Being a creative person, i.e artist and writer, I’m the first to admit: being talented can be tough. It’s a privileged blessing and fun first and foremost! And I would choose to be a creative again in my next lifetime. But, to rise above so many other talents and be seen by a very large world of art and book buyers – is tough.
The highs of selling the first art piece or book is often very quickly followed by the lows of sustaining sales – or even just getting a foot in the door, or a little bit of recognition. Almost every artist, illustrator, designer, writer, author – any creative person – will agree to this.
In my world, the one person who has kicked my creative butt out the ‘this is tough gutter’ – is my mom. Yes of course friends and siblings have done the same. But moms just know how to make you knock that ‘tortured artist’ hat right off! Moms know exactly when to have a ‘take no prisoners’ approach to a sorry sod artist, or when to be completely sympathetic when a writing block hits.
The first person to see my art or a new book, is my mom. Not because I seek approval, quite the opposite. My mom can be brutally honest! Recently I read a book summary to her… and she yawned! Rude? No, not really. Honest. That yawn alone saved me from posting a boring summary! I wrote a new summary that same night, and guess what? Sales went up.
Moms, we creatives need you. We won’t always say it, but we do. Many of us are complicated beings who see the world from very different perspectives. In fact, we create whole new realities! My mom keeps my escapist behind firmly on the ground. Her advice is worldly, and I apply it in my business, books and art clients. Her common sense very often adds reality to my ambitious dreamscapes.
All you moms with artists and writers as children – your kids are architects of new universes. We bring new worlds, thoughts and experiences to the readers and art buyers of the world. And that’s quite a job, being such an architect. We often times hit the ‘weird’ button or do something completely inexplicable. But, that’s why we have our maternal units – to just smile and accept us. Or, maybe pull us back in line (I for one sometimes need that! ;)).
So! Mothers of the world (especially my own) – I salute you! This blog post is totally dedicated to every mother who loves her creative child! Even though you may sometimes wonder what alien pod we crawled from… 😉
Many hugs and thanks to you all!
Dear Jen’s Personal Blog,
I have a confession to make… Today I coveted mine neighbour’s w-
WAIT! Wrong blog!
OKAY, moving swiftly along. For today’s ‘theme’, I’ve decided to ‘discuss’ a specific debilitating disease that’s been crossing my path of observation lately. The disease is called: AWLB which stands for – artists and writers with limiting beliefs. “That’s not a disease! That’s just a chick trying to be ‘creative’ and funny, and it’s so, like, FAIL!” you say… I say, it IS a disease because too many talented people suffer from it. And they’re passing it around like it’s a Sunday family fudge cake, of which everyone at the table want seconds and thirds, whilst sharing the same spoon with the sickest member licking the icing off with lip-smacking glee… Guess how I feel about this disease…
Recently I met the most amazing people, many of whom are artists, designers, illustrators and the like. They’re all different, unique, gifted with a touch of the obligatory “weirdness” that we creative types are labelled with. Hey, historically, the most gifted creators were all slightly touched by the mad finger that swirls the martini… See what I mean? That whole sentence was odd. Not that I’m saying I’m that gifted or even like one of the greats, but, just in case I do go down in history as one of the greats right next to Picasso or Dali or da Vinci – it would be nice to be known for that odd sentence “the mad finger that swirls the martini”…. no wait no maybe not so much… Anyway – let’s get back to the talented people who believe they suck. That’s right – they BELIEVE they suck at their talents. This might be you, reading this, right now.
You PILE the pressure on yourself, tear up your sketches, probably chew it and spit it out because ink tastes funny no matter how hard the self-destructing anger is ravaging your veins. Writers delete whole pages if not whole manuscripts in a fit of tormented self-loathing and whacking of keyboards. Cue the days and nights of; “why am I even trying? I’ll never get this right. My style is crap. My sketches are poo. I’ll never make money from this. I’m just not that talented. Check out that guy’s art – I’ll never draw like that! Check this woman’s book, I can’t write like that…”
STOP with the limiting torment people! You are gifted with a powerful LANGUAGE of the mind and the most prolific artist and writer you will ever meet: your unconscious mind. You have NO IDEA what you can do once you choose to stop attacking yourself now, and listen to words I am structuring and see what I say… You think that you are consciously drawing that character or writing that action scene. No. You’re not. All of that is coming from your unconscious mind. Did you know that your unconscious mind is in control of more than 95% of YOU. That includes your mind and body. You don’t think so do you? Well, while reading here, do you consciously remind your lungs to breathe in, and out, in, and out? No. That’s your unconscious mind doing that. Or, while you’re reading here, are you telling your bladder to not (literally) release? No. Unconscious mind again. Your unconscious mind takes in everything around you. Most of the information it captures – you’re not even aware of consciously – but it goes right into your unconscious mind where it’s sorted into all its necessary folders for later recall or use. Your essence, experiences, feelings and memories – all there. You consciously forget about these files – but the unconscious mind can retrieve what it needs in an instant.
The unconscious mind does not speak. It communicates in symbols. Pictures. Metaphors. You, as artist and writer, hold the key to literally be the ‘channel’ in art and writing for your unconscious mind to deliver treasures of thoughts, creations, interpretations, visualizations, patterns, puzzles, premises, stories, wisdom, worlds, new realities, new universes – an infinite horizons of creation…
So when you tell yourself “I’m useless”, you are placing a massive wall between you, and your unconscious mind. You are closing the tap to a flood of amazing creation. Why would you do that? It seems almost… limiting, does it not? Why would you limit yourself? You do know why though, that answer will pop into your head right now, “why do you limit yourself?” Delete the negative reason to why you limit yourself, now, and override it with a positive goal.
And what’s the rush?! SO many artists have absolutely no patience with their creations… Those characters you’re writing and drawing are YOU! Did you know that? They’re little parts of you. Yes, even that disgusting monster skinning a rabbit in the nude – that’s you. The rabbit too. That came from you, didn’t it? You made that. Do you like it when people are impatient with you? No, who would? (unless you have a bizarre impatience fetish…but then you’d be part of a different ‘demographic’ of personality, and good luck with that). Yet, you’re impatient with those little parts of you that you’re creating… So should the question be “why am I impatient with myself?” Answer that… Hear if it’s really even such a valid reason, then override with a positive goal.
Choose to re-connect to your unconscious mind. Allow it to take control of your hand and draw what it wishes. Let your fingers on the keyboard be the carriers of the images and metaphors your unconscious wants to deliver. Become CONGRUENT with yourself, your talent, your unconscious mind. Draw what you feel! Visualize on paper and onscreen what is inside you (just don’t be literal people, no one needs to see what’s literally ‘inside you’ okay?).
When you draw without pretence, and write in your true voice – you’ll feel FREE. You’ll ENJOY what you’re creating. You’ll become addicted to the process again. And that’s the key to a successful artist and writer: the PROCESS. Not just the end result. Because the end result is dependent on the PROCESS – which all starts with you, tapping into your unconscious. Speaking in the language of symbols, and writing the pictures of thoughts…
…K, enough from me now…
Go think and prosper!
NHAKIRA “Chosen” NOW Available on Amazon Kindle:
Yes it sounds a bit ‘odd’. But, as grass is to sheep, and cow is to milk, and as such lead to cappuccinos for human consumption – allowing the mounting of my tome was THE most important thing I could have done for my character and book this year! I.e. I got an editor. And for this I can holler a resounding “yeehah!”
And after this experience, I will climb towers and bellow it out to all indie writers: get Red Lanced! (OK, Red Lance is the editor’s red pen, and tome is ‘book’, just FYI.)
Self published authors. There are many of us. I think the last number I read was over 700 000 in the US alone. That is a large number, and it grows daily.
Self-publishing to Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks etc. is becoming big business for many writers who know how to write a good book, then sell it. Yes, I said ‘business’. As you enter the world of self-publishing – you are ‘publishing yourself’, so you are a publisher. And publishers are businesses that require planning, marketing, structure, and a team to make it work.
For Nhakira and her trilogy, I am lucky enough to be an experienced illustrator and book cover designer. I was giddy with excitement to do my own cover for a character I love. I compiled the whole book and formatted it. And yes, I did my own editing, probably close to 7 times – with rewrites! I felt pretty confident that my manuscript was ‘clean’ and polished. And I was all ready to publish Nhakira and have her fly into the world with her sarcasm, quest and powers.
But lady serendipity had her own ideas, and through various twists and turns of fate, I met Meg de Jong, and her sidekick – the Red Lance! She’s an experienced and connected editor with editorial experience in Canada, UK and South Africa. I inquired whether she’ll be my editor, she accepted – and she proceeded to mount my tome. [Insert the nervous face I had while she lanced my precious book! O.O ]
The book that I thought was so polished? Well, it was, the story and Nhakira was praised and congratulated as magical, but it was also wide open for improvement on technicalities. She guided me in the ‘fine tuning’ of grammar rules and character tips. She also taught me ‘little’ tricks that make a MASSIVE difference. Meg is now again fine combing the book, after all these important tweaks, to be sure the book is a clean sure-fire hit! And, I learnt a LOT in this process.
You know what? Nhakira will be able to tell her story just so much better now. She will be even more inspirational and entertaining, including all the other characters and fantasy scenes. My grammar is clean. The spelling checked. Writer tools have been utilized. And as author, I now have 10 times more confidence in my work that shall soon join all the other amazing stories on Amazon!
If you’re a writer, or if you’re thinking of writing a book: get an editor. Especially if you are about to compete with 700 000+ indie writers. And particularly if people are going to pay money to read your book!
The more the polish, the better the sell. Or rather, that’s how I see it. And Nhakira’s properly refined now, as well as my confidence to send her your way soon! 😉 Thanks Meg!
Much warm greetings to you all!
Connect with me on Twitter! @JenVinci and Meg! @Enigmeg
NHAKIRA “Chosen” NOW Available on Amazon Kindle:
Ever wondered what goes on inside a writer’s mind when we cannot focus on the actual work we’re supposed to be writing?
It starts off with ‘The Stare’. Can be at a PC/laptop/tablet/phone screen, or even a typewriter or notebook. ‘The stare’ is just a glass-eyeball stare, quite vacant, reminiscent of a freshly botoxed face. Then the eyes slide sideways…
This sideways slide is the exact moment when it all begins…
Here I am… I can feel my eyeballs sliding. I blink at the tremendous ‘nothing’ going on inside my cranial cavity even though I spent the whole day yesterday moaning over the fact that I couldn’t write. My moan was duly heard in a combination of four-letter words. And not nice words either… #theshame
Eyeballs are still sliding like two recon hovercrafts. Roving, searching, scanning… [insert UFO sounds]
The hovercrafts reach the large windows… YES! Gateways to an outside world! A blip pings on the radar… [searching…searching…]
It is stirring in the Cape Town winter chill *stir…stir* (dramatic)
I Tweet about this exciting LEAF. My fellow writer and weird-minded genius, Whelan, Tweets back that a whole civilization of Groats might be living on this leaf! I agree and I hypothesize that these Groats must in fact exist because the leaf looks vibrant, and I feel soooo anthropological and excited at this discovery!
I decide I shall name the first Groat I meet “Zorgg”. Even if it is a female Groat. I’ll quickly impress them with my beliefs on equality. That goes for androgynous name-giving too…
Groats also enjoy social activities like meeting at a local GroatVeeda for black liquid substances topped with goat foam. They too doodle thoughts onto their moleskins while sipping GroatVeeda liquid. But these are REAL dried moles’ skins, you see. Because Groats have not yet developed ‘book binding’. This is a developmental gift I as superior homo-sapien shall impart onto them. And then they will celebrate The Day of The Jen every 31st July…so proud…
12pm every day, Groats grab their lances and briefs to partake in a folk dance to celebrate multi-color polka dots that were given to them by the Groat god Santa Marchenkievitzitz. They then consume cupcakes – because cupcakes make them tipsy and rowdy, but happy.
…And this is the point where I realize I need coffee. Stat!
Which I shall do… Now. While I Tweet absolute nonsensical nonsensicalness to @whelanism… Hey – writers need Twitter! It’s a healthy inspiration pool where we can be weird AND creative AND it’s completely normal at the same time. Of this I am convinced!
What a paradox 🙂
Join me in the Twitter Paradox…
(I now like saying ‘paradox’)
…really? You’re still scrolling? ;p
NHAKIRA “Chosen” NOW Available on Amazon Kindle:
Why do I say that?
Until very recently, when any writer self-published, it was looked upon as ‘vanity publishing’ or the burning label of ‘not good enough’ was firmly smacked onto the writer’s book with a resounding echo of FAIL. Bookstores would pull up their noses as if the self-published book was made out of bison mucus.
The stink and stigma of self-publishing has been as suffocating to writers as a gag that’s been forced into your mouth.
But that gag is coming out.
Thanks to Kindle, Nook, Kobo etc. Yeah sure I am not going to laud them in this blog. I AM however going to say that e-book distributors are paving the way for amazing talents to finally be read. YOU as indie publisher/writer, or even if you’re a reader and supporter of independent writers and publishers – you’re awesome and part of something huge.
Because with every e-book you download, or every self-published book you buy – you are placing a brick in a whole new playing field. And this is a very fair playing field where the game is becoming expediently equal, and in some cases, even tipping in our favor.
The publishing industry is the only industry where “doing it yourself” has been stigmatized. Did you know that? In ANY other industry, when you start up your own business – you’re an entrepreneur. A ‘leader’ even! But in publishing when you self publish – which is basically like opening your own business – you are stigmatized as ‘vain’ or ‘desperate’… How does that even work? It doesn’t. That false label is quickly fading.
THANK YOU to every reader who chooses to download, support or promote independent writers and publishers! You ROCK!!!
Much love –
Nhakira “Chosen” NOW Available on Amazon Kindle:
Yeah OK first of all – do not go and kick someone’s car right this minute. Just hear me out first because I’m going to tell you how…
If you’re a writer or an aspiring writer, you have every reason in the world to kick someone’s car! But only on paper though. Unless someone’s car kicked you first. Then the gloves come off dude! You take that sucker down!
We live in a society where we’re taught to be nice – and that’s good. Nice is good. Nice makes things nice… (wow that’s such a NOT very impressive linguistic sentence *slaps wrist*). Anyway! Every so often, we come across a not-Nice person. Whether it’s in a grocery store and there’s this big jerk HOVERING behind you as if his deep mucus-rattling breathing in your neck is going to make the queue go faster! That’s not nice. OR drivers… I cannot begin to count the amount of no-Nice driving I’ve encountered. Especially living here in Cape Town!
And that is when I kick cars. C’mon, we all get frustrated. Does not matter whether you’re the nicest human on this planet – you will have days where you’re frustrated, or tired, or angry, or sad or just in a friggin’ mood. You’ve had that, right? And we can go into “The Law of Attraction” here and actually see why, when you’re in a bad mood, will you attract scumbags in grocery stores and dumbass drivers. But we wont. Not for this blog.
What we will do is justify your imagination. And we’ll justify using your imagination to feel better about a particularly frustrating or enraging situation. And we’ll kick cars together! All on paper… Or like me right now, sitting in a coffee shop with my Macbook. I’m about to write violent things while having a flat white coffee… Somehow that sounds pathological…. Moving on!
When you’re having a conversation with someone…let’s say an arrogant or pompous someone – and this someone says something that either makes you feel infuriated or embarrassed. What do we normally do? Some of us might have a quip at the guy (or girl). But most of us will internalize and walk away, replaying the pompous someone’s meanness and feel unsettled… Now what you should do as a writer is to rewind that conversation. Go back to the exact moment when the pompous someone said the offending thing: now picture exactly what you would’ve done or said…DO IT! DON’T HOLD BACK! (I think 99% of what you’re thinking right now – will be considered criminal. So luckily you won’t physically do it. But WRITE IT.)
You as a writer have the power to be at least a version of a psychologist for yourself. You have the most cathartic tool in the world: the power to transform thought and energy into words and communication. You can take all that negative energy that arises from time to time – and shape the energy into a character, action, scene, message or story. Like a sculptor using clay, you use energy to make new things out of the energy inside you, or energies sent your way. Bad or good.
So even if someone sends you really crappy energy – YOU change it into an awesome literally and figuratively ass kicking scene… I have 3 books coming out between now and September. It’s a trilogy – but I promise you, there are things I write in that book I would’ve loved to do in real life – but Nhakira does them, and she does it well, I’m proud of my girl… Some of its plain scary and I admit it too…
Thus, to summarize – when someone makes you angry… Don’t suppress the anger! Think up a scene in your writer-brain where you act out exactly what you would’ve liked to do!
With your writing abilities – you can change everyday annoyances, frustrations and enraging situations into tangible scenes on paper. That’s powerful stuff. Your readers WILL relate to those scenes, because those scenes will be things THEY thought of too and they will love you for verbalizing their desires… See what I’m driving towards here?
And yes, obviously the same goes for happiness, and happy thoughts! But we’re not writing about happy thoughts right now. No, we thinking about kicking cars and growing huge mech-warrior arms with which to pick up scumbags in grocery stores and shake them upside down until they cry and promise to wear stilettos! And we like it!
…Hey, I feel good for having written that whole mech-arm thing! This writer is officially frustration and headache free… 🙂
Stay awesome you reader you! 🙂
I want to make an official mention: Blogging is work! Sheesh!
I’m working with my editor to finalize the summaries for Nhakira’s 3 books, so in the meantime I’m building this blog to be in time for the official launch of NHAKIRA “Chosen” (August 2012, Amazon Kindle)
Dude… I totally get how blogging can be a full time job! MUCH respect to you bloggers out there! Giving you guys the ‘bro fist’… But have no idea what to give you girls? ‘the knowing pout’? Or… ‘high heel click’? Or…ideas please?
OK, this is me for now…I have summaries to write! 😉
Over and out!
@JenVinci on Twitter
No I am NOT going to list the Top 7 tips for being a successful writer… No I am NOT going to quote anyone OR punt my own books… No I am NOT going to sound all wise and sage-like.
But I WILL share certain tips which I personally use… And these aren’t really ‘tips’. They’re ‘things’ I do. Things you might be doing already – or if you’re not – you will because its FUN. And FUN is truly the Nr. 1 Writing Tip EVER.
TIP #1: Get out!
No I don’t mean ‘leave’ my blog, silly. I mean take your laptop/iPad/whatever tablet – and go to a coffee shop. Or a park. Or a restaurant. Or to a Magic The Gathering event, or a graveyard, or a lingerie shop (who knows what tickles your genre!?). I find the white noise in a coffee shop to be very writer-friendly. I order my favorite flat white coffee, open my Macbook, and TYPE. Awesome things then flow from these finger tips. And when my creative flow needs a break – I check people out. I love people watching. By observing your environment you actually create new ideas – you just don’t know it yet.
TIP #2: Also read the Great Greats
We’re in a world where we are blessed with amazing talents like Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Jonathan Kellerman, Kathy Reichs, James Herbert – and many many more. I personally find that reading the mental meanderings of the ‘Greats’ inspires me greatly. Yes, I do read William Shakespeare! I love how he used words like his own brush on a canvas that speaks. Lewis Carroll? C’mon – that’s just raw genius! The ‘Greats’ were there when our industry truly began growing its skin. The knowledge they shared in later works is precious. Their imaginations were unaffected by modern social media, thus I believe their stories and worlds were so much more part of THEM, their true selves. And I find that to be refreshing.
TIP #3: Tweet-tweet-tweet!
Twitter. It is a wondrous tool! NOT just for marketing. In fact, I use Twitter for everything BUT marketing. I literally Tweet stuff that just randomly pops up in my head. Most of it is pretty weeeirrrd but based on my Follower count – my Followers like my random Tweet-bursts. I won’t ‘sell’ on Twitter. I will however share my work and journey. And when my journey includes the release of a book – HELL YEAH I’m going to share that! I really am not on Twitter to push product, I’m there to interact, chat and learn – and yes, share my work. ALSO, Twitter is the ultimate linguistic gymnastics for any writer because you must say something funny, insightful or intelligent in just 140 characters… And WOW, some of the conversations on Twitter is sometimes ingenious in its random creativity!
TIP #4: Get weird
Yeah, I actually mean it. For some of us ‘weird’ comes easy. And when I say weird I actually mean – loosen up! Even better, why not meet up with a group of like-minded people on a regular basis. A group of creators and writers. I have an awesome group of creative friends. We get together for ‘creative meetings’ – but somehow it always ends up with chilli poppers, beer and lots of laughter! But – we always walk away with fresh ideas. And very importantly – we feed each other’s imaginations with intelligence, humor, creative blabbing, brain storming – and honesty.
TIP #5: Experience
Nah not the type of ‘experience’ employers ask whether or not you have during interviews. I’m talking life. New things. New places. New people. New food. Challenges. Thoughts. Treats. Books. Music. Cow photos (#joke). I thrive on new experiences! Some have been amazing, some [CENSORED], some delectable, some inspiring – even life-changing. A creator NEEDS experiences because you are constantly creating new worlds and universes, right? So go out – EXPERIENCE… But please, I’m not saying go swim naked in the mall’s fountain, or slap a hyena on its butt, or believe you can fly after drinking chai tea… Keep it constructive people!
TIP #6: Write with your organ
Hey, eew, what are YOU thinking?! I actually mean it in a most sincere way… Write from your HEART. Lately a lot of authors write for money. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But I believe in writing a story and creating characters that are infused by tiny parts of you. And with that I mean – write with honesty. Believe in your stories, believe in your characters as if they’re real people in your life. Yes, you HAVE to write FOR a specific target audience and niche. But keep it real. I’m a fantasy writer – but I promise you – there is truth in my fantastical worlds. The truth lies in the words… As long as you are congruent with your writing and intentions, your readers will pick up on it. And they will like YOU, the creator…
TIP #7: I like – big – BUTTS – and I cannot lie!
Heehee… Just kidding 😉 No, Tip #7 – WORK. Yeah, hard work. Writing is dedication, persistence and discipline. Yes you make it fun and I’ve given you awesome reasons to walk around and have coffee in various places. But writing – STICKING TO THE STORY – takes discipline. Writing your book is the easy part. The work that comes after that is the true bulk of your journey. Especially if you self-publish on Amazon and the like. Once you accept that you will be working everyday to achieve your goals – you’ll have FUN! You’ll be proud. You’ll be so excited… And you’ll absolutely love the journey as writer and creator…
Thanks for reading you awesome reader you 🙂