Old Dog, New Tricks
So in the past year, three of my contemporaries have died.
The usual suspects felled them—cancer, heart attack, and that never see it coming…sudden brain hemorrhage. When people you know well begin to meet their maker, you can’t help but look beyond today’s utility bills and tomorrow’s cocktail party at the Joneses.
I used to think that I’d build some sort of company that would carry on after I joined the great editorial board in the sky. But the one I thought would be my legacy crashed and burned, a gut punch that still makes me wince when I think about it. [Note to self: Stop thinking about it!]
Or better yet, I thought I’d create some work of art that would epitomize my singular brilliant vision of the world.
But rest assured my fantasies always required that these enterprises bring me lots of material comforts too.
You know, in the here and now. I mean a Vincent Van Gogh experience is all well and good, but a nice roof over your head with plenty of beans in the pantry isn’t too much to ask for, right?
Ideally, I’d be able to live the high life now and still be certain that when it’s my time to kick the bucket, I’d be guaranteed some after-life “that guy was awesome” remembrance years. Perhaps decades, dare I say a century…after my departure? At the very least, I could endow some professorship and some poor scientist would have to walk around being introduced as The Coyne Chair of Dyspepsia Science for the next hundred years.
You know what I’m talking about. We all have those Madison Avenue generated “dreams” pumped into us from childhood onward.
I don’t think that anymore. Those fantasies are silly really. As the character Judge Smails played by Ted Knight in Caddyshack so aptly put it, “The world needs ditch diggers too.” Seamus Heaney made an analogous point with his poem “Digging.” Check it out. Guaranteed tears…
Accepting the fact that you are a contributor to a larger community as opposed to being a Demi-God uberman is not just humbling…it’s a huge relief.
Time ain’t passing slowly and I’ve got a head full of ideas, plus lessons learned from hundreds of books and stories I’ve edited over my career. I’ve got business experience too and I’ve been yammering on and on about it all on Steve’s website for years.
There is nothing sexy about what I’ve learned. It won’t get me a Gulfstream G-IV and it won’t buy me immortality. But it could help artists struggling with Resistance. And having a little bit to do with a lot of other people’s work is far better than endowing a Chair at Punxsutawney State University.
So I’ve decided to stop talking and writing about how the things I complain about are things I could be changing…and just do it already. I’ve jumped into the permission/platform world, not to put up big numbers and tell everyone how easy it is to build your own private Idaho, but to learn something while downloading whatever is left of my editorial brain for those who find it interesting. I’m not going to make you rich, but I will show you just how wonderfully difficult and complicated, but ultimately simple Storytelling is.
Is now the best time? Am I going to discourage people from buying my book by sharing a lot of its content before I publish it? I honestly don’t know and I really don’t care.
Everything that you see at www.storygrid.com will have my thumbprints on it. From the choice of website theme, to the typos on the About Page. Thank you Jeff Goins and Tim Grahl for giving me the tools to use the TRIBE Theme for WordPress. With their inspiration and direct help, I actually built the website myself and fumbled around with adding pages and posts. To all of you pros out there, I’m sure it’s obviously the work of an amateur so give me some slack. And I signed up for the email service Mail Chimp to share my stuff.
So far, so good.
My goal is to make a whole bunch of mistakes (I’m well on my way!) and some progress pulling the curtain back from what “EDITING” actually is.
It’s been shadowed in secrecy for far too long.
While I’m sure I don’t know everything about it and that there will be times when I’ll be proven wrong about something, the principles I’ll write about are timeless. There is absolutely no harm that will be done to a writer by contemplating the stuff I’ll write about.
Bottom line is that it will help writers tell better stories. I’m sure of that.
Rest assured that the book The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know will be ready soon. Steve and I will bring it out on Black Irish as soon as it’s shipshape. If I had to estimate when that will actually be…I’d say the first quarter of 2015.