Recently, I saw an article on how robotics have changed over the years and what ethical issues will likely arise. It started me thinking about how life can take unexpected turns but can still lead towards our goals and dreams, just not in the way we expected. How does an article about robotics and ethics relate to unexpected paths toward our dreams? Well…
A writing buddy of mine, Sean Welsh, recently finished his PhD in robot ethics. As part of his research, he has published several articles on the topic and has developed quite the name for himself. To everyone’s excitement in my local writing circles, his activities has lead to a book deal with one of the Big Five on this very topic — do to be released in November 2017.
I’ll gladly admit that I’m a little jealous (I’ve even told him that), but I also couldn’t be more excited for him.
Sean has told me on numerous occasions that he never thought that his claim to fame would be through his views on the ethics surrounding robotics. Like me, Sean writes fantasy and other fiction. He has countless manuscripts on the go and many of them have now been shelved in favour of this non-fiction book deal that he has on his hands. I know he will eventually pull those fiction manuscripts out again but exactly when is anyone’s guess. And I know he’s still writing fiction while working his ass off to finish the non-fiction for the publisher. During our most recent conversation, my mention of genetics and the chimera research projects sparked an idea in his head that he just had to rush off and write before he forgot it.
(I just love it how writers often bounce ideas off each other and draw inspiration from one another.)
If I look at my own recent activities, I can gladly say that my own path has taken a side road — one just as fun.
Because of my science background, I’ve landed myself a regular radio talk show about science. Will that lead to a book deal with one of the Big Five? Umm… Highly unlikely, but there are other opportunities that could stem from the radio show and I’m willing to consider them all.
I was asked to create a video series on the software program that I use for writing. At the time, I wanted to cower away from the amount of work that it was going to take for very little reward, but I did it anyway. Well, I’m glad it did, because those videos have landing me a presenting contract at one of the national writing conferences later in the year. (I’m not allowed to divulge exactly which conference it is just yet. The conference coordinators want to make the announcement as to who the presenters are all at once. Still… So exciting!)
And of course, there’s all my activities with social media marketing and webdesign. I never thought that I would head down that road. Let’s face it, the technology associated with large scale social media marketing and web traffic analysis didn’t exist when I was studying at university. (If it did, it certainly wasn’t an option available in New Zealand. In fact, I’m not sure if it’s an option available now.)
I have gone out of my way to learn what I need to for my own sites and marketing activities, but because of who I am, I’m more than willing to pass on the information, helping others to get ahead themselves. It’s not like it’s proprietary information. I just have the technical mindset needed to get my head around it, and the ability to explain things in a way that all can understand without feeling dumb. (It’s probably one of the reasons that I was asked to do the radio show on science.)
Of course, this desire to share my hard-earned knowledge with others has lead to a non-fiction manuscript that I’m currently writing on how to build a writer’s platform for very little cost. It will contain information about how to use Twitter, Facebook and the some of the other social media sites, but it will also contain some of the basics about webdesign and blogging, providing tips on how to do it all on a near-zero budget. It will be my first published book, aiming to publish in August of this year.
It certainly wasn’t the book that I had intended to publish first, and I never thought I would be looking at indie-publication. I still want to publish my fictional works through traditional paths, but as I delve more and more into the publishing world, I’m coming to understand this thing called niche-market publishing.
As a consequence, I’ve started my own publishing house, specializing in “How To” books. There are already three books slated for publication within the next two years and not all of them are written by me.
And this coming from the person who swore she would not self-publish. I have a massive learning curve ahead of me, but I’m up for the challenge.
Like Sean Welsh, my own writing career has taken interesting turns, ones that I never expected. But there is no point in resisting the road that has been placed in front of us. Both of us have embraced our paths and walk them gladly.
You can find out more about Sean Welsh’s work on robot ethics here.
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© Copyright, Judy L Mohr 2017