Sunday, December 31, 2017

Being Brave and Peace with Imperfection

Hi folks!

I hope you enjoyed last day of 2017.  We've made another journey around the sun! My favorite thing this year was when a genetic counselor told me I was the bravest person she ever met. These words shocked me. I have never thought of myself as brave. She was amazed by my upbeat attitude about my unfair genetic deal. My MSH6 gene is busted and that makes me more likely to have cancer than most folks. I have made my peace with being broken on a genetic level.  I live each day, and try to be the best possible version of myself. That said, no beating up the old girl if she stumbles. She can always change. I'm kind to myself and find kindness to everyone else follows. This is brave.

This year one of my many focuses has been to fight the American thing to be number one. Instead I've been happy to be invited to the party. Give yourself to whatever good works come your way. You have today and what you do with it is important. Vote for the good guys. Give your change to homeless guy. Notice if someone doesn't have a coat and buy them one. Be aware of the many voices. Don't be so danged proud of your point of view. You are the anchor of the lifeship. Hold the ship! Do the amazing stuff that pops in your head. Vision. Create. Share. Repeat.

I am looking forward to the year ahead. I plan to write the book that has been scaring the heebeejeebees out of me for more than half my life. There are things I don't talk about. For a writer, I have been especially quiet about the stuff that I should be speaking about. So the words are coming. Finally.  Cheer me on this year, friends. The cancer bravery is not half as brave as writing this story I'm not going worry about it being any good or not. I'm just going to do. I know it is a brave thing. That's enough.

So many of you who read my words are pots of treasure in the field. I'm surrounded by so many jewels it is a bit overwhelming. You give me such hope. Our light destroys darkness. It's just what it does. Let your light shine in this new year. Did you know that everything hidden will be shouted from the rooftops?

This bit from Dr. Seuss comes to mind:
"This," cried the Mayor, "is your town's darkest hour!
The time for all Who who have blood that is red
To come to the aid of their country," he said.

"We've GOT to make noises in greater amounts!
So, open your mouth, lad!" For every voice counts!"
Thus he spoke as he climbed. When they got to the top,
The lad cleared his throat and he shouted out, “Yopp!”

Your corner of the world matters. Your "YOPP" counts.

Here is a doodle:

Here is a fab quote for your pocket:

You know, my young friend, I will be ninety years old next year, and life is still a constant surprise to me. We never know what will happen next, what we will see, and what important person will come into our life, or what important person we will lose. Life is change, constant change, and unless we are lucky enough to find comedy in it, change is nearly always a drama, if not a tragedy. But after everything, and even when the skies turn scarlet and threatening, I still believe that if we are lucky enough to be alive, we must give thanks for the miracle of every moment of every day, no matter how flawed.
― Mark T. SullivanBeneath a Scarlet Sky

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Be Kind to Yourself

I am always filled with stories but lately, I have struggled to write them down. I worry that no one will ever read them.  I worry that I won't write a story that is compelling. I have worked for almost 30 years on writing stories.  My last book didn't connect with basically anyone.  I am unsure of what to do.  This keeps me hiding from the page.

I see this indecisive and writing less time as part of my journey. I know that my stories are well crafted. I do not know if they are compelling.  This not knowing state is difficult to navigate. It's the middle of the holiday season and my two goals are to beat this hanging-on-cold and enjoy my framily.  I feel the energy percolating inside.  I am not sure where this energy is going to lead. I am letting it build up and will see what happens. 

The writing journey is touched by emotions but is led by will. See the story in your hands and imagine that you connect with readers, allow for the lulls, and then, get to work. 

I hope that you are kind to yourself during your missteps.  Celebrate when you think or talk about your work.  Amazing is your destiny. Don't let the mulligrubs stop you.  Who know what will happen over the next hill. 

Here is a doodle for you:

Here is a quote for your pocket.

It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.  J. R. R. Tolkein

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

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Have You Failed at All Attempts To Be Conventional?

Hey, Artist, you started hearing it in elementary school: Gosh, that girl is weird. You remember wondering what the Dickens weird was. In your head, you were a slice of Wonder Bread. And what was weird about that?  It is true conventional is not your style. The whole "be at work at eight a.m. and leave at five" meme is just weird to you. 
What happens if you have an idea at one in the morning?  It won't wait for the "correct" time frame.   When you work all night, it is tough to get up in the morning. Some manager person at work points a finger at you and says you are trying too hard and bucking the natural order. You feel that you should receive a medal, but instead, you get a pink slip. 
Now you are out of work again. And you are supposed to unhappy about that. Instead of being unhappy, tripping glee is coursing through your veins. It had been a dumb job. Now you finally have time to work on the art projects that on the back burners. You pull them out and take long walks at the park and enjoy the chance to breathe. You are a bubbling cauldron of "toil and trouble" and that is a wickedly good thing. 
One day at a lunch with your friends, strangely your friends always have the time for lunch, you mention that you don't understand why people think you are weird.  Someone leans back in a chair and entreats. "Dear God (Insert your chosen deity here, or not), why would you want to be normal?" That makes sense and you forget about being weird and focus on that important discussion about Star Trek that you and your friends have been arguing about for the past five years.  
The next day between your stare-out-the-window time and your hour to stare at a painting that you think is cool, it occurs to you that you have failed at all attempts to be conventional. You have been fired from every conventional job.  People call you lazy, but you know that you are the busiest person you know.  The truth is immutable. You are an off-beat Bohemian. 
You know the solution for world peace. You know how to stop all inequality among people. You even know the how to stop world hunger. This kind of rebel knowledge does not endear you to the world at large, but leads you to hard knocks from "The Man." You wish you had a nickel for everyone that has told you that you will never amount to anything.  It has not gone beyond your notice, that those folks are specks of dust on a small planet, in an average galaxy, in a mongo universe, that's probably part of infinite multi-verse. I mean. 
Here is my bit of advice, avant-garde Weirdo.  Thank your lucky stars.  Thank them every day. Do your thing. Never stop. 
You need a doodle. Here you go: 
Here is a quote for your pocket from a werido, the great poet, John Lennon. 
You may say I'm a dreamer but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us and the world will live as one.

This blog was reposted from Reposted from Niume.  

I've made the ads as unobtrusive as possible, but, as I always say, people have to eat. If I receive $100 of support from PATREON the ads here will go away. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Do Your Best Writing But Remember To Frolic

Oh, I know you want to shake the foundations and rattle the bones, but maybe it is time to stop taking yourself so seriously. Humor doesn't win awards but the right touch imbues your work with humanity.  Heck, it imbues you with humanity. Open your soul to frolicking. 
It's the beginning of the new year. You are probably making plans. You are dreaming dreams. Here's a thought. What would be fun? I mean since when has creative work had to be a drag? You are a dreamer at heart if you want to write. Writing is about making other enter a waking dream. Whimsy is part of every dream I've ever had. So paint the town. Go on a spree. 
Even the best horror is helped by a bit a comedy. This willingness to create a world of shaded values will make your work stand out. Go to your WIP and stare at it.  Ask your main character what would make the good times roll. Let the character tell you this in his or her own voice. Be a diligent scribe and write all the nonsense down. Whoop it up!

Adding humor to work is a little like grabbing ahold of the rope swing at the swimming hole. The rope burns as you swing out over the reflective water and then let go. For a few seconds, you are airborne until you plunge into the shockingly cold pool. This water floods your ears and shoots up your nose. You know you are alive. You break the water's surface with shouts of laughter.
Perhaps that is the best part of adding humor to the mix. It makes the everyday boring moments of life bearable. It makes your writing breathe. 
Finally, don't just add humor to your fiction. Add it to your life. I hope as you plan for your new year, you make room for fun. Insert time to laugh. Take time to cultivate grins. If your schedule leaves no margins for doodling, dancing, and dreaming, you are missing the mark. Stop being so uptight.
Do your best work this year, but remember to have a good time. Laissez les bon temps rouler. Please take this to heart. 
Here is a doodle for you.

Here is a quote for your pocket:
Everyone needs a fantasy. Andy Warhol
This blog was reposted from Reposted from Niume.  
I've made the ads as unobtrusive as possible, but, as I always say, people have to eat. 

Thursday, January 05, 2017

This Coming Year, Elevate

Sleeping is a horrible way to live your life. Here at the end of 2016, it's time to wake up. How do I know you are asleep? I have read the writing on the "subway walls and tenement halls." (Thank you, Paul Simon.) Have you read the writing on the wall?  "Mene, mene tekel upharsin." Our days are numbered. 
This life we are living is the only one we are sure of. Don't spend it enamored by pop icons and puff pieces. Dig into some arguments. Who are you? What is driving you? Elevate, Artists. This coming year, elevate. 
Strip off your pride garments. I see you walk naked in the streets. Everyone sees. Invest in hard work. Add depth. Pour in Value. Don't pile up some clothes and call it art. You can do better. Take those clothes and hand them to the homeless. Then dance with the blue dog or spin with the green cat. Grab that magic carpet and watch your art explode with invention. 
Now share your story. Share your color. Share your kind. Name, and name, and rename. This bankrupt world is about people not leaving margins and living on Wonder Bread and Squeeze Cheese. Invest in forgiveness. Join the up worthy force, my friends! Help each other. Bring out your art and shock the numb minds. Open those eyes!
Here is some serious truth: nothing will happen until you open your blasted eyes first. What lies have blinded you? What must you let go? Jump off the cliff and don't be afraid. You are meant to fly. 
Here is a doodle for you. 

Here is a quote for your pocket: 
What I would say to the young men and women who are beset by hopelessness and doubt is that they should go and see what is being done on the ground to fight poverty, not like going to the zoo but to take action, to open their hearts and their consciences.
Abbe Pierre


This blog was reposted from Reposted from Niume.  
I've made the ads as unobtrusive as possible, but, as I always say, people have to eat.