Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Fear of Insignificance

To pour out your life to have all your efforts swept away by the winds of time--the fear of insignificance rattles my bones, but I don't bow down to this fear. Instead, I find myself whispering, "Make this moment count, make them all count. You will never pass this way again." 

As you might know, I am a voice crying out in suburbia.  Lots of people are afraid of ticky-tack houses, the matching facades, and identical brick mailboxes out front. No one ever dreams of living suburbia. It's a place that you leave behind. A disgruntled teen went on a killing spree within a mile of my house. The houses on my street have identical half-moon windows and circular vents above the garages. All the mailboxes are the same except for one. The streets are narrow and the houses are moderately priced. In a universe of galaxies, this feels like the backwater or the backwater. 

My life is a quiet one, and I feel the whole universe stretched around me and I live in one of the most plebian places possible. I make my bed, wash my dishes, and want to make a difference somehow. Can my butterfly wings cause something to change down the road?  I hope so.  I dream that my nickel and dime sideshow shakes up the consequence of the big ring. All I can do is try. Like a wheeling vulture on a rising current of wind, I whirl the poetry of being into my ways. I hope you do too. 

My hungriest thought is that my life will stir others up to do something amazing. Dance in the hallway with your sweetheart, sing in your car on the way to the cleaners, crank up the engine of imagination and spin a galaxy of your own.  Pack your moments with meaning and avoid the drift of nothingness. Experience the world and record what you have found. Share what takes your breath away, and remember that treasures are found in secret places. Let the pressure around you purify you like silver in the belly of Earth. 

Seize the day. 

I think you need a doodle:

Here is a quote for your pocket.

Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people. Carl Sagan

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Moving Through Water

I love water aerobics. I've noticed when asked to jog across the pool that my movements are sloth slow no matter how hard I try.  This is a thing with moving through water. There is no speed. There is no hurry.  Water turns me into a slug.

I have also noticed that revising a manuscript is like jogging in water. I want to hurry, but there is no hurry. No matter how I try to rush forward, I'm slowed by the density of thoughts and words.  The water buoys my body, making movement gentle to my joints. It allows me to move like a kid again.  The words lift me up to become my best possible self. The written thoughts allow me to be more than me.

In a revision, the words hold my story. It's easier to revise for me than to write the first draft. First drafts are messy, fast, and not wholly coherent. Revision is slow. It's about crystallizing the thoughts. It's about making the most sense on the page, but it's also like being underwater. Fast movement is impossible. 

As you slog forward with the need revisions in your life, remember that slow is good. 

A quote for your pocket:

Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can't go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does." 
Margaret Attwood

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Revision and Seeking Inspiration

Hi folks,

Yes, I'm back.  This week I'm wrapping up the revision to a novel. I began listening to this youtube video:  I can tell you that this conversation between John Grisham and Stephen King had me shouting with laughter. I was getting a lot of odd looks at the gym. Yes, me, Youtube videos and the gym. A magical combination. So back to the point. I'm a southerner and John Grishman's way of thinking resonates with me. I also find to Stephen King to be interesting like a beetle one finds on the back screen of the house and you stare at in fascination for hours.

Anyway, these guys have both sold a gazillion of books and I thought maybe their success would rub off on me. They both talk with superior voices that I hear from many successful writers. Gushing goes on: Oh, it was easy and miraculous. I was lucky. I was persistent. I'd do anything for a buck. That's what comes across. I figure they worked hard and lost sleep to make their magic happen.

I noticed that Stephen King states over and over again, "buy my books." This seems like a begging that should be beneath someone that has sold so many books, but with this guy probably has stuff he needs to pay for, it seems like he is still about the money, and it has always been about the money. Both also liked that people think they are awesome.Grisham liked to talk about how much money he has made and can't believe the Baptist God hasn't struck him down for blasphemy.

Anyway, they made me laugh with writer stuff like Grisham buying 1000 books thinking everyone was going to care about his work in a small town in Mississippi. My revision happens to be about a girl passing for white in a small town in Mississippi. Why this story? Ticking in the heart of me is a bonfire of anger about bright people who don't have a shot in this world because of something plain evil. I don't think any snake ever tempted anyone. The ugliest snakes I've ever seen, have faces like people I might pass at the gym, or the grocery store, and have made choice after choice that has turned them from beings of light to creatures slithering on their bellies and ready to inject me with poison.

I am finally old enough to stop worrying about making folks angry and suddenly my storytelling is on fire. I am on page 100 of the revision and have 170 or so to go. I have been scratching at this book for some years and have finally got something singing for me. I hope this revision pass singes my readers with some of that bonfire in me. I dream of folks reading my books even though reading isn't fashionable. I dream of my books made into movies.  I dream of talking to writers across the planet and giving them the kind of boosts that so many have given me.

So here is a tiny bit of revision advice. DO THE WORK. There you go. 

I will be back next week with more SEIZE the day.

Here is a quote for your pocket.

“The writer must have a good imagination to begin with, but the imagination has to be muscular, which means it must be exercised in a disciplined way, day in and day out, by writing, failing, succeeding and revising." Stephen King
Here is a doodle.  Halloween, folks! Rainbow Unicorn Kitty Chicken. Check out CHICKENS DO NOT TAKE OVER HALLOWEEN. (By yours truly...)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

5 Pneumonia Lessons

Hi folks,

I've tried some things but have returned here to continue Seize the Day posts. I hope this brings some light to your life.

I am slowly getting better from a bout of pneumonia. It is a tough thing.  I am weary in my bones. I take naps every day. The breathing is good now, but still coughing some. Anyway, these are the things I have learned.

1. You can be too tired to think. Too tired to work. Too tired to do anything but exist. The lesson learned? Existing is OK. It's simple. It's now. It's enough.

2. You must edit your life down to the essential. You can only do so many things. Let the light of weariness shine on what is truly important.

3. You worry that things will not be done without you, but what really happens is that things are done in different ways than you would have done them. You are not necessary. Your life is a privilege.

4. Everything can wait until you feel better.

5. "Who you are" does not consist of the things that you do or have. You are precious inherently. The fires of this life do not reduce your value.

I hope these thoughts are useful to you.

Here is a quote for your pocket:

“Don't listen to people telling you that getting up early is best. RenĂ© Descartes is one of history's most important philosophers, but he rarely got out of bed before noon - and when he started getting up early for a new job as a private tutor, it caused him to catch pneumonia and die.”  Gideon Defoe

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Zen of Self-Publishing

The stars have aligned, and you've already received visions from on high. You've decided to self-publish. I know how you feel. I'm in the same boat. Self-publishing is like thumbing your nose at the establishment in one hand while becoming the establishment at the same time. This plunge takes moxie and something more.

I'm talking Zen, Urban Dictionary Zen. This is a "total state of focus that incorporates togetherness of body and mind." It takes bravery and insanity to put your work out there with no vetting but something called BETAS.

Self-publishing has changed the game of publishing. Vetted stuff with agents and editors and fancy folks drinking cocktails in lovely hotels is so 2000. The publishing game has changed forever. It's about your voice being heard in the NET noise without an advertising budget like a Disney blockbuster behind you.

Yes, you plan to HORTON HEARS A WHO this thing and say, "Yopp." But you have no idea if you are the voice that breaks through or just so much static.

You are here because the establishment is not for everyone. So of us must march to the beat of our own drummer. Self-publishing is about doing your own thing and hoping and praying you're not old American Idol worst singer for comic relief.

So here I am. In the coming month, I'm plunging again into the icy waters of wannabes. This time it's with an urban dramedy called WEIRD AND WONDERFUL. I've got the glorious pages edited. I've got a cover designer hard at work. Me? I'm losing sleep at night.

I'm lying on the bed thinking about dreamy greens and blues. I am procrastinating as much as I can. That's followed by energetic bursts of work that feel like solar flares. The words are on the page, but where is the love? Will there be love? As the great poet Paul McCartney said, "All you need is LOVE. Everybody, now." I need love.

Consider: your heart is in this dream. My heart is in this dream. Who wants a broken heart?

So I am breathing deeply. Perhaps this will be the breakthrough that moment that will cause my voice heard. Perhaps this will be one more misstep in a wild journey toward an unknown future. The thing that is important, my yeoman friends. For me and you. We have cultivated our pieces ground, our books. Our words.

Be Brave. Be insane. Soak in the Zen. Soak it in.

Here is a doodle for you.

Here is a quote for your pocket.

Either this is madness or it is Hell.” “It is neither,” calmly replied the voice of the Sphere, “it is Knowledge; it is Three Dimensions: open your eye once again and try to look steadily.
Edward Abbott Abbott