Now we are 100.

The beady eyed amongst you will see that the ‘logline’ for my blog is ‘writing the e-revolution.’  That’s what I’ve been doing for the past year or so. And as things fall, it turns out that this is my 100th post. So it should be marked in some way, right? 50 years old. 100 posts. Nice bit of numerical symmetry.   Now I could quite easily have compiled a list of 100 things I’ve learned from the e-revolution but I thought I’d give you all a break and stick with the top 10.

So – here are the Top 10 things I’ve learned so far as relates to the e-revolution.

  1. If you can dream it you can do it. You can do what you like. You can make up your own rules. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I first learned this in the world of drama where for 6 years people kept telling me I couldn’t do what I was doing. I just kept on doing it.  100s of performances resulted. Many lives were influenced. Some even changed.  It’s the same with publishing. I can write and publish whatever I want. Whatever length, whatever subject matter, and no one can stop me any more.  As long as you are prepared to make the sacrifices, you can do what you like.  You just have to realise that if you don’t ‘play’ by the mainstream rules you won’t get mainstream acceptance. And equally, if you don’t play by the emerging ‘indie’ rules you won’t get indie acceptance. But you can still follow your own path. You can make a niche for yourself. Other writers/publishers/groups may not like it but you can still find readers out there if you don’t let mediators (open or hidden) take control of your life.  And NEVER listen to people telling you ‘you can’t do that.’  You can.  You just have to be fully prepared to pay whatever price is necessary. Of course you cannot achieve a logical impossibility. You CANNOT eat your cake and have it. (Though you can have your cake and eat it). But you can’t sit on the fence or try to join both camps or play on both teams.  Not if you really want to do YOUR OWN thing.  You just have to accept that lots of people will have lots of reasons not to WANT your own thing. Avoid them. Look for the people who DO want your thing and don’t let the others divert you. Because they will. It’s in their best interests that you ‘fail.’ But if you don’t pay attention to their criteria of ‘success’ and instead make up your own definitions of it, you can succeed. On your own terms.
  2. Leopards don’t change their spots. For most people the e-revolution is like everything else. So they use it either as a marketing tool or a means to an end. The end being fame/fortune and mainstream acceptance. The reality is they are pissing in the wind. All the good lives are already gone. Most of us are cannon fodder in the publishing war.  We are simply here to make up the numbers.  We are being sold some second rate version of ‘The American Dream.’ For me the e-revolution says ‘wake up.’ Unless you step away from the trenches you’re going to get hurt.  Sure there are nice supportive people out there but people are people and promote self, use others is as much a mantra in indie publishing as it is everywhere else in life.  The ‘enemy’ is not just the mainstream. There is an ‘enemy’ within as well. Every writer who sees you as a competitor. Every publisher who knocks you is trying to jockey for their own position.  For me, co-operative collaboration is the key.  It’s not a ‘business model’ that many find appealing but it’s mine.  I stick by my belief that fundamentally creativity is not an industry.
  3. Mainstream rules apply. The elite will always find their way to the front. (See above) So if you don’t want to be cannon fodder and want to live a free life you have to let go of your preconceived ideas and turn your back on ‘the system’ wholeheartedly. Open your mind to other ways.  I’ve lost count of the amazing writing I’ve ‘discovered’ once I stopped following the ‘rules’ for ‘good literature.’  I have learned  so much more about writing and people and the world this way.  I learned how I’ve been cheated all my life by believing party line about ‘literature’ and ‘quality.’  Here’s my top tip. For the really good stuff you need to visit the smaller rivers and byways. Amazon is not the only river. There are other books than FACE. It’s a big world. There’s something for everyone.  But if you restrict yourself to what you’re told to like, only you will suffer. Yes, when you go off piste people may ridicule you. But when they do, consider their agenda. Why is it important that they put this or that down? Find the reasons. Read the small print. And be brave.
  4. Warning – this revolution may change the way you see the world.  How this has impacted on me is quite significant. In the past two years I’ve had the history and myths of publishing exposed and I’ve gained a much greater understanding of the question why literature?  Other world views are available. But that’s my journey.  I read differently now and more importantly I write differently now because of what I’ve learned through the e-revolution.
  5. Mind the gap – between literature and fiction. What is literary fiction? I’ve realised that truly ‘name is the thief of identity.’ When people fix something into a genre or a ‘quality’ they are in fact just reinforcing the dominant world view, or that of the cultural elite. It’s a power issue.  As writer and reader we don’t need to worry about that. We just need to write honestly and as well as we can as writers, and as readers we have to be open to forming a communicative relationship with the writer. The author is NOT dead.  Sometimes he or she is hiding behind the narrator, but I know there are plenty of authors for whom ‘intentionality’ is their watchword.  As F.Scott Fitzgerald said,  ‘write because you have something to say, not because you want to say something.’ Writing and publishing a book is a communicative act. A two way street.  Don’t think that you have to only drive on motorways because the ‘map’ doesn’t show the unclassified roads. Explore. Freely.
  6. Words that do not match deeds are unimportant.  Awesome is as awesome does.  And a man may be judged by the company he keeps. Frankly, some people tell lies. Some tell half truths, some believe that it’s okay to do dodgy things in order to get a sale or visibility.  My natural state has always been to take everything on face value.  The e-revolution has cured me of that naïve optimism. I approach everything with caution now. I don’t take any claim on face value. Caveat emptor! For me integrity and honesty is more important than a sale. Every time. I work on the three strikes rule.  Once I’ve been gulled three times I completely disengage.  I like to think I’m still open, but I’ve learned to look deeper into surface ‘truths.’
  7. Unto thine own self be true versus Follow the bouncing ball.  Ethics is not something that many people like to apply to their everyday lives.  People are happy to pontificate about ethics and get very upset when ‘their’ world view is disturbed.  Particularly on issues of ‘quality’ and ‘professionalism’ but few people are happy to go the Calvinist route and follow something to its logical conclusion.  Sock puppets bad? Don’t be one. Trolls bad? Don’t be one.  Back scratching reviews bad? Don’t write them. Many people who shout loudly about something being unfair when it’s coming their way, don’t seem to shout at all when the same thing is benefitting them.  It’s a two way street.  But I’ve found too many people rush off after ‘the next big thing’ and are prepared to ignore the real ethical issues when they don’t suit them. The ‘right’ thing isn’t a choice from a menu. It’s the ‘right’ thing.  Consistency is important to retain integrity.
  8. A dream come true. You can talk to REAL writers. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Imagine you could talk to Dickens, or Orwell. Well, with the e-revolution, if you like a writer chances are you can ‘talk’ to them. Intelligently about their work I mean, not just chatting nonsense.  The possibility is there. To communicate directly between writer and reader. Surely this is the dream of any reader – to go beyond the text and actually engage with the writer – sharing our experience of the world.  In a world dominated by trivia this is a much under explored area.  The chance to talk about writing with the writer – okay, not something the postmodernists (or even modernists) are probably too keen on, but for the rest of us, for those who know that writers are people too, it’s an amazing concept and can be an incredible reality.  I’ve made some great ‘friends’ that way in the last year or so.
  9. Be the change you want to see. The relationship between writer and publisher can be different.  But you have to do it.  For me one of the main delights of the e-revolution is how much I’ve come to enjoy being a publisher as well as being a writer.  But that’s because I’m a publisher MY WAY not according to the standard ‘rules.’
  10. 10.   In my fathers house there are many rooms.  In the e-revolution there’s a place for everyone. Cyberspace is huge. Can be daunting of course, but you just have to find your niche. You’ll have to work at it.  But there’s no point wasting time in the kitchen if you are after a bath. No point complaining that Irn Bru doesn’t taste like whisky. You need to learn to avoid wasting time in places that are not to your tastes and find the places where ‘likeminded’ people hang out.  I’ve found that most people are NOT like me (many don’t even like me!) but that some people do. So I spend my time with the folks I like, not trying to justify or ingratiate myself with people with whom I have nothing in common. It’s the only sensible way to be in a world where there are not enough hours in the day to engage with ‘everything.’  Find your place. Be happy there.
  11. The way that can be named is not the way.  I’ve learned the importance of tolerance –Prior to the e-revolution I’d already learned that it was pointless to be an ‘anti-capitalist.’ I became a ‘non capitalist’.  I live in a capitalist world. That doesn’t mean to say I have to actively play by the rules, or waste my life railing against the rules. The rules are the rules. What I can do, by being a non-capitalist (same as by being an ‘indie’) is make up my own rules.  And play by them with consistency and integrity.  Other people can do what they like. Their path is different. All I can do is stick to my way as honestly as I can.

Of course that’s 11.  My rules. I can break them if I want.  You can read or not. That’s your choice.  You might stop at 10 saying ‘but you said it was 10.’  If so, you miss out, don’t you? And probably won’t have understood a thing I was saying. Which is fine. Some people ‘get it’.  I’m not trying to convert or convince, I’m just saying what I’ve learned – which is what I said I was going to do. Job done. Move on.  Happy to engage in dialogue because of course true communication is more than a monologue.

And who the hell am I? Well, last count I’ve e-published 20 ebooks since October 2011, blogged, had short stories published online.  I’ve run an ebook peer review site with integrity, I’ve set up an online ebook festival and I’m about to turn publisher for a large catalogue of ‘forgotten’ classic works.  I’ve made some friends, I’ve made some enemies. I’ve tried to deal openly and honestly with everyone I’ve come across.  I anticipate that by 5 years into this ‘revolution’ I will have published maybe 100 works.  Even if I remain invisible to ‘them’ I will still have done it. At this point of the 100th post I’m reasonably happy with my contribution to writing the e-revolution.  I may have done no more than write ‘I wos here’ in the virtual pages of history, but I AM here and that’s good enough for me.  And you know where to find me. If you’re reading this you HAVE found me.  So if you know someone else who might like to know me, tell them. How else will they know? And if I’m not to your taste – you never have to come back here again. It’s your choice.  That’s the beauty of the e-revolution. Choice abounds.  It’s for each individual to make an informed one. That’s the responsibility of the individual. If you don’t make a choice, someone else makes it for you.  Be free. Make your own choices. Choose what you like.  And choose when to explore beyond your comfort zone. But most of all make your OWN choices.

And here’s something I’m ‘sharing’ which for me encapsulates some of the above.  I like this. If you do, explore further.

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About callyphillips
Writer.

2 Responses to Now we are 100.

  1. Ron A Sewell says:

    Brilliant video.

  2. Mari Biella says:

    A refreshing and uplifting take on the e-revolution, Cally. I think this kind of thing needs to be said, and often. ‘Creativity is not an industry’ is my own opinion too, and I sometimes feel that I’m in a minority in the indie world because of it. And yet at the same time I’ve discovered so many wonderful things since I stepped into this world, and I’ve ‘met’ so many interesting and inspiring people, that I wouldn’t change a thing. And I agree that complaining about things that are not to your tastes does no good, and that if you want to see a change, you have to be that change. Excellent post!

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