Don't Tell Me What To Do

Don’t tell me I need to stay in a genre.


Don’t tell me I need to stay in a space confined to a shelf in the a bookstore.

Really? For real? Which shelf will I fit in at Borders?

Oh, that’s right.

That’s my point.

I don’t have a clue but don’t tell me what to do.

Don’t tell me what you think works.

You don’t have a clue what works.

Nobody knows what works until it works and it’s copied and it fades out.

Don’t tell me you know.

And don’t—don’t—please don’t—bring up the B word.

There are lots of be words I can think of beginning with B.

But the worst, the absolute worst B-word I can think of is BRAND.

Don’t tell me I need I brand.

Tell me I need to work on my craft. Okay. Yes. I get it and I will.

But don’t tell me I need a slogan or a tagline.

Don’t tell me I need to be something I’m not.

I’m not a brand and never will be.

Cheerios and Hanes and Heineken are brands. I’m a guy born in Knoxville who moved all over the freaking world until I landed on a mountain top in North Carolina without a clue of what to do or where to go. A teen who fell in love with Stephen King and Depeche Mode and decided it would be easier to write than buy Korg synths and perform.

But don’t tell me I need to be anything.

Yes, I understand your data and that’s fine.

The stock market has lots of data too and look where that’s getting them.

The world is changing and so is publishing and you’re a fool to say it’s not.

Yes, I will agree that I make buying decisions difficult.

If you liked the sweet you might not like the sour.

But don’t tell me that this won’t work. And don’t—do not even begin to tell me you have a clue on how it WILL work.

If it’s a science than it can be replicated, right?

If it’s a model than it can be molded and mass produced. Right?

But oh, that’s right—this is art. Something created by an individual that means something to someone.

This cannot and will not be replicated.

I’m not trying to be difficult. Really.

I know I am in an uphill battle.

What am I thinking anyway?

A male writing in Christian fiction?

A Christian novelist writing darker, supernatural stuff?

A writer trying out different point-of-views and different experiences?

A creator never wrapping it up in easy formats?

A storyteller giving you love one minute and then blood the next?

An inventor trying different things, even doing them with other artists?

A name that ultimately doesn’t stand for anything? Or does it?

What about tales with redemption? What about stories with second chances?

What about things that try to stir the soul in their own flawed, scarred way?

You have to give me credit. You have to give me a few kudos.

I don’t know anybody else out there doing what I’m doing.

If so tell me. Tell me and I’m going to follow them on Twitter and Facebook and hunt them down and ask how it’s going.

But tell me.

There’s nobody else is there?

I’m not bragging because my checking book begs to differ. My stamina begs to differ. My standing on the face of this publishing universe begs to differ.

I’m not bragging but I am trying to make a point.

I don’t want you telling me what to do.

I don’t even know if print books will be such a big thing twenty years from now. But the stories I’m trying to tell—emphasis on the word TRYING—are about hearts and souls trying to make a difference and trying to move on. And those sort of stories can stay around for a while.

I’m not trying to preach.

But I’m also not trying to paint a picture of a different world.

I’m trying a few blues and reds in a world of black and gray.

And that’s coming from someone partially color blind.

So don’t.

Just don’t.

I’ve been in those hallways and those buildings and I know the comfort they give. I know the arrogance that can come with success. My hallway and building don’t give that. All I get are a lot of tired sighs.

But you haven’t walked my hallway and you’re not in my building.

You can’t state my brand and you can't confine me in any genre.

I don’t want my name to mean anything except awesome fiction. And for that goal, I still have a long ways to go.

I’m going to keep trying. And I’m going to try to tell heartbreaking love stories and terrifying supernatural tales. I’m going to keep trying to tell stories that move me and that make sense.

I’m going to find others who will let me tell their stories, and I’m going to bleed it out for them.

I’m going to find opportunities to tell unique stories and I’m going to do it in the only way my BRAND allows me to. I only have my voice and my worldview and I
can try to disguise them but I am who I am. I want my stories to make people cry and see the sunset a bit differently.

A publisher would roll his eyes at that comment but a reader might not.

And I’ve made the move now. I’m no longer writing for myself anymore. Oh, I’m that arrogant and that egotistical to have it be about me. But I’m now writing for the readers. I’ve gotten enough out of my system and I’m really, genuinely trying to move a reader.

So don’t tell me what to do. Or where I should go.

Don’t tell me I’m making the easy decision because there is nothing easy about taking this route.

Don’t tell me you know because you don’t know.

25 years of publishing data doesn’t mean jack. Not in today’s world. You and I both know that.

I’m not trying to prove anybody wrong.

I’m just trying to prove that I’m worth someone paying me anything to publish. I still have a hard time believing that I’m worth any amount of money.

Believing in myself can still be hard.

But don’t tell me what to do. Because I might still be insecure, but I’m also very, very stubborn.

That stubbornness has produced a lot of stories and a lot of ambition.

I’m not telling you to bet the farm on me.

I’m just asking for a little encouragement. And maybe a pat on the back.

We all know that if this crazy thing I have going works out, well . . . I’ve been in the hallways of a company where that’s happened. And everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, changes.

But I won’t. I hope and pray that I won’t change. I want to continue to be the stubborn, sometimes stupid, sometimes silly kid who grew up wanting to be a storyteller and happens to be able to do this for a living.

I want to keep living.

And I want to keep telling stories.

That’s all.

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