Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Hats We Wear

It’s Thursday afternoon, and I’m thinking of all the things that are on my plate, and what to do next. I stop, lean back in my chair, and try to focus. The stack of scribbled notes beside my computer grows daily. My calendar takes up my computer screen and reminds me that I am missing many of the writing events that I would love to attend.

I close my eyes for just a minute. I think about my work and, for some reason, hats. Maybe it’s because the autographed baseball cap given to me by GW Pomichter is on my desk. I think, how many hats do we wear in a day? Like a lot of writers, I write full time but also have to work a regular job full time. There is a fine balance between the work that I do for income/insurance, and the work I do for me in writing/publishing. 

There is an old adage that people who wear too many hats are “jacks of all trades,” masters of none. It’s hard work to be a master writer, but it is what I want to accomplish. 

Is wearing too many hats bad for becoming a master writer? I don't think so. Sure I have to juggle marriage, home, work, family etc. Sure I have to sacrifice some writing time to promote both our press and my personal writing. But the fact is, I don't do it alone. I have a great team of creative people all “wearing multiple hats.”

I believe creative people do well wearing many hats. Those of us who take this journey of being an independent writer or small press often share valuable insights with others. We need those creative contacts that make the story in our head a book we can be proud to put our names on. Sure writing is something we do alone. The craft of writing is not. Sit down and really think about the number of people who mentor, advise, teach, and sometimes give us a kick in the butt to keep us writing. 

No one person can figure out business management, bookkeeping, book covers, layout, editing, formatting, advertising and promotion, blogging, and social media, marketing and  the countless other jobs that fall to a small business person. Yes, "Business" unless you are writing to fill up space on your hard drive, writing is a business. That's a lot of hats. Signing with a traditional publisher can cut down the number of hats you wear, but you still have to attend to the business side of writing.

It can be a struggle at times, wearing all of these hats. You have to shift your balance and re-arrange, and sometimes even topple under the weight. The important thing about wearing a hat is that it isn’t too tight, because that will just give you a headache and bad hair. The ones that don't fit need to be handed off to someone who looks smashing in them. If bookkeeping isn't for you, hire an accountant. Not good with covers, there are lots of people who would be happy to do one for a reasonable price.

Your hats have to fit perfectly, be bold and soft, in order to sit there and work. They have to make you look good.

Do we ever stop wearing too many hats in our life? I hope not! I love the energy, and he feeling of a job well done. When I look at one of my books and see how well they turn out it makes me very proud. So put your hats on, and be grateful that you have so many. 

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Today is the 100th anniversary of a real life historical mystery that remains unsolved. It has all the makings of a great historical novel, an unsavory American businessman sends a message a Canadian reporter that the Germans were planning to blow up Ottawa government buildings. United States authorities also received the tip. The message, for unknown reasons, reaches the authorities seven days later. Too late to save a building that was a national treasure.

It is all too easy in this age of terrorist bombings to imagine the anxiety and war fears 100 years ago. The US had not yet entered WWI, but the shock and anger spread across the border. By dawn on Feb. 4, seven people were dead, and the old tower of the Ottawa Capitol building came crashing down.

One of the witnesses described the golden flames shooting and twisting into the winter sky. The grand old tower stood while its support system crumbled and fell around it. Finally, it crashed onto the concourse, taking with it the old clock still glowing and chiming as it fell.

There are a number of theories about what happened. The official inquiry came to no firm conclusions. All we can do is look at the facts and speculate about the parts we don’t know. I tend to lean toward the bombing side of the argument, others think arson, but whatever the cause it makes for a great story just waiting to be told.