Egg, meet face (or, “What the hell happened to my November and where the hell we’re going in 2009”)

This is the part where I look like an asshole.

That novel? Didn’t happen. Not over Thanksgiving, not in 30 days, not not not. I don’t see it happening in the near future, either, and not because it’s hard to see what’s coming down the pike through all this egg on my face.

I had a long talk about the novel during my last Seattle trip with my Hillbilly-Jewish Cousin. We talked about fear (did I have any around writing this book) and love (did I love the idea of writing this book).

Fear? No.

I’m not afraid of writing a book, and I’m certainly not afraid about being upfront with the gnarly details of living with Crohn’s disease. I love the idea of a book that potentially adds to the greater good (and is hilarious) rather than a book (even if it is hilarious) that adds to the coffers of me and some publishing house and, down the road, if we’re lucky, and the stars align, a movie studio.

Not that I have anything against money! (More, much, much more, on that later this month.) Money is awesome! It lets you do stuff. It gives you choices. At its best, it’s magical, time-shifted energy: an ingenious, asynchronous exchange of me for you. And you know what? After many years of misanthropy and almost as many of self-loathing, I really like both of us: we’re awesome, just like money! In fact, we are money, as the man said when he was still young, slim and unafflicted by the burden of too much energy-as-money and no good way to channel it into something meaningful.

But love? Ah. Love is a different story.

I have love in my heart for this fictional girl and her story, and for all real girls still in the process of writing their own real stories. Last week, I spent some more time with a group of women who totally get that: Keren Taylor and the amazing volunteers and mentors at WriteGirl, who work with girls from at-risk situations and turn them into fire-breathing powerhouses of take-no-prisoners fabulosity.

Well, actually, they use writing as a way to help the girls strengthen their voices and understand what it’s like to feel empowered, as well as doing tangible stuff like getting them into print and into college. If you’re looking for a great place to dump some of your extra time or money, you could do a lot worse than forking it over to Keren and WriteGirl. More on that and other great places to rid yourself of that pesky extra money (Vince Vaughan, are you listening?) later this month, as well.

What the hell was I doing, then, in this month off from writing publicly? A whole lot of thinking. And hashing out. And bouncing stuff off of various trusted resources. I laid out my fears and hopes and baby dreams, my ideas and tentative to-do list, my wildly burdensome sackful of unfulfilled obligations and bad karmic debts.

Here’s what I found: I am only interested in what I am interested in. And I cannot be interested in spending one second of the 40-some-odd years I have left (if I’m lucky) doing something that compromises my own voice.

I get that for as many champions as I had at the publishing house for those first few sample chapters filled with poop and laughs, I had an equal amount of detractors, and I get why: it was filled with at least as much poop as it was laughs, and that is starkly terrifying for some people. The truth, and certainly my truth (which, in fairness to me, is what I’d been asked to share), but no less terrifying for being so.

It is scary to sign on for the truth; it can be imprudent. Risk is always, um, risky. That’s why it’s called “risk,” right? Risk can seem especially risky in uncertain economic times. Unfortunately, there is no real living without risk. No growth, no change and certainly, no love.

So for now, I am going to be That Asshole who is not following up on the incredibly unusual, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to float a novel out there at the request of an Actual Publisher. I have a plan, though, for a lot of other cool, growth-oriented, change-promoting, fabulosity-increasing stuff. A BIG plan, which will start to unfold in posts on this very site over the course of December and through the next year.

  • I’m going to start sharing more excellent resources here, like I do in my beloved (by me and a growing number of readers) newsletters.
  • I’m going to lighten the fuck up a little, like I used to do, because sweet baby jesus on a bouncing kangaroo, if ever we needed more lightness, we need it now.
  • I’m going to post more plain, old useful tutorials here, about communications tools and how to feel the opposite of useless and maybe even ways of attracting a little more plain, old-fashioned love into your life. Because the more of us who are making meaningful contact and changing the world with our unique gifts and yes, goddammit, getting laid, the better off we’re going to be.

I’m also going to be dramatically shifting the direction of my work-for-hire life. And making it public, and maybe even soliciting your help in getting the word out. Because (say it with me) MONEY IS AWESOME! and while my now almost-year-long almost-sabbatical has been awesome in its own way, it’s time to get down with the facts that: (a) I can’t do everything for free forever; and (b) if I can support myself in a modest way that also allows for the flexibility of a great deal more travel, I can get out there in the real world like I did in October and November, and meet more of you in person, Southwest be damned!

In the meantime, since you’re a loyal reader of the blog (or one of the few lost souls who has found his way here looking for something of an entirely different nature, and so you know, that last link is 100% not safe for work), I’m going to share with you a work-in-progress preview of my formal “Hire Colleen!” page:

Colleen’s Super-Secret, Hire-the-Communicatrix Page

I will still be available for design work in 2009, but only for a select few projects and only after we’ve gone through an initial consulting thingamajiggy. I’m a fair-to-middling designer, good, even, when inspired. Thing is, I’ve been inspired less and less to use my design skills and more and more to do what I truly love: to help provide marketing focus to overwhelmed, go-getting, world-changing rockstars, particularly by showing you how to manage the increasingly complex (but brilliantly cheap and flexible) social media space.

Again, as with so much of this, more on that later. But really, for the first time in well over a year, I’m really clear on what I want to be doing, and thus really, REALLY excited about doing it.

With a vengeance.

With bells on.

With all the excitement and fervor and, let’s face it, sense of urgency that starting a major phase of work life at age 47 entails.

I thank you for the amazing support I’ve received so far. I hope to take it less for granted moving forward, and to do more stuff that is more fun and more useful for you and the rest of the world (a.k.a. those people who don’t know about us yet).

Finally, if you have any thoughts, ideas or questions, tutorials you’d like me to write, issues you’d like me to address, please do leave them in the comments, or if they’re of a very personal nature, you can email them to me via the gmail.

I cannot WAIT for all of this to start. And fortunately, I don’t have to. Because it just did…


Image by Carolyn Coles via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. Holy smokes, C, you ARE living out loud, and not the earplugs necessary kind, either. My top three tutorial requests:
    you mention the “start where you are” approach to using social media; what do you mean and how can i get this you-aren’t-doing-enough-fast-enough monkey off my ass?
    what are your top “stay accountable” tips?
    is there a glossary for this “lighten the fuck up” thing you mentioned above? I’m lost on this one.

    Thank you in advance and after the fact for sharing your greatness with us.

  2. My financial plan for 2009 includes applying for buyouts at companies where I’ve never actually been employed. Sooner or later, I’ll fall through the clerical cracks and then I’ll be on Easy Street. The expensive part of Easy Street. Not down by the trailer park.

  3. In honor and support of the great ideas and planned changes around here, I’m going to invest my 401K in @communicatrix right now to support her!

    (It what? It is? That’s ALL?!)

    Ah-hem — to show my delighted support to @communicatrix, I am going to look all over this site for something I can buy from her!

    (I don’t? But what about my — ? They’re not? Not even the Macy’s card?)

    Uh-huhk — Um… to show my pitiful-but-devoted support for one of the few things that makes a reader worth reading and a site worth visiting and a blog worth commenting in — and I do mean @communicatrix — I’m going to find a goodamn tip jar somewhere on this charming site and fill it like mad!

    (Uh, can you change a fiver?)

    Let the tithing begin!

    (Keep up the good work.)

  4. GirlPie – All tips welcome, regardless of size or medium of exchange. But you did give me an idea in that department. So there you go, and thanks!

    Alissa – Actually, YES. Although I would recommend that you just sign up for a booster shot now and then.

    Dana the SPICY – I don’t know which I love more: that you backed me up on the MONEY IS AWESOME thing, or that you totally made fun of New Age-y crap. No, wait–yes, I do.

  5. Love the money. Love the CoCo. Love the Secret “hire me” page. And the other page. Awesome stuff. And love to have a sister in the “said no to a major publishing house” world (because I can safely say there’s plenty to do on your own–on your own TIME–beyond that offer). You certainly know there’s no point to “what might’ve been”-s in the way you spend your next 40 (god willing) years and I love that you live out loud and with no regrets. Or at least none you can’t work out with your words.

    So, on my wish list:

    You linked this as a “personal one” and that is my core issue, lately. How much of personal is public and vice-versa? How much is healthy to put out there vs. keep closer in and still be seen as accessible and open and available to your public?

    And OH for the love of GAWD, how do you answer the same GD email for the 3000th time without coming off like a dick?


    I’m so happy for, proud of, filled with joy for you. Always. XO

  6. This is really exciting! I can’t wait to see the awesome things you are going to do!

    As for me, I’m interested in hearing what you have to say about interpersonal communication in addition to marketing-type communication. But that’s just because that’s my schtick — talk about what you’re excited about. (Duh.)

    Rock on!

  7. C,

    You could tell us you’re off to enjoy Balut in the Philippines and we would be here when you get back. You could go run with bulls in Pamplona and we would still be here when you get back (if you get back), no matter what you decide to do, we’re here for you (ya know, since you always come back to us).

    Live, laugh, love & by the way, Nice eggs! ;)

  8. “Money is cool, I’m only human, but they use it as a tool to make the workers feel excluded.” — Aesop Rock

    * * *

    My first impression centers on mild confusion, and understanding, if you’ll pardon it. Confusion over “why does she limit potentiality to ‘about dealing with this burden or hardship when she seems capable of writing well about anything’ and Understanding because it seems the publishing house knows exactly what they want. Now, I’m schizophrenic, and I’ll be damned if I ever read “Surviving Schizophrenia.”

    I don’t know your business nearly as well as you, however IMO your channeling energy into thoughts of ‘karmic debts’ and ‘energy-as-money’ might see brighter light channeled into writing 250 words everyday (or one double-spaced page) for a ‘regular’ novel, abstracting your own health issue for something more universal, because after all, isn’t that what the publishing house really wants, even if they don’t know it? You clearly have a lot of positive energy, and with chronic illness that says a whole lot. I can’t say the same for myself, but I will surely watch “Into the Wild” or read “Steppenwolf” before I read “Surviving Schizophrenia.”

    Spoken, my daily peace,

  9. Bon – The dirty little not-so-secret of this site is that almost every post here is a “personal” one. Still, I stand by my categories (for now), although I do need to get a better navigational system up. Some combo of tags and dated archives, for the truly mad.

    As to the issues, they are grrreat ones for blog posts, and I will put them on the list of things to address.

    Pace – Thanks for the idea! I suspect there may be more of that in store. But really, I feel like even if it’s not explicit, the interpersonal communication and marketing communication have a lot of commonalities and similar, foundational underpinnings.

    Deidre – Thank you for the support! There’s a fine line between helpful disclosure and batshit-crazy lunatic girl. Glad to hear I’m still walking the right side of it (for now, anyway.)

    Angie – I do always come back. And I know you know that when I go away, it’s just to bring more good stuff back with me. Information and knowledge are pretty useless unless they’re shared.

    Jesse – Lots–and lots–to think about in what you shared here. I thank you.

    Truth be told, I have zero interest in writing a novel right now, period. That’s part of the problem. If some house had approached me about writing a collection of creative nonfiction (aka “essays”, aka the shit I try to write here), it might have been a different story. I took a stab at the YA novel b/c (a), I was flattered (who gets asked to write a novel, even for free?) and (b), I feel a heavy sense of obligation, as I’ve mentioned, to share knowledge.

    The 250-words-per-day plan is really the simplest, best one I’ve heard yet. Not as sexy as writing a book in a weekend, but eminently more doable and practical.

  10. Colleen:

    As flattering as it must be to have an Actual Publisher request a book from you, you have a pretty good handle on what that actually would mean in terms of your daily life.

    It’s a trade-off. Everything that entails acquiring money is. Do you owe them anything because you gave them some sample chapters? Hell no. If the Cosmic Scales of Happiness tip in your favor more by not writing the book, then them’s the berries. If they really want you to finish the book, they’ll give you the leeway to do it on your own terms. Or screw ’em.

  11. Bob – I wish I could inspire you with the short ones more often, believe me. :-)

    Mark – Agreed. Although maybe without the “screw ’em” part. They really are quite nice. Timing is just off.

    If I can just get really, really famous, something tells me we can make it work for all of us…

  12. eggless faces are highly overrated!

    as one who is two months away from going back to work after a year off i can’t stop dreading all the “what did you DO???” questions. well meaning, i’m sure, but i’d rather not have to answer them. you do it publicly and for that, you’re awesome. as awesome as money, even!

  13. Joan – You have seen these mythical, eggless faces? I thought they were the stuff of urban legend.

    Please update the group with your final choice(s) for snappy rejoinders. Inquiring smartasses want to know!

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