Taking a risk

I just had lunch with a good friend who is in the middle of trying to raise money for her startup business. Her description of the fundraising process sounded exactly like a freelance writer trying to get published. In fact, she used the term “authorpreneur” in describing one aspect of her business. That’s me!

What both she and I are trying to do is to get someone else – in her case, an investor; in my case, an editor – to take a risk on our story.

Luckily, we both have connections and networks from our past lives that can help us get in front of the right people. But what then? In her case, her story doesn’t have the sexiness of a 19-year-old boy-genius geek with hot new technology that will change the world, man. (In fact, there are no boys at all in her story.) She’ll have to find a different hook.

We talked about how most people are followers, even if they imagine themselves to be leaders. In her case, she’s trying to get few *real* risk-takers on board, after which (she hopes!) it will become easier to get the ones who imagine themselves as risk-takers to follow. In short, she’s looking for her big break.

To be successful, both of us need to be very well prepared, create a measure of luck for ourselves, and above all, be tenacious as hell. It’s not easy to get a relative stranger to take a risk on you.

Writing, nostalgia and details

My article on diving Malaysian Borneo is up on Matador Networks. Enjoy.

Writing this piece was at once cathartic (the first draft exceeded 3000 words!) and nostalgic. I just celebrated my one-year anniversary of becoming a divemaster (Nov 30) and starting work at Scuba Junkie (December 10, I think). Last year at this time I was a newbie DM sharing a shitty little room with Rob, a sweet guy who helped me build up my confidence as a DM. Thanks, Rob!

Just a few weeks later I was a badass DM, guiding freshly-minted divers at Sipadan on Xmas day wearing a Santa hat.

Pulling together the info for this piece and the others I’ve been working on has only reinforced a lesson I learned from James Sturz during a travel writing course I took at MediaBistro a few years back: Great writing is about details. You must write travel pieces immediately, or you’ll forget all the important colorful stuff. You’ll lose immediacy. It’s better to know what story you will write *before* you go somewhere, so you know what details to take down. Etc. Etc.

I’ve discovered that I’m not delighted with what I write from my pitiful notes and memory. It isn’t bad, but it’s not as great as I want it to be.

All this makes me want to go back out into the world again.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to this weekend’s snowstorm. If it’s going to be freezing cold, we might as well have snow!

Unsettling in

I was away for 17 months, and I’ve been back in the US for about 2 1/2. My settling back in has been unsettled. I’ve had many moments of joy, mostly around seeing friends & family. I’ve caught myself being seduced by my old New York lifestyle, checking Craigslist for full-time jobs and the price of one-bedroom apartments. But these moments are mere punctuations in the stream of blandness that is the fixed life. I ache for hikes in Russia and Mongolia, or for diving in Malaysia and Indonesia.

I still feel like an alien in my own country. And not in a good way.

I spent 17 months backpacking, which by definition means I didn’t buy very much stuff. I worried over every purchase, assessing weight, multi-utility, absolute need and my ever-shrinking savings account.

Ten weeks into my return to the US, the holiday season is in full swing. This year’s storyline is a pitched battled between the continuing financial crisis and the sellers of iPads, Snuggies and (this still kills me) Lexuses. Incessant advertisements insist that we must buy these things – to prove our love, to show Christmas spirit, because everyone else is doing it. The heathen consumer-fest of the December holidays in America is a cliché, but for me this year it’s so much more stark and repulsive.

To combat the fixed-life, holiday blues, I’m trying to write more, send out more story pitches, and take every action I can to continue my range life.

Stay tuned.