The book

Yes, it’s true, I have written a book.

The title is Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy, and yes I have a macro that types that out for me.  I was a little startled a couple of weeks ago when I started checking the blank spots in the text I needed to fill in and found that there were none.  I was, in essence, done.

Why haven’t you heard about this?  You have if you also read my other blog, Lichtenbergianism.com, where I have tended to shunt all my whining about creative work.  Even there, though, I haven’t really documented the travails of the process.[1]  It’s more of a marketing/social media tie-in for the book, the sales of which of course I expect to catapult me into the first ranks of Twitter like Austin Kleon and others.  Too much whining is not customer-friendly.

So why can’t you give me money this very moment?  Several reasons, and here you get to read me whine because THIS IS MY BLOG, KENNETH.

√ 1. I invited my fellow Lichtenbergians to proof and kibbitz the text along with a select few others.  Their input has been valuable, so thank you, guys!

√ 2. That necessitated—as it should—corrections and emendations of the text, and I’m about done with that.  I have two or three more sticky notes on my monitor to do, and then it’s on to…

3. I have to export the text from Scrivener, the most excellent authoring tool from Literature & Latte.  (If you are writing anything of any length, go buy this software and before you do anything go through the entire tutorial.  Pro tip: after the third time you’re thinking there must be an easier way to accomplish something in the program, take the tutorial again.)

4. I have to edit that Word file, applying styles to paragraphs and terms so that I’ll have a slightly easier time of it when…

5. I import the text file into InDesign to lay out the book.  I expect this to be an orgy of moaning and whining.  I’ve done a little work already, but I’m not really happy about any of it.  For one thing, the font I thought I was using for the main text doesn’t really work for me, so I switched to a simply sans serif font, and now I can’t find a contrasting font for headings and quotes that I like.  Ugh.

5a. I have to go back and make sure that all the images I’m using are at least 300 dpi for publishing purposes.

6. I have to design the cover.  Again, I’ve done some work but hate all of it.  (My placeholder design, which I’ve used as an image in several posts, doesn’t even have my name on it.)

7. I have to export all of that above and send it to my estimable publisher, fellow Lichtenbergian Jeff Bishop at Boll Weevil Press, where he will publish it via our Lichtenbergian Press imprint.[2]

Then you can give me money.  Two weeks, maybe?

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[1] Aren’t you glad I didn’t write “haven’t logged my slog”?  You’re welcome.

[2] Jeff’s most recent book, Agatahi, is a marvel: the Cherokee Removal, aka The Trail of Tears, told via first-person accounts of the Cherokees themselves.  Go buy it.  It is profoundly moving.

Lichtenbergian Goals, 2017

First, a clarification.  These are technically not “Lichtenbergian goals.”  In our official ritual/agenda, they are “Proposed Efforts.”  A subtle difference, and a valid distinction: if we don’t get around to doing one of them, we haven’t missed a goal.  We just didn’t get around to it.

With that in mind, here are next year’s Proposed Efforts.

Lichtenbergianism

I’m carrying forward my 2016 goal to finish Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy and find a publisher for it. It’s just sheer laziness that prevented me from achieving that this past year. As I move forward, I will continue posting chapters to this website (although see below about Lichtenbergianism.com) and about my efforts to implement the strategies outlined in The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published [EGGYBP].

I will also continue building Lichtenbergianism.com, both through the blog and the introductory material.

One of the strategies in EGGYBP is to establish yourself as a speaker/workshop leader, both of which I am extremely qualified to do. I’ve already started putting out feelers and hope to start this aspect of the project soon.

Backstreet Arts writing project

Another carryover: work with Kim Ramey at Backstreet Arts on establishing a writers’ group for her audience. Basic journaling, story posters, whole books, compilations of stories—I’ll start wherever I can and go from there.

SUN TRUE FIRE

Not really a carryover, but if I’m going to compose at all, it might as well be this piece.

[REDACTED] at Newnan Theatre Company

Since it has not been officially announced, I won’t name the play I’m directing for the 2017-18 season at Newnan Theatre Company. Suffice it to say that with auditions in Jan 2018, I will spend most of 2017 preparing for the show.

For this production I am going to pull what we used to call a “full Dale” and which everywhere else is called “standard operating procedure,” i.e., full designs for costumes, sets, and lights, with individuals who are not me in charge of production. Production meetings; crew recruitment; maybe even classes to teach people how to do these things. Reach out to sewing fanatics via Jo-Ann perhaps; reach out to the artists at Backstreet; find people who aren’t involved and drag them into it.

3 Old Men

I want to continue to lead 3 Old Men, of course, but now we have another goal for the year. Burning Man’s theme for 2017 (Aug 24–Sep 4) is Radical Ritual—how can we not at least attempt to plan to go? So there’s that.

I also want to continue as Placement Lead for Alchemy and Euphoria, now that I’ve had greatness thrust upon me. Especially if we move to new land again: I want the opportunity to design a burn that becomes a home for years.

Unsilent Night

This one just developed last week when I was trying to explain the music I had used in the labyrinth for the Tour of Homes, Phil Kline’s Unsilent Night. Years ago I had tried to get in touch with Mr. Kline to see if he’d allow us to do an Unsilent Night parade in Newnan, but never heard from him. When I looked the music up to show people, I was super pleased to see that Unsilent Night now has its own webpage, and that indeed they were encouraging parades all over.

I’ve already made contact and started a Facebook group to begin planning for the event next December.

Establish a routine

I got out of a daily schedule this past summer and fall, so I want to reestablish specific periods of work each day.

Seven goals, some of which have massive subgoals themselves. We’ll see how I do.

Onward!

A fun Abortive Attempt

Remember these?

Here’s one thing I figured out to do with them:

A lovely little package!

From the back:

Oooh, let’s open it!

Ta-da!  Lichtenbergianism Precept Cards!

One side has the Precept and the logo, and the other side…

…has the And so… section from each chapter in Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy.

They’re kind of a pain in the butt to make, but if you’d like a set, let me know.

Lichtenbergian goals 2016: a review

For those of you who are just joining us, the Lichtenbergian Society is the group of men who are my soul brothers in creative procrastination. Every year we have an Annual Meeting around the fire in the labyrinth, and part of the ritual is that we propose our Efforts for the coming year, which our Recording Secretary duly engrosses in the journal.

The other part of that process, of course, is to have this year’s Efforts read back to us and to confess our success or failure. Cras melior est is the appropriate liturgical response to any failure.

Since the Annual Meeting is this Friday, it’s time to prepare my soul for the ordeal. Let’s see how I did in 2016.

Here’s the original post, if you’re interested.

Lichtenbergianism

I wanted to finish Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy this year. Somehow that did not happen. Something to do with procrastination, I think.

On the plus side, I’ve made headway in my own head towards thinking about getting the thing actually published. Part of that effort towards world domination was establishing Lichtenbergianism.com, which is not nothing.

But actually finishing the book? No.

3 Old Men

If my goal was to expand my burner theme camp to include a 50-foot square arena for “yelling at the hippies,” well… cras melior est. We didn’t have enough campers at Euphoria in May, and for Alchemy, we didn’t have enough space.

But there in the last paragraph of last year’s post, look:

I also want to continue working with Flashpoint Artists Initiative, the nonprofit which runs Euphoria/Alchemy, as a small-time volunteer on various projects.

Ha. I was certainly accomplishing that goal, doing my usual webmaster volunteering for the art fundraiser and even going so far as to volunteer to be Co-Lead for Placement, right up until the morning that I woke up one morning to the email saying that I was THE LEAD FOR PLACEMENT, KENNETH.

So if my goal was to remain a “small-time volunteer,” I failed miserably. You can read about it here.

Backstreet Arts

My goal was to work with Kim Ramey as she established a public art studio for the homeless/underserved population here in Newnan.

Cras melior est. I lent a sympathetic ear to Kim Ramey and offered what I hope was helpful advice, but mostly I was missing in action. However, she has forged ahead and this past month the studio (behind Bridging the Gap) passed its inspection and will soon be open for business. I hope I can get my act together enough to volunteer down there and create a space for writing and publishing.

???

This was my Undefined Universe Project, in which I decided not to work on music which had not been specifically commissioned for a performance. As I said in the post,

So my goal is to allow the Universe to send me a project which is attached to actual production.

Cras melior est, although that’s on the Universe, right? I did decide to pick back up on SUN TRUE FIRE on Retreat (here and here), but otherwise the Universe certainly gave me the finger. Oh well. It’s not as if I haven’t been busy or creative in other ways.  Which is the point of TASK AVOIDANCE in the first place, right?

Onward to 2017!

Lichtenbergianism: a new frontier

No, I haven’t written any more on Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy, and no, I haven’t done any more work on the book proposal.  But I did establish a new front in my battle for world domination.

As I posted the other day, I bought the domain name for Lichtenbergianism.com and started a trial website at Squarespace.  Within 24 hours I had ponied up for a business website; within 48 I had a new email address and a MailChimp account.  Soon I shall have a new Twitter account.

(The MailChimp account means you can sign up to have a digest email of the week’s blog posts sent to you every Saturday, i.e., you can procrastinate about learning how to make procrastination work for you!)

Now if I only had actual content for the website.  Hey, I’m working on it—every day is a glorious flood of SUCCESSIVE APPROXIMATION as I figure out what it is I have to offer and how to put that before the public.

Lichtenbergianism: WHAT HAVE I DONE?

I have done a thing.

Why have I done this thing?  Because if I am seeking world domination, I have to have a platform.  Yes, I already have this platform, but I want to keep my private thoughts on a separate plane from my benevolent despot thoughts.

Here is the problem, though: WHAT THE HECK AM I SUPPOSED TO PUT ON THIS NEW PLATFORM?  Talk about an ABORTIVE ATTEMPT.  Just jump in there, man, and don’t count the cost.

As has been often noted, it’s not the jump that kills you, it’s the SUCCESSIVE APPROXIMATION.

So let’s think this thing through.

  • If Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy were ever published, of course we would want to tie it in to Lichtenbergianism.com as a marketing ploy.
  • The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published [EGGYBP] encourages you to have an online presence before your book is published.
  • I can begin to promote the idea of the book and any auxiliary services such as speaking engagements, workshops, etc., as part of the book proposal.
  • Especially if I were able to begin doing workshops and such even without the book being published, Lichtenbergianism.com would be the appropriate base.
  • With the new domain, I can keep emails about Lichtenbergianism separate from my other personas, e.g., my personal life, my burner life, etc.
    • This would also give me a separate Twitter account with which to begin seeking my minions for world domination.
  • Filling the new domain with… what, exactly?… would force me to concentrate on exactly what: blogposts, linked articles, tweets, etc.
  • Arrrgh!

You should tell me what to put on the new site in comments.  We’ll call it focus group testing.

In other news, I have done some serious work on getting the book proposal done.  Next up: get serious about finding an agent/publisher.

Easy.

I’ve been reading The Fire Starter Sessions, by Danielle LaPorte, as one of the potential competitors for Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy.  It’s not really a competitor, but it is a very good “get off your butt and do what you love” kind of guide, so I’ve been reading it and journalling answers to the worksheet questions at the end of each chapter.

The worksheet for this last chapter, “The metrics of ease,” though, has me flummoxed.  Here are the questions:

  • What exactly needs to get done in your life and livelihood?
  • What’s your competency level for each activity?
  • Which of those activities actually makes you feel strengthened?
  • Which of those activities doesn’t really light your fire?
  • What can you do to develop these strengths and interests?
  • What three actions will you take this week to condition and nourish your true strengths?
  • What three actions will you take this week to decrease your time spent on activities that drag you down and don’t feed your true strengths?

Well.

I’m kind of reading this book to get a grip on how much I really want to be some kind of workshop leader/TED Talk sort of thing, and so this chapter stopped me cold.

What exactly needs to get done in my life and livelihood?  Empty the dishwasher, walk the dog, clean the litter box, cook some meals.  Honestly, that’s about it.  The rest of it—blogging, composing, writing, volunteering, Camping with the Hippies™—is completely optional.  If I stopped tomorrow,1 it would not make a sound in the forest.2

So then the rest of the questions become moot, don’t they?  Do they?  Should I forget that I literally have no obligations other than to wear pants and not smell in public and pretend that she’s asking about what I wish I were doing? (Or do I?)

Understand that I am not indulging in self-pity.  I am honestly at a loss as to how I should answer that first question in terms of planning my third career.

More work is required.

—————

1 I am not stopping tomorrow.

2 For those who are just joining us, I am retired, in the sense of “Governor Nathan Deal moved the Governor’s Honors Program from the Department of Education where it had been for literally 50 years to his own Office of Student Achievement and didn’t care to move the director of the program with it.”

About those goals…

I’m using a piece of software called Scrivener to write Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy, and a very good piece of software it is, too.

One of the many tools it offers is the ability to project word count goals and to see how you’re doing in the current session.  If you tie your session goals to your putative finish date, it will tell you how many words you need to rip out in that session in order to stay on track.

Because of one Camping With the Hippies™ or another, I’ve been a bit slack in writing:

::sigh::

7,500 words for today in order to “finish” by tomorrow. That’s okay.  I have to reset my total word count goal upwards anyway: each chapter is working out to be around 2,000 words, and that’s before I go back and work in charming illustrative anecdotes from all the Lichtenbergians.

N.B.: I could too do it, if I wanted to.  So there.

 

Lichtenbergianism: Pitch perfect

Today in our continuing book study of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published [EGGYBP], we look at the pitch.

There are two kind of pitches: 1) the elevator pitch, which is over by the time the elevator gets to the next floor, and 2) your long-form pitch. [p.70]

I keep trying to come up with a snappy elevator pitch:

  • Art & Fear only funny”?
  • How to Write a Novel in 30 Days for slackers”?
  • Twilight, but well-written. And no vampires”?

Perhaps, as the authors1 also suggest, my subtitle is the elevator pitch: “procrastination as a creative strategy, or how I stopped worrying  and learned to love doing it wrong.”

“The Mouse Whose Name Is Time,” by Robert Francis—click to read the whole amazing poem

The long-form pitch is no less simple.  It’s supposed to be a paragraph or two, but still under a minute.

How about:

In 2007 a small group of creative amateurs founded a society dedicated to celebrating their procrastination and found, to their amazement, that their productivity improved. Now they share the secret of their success with nine “precepts,” ways to re-organize your thinking about how you create and why.  Sometimes counter-intuitive and usually amusing, their strategies distill some of the most obvious secrets of the creative process to free you from your own mindblocks.

Hm.  How about:

Sure, you can buy a book to help you cure your procrastination, but why would you? Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy frees you from the worry and the guilt—and shows you how to use your bad habits to become more productive in your creative life.  No matter whether you’re a writer, an artist, a composer, a programmer, a gardener, or any other creative type, the Nine Precepts of Lichtenbergianism will give you ways to rethink your creative habits and give yourself permission to succeed—by failing!

That’s better, and more in sync with the tone of the book.

Tomorrow is better!  That’s the motto of the Lichtenbergian Society, a group of creative men who bonded over their shared tendency to procrastinate and found that they became more productive because of it. Now Lichtenbergian chair Dale Lyles shows you how you, too, can stop worrying about your bad habits and learn to love your own creative process.  Whether you’re a frustrated writer, artist, composer, gardener, or programmer, you’ll find new ways to think about how you create and why, from Task Avoidance to Successive Approximation to Ritual to Abandonment—if you give yourself permission to fail, you give yourself permission to create.  It’s that simple!

One more:

Are you a creative genius?  No, only Mozart is a creative genius, and you are not him.  But you are creative—yes, you are, admit it—and you want to overcome your fears and your bad habits so that you can write that novel/paint that painting/compose that song/program that app.  Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy gives you nine Precepts, ways to restructure your thinking about how you create and why so that you can just get to work and create the work of your dreams. But not today.  Tomorrow is better.

And I’m spent.

—————

1 I keep saying “the authors” because it’s easier than typing out their names: Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry.

Lichtenbergianism: Titles? We don’t need no steenkin’ titles.

From The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published [EGGYBP]:

A common mistake authors make is choosing a title that has a particular meaning to them but that no one else understands.

Well.

I mean to say.  Lichtenbergianism.  What could go wrong?

I will admit to having been told already that the title sucks and won’t survive an agent/editor/publisher.  I will resist while I can, of course, because the whole core of the book is how the Lichtenbergians became more productive through the use of the Nine Precepts (although of course the Precepts are ex post facto developments).

The subtitle of the book, I would hope, makes the purpose of the book clear: Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy.  My feeling is that the silliness of the main title becomes attractive when attached to the subtitle, i.e., the browser is distracted by the weird, incomprehensible title, then sees the subtitle and laughs, yeah, I need this book.

But I am not the expert, the authors of EGGYBP are, and they suggest a couple of strategies here.  The first is to create a “title pool” of words that could go into your title:

  • procrastinate, procrastination, procrastinating
  • create, creative, creativity
  • put off, hold off, postpone, protract
  • don’t start, tomorrow…
  • finish, finished, finishing

Then somehow you’re supposed to find that perfect title out of all those terms.  (They also suggest checking Google Adwords to see what will result in your book being found, but that involves creating an account which involves “budgets” and “payment” and all that stuff.)  Here are ten:

  1. Don’t Create, Procrastinate!
  2. Never Finish Today (what you can put off tomorrow)
  3. A [Poem]* Is Never Finished: *painting/song/novel/garden ( a riff on the Paul Valery quote)
  4. Be Creative… Some Day
  5. Be Creative… Tomorrow
  6. Hold That Thought! : a guide to creative procrastination
  7. Lord, Make Me Creative, But Not Yet (a riff on St. Augustine’s sly prayer about chastity)
  8. Tomorrow Is Better: procrastination as a creative strategy
  9. Back Burner Creativity, or Creativity on the Back Burner
  10. Moseying to the Finish Line: creativity is not a race

Okay, there are a few in there that I could tolerate were an agent to hold a book contract to my head.

Another strategy from EGGYBP is to “get lots and lots of opinions.”  I realize that anyone reading this blog has already had their brains infected by Lichtenbergianism, but try to forget that perfect title and give me your opinions in comments.  Who knows?  This could be that moment when Bugles Sang True finally became Gone With the Wind.