are you a cup of tea…or a shot of tequila?



I know I’m not everybody’s cup of tea…I’d rather be someone’s shot of tequila anyway. – Unknown

Dan Blank describes a conversation with an author friend. There are so many people trying to develop their own brand/audience/platform, the author says, that the market is supercrowded with people screaming, “Look at me!”.

To get noticed now, the author continues, you have to get crazy.

You have to engage in an increasingly “reckless chase for attention”.

But I think that chasing attention, recklessly or otherwise, is stupid.

It’s pretty much a cosmic law that anything you chase will run away from you. And an object in motion tends to stay in motion.

Also, attention is fleeting. Here and gone. It’s not enough just to get it, you have to maintain it, and to do that you need to resonate with your readers in a way that moves and compels them.


Over time.

Resonance, not craziness, is what cuts through the noise — because we are hardwired to pay attention to the stuff that is relevant to us.

(It’s why you jolt to the sound of your name, no matter how absorbed you were beforehand or how chaotic your environment.)

For something to be relevant, it has to have the ring of truth. If it pretends to be one thing but turns out to be something else, then it’s of no use to us (and we’re annoyed). It might even be a con (and then we’re pissed).

So we have to trust that it’s authentic.

Being relevant is hard.

It means you have to create something that other people actually want or need, and can’t get down the street for a cheaper price. It has to be totally unique, either in what it does, what it is, how it’s delivered – or the larger meaning that it comes to represent.

Being authentic is hard.

It means you have to get real, and be real, and show other people that reality (not all of it, just the parts that relate to your message). This is also known as putting yourself out there – your beliefs and opinions, your work, your ideas, your pride, your ego, your feelings, your voice. Maybe you open windows into your personal life. Maybe you don’t. Either way, there’s a sense of exposure, of laying part of your soul on the line.

Some people will throw tomatoes at you.

Other people will trust you. They recognize that you’ve got skin in the game — which means that you’re playing for real.

This is the part where people tend to think I’m saying: Just be yourself. But most people don’t know who they are, and ‘being yourself’ becomes deeply problematic when you’re looking for the self that you’re supposed to be being.

You want to be a focused, highly skilled, freak version of yourself.

You want to dig down deep to find that unique part, that weird and maybe slightly psychotic part, that beautiful raw fucked-up part, that you spent a lifetime learning to hide in the first place. We try, instead, to be everybody’s cup of tea. But then we’re not unique, and so we lose. We’re also not particularly authentic, so we lose again.

We’re a social mask dealing with other social masks, and we’ve been cut and buffed and measured in ways that seem pretty much the same.

Which is why I love the word Namaste. It’s that moment at the end of yoga when you and the teacher bow to each other. Namaste translates to mean, The divine in me recognizes and honors the divine in you, Or, I greet that place where you and I are one.

I like to think of it as:

The freak in me recognizes and honors the freak in you.

Which is what I think the best creative work truly does. It’s your inner freak speaking to my inner freak. Saying: you are my brand of crazy.

And that will always get my attention.

Aug 5, 2012

13 comments · Add Yours

Justine, you just thrust a blowtorch into my gut. I wrote in my journal last night about bleeding your truth and letting shit out because that’s the only way to be real. To be YOU.

Raw. Unbridled. Fiercely bleeding out your own brand of genius because you’re sick of cookie-cutter phrases and actions that don’t reflect the depth of your brilliance.

I needed to read this today. Thank you.


And yet another post that brings an unwanted tear of self-pity to this reader’s eye. So many years spent fighting for a spot inside the cookie cutter because it seemed like the safest place to be, especially with kids in tow.

But then you find yourself baked, smeared with decorations, and hung out for show to stoke someone else’s pride. Even the part of you that’s baked is lost, and you’re now too pretty to be held and tasted and devoured. Too precious. Too perfect for anything but display and eventual decay.

And you’re so right about how hard it is being authentic, except I call it the end of defining who I am and just being whatever I’ve got left after the machinations of the acceptance game. Just put it out there and kiss off those friends who were never really friends, risk diggin’ into people you never thought could ever be part of your tribe, and dealing with the ache of being so alone because you’re done with the ha-ha-ha-head-back laughter at BS you don’t find funny and petting the day’s winner of original thought that makes you wonder what the hell people are thinking to buy this line of crap.

I’m not entirely sure I’m resonating on the same note with you (even though I’m always shocked to see you’re reading the same books I am…Are you peeking?), but there’s a resonance that cracks my bones and leaves me in a heap, rebuilding my own frame on which to hang my skin. It starts on the inside of the freakishly scary dark place of the spirit, and is built of the toughest tissue the body can make–scar tissue. It’s self-inflicted damage for the sake of scrubbing clean everything that is not you.

Blog on. Each post shoots down yet another part of me that’s gone rotten and contributes the false positive of my last freak test results.


I’ve finally found the courage to stand up and be myself. I mean really be myself. I haven’t seen any increased success from it yet, but I’m sure it will come with time.


I so love this. I think of it as “being yourself out loud.” It’s scary, but so worth it. And so much harder and yet more satisfactory than trying for more gimmicks and traps and exhausting attempts at “capturing” readers.


@Cyd Madsen I like the phrase “creative destruction”. I like the image of the phoenix. Before you can rise from the ashes, you have to be in the fucking ashes. And before you can create something new, you have to rebel in some way against the old. You have to feel that itch, that wound, that longing for something you can’t even put a name to because it doesn’t exist yet. It’s a difficult state to be in — sometimes it feels like breathing in pain — or boredom (which is its own kind of pain). But without it, you can’t engage in transformation.
Fighting for a spot in the cookie cutter served you — or saved you — in some way. We do the best we can with what we know. But then comes a time when we know something different, we get that calling to move on, and if we refuse it we stagnate and die little deaths until the big one arrives or we come to our senses. As George Eliot put it, It’s never too late to be what you might once have been. Especially when you lacked the experience + knowledge to be that — until now.


@Otiti Bleeding your truth. I like that. They’re both vital to human existence (truth + blood). And you have to handle them with respect.

@Lovelyn You probably won’t see success from it today, or next week, or next month. It’s a compound effect. It’s all the little things, those little (as well as big) decisions you make day-to-day, that add up and add up and add up. Just like going slightly off course will, over time, put you in a completely different part of the world. So think of being yourself as a kind of discipline, a practice, and show up for it everyday, and one or three or five years from now you’ll be amazed at how profoundly your life has changed (for the better).

@Cathy Yardley Yeah — what is hard eventually gets easy, and what is easy eventually gets hard. Using gimmicks, etc., to ‘capture’ readers seems the easy, appealing way — at least to some — but I just don’t see how that road actually goes anywhere. Readers aren’t stupid. If it isn’t a genuine connection with them, at least on some level, then it’s nothing.


From being a people-pleaser for most of my life to finally finding out and standing in my authenticity, I can so relate to this. To give yourself to freedom to be totally yourself without censure and judgement and to articulate and express that is the most liberating feeling in the world.


Justine: thanks for referencing my post, and for REALLY taking it so much further with all of these thoughts and ideas! I especially like this:

“It means you have to create something that other people actually want or need, and can’t get down the street for a cheaper price.”

I think too often, people focus on the money. So they become commodities, competing with others on THEIR terms, not your own. They, as you say, quiet what makes them unique and different, in order to fit into pre-conceived notions. And in doing so, wipe away the thing that made them special, made them have something to truly offer others.

This gives me a lot to think about – thank you!


Great post, “Being relevant is hard”. That reminds me of something I heard Lee Child say when asked to give advice to writers. He said, “Writing is an individual vision, take no advice.” Buried inside that is the responsibility to have a vision. You say the same thing here.


“Let [your] freak flag fly” – David Crosby


“The freak in me recognizes and honors the freak in you.” — I’m using that one to greet my friends from now on. I am working back towards all that you express here and in several of your other posts. And Cyd’s comment was a great addition. After my divorce, I changed my name to Maery Rose. People think Rose is for the flower or just something pretty, but in my mind it was part of the phrase “Maery rose from the ashes” which is a journey I’m still traveling. Keep it up! Your words are just what I need to hear and put into practice.


I legally dropped my maiden name of Drescher after my son born in 1990 as father split while I pregnant . No Dad the kid gets Your last name !! It was unnerving that people assumed me with a baby I was MRS and then I was Mrs Drescher. Except that was my mother who for sure I did not want to be !!! So a quick session with a judge eliminated the last name and my middle name of ” Rose” became my last name..

It was funny to hear my son tell me a year ago how that created such confusion for him in his life that his mother and only parent had a different last name then he.., I never gave it a thought.. Like I did not give it thought when I took him at age 9 to a natural spring in NM where most of the people were naked !! All of sudden my quiet son is running through the woods like a wild Indian.. Oh Wow .. He has not seen naked men before.. Ut Oh… Yes this is a excellent agenda.. The Freak in Me resonates with the Freak in You !! Wonderful Way to see life !! Thank you.. .


Gurl, you are definitely my brand of crazy! Love this post — you are speaking to me directly, I just know it. Thanks for the encouragement to be proud of who I am, in whichever stage of growth I happen to reside.


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