Create Cool Shit

I’m a creator and a storyteller

My retirement goal is now clear in my mind.

Create Cool Shit

What’s cool to me now?

  • Stone walls
  • Wonderful gardens
  • Stories (how I deliver them is still up in the air but multimedia is a leading contender)

Note I reserve the right to change my mind about what’s cool at any time.

But More Importantly

What’s cool to you now?

Hell Yeah Or No

I’ve been faced with a lot of choices in the past few months as I disengage from old projects and adopt new ones. (as an aside, there are few things as powerful as a world-wide epidemic to focus your attention on the truly important stuff.) I remembered a mantra from “back in the day” and hunted down the author.

Derek Sivers produced a lot of content, and one thing that stuck with me was his approach to projects. When approached with an idea, his response was either ‘Hell Yeah” or “No”. If he couldn’t get excited about the project in a major way (Hell Yeah!) then he turned it down. There was no middle ground. If he couldn’t get truly excited about a project, he didn’t do it.

I’ve adopted this mantra over the last few months as I evaluated the project lists I keep.

  • I was updating, but a quick analysis showed there were no tangible results other than better looking posts. Hell no.
  • The outlines for two other gardening books went into the same Hell no category.
  • Stone walls around the garden. Hell yeah
  • Stone walled compost bins. Yes.
  • Losing Covid’s weight gain. Hell yeah.
  • Learn yoga. Yes.
  • Read Durant’s ‘The Story of Civilization’ Finally!
  • Writing the fantasy bumping around in my head. Yes, indeed.
  • Writing fiction. Yes.
  • Posting garden notes when and if the spirit moves me rather than on a schedule. Hell yeah.
  • Feeling free to change my mind. You have to know that’s going to happen.
  • Feel guilty about abandoning other projects. Nope, no longer.

There’s more, but you get the idea. Unless the idea really charges up my creative urge, it’s not going to happen.

And in case, I slip into my old ways, my screen saver now reminds me with a ‘Hell Yeah or No!” message across the screen.

Check out his website, there are some classic posts there that may speak to you the same way “Hell Yeah or No,” just changed my creative direction.

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Doing Stupid Things Deliberately

I’ve been interested (and somewhat involved) in a variety of activities and research into fitness and life extension for the past few years.

In that time, I’ve run across some seriously smart people trying really dumb things.

On the stupid-front, I just read a post from an individual who decided to try some cold water activities.    Note, that after he does it, he says you shouldn’t. Then why…

But instead of doing a 5-minute cold treatment in a river in a shower or at the edge of a natural watercourse, this individual decided he’d go swimming out in the freezing water for a full twenty minutes against a strong current.

And then celebrated because his body went into shock, with bowel releases etc etc, the marks of full body temperature collapse.

In short, medically-speaking, it was a good try to kill himself.

There’s dumb and there’s just plain stupid. This was both.

For the uninitiated, cold water immersion has some very interesting and positive effects on human metabolism and telomere length. 

But there’s cold and then there’s just plain stupid.

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Do you think this kind of thing is stupid or would you do it?

Trees and Writers Keep Growing Or Rot Inside

One of the hardest things a writer has to do is constantly outgrow their world.

The hard reality is it is only by recognizing multiple paths forward in both craft and creativity and abandoning old visions will a creator have room for innovation.

But the fan base you’ve built, those who’ve bought your work and paid the bills, those people don’t want you to change. Nope. Not a bit of it.

Here’s my dilemma, I can stay in the old way of doing things to make my fans happy or I can go all creative and make myself happy.

My guess is that by staying in one place — a safe place —I’m going to have to tell myself a story about how creative I am or how my work is “growing” somehow or how it’s helping so many people.

But deep down, in the corner of my soul, I’ll know I’ve compromised.

I like to tease my children about being on my 9th (or is this the 12th?) midlife crisis. But as my children also know, I reinvent myself with each change. From consultant to nurseryman, to award-winning, garden-writer to writing fiction to… (maybe stone carving or sculpture) I try to live the advice I pass along.

Note this is not the same thing as taking a job to pay the bills or writing at something while I create in other spaces. Those things are bread-of-life.

When I talk about taking creative leaps, I’m talking about soul-of-life.

Another way to imagine a creative career is to imagine a tree. A tree is an interesting life form and I like to think of an artistic career as a multi-branched tree with tons of big branches leading to smaller ones. When you get to the end of one, you get to find another, walking out the new branch to the very end as well.

But creativity, like a tree, is either growing or it is dying. And like a tree, it is either balanced in its growth or it falls over in a storm.

I also note trees take many years to die once they stop growing — mostly rotting from the inside. You see where I’m going with this?

I grow or I die as a creative person and without that active, visible growth showing in my work, I’m rotting away from the inside.

By the way, this is a tough one because there’s a real world out there where the bills have to be paid. But — nobody said following a creative dream was easy.

I wouldn’t want to do it if it were.

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You Want Free Beer or Free Speech With That?

Let’s look very briefly at free beer versus free speech concept where it’s applied to online content.

A brief summary is the concept of free speech (where you have access to a “right”) versus free beer (where you have open access to a “product”).

Net users have to decide if they’re happy with “free” all the time where the accuracy, honesty and availability is variable.

Or, whether they’ll look for good resources and pay for the information.

So What’s Free Speech or Free Beer Really Mean?

In the real world, any relationship only works when it’s a mutually helpful one.

If you choose to only use the “free” from a person without some reciprocation – (be it free online, always using the neighbour’s lawn mower, borrowing a tool without filling up the gas tank or cleaning it after use, hesitating to do the driving to hockey or basketball, never doing your share with neighbourhood cleanup, or never sharing really good wine with friends but always buying the cheap stuff) – then the relationship will weaken.

You’re a taker and not a giver. And we all know people like this.

Why Would This Differ In The Online World

The difference between the two is the online world is so much wider, with so many more resources you can find to use without paying anything for it – you’re getting free beer.

You can skip from resource to resource, always taking and never giving back.

But if you land on a resource and take advantage of it, then you run the risk of burning out the resource.  If enough people do this, the resource will simply pack up and move on.

We all know websites that have simply disappeared. They’re full of good advice one day and “site not found” the next.

But then again, that’s not your problem if you’re a taker.

You can simply move on to another free resource in the almost-limitless online world.

Bottom line:

Takers continue to take without regard for the resource.  The move on always looking for the free beer.

And the survival of those who create those resources are not their concern.

Hell of a way to live.

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How do you support the creators you enjoy? Or do you? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.

I Stopped Writing Author Newsletters

Author newsletters are supposed to provide a way to both inform readers about new posts and form a relationship with those readers.

Personally, I dislike the newsletters where the author tries to form a relationship by oversharing about their personal life and fluffy pets. 

I prefer meat with my email rather than candyfloss.

So what I’ve just done is automate the entire process. 

How is this different from other authors? 

Rather than spend time composing and laying out a separate email, the email is set up from my website’s RSS feed.

For those who don’t know, blogs such as this one have an automatically-generated file that is called a “feed”.  Any change in the website’s main content – publishing a new post for example – triggers an update to this feed.

The Software Process Explained

  • My software reads the additions in the site.
  • The software then sends out an email to readers notifying them of that addition.
  • In my case, I’ve set it up so the three most recent posts go out every time a new post is added to the RSS feed.  (The new post and the two previously published posts.)
  • I can still manually send out a post if I have something to share that’s unrelated to a blog post.

And this means all the sharing and fluffy pet posts will be on the website (I don’t have any fluffy pets btw). 

 This Means

I can do what I do – write, and the software does what it does – distribute.

And it saves me several hours a week between my various website adventures.

p.s. I can still manually write a reader update if I really want to highlight something.

p.p.s. If you’re reading this in your email, it came from the automated system.

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