The Sensory Self of Discovery

All who create things hope for discovery, whether they are musicians, sculptors, writers, or singers. The essential question is, what does it look like? Which one is better: self-publishing self-discovery or being unearthed by traditional publishing? Which one carries a lesser burden?

We hope to recognize it when it comes, if it is truly true, but some discoveries wear cloaks of deception, as many authors can attest. Regardless, we all want it and hope that it is truly honest when it arrives to carry us away in a romantic carriage of success.

What used to be the yardstick established by traditional publishing houses is no longer the norm: millions of book sales and bulging bank account with the illusive money from an advance of potential earnings, the key word being potential.

It is always intrinsically rewarding when a publisher recognizes a talented writer and trusts, on a hunch, the lilting words of potential sales so much so that a huge advance is proffered in hopes that the novel will deliver. The borrowed or loaned money equates credit, but the writer, as worried as he is about the huge debt hanging precariously above, wills the book to deliver, even as he or she squanders the money anyway.

Conversely, in the current exhilarating circumstances introduced by self-publishing and e-book sales, talent identification of self is sweeter when the writer gets to keep all or most of the rewards of his creation and labor. There is no advance payment looming over the head of the writer who discovers himself or herself. Yes, discovery is internal and is even more uplifting. After Amazon (or the e-book-reader maker) takes its hefty cut, the remaining amount belongs to the author entirely.

However, talent recognition by thousands, nay, millions of adoring fans, is also even more vindicating because these readers are garnered by the writer directly. Anyone who has not been living under a rock for the past couple of years has heard and seen the ubiquitous news about self-published e-books taking the industry by storm. Statistics abound prolifically.

What discovery is not:

According to Deirdre Donahue of USA Today, “…When 25 publishers passed on buying his thriller Riptide, Michael Prescott thought his career was dead…” Being passed off sounds like the end of the publishing road, but as any persevering writer will attest, someone has to believe in a writer’s work, eventually, if the writer is waiting on traditional publishing houses. Time, acceptance, and several factors are the foe.

What does it look like?

Whether it is through royalty-paying, traditional publishers or through self-publishing, the point is that all authors should be able to make money on their work without having to jump through all sorts of hoops imposed by the system, so says J.A. Konrath, who is considered the guru of the self-publishing movement.

“I am a guy who had his butt kicked by the (traditional-publishing) industry for 20 years, and now I’m showing other authors what they can do so they don’t have to go through the same thing,” he continues. “Traditional book publishers are just serving drinks on the Titanic. It’s a huge win for readers, who now have easier access to more writers from around the world,” he adds.

Discovery looks like peaks in sales on a graph, a peak that keeps rising and rising until it goes off the chart regardless of the platform used to monitor the exchange of book for money. Peaks in sales are born by authorpreneurs who have used the ever permissible and pervasive outlets to pitch their novels like Brittany Geragotelis who used Wattpad to propel herself to stardom with over one million followers.

According to the Association of American Publishers, e-books grew from 0.6% of the total trade market share in 2008 to 6.4% in 2010, the most recent figures available. Total net revenue for 2010 was $878 million with 114 million e-books sold. In adult fiction, e-books are now 13.6% of the market.

What does it sound like?

In this revolutionary period of unraveling breakneck technological advances in the book-making and book-reading industries, discovery sounds like pages turning maddeningly fast by an avid reader who cannot put the book or the e-reading device down. It sounds like the adamant voice of a devoted follower demanding when the next book will be out after devouring the maiden novel of an inventive writer. This is an encouragement for the author to get back to work fast and continue cooking and concocting while the embers are still red and flaming.

What does it smell like?

It smells like crisp and newly minted dollar bills earned by newly printed pages (or not, if it is uploaded into an e-reader). According to the USA Today article cited above, author Michael Prescott says he earned more than $300,000 before taxes last year (2011) by selling more than 800,000 copies of his self-published e-books.

Konrath has seen his income from his self-published e-book sales go from $1,400 in April 2009 to $68,000 in April 2011.

These two authors might be the tip of the success iceberg, but imagine both for yourself, freshly minted money and freshly printed pages vying for a smelling contest. That I should be so lucky to smell both!

What does it feel like?

Discovery feels like touching the soft and fluffy clouds in the sky, the summit. Getting that nod feels like the coolest, smoothest 100% silk, like satin, and 800 percale thread count, the most luxurious sensation a person could ever touch. It is that much peaceful and calming—reaching that elevation of success, self-measured or not. It is sensational, the key word being sense (of self, that is).

What does discovery taste like?

It tastes like food on the table. Quoting the quotable Konrath,Any writer who puts food on the table with their writing is successful. It doesn’t matter if it is a box of Mac and Cheese, or caviar and champagne. Taking your career into your own hands, giving it your best shot, striving to do better… that’s the American Dream, baby.”

Konrath is especially thrilled for the thousands and thousands of authors who are now making ends meet because they achieved their goals and self-published their e-books. “Your ebooks will continue to earn money, forever. Be proud. You are a success,” he encourages.

“It’s a gold rush out there,” Prescott joins the chorus of e-book songs of praise. “Forty acres and a mule. It’s the best time for an independent writer to get out there. It’s a whole new world. You’re eliminating the middleman.”

Would You Rather Run Toward or Away From?

by Frances Ohanenye

Without much thought invested in the question, the initial and spontaneous response from some people would be to say that they would rather run toward than away from. Others would prefer to run away from rather than toward.  The second and paramount question then becomes the focus or the purpose of the running, the end, the destination.

Why you are running would determine whether you would like to run toward something or someone or away from that someone or that something.  Hopefully, you will not be like Forest Gump (in Forest Gump) and keep running for days, weeks, months, and years without any purpose or destination.  “Ah just felt like runnin,” Forest said to the reporter.

Since Forest had no destination in mind, I guess in trying to help him determine whether he was running toward or away from, I would have to surmise that he was running away from pain: the death of his mother and the pain caused by Jenny, the one woman he loved from childhood, who seemed oblivious of the intensity and duration of the affection and devotion.  

Regardless, several research endeavors have been conducted by numerous writers who have sifted through the numerous reasons we run and should continue running.  In “Designed for Running – How People Are Made to Run,” Andy Johns posted on January 7, 2009, the reasons we humans are made to run. 

“Compared to several other primates, humans have much longer legs…  Just like chimps and other primates have long, powerful arms for climbing, humans have long, powerful legs for running.”

Whether we are running away from a real and physical or an imagined danger or toward the open arms of a beloved, there are correct ways to run.  Most of those ways involve the Achilles tendon, that “massive and incredibly powerful tendon that absorbs and releases enormous amounts of energy during running. Like a spring, the Achilles propels us upwards and forwards while running…” Johns continued.

 There is no disputing that we should run, must run when in danger, suffused with love and joy, and to prolong life.  Every intelligent person knows the numerous health rewards and other reasons for running. 

“It (running) helps ensure the efficient flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body, things that are proven to help to decrease the risk of a heart attack,” Christine Luff stated in, October 08, 2009.

Having established the importance of running and whether we should run toward or away from someone or something, there is one man who certainly knows how to run and who looks incredibly sexy doing it, no matter which side he presents to me, I mean, the viewers, front view or back side.

Keanus Reaves is the sexiest runner alive! Having watched him in several movies, I can not help but wonder how he learned to run like that.  Did he practice it in front of a mirror until he had it perfected?  Did he have a coach who showed him how to place one leg in front of the other for that heart racing look?  Or did it come naturally to him over the years, like the gymnast or the swimmer who possesses enviable biceps?  This and other questions chase themselves in my mind as I stare at the screen mesmerized. 

Granted, I have always liked Keanu Reaves, and even though I have read that he had been recognized as a full-blown sex symbol (MTV’s “Most Desirable Male” award in 1992), the complete import of that title and his sexiness really did not cause too much of a heart motion in me until I saw him running every time I turned around in The Replacements, as a fill-in football player, and I was in Keanu heaven!  Ever since then, I hear and see my heart beating loudly and being fully inflated like Jim Carey’s famous one in The Mask

Later on in The Lake House (their second movie together), forget that he was running toward the train/bus to catch up with Sandra Bullock to give her the book she accidentally(?) left on the bench (and I did forgot why he was running), The Mask heart scenario played itself quite convincingly and louder this time. Watching Keanu run has caused the rewinding of that particular scene uncountable times.  He looks equally sexy being rewound!

Then, an idea was born, and I time-traveled (figuratively) to “investigate” this phenomenon of Keanu Charles Reeves engaged in running.  I went back to study running.

Although I have run all my life for fitness sake, and I know a bunch of others who have done it up to marathon and Olympic levels (in the media), this particular studying of running was for personal gratification.  I studied to see if Keanu ran in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the sequel: Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, Point Break, My Own Private Idaho, Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Speed (more flying than running), The Devil’s Advocate, The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, Constantine, The Day The Earth Stood Still), Something’s Gotta Give, The Lake House, Thumbsucker, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, and A Scanner Darkly. Phew!

Needless to say, it was a full-time job.  I studied to see if he was running toward love interests (Charlize Theron– in front  of the church in The Devil’s Advocate), danger, and so on (facing me, and my dropped jaw) or running away (mostly holding a football and running to touch down (depending on the camera’s position, and my jaw dropped).  Not much running happened in Something’s Gotta Give, except when he was chasing Diane Keaton in her seaside abode to give her a kiss.  That, in my book (no pun intended), did not constitute running.

 There is no disputing that running is hard.  Yet, Keanu makes it look effortless as he runs without breaking a sweat or breathing hard or showing any physical exertion, except in The Replacements, where he had a point to make.  It is reality football afterall, and there is no scientific way of playing real-life football—not bending backwards halfway to dodge the ball (or bullet as in The Matrix).

I believe Keanu Reeves’ Achilles tendons do not touch the ground.  I am by no means implying that he floats (except in his numerous sci-fi roles).  Playing normal characters and running (as a true-to-form human being), his heels barely tap the floor/ground as he runs, unless the directors coached him on this special way of running earlier on when he landed his first role at the age of nine.

The actor whose name loosely translates into “cool breeze over the mountains” or “coldness” in Hawaiian certainly gives me a feeling the reverse of his name, hot!  A well traveled tot, Reeves grew up in Toronto, Canada, by way of Beirut, Lebanon, with a biological father who was an American of Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, and English descent and an English mother. 

It must be the training in hockey where he learned to run like that.  With the stick in hand and running sexily, I’d like to believe that the female (giggling little girls) spectators did not care if the stick ever made contact with the puck.  I would not have cared as long as he continued to run aimlessly in skates.   

Could it be that all the ancestry Keanu collected had something to do with his style of running?  How do the Chinese run? The Hawaiians, the English, the Portuguese, and the Americans?

Granted, there is no Lebanese or Canadian blood in him.  Still, could it be that he, by virtue of living in these locales, picked up running styles indigenous to those people (regardless of his age at the time he lived there) by osmosis?
I would like to see future Reeves’ movies with a lot of running.  That should make the studying for this article worth my while.

“It’s always wonderful to get to know women, with the mystery and the joy and the depth. If you can make a woman laugh, you’re seeing the most beautiful thing on God’s Earth.”
– Keanu Reeves

I have been told that I have a beautiful smile.  About my laughter being the most beautiful sound?  I am not so sure about that, but I do like to laugh.

I can’t wait to investigate his forthcoming movies (Jekyll and Cowboy Bepop) for some sexy running (and laughter).