I CAN Live With or Without You… Insight from Martha

I have a bit of a grudge with American television, movies, and popular music when it comes to the issue of romantic love.  Most of the songs you’ll hear, for example, suggest this kind of crazy notion: “I can’t live if living is without you.”  Themes that feature ideas like “you complete me” are blatant lies.  Not only can you live and be complete without a partner, if you expect anyone to save your life or complete you, you’re guaranteed to end up in the bitter recrimination that ends so many relationships.

If you want the truly magical experience that romantic love can be, start where we always start: clean up your mind. This doesn’t mean ridding your mind of sexual thoughts.  Quite the opposite.   It means getting rid of any idea that an external circumstance, like being in a relationship, is responsible for determining whether you are happy or not. Once you know you’re complete, you are fully available for the wonder of discovering life and yourself through the experience of falling in love.  This is literally like a drug trip.  Your brain on love puts out so many delicious hormones that you’ll be stoned for a good two years.  Knowing that this is part of the life you have created frees you to adore your beloved without grasping or fear, and you are able to absorb the challenges or losses you may experience without being devastated.  Our crazy codependent culture notwithstanding, falling in love is probably the best reason to be human.  

Martha Beck and Seth Godin discuss the future of publishing

(Pam Slim here once again to give you a sneak peek into a discussion between Martha and Seth Godin.  Both are doing a lot of thinking about the future of the publishing industry, as well as the emerging role of author as coach and leader. Enjoy, and please share your reactions in the comments below!)



Drawing and painting were used to convey images before photography, so representational art was considered most valuable.  When photography was invented, realistic images could be replicated easily and accurately, so the value of drawing/painting as representation collapsed.  Impressionism and other non-representational genres emerged as “valuable” art.

For centuries, the only way you could hear a musical piece written by a certain musician was to write down the music note for note and get another musician to play it exactly as the first one had. When recording equipment was invented, replication was easy and accurate.  Immediately, jazz and other improvisational forms became highly valuable.

You see where I’m going with this, right?  Since Gutenberg, the printed book was the cheapest, quickest way to transfer a large block of written work.  With Internet technology making replication quick and cheap, publishers everywhere are seeing themselves become unnecessary.

Question:  What is the literary equivalent of impressionism or jazz?

Because that’s what’s going to become valuable in what has always been the book world.  I have a few ideas of my own, but I’m dying to hear your take on this.



Painting and music moved in two different directions because of technology.

Painters discovered that in order to succeed, they needed to become more human, more emotional and less like cameras. Pushing to the cutting edge and being personal were the two ways painters thrived over the last hundred years. When you see a painting, you probably know who made it.

Musicians discovered that in order to succeeded, they needed to create music that would spread, recordings that would be shared and talked about and bought in bulk. They didn’t write on commission for the king, they wrote for the radio. Ideas that spread, win.

Writers are discovering that a book that tells people how to do something is obsolete. Knowledge no longer needs to live in an arcane format like a book. And facts are free, because they spread easily.

So, writing that is worth paying for is either encased in a souvenir-like rarity, like a limited edition, or a reading or a conference…or it’s delivered quickly and personally so that the convenience and exclusivity is worth a premium or it’s personal and direct… almost bespoke.

The last is the biggest opportunity. Our tribes need leaders. We need people who will assemble and introduce and connect and lead. People who will help us get to where we want to go. Writing (at least a certain kind of writing) is now more like coaching or governing or teaching. And there’s a real shortage of that and we’ll happily pay to be part of this tribe if someone will only step up and lead us.

Seth Godin blogs at www.sethgodin.typepad.com. His new book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? hits shelves today.

I’m Creaning Up My Mind in 2010

Hello, dreamy friends! As you know from our frequent conversations, I’m a HUGE lover of Asian philosophy (though I am trying to take off a few pounds).  Finding the world’s wisest book, the Tao te Ching, was one of the two good things that came from my naive college decision to major in Chinese, a read more…