Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Reading Deprivation Week Alert. & 5 Whys.

First of all, look at the post just below this one and see what Viv has to say. She's far more interesting than I and I hate to get in between you and her fabulous post -- so full of ideas, creativity, thinking and questions that will inspire you! -- but I need to alert you to something that's up the road a few days.

Reading Deprivation Week is coming. Next week, in fact. Like, Monday. The assignment is not to read for pleasure or escape, and yes, Julia recommends you not fill the empty space with TV or (sob!) 'Zuma's Revenge. I'm alerting you because you may want to do some things now, like finish your book club book.

I know this is going to be hard. We, many of us, need to read incoming email for work. I plan to keep writing agent queries at the rate of one a day and that requires some research for each one. You need to handle this as you do.

But here's the deal: RDW or as I like to call it "No Readie Week" is MAGIC. Because once you step out of your familiar hiding places and look around, what you see is the truth. And endless possibilities.

No Readie Week will force you to have creative breakthroughs, insights, beginnings that you will not believe. Your head will become at first a noisier and then a quieter place. (After the WHAAAAAA! sound dies away.)

So, what about those "Whys" mentioned in the subject line?

The Japanese (who I hope never read this in case I don't know what I'm talking about)have a practice they do as part of troubleshooting on the job, in the factory, in the boardroom, etc. It's to ask "Why?" five times.

"We can't get the cars done by Friday." "Why?" "Because the wheels aren't here." (Can you tell I'm not in the car-making business?) "Why?" "Because Kaizen Inc-san can't find the tire connectors." And so on. Usually by the fifth Why they have an answer they can work with to get the cars done by Friday.

The Five Whys can work for you during RDW because you'll have time to ask a second question before you go "Oh, I'll never [fill in the blank]" and then numb your sad little head with reading or tv or surfing the tangled Web we wove. Goes like this:

"I'm never going to find an agent."


"Because I don't believe I can be that successful, lucky, talented."


"Because my mother once told me that everybody wants to be famous but only a very favored few can. And I shouldn't get my hopes up."


"Because she loved me and didn't want me to be disappointed."

See. It doesn't even really take five. Here's what I get if I don't let the first answer just fulminate for years on end without looking at where it comes from or what it means to me now: My mother loved me and didn't want me to be disappointed. Or possibly be too 'career-oriented' and not get married." (This WAS the fifties, you know.)

That's all. That understanding doesn't get me an agent. I have to do that with the sweat of my brow and all my guts for every query, but it does get me a place from which I can see clearly enough to try.

Reading Deprivation Week is blinders off, people. Amazing Grace.

It can change your life, make you sad, make you angry, shake you up, calm you down, light your fire, or whatever, but it wasn't written by someone else or produced in Culver City or wherever. It's yours. And it's worth "wasting" a week for. And I would say the advantage to you would be in inverse proportion to just how bad you don't want to do this.

Now, here what you don't need to do. You don't need to call me and say, "Wow, the Jehovah's Witnesses just dropped a little brochure off at my house, and I glanced at the cover, and it looks like my eternal soul might be at stake here. Can I just skim it?"

My answer is, "Hell, yeah. Do whatever you got to do." This is your opportunity. Your decision. You don't need my permission to put it off, to only do three days, whatever. You can ask me for support of any kind, encouragement, comfort. Any kind.
But the permissions are all in your court.


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