The Next Big Thing: Breaking the Rules

I have a congenital allergy to blog chains. But I’m loading up on as much pseudoephedrine as the pharmacist can legally sell me (no, I don’t run a meth lab) to participate in “Then Next Big Thing: My New Project” chain. I am to discuss my big writing project, then pass the task on to others.

Now the rules of these chains tend to get a bit fuzzy as they spread. My writer/blogger friend Cynthia Robertson posted one the other day and wrote that it began as a way to “help female authors promote their current work.” Well, I’m not female, and I haven’t yet published a book-length work. But I was invited by another writer/blogger friend Callie Feyen, so to channel my inner child, “Callie started it!” I break some more rules below my answers; I encourage you to skip to the end to see how if not interested in my “Next Big Thing.”


What is the working title of your book?

That’s easy: The Artist’s Road.

Longtime readers of this blog may remember the photo that was my banner background; it was sliced from this photo I took on my cross-country road trip, westbound on I-80 in southern Wyoming. Yes, I am driving while taking it. What of it? Do you see a lot of traffic?

Where did the idea come from for this book?

For once I can actually answer the “where did the idea come from” question! From driving across the U.S. interviewing artists of all types about creativity and living an art-committed life.

What genre does your book fall under?

Travel memoir. The first half I knew right away. It’s taken an MFA in Writing program to force me to understand the second half is also true.

How long did it take to write the first draft?

Good timing! I just finished the first draft a couple of weeks ago, after about two years. It is quite rough; I’m now in the revision process, where the real magic happens.

Which actors would you use for a movie rendition of your book?

As it’s a memoir, you’re asking who should play me. I would have said Brad Pitt before that silly Chanel commercial.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The Artist’s Road tells the story of how a failed creative, haunted by poor life decisions, found his way back to the path of an art-committed life through encounters with dedicated creatives on a cross-country road trip. Sound like this blog, anyone?

Will you be self-published or represented by an agency?

I have a literary agent, but have asked him to hold off on circulating a proposal until I fully complete the book. He’s been waiting awhile now.


OK, now the rule-breaking begins!

So I’m supposed to “pass it on.” I do so to one of the most loyal and thoughtful contributors to this blog’s comments section, the writer/author/adventurer PJ Reece and the always inspiring writer/blogger/creative-office-designer Annie Neugebauer. Watch for their posts soon. I also learned from friend and Vermont College of Fine Arts alum Sion Dayson that she invited me to participate in this a few weeks ago, and it seems I blew her off, citing a VCFA packet deadline. She politely reminded me of my rudeness when I invited her to participate yesterday. Oops! So here is Sion’s “Next Big Thing” post.

But as I often say, the strength of The Artist’s Road is its reader contributions. So consider yourself invited to participate! If you’re a blogger and have already done a “Next Big Thing” post, please include a link below. If you are a blogger and have not, feel free to post one yourself and cite me as the one who invited you. Or simply answer some of these questions directly in the comments box about your Next Big Thing. I’ll monitor my spam folder and make sure WordPress doesn’t think I’ve been attacked by link-including, text-hungry cybermarketers!

31 thoughts on “The Next Big Thing: Breaking the Rules

  1. Hey Patrick! Welcome to the blog chain! I love how you’ve broken the rules and will check the comments often to see what people are sharing. Looking forward to it.

    For the record, the word “rude” never entered my mind! A VCFA packet deadline is always a valid reason to limit other commitments. In fact, now that I don’t have packet deadlines anymore, I have sadly lost some of my discipline and spend way too much time reading people’s blogs now 🙂

    Congrats again on your first draft. I’m looking forward to hearing about your revision process next. I could always use tips on that!


    1. Hi Sion! Well, I call it rude, I appreciate your forgiveness of my sin. But yes, packet deadlines can be all-consuming. I wonder sometimes where I’ll find the discipline once I don’t have those deadlines. Perhaps as you figure things out I can learn from you.


  2. Hi there Patrick and thank you for the invitation to link. I do love bloggers who break rules. I’m not very good at keeping to them either and I like the way the blog chains change and develop as they go along. Good thinking. So, as you kindly suggest, I am linking back to my blog as I’ve already done The Next Big Thing.
    And good luck with your Next Big Thing. I look forward to reading all about your travels.


  3. Well, Mr. Patrick, if you’re gonna go with “Callie started it,” then how about this: I’m thinking about jumping into the Potomac later today. Wanna join me? C’mon! We can start the NEXT BIG THING!!!! DC BLOGGERS JUMP IN THE RIVER. It’ll be great.

    On a serious note, I really like your synopsis and have been honored to have read your earlier drafts. Congratulations on finishing the book!


  4. I already knew a little about your project, of course, but it is very nice to see it all spelled out here. I wish all bloggers would do this questionnaire. We spend so much time talking about writing, but many of us keep our actual projects tucked under our hats… it’s nice to connect a genre/book with those we know. 🙂 Thanks for tagging me; mine will be up this coming Monday!


  5. Good one, Patrick… and thanks (I think) for tossing the baton to me. I’m still deciding which WIP to comment upon. Perhaps I’ll go with one just beginning to foment in my wee brain. The exercise might help me crystallize my thoughts. Why, even now, I see a pilgrim stepping off a boat onto a strange new island and immediately seeing something exceedingly strange…


    1. You know, PJ, crystallizing my thoughts was one reason I decided to do this. I answered them quiz-show style when I wrote, in other words, didn’t stop to reflect. I wanted to see my comfort level with a project I’ve been working on for so long. I found I did have the comfort level I wanted. But I think it would be a great thought exercise for something still formulating.


  6. Are the meds working? I would hate to hear of your hospitalization with regards to a project that could be as fun as this one. I’m guessing stranger things have happened.

    I’m no longer a blogger and right now, my Next Big Project is figuring out why I’m in pain and spasming in convulsions that resemble someone who is attempting to get off hard core methamphetamines cold turkey about 60% of the time. In the meantime, I simply continue to paint shoes (on days I can) and live life. Once the hurkey-jerkey has been resolved (perhaps I convince people it’s the latest dance sensation in the interim?), or once things slow down with the Swanx – new paintings, people!

    I know, I broke the rules. I’m no longer a blogger, and shouldn’t have shared. Shame on me. I’m a flippin’ rebel. 😉


    1. I’m sure this recurring sneezing is completely unrelated, Amy.

      I don’t think I restricted it to bloggers, Amy; that’s why I invited space in the comments! But yes, you are still a rebel. I think it’s great that the shoe-painting is going well, but sorry to hear you are again having health issues; you’re in my thoughts!


      1. Aw, thanks Patrick! I’m tough, and I have an amazing fiancee with a medical background who’s helping me through this one. Its just a part of life, we’re working to figure it out/get past it. Actually, it seems that intensive massage therapy is helping the hurkey-jerkies – and now I’m in the pain stage. We think it is progressing in the right direction, just need to get past the pain (almost all muscular, at about a level 5 jumping to 8 or 9 at times on the pain scale) and things will be smooooth sailing again. 🙂


  7. Thanks for giving your readers a succint overview of your WIP. I love travel memoirs (as evidenced by my WILD review and love of Krakauer’s Into the Wild (though the latter ends badly/sadly). I look forward to reading yours, Patrick! Thanks also for giving your readers the chance to link back with their own WIP info. Like PJ, I’ll have to decide which one to discuss.


    1. Thank you, Terri! I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

      As to Into the Wild, it ends sadly, but you know that going in. What I liked about that book is that Krakauer is a journalist. He has a couple of chapters in the middle that are memoir, but they’re in there to let the reader know what it’s like to challenge death in the wild, and he kind of has to do that because he has so little concrete information on what the hiker actually did while in the woods. That was one of the books I studied in my MFA program. Wild I read on my own.


      1. I loved the way Krakauer used his own experience to, essentially, argue in favor of McCandless and, yes, flesh out Mc Candless’s possible motivations. I’d have loved to study the book with others as you did via your MFA program. I recall reading something else by Krakauer wherein he examined his need to climb/put himself into dangerous situations.

        I was actually thinking about the subject of your memoir last night. I began reclaiming my creative life back in the 90s … but, after several years of economic stress, found some of my views shifting. I wrote a short personal essay awhile back called “Portrait of the Artist as a Middle-Aged Woman” wherein I waxed a bit cynical. I look forward to reading about your journey and revelations.


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