Thursday, November 5, 2015

Cave woman in the information age

This morning someone encouraged me to blog about why I self-published my book. I'll tell you why.

After making a few attempts at writing a marketing piece, a proposal, and an author's bio, I had to step back and reflect.

Do I know what I'm doing? Am I any good at this? No. It makes me feel like an impostor, and that has nothing to do with self-esteem. I esteem myself just fine, I just don't think I do this marketing thing very well.

I think the reason for that is because I associate marketing with spin, and with lies, or at least half-truths. So what can I do? I can talk about my book, and why I wrote it, and what I was trying to accomplish from having written it. I know, you may be saying, but Marcella, that IS marketing.

OK. Granted. But the truth is I fear there will be rules to follow that I don't know about, and if I try this thing called marketing then it is clear to me that I will break ALL OF THEM.

Then I will be found out as the newbie, and that silly person who has that special blend of confidence and naivete that we call gumption--the kind where they pat you on the head and say, Aaww, how cute, you published a book all by yourself, aren't you a clever girl.

Good grief. See where this is going? It is already laughable, and I want to be a serious author, dag nab it!

So I'm going to step back again and see this from a distance. I live in a time in history that allows me access to certain miracles of mass communication. That's how I think of self-publishing. It is all very new to me. I am a completely self-taught participant. It has been a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. I have absolutely no background in traditional publishing and no contacts in that world. I wouldn't know where to begin the process of presenting myself to a publisher. I have no particular authority or expertise; I have no readership, no author platform. Approaching any publishing house, I would come armed only with a manuscript of unknown quality just like thousands and thousands before and after me.

It's not difficult to see how easily intimidation like that works within a single mind, let alone so many others who want to publish their work. The only difference is that I gave myself permission to do so. Yep. That's it. I just did it because I really, really wanted to. I have the same needs for self-expression as most people do. For me, self-publishing the book is just like that cave woman dipping her hand in red pigment and pressing her palm against the wall. Living in the information age just means not having to wait to be discovered by some wandering shepherd.

I'm willing to wait for all the souls wandering the internet.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Epigraphs and anticipation

As I eagerly await this Saturday's event, I'm on a continuous path of imposing organization to my physical environment. Just as I think entropy is going to overtake me, I come across a piece of paper on which I wrote something that I thought was important. Today's finding comes from the wonderful Barbara Ehrenreich:

Never wallow in your troubles; despair must be kept private and brief. This is typical advice, and I've tried to follow it as much as humanly possible. The drawback of being intelligent and well-informed is a dangerous inability to think your despair doesn't matter. Even if you come to the conclusion that ultimately you can do very little about it, you must still, at least, consider the source of it carefully enough to understand the real root.

This is from her autobiography, Living With a Wild God. I have since come across many other quoted sentences that didn't make their way into the book, thoughts from Dmitry Orlov, Chris Hedges, and so many more. It seems there is no end to all the things that might have made their way into the book. The endless process of picking and choosing what to include and how to weave it into the narrative kept me busy for two years.

Now with the launch of my book I'll have to construct conversations around why I did it and what the hell I thought would come of it. At least, I'll have to think about how I might like to answer some of the more typical questions that will arise. As with so many unanticipatable events, I'll probably just open my mouth and start expounding on whatever is forefront in my mind at the moment. I've been living this topic for so long it isn't difficult just to begin. Where it goes from there--Who knows?

There is a certain relaxation you can experience when you realize how worn down you are. Like an old river rock, you've been battered by the endless stream of water washing over you for so long, that now your edges are gone, the surfaces are smooth, you are perfect as an egg, naked, raw, and unmistakable. This is what I aspire to be.

I have no ulterior motives left. Sitting with a certain emotional honesty is all that matters in the end. No one's truth is greater than you're own. We show up so that we can stand in witness with others who are willing to be there with us and if we're lucky they'll say: Yeah, you know, I think I see your point. I still think I would have done it differently, but to each his own....

And so ends this stream of consciousness for today.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book signing!

Hello my precious, infrequent readers,

(That is only fair; I'm an infrequent blog poster.)

Just wanted to let you know that if you find yourself in the north end of Seattle on the evening of Saturday, November 7th, please consider stopping by the Kerf International Gallery.


I will be participating in an opening called Thirty women over Thirty. In this case, the art is my recently self-published book, Fallout from the Workforce: Living in a post-career world and the people who teach us.

I met the gallery owner, Dave Felker, this year.
He has taken this little spot in the Wallingford Center (1815 N. 45th St., to be exact), and turned it into a showcase for artists of all kinds. The fact that he invited me to launch my book during the opening of this exhibit tells you a little something about how welcoming he is to creative folks of all stripes. He has a genuine desire to help people bring their work to a wide audience.

Please consider joining us at 6:00 p.m. Saturday, November 7th. I'll be there signing books, fielding questions, and talking about my work.

Hope to see you there.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Fallout from the workforce

October begins with the publication of my book Fallout from the workforce.

I'm experiencing a numbed silence that comes from so many mixed emotions that I feel suspended in this tiny, but significant moment. Lately, I've been excited at the thought of returning to blogging after taking such an extended time away from it to finish the book.

If you decide to read it, here's what you'll find.

Life as a member of the contingent workforce gives you a front row seat to the freak show of the job search industry. Steeped in appeals to prove value in a shape shifting labor market, the author turns her klieg light questioning to the world of the unemployed. Trying to avoid despair in the wake of a dead end career, she listens to the stories of other seekers. She then concludes what she has long suspected: the unspoken, unrealistic expectations of the American hiring machine thwarts the intentions of the men and women still seeking to control their connection to work.

Fallout from the Workforce is a story of self-discovery in combination with critique and analysis. The author brings together the stories of job seekers, and filters through a mass of conventional work search advice, finding wisdom in unexpected places. By piecing together the counsel of contemporary philosophers and psychologists she unearths a newly formed world view.  The remedies to the conundrums she presents are at times ancient in their origins and novel in their approach to understanding the pressures of the contemporary workplace. The ramifications of a tech-driven world while still not well understood for their magnitude of disruption, ultimately leaves this story an unending one. The phenomenon of the Great Recession, rather than being a temporary glitch, has been a destroyer of business-as-usual for millions. Fallout from the Workforce acknowledges the many thinkers of our time trying to steer us out of this period and toward the evolution of society. They lead us to a place where all can thrive as we pass through even greater disruptions to come.

There will be LOTS more commentary on this topic in weeks to come. Meanwhile, dig in! Leave a comment. Get busy. See you in cyberspace. Ciao.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The first quarter of a new year

I can't believe how long it has been since the last time I posted anything on my once vibrant blog.

In the intervening months I have moved to a new neighborhood, accepted a part-time job, and made a few new friends. Much is the same, but I have a more nuanced sense of what aging feels like now. That is a topic for another day.

There is a lot about my current situation that is very good, and on the days when I can recognize that fully, I am grateful as a person should be.

I recently finished reading Barbara Ehrenreich's autobiography, Living with a wild god. She is one of my favorite writers. She makes the craft seem effortless. My own efforts feel sporadic and choppy. I am forever having to piece things together and inject additional context just to make my thoughts stick together properly on the page.

My complaints as well as my praise are much the same as in previous years; however, I have a new person to add to the praise column.

His name is Guy Standing and I recently discovered him on that font of video recordings, YouTube.

All you need do is key in his name and choose whichever one suits the time you have available to watch it. He is spot on.

Go. You'll see what I mean.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Just another teaser

It was a long and fruitful summer. At last I've turned the corner on a chapter that marks a very significant turning point for my book.

Here is another snippet:

Again, I’ve raised more questions than I’ve answered. I’ve looked as far as I can go from a computer screen. I’ve dropped hints, made suggestions, and sneered at human foibles when overwhelmed by the absurdities. In the process of performing this mental exercise I’ve had the opportunity to expose some nagging thoughts. I’ve tested them out to see if they were reason enough to think that my fate hinged on their existence. I have since reasoned that the answer is—no. I am guilty, though, of giving some of them too much power over my state of mind. How else could I write about them so passionately? Dang. Another question.

One can stand and stir the pot for only so long. Sooner or later the fire dies, the pot grows cold, and I have to pull off the witch’s hat and look elsewhere for better incantations. The next chapter represents an oasis of contemplation far from the polarized monologue of the fate of capitalism. It is in some of these proposals that I find the greatest source of understanding, if not solace, for my long-wandering heart.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Neglected for all the right reasons

The title of this post pretty much sums up how I feel about my absence from writing for TFCC.
You may remember that I'm writing a book. I am slowly making progress, but there are now multiple related activities grabbing my time and attention. This will no doubt continue for quite some time.
Here is a tiny snippet from the first chapter:

It is as if going to work was the glue that held you together. Without the certainty of having to get out of bed, go someplace, and throw yourself into some task, pieces of you would start to break off like an ancient glacier calving at the edge of an ocean. What you used to know to the smallest detail would now become reabsorbed into an undefinable body of water. What you didn't know is that no matter how far that glacier recedes, the land mass beneath remains an untapped ecosystem that you've been led to believe no longer exists or can’t be revived. But spring always comes as day follows night and you learn how to withstand the passage of time without losing solid ground.
My hope is to finish this work by the end of the year. That said, it is highly unlikely I will be posting again any time soon. Thanks for checking back in from time to time. I will forever be....the twenty-first century citizen.

Yours truly,
M. C. Van Oel