16 March 2010

This Side of Oz & Just South of Wonderland

by nm boliek

In the past few months, I’ve begun moving closer to writing as my career and I’ve found myself mulling over the Big Picture of Writing. By Big Picture, I mean all the various types and forms of writing that exist and where I might fit in.

I’ve always been a “storyteller” of sorts, I like to weave a good tale and I love to make people laugh. So it seemed obvious to me that my niche would be short humorous pieces. I have what I call a “Bank” of stories; its exactly what it sounds like – stories that I’ve written in the past 20 years or so and filed away, knowing that eventually I would be at a place in my life where I could totally focus on my writing. All of these stories are fully realized pieces waiting for their lives to begin. I just have to make that leap and mail the envelope or as they say these days, upload the content. I’m proud of these pieces, they are after all, a sort of chronicle of my writing life and in one way or another, they represent my growth as a writer and a person.

Am I nervous or afraid? Well, yes but not for the obvious reason – not succeeding - because in a way I have already succeeded. No, I’m nervous for other more esoteric reasons; like will my work make people laugh? Will they feel good when they turn the last page? Will it lighten their reflective load and maybe make them play this game called Life with a little less seriousness and more joy? …..its a stop and smell the roses type of thing for me.

When I was younger, my mother handed me an Erma Bombeck book and though I no longer remember which one, I do remember the laughter it brought to our household and the subsequent stories it spawned at the dinner table each night. Those stories and the warm feelings they elicited made an indelible impression on me and I’m pretty sure paved the path I’m now walking.

This has been a slow steady journey for me. Each person I’ve met along the way has offered advice or pointed to a direction. I was smart enough to listen and take criticism, when it came, with a smile and a thought. If you write, you have an idea of the ropes and hoops involved and you know that sometimes the rope can hang you or the hoop can turn into a bad hula. You also know that nothing can hold you back once you set your sights and align your priorities. But I recommend doing your homework first.

Things are changing in the publishing industry at a fast pace and their due to keep changing as the digital landscape pushes the written word envelope. In the last year, magazines I have loved and cherished have closed their doors and quietly walked away while the new Digital Magazines have flung theirs open and loudly declared “The Future is Now.” As a writer, I need to know my market and those waters are getting pretty murky from all the thrashing in the pool. So trying to make sense of it all is proving to be a fulltime job on its own. But it is part of my job as a writer.

I can sit here all day long and work on my craft – and that’s what I’d like to do. But right now until my “break” comes along I’m the Manager, Editor and Promoter of myself and my works. That’s a lot of hats I’m suddenly juggling and I wasn’t the best multitasker to begin with. So I went looking to see how others were managing this task. I’m fortunate, I write for another web site that forces me into research about those I write about. Which in turn put me in a position to see how new but unknown artists were getting their names out there. If you can fathom a way it can be done in the digital age.

I found many workable ideas for my situation and some that might work but just weren’t right for me. In the end, I got on the Social Networking train and began to work to build a following. I had my doubts but it was the least risky of the choices and I had full control over my works and myself. I’ve made use of each of the most popular social network sites and I’ve got two public blogs going – I chose to put them on different sites so I could teach myself different publishing formats. Both blogs focus on an aspect of my writing. I cross post to various writing groups I belong to and try to be an active member of every community I am a part of. Does this sound like a lot of work? It is. Has it paid off? you bet! I’ve gotten a ton of exposure and I’ve found all sorts of people to mentor me along the way. But the most important thing I have gotten from doing my own leg work is a type “thinking outside of the box” that I was unaccustomed to. I had to learn to tap into parts of my creativity that were not writing oriented, parts I wasn’t sure I had.

I’m not saying this has been easy and I’m not saying it will guarantee I will become a celebrated writer but I am saying I’ve pushed my own preconceived bounds of Self. I’ve stretched and grown in ways I didn’t know were possible and I’ve been humbled in ways that were most needed. Instant feedback is a wonderful thing - it can make you or break you and it can shape you – if you allow it to.

I’m pleased with this experience so far and I highly recommend it to anyone that is wondering how the world might receive their writings. Bring your sense of humor and wear your waders because sometimes as I’ve found, things can get a bit deep. And don’t forget to laugh at yourself….. it will keep you grounded.

I’m positive of my place in the world of written words now - all that’s left to do is mail the envelope or click the upload box.


  1. I think you have a strength in creativity. It's been enjoyable and I love reading your work!

  2. Through hard work, you have developed social networking and maintained two blogs and also received feedback which you've used to promote personal growth. You are now well positioned for this evolution in writing as we go from the "real world" to the computer; the latter affording instant feedback.

    Magazines folding and new publications emerging on the internet as well as the acceptance of self publishing, from http://www.booksurge.com/ to http://www.iuniverse.com/ now make publishing that book a certainty.

    Yes, you need to be a "jack of all trades" these days; a writer, a marketer, a blogger, a net-worker and a willing student of others opinions. These you have learned and are now prepared for this "New Age" in publishing.

    As for your collection of humorous stories, as one who tells jokes in social settings, I can assure you that people today need a reason to laugh more then ever before. There is a need for your stories now more than ever.

    You may not make everyone laugh as I never manage to but the majority will laugh and, through your writing, you will have given people the most rewarding gift they yearn for in life. A moment suspended in the escape of humour.

    Finally, in your posts, you have given freely to me your own knowledge.

    As I've often said, writing is an act of altruism and you've clearly defined that for me.