Wednesday, November 30, 2011


How many of you feel that if you're not earning money with your writing, then you're not really a writer? Deep down, do you feel doubt in your abilities as an artist if no one pays you for what you create? Does price denote value?

I do. That's why I dabble at writing. I write "when I have time." When all the bills have been paid and phone calls returned and emails sent, when the house is clean, dishes done, laundry folded and put away. When the plants have been watered and my desk cleaned off and all the grocery shopping done. Then, and only then, am I allowed to write.

And this attitude bleeds into Medusa's Muse too. I edit manuscripts because I owe that to my authors; I do it for them. But everything else, the promotion of my press, updating the website, marketing books, lining up teaching gigs, record keeping and networking... all of those things that help my press thrive get put on the list called "when I have time."

This is called sabotage. I am sabotaging myself by not dedicating the same focus and energy to my press and my writing that I gave to grad school. It was easy to give focus to grad school, because that would eventually lead to a job and a paycheck. A so called real job. My press is a job, but it doesn't make much money, therefore it doesn't feed my family. The press feeds itself. I can't justify devoting time to it when it doesn't sustain me economically.

Which is bullshit, because my press sustains me in every other way but economics. It feeds my soul, my spirit, my artistic needs and creativity. Writing feeds me in even deeper ways. Why does economics always take priority?

Yes, we have to eat and keep a roof over our head. Making money is very important, especially if you have children. We live in this world which requires sacrifice sometimes to survive. I'm not knocking the importance of work.

But we must not let that importance destroy the other things that are important, especially our art.

And if you find yourself saying things like, "I don't have time to write" or "The grocery shopping is way more important right now" then it's time to take a good long look at your priorities. Are you saying this because it's true? Or are you finding an excuse to quit, and in so doing sabotage yourself.

Sabotage. The power to destroy your art before you've devoted yourself to it.

I know I'm just as guilty as anyone of sabotage, and I'm trying hard to stop. My press is important, not just to my authors, but for the joy it brings me. So why do I just dabble at publishing rather than treat it like the job it is?

I don't know, other than I must believe on some deep level that I don't deserve to be a successful publisher and writer.

Is that how you feel?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Silence and Fear

When I was 19, I dated a man who turned out to have serious mental problems and was prone to violence.  I was able to run away. He hounded me for a few months, but finally he stopped. It took many years for me to feel safe again, to not jump every time I saw a man who looked like him. I stayed underground for a long time. Then, 20 years later, I started a book publishing company and set up a blog and website.

And that's how he found me again.

At first, I wanted to shut down my blog, delete the Medusa's Muse Facebook page, and strike my name from everything I'd ever written or published. I was petrified he'd show up on my front door one day after piecing together information he'd gathered from the net. And the idea that he was now reading about me and my family from four years of blog posts made me sick.

Do I have to destroy everything I've built just to feel safe again?

He wasn't threatening me; he said he just wanted to get in touch.

Why? What can possibly be gained by talking to me?

Staying silent seemed like the best option, and that included staying silent as an artist.

image from

How many of us have been silenced by fear of the past? Or afraid of what the power of our words could bring? How many writers have been gagged because others fear their words? For women, silence is particularly powerful. We are taught to stay quiet, because girls who speak their minds get punished.

He tried to contact me again, but I have decided not to shut down my press, or my blog, or website, or Facebook page. I will not change my name. I will not become quietly anonymous. I am no longer that terrified 19 year old girl hiding in the bathroom because she thinks her boyfriend is going to kill her, staying silent because he said if I made a sound he'd hit me. I am a grown woman with a voice and a vision and yes I'm still afraid. I'm afraid of him. But I won't allow that fear to silence me.

Not anymore.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Fourth anniversary of the launch of the first book I published, or, how I became an Orientation and Mobility teacher.

This past weekend marks the four year anniversary of when I published the first book from my press, Medusa's MuseTraveling Blind: Life Lessons from Unlikely Teachersby Laura Fogg, is a memoir of Laura's 30 + years teaching children with vision impairments, and ultimately what those children taught her about life, love, loss, and joy. Laura has been my daughter's teacher since Queen Teen was 3, and when I discovered Laura was also a talented writer, I offered to publish her book. After a year-and a half of edits, revisions, and debates over cover design and font choices, her book was launched at the California Association of Orientation and Mobility Specialists Conference. The other teachers were excited and impressed, and we sold almost 100 copies in two days. Laura was ecstatic and I was thrilled. I was also intrigued by the other O and M teachers I met at the conference and the work they so obviously loved doing. A few days after the launch of Traveling Blind, I decided to go to Graduate School and become an O and M teacher too.

Four years later, I attended the Orientation and Mobility Conference again, this time as a credentialed O and M Specialist with a Master's Degree and a job working side-by-side with Laura. I'm still a publisher, but I'm also a teacher, working with visually impaired students throughout all of Mendocino County. It was a long, exhausting crawl to get my degree, as many of you saw if you've been reading my blog for the past three years, but so worth it. I love teaching, I love Orientation and Mobility, and I love my students.

The conference is held every other year in Monterey at a hotel right on the beach. About half of my classmates from SF State were there, as were my teachers. My main focus as a teacher was learning about GPS systems for the visually impaired because I have a student who may benefit from using such a device (see, I already sound like a teacher. "may benefit from using such a device." lol). On Saturday was a GPS treasure hunt in downtown Monterey where teams of six competed against each other to find all the clues and get to the last location before anyone else. Our leader was a visually impaired man who just so happens to be the President and CEO of Sendero Group, the manufacturer of the GPS we were using. Is that why we smoked the other teams, arriving 20 minutes before anyone else at the bar, where we waited near a warm fire and drank cold margaritas? But the best moments for me were when I got to spend time with my classmates, catching up on our lives and our teaching jobs while sharing wine and champagne. I've missed everyone so much! It's like we're part of a submarine crew, a small group of highly trained people sharing very specific experiences that hardly anyone else can really understand.

There was a raffle to raise money for the scholarship fund, so I donated four copies of Traveling Blind. As I was sitting in the audience listening to a speaker talk about the pros and cons of using GPS on a smart phone, it suddenly hit me how much my life has changed since the first time I was at this conference. Last time I was a publisher sitting behind a table covered in copies of Laura's book. Now I'm a teacher, just like Laura.

I'll always be a book publisher; no way will I give that up. But it's very hard to make a living publishing books, so I teach to support my book habit. Thank goodness I love my "real" job. 

Friday, November 04, 2011

That's not my name! New Video from PRSMA authors Heavy Load

"They call me retard... they call me mental... they call me special... THAT'S NOT MY NAME"

Right on!