Friday, December 14, 2018

TRIBE OF MENTORS: Q.9 Bad Recommendations for Poets & Authors

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Laura Shovan for Roundup.

I do have a poem to share with you today, but first... welcome also to the latest installment of my TRIBE OF MENTORS by Timothy Ferriss series. Just two more questions to go!

Earlier posts:
Q.1 about books
Q.2 about best purchase under $100
Q.4 my billboard message
Q.5 most worthwhile investment
Q.6 absurd love
Q.7 new belief that's improved my life
Q.8 advice for college students

Today's question:

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

Every conference I attend, every author I meet, the talk soon turns to marketing -- especially in terms of how to use social media to promote a book. There's all kinds of advice out there, from creating a website, to joining the latest and greatest platform to branding your print materials, and on and on.

Here's the thing: All of that stuff is distraction. You can't control book sales or reviews. You can't really measure the success of any of those efforts.

The best thing you can do for your writing career is... WRITE.

And sure, if you love Twitter, tweet! If you love sharing photographs, get on Instagram! These are wonderful ways to connect with other like-minded folks. But don't fool yourself into thinking you "need" to do it, or you "must" do it, or not doing any of it is the reason your book didn't get the response you'd hoped for.

There are so many factors involved! I repeat: so many factors you CANNOT control. The only thing you'll accomplish when you attempt to control these uncontrollables is to make yourself crazy/depressed/heartbroken.

Focus on what you can control: the words you put on the page. Quantity. And success in your career will follow!
And now for a poem. This one I found in a book called THE BILL MARTIN JR, BIG BOOK OF POETRY, edited by Bill Martin Jr., illustrations by a slew of artists, brought to us by Simon & Schuster.
This poem came to mind because earlier this week I took a photograph of a pink morning sky -- and that got me thinking about night skies and whatever-the-hour skies.

pink morning
So Many Nights

So many nights.
Blue nights.
Brown nights,
and the sudden lights
In deep black nights
Of stars
And cars
And airplanes
And soft gray nights when it rains
And blue nights with a foggy moon
Smoking in the trees

And pink and red nights
Above great cities
And silver nights all filled with stars
And misty nights when a white mist
And lifts over the white-topped fields
And purple nights beyond the lights
Of your own room
And blue snowy nights
And night that is just
Dark bright night.

- Margaret Wise Brown

What are your favorite skies?


  1. Beautiful beautiful beautiful....poem and advice and this whole series that I have somehow missed. Lucky me now, though, to get to go back! I love your blog header, friend. Hug. xxxxx

  2. Some good points to remember, Irene...and of course, a beautiful poem from Ms. Brown! My favorite skies are the ones that return; day or night, cloudy or clear, the skies remind us how connected we are to the universe. And when one day's sky is followed by another, we are being given a blessing to make the most of whatever we do, beneath that sky.

  3. "So Many Factors You Cannot Control" pretty much sums up life as well as writing! Good advice as always, Irene! xo

  4. Reading this poem reminded me of the beautiful sky I saw behind the Washington Monument as my son picked me up at Union Station on Wednesday. Too much traffic for a pic, but a delightful memory. This may be a poem I need to memorize.
    "And night that is just
    Dark bright night."
    Thanks, Irene and Margaret Wise Brown!

  5. Love your answer -- yes, too many factors beyond your control! Thanks for sharing Brown's poem (new to me). Love your pink morning sky photo too.

  6. I've been busier than ever this week, will try to return to see your answers to all the other questions, Irene. Thanks for the good advice, & like Tabatha says, probably life's advice, too. I know you have your own sky poems & love the sky. Me, too. Thanks for this one by Margaret Wise Brown, still with a new picture book out this year! I just wrote about 'pink sky' this week, but I love it all. Our "lenticular" clouds are especially wonderful to see. Happy weekend!

  7. So many thank yous for the links to your series. How have I not caught on to it yet? I need to catch up. You know, I'm not published....I hope to be but may never get there...and I see/feel how much I respond to an audience on social media and I would rather not have that feeling of making that part of the process. We all enjoy an audience....I do too. But, I agree that the thing about writing is not the audience attention (or, at least not too much or unbalanced) but to keep writing, keep improving and growing. It's something I hope to do.

  8. This poem is so lovely. I'm always amazed at how deep list poems can get -- they seem like such a simple form. I could visualize each of the nights Margaret Wise Brown describes.

  9. Wise advice, Irene. That poem is almost a tongue-twister in places, layering the list of night.

  10. Gorgeous poem Irene, thanks for sharing it. I love looking at the sky, and the sky often lifts me up and takes me so many places. I love checking the moon also and how it changes. One of my favorite skies was when my husband and I were out in Maine with our son who was almost 4 but looked more the size of a 5 or 6 year old. We were out taking in the Aurora Borealis, which I had never seen before. The stars stretched out across the horizon from one side to the other, I was mesmerized and so awe struck. But my young Erik was overwhelmed with fear, I picked him up and held him for as long as I could and then had to say goodnight to this amazing sky–which I will always have in my memory.

  11. First of all, I have loved going back to all your posts in this series. So much fun to see your answers and add mine.

    Today's answer: behavior systems based on extrinsic rewards.

    Favorite sky: Eastern Colorado -- brilliant blue, thunderheads rolling in, blackest nighttime with the Milky Way spilled above.

  12. Good advice on the primary thing we can do for our writing is to write. Love the poem, and loved seeing who wrote the poem. I knew Margaret Wise Brown up until now as the author of Good Night Moon, which was a favorite in our house when my daughter was a child. I am happy to learn of her poetry today!


Your thoughts?