Dandelions and saplings

You’ve got dandelions, you see, and you’ve got saplings. And them two things are just real different.

A dandelion, well you puff up your lips and you huff out your breath and you blow, man. Whooa! out your breath comes and them dandelion seeds they put on a parachute and they fly away, up and over the roof and over the head of that damn barkin dog and maybe they get into a fender-bender with the big gum tree there or maybe they float on to who knows where? I don’t.

And a sapling, right, a sapling you first gotta dig it a right-size hole and put in the right fertiliser and worm tea and whatnot and then you gotta take the pot in one hand and the sapling in the other and squeeze it and shake it and pull it outta that pot and riffle them roots and you realise that you made the hole too deep and so you fix that and you careful, careful put it in and pat the earth around and you water it, all that. And then you gotta come back with the water and the worm tea and y’garden gloves and y’weeder, every day for pretty much ever, tending that sapling until it’s big enough to mind its own business. And even then you gotta come back visitin pretty often.

So you got y’dandelions and you got y’saplings. You got that in your head?

Okay, so here’s where I’m drivin at. You don’t wanna get them two mixed up. You don’t wanna put down hundreds of saplings and then just ignore ’em. You see the council do that when they fix up a park, and it’s a cryin shame. Two weeks later most of them saplings’ll be limp or dead. Council don’t care about ’em, they’re okay with most of them saplings dyin so long as some of ‘em make it through. But it ain’t the way to raise your garden, is it? If you go through the effort to plant a sapling, you gotta be prepared to make the effort to look after the damn thing.

And likewise, if you got dandelions then you don’t wanna care much about ’em. You don’t wanna tag each one and pin y’hopes on it, say, Hey number 27, lookin fine! You gonna be the one that makes it! cos most of them flat-out won’t. Most of them dandelion seeds will end up in a crack in the concrete somewhere, or in a gutter, somewhere they got no chance of growin. And half the few that make it to dirt will end up somewhere they ain’t wanted, and some proud lawn owner will pull ’em up and stamp on ’em. You send out a thousand dandelions, you might get ten that make it. Save your breath to puff out more, that’s the best bet with dandelions.

What am I drivin at? Whoo, the manners on you!

Well, you come out here and chatter at me while I’m weedin and I like the company so it’s just fine to me to hear about all this stuff I don’t en-tirely understand, like “scheduled tweets” and “mailin lists” and “webinars” and such. It’s innerestin, better than listenin to that damned dog bark every time I get near his precious fence – shut up, ya damn mutt! – so like I said, I don’t pretend to understand a lot of what you’re drivin at, but I get the jist… you sit at that fancy black computer and you send out things over that Internet you keep sayin you’re gonna show me one day. And I’m just wonderin if you know which of them things you put out there are saplings, and which of ’em are dandelions.

Just some food for thought. It’s prob’ly nothin.

Hand me that worm tea, wouldja?

If you want to improve your dandelion production, or grow healthier saplings – or both! –  the Lighthouse is full of resources to help.


The day you change.

It’s 1998.

My boyfriend and his mates are taking turns to play Diablo on his computer. I’m spectating. I point out where a magic ring has fallen, press the healing potion button while M. fights the Prime Evil.

I am cute, flirty, nice. I giggle. I have not yet figured out how to swear. I am Gamer Girlfriend. And I love it.

It’s 2000.

New city, new boyfriend, new computer. The air has more air in it. The light is almost solid. I’m dizzy and grounded and lost and happy.

Diablo II has just come out and been bought and installed on my new computer and I am having a shift in my head and so instead of sitting down in the observer seat I say, ”I want to play this game. And because it’s my computer, I want to go first.”

I am petrified: frozen solid by future incompetence, stepping out of my comfy rewarded place, potential rejection. Numbly, I create a character, the Amazon. I walk through the gates of the encampment and toward my first day as a hero.

There’s a walking dead, slowly ambling toward me. I move my mouse with a stabbing motion. Graceless and panicky, click! click! Zombie is dead. I am not.

Lightning bolt: I CAN DO THIS.

I panic at the first boss fight and get the men to do it for me. I am still remorselessly cute in ways that I do not understand are tactical. I’m 21, and I have so much learning to do. But I am not a Gamer Girlfriend any more. I am a Gamer.

It’s this morning.

The computer has been upgraded and replaced a half-dozen times. I kept the boyfriend, bought him his own computer. Our desks sit companionably side by side.

Diablo III was released three days ago. My character is a giant female barbarian, already level 15. Would be higher but for my regular World Of Warcraft raid on Wednesdays, and a long philosophical conversation about super-powers with The Dude last night.

I’d like to be playing right now, was tempted. It’s cold sniffly lonely weather and it would be so easy to plug in and switch off. To ignore my inbox and my to-do list, to swaddle and clickclickclick and eat chocolate sultanas.

But heroism becomes a habit. Too many comics and fantasy novels and far too many roleplaying games and mouse-clicks. Spend that much time pretending to be a hero and it tends to rub off on you.

So here I am.

Here I am. Entrepreneur, speed-metal Pollyanna. Cheerful cusser. Feminist. Cheerleader with an ambiguous relationship to bullshit. Science and spirit playing hopscotch together. Winter crocheter. Breadwinner. Bread baker. Scornful of gender roles.

My life has been defined and shaped by the day I said, ”I don’t want to watch you anymore. I want to play.”

I am a Geek. And it is magnificent.

And so are you.

Whatever you are doing, go forth and ROCK IT THE FUCK OUT.

If you want geek-tastic help, check out the Choose Your Own Business Adventure.

And fellow Diablo III players, my tag is TeamAwesome#1122. Come say hi to me and The Dude.

All my love,

This was originally sent to my weekly newsletter, Rise and Shine. If you’re not signed up, this is the kind of thing you’re missing out on.


I’m not a writer. I’ve been possessed by a writer on a regular basis.

Inspiration is a steed with mighty flanks, inadequate reins, and no brakes whatsoever.

When she arrives snorting on my doorstep, I will not refuse her. I will ride inspiration and keep my life and business afloat. It’ll be okay, jellybean.

I can writhe in the throes of creation and keep my inbox manageable. I maintain the Catherine with yoga and regular-ish meals. I don’t abandon The Dude, completely. I always write the sales page first. I schedule in the time for wandering-around-the-house-picking-up-things-and-then-putting-them-down-again post-creation fugue. I have residual cash flow to buffer me from making something and then needing to sell twenty of them OMG RIGHT NOW. (While completely wrung out by the making. Yeah, not so much.) I learned this by hamstrung necessity.

Now I am learning another set of skills.

I’m learning to write every morning, and edit every afternoon. I’m playing with you in five different media. I’m mid-fling in doodle-pad mosh pits with coloured pens and bigass sketch pads and Important Questions.

In short, I’m learning how to write in those times when the mighty steed of Inspiration has gone back to her stall for oats and a vigorous rub down.

I’m learning how to create structure that isn’t a cage.

I’m learning how to be a writer, I guess.

Some of you, I can hear you, are currently declaiming.

”Oh but Catherine you are a writer, how could you not say you are, I wish I could write like you.”

Which is sweet and kind and thank you.

But I’ve never really thought of myself as a writer.

How could I? I spend the vast majority of my creative time clinging furiously to the back of Inspiration, where I control neither the distance nor the speed nor the direction.

I haven’t been a writer. I’ve been possessed by a writer on a regular basis.

And now. Dismounted and daunted and delighted and far, far too pleased by some of the previous sentences I have written. Including that one. (IT HAD ALLITERATION AND RHETORICAL DEVICES, YO.)

I’m finding, to my intense ear-tickling pleasure, that I can be good at this whenever I wanna. Allegory has moved back in. Metaphor falls on me from every cupboard door I open. I’m not waiting for 4am to tell me what to write, for the whinny of that damn horse.

Maybe soon I’ll call myself a writer.

I got to talk about writing. Does that count?

Do you know Pace and Kyeli of course you know Pace and Kyeli if you do not why not you must.

(fuck you that technique was awesome.)

(fuck you, Stephen King isn’t the only one allowed to write in internal digressions.)

(fuck, this was easier when the damn horse was in charge.)


So any. Way. Pace and Kyeli from the Connection Revolution are on the third year of their World-Changing Writing Workshop, and I am one of the extra bits. You can estimate how excited I was when I was asked to participate. (Hint: use a lot of caps in your answer.)

If you have Big Ambitious Goals and you want to use writing to achieve them, then this workshop will help. A lot.

I want bajillions of people to invest in the World-Changing Writing Workshop, because writing is awesome and I am in it and, you know, all the reasons ever.

And I would like many of those people to do so from here, because I would feel powerful and also make some money.

At this point, the horse snuck up to the house and slipped a note under the door with one gold-plated hoof. It said:

Make something awesome.

I shall try. Polar darlings, use my link by clicking on the words World-Changing Writing Workshop, invest in the course, and I shall deliver unto you an invitation to a special you-and-nifty-others-like-you event.

It’s called Business Storytelling.

It’s going to be awesome.

The horse has spoken.