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Kill Your Darlings

Kill Your Darlings

Hello and good day!

A very good book about how to write well is On Writing by Stephen King.I've never read a Stephen King book other than On Writing, because his genre is not my cup of tea.

I don't like horror movies. I don't like dark books. I don't like blood and I don't like violence or creepiness. There is enough of that stuff in the world already, forced on us day in and day out, mostly against our wishes.

I have no desire to seek out darkness in entertainment. All that being said, On Writing is undeniably a tremendous book.I've read it at least 10 times. I just keep reading it over and over again.

I find it to be an excellent guide. There is a line in there about what a writer has to do on their second draft. It says that you need to kill your darlings.

Of course, that means that you have to eliminate what isn't good and doesn't work, even though you may have loved the material when you first created it.

That doesn't only apply to writing you know. It applies to a lot of things.

You have a great idea that you think will be a real winneR. Down the line, you find out it doesn't work so hot. We should be humble enough to make a change when something doesn't work, but many of us persist down a bad path, even when we know the path takes us to oblivion.

We see oblivion out there, a big black space of nothingness that will surely absorb us into it if we get too close, and yet we persist. This is when you really need a good friend or somebody else you trust to tap you on the shoulder and strongly suggest that you reconsider your plans.

This week, we had to completely redo our back-end shipping system because USPS in Issaquah, WA has officially melted down. They haven't come to pick up our orders in over a week. As a result, my brother Brian has been driving our orders to the post office, in his personal car, at 4:30am every morning. Brian is a stud.

In the middle of all of that, we got a notice that USPS overhauled their pricing. They used to do flat rate pricing, and then they switched to weight based  pricing. They did it in real time and applied pricing retroactively to shipments that are already in transit.

We got word that we had unknowingly underpaid postage on hundreds and hundreds of orders that were already shipped. Also, we were informed that the post office would not deliver until we paid the open balance.

If your order was one of those, we are very sorry. We've now paid what we owed so that the postage will be updated, and the orders delivered, but it took a while.

Thousands of other business owners were having the same problem. This clogged the customer service lines and we couldn't talk to anybody. Persisting in our business decision to use USPS is the path to oblivion.

My poor brother Brian, and Zach, our systems team member, had to work hard to cobble together a solution. We had to turn our website off for a couple of days and train our fulfillment team on a whole new protocol.

But they got it all set up and we should be able to operate much more reliably from now on.

I asked Brian yesterday how he was doing, and he said "exhausted". The last couple of weeks have been terrible on him.

And we would still be on that path if I hadn't accidentally run into a UPS sales rep while I was walking around the neighborhood promoting.

That was a lucky break. We got into a conversation by chance. I asked him what he did for work. He told me. I told him about the problems we've been having, and he drove straight over to talk to Brian. The guy held our hand through the entire change over. Change usually requires a lot of up-front work and that is what discourages most people.

Kicking the habit of smoking, for example, requires tremendous will power in the beginning. No matter how good the long-term payoff may be, getting through the initial period is going to be hell.

Having somebody grab you by the arm and walk you to your destination is a big deal and that is what this UPS fellow did for us. Hats off to that gentleman.

The upshot of all this is that we are behind in production. Valentine's day fell in the middle of all this, and our shops were cleaned out. Most people say that is a good problem to have, and it is, to a certain extent.

But being out of the products that our regulars are coming in for is not something I like. It is not a good problem to have.  

And I also don't like that this is our second week without putting a new product online. But I'm not willing to go against the wishes of our chocolatier Javier. That road leads to oblivion as well.Next week is a new week and we are now on a better path.

We've killed a darling.

Goodbye USPS. You've served us well for the last three years, but we can no longer allow ourselves to be pulled in by your blackness.

I recognize that my final flourish there was over the top. I really wanted my metaphor to hold up.

Anyhow, I thank you for your time today.

If you wanted to place an order over the last couple of days but saw the grave message on our website, you may want to try again now.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!