Cast your web into the net

You know how sometimes you just wake up with an idea your head? That just happened to me. I realized that I would not have been writing this to you today if a lot of things hadn't gone wrong in the past. These were things that seemed bad at the time, but eventually proved to be blessings in disguise.

For example, I wouldn't be writing this now, or editing eFuse.com if, eight years ago, someone hadn't stolen a big chunk of a book I wrote, and put it in a major magazine. At the time it seemed like a disaster, but it really started a string of good events.

I started to think about all the things that led me to where I am today. Being petrified to go away to the school that accepted me in New York led to meeting my first (and hopefully only) wife. I also wouldn't have met her if her mother hadn't pretended to be sick so she wouldn't leave school and go to Europe as she'd planned (something she wasn't happy about at the time, but if she'd gone, we might never have met).

Living in a bad apartment building and picking up a postcard on the dirty elevator floor led to meeting life long friends. Being too lazy to take a "real" job led to my getting a part in a movie.

Not being able to afford something that cost $100 led to a job where I started writing about computers and I met a fellow writer who's one of my best friends.

Fighting with a PR person who said no one on earth would ever want a laser printer led me to use the seventh LaserJet ever made, and to immediately see the future of desktop publishing. Having a bi-polar boss who liked to scream at his employees and make them take lie detector tests led to my quitting to write my first book.

Having a publisher who "forgot" to pay me my royalties led me to finding a better publisher and publish the first book about desktop publishing with a word processing program which led to my being able to escape from L.A.

More unfortunate incidents with publishers led me to build my own web site, when the web was young. That plagiarism thing led to my meeting an editor, and writing for c|net when it started. Having to endure later editors there who seemed unable to read more than 150 words at a time led me to abandon my biggest source of income, which led to the wonderful chance to do what I'm typing right now. I get to write and edit articles and exchange e-mail with interesting people like you all over the world (and even meet some of them). And If my computer hadn't had a particularly bad crash, I wouldn't have started writing these personal intros.

Finally, if I hadn't almost died a few years ago, I might not appreciate everything as much as I do now.

This is how life works—so when we make friends, fall in love or get a great job, it's either an amazing stroke of luck, or part of some plan far too complicated for any of us to understand, much less really control.

And while I sometimes look back and wonder about the road I didn't take, I remember that I my own plans turned out far different (for the better) than I imagined. So my dreams of what might have been might have turned out far different, too, and perhaps for the worse.

Anne Lamott summed it up with a story in her book, "Crooked Little Heart,"

"Long ago, there was a farmer who lived in China. One day, several wild horses crashed through the gates of his farm, causing a great deal of damage. "Oh no!" cried the neighbors, "This is terrible news!" The old farmer shrugged, "Bad news, good news—who knows?"

The next day, the horses came back and the farmer's twenty-year-old-son managed to capture one. All the neighbors ran over to admire it, "Oh, how wonderful!" they cried, "What good news!" "Good news, bad news—who knows?" shrugged the farmer.

Several days later, the farmer's son, attempting to break the steed, was thrown and his leg badly broken. The neighbors rushed over, peering at the young man in bed, "Oh, this is awful news!" they cried. The farmer shrugged, "Good news, bad news, who knows?"

A few weeks later, the Chinese army came by, conscripting all the area's young men for war raging in the south. They couldn't take the young man with the broken leg... "

You just never know. So cast your net out into the web (or your web out into the net) and try to enjoy whatever catch you reel in. You never know where it might lead.


Gary Priester's Web Sight Clinic

If I hadn't been asked by Melinda French (now Melinda Gates) to lead a panel at a publishing seminar, I wouldn't have met Gary. The panel was about desktop publishing using Windows, something that few people other than myself seemed to do. I was trying desperately to find a truly professional designer who did. Gary had won a big design contest and I heard about it and called him. It turned out he didn't live far from where I did, so he joined me on the panel. While that was the last panel I ever agreed to do, it wasn't the last time I talked to Gary. We had too much in common.

When I started eFuse.com, he was the first columnist I thought of. His Makeovers have been so popular that we decided he needed his own section, which he's calling Gary Priester's Web Sight Clinic. Here's what he says about it:

"Is your Web site looking for a magic elixir? Something to stimulate its appearance and cure its visual ills? Well, you've come to the right place. Take a seat. Mr. Priester will be with you in just a moment. Regular visits to the Clinic might be just what you (and your site) need!"

This month's feature is Mouseover Magic. While it sounds like something Houdini would do with a rodent, it is, in fact, all about creating boffo rollover buttons (with specific info about using NetObjects Fusion's Picture Rollover component). Visit Gary's Clinic


"Build a Better Business" with David Lewis

I met David Lewis when I was editing some of his articles and realized I was learning from them—and didn't have to do anything to them. Nothing. I read. I learned. I didn't change anything. I thought, "This guy should be writing for eFuse.com." I asked him. He accepted. Who knows what led to him writing what I was editing in the first place, but it all worked out for everyone (including you).

David Lewis's new eFuse.com column on building a better business opens today with five brand new articles. David knows how to run his own business. As he says, "I run a global communications empire from my home office. I think in time zones. I work all hours of the day. I report to no one. I am customer service and technical support. I am sales and marketing. I am accounts receivable and accounts payable. I am self-employed."

His business card has letters CCBW on it. When someone asked what this meant, he explained, "Chief Cook and Bottle Washer," meaning that he does it all.

When you're self-employed, or in a small business, you find yourself "wearing a lot of hats" and doing a lot of jobs. You also find yourself learning a lot—from your own mistakes.

Well, David's learned by doing, and now, in a new column for eFuse.com, he's passing what he's learned on to you—so that you can hopefully learn how to better run your own business—without having to suffer through all those mistakes.

David says, "Coming from the school of thought that excellent service and a fair price is key to success, and with those principles as the foundation, in my column I hope to provide you with some helpful and cost-effective ideas about things you can do to help make your small business better. Don't worry, it'll be fun! "

So take a look. I learned a lot from editing David's column, and I know you'll learn a lot from reading it! Visit Davidメs eBiz column now.


Hail To You, Neto U

Need to learn about Web design, site planning and development, NetObjects Fusion, NetObjects Authoring Server, NetObjects Collage and connecting to Allaire Cold Fusion? NetObjects University is the place to learn about these, and soon, database connectivity, Web marketing, HTML, XML and Java programming.

Professional trainers, with real world Web development experience, teach  NetObjects University courses. Each instructor brings a vast array of product and Web development knowledge to each course.  Classes are offered nationwide and online registration is available by clicking here.


Do Good With Just A Click

Here's a great idea. All you have to do is visit this site and click on the Donate Free Food button. When you do, a sponsoring corporation will make a donation to feed a starving person for one day. You can do this once a day, and it costs nothing to you personally.

And don't forget to visit www.therainforestsite.com, too, to help protect more rain forest land through the Nature Conservancy. Plant more trees at http://www.webreleaf.com/ and https://www.amfor.org/newforms/treesself.php3

One Final Word

I don't know how I've suddenly become one of those people who quotes other people, but here goes: As John Lennon said, "Life's what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."




Like the stories? Buy the book!

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The SchoomozeLetter is ©1998-2005, Daniel Will-Harris, all rights reserved. If you'd like to use any article on the web or in print, please ask for permission. If you're an agent or publisher looking to publish these pieces, just drop me a note.