Why I Wrote — And Published — Cold Rock

I am a writer, photographer, educator, and speaker. But more than any of those things individually or together, I am a strong advocate for all of us to accept the challenges we face daily and do our best to live an inspiring and fulfilling life.

I wrote and published Cold Rock because I believe in sharing this desire to live fully with as many people as I can. Everything about my writing, teaching, photography, and workshopping is meant to inspire others to recognize the beauty in living in the present; it is imperative that we embrace our individuality and be confident with who we are.

This is my latest book, first published in December 2011 as a print book. It quickly became an inspired reading shared across the country. I am really excited to release it as an eBook and share it with an even larger audience. It’s available on Amazon here, and I priced it as low as I possibly could (it’s just $2.99) to give everybody an opportunity to read it.

Many of the subjects in Cold Rock deal with really tough issues — bullying, sex abuse, depression and even suicide. I wrote about these topics because they are out there — not exclusively in the churches, or in our neighborhoods, or in our schools. They are in all of these places, and so many more. We need to have the courage to stand up to these atrocities, help those in need, and find the strength within ourselves to believe in Love, to believe in each other, to believe in living an inspired and fulfilling life.

It wasn’t easy to write about these topics, and I don’t mean to single out any single group (such as religious leaders) or mental illness (such as depression); rather, these are representatives of the larger issues we face every day. They are in our past, and they often reveal themselves in our present; we need to do our best to combat them with strength, self-confidence, and love.

Some of the incidents in Cold Rock did happen to me, on various levels. It was especially hard to write about them, but the driving force in me to do so was to open the door for others to do the same: find the courage, confront the obstacles and the atrocities, and live a fulfilling and loving life.

Many of the things I do today support this mission. I run a nonprofit group called LinesofLove.org, which is an outreach program for teens and young adults struggling with anxiety and depression.

Smash365.com is one of my latest projects. It is a culmination of decades of research and writing in spirituality and living life fully. My creative partner, Cara Moulds, and I write daily creativity prompts to help others just like you and me SMASH our fears and live inspired lives. Our prompts are challenging, but they are also free. And they always will be. We hope they provide individuals the chance to experience their journey through life with passion and happiness.

Finally, there’s MarylandVoices.com, an ever-transforming journal of literary advocacy focused on publishing cutting-edge creative nonfiction that tackles taboo issues like the ones I confront in Cold Rock. I encourage you strongly to get involved at your local level and advocate for fairness, equality, and social justice.

I received my MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College, and I am available for speaking engagements and workshops in writing (specializing in journaling and writing memoir), photography, publishing, and inspired living. Follow me daily at rusvw.net/blog, and feel free to contact me directly at rusvw13@gmail.com.

I believe in you. I believe in the power of Love. I believe we all have a chance to make the choices that will change this world. Contact me. Let’s get started on making a difference within ourselves first, and then with the rest of our communities in general.

Rus

Is Brevity Replacing A Writer’s Sensibility?

Writers are being forced to think too much these days (I think), and they are facing a danger that is both very real and damaging to the relationship between reader and writer.

Because of the changes in how we spend our time reading stories, not to mention how we read them in the first place, writers are working desperately to keep a captive audience — not an easy thing to do with so much writing now available so freely and immediately.

Do I focus on search-engine optimization (SEO)? What about word count? What does my target audience (who is that anyway anymore?) really want?  What is going to hold my reader more than 90 seconds, when their finger is perched precariously on the tip of the mouse, ready to click me into oblivion as the search continues for something more entertaining?

With the exception of SEO and the ease of maneuvering from one piece of writing to the next, all with a click of the mouse, the questions I pose for writers above are no different than what writers have been asking themselves for decades. We still want to write for an audience that understands what we are saying, even if they don’t necessarily agree with it.

But how to do that?

It is precisely due to the ease of leaving your work that makes writers more desperate to hold on to your attention. Before blogs and search engines and RSS feeds, we just had to tease them enough to buy the darn thing. Once they got it in their hands, they gave us a fair chance — maybe a few chapters or up to 100 pages — before they made a decision to keep on reading or line the birdcage with its ripped-out pages.

In that desperation, I think we are sacrificing sensibility, the very essence of a writer’s passion for writing the piece in the first place. We are so concerned about getting to the point very quickly that we do not allow our purpose, our intent, to build in the story.

This is why, I think, we are seeing “flash fiction” and similar nonfiction subgenres continuing to emerge as a legitimate form of writing. How quickly can you get to your point and share that sensibility before you reach your last-allowed 750th word? At times, I feel like I’m reading stories that are more suited to fit in the microwave-ready Lean Cuisine dish.

Sure, these stories/meals are good on-the-go, but is it really possible to establish and sustain long-lasting and filling themes with such a diet?

As I wrap up the final edits on my book that goes to the printer next week for a December 9th release, I know that one of the best things going for me is that the story is short — a mere 51,000 words that barely pushes the 200-page mark.

But I am also making sure that, to the best of my ability, I didn’t compromise sensibility in keeping it short.

I guess it comes down to this. Go ahead and microwave my story, but please set aside the afternoon to enjoy the sliced turkey and corn niblets. I hope that what I have to share takes a little time to digest. 🙂