Considering a sailing adventure to Mexico? Just look at how engrossed that guy is in the book! Grab a copy of the Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico, and you too can find yourself sitting on a Mexican dock with an oversized (but very attractive) hat.

Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico

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Entries in writing (4)

Wednesday
Dec182013

let's talk about our relationship

There's something special between you and me. We've probably never met, or maybe we have, but there you are and here I am. Maybe you're on your laptop on the salon table of your boat in a foreign country, or maybe you're reading on your phone while sitting on the toilet in your corporate office building.

See that's the interesting thing in our relationship here: I don't really know you that well and to be honest you don't me either. If you've ever met an author or actor outside of their books or off the big screen you might know the feeling: let down city. I ended up in a Navy weapons class for a few months that started at six in the evening and ended at midnight. As a natural result I watched a lot of Days of our Lives. Some of the actors came to a local shopping mall one weekend and although a few of them were cool most were total douchebags. To a large extent writing is like playing a musical instrument in that just because you're good at it doesn't mean anyone necessarily likes you as a person.

So what have we established? That I could be a raging asshole and you are passing the time while getting paid to evacuate your bowels, all the while my writing helps to keep your mind off the guy in the stall next to you. Or maybe I really am a great sailor and all around wonderful chap, and you are a kindred spirit. We're in this together, the two of us, existing on some connected wavelength known only to seafarers.

Or maybe you're an ex girlfriend, colleague, or other interested party. And hell, who doesn't enjoy a nice evening of Internet Stalking here and there.

More realistically you don't hold me in that high, or low, of regard in the first place. I once heard that hating people is a waste of time because half the people you hate don't know how you feel and the other half don't care. Put more bluntly, we generally over think our relevance and impact to others. Our website here has several hundred "likes" on Facebook right now but since when did someone expending 0.00001 calories with a mouse click have anything to do with actual impact on their lives?

It's a sad state of affairs that the genuine affection of a blood and bones person has been reduced, or at least equated, to Facebook's little thumbs up icon.

So here we are. I occasionally write and you occasionally read and perhaps from time to time we wonder about the other. In my most perfect Zen'd out moments I embrace the philosophy of Steven Pressfield and write what I think is worth writing. Whether anyone else finds value in it isn't my concern. My goal is to do the best I can, not try to make other people happy. A therapist that I paid $140 an hour told me one time that I can't make my sense of self be tied to the emotions of others and let me tell you, that particular hour was money well spent.

Dear reader, I don't know if you enjoy everything I type although I do know that I can't meet that standard anyway. I don't even like all the things I write so why in God's name would you? But since we're here in this relationship together you and I, connected like we are, I promise that I will always try to write something that I believe is worth writing. I won't employ gimmicks, I won't make blog entries with lists even though I know you'll be more likely to click on it. If I can't be the writer I want to be I can at least try, and since we're in this together I'm hoping you can meet me in the middle.

Friday
May312013

you may now refer to me as eric the (self) published author

That's right: just like everyone else with a sailing adventure I now also have a book for sale. The Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico

In earnest though I did try to separate myself from the scribblings of memoirs that seem to be the norm for bards of the sea. Much of my time spent in Mexico has been trying to understand the culture, the environment, the politics, and the people. 

Charts and cruising guides did me well but there was a serious void in some rather important topics. Drug cartel violence is obviously one of the most serious issues in Mexico and it impacts boaters every year, yet it's conspicuously absent from most printed discussions. Also left out of most guides is navigating the Byzantine maze of customs to get critical equipment and supplies into Mexico.

And beyond the logistics, there are the people and their culture which deserves more discussion than being the setting for a Jimmy Buffet soundtrack. 

If you're coming to Mexico, sincerely know that I wrote this to make your life a little easier. Not everything will pertain to you, but I promise hidden in there will be some nuggets of information that will help make your Mexican sailing adventure more enjoyable. 

It's available now in Kindle format and the paperback should be on Amazon's site in a week.

Friday
Mar302012

writing a book is hard

Let me add yet another log to a well burning fire: writing a book is down right difficult. This should not be news to anyone who has ever crossed the several-tens-of-thousands-of-words threshold. It also shouldn't be news to me because every day I try to write another thousand words or so, and every day I walk away going "jesus that's hard."

Steven Pressfield (author of Gates of Fire and other works) wrote a book on writing called Do the Work, with a picture of a laborer pitchforking some hay. Based on that imagery alone you can get the basic sentiment he was putting across: writing is hardwork and has more in common with digging a septic ditch than getting in touch with your inner feelings. Very few authors fail because they couldn't "get into the groove" enough. They fail, quite simply, because they didn't work hard enough. A friend of mine gets to the gym every day at 5:00 am and works out until 7:00 am, is showered and at his desk by 7:30 am. Replace the barbell with a keyboard and that man would be a several times over published author. Likewise anyone who writes or lifts weights when it suits them, but not treating it like a core aspect of their life, will have a work product that looks like shit.

An interesting comparison I can draw between writing and my normal professional career is that writing is much more intimate. In the professional world of software development you can hind behind the simple fact that it's not really who you are. You're doing something for someone else 99% of the time. You are simply a cog in the machine and even if you're a very big and important cog, ultimately, like most professions, you are not entirely in control. The results might be shaped by you to some extent but the complete end result is not solely yours. Even a carpenter is limited by the materials he must work with and the pocket depth of his client.

A writer, and I'm referring specifically to the novelist here, has no such limitations. Success and failure is uniquely and entirely at the hands of the author. And while that part might be true of some other professions, you can't hide behind your writing as simply being some detached work product that you created for compensation. That really you are someone else and that your job doesn't define you.

Fiction writing represents the sum total of your imagination, creativity, and ability to express yourself coherently through the written word. 

I have no clever end to this blog post. There is no witty statement that I can think of to tie this whole thing together. In fact the only plus side I can find is the liberating feeling in finally getting a chance to be unrestricted and to attempt to do something the best you can. To know that you really are walking up to the homeplate at the bottom of the 9th in game seven and it's all on you as to whether you put it in the upper deck or drag the bat back to the dugout. Honestly I'll settle for a ground rule double but hopefully the point stands clear. It's a rare opportunity to be so in touch with who are you.

Enough of a break, back to pitchforking hay.

Friday
Mar162012

ramblings from writing at four in the morning