Media, Content, Reporting – In the Hands of Individuals. (AKA – Everyone’s going indie)

One of the sports columnists from my hometown in Pittsburgh, PA recently caused a seismic shift in the sports reporting landscape by going indie. Dejan Kovecivic is an award-winning columnists and sports journalists who grew up in Pittsburgh and spent the last couple decades working for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and then, the last couple of years, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. I always enjoyed his writing, especially when he writes about baseball, so I was curious this past summer when he just seemed to disappear from the Trib. I hadn’t heard what was going on so I googled him and discovered that he left the Trib to go it alone. He was going independent, in essence, becoming an indie sports writer. (HIS SITE HERE)

Now at first you might not think this is a big deal, after all there are all kinds of sports blogs which are independent. So what’s difference about this?

The difference is that one day an established, respected, award-winning sports journalists quit the establishment which gave him his livelihood and simply (seemingly) overnight set-up a subscription website to continue to do what he was doing except this time, he was taking his content directly to the readers and cutting out the middle man (the established newspaper/media industry.)

And the question is, why not?

Why not make more money for the work that he puts into it? Sounds like an excellent plan to me. He spent years building up a loyal following of readers who are passionate about what he writes about. Now, will all the technological tools staring him in the face, it’s as easy as 1- set-up a website 2-manage subscriptions 3-keep writing great content 4 – enjoy the fruits of your labor.

This is exactly why I’m excited to be a writer in the 21st century. The sky is the limit.

However, success is never guaranteed, but it’s available for those who work hard and produce work that consumers want to read.

Dejan certainly has his niche down. He’s very good at what he does, and he’s even tempted me to subscribe. I might as soon as baseball season starts again.

But it makes me think if this is the future of media. Are more and more reporters, journalists, and writers going to strike out on their own? Will the ever evolving nature of newspapers and websites become more personality based?

People love to be independent. The music industry has expanded greatly into indie music. We authors know the revolution happening in the publishing industry due to Amazon and others who make it so easy for writers to go it alone. Now journalists are doing the same thing.

The bottom line for the consumer is simple: people want great content – whether in music, books, or sports journalism.

The bottom line for writers is also simple: more writers are seeking avenues which can maximize both potential, profit, and control over their own work.

The cool thing is that both of these can easily mesh together to provide a great experience for the consumer and a self-fulfilling experience for the writer.

Best of wishes to you, Dejan, in all of your endeavors.

Go indie!

Four Things I Learned About Writing Novels

Yesterday, I completed the first draft of my fourth novel. Actually, in some ways it’s hard to believe that I’ve written that many novels. It wasn’t too long ago that I had given up entirely on writing and never thought I would ever have even finished one novel.

As I reflect on the writing of four novels in three years, I have come to realize that I have learned a few things. Let’s make it four things – one for each novel.

First, I had to learn not to listen to certain voices – mainly my own voices in my head. I had to overcome the doubts and the constant belittling that I would do to myself, saying things like “I’m not good enough”, “I don’t have a large enough vocabulary,” “I … this … I that …” Once the voices were silenced, I learned to put one word in front of the other. That’s it. That’s writing.

Second, I’ve learned that I cannot compare. There are many great writers in this world and it is NOT important to know whether I am one of them or not. I’ve learned not to look at others works and wish “I had thought of that.” I’ve learned to appreciate their talent. Then turn around and do what I love. Putting more words in front of other words.

Third, writing is an addiction – typically a good one. I’m hooked on writing. “You had me at the end of my first novel.” I am hopelessly a writer. Like it or not!

Fourth, the voices in your head don’t really ever go away. And that’s normal. It keeps you grounded.

My fourth novel is (tentatively) titled “A Love Story for a Nation.” I can’t wait to share it with you, but for now I have to get back at it. The second draft isn’t going to write itself.

Writing with the end in sight? Or writing to discover?

I read an article where an author said they he recommends knowing the last line of your book before knowing the first line.

Well, I couldn’t disagree more.

I’m not saying his way doesn’t work. It did for him. But it could never work for me. As I mentioned before, I write to discover, not to tell a pre-ordained story.

That’s just the way I work. My process is all about the creativity and discovering where it will take me.

Tonight, I started my next novel. I didn’t know what was going to happen in my first chapter, but as line after line was laid down, it began to take shape. What’s interesting is that as I wrote, I began planting seeds which will one day be realized in subsequent chapters. I wrote about an item. I don’t yet know its complete importance to the story, but it will flesh itself out as the story unfolds. It will add layer and depth as I go along.

This doesn’t mean that I am completely directionless. Not at all. I have a general direction of how I want the story to go, but I also know that as I create, my ideas will improve and that will change the directions that the characters take. It’s a guided discovery process.

It would be foolish for me to try to figure out what the last sentence of my novel will be. Because even if I did, it wouldn’t stay that way.

So how should you write? Only you know. Whatever works for you, do it! But remember, the most important part of writing is putting down the words. Just get them down, even if you don’t necessarily love them at this point. Get them down and let the process take care of the rest.

A Writer Stuck Between Writing Jobs

I’ve reached one of these rare occasions when all of my writing is finished. Very strange indeed.

I typically am in the midst of many writing jobs, which constantly are vying for position, nudging each other out of the way as if to get my attention. And then suddenly, everything is finished.

I’ve been writing a musical for months. On Saturday I finished it with my team. It’s title is “Boardwalk Melody.”

My hometown newspaper, The Butler Eagle, asked me to write a short Christmas story for them. I finished it yesterday. It’s entitled “The Angel on the Courthouse.”

Now what’s a writer to do? Time to start on something else, but what?

Here’s my options:

1) Novel #4. I wrote chapter one for it at the end of the summer (2000 or so words). I could pick up that one. However …

2) Novel #5 – or at least the idea for novel #5 has intrigued me over the last couple of months. I might just bring this one to the top of the line … However …

3) I have another idea for a mini-musical that I want to write … However …

4) the art teacher at my school asked me to write some short dramatic sketches to go with a replica of the Sistine Chapel that they are creating. I could start working on that. However …

5) there possibly might be something else to work on that I haven’t even thought of.

The point is this: creativity never ends. Isn’t that a beautiful concept? No matter how many stories and characters and scenes and ideas have been written, there is always room for one more … or a thousand more because the human mind is a beautiful instrument capable of ideas far beyond what can be thought in just one day. So as the calendar continues to turn, likewise, the ideas continue to come and the few minutes we have are not nearly enough to write everything we want.

So a writer can only do one thing. Pick one idea, and start writing.

I wonder where I will begin.



An excellent 3000 words …

I’m just saying …

It feels totally great when words flow effortlessly off the keyboard. That has been the reality of this afternoon. Three thousand words and counting (I’m on a short break) on novel three which is now weighing in at about 47,000 words. It’s been SO much fun to see what is happening.

When I lived in Vietnam, I often cringed at the caricature of Americans who would tour through the country. They, of course, didn’t speak the language. They were loud and proud. They were demanding. They could be nice, yes. But they carried an air about them that their country was far superior to the one they were visiting, even though they might really enjoy visiting some of the incredibly cool places in Vietnam.

I saw Americans turn their nose up at food, at situations, at the loss of electricity, at the dirt and pollution, at the cultural misunderstandings, etc…  And I, who lived permanently in the country, had a very different take on the situations, because I spoke the language, studied the culture and history and tried to make friends with as many people as possible.  I understood why tourists might think and feel the way they did, but I still sometimes cringed at their behavior.

Well, in my writing this afternoon, I have had a blast playing into all those stereotypes by bringing a rich, egotistical billionaire to Vietnam to try to get his way in one particular trying situation. I have made him loud and proud and just so obnoxious that it’s both funny and (hopefully) extremely interesting.

I love it when I enjoy what I’m writing, and right now, I’m having a blast. I hope that it will one day translate into a bunch of readers having a great time exploring these characters as well.

“Untitled Novel” coming your way sometime in 2014. My goal is to finish the draft in another 10 days!  If I have more writing sessions like I had today, shouldn’t be a problem!