Welcome to whatever is on my mind!

Some people use the term "nonsense" but I prefer to use the phrase "uncommonly sensed" because it's more reflective of creative types.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Advice on Becoming a Writer

Despite all the nonsense I write on my blog, I get a lot of serious requests from people who want to get published seeking my advice.  I’ve gotten more than the usual number lately, so I thought I would do a blog post on it.  This will probably take several blog posts to write all of this down, so here’s the initial step:
The first thing you should do is ask yourself “Why do I want to be a writer?”
Writing is not something that you “fall back on” if you lost your job or need some cash.  I’ve been contacted by a lot of out of work people who think that getting published is the answer to their financial problems.  The truth is that it’s quite the opposite.   Several famous authors (Balzac and Sir Walter Scott, for example) have gone bankrupt publishing their own works.  Granted that the publishing industry has changed since those times, but the lack of or difficulty generating income is still there for most authors. 
Starting a writing career is like starting a small business.  You’re going to be doing many jobs (writing, marketing, developing your online presence, event planning, etc.) and working long hours to build yourself.  And, just like a small business, you should anticipate that it will take at least 3 years for you to get things moving.  Your planning approach for this career should be long term and you should not expect fast returns from your work.  It will take time to build yourself up and get your career moving, so make sure that what you really want is to be a writer.  If you’re writing because you enjoy the escape of going into your imaginary world, you may be better off reading books by other authors, going to the movies, or daydreaming.
Like most occupations in the arts, writing is not something you go into for the money.  Most writers don’t make the salaries of Dan Brown or J. K. Rowling (let’s face it, no one makes J. K. Rowling’s salary but J. K. Rowling!).  However, there appears to be a myth that getting a book published is like winning the lottery.  Here’s the reality: most books actually lose money.  By the time that you pay for editing, printing, and marketing you will be bankrupt unless you sell enough books to absorb those costs.  Even if you strictly publish eBooks to avoid the printing costs you still have considerable up front costs that you may never recover.  This is why publishers reject even well written books: because they know that if they can’t sell enough copies to cover their expenses that the book is going to cost them money.  Books that don't make money also don't pay royalties to the author.
So my first message to those who want to be a writer is to make sure that this is what you really want to do because this is a very difficult industry.  In fact, it’s probably easier to become a rock star.  After all, there are no reality TV shows called “American Author” where writers compete for a publishing contract.  But maybe there should be...


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Beet Chips

One of my favorite pastimes is making up band names.  See my previous posts here and here for more about this hobby.
However, the other day I was in the grocery store and saw a product called “Sweet Potato and Beet Chips” and I came up with another genius band name: The Beet Chips.
The Beet Chips is a group of five Guys names named “Chip” who sing songs about beets.  Their first album will be an EP with 5 cover tunes familiar to the average listener.  Only the most astute listeners will catch the nuance of the band singing about “beets” rather than “beats.” This is primarily because the difference in pronunciation will be difficult to detect because of the Chips’ accents (they’re going to be British).  The track listing on their EP will be something like this:
Beet It
Every Beet of My Heart
We Got the Beet
Rockin’ to the Beet
You Can’t Stop the Beat
Their second album, which is destined to fail miserably, will be a series of love songs to beets.  Songs will include such tracks as the ballad “I Wouldn’t Get My Iron Anywhere Else” or the pop tunes  “Purple Passion and Fiber” and “Borscht, Borscht, Baby.”
Critics and fans will, of course, disagree over the quality of the music with each party attempting to proclaim the album as more of a  miserable failure.  New words will be invented to describe the enormous level of suck and a media war will ensue as the album’s ratings continue to decline into negative numbers.
At this point two of the Chips will become severely depressed and question why the beet betrayed them.  One will turn to alcohol and make an appearance on Celebrity Rehab where Dr. Drew will attempt to get Chip to start eating beets again.  However, this treatment will later backfire as Chip eventually learns how to freebase beets from watching one of the other celebrities.
The most heartbreaking part of this fiasco is that 20 years later there will be 5 guys named Nick who repeat the entire cycle by forming a group called “The Beet Nicks.”  It just goes to show that you should always do your research.  But the Nicks won’t be that bright.  They will just look good in red turtlenecks and love songs about iron rich foods.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Why You Shouldn’t Make Siri Angry

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend, whom I’ll identify as Pamela in order to protect her identity. Pamela disclosed to me that she’s pretty sure that Siri (the new iPhone voice recognition technology) has it in for her.  There are some personalities that just don’t hit it off and when these personalities are forced together for a period of time bad things happen.  This is my friend Pamela and Siri.  She demonstrated repeated attempts to get Siri to text, email, or call someone. Pamela’s conversation went something like this:
Pamela: Call Amy.
Siri: Your music library is empty.
Pamela: Find coffee shops.
Siri: Dialing the IRS “Please Audit Me” department.
Pamela: @#$%&@#!!!
Siri: Calling your mother because I know you haven’t talked to her in a month since she told you that your thighs looked heavy in that skirt.
Pamela: Text Bob.
Siri: Locating all nearby porn retailers.
Then Pamela gave me her phone and I gave Siri a similar series of commands. Siri responded immediately and correctly to my requests.  I even told Siri to "find fun" and she came up with a list of 25 "fun" places nearby in less that 3 seconds and over half of them had a full service bar.
So what can we learn from this?  Be nice to Siri.  She has a lot of power.