Saturday, April 16, 2011

Managing Muse: Rust and Roses in the New Marketplace

America is a different place since the Recession; the world is a different place.

Jobs. Money. The fact that we're communicating to each other more often on Facebook and on blogs should be an indication that the fundamental way we talk to each other is different.

Different how? Different why?

Who knows, really... I suspect it has to do with the Internet. In some ways its less personal, in other ways its more personal. We can Check-In through Yelp. We can sync all kinds of apps to our Facebook account. We can Tweet. We can Text. We can Blog. GPS is like Zeus reaching for a clay mold. It knows where to find our pulse and nudge us. Most importantly, friends, near and far, can locate us, where ever our feet may land.

I stumbled upon Amanda Hocking's blog a few months ago and learned that she's doing pretty good for herself. She's in her mid-20s. She's got a blog. She writes stories about supernatural heroes and villains. And she's made more than 2 million bucks because she managed her muse for the Kindle market.

A few years ago if someone would have asked me if I had a Kindle, I would have said, "No, I don't have a fireplace, so why would I need kindling."

Chuckle all you want. Like Apple when it open sourced its software and kickstarted iTunes into the money-making cow ranch that it is, the e-Reader market is going through a very similar growth, thanks to artists like Amanda Hocking.

The artist must create, I wrote on a Facebook post.

So, what is she doing that I'm not?

Managing the muse.

She worked some random job before reaching her acclaim. She typed as often as she wanted to, as often as she could stand to write. Between parties. Between visits with friends. After paying her bills, rent, cell phone, a quick bite somewhere, and getting ready for work all over again...

She's proven that if you don't manage your muse, the artist inside rusts. It remains restless and without expression fades. She's managed her muse so well she's nurtured a dedicated following of readers and also the recent eye of St. Martin's Press. She got a book deal.

Damn good for a writer published on the Kindle.

I have no illusions about her success either.

She has incredible timing.

The Twilight Saga isn't over. The series has two more movies left in its franchise. That's two more years.

If Amanda manages her muse and her talent right she could land a movie deal. That could go either way. On the film scale she could receive acceptance or dismissal. Viewers are harsher critics, I think, than book readers. Reading is patience, is personal, is investment of more than a few hours in a darkened room.

What I've learned from Amanda is the same thing I've learned from every other artist out there. If I don't continue developing my artist talent, my craft will rust.

And I have been developing that craft. For many years I designed newspaper layouts, advertising, magazine covers, mailers... just about anything that can be printed I have experience with.

But jobs in America have changed. I can't design web sites. Can't code. Can't re-code. Can't make the thing tick likes it running on fuel. I can, however, make it sparkle like a Hollywood starlet.

So, here I am, talented...

Almost rusting.

Until I stumbled across Amanda Hocking.

In this new marketplace, Apple and Kindle have thrived. An app can cost $1.99. An e-book can cost $4.99. Most are the product of entrepreneurs, small business peeps turned artists in a short amount of time.

In this new marketplace, though, the expectations can be high, especially if I compare myself to Amanda. But I won't. And I shouldn't. That's just plain hubris.

What I am interested in doing is writing for the Kindle market. A few novellas a year. Maybe even a compilation of short stories. A full-lengthed novel? I don't have time to write something of that length. I'm developing apps too. Got one in the cooker. Two more in the hopper.

Perhaps my efforts will turn into a rose garden. Who knows, really?

Only time will tell.

Here's to managing muse.

I wish all of you success.

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