Monday, October 29, 2012

On Dreams and Being Wrecked...

As I was browsing webpages some time ago, I came across a site which featured a blogger - a writer of sorts. Being one who enjoys reading articles from time to time, I found this writer's ideas and blog posts compelling and moving. I think one of the first articles I've read off his blog was about travelling. Who, you might ask, is this particular writer? It's Jeff Goins!

Since reading that first article, I followed his blog and signed up for his newsletter. To anyone aspiring to be a writer, I suggest following this guy at his website. He's written a few books on writing, namely The Writer's Manifesto and You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One). Just recently, he was also able to publish a book on living the life we're afraid to live - Wrecked. With a new book, Jeff wanted to conduct an online book tour and I'm lucky enough to have the opportunity to conduct an interview with him about his blog, how he started writing, and about his books. Read on for the interview. :)

(Start of Interview)
Vampiejen (VJ): Hey Jeff! Welcome to virtual Philippines! Haha! Just kidding! Let's start this interview by covering your blogging work before diving into your writing, what pursuing one's passions should be like in today's world, and of course, your new book Wrecked.
So, how and why did you start blogging and setting up your platform on writing?

Jeff Goins (JG): I started blogging because I was jealous - jealous of all the "other guys" who were building large platforms and weren't, in my opinion, very good writers. I decided to start a platform that hopefully would honor the craft, that would speak to the dissatisfaction that most writers feel.
In the process, I learned that I wasn't as good of a writer as I thought, that those big bloggers knew a few things about writing that I didn't: namely, how to gain a reader's attention.
Now, I try to fill the gap between writers who write just to write and bloggers who want to be heard. I think we can learn a thing or two from both sides.

VJ: What do you think is the role of blogging and other micro-blogging sites (i.e. twitter) in today's world?
JG: Everyone wants to be heard, to be understood. And now, nobody has an excuse to not get their message out to the masses. The real question is, which ones are worth listening to? Ultimately, the cream will rise to the top.

VJ: How did you start writing? When did you know that this was your calling or this would be your vocation?
JG: I started writing when I was in middle school, maybe earlier. First, my writing mostly comprised of stories of gargoyles and dinosaurs. Then when I got into playing music, I started writing poems and songs. Eventually, in college, I got into writing nonfiction.
I knew this was my calling when I was afraid to call myself a writer. When I finally did, everything changed.

VJ: Tell us more about your earlier published works on writing. What did you plan to accomplish from these works (e.g. The Writer's Manifesto, You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One))?
JG: The Writer's Manifesto is just that: a manifesto for writers, a call to arms. It's a challenge to embrace writing simply for the pure love of it. It's short, to-the-point, and free (as most manifestos should be).
You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One) was my attempt to answer all the solicitations for advice I receive. It's my best tips for how to become a writer and succeed in this age of information.

VJ: In You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One), you encouraged your readers to follow their passions, whatever these may be. Can you tell us how you successfully pursued yours? What steps, in general, did you take in order to achieve your dreams?
JG: Well, first I acted, which is something many people overlook. How do you do what you love? Start doing it. I'm amazed at how many people want to be writers some day and currently aren't writing.
An equally important part to taking action is believing in yourself. Even if you have to fake it at first, confidence is essential to doing your best work.
Lastly, I think having a community around you to encourage and challenge you is essential. This can be a blog readership or group of friends or even your family, but a non-negotiable is you have to trust that they'll tell you the truth - no matter what. Otherwise, you'll always wonder if you're doing the right thing.

VJ: So, tell us more about your new book, Wrecked. What is it all about?
JG: Wrecked is about the life we're afraid to live. It's a life full of sacrifice and service that we discover in an unlikely place: the pain of the world. We don't find our purpose by simply getting everything we want (because who knows what they really want, after all?); we find it by laying down our lives for others.

VJ: Coming from your nonfiction works on writing, what compelled you to write Wrecked, a book with a somewhat different message? What was your inspiration in writing this?
JG: I wrote it because it needed to be written. This is the reason I write anything: not to appeal to a specific niche or genre, but because I feel called to write. I also hoped writing Wrecked would show people that I'm more than the guy who writes about writing.

VJ: In the Philippines, a lot of people live in poverty. This is a known fact that we are trying to alleviate. What measures do you suggest for people, Filipinos in particular, to wreck themselves in order to help alleviate this problem?
JG: Take a walk around your neighborhood. Go meet your neighbors. There are usually needs very close to you, and compassion begins with opening your eyes. The opportunities to help are closer than you realize.

VJ: You are living in the U.S. and it is very much encouraged in your culture to follow your dreams, i.e. the American dream. What would you then advise others, like people here in the Philippines, where the culture is more conservative or values practicality more? I mean, there are only a handful of Filipino writers who make it big, especially internationally.
JG: I think we've been spoiled by this thinking in America - so much so that people overlook the importance of apprenticeship and learning under the tutelage of an expert. My encouragement to anyone in any culture who has dreams is to first serve someone else's dream. Helping people is a great way to learn, and it also helps you clarify what you do and don't want to do.
This might mean, for example, that if you want to be a writer that you find a way to help someone who's already doing that. Maybe you do research for an author or volunteer your time to a journalist. The point is for you to get some real, practical experience and see what a professional does.

VJ: Final thoughts! Do you have a message to us Filipinos? What future works can we expect from you?
JG: Thank you. I have many online friends who are Filipinos. You have an admirable work ethic and diligent spirits; I'm inspired by you. For those who are interested in finding their passions and turning them into a career, look out; I've got a special project coming soon.

VJ: Thank you for this wonderful interview opportunity, Jeff! Good luck in your future endeavors and God bless!
(End of Interview)

There you have it - a sneak into the journey of Jeff Goins as a writer/blogger. For more of Jeff, visit his website at http://goinswriter.com/.


Also, check out his new book, Wrecked. I don't think it's available here in the Philippines though, so you can purchase it through Amazon or Barnes&Noble. I've read the book and it has made me want to move into action. :)

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