I don’t like anything

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Miller: A lot of people don’t realize what’s really going on. They view life as a bunch of unconnected incidents and things. They don’t realize that there’s this, like, lattice of coincidence that lays on top of everything. Give you an example, show you what I mean: Suppose you’re thinking about a plate of shrimp. Suddenly somebody will say, like, “plate,” or “shrimp,” or “plate of shrimp,” out of the blue, no explanation. No point in looking for one either. It’s all part of the cosmic unconsciousness.

Otto: You do a lot of acid, Miller? Back in the hippie days?
Repo Man (1984)

I like Repo Man. I’ve seen it a million times. Repo Man is what we used to call a “cult film.” Remember those?

Cult films were very good in some ways, weird or flawed in pretty much every other. Cult films were “not for everybody” even though, by definition as expensive feature films, they were intended to be. However intensely they pleased a few, they failed because they alienated the many.

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everything you believe about talent and quality is wrong

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Oh, the strange notions we hold about talent and quality.

As a kid—if you were lucky—you were encouraged to read a lot of junk. Every week, your parents would take you to the library to fetch a pile of slim paperbacks with shiny, eye-popping covers and curling, thumb-worn pages.

There were nights I’d get in bed and happily read two Piers Anthony books in a row, falling asleep an hour before dawn. I’d spend the following day nodding off in class without the faintest memory of what I’d enjoyed reading so much the night before.

(I didn’t have a bedtime, per se.)

As a parent, I understand it much more clearly now. At first, you’re worried that your children will never learn to read. You read to them every night and get them phonics workbooks and just do everything you can to get them over that hump.

Once they learn to read, you worry that they’ll never like books, and thus never climb the corporate ladder by speed-reading Peter Drucker on the commuter train in from Greenwich. So you try to get them hooked on the process of reading. You think like a drug dealer: how do I get them so addicted to reading that they can never stop? After all, I don’t want them spending every evening of their adult lives trawling Netflix for obscure reality shows. (“I learned it from watching you, Dad!”)

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the quantity-over-quality controversy

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Last week’s essay stoked a bit of an uproar. This reaction surprised me. For once, I didn’t intend to piss anyone off.

The gist, if you’re new: quantity is the key contributing factor in commercial success for writers. Not quality, i.e. “talent,” whatever that is.

People took offense, in a social media kind of way.


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the trick is to write more—much, much, much more

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I’ve come to terms with it: commercial success for authors boils down to quantity. That’s it. I wish I could say that talent plays a part, but it doesn’t, guys. It just doesn’t. The writer who wins is the writer who just kept writing.

Here’s the truth: if you figure out how to establish and maintain a heavy, relentless routine for writing, you will find an audience. Maybe not right away, but eventually. (You have to share what you write, of course.)

As you increase your productivity, you will increase your audience. Again, eventually.

Explosive growth comes down to luck, but when you write and share regularly, you make your own luck.

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in 2017 quit everything that annoys you—except this

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(A quick note: The inimitable C.C. Chapman interviewed me about writing and editing for his new podcast, Why I Write—check it out.)

I’m bummed, guys. Bummed about blogs. Blogs are dead. “RIP blogging,” for the umpteen millionth time.

To be clear, I don’t mean company blogs or magazine blogs. I mean real blogs by real people where they write about what they’re really interested in. Like Boing Boing and (Both are still around, but they’re the exceptions that prove the rule.)

We all know it and we’ve known it for years: Twitter and Facebook killed blogs. Meanwhile, Twitter and Facebook suck.

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PR will not save you

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If a young man tells his date how handsome, smart and successful he is—that’s advertising. If the young man tells his date she’s intelligent, looks lovely, and is a great conversationalist, he’s saying the right things to the right person and that’s marketing. If someone else tells the young woman how handsome, smart and successful her date is—that’s PR.

—Sylvia H. Simmons

Last week, I promised to address publicity and PR. First, definitions.

Public Relations (PR): What the public sees, hears, and reads about you.

Publicity: Getting placement: TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, blogs, podcasts. (This is changing rapidly. In 5 years, author interviews will be conducted in VR by intelligent self-driving cars.)

So publicity is a tool you use in your public relations campaign. PR is the umbrella term for getting people to care who you are and then getting them to like you once they do.


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