Wednesday, July 29, 2009

an Inspirational Journal is born

You know those journals, those journals with quotes in them, those journals with prompts and affirmations and sparkly flowery hard covers, spiral or perfect-bound, that clutter up the racks of stationary sections at B&N, those journals your mom keeps giving you for Christmas that encourage you with psychopathic insistence to Dream, Create, and Imagine? Those journals "created" by authors who've had an inspirational gift book or two do well in those stores?

Those journals are actually vomited up in the dead of 1-in-the-afternoon from the bellies of those authors' editors, and when that fails, those authors' editors' interns. Here is how a mass-market B & N Inspirational Journal comes into the world:

Step 1: Author writes quote-heavy inspirational/self-helpy book. It generally has pictures of sunsets and women-tribes dancing on beaches, and lots of soul-massaging bits about love and abundance.

Step 2: Book does OK at sinister big box stores.

Step 3: Publisher and sinister big box store make a deal to make an Inspirational Journal based on the book, for sale exclusively at that chain, and according to said chain's I.J. specifications.

Step 4: Time passes. Due date for said I.J. approaches.

Step 5: Editor goes through the original book, ripping out quotes and passages that could conceivably be reprinted in pale pink type on the pages of the Journal.

Step 6: Editor thinks up 4-5 sections for the journal to have, each with a different focus: "Giving", "Living with Spirit", etc.

Step 7: Editor comes up with an "exercise" or prompt for each section, culled from the original book.

Step 7: Editor gets busy with something else and chucks the whole shebang to intern. "Make it into a journal."

Step 8: Intern reads through material and finds it rife with surrealist, non-linear inspirationese littered at random throughout the sections:

e.g. "When you accentuate the operational, a whole world of grateful bliss unwinds." (no further explanation)
e.g. "We must continue to seek our soul, even when your [sic] caught up in the wirlwind [sic] of the work-a-day."
e.g. "Exercise: List your most treasured childhood possessions. How did these precious possessions weave a safety net of nurturing solace?"
e.g. "An occupation of confidence must be developed." (no further explanation)
e.g. "I support myself by deleting rage." (no further explanation)

Step 9: Intern runs to editor. "This Journal is completely incomprehensible! We have to start again."
Editor: (rolling eyes) "Just make sure the margins are OK."

Step 10: Intern goes back to desk and rewrites Journal until it is at least semi-OK-10% readable. And fixes page breaks and margins.

Step 11: Publisher waves magic wand and produces Journal with original book's author's name on it, it goes to B&N, mothers everywhere buy it for their daughters for x-mas. Or more likely, the day after x-mas at 50% off. Cheap!

Step 12: Mass inspiration ensues.

In other news, the Head Ed got offered free access to some sort of writing retreat this weekend, doesn't want to go, and is passing the buck on to a curious INTERN in the name of professional development. Yippee! This will be INTERN's first time at any sort of writing retreat/seminar/conference/anything, and she is looking forward to (cough *thefreefood*) all the Inspirational experiences she will be sure to have. Full report anon!


  1. How well you capture *inspirational* blather.

    every day in every way, I get better and better
    or something (Dale Carnegie, maybe,1950's or some time before the flood.

    Diet book too short to make best seller list.
    Author R.O.G.Norman MD, MA Cantab (Cambridge....aka Uncle Oliver)
    Brief, pithy, failproof.


    hope the free food at the retreat is wonderful.

  2. Here's to free food! Hopefully, it's not a cleansing/writing retreat. Looking forward to the updates.

  3. Brilliant. :)

    Yay for INTERN. Maybe she can dish out some helpful writing advice on monday...? *looks hopeful*

  4. Thank you. That explains why the IJ's rarely make sense.

    Have fun at the retreat! Come back and teach us all the cool stuff you learn. :-)

  5. Hmmmn. Last time I went on one of these in the UK, I was made to put my script through the 'emotional toolbox' scene by scene. And the thing was paid for by the British license fee. I shit you not.

    Stay in the bar. Guard your verbs closely. See any dubious looking adjectives and RUN!

  6. And the un-bought journals eventually make it to the $1 bin around Easter (just in time for more inspirational journal buying).

  7. I'm hoping the current money crisis in publishing will be the death of rubbish books like this. Imagine shelves free of soul-nurturing tat, free to contain LITERATURE! Be still my beating heart.

  8. Perhaps a Mad Libs I.J. is in order?

    "When you {verb} the (noun), a whole world of (adjective) (noun) abounds."

    You could use "fart" as a noun or a verb! I might buy that...

  9. IJ's are unnatural.

  10. Poor INTERN. That's just scary and wrong.

    Enjoy the retreat!

  11. Lucy: "When you fart the potato, a whole world of smug spectators abound."

  12. Lucy Woodhull, you are a true genius. I would absolutely pay retail for that for both my daughter AND my mother in law. For different reasons.

  13. :c) Just another reason I don't visit the IJ section of book stores.

    Paint me green - have a great time at the retreat. I look forward to hearing your take on how things went. Did you check to see if nemesis is going? If your Head Ed got a free invite, maybe upstairs did as well...

  14. "When you feel the fart, a whole world of joyful unicorns abound."

    Let's write a spirit-essay about that, shall we?

  15. I had an *inspiration* about life once... if it don't bite back -- eat it!

    Haste yee back ;-)

  16. "When you walk the fart, a whole world of spiney lawyers abound."

    Seriously, this is a least worth thinking about!
    Fill in the blank selfhelp/inspiration

    "My life is screwed up because_____"
    "I blame_____"
    "I cannot fix this by watching Phil, Phd, I must_______"

  17. I began laughing at the part about toys, and then nearly lost it at "I Support Myself By Deleting Rage." Why isn't that a t-shirt already?

  18. Have fun at the retreat & get ready for mass inspiration! LOL

    Hope the food is good - Can't wait to hear how it went!

  19. Psst, Intern! You should submit your blog to Amazon Blogs for Kindle. If I had a Kindle, I'd totally pay 99 cents for it! ;-)

    But seriously, consider it. We need more blogs in the Lit & Fic section!

  20. I want to say that 5 days after reading this entry in Google Reader, I am still cracking up at the CRAPOLA inspirationalese.

  21. I like the part about weaving a safety net of nurturing solace. Luckily I had already swallowed the coffee in my mouth.

  22. Hey, how do I get to July 30th from here? Are there blog interns? Where can I get one?