Creating your own roadshow

I think that you should click here. It’s OK, you can trust me. This isn’t one of those scam sites where you click on the link and you suddenly find yourself being directed to a site that offers you entitlements left to you by a long lost Zimbabwean cousin or the secrets to growing a bigger dick. Instead it’s a video; a video that runs for roughly two minutes that has the capacity to take this humble writer and transform his mindset from a defeatist who thinks that the world is out to destroy him, into a conqueror who believes that he has the ability to destroy the world if he were to so much as chose to.

Hmm. You say. I’m intrigued. Tell me more…

OK, here it is. Today’s post is all about rejection. It’s all about being kicked in the face when you deserve something so badly, by a universe that seems hell bent on breaking your spirit and denying you of the joy of success. Yep: rejection. We all face it. Each and every one of us has at some point been met with rejection and failure and often at times when we least expect it. As writers we spend hours developing our craft and creating a story that we believe in, that we know isn’t just good enough, but that is actually down right fucking incredible. Or we apply for a job or a university course that we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are the best person for. Yet for some crazy reason our manuscript is knocked back, or that dream position that we yearned for goes to someone else. We are told that we’re good and that we would probably succeed, but we’re not the here and now. We’re the next big thing, but right now we’re peripheral. We are left feeling dis-empowered.

Today I received one of those bullshit Dear John responses to something that I’ve been chasing for a while now. I was told that I’m good, but that I still need a little polishing around the edges. It rocked me, and it upset me. But it really shouldn’t have. You see it’s happened before, and I dare say that before I die I will be rejected again. It’s just part of life, and to rehash one of the world’s most over used expressions what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I’ll bounce back from this and become even better…

…Actually, fuck that. It’s that kind of bullshit defeatist thinking that allows deserving writers, artists, employees or whoever else to go unnoticed and unrewarded in the first place. That whole rejection is a part of life mentality is literally choking the life out of people across the planet. A man by the name of Mark Graban once said that in life ‘you deserve what you tolerate’, and I’m starting to really buy into his way of thinking. If you constantly tolerate being called the next big thing, or being spoon fed rubbish from a publisher that you show promise but were unfortunately unsuccessful at this point in time, then guess what? You’re going to spend your whole fucking life treading water and accomplishing next to nothing, because you are forever playing the role of the submissive that doesn’t have the balls to reach out and claim what is rightfully yours.

…But I digress. Today’s post isn’t supposed to be a long one. I don’t want to prattle on about the intricacies of my own rejection. Rather I want to propose to you that there is another way to view the world than through the lens of those that we consider above us. We do quite literally have the potential to abandon all that we are told to digest and accept. We have the potential to, and really should, create our own roadshows. For the human mind and race to continue to evolve we must be willing to accept that tolerating the shit-brained way of thinking of others is never going to advance our own individual causes.

It is because of this idea that I’ve presented to you just a snippet of a talk by the legendary mind of Terence McKenna about cultural diversion. McKenna doesn’t deal specifically with the subject of rejection, but rather argues that we must become our own roadshows and we must become the centre of our own universes. We must become the most immediate part of ourselves and stop always so readily consuming the mindset and products of others.

So go on. Click here. Take two minutes out of your day to consider that maybe you could change something about the way you consume the world. Stop consuming the trash being fed to you both through media and through your life as a whole, and reclaim your mind. Reclaim your soul, and reclaim your life.

Pushers & Pseudo-Philosophers

Imagine that you’re a heroin addict. It’s probably a bizarre thought, but just bear with me for a moment. Imagine that right now you’re not sitting over an illuminated screen reading the words of a frustrated writer. But rather you’re turning tricks on a street corner trying to earn a couple of bucks to chase down your next score. You’re entire being aches for another hit; your head is pounding and your stomach feels like it’s tearing itself in two at your unintentional starvation of that needle full of cooked rock that you so desperately crave. You’d do pretty much anything for the opportunity to shoot strings of happiness into your veins and after a few hours of lifting wallets from unsuspecting victims you’ve amassed enough cash to buy a little rock, so you hotfoot it over to your local dealers house.

The place is a fucking dive. If you were to try and take a shit and mould a house out of it you’re pretty sure it would look better than this. But you’re not here to admire the décor. You’re here to tap that vein in the crook of your elbow until it bulges and you can slip a needle full of H into it. There’s only one problem. It’s not your vein that’s tapped out. It’s your dealer. He’s run dry and you’re left staring at some useless piece of shit who can’t satisfy your needs. But he likes you. You’ve been a steady client for years so he gives you two options. There’s a pusher down town who has some of the best shit in the district. Only problem is it’s double the price of what you’d usually pay for a hit. Otherwise there’s a halfwit kid peddling a cut up version of the drug you crave around the corner. He’s known for his shitty wares that are usually spliced with a little washing powder or battery acid but with the money in your pocket you’d probably walk away from the deal with a hit and some change.

So what do you do? Do you feed yourself the watered down shit that may potentially kill you and will have you leaving unsatisfied? Or do you start turning tricks again to double your money and go score some quality shit when you can afford it? It seems obvious that if you were a heroin addict you’d try to double your money and hunt down the drug that isn’t going to leave your needs unsatisfied and potentially kill you. Yet when we trade out that heroin addiction for an admittedly less dangerous infatuation with literature we seem so ready to take a gamble and consume the watered down trash rather than track down better quality shit.

See I’m a Pusher. I’m that guy down town who’s peddling wares that are a little harder to come by but are admittedly of a far better grade than the halfwit trying to compete with me. But unlike a regular pusher you won’t find me standing in a back alley surrounded by hired muscle peddling high grade heroin onto junkies. Instead you’ll find me threaded throughout the online community of WordPress surrounded by pop-up ads and other pushers peddling my own inner thoughts onto you, my ever faithful literature junkie. See you’re not here because you want to shoot strings of happiness up your arm; you’re here because you want to fire strings of carefully woven phrases into your mind. It’s that desire to feel intellectually satisfied that keeps you returning to this blog and many just like it. You crave knowledge and perspectives and know that there is no better way to satisfy these urges than to open your mind to the world of literature.

But there’s a plight now facing the new wave of emerging literature junkies that are just starting to venture out of their comfort zones to track down the substances they so desperately need. The halfwit pseudo-philosopher masking himself as a pusher and peddling his cheap, poor quality shit onto the unsuspecting and the unaware. Bullshit stories on social media sites that play on human emotion are the new players on the scene in the writing world. They are shit quality, totally fictitious and often poorly written, but they focus on a simple formula that affords them widespread circulation: create some heart-wrenching story of human triumph and the baser human emotion of the reader’s compassion will do the rest.

But it doesn’t stop there. See that’s just phase one of the pseudo-philosopher’s cutting of the product. The tear-jerking stories are the washing powder. The battery acid comes in the form of the woefully uneducated trying to emulate the washing powder tales for themselves. We live in a world where everyone has a voice, which is great. But if you’re not a writer don’t try and pass yourself off as one. If you’re not a philosopher then stop trying to create insightful status updates or posts that are rife with poor spelling and grammatical construction. You’re battery acid is diluting the better quality shit for sale down town.

So now you’re educated. But you’re still a junkie and your dealer has nothing to offer you. So you need to make a call. You’ve got a pocket full of collateral earned from turning tricks on the corner. But this isn’t any ordinary collateral. You haven’t got a surplus of cash at your disposal, but rather time. You’ve got an intellectual itch that needs to be scratched and you’ve got just two options; keep turning tricks and chew up some time hunting down that elusive high quality pusher. Or start swallowing down the diluted shit readily available at every click of the mouse and risk an infuriating rush of blood to the head as the lesser quality product leaves you nauseous with disgust at its lack of originality and skill.

So what are you going to do? Well, just by reading this blog you’ve chosen the road that is unfortunately a lot less travelled. You’re hunting down pushers plugging a product they give a shit about and turning away from easier option of the pseudo-philosophers. There’s no reward for this. You’re still a literature junkie and you’ll forever have a need to be satisfied through the phrases of others. But by choosing your pushers wisely you’ll actually have moments where those urges of yours are actually sated. Moments when you can sit back in your lounge chair and close your eyes thrilled by the knowledge that a writer has opened up their heart and mind and found a place within yours.

Authors note: If you were to take ten writers (and I use the term loosely) at random and put them together in a room and dissect them, your break down would more than likely consist of this:

o 1 dealer (A writer who has cracked the big time)
o 2 Pushers plugging their wares in writer’s circles
o 7 Pseudo-philosophers who are standing around with nothing of value to contribute yet oddly preaching their worth to anyone within reach.

Literature is a drug. And like any drug, great literature is hard to find. But believe me when I say that it does exist, you’ve just got to be willing to spend the collateral to acquire it. So spread the word: pseudo-philosophers are on the way out, the rise of the pushers is here. We’re taking our wares to the digital street corners of the web, giving junkies everywhere a buzz that no halfwit piece of shit script or writer will ever be able to emulate.

Keeping it Simple

Anyone who has ever studied any form of writing, business or design has probably heard of a little thing called the KISS principle. If you haven’t then there is a fair chance that you’re either not taking your studies seriously, or you’ve plain forgotten about this little pearl of wisdom. KISS is a rather simple acronym that stands for Keep It Simple Stupid and was principally noted by the US Navy in the 1960’s. The principle is easy to understand – the name basically says it all; most systems work best if they are simplistic in nature and avoid unnecessary complications.

Originally coined by a lead engineer at the Lockheed Skunk Works, the principle stemmed from the idea that engineers need to construct a jet aircraft that could be fixed with the limited tools available to the average mechanic operating within the field of combat. The system in question was the maintenance and repair of a piece of machinery responsible for air to air combat; however the idea is so easily relatable to many other areas in life – including writing.

When a writer creates a piece it must be two things: original and relatable (or at the very least understandable). Often times an ill-experienced writer (yours truly sometimes included) tends to focus on mastering one of these two integral components instead of both; which in turn produces a project that feels incomplete, unbalanced, or for lack of a better word – shit. Evidence of this is clearly evident in our everyday consumption of media through the mediums of both spoken and written word, however it is possible to find success creating a piece that lacks originality yet is highly understandable and still become successful.

If you don’t believe me then go spark up the wireless and take a listen to the god-awful tracks from artists like Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, or One Direction that run on high rotation. These artists often produce tracks or ‘systems’ that are simplistic yet totally unoriginal. Their so called writers (aka marketing teams) produce lyrics that carry no real weight, yet are so easily relatable that they can be effortlessly interpreted within the minds of the masses. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look: Katy Perry recently released a song where she warbles:

You held me down, but I got up; already brushing off the dust.

But who held her down? And why did they? They must have been a real arsehole to do that to her. Was Katy being physically abused? That’s absurd! Why didn’t anybody help her?…Or is it a metaphor? Was she was trapped underneath a glass ceiling within the music industry? Surely not! Or was someone trying to supress her in another manner? The point is that no one really knows just who the fuck pissed off Katy to the point where she grew the heart of a fighter, and the point is that it doesn’t matter. Her lyrics are so vague and unoriginal that everyone from a scorned employee or lover, through to a ten year old girl can take those lyrics and find their own story within them. Katy keeps it simple, and as such even someone with the limited mental capacity or ‘tools’ that a ten year old possesses can understand her message.

But what happens when a writer creates an ill balanced piece that focuses too heavily on originality that it fails to pay any courtesy to the works ability to be palatable and relatable to the masses? Sadly that also happens every day, and as an aspiring author who devours the works of other up and coming artists on a regular basis, I see it all too often. Writers become so concerned with creating original pieces that they throw caution to the wind, dust off the thesaurus and unload with a string of unnecessary adverbs and adjectives that take a potentially beautiful piece of work and leave it feeling disjointed and almost impossible to digest.

Manuscripts like this simply don’t work; you can quote me on that. I’ve sat in university tutorials and listened to others ramble for almost three pages about how a character looks, or describe in every minute detail the room in which said character finds themselves standing. Their work reads like a fucking who’s-who of describing words and labels; if we were being marked on word counts I’m sure they’d win some kind of commendation for their stellar efforts. They mistake clutter for originality and over saturate a scene or script until it becomes indecipherable and the actual purpose of the work is lost in an unmelodiousness mess of descriptions.

I truly believe that the best piece of advice I have ever received as a writer came in my first semester of university almost three years ago now. My lecturer was reviewing the works of our class after an assessment, providing a little generalised feedback to the congregation as a whole when she stopped and put down her notes.

‘Many of you have written wonderful descriptions of characters and plot-lines only to run out of space within the confines of the word limit provided before your story ever really began,’ she said with a grin. ‘From now on I want you all to do one thing: Just fucking write what happens.’

Her little rant still sits in the back of my mind every single time I write, or even when I consume the works of others. We as writers often need to remind ourselves of the KISS principle in order to keep ourselves in check and ensure that our work is both creative and palatable to others. Originality is paramount to feeling fulfilled as a writer, yet it can so easily become lost within a maze of descriptions and passive writing. We must keep it simple and create works that we ourselves would love to sit down and read. If you proof your own writing and think holy shit that sounds wordy, then chances are that your audience isn’t going to have the faintest fucking clue as to what you are trying to say.

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