Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Soft Reset

I’m not the biggest TV enthusiast. When I was twenty-one and living in France, I didn’t watch TV for the entire year (1994-1995) that I was there. That changed how I saw television, changed how I lived. And for the three and a half years (2010-2013) I lived in Sherbrooke, Quebec, I didn’t purchase a cable package. My day was structured around my writing, painting and music, and crossing things off my Bucket List. It was a heady time that I will never forget.

Now, living in Toronto, I have cable, and my favourite form of escapism — when I need to completely check-out — is watching AMC. Each week, for about the last month or so, I’ve been able to catch one of the Bourne movies on AMC. (Just yesterday I watched The Bourne Identity.) While the movies are very loosely based on Robert Ludlum’s books, I do enjoy watching them. That’s because Jason Bourne is on a mission — trying to discover who he is. He’s skillful, determined and meticulous. He has a plan, but adapts as circumstances change.

Unlike Jason Bourne, I know who I am. I’m a writer. I’ve had one book published, as well as several short stories, and I hope to see more of my books in print. So like Jason Bourne, I’m a man on a mission. And now I have a plan, although it’s still a little rough around the edges, but a plan nonetheless. In 2011, when Freestyle Love was published, I was a new author, very naïve, and didn’t have a plan. I didn’t really know what it would take to move forward, to succeed in the way I imagined.

Now, almost five years later, I get it: I have to build my brand. That doesn’t come easily to me, an introvert, who wants to succeed but struggles with the idea of self-promotion. But since I don’t have an agent or the machinery of a publishing company to do the heavy promotional work for me, it’s all up to me.

So, in a manner of speaking, I’m hitting the reset button. I am here, at the “beginning,” working slowly and meticulously to move forward. It’s not a rush or a race. And moving forward, for me, means getting back to basics and staying focused on my writing. A keyword there is productivity. I have to write, daily as I do, and not be afraid to showcase my writing on my own if I can’t catch the eye of traditional publishers or literary journals. As Henry Ford said, “Failure is just a resting place. It is an opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” I hope to succeed, but if I fail, I will take out my plan and make the necessary adjustments, once again beginning more intelligently.

And, here, at this “new” beginning, as I strive to create and reinforce my brand, I understand now why I was so resistant to social media — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. The resistance was threefold: 1) As a writer I didn’t really know how to leverage social media; 2) I was afraid that social media would be all-consuming, leaving me little time to create; and 3) Social media intimidated me. So much advice focuses on building an audience or promising you the secret to making your tweet or videos go viral, ergo increasing your number of followers (when all they really want to do is sell you something). It can seem like pretty generic advice. It’s taken some time — almost a year in fact — but I have finally been able to balance my use of social media with my creativity. When it comes to social media, I’ve learned that I don’t have to be on every site all the time, and I’m learning to leverage social media as it relates to where I am creatively. (I’m not J. K. Rowling or Drake or a Kardashian, and I can’t expect to have that kind of influence on social media … yet; that type of expectation would undoubtedly drive me into a depression.)

Yes, I’ve hit the reset button. I have a plan, the biggest piece of which is to write and finish something. And to be of good courage. With this plan I will go slowly and be meticulous in its execution. That will, I hope, set me up for success.

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