“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
~ Mark Twain
I was reminded of the advice to ‘Eat the frog’ when my kids attended a party at Kids ‘n Clay Pottery Studio in Berkeley recently. The photo above is of an art piece on the wall at the entrance to the studio. There were many examples of creative artwork hanging there but this one caught my eye because I’ve heard the advice in various forms over the years. What I didn’t know, is that it originated with the great Mark Twain.
In my experience, this principle is effective. If you take on your biggest tasks – the ones that have your tummy in knots and your knees going all trembly – at the start of the day, things can only get better. That presentation you’re avoiding. The massive report with all the financials. The next chapter in your book. The pile of ironing (I hate ironing) in the closet.
If you clear the tough things off your task list, you start the day off in a shipping mood. Then you have time to accomplish all the other things without the stress and pressure of the large to-do items hovering over you like rain clouds. The enormous mental relief you gain from shifting the heavy weights is enough to have you breezing through the rest of your day. The sense of accomplishment always pushes you to ship even more.
In all honesty, I don’t follow this advice nearly enough. I procrastinate with the best of them. When I do apply the advice, though, and see the positive results, I’m left wondering why I don’t do it more often. Time to start eating more frogs!
Last night I took a chance. I sent an email to one of my favourite authors, Piers Anthony, via his website. Mr Anthony knows a thing or two about shipping. He has published 166 books to date and has 5 more written but not yet published. What a work ethic!
As a teenager, I thoroughly enjoyed his Xanth series. The characters and settings are enthralling and the puns are hilarious. Highly recommended. Also, one of the very first science fiction books I read was a collection of three short stories called Battle Circle (first published in 1968). These stories are set in a dystopian post-nuclear future. There are vast tracts of land uninhabitable due to lingering radiation. ‘Crazies’ operate behind the scenes supplying the nomads with resources. The world of the nomads operates by a strict code of honour and matters are settled in the battle circle. This book is one of the reasons I came to love the science fiction genre.
I emailed Mr Anthony about Battle Circle. I believe that it will make a fantastic movie. Especially book one, Sos the Rope. When I read it, I can see the scenes play out in my imagination as the descriptions take on a life of their own. I have aspirations of writing a screenplay and I would relish the opportunity to adapt the story into a movie. So I took the chance and sent off the email to ask for permission and find out what the copyright restrictions are.
I took a chance in the spirit of making a ruckus. In the spirit of ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained.’ If he said ‘no’ I’d be in the same place as before I asked. But what if he said ‘yes’ and I ended up with the opportunity of a lifetime? Definitely worth putting myself out there. This morning I received a response:
I’d love to have a movie made from Sos the Rope, and there has been occasional interest. But my agent is cautious about free-lance screenplays. If a studio got interested, they would hire their own script writer. So I doubt there is a prospect here for you.
Not what I was hoping for. But I was still chuffed to have received a response from the great man himself. It is a credit to him that he took the time to send me a polite response as I’m sure he must receive many similar requests.
So it’s back to the drawing board for me. I’ll have to make up my own story (I have one in the works). It was tough to send the email as I didn’t want to risk rejection or lose face and seem like a stereotypical fanboy to one of my favourite authors. As I typed out the request, the resistance tried to stop with all sorts of reasons why it was a bad idea. Some may say that because he said ‘no’ I should’ve listened. I say I did the right thing. I fought the resistance. I took a chance. Now I know and can move on to the next project. I’ll still dream about writing the screenplay. Maybe I’ll make a name for myself in the screenwriting business and that studio he mentions will hire me to write Sos the Rope.
And I have an email from Piers Anthony!!!! How cool is that???
My expectation of my post yesterday was that it was going to be read by wife and nobody else. The reality was that it was my most popular post so far. Granted that’s off a low base but I found this to be something of an eye-opener. It validated the idea of shipping in a real way for me as a newbie blogger. It confirmed that if you put yourself out there you may well connect with people who get you or with people who find that your message resonates with them.
My post was about writer’s block. A common enough affliction, I guess. So it resonated with more of the audience than I expected. I’ve learned quite a bit from my lack of inspiration last night. Tough it out even when you’re struggling. Shipping is important. Don’t overload your mind with expectations. The reality is rarely what you expect and you may be surprised by the response.
The world is a big place. The internet is full of people reading tons of stuff. I’m amazed and gratified that there were people out there who took the time to read and like my post. Even more gratified that some of them decided to follow the blog. Having a lot to say ( which I think I do) and having someone to listen is another expectation vs reality scenario that can have multiple outcomes. I’m excited to be on this journey with you. I’m learning as I go and I’m looking forward to connecting with more and more people. There are countless untold and fascinating stories out there that I want to hear. If what I share resonates I’d love to hear why. If it doesn’t I’d be just as interested in hearing why.
My interests are many and varied and it’s always cool when you connect with someone who gets your references or laughs at your jokes. But living in the Bay Area for just over a year now has opened my eyes to a world filled with people who don’t get my references or jokes and I want to learn more about them. Connect with them. What makes them tick? What are the things in their world which are shared history and references? In a meeting the other day all of us got a joke about having the electricity find the flux capacitor. I wondered though just how broad an audience that would have made sense to. As Seth Godin says, “We are all weird.” I want to find more weirdos and find out what their expectations of the world are and how that translates into their reality.
Let’s connect. I’m excited.