I rarely read non-fiction for a couple of reasons. First and foremost it takes me a long time to read a non-fiction book. I can generally only manage a few pages a sitting which my pea brain must then absorb before I can go back and try to glean some more wisdom from the same source. The second reason is my ability to remember anything seems to have deserted me in the last couple of years. While I may read something deep and memorable I want to hold onto and take with me, in a very short time it’s simply gone.
However, in my attempt to figure out things currently foreign to me, such as how one goes about creating a successful marketing campaign for one’s independently published e-Books, I picked up a handful of books I thought might be helpful. One of those was Ignore Everybody And 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod of www.gapingvoid.com fame.
I’d never heard of Hugh Macleod, his book or his web site before, but I am now a fan. I read his book in two days. Why? It’s easy to read. The chapters are only a few pages long and his cartoons are peppered throughout. He’s chosen a sort of bullet-point presentation style. He gets in, makes his point and moves on. The book is 149 pages long. He doesn’t waste time or paper saying anything that doesn’t need to be said or saying it six times in different ways.
Since I’m at a point in my career where there are so many voices the conventional wisdom indicates I should be listening to, I’d recently decided the only voice I should be listening to was my own. Which is much the point Ignore Everybody makes. You alone are responsible for your career, your choices, your fate. You hold the key in your hand. You could be wrong, you could be right, but if you go with your gut, that’s usually the best way to go. Stop listening to everyone else. Dare to do something different. Don’t worry about whether it will make money or be successful in the eyes of the world. If you’re driven to create then do it!
Something I found truly amusing was a line in Chapter 20 which is entitled “Sing in your own voice.” There’s a list of famous artists who weren’t good at certain things within the art form they’re known for. I laughed out loud when I read this one: “Dylan can’t sing or play guitar.”
Why did I find this so amusing? Because for eight years I’ve worked at a local Starbucks where a variety of music is played, much of it not to my taste. I can’t control the music choices, but I can skip certain playlists. Dylan seems to be a recurring favorite and I’d commented once again a few nights previously that someone needed to tell him he couldn’t sing. Which is not to say he isn’t a great songwriter. To quote MacLeod, “Had Bob Dylan been more of technical virtuoso, he might not have felt the need to give his song lyrics power and resonance.”
Ignore Everybody…resonated with me and reinforced much of what I already knew. Maybe it will do the same for you.