Bucking the System · 19 August 2012

Everybody needs to buck the system now and then. To be a rabble-rouser. Or to be a heretic as Seth Godin puts it in his book, Tribes. We all need to be a little different.

This need to be different is part of our desire to change and grow. We all want to be the best we can be. We all desire to make a difference in life. At least subconsciously. We want to buck the system, to be a heretic, because we know it is our way to grow.

Even though we often say we hate change, we know we need it to thrive as individuals or organizations. As I read Seth Godin’s book, I realized that I have been harboring a need to change. Unfortunately for my critics out there, this does not mean I want to abandon writing. I still have many stories to tell. The change that I need to make and probably should have made a long time ago really has to do with whose stories I tell. Or more correctly the proportions of whose stories I tell.

I have mostly been telling stories (not always lies) about my family for years. I have interspersed our stories with those of other people. While I enjoy getting laughs about my own foibles and follies, it would be nice to share the wealth. After all, I have always said that people have a story to tell. Some people’s stories are happy, some are sad, some are funny, and still others are hilarious. So instead of just telling people that they have a writer in them who ought to tell those stories, I want to write the stories for them. I have done so before a few times. But I want to do so more often.

The other change that I am going to make is that I am going to let publishers and readers come to me. It is not really a change since that is really how it happens anyway, but I believe by growing my audience bit by bit, publishers will come to me. It has already happened.

One day, I was reading my email, when I came across this greeting:

“My favorite writers…”

To be anybody’s favorite writer is amazing, but this was from the editor of our local newspaper. I had to read more. She was looking for stories or columns from writers who had contributed to the paper before. I knew it was my chance to get more stuff out there so I jumped on it. Now, whether she wants them or not, I send our editor a new column every week. Sometimes they make the printed page and sometimes they do not. Either way, I have gotten a small following in our town and the communities served by our local newspaper.

While this new outlet for my material is nothing new, it is bucking the system. Our editor does not need my column to be printed in her paper before it hits my website. In fact, it rarely is. She knows that the newspaper fans are not always the same as my online fans so she does not worry that I usually get my pieces out before she does. (One was a month later.) So while most publishers want to be first to print something, our system bucking editor just wants good content. And even though it might have just been a ploy to get me to keep reading her email, I am happy to be any editor’s favorite writers. Or at least one of them.

I suppose believing publishers and fans will come to me is a bit naïve, but I it does not really matter. My readers (both real and imaginary) will continue to read and hopefully, they will let me tell some of their stories too. Then, other publishers will want to print my stuff and I will become a favorite writer of other editors. At least that is the hope. But it does not really matter if it ever happens. What matters is that the stories get told.

When it all comes down to it, I am a bit of a rabble-rouser by posting my blog each week rather than waiting for somebody else to say my writing is good enough. I am a heretic because I post pieces about ordinary people (mostly my family) doing ordinary things that are poignant or funny or both. I may never make any big waves in the writing community, but I can buck the system. At least a little bit.

© 2012 Michael T. Miyoshi

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