“Narratives of Transcendent Origin and Power”

“Narratives of Transcendent Origin and Power”

Somewhere around a million years ago, I received a gift from a fellow writer, a book called Walking on Alligators by Susan Shaughnessy. I wasn’t familiar with Ms. Shaughnessy, but the book is subtitled A Book of Meditations for Writers, and it has a format similar to a lot of self-help/meditation books: each page features an interesting provocative quote from a well-known writer, a section about how and what we writers do, and then a kind of affirmation, e.g., Today I will write as honestly as I can, or Today I will honor my writing time, and so on.

I’ve never been big on the whole idea of writer’s block (do dentists get dentist block?), but I’ve had periods where I felt uninspired, and other periods where I got “stuck” in a story I was working on and had to go work on something else for a while. This book is a good resource for writers when they need a little inspiration, or even a good kick in the seat of the pants. Some of the readings are great, some aren’t so great, and a few are just plain weird. Of late I have used the book as a source of quotes for various social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

Today’s quote comes from Neil Postman, an author I should probably have read by now, but admittedly haven’t. I see from Amazon that he has a book called Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. I like the quote, and decided to use it for an image post on Facebook. Without giving it much thought, I decided to use a mandala for the image in the background, and I posted it and moved on to start this blog post for the day.

Like a lot of provocative (and evocative) quotes, this one led me to muse about culture and politics, about the sacred and the profane. I started to go down a rabbit hole that I honestly don’t have time for today, but I still wanted to get the post out there and have it available for comment. I guess the most important thing it led me to, in my short musing time, is the notion that we need great stories. I’ve written about this before, and will probably write about it again, but “narratives of transcendent origin and power” like those that drove so much of Native American culture are difficult to find in current American culture, at least in popular culture. I hope my own efforts – Brothers’ Hand, Jana, and Miles of Files – have some of that much-needed transcendence.

What about you? What do you think about the need for transcendence, and where are you finding it today?

 

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Recently, I posted something on LinkedIn called Author, Entrepreneur, or Authorpreneur? My point was that, if you’re interested in breaking into the top 100 in your Amazon category, you’re probably going to have to spend some time acting like a businessperson when it comes to book sales.

Those three titles – author, entrepreneur, and authorpreneur – all represent potential business models, and I guess the question is, which one is the best, and why?

If you’re an author with a traditional publishing contract, you don’t really have to be an entrepreneur as such; the publishing company does the marketing and PR for you, though you have to do a little of it. But mainly, you can get on with the next book. It’s your publisher’s job to get you into the top 100 of XYZ category.

If you’re an independent author like myself, you are by definition an entrepreneur…maybe a great one, maybe a terrible one, or maybe somewhere in between. But one thing is for sure: you have to run your author business like a business.

The distinction between author or entrepreneur and the relatively-recently-coined word authorpreneur is an interesting one. I suppose the emphasis for an authorpreneur really depends upon the individual. Are you more interested in the business side of things, making money from a variety of merchandise? Or are you primarily interested in writing?

I found a neat article by Joel Friedlander for aspiring authorpreneurs, and he said something very important: Every book is essentially a mini startup business. That really says it all for me. Sure, I’m in business, and sure, I want to sell as many books as I can. But the goal is to buy time to write more books. It’s a vocation, not an avocation. To me, being an “author” isn’t nearly as important as being a writer…but if I want to have the chance to keep writing, I have to sell books.

Right now I’m offering a free book to anyone who purchases the Kindle version of my first novel, Brothers’ Hand, which is currently hovering around the top 100 mark in its Amazon category. Buy it within the next 24 hours, email the receipt to me at info@msahno.com, and I’ll personally send you a free copy of either my second novel, Jana, or my third novel, Miles of Files. These novels each took about seven years to write, so it’s just about the most substantial offer I can possibly make. Take advantage of this limited offer tonight!

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