Guidelines for Crafting Story

Image: Unsplash

Image: Unsplash

So who’s your Story about?

I generally feel a wee bit disoriented right after shaping a book proposal.

What’s it worth? I wondered. What if my agent rejects it? What if this is all a fool’s errand? What have I done with my life? Okay, I don’t go quite that far.

Last time this happened, my six-year-old peeked in my study. She wanted to show me her outfit – a summer skirt and a short-sleever atop a long-sleever.

“I just couldn’t wait any longer to wear summer clothes,” she said as she twirled around the study. And at that moment, I remembered again why I’m writing this book, why I’m building Tracking Wonder, why I utterly adore engaging readers. Read more

From Writer to Published: Craft & Creative Mastery

Image: Unsplash

Image: Unsplash

You want to publish your book.

Whether you’re writing your first or fifth book, you fantasize about finishing that book, getting it into the hands and hearts of people who need it, and what might happen to your life and sense of fulfillment as a writer once that book is “out there.”

But you feel a tension. This tension is the gap between what you currently know and what your skill set is a present, versus what you might need to know and be able to do and create in order to reach that place you fantasize about.

That gap in knowledge can feel like a chasm.

That chasm’s enormity can take your breath away.

The self-masochism begins. Read more

Business not as usual but as art

Into the light by mamnanaimie, flickr

Into the light by mamnanaimie, flickr

A growing band of people want to change the way we do business.

I have been taking stock of them for a few years. They’re not held together by profession or trade. They are painters and contractors, designers and teachers, insurance agents and literary agents.

They own retail shops and resale shops. They operate health care centers and spiritual centers. They produce events and manufacture products. They are lawyers and writers, filmmakers and trouble-makers.

They are clients of Tracking Wonder Consultancy, people who journey through our Live the Quest Learning Expeditions, subscribers to my weekly letter and to this blog. They are the entrepreneurs & artists I have been interviewing for seven years, the social entrepreneurs and NPO executive groups I have spoken to. They are people I’ve not met yet.

A common hunger bonds them.

Read more

On Our Resistance to Decode Magic: Sunday Essay

WizardcurtainNote: Around once a month, I pledge to break blog decorum and essay = attempt to say something;
a trial; an artful testing out on foot. 
The essay more than any other writing form is the amorphous form of the writer’s quest.
“The essay’s engine is curiosity; its territory is the open road….This is what makes them so damn fun to read. Their vibrancy and intimacy, their mystery and nerve, their relentless searching quality simultaneously like a punch in the nose and a kiss on the lips. A pow and a wow.”
-Cheryl Strayed, Best American Essays 2013, Introduction

“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”

That sentence changed everything for one disillusioned law student in the 1940s.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez disdained the study of law. He replaced his law books with cigarettes, poetry, and cheap conversations with bohemian artists. The restless renegade had trouble sleeping, and one night his roommate came home and loaned Garcia Marquez a book to help him drift asleep. Instead, the first sentence of Franz Kafka’s short novel The Metamorphosis woke him up.

“I never again slept with my former serenity,” the author of One Hundred Years of Solitude says in his memoir about the incident. In a 1981 Paris Review interview with Peter H. Stone, he describes how the line set him off on a quest of change: “When I read the line I thought to myself that I didn’t know anyone was allowed to write things like that. If I had known, I would have started writing a long time ago.”

Kafka’s line, 30-plus years later, cracked open Garcia Marquez’s imagination. He set out to try it himself and to read every piece of fiction he could find.

He’s the boy sitting in the magic show who says, “I want to do that!” and rushes to the magic store and to the bookstore to buy books on magic.

What is that drive? And, more, why do some aspiring artists and writers ironically shirk that urge? And what are the consequences thereof?  Read more

Tracking Wonder, Serendipity, & Creative Virtuosity on the Web

William Copperwaithe's tool set

William Copperwaithe’s tool set

The Cost of Creative Excellence

Take an experiment with me. First, consider this.

When it comes to production value, I’ve noticed we creatives can get trapped between extremes. By production value, I mean how well we execute and produce our final products, stories, designs, jewelry, services, presentations, or offerings – or even marketing.

On one extreme, we can get trapped in expecting perfection. On the other extreme, we can compromise and claim “authenticity” for producing mediocre results.

We deserve better.

Aiming for creative excellence does not mean perfection. Aiming for creative excellence is not about showing off your stuff. On the contrary, it often means working your tail off behind the scenes so you create something so seamless that it transports your peeps, even for a few minutes or an hour, to another place. You give them, in other words, what only you sensitive creative people can offer – a taste of transcendence.

Sometimes it means you obsessively follow your own creative breadcrumbs into the woods of your own making – and bring us along with you for the adventure.

Creative virtuosity is about honing craft and crafting an immersive experience for your patch of the planet. Tinged with delight, surprise, and wonder, the memories and feelings a creation elicits will outlast, with any luck, the creator’s personality.  Read more

3 Actions Great Authors Take to Abate Fear, Doubt, & Shame

I’ve told the story of how a Pulitzer Prize-winning author (1) without talent became a master of creative nonfiction and literary journalism.

I mentioned that he took three creative actions that any of us can take.

I want to reiterate those three actions to further disabuse us of two myths:

Myth 1: That great writing stems primarily from magical talent or divine inspiration.

Myth 2: That great writers stick it out alone like lone wolves.

All three of these actions help abate (though not vanquish) the voices of fear, doubt, shame, and armor. By the way, these annoying voices – like telephone solicitors –  call every single one of us, the Dalia Lama included. (2) Read more