Letter From The Editor – What Happens When You Can’t Enjoy Your Writer’s Journey


Letter From The Editor

What Happens When You Can’t

Enjoy Your Writer’s Journey

-May 11th, 2015-

“Just Enjoy The Journey.”


This is common phrase among writers these days. Right up there with “Read, Read, Read” and “Butt in Chair.”

But here’s the thing: what if you just DON’T love where you are now?

What if, despite being grateful for all you have in your life, there are times when you feel stuck, and no amount of positive self-talk keeps you grounded, hopeful, and even SANE?

Of course, and we’ve no way of knowing what the future holds, but if our present just feels like a standstill at best and a slow crawl at worst?


Slow and steady may still win races, but unlike the tortoise, we all don’t have 100+ years to make things happen.


Too often we look at impatience as childish. Sometimes it is.

But sometimes it’s simply a product of something

all too real: MORTALITY.


“Start by admitting ‘From cradle to tomb’ isn’t that long a stay.”

-Sung by Liza Minelli in “CABARET


We know that we’re not going to live forever.


Some of that impatience comes from the simple fact that we know mortals live and die, and we don’t want to say “I should’ve” via that classic “Death bed” scenario, never the fact we could die in other more immediate ways…


Has some of that “Seize the Day” mindset made us short-sighted? Sure, for many it did, myself included.


But again, if we only view impatience as childish, we’re denying ourselves or others a very REAL, URGENT and VALID sense of “Making my life count.”


Part of that is being able to pursue our dreams, not settling for less when the consequences are long-term (think marriage, kids, and/or a demanding career)


This isn’t the same as waiting long lines at the market, or for the latest shiny whatever from Apple (when you can’t pay someone to wait in line for you).


I’m talking about the BIG stuff. The things that will either positively or negatively affect your life for the long-term if not permanently.


This applies to all areas of life, but to keep things focused, I’m only going to focus on how this applies to writers.


This is something I battled a lot the past few years.


I’m currently in that hazy nexus between working with my editor on my debut novel, and trying to draft a new book, and trying to diversify what I can do, like being able to write short stories or novels outside the middle grade realm where I started and feel most at home.


Many writers, such as Jami Gold (@JamiGold), have recently stirred up heated discussion on the subject back in May 2014-


Is “Do What You Love” Good Advice?

The Value of “Crap” Jobs


I understand where Jami and others who commented are coming from (Though my reply to the latter post may have sounded otherwise).


However, for me I still feel it’s not that simple, it’s because I’ve seen too many in my life deny their dreams on the basis of survival, and as noble and pragmatic as that mindset is, it has a dark side, forsaking your passions entirely, not just for a “Season” or so. (As author Kristi Holl shared beautifully)


There’s a reason “Survive” isn’t a synonym for “Thrive” because they are not the same.


They can work together, but they’re NOT interchangeable.


I guess I’m just wondering what’s the greater evil here?


We may “Survive” by day jobs, and while some enjoy that divide between passionate and practical, others don’t, and while there is merit “Taking pride in jobs you don’t like” for some of us the duality of that existence isn’t just far from ideal, but it’s not sustainable.


Also, just because something “Pays the bills” does not mean you can live with it forever.


To me, the writers with “day jobs” who’re the most emotionally successful are ones who have jobs that while they may not directly tie to their role as a writer, they’re still fulfilling something that’s core to their external and internal needs, alongside whatever financial contribution it also makes.


Abusive bosses, questionable company ethics, and unsafe working conditions aside, if we can’t sustain the “logical” choice, it’s not logical for us.


Just because we’ll always need jobs in health care, that doesn’t I want to work in health care, some jobs require a certain mindset to do well in or even enjoy in spite of the challenges, and no one can teach you that mindset.


You either have it naturally or you’re willing to work toward attaining it.


Even in the case of the latter, your journey will be different than those who had the mindset from the beginning. 

It doesn’t nessecarilly mean they’re better at the job than you, but I do believe that some people have a more adaptable mindset than others. 


Technique can be learned, mindset’s harder to teach, and NO ONE can teach passion. 


Let’s not forget the additional decades of schooling to be a doctor in any field.


You definitely NEED a certain mindset to be a teacher and I know I don’t have it!


(I can’t even teach my grandmother how to use a computer without losing my head, I’d only be the teacher kids feared and hated because of my short temper among other things, and that’s assuming I had the inclination to endure years of certification training and dealing with school politics)


I always feel emotional in May. I’m already emotional by nature and May just times it to infinity.


Between Mother’s Day, my birthday, and constant talk of graduation, I feel left out and ashamed for my own formal education stalling.


It’s hard to imagine how I’ll stand on my own.


I know people across the spectrum say to take baby steps.


But here’s the thing, I’m not a baby, and I know people who say this don’t mean it in the literal sense. I just don’t feel this common advice is practical in every circumstance.


Baby steps aren’t building my income.

Baby steps aren’t changing my living quarters.

Baby steps aren’t enough anymore.


Many people, including my colleague Jami, have told me “College isn’t for everyone.”


But in a world where college degrees are required just to considered, how true is that now?


Nobody who who told me this can back that up with tangible examples of people (Born AFTER the 20th Century!) who THRIVED despite not having gone to college, or in my case, even high school, and NOT for lack of trying.


Maybe that’s why I things so seriously.

Why I take failure so hard.

I don’t have a safety net to fall back on. 


Yes, failure is part of the process, but that doesn’t mean all we want to feel, hear and see is failure.


My Grandma often tells me that are so many people that faced some variant of what I’m going throuhg. But when you’ve never known, met, or read about someone of that ilk, it’s hard to believe.


This is especially true for those on the Autism spectrum, including myself.


Unless you are living with, or know, and/or have raised a child or children with Autism, most of what you read and see are the most severe cases, and while those are stories worthy of being told, they’re not even CLOSE to YOUR story.


As those who are on my “Bite From The Cheese Shop” subscribers I recently have learned, I had to take a major step back to rethink my life in general, and my career as an author, after a serious breakdown in March 2015.


I had to make the difficult but necessary decision to put much of my work on T.A.A. and my author career on hold, with the key exception of my upcoming novel “GABRIEL” since that’s a contractual obligation I will and must meet, but everything else is on hiatus.


In spite of the challenges I’m faced with now and going forward, I still have hope, and I know I’ve made some progress, but things are shaky right now, and while I have to be careful not to drown in self-pity, I have to OWN that my fear and frustration is REAL, and that doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for what I do have.


To those who’ve reached out to me in private (you know who you are) I thank you, and for both new and long-time T.A.A. fans, I thank you for being on the journey with me, as much as you are able to, this isn’t goodbye, but rather “Until next time…”


Taurean J. Watkins (Taury) [@Taurean_Watkins]

-Editor-in-Chief/Literary Rat

Talking Animal Addicts


P.S: In spirit, I hope you’ll sing this with me-


Hi All, Sorry being M.I.A. for so long.

I had to take some time away from the blog now that

edits on my debut middle grade novel are in full swing,

slow-going still, but swinging. Plus, a blackout in my area

over a week ago, chores piling up, and tight on money

also contributed, but I’ll try to update at least once a

week until things improve on the homefront.

Today, I’m taking a break from my usual posts to

discuss something else that’s been weighing heavy on my

heart lately-

There’s been a lot of talk among parental circles, educators, and all in between about why are kids and teens either take life too seriously or not enough, more often it’s not enough.

Lots of parents seem to be of the view that kids today are lazy, screen obsessed entitlement freaks who don’t want tot work hard for their futures. 

While there’s truth to that, we also overlook another truth, kids are being pressured to grow up faster at all fronts, and yet we complain when they want to be grown ups fast. Well, we’re creating our own problem on this specific point.

As a both a writer of children’s books, and a education-challenged under 30 “Deadbeat” I know from my own experience that we overlook a lot of issues when we talk about education. 

Instead of ranting, I’ll let picture do my talking for me, but fear not, I’ll have MORE words to say on this topic later.


NOTE: I’m in no way parent-bashing here,

I‘m not a parent nor teacher, and for those of

you in education from either the parent and/or

teacher POV who are doing right by our

nation’s youth, understand I say this because

I wish there were more of you.


More and More Parents see their kids like this- 



Instead of this-   01_Tristeza

What “Test” is worth feeling like this?


When did school become “God?”


Does “Sucking at Math” make me less worthy?


Is this future migraine/ulcer GOOD for me?

What parents WANT to see-


What they NEED to see –  Crying_child_with_blonde_hair

“Mommy, you work a second job to make money, what am I getting out of pre-k and first grade becoming my “second job?” that I don’t get paid for.”




“Dad, I may not have to walk 100 miles to get to school like you did in the “Once upon a time Olden days” , but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier for me, either.”


They’ll NEVER get here- University_Park_MMB_I7_Graduation   312px-MplsMTMstatue   USMC-12062   The_Turtles Group_951 81st_TW_photo Winter-wedding-20120203-001 AT_CALGGETT_MEMORIAL_HOSPITAL-WALTER_SOLON_MOYER_III,_THE_FIRST_BABY_OF_THE_NEW_YEAR,_AND_HIS_MOTHER_-_NARA_-_552638     Father_with_his_first_baby_at_first_sight If they Burnout Here-   School's_OutAdults of the World, I URGE you to hear this. We CAN’T let this-  










Destroy THIS-      












Kids, Parents, Educators, and all those in-between-

What do you think? Please have the courage and heart

to share in the comments below.

A Different Kind of Editing…


Sorry for not having new content up yesterday, I had some last minute “Life Happens” stuff. But at least my site didn’t blackout again (Knock on Wood!)

But I’m back, and am taking a break from my usual posts to share something I hope those of you with blogs and/or websites can learn from

As you may remember from last week’s post on my staycation to VIBC (Video Idiot Boot Camp) in May, I created a welcome video for my site during the 8 lesson course.

Well, after completing the course, you get a coupon to redeem within five weeks of finishing your initial welcome video for Katie Davis (Creator/Instructor of this course) to review and give pointers on what to clarify or cut. I got my critique yesterday, after my initial effort uploaded a couple weeks ago, and it confirmed three things I suspected-

-Too Long (While nearly 2 1/2 minutes is SHORT for me, it’s not short enough to hook new people to the site, slow transitions and not enough clarification and key info overall)

-Too unclear about my site’s message (I thought it was clear through the visual slides and context of what I said within the slideshow, but I need to be more clear, that’s the trouble with being a pioneer in your field, it’s hard to convey it to others in a concise, non-cliché sounding way.

-My muddled C.T.A. (Call to Action) – I didn’t better show what I want those who come to my site and like it, what they can do to grow the community.

The reason I’m sharing this is twofold. One, to show that just like writing, videos need to be redone when either the content or quality isn’t doing what you intended, either at all, or not enough.

Second, because while it’s true that one of the main hallmark points of VIBC is to help people like me (Who are anal about clarity and giving our best effort) to relax a bit and realize that “Get it Done!” sometimes is more important than “Get it done right.”

That said, some videos (Just like books, for that matter) are worth extra effort and time. Different videos need different things. A book trailer for my upcoming middle grade novel needs to be ideally under 30 seconds, and let me tell you, that kind of brevity is not my strength, but that’s also why I spend more time on Twitter these days, since you’re limited to 140 characters, including spaces, so I’m trying to get more accustomed to showing more with less. I can’t promise shorter blog posts, but I can promise my videos will be tighter going forward.

All that said, I don’t regret my first attempts. It taught me a lot and took the fear away, and the fact that I did engage some new people means I wasn’t way off the mark. But I do need a shorter, more user-driven, welcome video.

I do have some ideas on how to tighten up the length. But I’d appreciate any ideas in the comments below. How would you, current readers of T.A.A., invite some new faces into our community?

If you haven’t seen my original welcome video yet, you can find it at the links below-



Thanks to those of you (In and outside VIBC) who checked out my welcome video. I will get this tighter so the community can grow and flourish.

Until next time, may the fantastical fauna be with you.

I’m Back From Camp!

[sz-youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebYgE97-kwg” /]

Hi All, 

Sorry for the downtime, AGAIN.


I was having one of those “Tech Happens” periods.

As such, I needed to move the site to a new sever (Landlord Maintenance for websites 

for you non-techies) among other things…


I also had to take a break from blogging last week because I was at camp-


7736437820_f55cd78a55_o CAMPING 1


No, not Summer Camp.  


4583505380_0871677cde_o CAMPING 2


Definitely NOT a family camp-out!


(It’s hard enough to engage with my more emotionally reserved

relatives with the comforts of home,never mind in untamed



Besides, Pepper (My canine alter-ego) is in no shape to protect

me from a bear in his golden years.

(12 human years = Older than 70 in dog years, I think…)




 -My  Sweet Pepper, Photo by Me-

(Doesn’t look “Geriatric” does he?)

That said, he snores now, but I’ve adjusted easier

than the relatives I live with to that development this




Anyway, the embedded video at top of this blog post is my new welcome video for



If any long time T.A.A. readers ever doubted what my site was about after

three years, now you know for sure. (LOL!)


Seriously though, this video is what I learned to do at “camp.”


But I didn’t have to head to some shoddy cabin hideaway in the mountains,

where the breeze has to be just right to get a strong internet connection or

cell phone signal, and lots of luck to avoid unwanted guests-


316240_364169667028049_1160620348_n - WILD BEAR

Hey, Hey, Hey! Yogi, that’s not…



This camp I could do at home and where I learned to create my welcome

video for T.A.A. I’m talking about “Video Idiot Boot Camp.” An online, on-

demand training course that teaches even the most tech phobic souls how

to create videos.


Whether you’re a writer like myself, or another type of entrepreneur, you

NEED video as much VITAL as having a  professional (But NOT sterile)



That said, for those of you  who find just moving your site from Blogger or

some other more kitschy blog or site platform to WordPress (Whether that’s the curated, less customizable WordPress.com, or self-hosting your WordPress site like I am) is/was a battle all by itself, the idea of making video sounds like yet another task that asks WAY to much of you.

I get that, and while I’m more tech savvy than some of my relatives, I

couldn’t, for example tell you how to “Master HTML 5.”


Or ANY form of HTML period.


I don’t know HTML or CSS as intimately as I do a book I

love reading (and RE-reading…) or preaching my gospel on the variety

and depth animal fantasy offers beyond picture book land.

(Much as I love and respect picture books as a reader, even if the writer in

me can’t yet give the skill and brevity those books demand…)


But let me tell you, folks, with Katie as you guide, all you have to do is show up

and do your best.


You WILL get a decent video at the end of this 8 lesson

course. But don’t just take my word for it, let Katie give you the lowdown,

in her own words below-


[sz-youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9gsAE-IkS4″ userdata=”Taury” /]

You’ll also find out how to take the first lesson of V.I.B.C. FREE before you decide to buy! (Take advantage of that sample, it hooked me enough to slap my money down) and I’m glad I did.


While there’s always more to learn in life, you CAN reach a level of competency that works for you, I FINALLY believe that for real, after a decade of trying to get my writing career off the ground, and while I’ve sold my first book, that’s not where I can, and most importantly, WANT to stop. Keeping in mind I‘m also trying to get my new novel drafted, on top of running T.A.A.

 Making sure my blog reasonably up to date, launching my e-mail newsletter (Which I hope you’ll subscribe to for fun and exclusive content you won’t get elsewhere), and learn how to make videos, which put a lot of other things I need/wanted to do this month on hold, often looking overly flaky to my family, but that’s what I had to do. But keeping busy was important, so I could patiently wait to hear back on edits for my upcoming middle grade novel, GABRIEL (Title subject to change), and I did that and still doing it.


Well, that’s all for me today, and I’m taking yet another hiatus, this time it’s onMY terms (As opposed to outside interference, like my site giving me headaches every other week this month!)


As long as “Tech DOESN’T happen again” I will be back Monday.


Until then, please subscribe to “Bites From the Cheese Shop” the official newsletter from T.A.A. (Talking Animal Addicts) Also, by subscribing, you’ll also be the first the learn when my novel is set to release, and have a chance to win a personalized, signed copy, by your lovingly frazzled literary rat, trying to hold me dreams, responsibilities, and sanity together, one day, one blog post at a time, among the other writer-centric things I do.


Your frazzled literary rat (and 1st gen VIBC graduate)

Taurean (Taury) 



P.S. Please comment on my welcome video when you can. I’ll be revising it s

on and I may use your suggestions. Be honest, but kind. That said, for my

first serious attempt at video, it’s okay.


Revisions aside, I EARNED this badge-









P.P.S. (I’ll share my diploma picture later…)