“How’ya doin’?” “Just floating with the universe.” “Excellent.” It isn’t a verbatim conversation, but generally that’s how I live my life. That’s an odd lack of structure for someone like me who spent years in corporate cubicle world, was raised in intent Catholicism, and trained in a very old and traditional martial art. Even before I left my career I followed intuition when logic couldn’t provide a definitive answer. Within a normal life, logic rarely is able to make definitive guesses about the future. So, where’s it led me now? How about to teaching a class on self publishing – again?
Welcome to Whidbey, and especially the town I most frequent on the south end, Langley. You all should come by and visit. The cute B&Bs, restaurants, shops, and artists will appreciate your visit. Like me, some come and stay. Langley paints itself with the image of a sleepy sea-side town, which is mostly true, though the ocean waves are a hundred miles away. It is, however, regularly visited by grey whales as they feed on the tide flats, and orcas cruise by chasing salmon and seals. The town lacks the waves but it does have the life. The hidden truth though is that Langley is a networker’s happy place. The talents and resumes are world-class, quiet, and the networkers are very eager to encourage others. A two block walk, which covers half of “downtown” can take hours as conversations bounce from one set of friends and projects to another. That’s one thing I like about this small town that isn’t apparent to visitors.
A few years ago, soon after I moved here, a handful of friends invited me to a gathering. Their descriptions of it made no sense, but I trusted them and attended even though it was at a resort (Hollyhock) a couple of hundred miles north on yet another island across the border. The short story is that I went, met lots of interesting people and am somewhat addicted to the event. I’ve noticed that they all have fascinating stories, but usually want to hear yours first. It makes for animated conversations, especially as projects are spawned or find new resources and happy serendipities.
By going to that event I was invited to another event that I’ve mentioned before: the University of Washington’s Global Social Entrepreneurial Competition (GSEC) where I’ve met students committing themselves to changing the world by starting businesses that benefit impoverished people.
Tonight I’m attending a project kick-off (The Flow Project) that aims to tap artists’ insights for the benefit of civic governance, I think. I’m honored to be included and don’t need conclusive logic to convince me to attend. But I have committed to cooking a potluck item after I post this blog, so this isn’t simply showing up with a pad of paper and a pen. Maybe I’ll make meatballs. Hope the vegans don’t mind.
These layers continue to overlap, unfold and grow to the point that sources of inspiration are hard to trace and expectations of control are frequently challenged.
A friend has based his life on a maximized version of this philosophy. Steve Smolinsky, someone I met at the resort in Canada, runs a Conversation Blog about networking and the benefits of interconnectivity. His posts are entertaining because of his writing style, but also because of where his networking takes him. He’s back from Africa, again.
I had a small Smolinsky moment yesterday. Walking through Langley to deposit a check (book sales are a good thing) I’d bounced around through a half-dozen conversations over a ninety-minute, half-mile walk when I noticed a friend working in his co-work space, also known as the Langley Center for New Media. He and his laptop had a well-lit place beside the window where he could see the world go by and the world could see the space in use. A short visit later we’d agreed I’d hold a class on self publishing there. I’d come into town to deposit a check and walked away with another spot on my calendar, and probably a few more classes and clinics.
Following my intuition has resulted in five non-fiction books, series of series of nature photos, a chance to touch many projects, and a long list of other potentials. The most gratifying part has been meeting, knowing and helping people. I truly don’t know where this is leading and I am willing to let that happen.
I retired (check the Engineer part of my bio) in 1998. Since then people either assume I spend the days sleeping, or they want a one word answer to what I do. I’ve finally settled on “writer” because it is broad, ambiguous, and has very low expectations. Stereotypical middle-aged writers are expected to be eccentric, probably intoxicated, and highly unproductive. That’s a low hurdle that’s easy to clear.
This level of chaos isn’t a lifestyle that fits for all. Retiring early or otherwise usually involves a break in daily structure. That break can be traumatic and is a good reason for people to find hobbies and causes, at least at the start.
I’ve been retired for over a dozen years and there is very little structure to my life. Dance on Tuesday. Blog on Wednesday and Saturday, maybe. The rest fills in as it will, and it does fill. And I trust it. I float with the universe.
Curious about that one class that came from who knows where? The details are below. And as I say in the class’s intro: “Give your dreams the freedom they deserve.” There’s no way to know where they’ll take you.
Class: Modern Self-Publishing
Publishing is undergoing a revolution.
Independent movies challenged Hollywood tradition. Independent music challenged the major record labels. Now, print-on-demand publishers are enabling legions of writers to pursue their passions without having to appease agents and editors.
Most authors can get their books published worldwide within a few months for about the cost of a writer’s conference.
An industry in revolution is never an easy place though, so come see ways to steer your dream project through the shifting landscape, and become aware of the cautions that lie ahead.
Give your dreams the freedom they deserve.
Time: April 23rd
lunch – You’re on your own but it’s Langley so that’s a good thing.
Cost: (cash or check)
seminar + workshop $100
workshop only (Nope, gotta take the seminar too, at least this time.)