Focus on the story, not getting published

If you’re a young writer and you’re not reading Steven Pressfield‘s blog, particular on Wednesdays for his regular “Writing Wednesdays” segment, you’re doing your art a great disservice. He’s got plenty for we who are trying to improve our writing each week and it’s worth your time.

A couple weeks ago, Steven wrote a post entitled “The Crazier the Better” about a friend named Paul’s concern his writing was going to such dark places and he was so into it that the darkness was perpetuating itself and as a result, no publisher would ever want the book. Steven’s advice is to pursue the harder ideas, that is, the ideas that excite us and even if they seem crazy will likely make the most compelling stories. I couldn’t agree more and urge you to read more of Steven’s reaction to Paul’s (self-imposed) dilemma.

I’d add one other thought on why Paul should continue this writing he’s so caught up in, whether it’s dark or not. As Steven puts it, “He’s worried that the book will come out so evil, no one will want to touch it.” My advice: time spent writing should be spent on the story, not worrying about hypothetical publishing deals. It’s great to dream about publication and beyond – I certainly do it from time to time – and yet if I’m worrying about publication as I write the story then I’m not focusing on the right thing(s). This is, I think, especially true when writing a novel. If one is trying to finish a novel (sometimes the hardest thing for many a young writer to do – finish a novel), get those 300 pages printed or 50,000 words typed up or “The End” down on paper and then worry about whether some publishing house will buy it.

If it’s good, someone will buy it. No matter how “dark” it is.

What thoughts do you have? Leave them here and/or at Steven’s blog post.



The Iowa Mission Trip blog has moved.

I’d planned to blog about Excelsior United Methodist Church’s mission trip to Iowa here like I did last year, but instead I’ve been given the go-ahead to create a brand-new blog for the church: Faith Journey Life Journey. Read all about our 2010 Iowa mission trip there.

Categories: inspiration Tags:

The LYFE Camp blog has moved.

Those who read my blog about LYFE Camp here last year should check out our new blog at


Categories: inspiration

My El Salvador blog

I’ll be in El Salvador from March 18-26, 2010 for a seminary trip. You can subscribe to and read my blog about the trip here:


My wife's roller derby name is "famous."

A Minnesotan named Tim has a clever viral marketing website called Who Ya Wearing Today? in which companies and organizations send him a few bucks and a t-shirt to wear during his videos. A day costs $10 in January, $20 in February, and so on. He mentions them during the video which also features a bit of original comedy and the proceeds are all going to a charity at the end of the year. This week, Tim wore a shirt for the North Star Roller Girls and noted his top ten favorite names on their roster, including my wife, “Maggie McFacestomp,” at #6. Here’s the video:

As mentioned in the video, their next bout is this Saturday at 7:30pm and you can come say ‘hi’ to me there. I accept hand shakes, fist bumps, and high fives. As for Maggie McFacestomp, guess who came up with that one…

Who Ya Wearing Today? is a cool idea and I hope it goes somewhere for both Tim and who he video blogs about. There are some kinks to work out. The video shooting (time to invest in a tripod), editing (graphics need to be cleaned up) and sound leave something to be desired in terms of execution (a “beat sheet” to follow would make sure what needs to be covered is covered and that it isn’t entirely scripted but cuts down on improv-turned-rambling). but I think that will improve with practice. Also, if I were him I’d pull back the graduated pricing model. This feels like an opportunity for grassroots organizations and small businesses and individual entrepreneurs and while this is a fun way to get a message out there, money’s tight. For example, I’d enjoy buying a day for Scrawlers but not at over $20 so if I don’t get a t-shirt printed up before the end of the month I’ll have hit my price ceiling. Of course, if this blows up quickly, there won’t be any problem finding people to plunk down $100 come October.

This is all an unasked-for review of sorts, too, but I think there’s a lot we can learn from Tim’s entrepreneurship experiment in social media. Kudos to Tim for trying something fun and for a great cause. I hope it works out and I can’t really argue with anyone who finds Maggie McFacestomp to be a wonderful roller derby name.


Categories: inspiration

I'm in the Fringe Festival.

Well, that didn’t take long.

After the lottery happened on Wednesday and I announced here on Thursday that I was number one on the waiting list, I got the call from Mark about twenty minutes ago offering me a performance slot. I took it and it appears I’ll be producing my first show in the Minnesota Fringe Festival.

I have two show ideas and I’m exploring both possibilities. One show is my solo improv comedy show, The Uncle Ukulele Show, which would be a lot of fun. I haven’t performed it in Minneapolis for more than a twenty-minute set while my last few festival appearances were headlining gigs and I had 40-50 minute sets. The show really developed into something fun and it’s a good direction to go. The Fringe and show length would be quite apropo, it’s a good show, and I’d love to do it.

The other show interests me yet the logistics are overwhelming. It’s an ensemble comedy piece with writing and props and rehearsal and waivers and biggest of all, possibly working with a lawyer to secure adaptation rights. If the legal side works out, I’ll go for it. If not, I won’t.



Categories: announcements

I'm almost in the Fringe Festival.

The Minnesota Fringe Festival is one of the largest theater festivals on the continent and it’s awesome. I’m also very, very close to being a part of that awesomeness this year.

It’s a non-juried festival and they have so many applicants they end up holding a lottery. It’s truly luck of the draw to get a show in and in my time of applying every year since 2005, I’ve ended up on the waiting list. The best place I was in was somewhere in the mid-60s and worked my way down to the mid-30s. This year’s lottery happened last night and in terms of my track record it is no exception, in that I’m yet again on the waiting list but there’s a great big difference this year.

I’m number one on the waiting list.

In a lot of ways, it means I’m essentially in the festival. At least one company is bound to bow out and I’m excited to receive the call. That said, I’m in producer mode and yet don’t want to count those chickens before they hatch and what-not. So until I get the call, I’ll be content with the grin on my face when I read the results of the waiting list and watch the lottery video (7:30 minute mark). Thanks, too, for everyone who clapped and cheered when they announced my name. I wasn’t there so I don’t know who it was but thanks all the same.

I’ll keep you updated. Hopefully, for the next few months! 🙂


Categories: announcements