Quit Aspiring · 16 July 2022
If I was going to give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, it would be: “Quit aspiring to be a writer and just be a writer.”
I used to aspire to be a writer. Which just meant that I thought about being a writer. A best-selling author. Outstanding in my field. What I realized was that all that daydreaming was just that. Daydreaming.
Now daydreaming is not a bad thing in and of itself. It is bad when that is all you do. But it is okay when it turns into action. And it is even better when that action turns into results. Which is not to say that results, any results, are all that matter.
When we go through any process, we have results. Those results might be positive, negative, or even neutral. But we get results. Sometimes, even tangible results.
I like to think of the negative results as just falling down. And falling brings the opportunity to get back up again. How we react to any failure or setback is important in every aspect of our lives. Like they say, “Failure’s not failure unless it’s the last time you’re going to try.” Get back in the saddle one more time. (Sorry for the trite idioms.)
I think that same reaction could be used for neutral results. Try, try again. And again. And again. And again. You get the picture.
Of course, everybody likes the positive results. We like when we finish a blog post. Or publish a book. Or any of those things we do when writing. But even when we get positive results we need to keep working. We need to get better. We can relish the moment, but we still need to get back in the saddle. We still need to do more.
Which brings me back to the beginning.
I do not know why people aspire to be writers. They can just be writers. Period. You can be a writer, if that is what you choose to be. You just need to write. And write. And write. Give up those excuses. There should be nothing holding you back. Every writer can have a platform these days. You can blog for free. You can publish a book for free. You can even put out demo tapes of your lyrics for free these days. You can put your writing out there for all to see on this newfangled thing called the internet. So quit aspiring to be a writer. Just be a writer.
(By the way, I can admonish people to just be writers because others admonished me to just be a writer. Thanks for that push.)
When I was younger. I wanted to be a writer. A best-selling author. I said I was an aspiring writer because I wrote essays and poems every once in a while. I wrote on those rare occasions when I was inspired. So I said I wanted to be a writer. I dreamed that I was a writer. But I never did much work to become a writer.
Today, I am a writer. I do not really know how many people have read what I have written, but that does not matter. I write as if everybody reads my stuff. Okay. That is a lie. I write as if a few people read my stuff.
Which brings me to the question of why I think people strive to be writers. Or strive to be anything.
People aspiring to be writers tend to get stuck on the philosophical question: “Is a writer a writer if nobody reads?” Which is actually the same philosophical question about sound. “If a tree falls in the woods, but nobody hears, does it make a sound?” The answer is: Of course it does! Sound is a physical manifestation of the tree hitting the ground. Even if the ground is soft, the tree still makes some sort of sound. The same is true of writers. If a writer writes, but nobody reads, the writer is still a writer! So quit dreaming of being a writer. Quit aspiring to be a writer. Just answer the question and write. Write all the time. Then, you will be a writer. Regardless of whether anybody reads what you write.
I do not know how many people read my blog. I do not know how many people have read any of my twenty (and still counting) digital books (ad) or one print on demand book. I do not know if anybody has listened to any of the few songs I have out on the internet. But it does not matter. Just like the tree makes a sound whether or not anybody hears it falling in the woods, I am a writer because I write, whether or not anybody reads a word.
Which is the whole point. If I can do it you can do it. So if you are an aspiring writer (or aspiring anything), quit aspiring. Just be a writer.
© 2022 Michael T. Miyoshi
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Fourth of July Reminiscing · 9 July 2022
There is something about the Fourth of July that brings about memories. Memories of cigarettes.
Now I must say right up front that I do not hold to smoking cigarettes. In fact, I like the notion that people are not smokers at all. The cigarettes are the smokers. The people are just the suckers. But I am not trying to condemn smokers either. In reality, the fireworks we had this Fourth of July just brought back memories of Independence Days of yore.
To be sure, our Fourth of July was not a loud event. At least not at our house. We had to drag our kids out to the cul-de-sac to watch our little display of sparks and smoke and a little noise. No big mortars in our display. Just little sparks and lots of smoke and a few pops. And since we had no big aerial displays, we did not have any strained necks either. Quite the low key event.
So what brought on the memories of cigarettes? I am glad you asked.
I was using a torch to light the fireworks. Not a torch in the British sense of the word. (I cannot imagine anybody trying to light fireworks with a flashlight.) No. I was using a crème brûlée torch. But instead of burning sugar, I was lighting fuses. I know. Overkill. But we did not have any punks, and I have the tool. So I used it. Instead of lighting desserts, I lit ground blooms and spark-emitting fireworks. Quite fun. Our kids (in their twenties and not enthralled with lighting stuff on fire or blowing stuff up) lit a few ground blooms too, but mostly they let me have the fun of burning stuff.
Which is where the memories of cigarettes came from.
Back when I was a kid, I remember all our uncles smoked cigarettes. Well, most of them did. And a few of our aunts did as well. So when we were out on the farm lighting fireworks, we would either use a punk or we would borrow somebody’s lit cigarette. We would hold those smelly cigarettes away from our bodies as we went to where our fireworks were going to be lit. Inevitably, one of our uncles would tell us to get the tip red hot by taking a drag. But we would just blow on the lit tip of the cigarette to get those fuses lit. Then, we would run away and give those smelly things back to whoever it was sucking on them.
Of course, we would hoot and holler when something exploded. And then we would get things ready and borrow the smelly cigarette again and do the whole over thing again and again. I know. It is an odd memory, but it is vivid in my mind. As are many things from my childhood.
The sparks and the sounds of Independence Day come around each year. As does the smoke and the smell of that smoke. But for some reason, this year those sights, sounds, and smells evoked a powerful memory. A memory not really of cigarettes, but of fun with family. Fun blowing up stuff to be sure. But mostly the fun of being together using our family’s burning cigarettes to light the fuses of our fireworks.
I hope you had a happy and safe Fourth of July full of great memories of family and friends.
© 2022 Michael T. Miyoshi
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Product or Process · 2 July 2022
Is the product or the process more important? Especially when it comes to writing.
When I first started blogging, a friend of mine gave me some great advice. “Just ship it.” I have followed that advice since that day. (And of course, I wrote a blog post about it too. Hence the link.)
The main points of the discussion were pretty simple. Set a deadline for yourself. Use the time wisely to get to that deadline. Then, whatever you have at the deadline, just ship it. Simple. And for the most part, it has been simple. I have a deadline for my blog. I write and edit up to that deadline. Then, whatever I have, I just ship it.
Of course, things have changed since that discussion long ago. I have gone from writing one day a week (my deadline day) to writing six days a week. I have gone from writing just a blog to writing books and poems and song lyrics and even textbooks. Which was, of course, the goal all along. The blogging was just a way to get short pieces out to the public. A way to get a body of work. A way to gain a following. It did help me to gain a small following when some of the local papers were carrying my blog, but one of those papers folded (no pun intended) and the other said that I was generating no feedback. So no local coverage since then. Ah well. I do still have a following. A few faithful readers (both real and imaginary).
What I have realized over the years is that there are two important things to writing. The product and the process.
Regardless of how many readers I have (or ever will have), I need to produce product for them to read. Thus my weekly blog. But since my writing end goal has always been to write books, I need to write books as well. Thus my daily writing routine. Product and process. But which is more important?
Of course, you know the answer. They are both important. Just as they are in any endeavor.
You cannot have product without process, but you can have process without product. I once had a process for my writing that produced little to no product. In fact, this process was not conducive to product. I would just write when I was inspired. Wow! You would think that produced great product. Maybe. But it did not produce much product. And who knows whether that process produced anything great. As far as a writing process goes, writing only when inspired is definitely not the way to go.
What I have since discovered is that writing a lot produces lots of product. Some of that product is not for public consumption. Some starts out to be for the public, but never makes it. But some of that writing does make it into the public eye. And some of that might even be considered mediocre. Hopefully, some is better. But that is not really the point.
The point is that you need a good process to produce any product. Quality or otherwise. And the products of a writing process are blog posts and books and poems and song lyrics and maybe even textbooks. At least those are my products.
I was going to do a little bragging about the products of my process, but I think I will save that for later. For now, I will just say that I am glad that I have a process that produces product. Others can judge whether that product is any good or not. I am happy to leave that judgment to the critics. All I know is that when it comes right down to it, you really need a process that ends up with some product. Especially, when you are a writer.
© 2022 Michael T. Miyoshi
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