Becoming a successful blogger and author

Becoming a successful blogger and author

 

If there is one thing I have learned about gaining any amount of notoriety it is that is brings with it critics and debate over the action you are taking. When unknown, or barely known you can perform whatever you are doing with little or no criticism and without having to defend you actions. But the moment you become known on any level, whether it is simply in your local community or maybe simply within your circle of friends and family- watch out! IF you cannot take the criticism or negative comments about what you are doing then do not attempt it. It will come.

 

Well paid commentators such as Bill O’Reilly of the Fox Cable News Network and others like him are living proof. Not a day goes by that such successful people endure written and verbal abuse and criticism regarding their words or actions. Politicians also are not afforded the luxury of vernacular homicide. Any slip of the tongue or misspoken or misunderstood word or phrase brings with it  an unforgiving critic and barrage of negative attacks.

 

And the more controversial the subject matter the bigger the bashing and attacks. Want to really get attention to your blog? Then write about a hot topic and present a not so popular viewpoint. I read blogs posted on major news outlets- I do this because clearly those writers of blogs have gotten where many of us would like to be. I also read the responses they receive from their blogs. Some are brutal!!! What have I noted? 1. The blogger got attention for presenting a viewpoint that is not mainstream. 2. Most often the subject of the blog is regarding a politician, a hot political subject or god and religion.

Oh and one other thing I noted. The bloggers never get involved in the online discourse regarding their blog. They wrote it. They stand by it. And they move to the next subject allowing for the readers to vent as they will. Takes a mighty strong individual to do that. So though I may not like the politics of a certain politician I must give them credit to have a strong constitution by simply not engaging in the debate. And anytime a politician engaged themselves in the debate it always put them in negative light. But that is most likely due to the fact that they were wrong, and being wrong, not being able to truthfully and honestly defend your stand is often the motivator of responding.

 

In making one’s views and thoughts public, whether via blogs, books or lectures one must be able and capable to effectively explain and defend their views to the satisfaction of the reader or listener in order to win them over. Simply by presenting it in a “I know this is so, because I feel that it is so, and it worked for me” is not enough.

 

So you believe in aliens from other planets having visited earth. You are presenting your belief. You do so by stating that YOU so a UFO. Or in the middle of the night you felt like you were abducted. And you have a scratch on your neck to prove you were probed. And by golly I can draw a picture of the UFO and the alien that took me away. Look out!! The critics are coming!!! UFO stands for UN-identified- So well then if you have Identified it then it is no longer UN-identified. So you are already caught in the first step. Your presentation should have started with UFO’s no longer UN-identified. I have identified the Flying Object!!! And then of course you must be prepared to defend the remainder of your story……….

 

So enjoy your writing, stick to your subject. And remember that when you gain that notoriety there will be a lot of critics. And proof will be demanded as to WHY the WHAT you are selling works and HOW it works. And if you are uncapable of defending that don’t seek notoriety. Or simply learn to ignore the critics and stick to your guns. 

Downsize and minimalize

Downsize and minimalize

 

I, like billions of other Americans, expended great energy trying to achieve that American dream. Yes I had that new Lexus and the sports car (Mercedes) lived in that nice two story home and was valued on paper at over a million dollars. The larger my income the larger my bills, the larger my house, the newer my car. Me and my American Express Gold Card new no bounds. And yes I paid that bill off every single month. I had bags of new stuff laid in my closet that I had forgotten I had even purchased. First to get the new I-phone and was the go to guy for where to buy what and where the best deals were.  My accountant and my CPA told me what checks to write to pay what and I never gave any thought to any of it. Money was no object in my life.

 

I was a consumer. I lived the high life. But personal fulfillment was not there. I had based my life on what culture and media had dictated to me. About 10 years ago my life fell apart. Illnesses and death left me alone in the world. So I had time to reflect, to give consideration as to my priorities. Did I really want my legacy to be “He made money and had stuff”? I had always recognized and claimed to have heart for those who could not afford a pair of shoes or who worried over their next meal- but my life certainly showed no compassion for such people. My view that having money would allow me the time to do the things I wanted to do was not realistic. It was not who I wanted to be, really.

 

So I downsized. I shrunk my life back to the things really needed. I soon found time. I soon found that I could do the things I wanted to do. As long as I dropped all the baggage. As soon as I realized that I didn’t have to have the new shiny car- it is simply a means to get from point A to point B after all. I didn’t need all the space. I now live in a space of less than 200 square feet. It provides me shelter. It keeps me warm and cool. My utility bill went down to less than $50 a month. I didn’t need a TV and the cable bill that went along with it. I allowed myself internet- with which I can conduct my business and stream all the entertainment I need. Though I am no sports fan I found that you can even stream the sporting events live.

 

With patience, along with the new found free time I have I could find great clothing at a fraction of the cost the retailers offer. None of the very nice suits I own cost me over $20!! Yes I buy new underwear and socks. And even new shoes. I always have money in my pocket and less stress over making huge amounts of it. I have time to serve people the way I do best.

 

I found my 1990 car with only 72,000 miles on it for less than $2,000. It rides like a dream and has taken me 10,000 miles in three months. I am clean and well groomed. I am neat. I have more land space than living space by far- room for my ferns and other activities like star gazing through one of my two telescopes that I purchased at yard sales and thrift stores. At 58 I am still learning and educating. I am healthy. And I have TIME. That one valuable, the most valuable asset we all have- that one thing you do own that you can never replace: TIME. 

On writing books and blogs

On writing books and blogs

 

I was aware of the blogosphere some time ago and never really engaged myself in the sport- I know calling it a sport is most likely offensive to those who take it very much to heart and actually have turned the event into great financial and personal gain, but sports has done the same. A friend of mine has now taken herself into the world of blogging into such a level that I could no longer ignore that world.

 

Given that my world view was based in great part upon the great religious institutions of the world and the fact that learning, knowledge, became very important to me truth became equally important, or even most important to me. In my avid reading of books and the news it became evident to me that many set themselves up as some sort of authority on any number of subjects. This was especially true in the world of religion. Charismatic men and women of different faiths would take any number of scientific theory and world events and effectively twist the bits of information they had into books and lectures that swayed the thoughts and beliefs of millions. All based from the most basic of information on the subject. A deeper study, deep research, investigation would quickly dismantle the dogma being thrown out by these folks. However, the majority simply never take the time to dig deeper. Words sell. A good wordsmith can quickly sell pseudoscience as fact in the most convincing of ways. Then soon millions would be re-selling this information as if it were based on some form of reality.

 

This happens in news reports as well as in religion, health care and so forth. Misinformation becomes validated fact to the less informed because some well paid and well known author, lecturer or preacher told them it was so.

 

Opinions are formed from such misinformation. Decisions are made based on such. In fact laws are passed that affect entire nations based on such false information.

For instance if one researches the testimony that led to the passing of some of our drug laws- i.e. marijuana – it is very evident that scientific data was ignored due to the persuasive words of the un-informed. Scientist do not make the best word smiths or presenters of data. So the more eloquent, emotionally charged words from the authoritative less informed person over powers the words of those who know the fact, who have truth.

Words do have power. And those of us who have good use of words have a responsibility to use those words to express facts, truth and to make clear when we are simply sharing “revealed” knowledge versus knowledge based on true investigation. It is with out words that we manipulate the data we are presenting. Many blogs and most information we hear from the high paid pundits on radio and 24/7 cable ‘news’ networks are not based on true investigation. It comes from 2nd, 3rd, 4th and so on person material. Rumors and gossip are based on the same.

Another example I will use, since I am in the marrying business, is that of the marriage license itself. The majority sentiment towards marriage and marrying is based not on real knowledge but so called revealed knowledge which has no basis of fact. The so called sanctity of marriage is promoted by politicians and religious leaders. Yet the knowledge based on investigation proves a totally different set of facts in regards to marriage licensing. I have yet to hear from the emotional pleas of the politicians and religious leaders the true history of government licensing of marriages. None comment on the fact that none of the founding fathers of this nation ever acquired a marriage license from the state nor was one offered to them or anyone of that period. I have yet to hear any one of these eloquent speakers note the fact that our marriage license was based on racism, yet that is the fact and it is well documented truth.

So as we set out to sell out views, to convince our readers of certain points we and our readers are best served (as we set ourselves out as an authority figure) to investigate. Know the facts before presenting our material. And though I am not doing so in this blog (do as I say not as I do) our blogs and writings should be filled with notations as to what sources we used to find our information.

Yes YOU can (what?)

Yes you can!

 

Change, optimism, a “can do” attitude. Much is written and promoted seeking to affect change in people. Guides to improving a person’s outlook on life. Ridding one’s life of clutter, getting organized and always thinking that the future is going to be better, improvements are just around the corner. I, personally have always had a positive outlook towards my life. Most likely such an attitude has aided me in weathering those storms that cross through all lives at some point or the other. Some things I can affect. Having a positive outlook always helped me to find solutions. Not giving up. Able to get up each day with a balanced view towards where I was headed and how I would reach my goals and dreams.

 

However what was hardest to learn throughout this journey was balance. Accepting that I could not control each event and the outcome. We are still human. We still get sick. Ultimately we are still going to die. It is that time and space between our coming hither in birth and our departure in death that we are left to deal with. Then there are all those challenges in that time and space. I drive cautiously, maintaining a safe distance between my vehicle and the one in front of me, driving at safe speeds and watching my mirrors. In fact I am quite proud of my driving record. But there was that one accident that occurred. Me, driving in the left lane on a four lane divided highway, not on the cell phone and driving under the speed limit. Years later I can still see in my mind’s eye that white mini-van, the lady driver pulling out of her apartment complex. She looked to the right, never to the left (where she would have seen me) and then against all understanding she pulled out and crossed the right lane (which was clear of traffic) and entered the far left lane where I was driving. I remember thinking “there is nothing I can do to prevent this accident”, my thoughts were that I was either going to be injured and in the hospital or worse yet dead. Though my car and her van were totaled neither the injury or death occurred. Car lost, major shake up, and major inconvenience. No amount of positive thinking or optimism or “can do” attitude affected that incident. Maybe I affected the outcome somewhat by allowing my body to relax, simply accepting the fact that I could do nothing. Maybe that prevented broken bones and other injury because I allowed my limbs to simply go limp. But in that slip second before impact I certainly had no time to give great thought to making that choice.

 

It has been said that sometimes the best response to give to some circumstances is no response at all. If I had braced my legs or arms for the impact who knows- I may have broken both arms and legs. Maybe even my neck. Who knows? But I am grateful that I chose, in that fraction of a second, between realization that an impact was about to occur and the impact, to simply allow it to happen. If however, in that moment, I had seen an out, an action I could have taken to have prevented the accident from happening at all, certainly I would have taken an action of avoidance. In this case I am certain I would have, even if it had brought injury to myself, for I had also noted that in this van that I collided with there were small children, a baby.

 

When close call or accidents take place, of any type, and we survive, we can always go back and second guess with a lot of “what ifs”. Though there may be something to be learned from such an exercise, such as how to be better prepared for such in the future, I never allow myself to live in the past, wondering how my life would have been had the incident never had occurred to begin with.  It wasn’t fair. I liked my Lexus. Why me? What if I had left for my destination just a little earlier or a minute, just a minute later? And I could ponder all these “what ifs”. I cannot change what already had happened so I choose to only dwell on it long enough to see what I can learn from it

 

The world is full of “Yes you can!” books, seminars and motivational materials. And as you lead your lives thinking about all the “Yes you can” ways of thinking. Keep that balance. Remember that it isn’t all about YOU and the outcome for YOU. We share this planet with over 7 billion other humans and countless other life forms. Out outcomes should be less selfish and more selfless. Each and every time you enjoy the climate controlled house you live in and car you drive, each time you have the luxury of choosing what you want to eat for dinner and what shoes you will wear today remember there are millions who do not have that luxury. Millions would simply like to have a pair of shoes- any brand,  any color, any type. Millions would love to have a full meal, no matter where it came from, no matter how tasty it is or what kind of presentation the dish made. Millions would love to have a floor under their bare feet, no concern about the color or style of carpet or tile, just something other than dirt. Yes you can! But in all the sweetness of our lives and positive thinking no amount of such positive thinking will feed those millions  or put shoes on their feet. However, “yes we can” with a lot of sacrifice and selfless actions can make a difference. And there is no better therapy than selfless acts. There is no quicker way to a “Yes I can!” attitude that focusing on others. There is nothing better for one’s self esteem than having helped someone less fortunate than YOU. There is no quicker way to feel better about who you are and your circumstances in life than to focus on those who have way less. There is way more than enough food and clothing for everyone on this planet. But it is all separated by boundaries and cultures. So the “Yes I can” leads to “yes I can do what?” What thing can I do to improve things for someone else? What can I do to bring a better situation for  many and not just “I”. I have noticed that those who expend their lives focused on others instead of themselves tend to live longer, healthier more productive and happy lives. Their utopia came from seeing a smile on someone else’s face- toothless no more. Yes you can- by allowing, not controlling. By caring, not in words alone. By being self-less, focused on the needs of others instead of where the journey is going to take you. Yes you can be happy and feel great. Plan your journey to benefit others and you will never be disappointed with where your journey takes you. For you will spend less time looking in the mirror and more time looking at others. 

Here and now!

Here and now!

Much time is spent debating yesterday and dreaming of tomorrows. Certainly there is nothing wrong with dreams and goals and clearly we learn from the past. But tomorrow’s dreams do not come true by living in the past or simply dreaming of tomorrows.

From time to time I am called upon to give an eulogy. On each occasion I address the relatives and friends of the deceased and force them to focus on this simple fact: If this person, lying here, could once again speak a message to you, do you know what they would say to you? I am almost certain that they would tell you that the one most valuable commodity that each of us owns and that can never be replaced is our TIME. Each moment is precious. It is un-replaceable. Once spent it can never be gotten back. You can get another house, another car, a new computer and even a new spouse- but in no way can you replace even the time you spent reading this. It is gone, forever.

So, you dream of writing a book, publishing a book or retiring to Florida. So you take time to investigate what it will take to fulfill that dream- reach that goal. However, as you spend that time working towards that dream, always remember that it is this moment, these precious moments that are the here and now.

Millions spend countless time striving towards a goal of eternal life in heaven or some other hope for life after death. A lot of their waking time is spent focused on such a goal. And the moments go by. The second hand sweeps across the face of the clock and never returns. And, as with all things in life, the unexpected happens. Critical illness, loss of income, or the ultimate: death. So as you allow for your dreams, your goals, never forget to recognize these moments in the here and now. As one wise man pointed out “time and unforeseen circumstance” bring changes to our dreams and goals. Another old saying is “stop and smell the roses” along your journey. For really, it is the journey that counts, not the reaching of the goal. The books we write are about the journey. The memories we have and share are about the journey. The fun in life is the journey. And the journey should never end. Our lives should be consumed by the here and now- the where we are at the moment. Each step we take. Each challenge we enjoy at this moment. For it is our reaction to those challenges that define who we are. It is our responses to the brick walls that we run up against and the bumps in the road that really determine whether our dreams and goals are met or not.
One misstep, one wrong turn can result in our not reaching that goal. So if your focus is not on where your foot is landing at this moment the goal can become further and further out of reach. You could miss that wonderful, key element of colors, sounds and smells along the path if you remain only focused on where you think you want to be in a year, five years or ten years. Allowing each moment, each step to lead you could provide you with even better goals and dreams.

We have this moment. We are here now. And it is what we do with this NOW right HERE that is important. For the world you see now is most likely much different than the world you saw 10, 15 or 20 years ago. Your views have changed. Your desires have changed. And as your reflect about those passing years you remember the journey. And it is the memories accumulated during that journey upon which your writings are based.

Drinker with a writing problem…….

Drinkers with a writing problem

 

Since a very young age I was an avid reader. It was once noted to my parents from a school teacher when I was in the 1st or 2nd grade that I sat reading a Tom Sawyer book and never noticed the bell ring for school to be dismissed. As I became absorbed in the books  of these great story tellers I found myself becoming part of the story. Their writing so well painted the characters of the story that I found myself right there with them as their adventures unfolded with each turn of the page. I could see them, the details of their faces, I could smell the air they breathed and hear the water flowing downstream as crickets chirped in the night sky lit by a full moon. Vividly I heard each footstep, each rustle of a leaf and I jumped right along with Tom as fear overtook both he and I in the darkened night. No, Tom was not there alone. I was right beside him. Though he never addressed me by name he shared his every sense with me as we traveled side by side on an adventure that filled my senses to the point of bringing me into a new reality- a reality that truly was not mine- but became mine as the words ran across the pages of that book. My heart at times pounding and at other times  finding myself audibly giving a sigh of relief. I became tired at exactly the same time Tom began to doze. I felt his every emotion.

I never gave much thought as to how those writings affected me. I just knew they did and I loved the hell out of it. I couldn’t wait to get into the next adventure. To feel the emotions brought to life for me in those words. Ahh to have such talent. To be able to grab the reader to such a level that they never gave thought to the fact they were reading at all.

 

We each have our own style. Our own words. Our own story to tell. For most all it takes much time of trial and error to find our real voice. That voice that gains the attention of the reader so well.

 

I have found that I give little concern over my grammer, my spelling and such mundane details for those details get in the way of my getting the story out. Like any other art form the best pieces seem to come from no-where, with no for-thought given. The hit song written on a napkin while in flight between two cities. That  timeless poem for the ages that flowed to the paper whilst the gin drained from the glass through the lips.

 

It seemed that I was a drinker with a writing problem. For really how could I enjoy the drink when it drove me to stages of insane writing? What value would it be to become close to drunk if such a state only drove me to another addiction of writing? Stories, characters endlessly coming to life in my gin filled head as they, the characters told their stories- it wasn’t I for I had not that in me. It was the little baldheaded man who appeared from no where and suddenly consumed every wrinkle in my weary brain. The be-speckled little man whose plaid suit and bow tie gave away the fact that he was a bookkeeper by trade. His wingtipped laced shoes soiled from the rain and mud as he journeyed down the lonely street with each street light flickering as he passed underneath. Strange this little man. Umbrella in hand, carried like a walking cane, making for a stranger yet sight as the rain spotted his hairless head.  

 

Yet I digress- for this writing is not meant for the telling of that story. It is about being a drinker with a writing problem. One who imbibes only to find himself drawn to his addiction of writing. Seems those are the best writers of all. But who really am I to say? For I am no writer. No wordsmith here. Not a very good story teller at all really. Though, I do find pleasure in allowing the words to flow, just as the gin flows. Tough it is- being a drinker with a writing problem.

Marriage, religion and bigotry

A long time ago a song was written that said “Love is a many splendid thing…” and indeed it is. Much has been written as to why we fall in love with the person we fall in love with. Studies have even been done to try and explain the aspects of love. Much debate still takes place in defining this thing called love. Though we still grope to try and get our minds around this most powerful emotion, this awesome attraction between humans we can all agree that it does happen, sometimes without explanation or even intent. Sometimes even with someone that we never were drawn to initially. But it happens. The tug, the pull. We become obsessed with that other someone. We want to spend all of our time with that someone. Always they are in our mind. And we often say they are in our heart. Some people do tend to be more pragmatic in their approach to choosing a partner. They think it through very seriously. Is this person lazy or what kind of house can they provide for me. Clearly for some it is a matter of money and convenience. For others it is simply that strong tug at the heart. That “I just cant live without them” feeling. That no matter what the circumstances I want to be with them. In a tent or in a mansion- simply being with them is what matters. And yet those that feel the latter can never put into words quite well why they feel drawn to that certain someone. It just is.

 

These unions between people often lead to co-habitation. And in some cases to a desire to legalize their union with the state. For others though it is simply the love and trust they have for that certain someone that is important. They are the ones who truly trust their feeling and are secure in the relationship. It matter not how much money is involved or where they live.   

 

In the history of mankind these unions have taken various forms. The views of what is proper, acceptable or not change first one way then another. At times reverting back to the way it once was. So it is quite interesting to see where we are today and where we were just a few short years back. 

 

Such unions in recent times were never sanctioned by the state. The state had no part of such unions. And only if a person were “churched” was a religion involved. People would meet, fall in love, decide they wanted to form a marriage and at best the man would visit the woman’s father and seek permission to co-inhabit with the daughter. A ceremony may or may not take place. It was a celebration of this union. No contract with a state or any other government. Common Law it was called. For those who were churched the church would sanction the marriage. The union. And the couple would not be allowed to live together until a formal ceremony took place. Taking hold of ancient pagan practices and customs white gowns, wedding rings, flower girls and the like would be part of the ceremony. 

Not until the middle of the 19th century did the state become involved in marriages, unions. Each state had as part of their constitution that it was unconstitutional to marry someone of another race. A white could not legally marry or co-inhabit with a Chinese or African- American and so forth. But then in the middle part of the 1800’s a few states began to license such inter-racial unions. For a fee permission could be bought via the state to overcome the constitutional prohibition. Then by the 1920’s all who sought such a union were required to acquire such permission from the state. Until just the last few short decades most states recognized Common Law marriages. Now most states no longer recognize such unions. 

So now we have a brief history of marriage and the bigotry that created the marriage license. How does religion come into the picture? The ban against inter-racial marriage was pushed by Christianity. And in previous centuries the church not only held power over such union but they also acted over matters of estate. Wills and the dividing of property when someone died or unions fell apart. And of course the church was a man’s club. Women were to remain silent and men dominated to the point that even through the first  half of the 20th century women were not allowed to own property or vote. In subjection, according to the dictates of the Christian Bible. 

As the United States became even more secular the states took this control away from the churches. Probate courts were used then and now to manage the affairs of estate and marriage. But yet the religious right still lobbies to maintain their hold on the subjects of this free land. Refusing to marry certain couples, lobbying to prevent the legal marriage of certain parties. Spending countless dollars lobbying government and on advertising to sway the thoughts of the voter they seemingly will stop at nothing to relent their hold on marriage and unions. Money and  energy that could be much better used to feed the poor, clothe the poor and house the poor- spent instead on lobbying to legislate their Christian based views on the rest of us.

So it is with marriage. Restrictions placed by ancient superstitions. Restrictions placed by the very institution who promoted slavery, denial of women’s right and the progress of medical science. 

Marriage is a union formed in the heart. We can not claim to follow a god of love while denying love to others who happened to fall in love with someone that we do not approve of. You cannot stop such unions and it is time that all these unions be allowed the same privileges and protections of the law that is afforded to others.