Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sticking to a plan

I'm a stickler for planning, and getting things done according to a schedule, so much so that surprises can either piss me off or leave me unbalanced. So, yesterday it did hit me that we are coming to the end of this month which means that I'll have to share another story this coming August on this story blog  and that got me working overtime. Good thing is, I already have a story to share. So, what's the hold up? I have to ensure that I'm in the right frame of mind to pull it off because it seems as though there's a lot more to be done. Now, a friend challenged me sometime this past week- he said "we have smartphones but dumb people." I noticed he did not have his very cool Samsung Phone, but a simple GSM phone. When I asked where his phone was he simply said, "I'm switching off Dora, I'm done with fake friends."
"What fake friends are you talking about?"
"I have fake friends, see on facebook I have 5000 friends, and on twitter I have like three thousand followers- but what use are they? I mean, when am sick or feeling down none of them is around, all we do is chat and pretend to care about the same things yet when it comes down to it, I'm just me, and well around three friends only. So, I'm out, I'd rather live my life with the three friends than fool myself that I've got  thousands of them...and maybe when I die, you could write my eulogy. I know you would tell the truth and all, but it's just crap, this online thing is just crap." I looked at him, and held his hand then asked, "am I part of the three?" He laughed and said that I was all the three, and that's when he challenged me to think things through. He said that the internet never forgets, and it was the way he said it that had me thinking about it. Are we as estranged as my friend pointed out? I have 5000 + friends on facebook and a writer's page too. I also have over a thousand followers on twitter and yet I always have my family and close circle of friends to turn to at the end of the day. I know that most of my online friends like what they read about me, and we are friends as a result of opinions and not principles. So, I'm not switching off. I still like getting on twitter and sharing links and getting to hear from my family and friends. So, what did I do instead?
I created another blog! 
Yes, another blog that's out to prove that people can always inspire us no matter the place or time.
The blog is titled "I met this wonderful person," and you can access it here
You never know, I might just meet you next :-) 
So, what about my plan? I had started off the year by declaring that it would be a writing year for me, because I want to advance my writing by challenging myself to write in as many genres as possible- but still maintaining the quality and voice of the work, and so far I have been doing that. Talking to my friend only brought an idea to mind and I executed the idea...and I do hope to always learn and look back on this as one of the greatest milestones and achievements I've made regarding my writing.
post signature photo woa_zps1d2161e0.png

Friday, July 25, 2014

When it feels like you're stuck

Sometimes we plan to do a lot of things and in our activities we suddenly come to the realization that we've not moved an inch- and then that's when it hits us that we've just been going round in circles.

Have you ever felt that way?
Of course, I'm just wallowing in my thoughts expecting that you have been through something like that, so I can breathe and say "I'm not the only one!" (There's comfort in numbers, right?)

Well, I'm not feeling good right now, and it's like with every word I type these feelings just find themselves meshed in the words, and it feels so real, that...I'm freaking out!

Okay...think yellow flowers.
That's not working...um...think coffee!
That's not working too, okay...just concentrate and get yourself together...fine!

Now, where was I before the short panic session?

Yes, I'm not feeling good right now, but I know that it's because I want things to happen so fast that I cannot breathe or think straight. I did not head out to work today because I had a health scare yesterday and when I woke up my chest felt like Legolas was sending a lot of arrows to it.
You know like this was happening:
​(Picture courtesy of www.fandomania.com )

So, that aside...I bought a new writing pad and some neon pink stick-notes to finally get Currents ready, and why the sudden blue feeling?

It's because I have set a time-crunch on my writing. I have set myself a deadline for 31st August to have completed the first book- Fire, and September 15th to have started the next one- Air.

Tricky, right?

Yes, it's very tricky because a book cannot be rushed. A story cannot be microwaved!
It has to be be brewed like the best coffee.
I could have talked of wine- but I know nothing about wine making, so using it as a reference would serve me no purpose. So, what's the hiccup?

  1. I found myself going through the first sixteen thousand words and feeling like I could scrap off the whole bit save for the dialogues.
  2. There's a character, Ulioko, who is the kingdom's Informer, who seems to be stealing the thunder from everyone else.
  3. One of the royals is too nice...he's creeping me out.
  4. One of the guards is getting too close to the royals, and I need to kill that closeness or withhold it until book three- Fire.
So, why not get on with it?
I have been trying to fix things and so far it's not working. It's like my brain has decided to take some leave- and that's not what I had hoped for. So, I figured I could blog or read a novel and then get back to it, but so far all is well and I can do nothing much but write whatever comes to mind until I get into the zone and finally finish writing.
So, what am I learning through all this?
I know I can find myself stuck, and that I can always get out of it. Getting stuck does not mean it's the end of what you're doing, it just means you need to get better and stronger wheels so you drive off with extra oomph!

--
www.totellornot.wordpress.com

For all that is right, let there be love-peace and understanding.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A-must-read for Leaders

I had this feeling today at work

​(Picture courtesy of Google Images )

Why?
Well, there's a lot to do and a lot's expected of me, but because of unforeseen circumstances my report was lacking in lustre and I had to deal with a brief moment of taking in deep breaths and not taking anything personally.

Let's be honest, I did. I do hold so many things to heart, and to be there at that moment and take in a negative tongue-lashing because of something I could not control- left me with the most sour taste in my mouth, and lots of bile in my body.

And, how best did I vent?
I thought about it for an hour home and it made me feel sad. So, when I got home- Kenya Power, the electricity provider and supplier in Kenya that's a monopoly and has the worst customer and emergency service, decided to rid me of electricity!

Thirty minutes later and I changed channels to TBN, to watch John C. Maxwell talk about "The 5 Levels of Leadership" and in that moment I felt like a load was lifted off my chest.

So, what are the five levels of leadership?
  1. Position. People follow you because they have to e.g. You are the boss, and they are working for you to get their pay. So, you'll have employees who get ready to leave work as early as 4:45pm- they clear desks, and rush to the exit.
  2. Permission. People follow you because they want to.
  3. Production. People follow you because of what you have done for the organization.
  4. People Development. People follow you because of what you have done for them.
  5. Pinnacle. People follow you because of who you are and what you represent.

If you are a leader- take time to visit and learn about leadership from John Maxwell and build on your character, personality and position to empower, and influence people for the better.

As for me, I may have been sad and disappointed in the feedback I got- but if one thing's sure, tomorrow is another God-given day and with it shall come what's good, so we'll see how it goes.

Have a wonderful week!

--
www.totellornot.wordpress.com

For all that is right, let there be love-peace and understanding.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Writing Progress

I have an hour left to leave the house and make my way to work, but I am onto something. I had promised myself last year that this year would be for advancing my writing and it seems as though there's still plenty to be done.
I had stated at the beginning of this year that I'd have to make the novel Currents available both online and in print this December- so, if you haven't read the sneak preview ( here it is )

Why am I posting about my writing progress?
  1. Because I'd started talking about it
  2. Because I'm conflicted about it

One thing that's very clear to me is that the cost of printing copies will take a toll on my finances- and it's a risk I'm willing to take.

I'm saving for this and would see it through to the end.

I had reached out to a publisher here in Kenya, and after we'd talked the preliminary costs, I realized that it would be cheaper for me to publish it abroad, and then ship the copies to Kenya. Why? It's because publishing is a business. There's money to be made and paper is not cheap in Kenya- so if it'd cost me a quarter of the fee to publish abroad- then so be it.

So, which publisher am I considering?

Lulu

Why? Because I can save to have printed copies of my book and manage to have them ready come December this year.

Are they costly? Yes. Wherever money's concerned, it does cost- but all the same, I am sure that I will manage. I have already worked out the details with my accountant, and all I have to do is keep saving.

So, given that I wanted to push myself- I went ahead and started by creating an author spotlight on Lulu, and though I'd published some of my first (not so awesome) book with them, I reckon that this time, I'll have to do way better.

Until then, all I can say is that this is a very important journey to me, and it is taking a toll on my mental energy and finances, but I am going through with it because I want to.

Have a great week, and build your dreams daily no matter how futile they may seem. I'll let you know as time progresses on what happens with my writing project and would be honored if you bought a copy to read.


www.totellornot.wordpress.com

For all that is right, let there be love-peace and understanding.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hone Your Craft

If you are a writer, an artiste, an artist - or collectively put, "a creative" -then you have probably heard of the phrase that 'practice makes perfect.'
So, why should you practice?
Well, to hone your craft- that's why. So, what does it mean to home your craft? It simply means to get the most out of or to optimize what you have. It's good to make good use of what you have, but when it comes to Art- simply practising does not cut it. You have to practice with an agenda, not because you can master time or stick to a schedule or routine, but to also set targets that you can accomplish. 
My mentor shared with me the need for honing my craft because of late, I have not shared any  short story or published an ebook on Smashwords and I expressed frustration at this laxity. The first thing he did was to ask me what I was doing about it, and this got many excuses from me with the greatest lie being that I had no time. Truth is, I have time to read a book in a car or while sitting under a tree in some rural school- so taking time to write would not be a hassle.
Have you thought about honing your craft? Or simply building up on a good quality or skill that you possess? Well, truth is you can, and what do you need?
  1. Discipline
  2. Patience  

Why do you need these two?

Well, everyone has time- the only difference is how they prioritize their objectives. We have the power to choose, and as such we all have time and the choice to make time to do something.

So, discipline is like the backbone of honing your craft. I used to write every afternoon and evening and sometimes when I had an idea, but now given that I have a goal to achieve, I have scheduled my time and notebook to reflect exactly what I need and when I need it.

I write snippets of my to-be-published in Kenya novel- #Currents and also a novella for smashwords.

I know that between 7am to 2pm, I should have a minimum of six hundred words every day. This is part of discipline because sticking to a regime fruitfully is not an easy task.

As for patience, it simply means when you are creating something- give it your best and this needs patience not only to understand the pressure of the process but to also accept it and use it for your own good.

So- whatever you do, know that you need not just to practice but to do so effectively by being patient during the creative process and also disciplined to stick with it till the end.

www.totellornot.wordpress.com

For all that is right, let there be love-peace and understanding.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Why you should email and respond to messages.

I shared with you the the five emails you should send every week yesterday, and tonight (it's three minutes past nine) I'll move onto why you should check your emails, read some (not all) and respond appropriately.

Ever heard of email ettiquette ?
It simply means being courteous and considerate when it comes to sending and receiving mails as a form of communication.
Just because you type a message and send it to someone, it does not mean that you ought to forget about courtesy.

So, why should you email and respond in time to messages?
  1. Because it shows that you understand the need for timely feedback. If someone sends you an email and you respond three months later...then there's no need, for they shall have moved on to better things. It's recommended that an email receive a response in twenty-four hours or less.
  2. The internet is clearly advocating for speaking in few words. So, Twitter aside, sending and responding to an email requires you to compose sentences, use punctuation marks and this build up on your grammar.

But, though most people have email addresses- it seems that these addresses have been set up for notifications from social networks like Facebook, and blogs like this one, or this one, and as such when they check their inbox and see 240 messages- all they do is click on the box that says "select all" and look for "delete."

It's good to have two email addresses: an official address, say (your first name.your surname@....com) and a social address (cuteasabutton@...com)

Why?

Well, if you'll be seeking employment or working on official business using an email address like cuteasabutton@...com is a sure way of showing your lack of commitment. I do also have to admit that for certain professions like being a callgirl/guy- then it might just be right.

So, you've got mail what next:

  • Read it first.
  • Be concise in your response. No one wants to read a story in email form unless it's a blog post!
  • Do not write in CAPITALS. It feels as though you are shouting. Please use sentence case.
  • Most important of all- do not forward chain letters! Please, unless you have a friend who is a collector of chain letters- then you can always fill their inbox with messages of how to forward mail to people for a miracle.

Now there you have it, please do ensure you use the right language in your emails, because it goes a long way in establishing an impression on the one you are communicating with.

--
www.totellornot.wordpress.com

For all that is right, let there be love-peace and understanding.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Five Emails you should send every week

I started reading Sir Vidia's Shadow by Paul Theroux this past Saturday. It's an account of Paul's thirty year friendship with the writer V.S. Naipul- and it's quite a read for anyone who writes.

But that's not why I am writing this post tonight (it's actually five  minutes past eight), I am writing to share with you something that came to mind.
Mercy asked me "who are the three people that you could email every week?"

I had to tell her ten, of which I reckon I failed that test, but the thing is- there are people you need to email once a week to build on your strengths and also learn from and overcome your weaknesses.
I tried to be brief, but these five people came to mind:
  1. Family
  2. Mentor
  3. Immediate Boss/ Employer
  4. Friend
  5. A working colleague

So...let's get a breakdown of why you need to email these five people.

  • Family: Sending an email to a family member once or twice a week is a good way of keeping in touch and letting them know that you think about them and also cherish them. You can write on their Facebook wall or send them a tweet--but what's special about an email is that you'll type the words, and you also have the privacy to open up without having unnecessary 'likes' and 'comments.'
  • Mentor: When you have someone to guide you in your life- make good use of them. Share a weekly email to update them on your experiences and challenges. Who said online mentoring does not count?
  • Immediate Boss/Employer: Fine, you work with them and answer to them daily, but sending a weekly email that summarizes your activities for that week not only shows commitment but also dedication to your job. It also means that you  understand that your employer might overlook certain suggestions you made- and are politely reminding them.
  • Friend: Send your close friends an email every week to at least organize a small lunch or tea time at your place- bond with friends, and you'll learn more from them over a snack than you would in traffic!
  • A working colleague: It's good to be appreciated. Send your colleague a thank you email at the end of the week. Thank them for what they did during the week (how they helped you write a report, served you coffee, clarified a point, lent you some cash, cracked a joke, encouraged you). Also share career advice articles with them.
So, there they are- 5 emails that you should write and send every week, and for what it's worth, I just sent my first 3, I have two more to go and I reckon it will be a while before I sign out!

Have a great week ahead!
--
www.totellornot.wordpress.com

For all that is right, let there be love-peace and understanding.