What 2012 Taught Me About My Blog

The Path of Dark Shadows

The Path of Dark Shadows (Photo credit: JusDaFax)

“The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.” ~ Buddha

This writer’s path.

When I decided to change a few things with the blog last year, the one thing that stood out most was what I wrote about. I wrote about my life, my job, my family, Buddhism and a bunch of other things. I never had a set, “This is what I write about”, type of thing. Well, that has to change. I will write about writing, and how incorporate what I’ve learned from writing into my daily life, including my spirituality.

There are things I’ve changed on the blog in the last year though. I’ve stopped writing three days a week on The Bleeding Inkwell mainly because I don’t have the time. It’s occupied by writing novels, kids, wife, day job and writing for The Today Voice. I love my The Bleeding Inkwell, its had many incarnations, but I believe this one is the best.

When I started I had no idea what I was doing, all I knew was I my writing needed reader. But, initially it wasn’t about what I wrote, it was about me, and only me. I never thought this was bad, I always thought that I should write about myself. Talking about oneself is fun, but it gets dull when you say the same things about your life. That’s why I’ve narrowed the Inkwell’s topics to writing only. Which is better for the reader and better for me in the sense that I don’t have to figure out what I’m going to write about.

Changes along the path.

My path with this blog was mediocre at best, I’d get a few hits now and then. But, when I changed the title of the blog just over a year ago, something happened. People started reading, and they returned many times and commented many times.

I don’t always write stuff I’m comfortable with, but I’m truthful to who I am, and that’s important to me.

My path with the Inkwell hasn’t always been something I’m proud of, but I’ve learned something from every post, and I’ve become a better writer with each post. If there’s one thing  about my writing now, it’s a helluva lot better than it was a few years ago, and I know that’s helped me.

Future paths…

The Bleeding Inkwell is the only way I can share my writing, at least until I get a book published. The Inkwell will continue to evolve, but I’ll never change who I am for the sake of the blog.

When I see the future of the Inkwell I know there will be with content that means something to me, and if 2012 taught me anything it’s being truthful to myself and well as my readers. I write for myself in the hope that I’ll reach someone, and my words will connect with them.

Isn’t that what any writer wants, a connection to their reader.

What’s have you learned from writing your blog? Answer in the comments.

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What Are The Phases Of Writing Joy?

joy!

joy! (Photo credit: atomicity)

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. ~ The Dalai Lama

Last week I talked about fear in writing, but there is something else that is better, Joy.

There are many things that can cause joy for a writer.

  • The first time you finish a book
  • Get an agent
  • Get a publisher
  • The first time you see your book on the shelf at a bookstore.

Each one of these has its better points.

Finishing.

That first book is important because it tells you all your doubts about finishing it were wrong. Every time you see it on your computer screen, staring at you, or the manuscript written in notebooks stacked to your mid-shin. Those are the moments that you should feel joy. You’ve accomplished something a lot of writers don’t do, finish.

The Agent

Finding your agent is another step on the path to publication and finding your joy.

The denial letters stack up, but you keep sending it out, because you’re a writer and that’s what writers do. No matter how bad you feel when those slips come back there will always be one that gives you that joy, the glimmer of hope you’re on the right track. It could be a note on the slip or something else, but you will feel that joy!

Staring at the number of things you have to do as a writer feels like you’re climbing a hill, but you know at the top of the hill is the end, at least the end of one path. The next path belongs on the following hill, and continues on…

Each step along the path is another toward your goal.

The Publisher

Finding the right publisher is a part of the process, part of finding your joy as a writer. Will they like it, will they make you change things, will they destroy your book. Remember they’re not trying to destroy your book, they’re trying to help you along the path. They are another hill to climb toward the top. But, remember the top never truly appears. You have different hills to climb with each book.

Each book will take a different path than the last, but you will find the path sooner, instead of later.

Publication (Seeing the Book in a store)

This is the point where you quite possibly could be running up and down the aisles of the store showing everyone your book. Don’t do that, you could get kicked out, unless you want the publicity, then go right ahead.

This type of joy is the one every writer hopes for, publication. Whether you’re sitting in a room at night alone, or in an office cubicle clicking away when your boss isn’t watching, this is the joy that makes all those times worth it.

Are you finding your writing joy.

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Why Dharma Punx Moved Me So Much!

I don’t remember what brought me to the book, I happened to be looking through books at Barnes & Noble and it was there, I picked it up, thumbed through a few pages as my daughter pulled on my pant leg, “Daddy, books.” She said, wanting to look at her books not the Eastern Philosophy and Buddhism books I always went to first.

You can never learn too much from books. This book was no different.

I’d heard of Noah Levine, but never wondered who he was, what kind of teacher he was or whether he’d had a book out. Dharma Punx, there is grammar and punctuation misses throughout the book (as many people on Goodreads will tell you in their review of the book), but that’s not what books like Dharma Punx is about.

These are the types of books that get people sober, get addicts clean and those whom have looked for help in their lives, whether they knew it or not, read for the sake of discovery. If you don’t want to read for the sake of discovering something wonderful, don’t read it.

Noah is brutally honest about his childhood, his teen years, his addiction and recovery. He also talks like I do. He talks like my generation. He made me feel comfortable in who I am, a 36-year-old Buddhist still walking the path trying to find out who he is.

It was his honesty in the telling of this memoir that made me like him and the book. I’ve been around addicts and alcoholics at points in my life. I’ve tried to stay sober for a long time, and failing.

In Noah’s journey he discovers Punk music and its  heavy sounds and nonconformity. He wants what most of my generation wanted. We wanted to die young and be left the hell alone, but have fun doing it.

When Noah is sitting in a cell, at bottom, his dad, Steven Levine, talks him through meditation. This moment in the book gave me chills and reminded me of the first time I meditated and felt the calming release.

When Noah does his tours of Asia, during his second tour ,based on his dad’s book, he discovers himself and what he wants from life. The memoir made me feel for him and know that I could do better. If an 80’s punk and addict can find his path, I can too.

Thank you Noah for Dharma Punx. When the book ended I nearly cried, because I want to be at that place. I wanted to find my path, I think Noah helped me with that.

What has helped you on your path? Answer in the comments.

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What Is The Writer’s Path?

How It Began

Rivière Sangha en République centrafricaine en...

Rivière Sangha en République centrafricaine en décembre 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last year I read Michael Hyatt‘s Platform: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World. I’ve actually read the book twice. I also did a review of it here.

After I read the book, the second time. I thought about what my Platform could be. In the latter part of 2012 I knew what it would be, I just needed an extra push. It came from the book Dharma Punx by Noah Levine.

Reading Noah’s story about his spiritual journey made it feel more effortless. I knew what I wanted to do, but it finally came together in the last few weeks. It’s my biggest goal for the blog in 2013.

2013 Goal Coming Together

My goal was to fuse Buddhism with the composition of my blog. I wanted to do this in a way that wouldn’t turn off readers, but in a way that would be true to myself. I knew I had to do this to create a blog that was more me, something I haven’t been doing as much I’d like.

There are things in Buddhism that fit with writing very well. Starting with the Eightfold path.

The Path divides into three sections: Wisdom, Ethical Conduct and Mental Discipline. Within each section lies the Eightfold Path of Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.

Following the same teachings as Buddhism, I’ve adopted the Buddhist Eightfold Path for Writers.

Read the text. A symbol of the eight fold path...

Read the text. A symbol of the eight fold path “Arya Magga” (the noble path of the dhamma) in Buddhism. An intricate representation of the Dharmachakra, or Buddhist eight spoked Wheel. Dhamma or Dharma (Photo credit: saamiblog)

The Writer’s Eightfold Path.

  1. Wisdom in Writing

  • Explain things the way they are. Never lie or make up stories about who you are. Be honest.
  • Commit to being honest with who you are and never try to sway anyone.
  1. Ethics in Writing

  • Never use words in anger in your writing. That wouldn’t be fair to the reader, nor would be true to who you are.
  • Never do anything to disappoint your readers or take them for granted.
  • Never use your writing for your own personal reasons or let anyone else.
  1. Mental Discipline of your writing.

  • Always put the effort you readers expect of you, never do anything that is half-assed.
  • Always speak with clarity, and control who you are. Never leaving your readers to guess if you’re bull-shitting them or not.
  • Every post is thought out and concise. The writing is fluid and only shows interest in the topic you’re writing about.

Disclaimer to Buddhists: This is not meant as anything other than finding myself in my writing.

Have you been following the Writer’s Eightfold Path? Why or why not? Answer in the comments.

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What Fear Taught Me About Writing

Fear & Anticipation

Fear & Anticipation (Photo credit: hartlandmartin)

“The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.” -Buddha

Fear and failure

When I came up with idea for this series of posts, I was most looking forward to fear. Fear is something that can change us.

With fear it adds another layer to who we are, as well as something more. Fear of failure is one of the most common concepts everyone can relate to. We think about it as writers often. When we see someone published that is in the same genre, and may have the same story as ours, we think, “Maybe I’m doing something wrong. I need to do something different.” Everyone is different, none of us are the same. The idea that someone has done the same book as ours is something that just doesn’t happen. There are similarities, but it’s never the same story.

Fear and my Novel Writing

When I wrote my first novel it was a vampire story, one that is still part of who I am as a writer. I love the characters, the story and still have a fondness for it because it was the first book I wrote. The fear I was for its content. It’s about vampires, and those of us who write know there are many vampire novels, still, with vampire stories. My first book may never be published, but I wrote it and it’s done, so I have that.

My newest novel is Y/A-Science Fiction. It’s more along the lines of John Carter of Mars, with a female protagonist . This story came to me when I was trying to write a ghost story, but evolved into something else. I’d never read John Carter before I wrote it, but there are similarities.

The fear this book caused me when John Carter came out, and bombed, was something that kept me up at night. I was still writing it, but I saw the similarities. I love many things about this story, the main character is amazing, the setting is wondrous and the fear I had initially when John Carter came out has subsided.

Using fear as an advantage

This year is where my fear is more focused at what finishing what I started. The fear of sending a book off to an agent, and I do have one interested, is the greatest fear I have for the next year, but I know I’ll get over that. After that, and the possible acceptance of the MS, the fear will come back as it’s sent to publishers and after that readers.

The fear we have as writers, whether blogging and looking for readers or as novelists and getting our books out to the masses, is one which is unique to writers.

Our fear of acceptance to the agent, publisher and reader may stop us from writing, but we must write. If we don’t write we’re lying to ourselves about who we are.

I’m a writer and I write novels and short stories.

How have you dealt with fear in your writing? Answer in the comments.

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Brian B Baker:

The Today Voice, What have I learned this year? Trust

Originally posted on The Today Voice:

Trust
Trust (Photo credit: vagawi )

What is one thing you’ve learned this year?

This week’s topic is difficult because I’ve learned so much this year. I believe the one thing that has been recurring is trust. There are many ways this year could have gone if I hadn’t trusted people. I’ve allowed myself to be more open about what I believe, what I write and what life really means to me.

My wife and I took the kids to Disneyland, which entails a matter of trust in that I did all the planning and made sure we had the funds to do it, something I wasn’t very good at for a while. The kids had a lot of fun, so did my wife and I, but it was more watching our kids experience Disneyland and seeing everything and my daughter meeting most of the princesses.

In June my son and…

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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 12,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 20 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

 

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