Over the weekend I went to Austin for the 2015 Sterling & Stone Colony Summit. I got to hang out with not only Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant of the Self Publishing Podcast, but also around 25 brilliant, talented, amazing up-and-comers in the indie publishing world. Everyone in that room is going to do something huge with their career—I was honored to be a part of it.
One the most powerful things to come out of the summit was the chance for each of us to do a hot seat—a 15-minute session during which we can ask a question we're desperately seeking to answer, and get the benefit of being showered with wisdom from everyone in the room. My own 15-minute session was a trigger for all sorts of rethinking and reassessing. Being in that spotlight forced me to think about what I've been working toward over the past several months, in light of the goals I have for my entire career. And something didn't match up.
Here's what I know: I love helping people. I love talking to people and sharing what I know—about building authority, about getting better at writing, about using it to build and grow a business or career, about creating strategies and systems to make your work easier and your life better. I love that. But I love writing fiction more.
The realization I had, as I asked questions and got feedback and advice, was that I have fallen back into the same rut I always fall into—I started treating the writing I love like it was some sort of childish fantasy that couldn't possibly be real work.
If I love it, if it's fun, if it makes me feel amazing, then it can't possibly be work, right?
And if it isn't work, then when I do it I'm a slacker. I'm a failure. I'm a fraud.
I realized—as I sat in that chair and made myself vulnerable, as I opened myself up to the scrutiny of the room—that I have been hugely disrespectful to the work I love. And I've been rowing my boat against the stream, under the assumption that anything anything that comes easily and causes me to be happy and excited has to be the wrong direction. If I'm not struggling, then I'm not doing it right.
I also realized that I actually do love helping people build authority through writing, and helping them develop a daily writing habit. I love talking to people about their lives and their businesses. I love connecting with other entrepreneurs, and I love having something of value to offer them.
I love the Wordslinger Podcast, too. Love it. I wouldn't stop doing that for anything. It's my chance to connect with people who have fascinating lives and who are doing brilliant things. I get to learn from people who are doing work that is connected to their passion. I grow from that. And I get to share it with people every week, which makes me feel amazing. I can help people by exploring one of my passions. Who wouldn't love that?
What I realized in 15 minutes
So in 15 minutes (and three days of chatting and connecting and learning), I came to some pretty big conclusions about my life and career.
I realized that writing fiction is my passion, and I've been putting that on the back burner while I build an entirely different business.
I realized that I love helping people for the sake of helping them. I have no objections to or compunctions about making a profit from things that help other people, but my passion isn't in building a business solely around that work. That's something that evolves out of my own journey of discovery and growth. It isn't the reason I get out of bed in the morning—it's just a sided of effect of my "why."
I realized that it's the writer in me that makes me kind of "all over the place." Reading my resume is like reading a list of random job board postings. I've been all over the map. And the reason is that I have a passion for stories, for learning new things, and for expressing what I've learned. I've spent a lifetime misinterpreting that passion as "I do this now," rather than seeing it for what it really is. So, as a consequence, I've spent a lifetime making a career out of redefining my career.
The truth is, I did a huge disservice to my passion by being ashamed of it. And that has to stop.
So right now, my very public promise and commitment to you is this:
I will treat my passion with respect, and I will commit to building a career around writing and telling stories that matter to me and to my readers.
I will continue to help people who need encouragement, guidance, and advice for using writing to build and grow their business, and to fulfill their own dreams of writing full time. And I'll do it by creating tools and resources, courses and webinars, books and blog posts, podcasts and anything else I can think of that will bring real value to my audience—with one caveat.
I'll do all of that only if, and as long as, it aligns with my passion and my goals.
I'll do it out of love, or I won't do it at all.
So what does this mean for you?
You're amazing. And you're wonderful. Because you've been a part of this journey of mine as I figure things out and work out my own kinks and my own issues. And I'm not going to leave you to just wander in the wilderness.
My commitment to you is that I will continue to do all of the above, and I will continue to grow in my own career and my own passions, so that I have even more to share with you.
My commitment is that I will pursue my passion and learn as much as I can, and then share it with you with all the enthusiasm I have.
I commit to you that I will go live as amazing a life as I possibly can so I can show and tell you how to do the same.
That's the best I can offer. It's all I've got.
I'm going to write fiction, and I'm going to write non-fiction. So this blog, the podcast, the stuff I do in every corner of the internet—it's going to change just a bit. You're going to see more fiction-related stuff here in the blog, for starters, as well as the continued exploration of authority and expertise, writing and publishing, and anything else that I find fascinating and inspiring and feel driven to share.
The content I produce going forward has inspiration and growth and passion as it's unifying and underlying ideas. It may seem disjointed for a while, as I figure things out. But I promise you, it's connected. It's all part of one big story. My story. Our story.
So expect some hiccups.
I'm working with Nick Thacker to build a business around the non-fiction stuff. TumThack (see what we did there?) will eventually be the place where all of the non-fiction career and entrepreneur stuff will go. This site, including the blog, will be more about my own passions. There will be overlap, for sure. But I wanted to give people a clear path to the type of content they really want or need, so they can choose their own path.
The Wordslinger Podcast will stick around here for now, but eventually I want it to have its own unique presence on the web as well. I'll always have a link to it here on the site, as well as on the TumThack site. So you'll always be able to find it and be inspired, informed, and entertained.
And if you happen to love my fiction, you are so in luck. Because as a direct result of the 2015 Colony Summit, I am pulling out all the stops on that passion, and the results will be amazing.
Here are just a few things you can expect to see over the next three to five months:
- Optimized book covers—Every cover in my library is getting an overhaul. The aim is to make them more attractive, noticeable, and magnetic when they appear on the various book sites. I also want all of my books to have the same feel. You should know at a glance that you're reading a Kevin Tumlinson book.
- Optimized pitches—With the new covers, I want to make sure I have the pitches perfect. So I'm taking a page from Libbie Hawker's book Gotta Read It! and approaching all of my book pitches with an eye toward story structure.
- More fiction—I took a bit of a hiatus on writing fiction since January, and I regret it. But I'm making up for lost time by committing to churning out a daily word count for fiction again. Evergreen is ready for an edit, and I've started a new serialized story that I'll fully announce later. And, of course, there will be more Sawyer Jackson. All of these new books will benefit from the optimization strategies I'm putting in place.
- TumThack—I mentioned this already, but Nick Thacker and I are putting wheels on the road for this in a big way. Look for the first stirrings of it within a week or so. The website is in progress, the autoresponders are mostly written, and a list of other must-dos has already been generated. For those of you who want to write—either for a living or as part of your career building—you are going to want to tune in for this. You won't believe the stuff that's coming.
Watch this Space
Those are the basics. And they all mean big commitments from me to you.
Look for this space to become more dynamic as I grow into this. The site will become more focused on my fiction and storytelling. The podcast will stay the same format but will grow into its own brand. And TumThack will forge a new path for the entrepreneur and create all kinds of goodness.
I'm excited about this, and I hope you are too. It's going to mean a lot more value for you, in the end. It's going to open a way for both of us to explore our passions and fuel each other to success. I can't freaking wait.
Special thanks to Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant, and David Wright (in absentia) for what they pulled together. Thanks also to their team at Sterling & Stone, including Amy Schubert, Monica Leonelle, and Garrett Robinson.
All of you—amazing. I'm incredibly grateful for the minor existential crisis you triggered in me, and I can't thank you enough.
I'd also like to thank someone who wasn't actually at the summit, but still helped me out by talking me off the ledge! Francesca Hogi, one of my all-time favorite people, listened to me work through all of this and helped me breathe again. Thanks Franny. You're amazing.
Now ... let's get started. Go. Write. Now.