’s nothing to write, right? But the reason I chose this path is because I’ve already proven to myself I can generate a constant stream of content that I enjoy writing. Might it need some fit and finish? Sure, but the raw material is there.

The second component is connecting with an audience. I’ve so-far neglected this aspect big-time, so it’ll be my focus for now. My writing has primarily been a personal-diary approach, so I have to transition to a style that’s more inclusive of others. That’s my challenge, and I’m up for it. The third component is generating revenue. But really, an audience makes this part possible, so it’ll remain on the back-burner until step-two comes to fruition.

So how does one connect with an audience? By wishing it so. In my extensive analysis of content-creators, this seems to be the underlying mechanism, the common-thread they all share. The formula is easy: by performing a particular act (e.g. writing), I intend to attract an audience. It’s my intention that’s key. Previously, I didn’t want an audience, I wasn’t prepared to handle it — now it’s my wish.

“Come on, is it that easy?” THAT EASY!!? Why you little..!! Do you realize how much preparation I put into NOT being scared of an audience. Psh, “that easy”. And don’t forget I also had to prove to myself that I could create worthwhile content. It took over six years for me to accept it — over 1400 entries within this blog serve as the proof I required. Wishing and truly believing in your wish is not an easy thing to do. But wishes are where dreams begin.

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Enemy Within

Mean comments. It’s a situation that affects many content-creators, so let’s talk a bit about insults and being scared of the audience. If I make a video and someone insults my eyes, it wouldn’t register with me. No one has ever mentioned my eyes good or bad, and I’ve never felt self-conscious about them. Whereas if someone says something about my teeth, my discolored, misshapen, misaligned teeth: “Yes I tried braces! That’s where the discoloring came from!!!” Oh he’s right!! My teeth are just terrible!!

Who just insulted me? I just insulted me. If I didn’t have a sore-spot to push on, there’d be no pain to feel. I’m the bully, not some external miscreant — I’M the miscreant attempting to humiliate myself through the comment-section. It’s the same way I use a mirror to humiliate myself, “Look at how ugly you are today! Gross! No one’s going to like your content and the comments will show how untalented you really are!” If I seek to be insulted, I will be insulted.

“Okay, but how about the sheer disrespect of someone trying to insult me!” Well that’s still just a sore-spot, it’s a feeling of unworthiness. From a different perspective, it’s nice that someone thinks about me so much that he needs to connect on a visceral level, he just hasn’t figured out how to express his love appropriately yet. As a content-creator, I’ll interpret the audience’s reaction in whatever way I feel about myself. If I hate myself, the audience will appear to hate me too.

In conclusion, it’s not the guy “out there” I should worry about. It’s my own judgmental self I need to be wary of. What a jerk. And if I can’t get myself in line, how can I expect the external world to fall in line? If I can’t do it, how can I expect others to!? So I must strive to be patient with others and appreciate my audience. Frankly, the audience is a lot less critical of my work than I am, plus they’ve gone out of their way to consume this content and interact in some way. “Thank you commenter, at least you’re a lot nicer to me than I am to myself.”

Creating Connections

As mentioned previously, I’m in the process of turning my writing hobby into a career. Mind you, I don’t need to do this, I want to do this. I’m getting older and want the accoutrements of a career. After six years of writing this blog, I’ve proven my ability to generate a constant stream of content — so I’m all set in that regard. The missing ingredient, the part I’ve been avoiding, is connecting with an audience.

I’ve been writing to an audience of one: me. In essence, this has been a personal diary, entries were succinct and ideas were dense — everything tightly packed and difficult to digest unless you brought a whole lot of understanding to the table. So congratulations if you’re a regular reader — you’re an impressive individual. But from this point forward, I must broaden the appeal of my writing, stop the self-centered approach, and actually think about others while I write.

Hmm… deep breath. Aha, see! Right there! I found a weakness! It’s you. I default to fearing you. I suppose it IS tough to write while considering that people will read what I write or even worse: respond! Luckily, I’m up for the challenge. If that’s what it takes, then that’s what I’ll do. I no longer believe in a dangerous world that’s hell-bent on my destruction, so I no longer believe that every audience is a sadistic horde attempting to tear-down content-creators in order to shatter their self-esteem.

In fact, in my analysis of content-creators, I’ve often seen them lovingly refer to their audience. “This is OUR success, and none of this would be possible without YOU.” There’s a mutual respect, a bond, and a shared goal of lifting each other up. It’s a family of sorts. And sometimes Uncle Steve gets a little tipsy and yells profanities in the comment section, but so what, no big deal — we compose ourselves and move on to bigger and better things.

And that bigger and better thing is THIS. Connection. In a sense, the content doesn’t matter, it’s simply an excuse to connect. “So what are we doing Saturday night guys!? — Movies? A party? Go bowling? Eat at a restaurant? Karaoke?” No matter what it is, it boils down to meeting-up simply to hang out. And that’s what content-creators facilitate whether they’re blogging about food or fashion, whether they’re live-streaming a video-game or vlogging — it’s all an opportunity to connect.

Down to Business

Okay, let’s get down to business folks. Career-stuff has vexed me my entire life. It’s time to turn that trend around. For too long I’ve thought of myself as a pawn, subject to the whims of Lady Luck. My thought pattern has been: “Well, I’m just waiting for a lucky break, then things will turn around. Any day now… [many years later…] Um, hello? Uh, well I suppose patience is a virtue after all…” Guess how that technique has been working out? Poorly, in every sense. It’s time to pivot to a new direction.

Lately, I’ve been paying attention to some content-creators. Not what they’re saying, but what’s going on underneath the surface. Fundamentally, their content is fleeting and futile in isolation. It’s the audience-member himself that turns content into something personally meaningful. For example, if I have you listen to a song I like, or sit you down to watch a funny video I like, you’ll probably just shrug. Content is a very personal matter and the consumer brings so much to the table.

Many content-creators are shocked that people like their work, and are often surprised at the specific aspects people enjoy, and are amazed at all the meaning ascribed to it. This means that a content-creator’s work exists beyond the creator. He or she is merely the conduit. In fact, you’ll often see a problem develop when a creator truly believes himself the source of his content, he develops a warped ego, gets anxious and paranoid about generating new content, and the content can get weird or dry up.

Okay, back to my personal situation. I started this blog about six and a half years ago and it’s been my creative focus ever since. I believe this means I qualify as a content-creator. And it’s true, I feel like a conduit for words that come from a place beyond myself. Thoughts appear in my head, I type them out, and publish them here. So what’s the problem? Well, the content I publish doesn’t have a significant readership and doesn’t generate any revenue. Oh.

It’s a hobby I’m passionate about, not a career. Whereas I’d prefer a career of some sort at this point in life. I’d like a satisfying answer to the question, “So what do you do?”. I’d like a reason to be busy and feel like a productive member of society. I’d like a source of income to buy all the trinkets and experiences I fancy — for myself and others. I’d like a reason for people to respect and admire me. I’d even like a reason to have a home-office and a desk.

And in a sense, I have a responsibility to distribute the content I’m provided. I shouldn’t feel awkward or self-conscious about it, it’s not really mine anyway, I’m the messenger. There’s an audience out there seeking content and I should accept that I’m a content-conduit. Fundamentally, I’m here to establish a relationship, a threesome if you will, a triumvirate, a trinity in fact — of creator, content, and consumer. So let’s get it done. “Hi my name is Rich, and I’ll be your server this evening!”

Spiritual Sensei

Without control of your thoughts, you’re lost. Your turbulent mind is going to take you on a wild ride that you won’t soon forget. If you can’t shut your thoughts down or can’t differentiate between worthwhile ones and worthless ones, you’re going to have a hard time. If you think you can handle that level of difficulty, which maybe you can, have fun. But for those of you having an unpleasant time with existence, there’s a less intense route through this funhouse.

It’s called spirituality. The purpose of spirituality is to ease your journey through life — that’s it. Spirituality is a way of looking at the world that allows you to comfortably navigate through it. You CAN look at life as a struggle, and it’ll be every bit as hard as you imagine. But you CAN look at life as an enjoyable adventure, and it will be.

“But Sensei Rich, reality is what it is, life is cruel and hard, I’ve seen it!”

Then why are some people having a great time? Reality is relative or else everyone would be having a tough time. Everyone has obstacles, yes, but the difference is that they enjoy the experience. They see the game-like nature of life and have fun while completing the provided challenges. But it’s even better than that, once you get in the right frame of mind, you get to pick the problems you want to solve.

And this ability to appreciate life begins with spirituality. Step one, is to get your thoughts under control. Step two, is to redefine reality into something you can handle. Step three, is to enjoy. Not so bad right? Then what are you waiting for? Your options are these: keep doing what you’re doing and continue having a rough time OR pursue spirituality and start having a great time. Seems like an easy choice, yes?

Foggy Start

Oh man, what a morning. Ugh, and last-night too. Not the best. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was rough. My first thought and interpretation was: “this is definitely not going to be my day today, bad-day here I come.” But do you know what interpretation I settled on instead? “Witness my power, ye mighty, and despair!”

Through my ability to manifest the world I experience, I created a tsunami of unpleasant scenes. The sky itself was overcast while the streets were masked in fog. That’s true power right there. Of course it’s a dumb way to wield my creativity, but at least it demonstrates my ability to shape the life I’m living. If I want a horrible time, then so be it! It is done! Voila!

No, I didn’t specifically wish for a bad time — but that’s the problem. I didn’t specifically wish for a good time either — and the turbulent mind, when left on its own, undisciplined, will take you on a wild ride filled with dips and dunks. And boy, did I let my messy mind lead the way. Unpleasantness was the product of my unconsciousness.

Later that morning was a lot better, I had a fine time walking my son to school, then met up with my wife and we walked around town for about an hour. It was great. I couldn’t have planned it better and the temperature was just right. And the fundamental thing that changed was my attitude: from helpless pawn of life’s cruel game to absolute creator of my own reality.

Reason for the Season

Folks, the fundamental issue facing our time, or any time really, is this: an adherence to rigidity. “Should things remain exactly as I expect?” The answer should NEVER be “yes”. No offense, but your expectations are too low — compared to what could be, you’ll always be lack-minded. The world will always be greater than what you can imagine.

Once upon a time there was a guy shaking things up, telling people there was a better way. But thanks to an adherence to rigidity, this man was straight-up murdered for trying to improve the world. His name, if you didn’t know, was Jesus — it may sound familiar because we tend to celebrate his birthday around this time of year.

The people of his day couldn’t wrap their heads around progress. “You mean things can get better? Nah, things suck and they’ll always suck! You’re just a charlatan! Crucify him!” They could’ve ignored him, but no, they had to send a message, they had to cement their conservative stance and convict him in the court of public opinion.

And that adherence to rigidity remains with us today of course. “Keep things as they are! Why change!? One misstep and we’ll lose it all!” But such an attitude only demonstrates a distrust of life, a skepticism toward our creator. It is the very opposite of a godly attitude. God is infinitely giving — as demonstrated by all we’ve received.

Come this holy season, the true gift we give others isn’t in the form of trinkets, the regifting of what God has already provided — it’s in the love and acceptance we demonstrate towards them. It’s in the cheerfulness we maintain as we mingle with our fellow guests. This world is God’s gift to us all. What greater thanks can we offer back, but in helping others have a great time as we all share in this generous gift.