Month: September 2009

What’s up and what’s gone down (Sep 2009)


A thus-far monthly but forever occasional round-up of what I’ve been up to and what I plan to be. For full credits and details, see this entry.

Colleen of the future (places I’ll be)

  • The Monthly Los Angeles Biznik Meet-Up at Jerry’s (Wednesday, October 14, 5:30 – 8pm) Every four weeks, some of L.A.’s finest independent biz folk gather for cocktails, conversation and oversized plates of deli food. It’s awesome, and it’s free. (Well, not the drinks or the deli food.) Just register (free!) to become a member of Biznik, then sign up (also free!). Easy-peasy, Cousin Weezy!
  • Lit.Up! (Saturday, October 10, 8pm) Yes, after more than a year of semi-retirement, I’m hauling my performer ass out to my friend Jane Edith Wilson’s monthly show and doing a little piece I call, well, I don’t call it anything yet. But it will be something, if previous engagements of this variety are any indication. Only cuss-free, since this one is at a church. Click here to view flyer.
  • BlogWorld Expo (Thursday-Saturday, October 15 – 17, Las Vegas) I’m not speaking; I wasn’t even planning on going, since I’m kind of overloaded with networking-type stuff right now. But then I won a weekend pass in a contest The Mac Observer held, and shazam! I’m going to Vegas to hang out with some nerds! If you’re going, too, give a holler.

Colleen of the Past (stuff that went down)

Colleen of the Present (ongoing projects)

  • The Virgo Guide to Marketing I’m just over halfway through a year-long project where I work on my marketing daily and blog about it weekly. People seem to dig it, as well as the podcasts I record weekly. Go figger.
  • communicatrix | focuses My monthly newsletter devoted to the all-important subject of increasing your unique fabulosity. One article per month (with actionable tips! and minimal bullsh*t!) about becoming a better communicator, plus the best few of the many cool things I stumble across in my travels. Plus a tiny drawing by moi. Free! (archives & sign-up)
  • Act Smart! is my monthly column about marketing for actors for LA Casting, but I swear, you’ll find stuff in it that’s useful, too. Browse the archives, here.
  • Internet flotsam And of course, I snark it up on Twitter, chit-chat on Facebook, post the odd video or quote to Tumblr, and bookmark the good stuff I find on my travels at StumbleUpon and delicious. If you like this sort of stuff, follow me in those places, I only post a fraction of what I find to Twitter and Facebook

Please let me know if you find this kind of curation at all useful, and/or if there’s a better way to handle it. Thanks!



Photo of Arno J. McScruff housed on Flickr, where I also occasionally stick pixels.

Book review: Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life


My favorite example of the conceivably-possible, magical woo-woo powers of feng shui has to do with two checks for $10,000 each and my kitchen, which, according to the Black Hat school of feng shui* (as differentiated from the compass school) is my prosperity corner.

It was the summer of consternation for me: a devastating breakup, the role of a lifetime and, though I didn’t know it yet, the onset of Crohn’s disease. I was miserable and looking for distraction; somehow or other, during one of my many forays down the self-help aisle at my local bookstore, I discovered Karen Rauch Carter‘s Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life.

Serendipitously, the heartbreak had already spurred me to begin what all (good) feng shui experts agree is the first step to chi’d-up house: throwing shit out and cleaning what’s left from stem to stern. Earlier that summer, I’d bought a mini-steam cleaner and started cleaning my filthy carpet on my hands and knees in obsessive, 12″ squares. When my back threatened to give out, I dismantled every jalousie window in my place (curse you, 1950s designers!) and cleaned not only the glass slats themselves but the hardware, with Q-Tips. Lots and lots of Q-Tips.

I wouldn’t suggest going that far (unless you’re as OCD as me and whoever invented Q-Tips), but it bears stressing: clean first. And throw a bunch of stuff out. Otherwise, like layering perfume on top of stank, you stand to compound any confusion that already exists.

Once you’ve got things relatively clean and clear, you can start having some fun with stuff: moving things around, sprucing up, adding “cures” where you feel like they’re warranted. A red ribbon tied discreetly around a pipe, to prevent good fortune from going down the drain, a candle (fire element) to bolster my Fame and Reputation bagua, a slip of yellow construction paper behind a bookcase in my Health area. Carter’s position on applying feng shui to one’s life is that the process should be fun and joyful, not serious and scary, and all of her advice, including cures (to correct shitty shui) and admonitions (to pay particular attention to this or that) is served up in a light, breezy tone. Occasionally, too breezy for me, she veers into cornball territory every so often. But she is charming and authentic and lovely, so we forgive her that.

We also love that Rauch does not advocate breaking the bank to get some money flowing back into yours. The book has lots of suggestions for moving stuff from one part of your house to another, or just rearranging things in the room. The only things I actually bought for my feng shui adventure were some lengths of inexpensive red ribbon (that good-fortune-down-the-drain thing did kind of freak me out) and lavender contact paper. My Prosperity/Abundance corner is square in my kitchen, plus I’d never put down my own contact paper in the drawers when I moved in, so, you know, ew. It was time.

I’ve told the story at least a hundred times, often just before giving away yet another copy of Rauch’s book to another friend in need of lover, cash, luck or just diversion: within two weeks of starting my Feng Shui that Kitchen! project, two gigantic residual checks, for $10,000 each, floated into my agent’s office on the same day. My agents had been leaning on the producers, since they keep track of this sort of thing, but something finally broke in that 14-day stretch.

Magic or happenstance? Honestly, I didn’t care. I had a clean and lovely kitchen, a ginormous deposit in the bank and the satisfaction of participating in a little white voodoo. It’s hard even for a woo-woo-friendly soul like me to say, “Oh, sure! I sprinkled fairy dust around my apartment and Chinese leprechauns showed up at the door with a pot of gold.”

On the other hand, I do know that what I turn my attention to tends to flourish and what I ignore becomes a static, sticky mess. And that when I create room for something, it does tend to show up. So who knows?

Ultimately, I see feng shui, and especially Move Your Stuff‘s user-friendly, no-pressure serving-up of it, as a great framework from which to initiate change. In the book’s first chapter, Rauch quotes physicist and feng shui-er Barry Gordon as saying that feng shui is “‘the intelligent use of intention through environmental metaphor.” He goes on then at length about quantum mechanics and a lot of other stuff that makes my head hurt, but the money graf is this:

Every thing, even the sticky front door that doesn’t open all the way, has meaning. Every thing, every action is intentional, sometimes conscious, sometimes unconscious. Feng shui brings the unconscious in our environment back into consciousness. That brings the beliefs and feelings back into consciousness. Then we have choice and can create our universe consciously.

First, attention. Then action.

Then checks in the mail, perfect health and a handsome man to play ukulele in your goofy video.


Image by Muffet via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

*Here’s a pretty reasonable description of the various schools from a page without too many doo-dads on it. Amazing how many feng shui pages have crappy feng shui themselves.

Working toward siesta


If each week got its own word, last week’s would be “painful.”

Painful overcrowding. Painful frustration with not being able to get enough done. Painful sense of shame over both of these.

Worse, even as I built this week on my calendar over the past month or so, I knew it was going to be painful, because I could see the over-scheduling and overcrowding and lack of room developing before my eyes. And while I couldn’t anticipate the exact nature of the failures, which balls would be dropped, which plates would come crashing to the ground, I have been at this long enough that I knew I was making trouble for myself.

The key culprit was the addition of a two-day conference a few weeks ago. I’d already built up a hefty week of commitments when I decided that it would be fun to go to this one. Several people whose work I follow and whom I’d like to meet at some point were scheduled to be there, along with a few other people I already know and jump at the chance to see whenever they pass through town. Sure, it was two full days away from work, but really, what could go wrong?

The quick answer is “just about everything”: traffic, last-minute client emergencies, too-high temperatures, too few clean socks. (Seriously, how many outfits have been a major fail and days an uncomfortable wash for lack of a little clean laundry?) I detailed the business-type version of the agony and subsequent ecstasy over at my marketing blog, but here, where I can let my hair down a bit more, I’ll confess: Day One was far, far worse than I could begin to describe (because while I’ll talk about anything here, I stay away from something like World’s Worst Case of PMS over there).

On the other hand, Day Two was far, far better than the scope of a marketing blog allows for describing. Because here’s what lies on the other side of hell, in virtually every circle I’ve rounded to date, that too few people talk about: heaven. Fucking glorious, in excelsis Deo-style heaven. It’s release after tension, explosion after accumulation, fabulous belch after McDonald’s Extra Value Meal #9. I felt freer and happier than I had in some time, because after having it shoved in my face so that I could not look away, I finally realized that I have a problem and the problem is me.

Hi. I’m Colleen, and I’m a workaholic.

I work (almost) all the time. Ask The BF, or my poor ex-husband, The Chief Atheist, or any other partner I’ve been with. Ask the Jans, Chicago or L.A. varieties. Ask my family, ask my nosy across-the-courtyard neighbor, ask anyone I’ve ever worked for, “Slacker or workhorse?” and I can almost guarantee that you’ll get served up the latter.

Note, please, that for a long time, this was a badge of honor: that I, Colleen Wainwright, could work longer and harder than anyone around me. That I would be Last Man Standing. That all y’all could eff off and go grab a slacker Coke because I WIN THE PRIZE.

Now I know not only that is this all about wiring (Virgo!) and some really messed-up conditioning (love dangled as carrot for a job well done), but that it’s kind of a stinky prize. The prize, she is stinky! And not in the good way, like Arnie. I learned this after I got knocked upside the head with the Crohn’s seven years ago, but UH-OH, I forgot. I learned this again when I got knocked upside the head again earlier this year, but UH-OH, I am a dumbass and forgot again. Work-life balance, in my case, means that I now work at home so I can wear comfy clothes and spare myself the kind of hateful commute I found myself in last week. It also means that I have moved my work closer to my life’s work, which is certainly awesome but can also be used as a smokescreen. Because baby, I don’t care what your life’s work is: if you don’t take time to cook yourself good food, eat it with delightful people and otherwise recharge your batteries, your life’s work will be cut as short as your life. Period.


The first step, according to Bill & Co., is admitting I have a problem I’m powerless over. Which I do, and I don’t. I’m not an atheist, exactly, but I’m also not a God person, exactly. My neat sidestepping around this one is that I do see myself as some kind of vessel for something, the collective unconscious, the Big Soup, what have you. And the job I have identified for myself-as-vessel (or, in my specific case, Joyful Conduit of Truth, Beauty and Love) is first and foremost to keep the vessel in good working order. That kind of covers all the bases, the learning and getting better/stronger/faster parts, and the rest UP, dillmeister parts. I’ve been making steady progress on Part A, but have acted retardidated, as my friend, Justin, likes to say, about Part B. You are witnesses. Thank you for listening. Coffee and (SCD-legal) doughnuts in the back, although you’ll have to step outside to smoke.

My plan for dealing with the rest of this B.S.? Many-pronged, with redundancies. Lots of experimentation, because really, I have no idea what will work at all, much less best. Here are some things I’ve already put in play:

  1. Daily Walk (a few months) So far, I’m only doing this in the morning when I stay at My Country Home. It’s good for the dog and good for me and good for the environment, since 5 days out of 7, we’re usually walking to the neighborhood TJ’s to pick up groceries on foot. Love this, it works like gangbusters and keeps me established as Arnie’s favorite human. (What? I told you I was competitive!) Recently, I added hills and carrying lumpy objects, per Mark Sisson’s RX. (Good site, by the way!)
  2. Implementing systems (several weeks) Since reading Sam Carpenter‘s Work the System and having the lights go on, I’ve taken very seriously the notion that systems are what help make for sanity, and that I need to get my shit into systems now. Paradoxically, this is a little more work up front: I’ll stop in the midst of something I’m doing to note an idea for systems, or to iron out a small bit of one if I can. Eventually, like anything else, it’ll become second nature (thanks, Merlin, for the Dreyfus model, my new-favorite term). Oh, and full disclosure: I dug on Sam so much that we wound up chatting a lot, and then he wound up hiring me. But trust me, I ain’t selling you nothin’, here: he’s giving away the book for free on his site.
  3. Breaking for meals (several weeks) The heat wave we’ve been, er, enjoying, has screwed this up a bit, but I’ve taken to taking my morning and sometimes noon meals outside on the patio, with an actual book. It’s part of the reason for the increased number of book reviews on this site, as well as some sanity.
  4. Consolidating my shit (years, but hard-core over past few weeks) I’m taking time each day to weed through stuff. I’m also putting my money where my mouth is, signed up for a terrific jumpstart teleclass from Charlie Gilkey and Jen Hoffman called the Work Party, and I’m going to a de-cluttering workshop next week where I actually have to bring a bag of clutter to go through. Public humiliation is a big motivator for me. I also finally upgraded my 4-year-old laptop, and am committing to making my brand-new MacBook Pro my main machine. This will mean clearing out my old machines and selling or donating them (or at least two of them), which I will do methodically and non-crazily (see #2).
  5. Retreat! Retreat! (coming up) I’m committing to spending the time on this year’s trip to the PacNW on me. That means input, help, reflection and, god help us, recreation.

And here are the things I’m working toward (because hey, workaholic overachievers have to have a goal, even when the goal is relaxing!):

  1. Streamlining focus I like too many things. I have the curse of being semi-okay at a lot of them. It’s my blessing and my curse, moving me forward but never quite the kind of ground I’d like to cover. Everything I’ve ever read about success says that a key ingredient is focusing. For whatever reason (impending death?), I’m finally taking this seriously.
  2. Taking Sunday off It’s shameful, my utter lack of disregard for the usefulness of time off. I haven’t managed a full day off for a long time (road trips don’t count!), but I’m getting closer. Is it embarrassing to be “getting closer” to doing something normal? Yes. Yes, it is. Remember? Public humiliation is a strong motivator for me.
  3. Hiring an assistant I’m a ways off from this. I don’t make the kind of income yet to justify this. Hopefully, clear-cutting commitments and focusing like a laser beam will help here, but I’m open to windfalls, a personal Medici or other solution. Have your girl call my, oops. Never mind.
  4. Moving The BF and I have been working toward me moving in. Having one household, not two, should seriously reduce my stress levels. Plus, I think a change of venue is good. I’ve been in my current place for 10, count ’em, 10 years, and the building has changed vastly over that time, mainly for the worse, I’m sorry to say.
  5. A daily “spiritual” practice In quotes because, as noted already, I’m not a god lady. I don’t really even want to call it a contemplative practice, because then my mind immediately leaps to yoga and meditation, and I’m not or a yoga lady or a zazen lady. Not that I couldn’t be, it just doesn’t draw me closer to where I know I need to go now, which is less work and more groundedness. I really like the Remembrance, which I learned from Mark Silver; I also like what I’ve read and experimented with thus far re: chanting, which I discovered via Adam Kayce.
  6. More music! I started off the year with such good intentions. Music makes me happier. It both relaxes me and stimulates a different part of my brain. Plus then I get to make more crazy shit. Which is always good, right?

I do realize that there’s a certain irony in an 1,800-word blog post devoted to the subject of conquering overwork. Trust me, I’ve dealt with this, too, from within the friendly confines of a system, with an eye toward keeping that precious, precious Sunday free. Although I will say that even with my Sunday Experiment, I reserve the right to write everyday, whether that brands me a workaholic or not. There’s a wonderful story about Charlie Chaplin and some contemporaries frolicking at the beach, South of France, or somewhere delicious like that, and at one point during the day, he took his leave to go back to his room to work, because he felt that that’s what writers did. And I do, too.

But we’re experimenting, here, so I’m playing with different things. I hope you will indulge me, and perhaps encourage me, and maybe even play along, if you feel like it.

As always with these kinds of entries, any thoughtful suggestions, resources, inspiration or just plain old sharing is welcome. Have you dealt with this? How?

For the love of all that’s holy and the few hairs left on my head, how?


Image by masternet82 via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Referral Friday: Biznik

Referral Friday is an ongoing series inspired by John Jantsch’s Make-a-Referral Week. For more about that, and loads more referrals for everything from cobblers to coaches to gee-tar teachers, start here. Pass it on, baby!


I am the first to confess that I did not “get” Biznik when I first encountered it.

What was up with the cute name and the forum boosterism? Seemed pretty at odds with a saucy tagline (“Business networking that doesn’t suck.”) Mostly, why were these people all so goddamn friendly?


It took a month-long trip up to Seattle last year to see the light: Biznik, the site works because it’s designed to develop Biznik, the real-life community. These are not people who just hang out on the Internet all the time (although some hang out a lot of the time, I’ll tell you); these are people using the web, and specifically Biznik, to cultivate relationships that they then take offline, a.k.a. “meatspace,” a.k.a. “the actual three-dimensional world.” The easy-to-use interface that lets them sort and connect and reach out and share helps like-minded people save time and shoe leather and agita by doing a lot of the heavy lifting of maintaining relationships, which is really the small, upkeep-type stuff that falls by the wayside without these tools.

So on Biznik, you can write an article about your area of expertise or interest, then publish it for a pre-selected group of interested people to read. You can read other people’s stuff and start conversations about it, or chat on message boards, or use any number of other tools, search, email, forums, groups, to get to know them, sifting and sorting online so you’re not walking into a room cold when you do finally venture out. Rather than certain other networking sites where people go just to sleaze off the land and skim off what they can, you’re building something cool every time you connect on, and then off of it.


A caution or two if you decide to jump in.

First, give it time. Like any new spot, it takes a while to get the lay of the land. Click around, see what’s up, get comfortable. Read the “about” page and skim the FAQ to get a feel for the way things work there. And for a view from someone who’s been there/done that, here’s a very illuminating “best practices” post from my former coach/mentor, Ilise Benun, who PUSHED me into Biznik.

Second, give it attention. Most great things in life get that way because you apply yourself to them, and this is no exception. I didn’t start “getting” Biznik, much less getting much out of it, until my trip to the PacNW last year, where, after going to several events and co-hosting a few, I finally got the hell out of it.

I know that no one has time to waste on social networking (unless they’re playing those damned word games on Facebook, in which case they appear to have all the time in the world). Ultimately, what I love about Biznik, other than the fine, fine people I’ve met through it, is the idea of what it could become: a built-in network of awesome people you can tap into anywhere you go. Toastmasters runs on this model: as a member you are warmly welcomed as a guest at any Toastmasters meeting you attend, anywhere in the world. Show up in Beijing or Manchester or Sao Paulo and POOF!, you’ve got insta-community.


With enough of us onboard, I can see Biznik becoming a mini-version of this for indie biz types as they make their way around the world, helping to connect the people and passion that, in combination, make great things start happening.

Photos of various Bizniks by various other Bizniks grabbing Dyana Valentine‘s camera.

Leaping again and again until we all get it right


Can you throw yourself
in, again
and again?

Can you rip wide the wrapper
for someone’s protection
and let spring forth
what will?

Butterflies, maybe
or dirt
or blood
or a full-court dance-press crew
of pirate gremlins
playing mad fiddle music
and tapping out code
with their crazy, nonsensical, wooden-shoe

I was so afraid
for so long
of opening up
for I had no idea
what would spill forth.

Wisdom, I hoped.
Lunacy, I suspected.
Venom, surely, from the hordes
of slathering
I was sure.

In case you hadn’t noticed
I am still here
with most of my parts
and some of my dignity
and so, for that matter,
are you.

I was so afraid
of the meter
that I clung
to the prose.

Yet here we are,
basking in something,
not quite normal
not entirely strange
and maybe just a little bit

jump with me

We will catch our own breaths
with the thrill
of it all
or we will fall
with a thud
to the hard, hard ground.

I have news for you:
it was there anyway.

and again.

No choice
but to leap
and again…


Image by DragonDrop via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Advancing and retreating (and an invitation)


Earlier this week, I alluded to my definition of a vacation, which differs quite a bit from a lot of other folks’, and whichdiffers greatly from how I was raised to look at vacations.

It wasn’t like we were the EnormoSlackers of the Fat Midwest: on summer and winter holiday from school, I was expected to keep up with my reading, and usually to take some sort of additional class to better myself.* When we stayed in the city, we went to museums and the library as often as the beach, more, when it got really hot. (And in Chicago, it is definitely the heat, at least as much as is it the humidity.)

But as a child of divorce, there tended to be a bit of the indulgent stuff on Dad’s part: spring breaks in Scottsdale (his favorite) filled with banana splits, miniature golf and trail rides; winter weekends skiing in Wisconsin (for practice) and Vail (for real); a 16th birthday trip to New York City. When, as an adult, I took “vacation” vacations, they ended badly: one horrifically sunburned week in Ixtapa leaps to mind, as does a trip to a posh resort in Montego Bay that felt more like Whitey Internment Camp (it was for our own safety, they swore!). The final nail in the coffin was the most hateful week I’ve ever spent in the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, aka “The Wainwrights Go to the Big Island.” I still have nightmares about that one.

My preference has always been for a kind of working vacation: me, somewhere else, doing some kind of work. It can be a different kind of work, or even the “work” of unplugging, giving myself some time and space to let new things bubble up. That’s what Seattle was about last year, and that’s what this year’s slightly shorter trip to the Pacific Northwest is about. I take myself places like conferences and meetups to bump braincells with nifty people, many of whom I’ve been somehow exposed to online first. I think that’s the finest use of the Internet, a virtual sort to bring the right people together in real life.

This year, to give it some structure, I’m building my trip around a four-day (FOUR DAYS!?!?!) retreat outside of Portland: my (online, for now) friend and colleague Mark Silver’s Path to Profitability Retreat. That’s an affiliate link, so you know, and one of the rare times I’d even consider linking to anything I’d not yet consumed myself. But over the past few years, I’ve derived such huge value from Mark’s stuff, culminating in my great success using the Heart-Centered Websites thingy (more like “the Miracle that got me off my goddamn ass”) and my recent head-opening with the Heart of Money teleclass (which I will now and forever shamelessly flog, as doing it actually did start making me money, and kind of scary-fast), I’m pretty much sold in advance. Plus he wisely offers the best money-back guarantees in the business, so I never feel like I’m really risking much.

I share this for a couple of reasons. First, because investing in myself, while terrifying, has made the past couple of years the most professionally and sometimes personally rewarding ones I’ve had in a long time. And second, because I have a secret hope that some other Right Person who’s meant to come to this place outside Portland will be tipped by this confession I’m making, and decide to come, too. Not that I don’t think the retreat will be filled with all kinds of right people: I’m woowoo enough to believe that there’s a reason when I showed up at Danielle’s FireStarter session a ways back, the room was packed to the rafters with rockstars. Maybe you & I are supposed to work on our crazy shit together at this hippie-dippy outpost outside of Portland. Maybe not. You’ll know, I know.

Finally, I realize that this is one of the more profoundly uncool posts I’ve written in a while. Maybe since I started writing the crazy poems. I’m sure that every time I let my seams show, people leave. But that’s cool. And even if it wasn’t, I’d have to get down with it, right? Might as well argue with gravity.

But to slow just a wee bit the wild, wild beating of my heart, feel free to let me know how you’re letting your own freak flag fly. Or what and how you’re investing in yourself. Or even your feelings about vacations. I get that I’m a little intense; maybe I’m missing something with the whole vacation-vacation thing.

This is me, advancing…


*Or, once, an unintentional course of learning rather gothic in its horror at a genteel girls summer camp.

Image by Samuel Gordon via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Book review: Ignore Everybody


There are three people and/or things directly to blame for me starting a blog way, way back on November 1, 2004:

  1. a severe onset of Crohn’s disease, which served both to jar things loose and make me unafear’d (or less afear’d) of looking like a jackass;
  2. my friend, Debbie, who is so discreet her web footprint is almost invisible, and so modest she’s probably already mortified at being called out here (hi, Deb!);
  3. Hugh MacLeod, insanely great writer and generous creative mind who also draws cartoons on the backs of business cards

I was introduced to the goodness that was Hugh back in 2003 by a smart but annoying troubadour during my 18-month tenure as the Whore of Babylon. Hugh’s blog was by far The Troubadour’s biggest gift to me; I was instantly hooked both by the mad and intricate drawings that came from Hugh’s Rapidograph and the buckets of cold, clear water he splashed over the screen with his keyboard. The Hughtrain, his manifesto on marketing, remains one of my favorite WAKE THE FUCK UP, PEOPLE! screeds on the nexus of old tenets and new tools. His blog posts were a refreshing mix of smart, funny and flat-out curmudgeonly. And the cartoons, well, they made me laugh. Hard. And think, at the same time. And slightly after that, wish I could draw well (I’m still trying, as you can see by the little illos on my monthly newsletter). And yes, hate him. Just a little.

But it was his “How to Be Creative” series that hooked me hard and eventually turned me into the drooling fangirl obsessively linking linking linking to Hugh’s shit. “How to Be Creative” was as comprehensive in his way as Twyla’s is in hers. There’s theory embedded in there, and stories, and even how-tos, if you’re not a lazy slob.

Ignore Everybody (And 39 Other Keys to Creativity) is the book that (finally) sprung from that amazing series of posts. It’s inspiring and infuriating, and it’s both of those things because it’s true as hell. Hugh has lived his way through these 40 rules and has the experiences and the output (and doubtless the battle scars) to show for it.

The book itself is an example of Rules #1 (“Ignore Everybody”) and #16 (“The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do from what you are not.”) As he says himself in a story illustrating Rule #5 (“If your business plan depends on suddenly being ‘discovered’ by some big shot, your plan will probably fail”*), Hugh was offered a deal years before to turn his series into a book, but turned it down because ultimately, he couldn’t stomach the terms. This book, he says, is exactly the book he wanted to make, with exactly the cartoons to illustrate it.

Having gone through a heady back-and-forth myself with a big NYC agent earlier this year, this cheered me greatly. Yeah, I was probably a dumbass (or a hard-head) in most people’s books for not making some changes that would move me closer to my dream of being a Writer Who Speaks.

In my book, though, it would have been in wild violation of Rules #27 (“Write from the heart”) and #26 (“You have to find your own shtick.”) When something is going to chip away at your soul just enough to bother you, there really isn’t another choice.

To answer that question (cheap) people repeatedly bring up when it comes to books derived from blogs, yes, a great deal of what you’ll find in Ignore Everybody is easily found on Hugh’s blog. Frankly, if you’re that hard up, I’m guessing Hugh would be cool with you reading the material online for free and just missing out on the tweaks and finessing that make this a book-book. But if you’re really enmeshed in the struggle to be creative, don’t you want an ally at your side, your literal, actual side, while you whack your way through the marshy swamps that lie between you and your cherished prize?

I did. I do. No one is getting my copy. Not until Oprah drives by in that long, sleek limo, rolls down the window and beckons me in…


*Or, as I call it, the Limo Analogy.

Card design ©2008 Colleen Wainwright; Card redesign ©2008 HughMacLeod.