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Light in the Dark

by Christopher Gronlund on November 20, 2014

In recent months, the goal has been simple: finish the first draft of the current novel by year’s end. It’s an ambitious goal, and it may be more like, “The current novel will be finished by the end of the first month of the year,” but the point is this: I’m close!

And in that effort to finish has come writing on days I’d rather be doing other things: adding additional miles to evening walks with my wife, catching up on podcasts, reading, or doing nothing at all.

But I’ve always believed the measure of a writer comes in writing during those times they don’t want to write. In my case, I work 40-hour weeks most weeks, but there are weeks — even the occasional month (or two) — when my life feels like my day job. As a tech writer, that’s what I signed up for, so it’s not like, “Damn you, day job!” That’s just what comes with being a technical writer by day (and sometimes by night).

I have the best day job I’ve ever had, but I have yet to finish a novel I’m wholly proud of while working full time. A sad stat I don’t want to relive: all the best writing I’ve ever done has come during times of unemployment.

Until now…

Granted, there are nights I feel like I’m throwing words into a black void no one will ever see. (That may very well be the case.) But then, on nights like last night…I think about how much I didn’t want to write, but how I’m glad I did.

Because some nights, the darkness becomes filled with a million pinpricks of light that you know — with another pass or two of what once seemed like just this distant idea that might never become anything at all — will become the brightest thing in your life.

Maybe it will never be read, but in this work, I’m writing the brightest thing I’ve ever written…and that will keep me warm for the rest of my life no matter what happens when it’s polished and ready for the world.


The (Other) Juggling Writer

by Christopher Gronlund on November 7, 2014

A friend pointed out that I am not the only Juggling Writer out there. I know many jugglers who also write — we’re all juggling writers. In this particular case, though, I’m talking Capital-J Capital-W Juggling Writer.

From what I can tell, Nathaniel’s had his Juggling Writer site for a couple years. I’m a couple months past 5 years with It would really be silly for me to think it’s such a brilliant name that only I would come up with it. Much like stories often being similar to others, I’m never surprised by similar names for things. It happens all the time.

Factor in article names containing “Juggling Writer,” and it becomes very evident that it’s something more than a few people — most of whom don’t even actually juggle — have come up with.

We Must Defend The Name!

I have a friend who makes a living educating people about copyright. Another friend makes a living investigating counterfeit merchandise. I’ve been asked why I have not done a trademark for The Juggling Writer.

First, I find the TM in a name to be ugly design, but more than that…I am not fond of trademarks, patents, and things like that. I’d argue that even copyright doesn’t defend me — the little guy — as much as it enables large companies to create works based on existing works and then claiming them as their own, fighting anyone who releases a version of a classic tale remotely similar to what they’ve created.

It Is Their Right (Or At Least It Should Be)

But the biggest reason I don’t feel the need to trademark the name and spray my territory is I believe if another Juggling Writer can rise up and be known, more power to them. If the best I can do is defend who I am and what I do through legal channels instead of being the best writer I can be, that’s rather sad. If somebody else can top Google search rankings and be known to more people as The Juggling Writer, who am I to get in their way? The only way one could ever offend me would then be turning around, trademarking the name, and telling me I can no longer use it. (Which is one of my many issues with trademarks.)

So I don’t buy into the notion that the name — the brand — must be defended. Because in most cases, the name isn’t the work of brilliance many believe it to be. Your slogan is probably derivative of another no matter how much you like to think it’s original. Your product is probably standing on the shoulders of so many similar products that have come before. Most stories, companies, works of art, and so much more owe their existence to similar things.

So I don’t mind that another Juggling Writer exists online. It is clear that Nathaniel Tower is not me, and I am not Nathaniel Tower. He’s a juggler who writes, and that — without even knowing the guy — makes him a likely good friend if we ever cross paths.

* * *

Oh yeah: Nathaniel’s also in charge of Bartleby Snopes, which has published some good stuff!


Sticking to a Writing Plan

November 2, 2014
Map with compass and push pins

One day not so long ago, while working on a novel, I came to this conclusion: This would be much better as three novels. So that’s what I did. No longer was A Magic Life going to be just one book — it was now going to be three. And as I near the end […]

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The Distracted Writer

October 21, 2014
Typewriter on white

I saw this recently — a word processor mimicking a typewriter that promises distraction-free writing. Some writers use old, manual typewriters — and not just in the pursuit of hipsterdom, but to avoid distractions. Others grab a pen and paper and write longhand manuscripts. On Sunday, I listened to this great interview with Robin Sloan […]

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Writing as Hospitality

September 28, 2014
Hotel Bed

Yesterday morning, I finished a big release at work. Of all the writing I do, technical writing pays the most bills. I write for a software company that serves the hospitality industry. Hospitality I like hotels. A lot. Even tiny motels where people try their best with what they have. I will always remember a […]

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Year Five

September 8, 2014
Year Five

Five years ago, I wrote the first entry for The Juggling Writer. Looking back at my earnest beginning, I hoped the blog would show people how to manage their time in order to get things done (life and writing in harmony). I know I’ve written plenty of entries focused on that very thing, but I’m […]

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Why I Wake Up Early (Even on the Weekend)

August 29, 2014
Rise and Shine; Begin a New Day

I’ve written about mornings before on my main blog. It’s no secret that I like waking up early to write. But there’s a reason beyond the quiet that matters to me: if I get up early and make something I want to make before the world hisses to life and churns away, all the things […]

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How to Come Up with Good Ideas

August 26, 2014
Cottonwood on the breeze

Yesterday at work, I had an idea for a blog entry. It was a great idea — at least that’s how I remember it. Because I was working, I wrote a note in a notebook (instead of putting it in Evernote), but today…I can’t find it. I hear a lot of people talk about keeping […]

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Five Writing Lessons Learned from Podcast Movement

August 22, 2014
Podcast Movement Swag

Last weekend, I attended Podcast Movement 2014, in Dallas. Over 600 podcasters from all over the world descended on the area. (If you’re interested, I wrote about it here.) If you know me, you know I tend to be shy in groups. Even around people I know well, the moment there are four or more […]

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My Writing Mix Tape

August 21, 2014
Blank cassette tape

My writing mix tape is blank — nothing but the sound of early morning darkness. Maybe the sound of the air conditioner or the heater, depending on the season. Sometimes it’s whatever creaking the apartment makes after settling and realizing one of its inhabitants is awake and stirring. It creaks and pops like a tired […]

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