Open Buddha

Open Source Buddhism, Technology, and Geekery
Bay Area, California

Professional Writing and Me

I want to write a few articles for publication and then work on a book or two. Of course, this will follow the completion of my current thesis work, which will free up a bit of time.

I’ve never written articles for publication before (technically, I’ve never written a book but the thesis will surely qualify and it is half done). I’m not sure how to go about doing so in a practical sense. I mean, sure, I can think of a topic or three and write something but that won’t get what I write published.

If anyone has any practical advice on writing for publication in a magazine or the like, I’d love to hear about it. I think I have some insight on a few things (though most of it of a more fringe nature) and, heck, I’ve both worked in tech since the early 90s but also have a background in other areas. I should be able to offer something of value, at least until my shallow well runs dry.

I’ve discussed a few of my book project ideas before but none of them have been terribly likely to be the sort of thing that a publisher snaps up. What is the intersection of Neopaganism, the Occult in America, High Technology, Philosophy, non-traditional organization, and, perhaps Buddhism, that is likely to get some interest?

One thing that I’ve considered for my potential dissertation work is something on the Shambhala tradition here in the United States. Over time, I’ve come across copies of a number of the texts used within the tradition that aren’t available for the general public, such as The Letter of the Black Ashe, which is a terma text that Chogyam Trungpa received. There is something that could be written, as an outsider (I took one weekend training with them once) who respects the tradition and finds it interesting, though members are unlikely to speak to an outsider much. I find it fascinating as an American born form of Vajrayana. Would something like that sell and would it take forever to write? I don’t need to piss off a whole tradition with me as well.

More immediately relevant would be an article on the way that various spiritual groups on the fringe have used the advent of the Internet to change how they interconnect and relate. The Dzogchen Community of Namkhai Norbu, for example, does streaming audio from all over the world when Norbu teaches. Occasionally, they manage streaming video. Individuals and groups gather to listen or watch this in realtime wherever they may be. This strikes me as something very interesting and amazingly relevant but I’m not sure if others would feel the same. It would be interesting to find out how other groups are using this. Then there are spiritually related social networking sites, such as Zaadz.

Of course, there is no central clearinghouse for such information. I only know about the Dzogchen Community example because I was a member for several years and received e-mail about it. How many other examples are quietly out there?

In any case, I’ve diverged here from my original point. I need to figure out a few articles to write and how to actually get them published. This will help build out my writing resume (from nothing) and diversify my official set of skills. Blogging is fun but I don’t do this professionally anymore and even when I did, I mostly herded the cats, and didn’t write much on my own. Building a set of published articles will also help me get a future book or two published.