Writing

It’s a Boy! My son, my writing, and the future.

I must say, it’s been a really busy summer. So busy, in fact, that I haven’t posted on the blog in a really long time. I’m sorry for that. The good news is, it doesn’t mean I haven’t been productive!

Productive might even be the wrong word. I think it should be something more epic than silly little ‘productive’. Let’s go with, prolific! Not just because I’ve been writing my little fool hands off, but also because my wife and I welcomed our new little man into the household.

Yup, that’s him in the picture above. No, not the one with the glasses. The other one.

He was born on August 31st and it’s been a great couple of weeks. His name is Hank. I know, it’s an awesome name and he’s bound to either be an actor or a lumberjack. Either way is cool.

Besides raising a baby human, which is plenty in and of itself, I’ve been busy writing new stuff. I published the first novel I ever wrote, “The Battered Edge”.

I wasn’t originally going to publish it, but I couldn’t help it. It was asking me to do so. So I did.

I also published a short story called “The Preacher”. It’s about 3k words and I think it’s something you all would enjoy. It’s now available on Amazon.

“The Preacher” is a story about finding salvation and trying to understand what it means, or even more basic, how to see the signs. There’s a roadmap of your life, it will take you the entirety of your days to figure out how to read it, and even more focus and determination to follow it.

You’ll notice the site looks a bit different. I’m shifting gears once again and I hope you like what you see. I’ve trimmed the fat and gotten down to the real core of what I think my purpose is. Hang tight.

 

Why Self-Publishing has really grabbed my attention

I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m a writer. At least in the sense that I put words on paper — and I do it often.

Writing was something I really enjoyed in school, at least after my fourth-grade portfolio. I loved writing short stories but I wasn’t so much into writing the research papers and the personal narratives…can you see the irony?

So far I’ve written three novels, but only one of them is available for sale (hopefully the second will be out fairly soon–if you want to be a beta reader then sign up for the newsletter and I’ll ship you a proof paperback copy free when it’s ready for beta readers :)). The funny thing is I published my first book, Golf, Life, and Everything Else in January of 2013 for the first time. It was mostly personal narratives dealing with experiences from the golf course.

I didn’t even know it was possible to put your book online. Much less do it for free and in under an hour if you have it formatted and ready to go. Little did I know I was about two years behind the power curve, at least to be considered a true early adopter. Which is fine, it’s still a great game to be in.

Within a couple of days I had an approved book available for sale on Amazon with a homemade cover and about 60 pages worth of writing that I was proud of, but I was also a bit nervous. What would people think of me?

There were two problems with this:

1. Nobody was going to find the book without a little help.

2. Even if they found it why would they want to buy it?

But what was cool was that I convinced a few family members to drop the mega bucks of $0.99 on book and they even left me a review or two. Within the first 48 hours I had sold about 15 copies, which was enough to get my book into the top 30,000 books or so on Amazon. I was pretty pumped.

Since then the book has managed to sell an average of about 25 copies per month. This number is chump change in the grand scheme of self-publishing, but what’s cool is that people are buying something I created. And I didn’t have to answer to anyone in the process of bringing it to the world.

Writing is like magic in the real world. It takes practice and practice in order to hone your craft. To make it seem easy. To astonish people as they turn the pages of your book. But the finished product, when done correctly, is so gratifying.

Ten years ago doing this without battling for a one in 100,000 spot at a publishing house was unthinkable. And it still carries a slight stigma, but nothing like it did a few years ago. And there are great writers who have been rejected by publishers absolutely killing it! Here are just a few of the names you should look at if you feel like there is a book waiting to be written humming around inside your brain.

Rocking Self-Publishing

David Gaughran

Self-Publishing Podcast (These dudes are productivity machines and their writing is superb.)

Joanna Penn

Steve Scott

I knew self-publishing was part of the long-term plan for this site when I started it last year. But over the last six months or so I’ve learned a lot and I am really excited about what’s coming in the future. For starters I will create a couple different imprints for non-fiction and fiction books.

I could go into more detail in this post about self-publishing, but I think you would be better served by checking out some of the links above. If you want to write with any level of seriousness, there is no better time to search out your author inside. You can create whatever you want and provide it to the world at the price you desire. And if it’s a good book, then people will buy it.

Enjoy!

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An anniversary I’m dreading…

Today I’m doing something I’ve never done before. I’m sharing on the blog something I sent my email subscribers earlier this morning.

I generally don’t do this because the email subscribers have taken that extra step to be a part of the community. They’ve opened the door just a bit further. And they deserve to get content above and beyond what I post here.

But today is a bit different.

I’m getting ready to start something I feel called to do. Called to do more than anything else I’ve done in the past year.

The below email I sent to my list will explain it in more detail. (A note to my subscribers, this won’t be a regular thing, you’ll still be the first one’s to get exclusive content, I promise—but this is something I’m really passionate about.)

Here’s the email:

It’s fast approaching the anniversary of the worst day of my life…It hasn’t gotten much easier.

In three weeks it will be a year since our family lost our precious daughter. I thought there would be some comfort felt over time. Maybe even a little sense of understanding. But the more I think about it, the less sense it makes.

If you’re getting this email then it’s likely you know the story of why I do what I do, but if you have received this email because someone you know forwarded it to you, then you can get the back story here.

Since May 1st of last year I’ve written almost 200 articles, published a new book (about golf and it’s healing nature), and started a podcast. Not to mention met some incredibly awesome people along the way. But in spite of all of those great things, when I lay down at night I still have that sinking feeling in my stomach that reminds me I lost my daughter.

I lie in bed and stare at the ceiling wondering why it had to happen to us. Not that I’d wish it on anyone, but I’m also not a martyr. Or don’t want to be one at least. If that seems selfish, I’m sorry, but I’m just being honest.

The only difference between now and one year ago is that I’m willing to accept this is my circumstance. I’m willing to take it for what it is and try and move forward. I don’t want to, but if I’ve learned nothing else in the past year, it’s that I can’t change the past. I can’t go back and do it over again, and if I could, there’s nothing within my power I can do to change the outcome.

God had his plan, and who am I to change it?

I’m sure I’m not alone in this understanding, but does that seem to make it any easier? I’m willing to bet you’ll agree with me and say, “No. It doesn’t.”

When Layla passed away I had no idea where my life would go. What would become of it. And I still don’t. But what I do know is that I’m not willing to sit by and wither away. In the nine months we were graced with her presence, Layla showed us that a smile can change the outcome of a day. A giggle can make all the bad feelings disappear. And because of that I’m on a mission.

A mission to make something of my life. To make something of her life. To share her memory with the world, and what her memory has done for my soul.

In three weeks I’m starting a new book project.

It’s going to be five books total and each book will cover a different stage of the grieving process. I’m not sure what I think I know that makes me qualified to write these books, but I don’t care. I’m writing them anyway.

But I need your help.

I want to include stories from you, my cherished readers. Because you are the driving force behind what keeps this blog going. If you didn’t read it, I’d probably still write (because writing is part of me, it’s part of who I am), but I wouldn’t feel nearly as inspired each day to do so.

If you’ve experienced the loss of someone in your life please reply to this email and share your story. If you don’t want me to include your name let me know (I’ll most likely change all the names anyway as to just ensure everyone has anonymity) and I’ll gladly ensure I use a pseudonym.

But your stories are what matter. This is a community of people who care for each other, and want others to not just survive, but THRIVE.

Also, if you know someone who is not on this email list (which means they didn’t receive this email originally) please share this with them. Forward it to them and have them reply back to me with a story. I want to know HOW you have coped with the loss of someone important in your life. HOW you have gone about living in spite of the challenges.

It’s never easy, but if we can come together and help create something amazing, then maybe we can help someone else.

If you are on this email list all you have to do is reply and your email will come straight to me. If this has been forwarded to you and you’d like to share a story then you can email me at the address below.

chandler@chandlercrawford.com

Much love,

Chandler

P.S. If you’re not on this email list and it was forwarded to you then you can join the email list here, it’s totally free and you’ll get a bonus book about life.

 

That’s the email. I feel passionate about this book project and the only other thing I feel this way about is my memoir, which is something I’m not sure I’m ready to write yet.

If you want these emails, then you can join below or in the sidebar. But really, I want to know your struggles with grief and what you’ve done to survive.

Go ahead, shoot me an email, you never know what may come of it. One of the coolest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of talking too I met through a Facebook message and a call to action similar to this—his name is Bruce Van Horn, and in 2 weeks I’ll be running the Ft. Lauderdale Half-Marathon with him and then departing on a 7-day cruise where he’s speaking.

You never know what can happen when you take a small leap of faith and reach out. There will be someone to catch you.

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5 Reasons Writing is My Form of Therapy

The beginning…

When I was in high school I had a humanities teacher, Mrs. Bonds, who was rather eccentric. Often she would walk into the classroom with some ethnic dress on from either an African or European or Native American culture.

At first glance one might think she belonged in an institution. But her enthusiasm for teaching her students the wonders of culture soon overshadowed any doubts of her sanity.

As a typical teenager I didn’t buy into her methods, or really even care about her class at all, until one day.

We had been in the class for about a month and she gave us a photo project. It was due a month later (which was difficult for me at the time because I couldn’t just sit down and crank it out). We were required to pick a subject and take between 20 and 25 photos of this subject with each photo bringing a new perspective—a new purpose.

I chose staircases. 

I had always been fascinated with intricate staircases (I think this stemmed from the first time I saw the grand staircase in Titanic…) and how they served such a clear purpose but were also such a clear part of the design and beauty of any structure.

Along with the photos we had to write a poetic caption bringing out the nature of the photo.

This was my first real experience with writing for a purpose.

Sure, I’d written portfolios and what not, but I never cared about the purpose behind those. These photo captions had to capture the essence behind the photo. I understand it deeper now than I did then, but I still grasped the concept. And it was intriguing.

I took most of my photos in downtown Louisville, Kentucky while I was on a Beta Club trip. They were all taken with a disposable Kodak camera (black and white version for effect) that you had to real after each snap of the plastic button. Next I had the photos developed at a 1-hour photo booth at Walgreens (classic, I know!).

As much as I enjoyed taking the photos, I enjoyed the captions much more. I learned a lot about what it meant to provide insight into an image. And I learned a lot more about the photos after they were developed.

It was the first time I enjoyed writing.

Storyteller

Once the photo project was complete I didn’t think much about it until years later, but there was an exercise we did that I have always kept in the back of my mind.

The exercise I wish I’d have taken to heart much sooner.

We came into class on one of the last days of the school year and Mrs. Bonds had the lights turned off and a few candles lit. (I think I even remember incense burning but that could a self-edited detail.) I noticed a record player at the front of the classroom that hadn’t been there before. We all sat down and the room was oddly quiet compared to usual. Mrs. Bods was no where to be seen.

A couple of minutes pass and she walked into the room dressed as a Cherokee Tribal Leader. Feathers sticking every which way from her head. She didn’t say much, but her instructions were clear.

“I’m going to put on a record. It’s tribal music and we will listen to it one time through. About twenty minutes. I want you to take out five pieces of paper and a pencil. When the music begins I want you to start writing. Don’t think, just write. I don’t care what it’s about, I don’t care if you write the same sentence over and over again, but you will write for the entire song. Any questions?”

For the first time all year nobody said a word.

It was clear.

Just write.

Photo credit - Sarah Reid

Photo credit – Sarah Reid

So we did. I did, at least.

When the music started I closed my eyes and I couldn’t help but see this Cherokee warrior standing next to a fire. And I started writing his story. Or at least, what I thought his story might be.

I have no idea what the end result was as she didn’t give us time to read what we wrote. But I will never forget what she wrote on my paper under the numeral “100”.

You are a natural storyteller. And don’t ever forget it.

I’m not sure if I’ve never forgotten it because she told me not to, or because it’s true. I’d like to think it’s true. But she could be pretty convincing.

Whether I’m a natural storyteller or not, I do know what I got out of that exercise, and especially what I’ve gotten out of writing for the past year—

Writing is therapeutic

There are many reasons why this is true, but I’ve narrowed it down to five for you:

1. It forces you to slow down and focus on one thing.

If you sit down to write and you don’t slow down, get rid of the menial distractions such as email, facebook, texting, snapchat, or whatever, then you won’t put more than a couple sentences together. You learn really quick that writing is not a multitasking activity.

Focusing on one thing can do wonders for your psyche. It will help declutter your thoughts, allowing them to flow more clearly and thereby affording them to make more sense. More ideas and thoughts that make sense equals more ideas, equals better ideas. The best way to have great ideas is to have A LOT of ideas…

2. It allows you to flush out any negativity.

Write anything you’re thinking down on the page and get it off your chest. Hate filled rant? Paragraph full of slander? Get it out and then delete it. This option is much better than doing so face to face with someone you care about, or could impact your life.

Vent on paper, not on Facebook!

Maybe one reason girls mature faster than boys is because they are more likely to keep a diary…just a thought.

If you’ve ever done this and allowed the negativity to just flow onto the page and then discard as you should, then you know number 1 becomes true shortly after.

3. Writing doesn’t have to make sense if it’s a form of therapy.

There are 163 posts on this website, an average of about 750 word each, that’s roughly 122,000 words I’ve published. For each word published I’ve written two that I didn’t publish. This could be for many reasons, but mostly in relation to number one or number two. When you sit down to write because it makes you feel better then you don’t care about what comes out. It’s very similar to talking to yourself on a walk (which is also great) but you have less chance of looking like a crazy person if you write it down.

Sitting down to write without the pressure of having to worry about someone reading it frees you, it’s liberating, because you know that you can write whatever you want. Get it out, however you need to word it, and move on. Then you can take a deep breath, print out what you wrote, fold it up, and burn it. (This symbolizes moving forward and forgetting about your worries…)

4. Writing can transform into a hobby, a craft, an art form, and even a way of life.

It’s hard for me to rationalize that going to a therapist will become my hobby, my craft, an art form, or a way of life (not discounting that it might need to be a part of my life—I do see the benefit of talk therapy from time to time). Though, writing can become all of those things, which will only enrich it’s therapeutic value for you.

Writing is something that can transform your outlook on life. It can change the way you look at how you are living your life.

I’ve been reading Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life; it’s a memoir about how he learned to live a better story. He learned this lesson, in part, because he was asked to help adapt his previous book, Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spiritualityinto a screenplay. He learned how to apply the pieces of a good story to his personal life and not just in his writing. His writing led him to live a better story. How awesome is that?

5. It’s something you can do for the rest of your life.

There will come a time when you can’t play pick-up football. There will come a time when it’s poor judgement to try and free-climb a rock face, or bungee jump, but unless you lose your hands in a tragic accident (at which point you can still dictate your writing—probably to some robot by then—to someone or something), you can write until the day your soul leaves this your body.

Maybe you will never write a bestseller. In fact, 99% of people won’t. But that doesn’t take away the value and impact writing can have on your personal life.

Even if it’s just a one paragraph journal entry per day, I can promise you that you will gain something from developing a daily writing habit. It’s impossible not to get some sort of value out of an intentional writing habit, no matter what stage of life you are in.

So, what are you waiting for? Go write!

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NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is two days away – are you ready?

I’ve got a pretty big surprise for you all.  Wait for it…wait for it…

I posted about National Novel Writing Month a couple of weeks ago, and now it’s two days away.

Last year was the a milestone for me in terms of writing.  I finished two manuscripts in a matter of about 3 months and one of those manuscripts is now published on Amazon.  

This is partly due to a pretty strict schedule while I was deployed; and minimal distractions.  I didn’t have cable or reliable internet everyday so it was easier to focus.  (A man can only watch so many movies.)

For NaNoWriMo last year I completed my book in 25 days.  I think I will stretch it to the full 30 days this year, simply because I’m much busier than I was last year and I’m going to have to get up even earlier to complete my word count and still blog regularly.  (I already wake up at 4:15 so I can get these articles posted by 5:30.) But i’m not complaining, because on the days I don’t wake up at 4:15 and write I typically just want to punch someone.

This brings me to the entire point of this article.  With NaNoWriMo starting in two days I have an announcement to make: I will be serializing my NaNoWriMo novel as I write it.

NaNoWriMoThat’s right, I’m going to publish the book on the website each day as I write.

There are a few important things to remember as I do this:

1. It will be very raw and contain lots and lots of grammatical and spelling errors.

As this will be published every single day and I will simply hit my word count (or finish the piece of the story I’m working on) and publish the post.  I invite you all to make comments on what I’m writing, but just know that comments on grammar and spelling will be largely ignored because it’s a rough draft, and rough drafts are supposed to be raw and full of errors.  It’s about the story telling in the first draft.

You see this graphic to the left of this sentence?  Notice how publish is the last piece of that puzzle?  I’m doing this totally backward, but that’s why it fun. 🙂

2. I’m doing this to let you in to the writing process, and to be a part of said process.

This is something I’m doing because I want you to see through the glass and hopefully it will encourage you to start writing as well.  I also think it will help keep me accountable to writing.  My daily count requirement is about 1500 words.  I can generally type that out in less than an hour, so I’m thinking I’ll have to get up around 3:30 or so.  I don’t know if I can stay up late and write.  I haven’t done that in a long time, but maybe we’ll experiment a little.

NaNoWriMo is fun, challenging, and it’s a great community of writers just doing what they love.  I hope you will enjoy the journey with me over the next month.  I’ll be as transparent as possible throughout the process.

You can expect an intro video on Saturday along with my new page dedicated to NaNoWriMo on the menu. Each day I’ll post a link on the NaNoWriMo page to a separate post.  This will keep the book in order and give you easy access to the entire thing as we go through.  🙂

Here’s to 50,000 words in 30 days.  I can’t wait to see what happens.  Thanks for joining me!

I’m also going to give away a free copy of the finished book (after it’s been edited and is ready to be published) to everyone on my email list.  They will all receive a free digital copy of the book along with a preview copy of my upcoming book, The Tajiman.  So join now and be part of an awesome community!

be in the know

Photo credit: Graphic – Enokson, Lego man – Michael Jasper