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Posted by on January 22, 2021 in Blog, News

 

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Failure is Our Friend

Failure is Our Friend

One of the many dichotomies of life: where Failure really isn’t as bad as we make it out to be, and Comfort is not really our friend.

Comfort Zones Suck (our lives away)

Feeling for a moment like a big fucking failure, I started re-reading one of my many success self-help books, because no one’s going to read it for me. I’m barely into the first chapter, when a sleepy creature groans and pokes it head above the debris of my life, peering out with bleary eyes.

Oh, wow, I haven’t seen this critter in a while! It’s my Hunger to Succeed.

It seems my comfort zone had been quietly lulling her to sleep with Lo-Fi music and stacking distractions up around her to hide her from view, once more trying to keep me from that scary thing called Change. Comfort zones do that. It’s their purpose, to shield us from the saber tooth tiger outside the cave.

“Just stay by the fire,” it says in our ear. “I know you’re hungry, but let someone else go hunt for food and possibly not come back. Be safe, don’t risk it.”

The comfort zone’s job is to protect us, keep us safely ensconced in our easy chairs in front of the television, where no one can break our hearts or tread on our egos. The people on the screen do all that for us now. No need to risk it ourselves anymore.

Our comfort zones are adept at sapping our confidence so we don’t put ourselves out there, and risk that most fearful of all creatures: Failure. But this is just silly.

It may sound ironic or even crazy, but without failure we’ll never know Success.

We can emulate others all we want, read their books, watch their YouTube videos, but until we put ourselves out there and actively fail at things, we won’t learn who we are, what we can do, what actually works for us in life. What our purpose is.

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Posted by on March 29, 2021 in Blog, Motivation, Silly

 

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When Life is Bopping You on the Head

When Life is Bopping You on the Head

When the world is being mean to us for no reason, is it actually trying to wake up our Inner Hero?

An Ode to my 2nd-Gen Prius,

… may she rest in pieces.

A few days ago, some lovely example of humankind made away with a piece of my car in the night. It wasn’t a pretty piece by any means. It didn’t play music or gleam in the sun or make my tires stay round. It was just a metal blob of environmental piping covered in road grime underneath. It also helped my little Prius not to sound like a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Which it did when I started it up the next day.

Someone had cased my car, waited for darkness, jacked it up enough to get under it, and hacked away my catalytic converter. All within a few feet of my apartment.

I can only imagine how tough the job was for the poor criminal, on his back on wet gravelly asphalt in the cold drizzle of night, making all that racket sawing metal that should have woke the neighbors–or me. Just for a few hundred dollars in precious metal.

I almost feel bad for them.

No, that’s a lie. Despite my usual empathetic, compassionate nature, I cannot condone their sheer selfishness, taking away my hard-earned (and under-insured) mode of transport. I think it warrants a little ire. I think I could happily have squirted lighter fluid in their crotch and applied a burning match.

Allow me to savor that image for a moment before the guilt sets in…

Empathy and Other Lost Arts

Despite my vengeful imagery, Empathy is important to me. I personally believe that it is the one trait living creatures are gifted with that has the power to save this world. If only we exercised a little more of it.

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Posted by on March 21, 2021 in Blog, Memoir, Motivation

 

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Nerdy Girl on Radio

Nerdy Girl on Radio

A little memoir piece that came out of someone asking me on Quora: “What was Amateur Radio like when you were first licensed?” and a little story kinda happened…

I was living in rural Pennsylvania, fortuitously in a slate roofed house high on a hill overlooking the tiny town we’d just moved to. I was in high school and shy, and ham radio seemed a cool way for a nerdy girl to get out there socially. The fact that it made me do so in Morse code was actually a motivator, because I was too shy for a microphone just yet. Two meters (handheld VHF radios) cured me of that a while later.

In a rural community, ham radio seemed more a concept than anything else. I think I fell across a CQ or QST magazine in my school library and found out what it was about from that. The kids in my school were too much about Farming and Football to know about it. Once I put it out there I was interested, my parents somehow connected with an older man who knew all the other hams in the area.

I was surprised there were so many in such a tiny town.

One of them was an Extra class who worked for the power company, and had the tallest telephone pole I’d ever seen planted in his yard by his house. He had a deep accent, perhaps Scandinavian or thereabouts (I can’t remember now), a handlebar mustache, a pristine radio setup, and was possibly the best Elmer a 16-year-old could ask for.

He and the original ham loaned me Morse code tapes and then drove me to a late night theory class in the city. It was great. They took me to my first Hamfest (a flea market for hams) where I found an old Heathkit rig, a vertical antenna I planted on a hill behind our shed, and a Morse code key.

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Posted by on March 9, 2021 in Blog, Memoir

 

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Writing the Dream

Writing the Dream

It’s amazing how quickly the brain adjusts to intentions when it comes to remembering dreams, as if something deep within us wants us to pay attention to them, and it only needs a little encouragement to make them want to be remembered when we awake.

A Funny Thing Happened …

I love writing dream sequences in my stories. The rules of reality are (for the most part) suspended, but you get to have the fun of making a pretense of them for the sake of creating a story within your character’s mind. A story that tells them something about themselves they need to know to advance the plot in their waking life.

I love this idea so much that it makes me jealous… because I typically don’t remember my dreams. Not a whit. The alarm goes off and, oh, there. Nope, gone.

There are exceptions: Yesterday morning, I was having one of those dreams you sometimes get when things are so intriguing (or sexy) that you don’t want to open your eyes for fear of it ending too soon. Your body is waking up, you realize you’re dreaming, but somehow this doesn’t end it. So the dream actually becomes more lucid, and you want to see it through.

Ever have those? I hope so, because otherwise I’m going to sound silly.

In those situations when you’re already partially awake anyway, it’s not hard to hold onto the memory of them for a little bit once you do open your eyes.

And if by chance you decide to write them down… watch what happens the next morning! It’s pretty amazing.

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Posted by on March 4, 2021 in Blog, Memoir, Motivation

 

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That “Scattered” Feeling

That “Scattered” Feeling

Where I realize that working on too many things at once makes it hard to finish any one of them.

So, there I was, blithely flirting with YouTube addiction, looking up videos about storyboarding for my Batteries project (the one with the piranha), when YouTube’s silly autoplay-some-random-video thing started playing this video without warning, titled “The drawing advice that changed my life,” (by Struthless).

Since I’d been feeling a bit stymied by life of late, I was a little curious about life changing stuffs…

Turns out, it’s a vlog by an Australian artist who felt like he was being super creative, but felt “scattered” and not going anywhere despite being creatively active. He had all these ideas and projects, but not much forward motion.

Meanwhile, the guy he was working for and his wife were making a name for themselves making sculptures of a dog and a rabbit in different social situations. The same dog and rabbit each time, sometimes larger than humans, doing something mundane, like drinking coffee together.

You should get the story from the source (at the link above), but the gist of the video for me was … really quite immense. The moment he said the word “scattered,” I realized he was describing exactly how I’d been describing myself for a while, regarding my own creativity: Super busy on lots of things, but apparently not moving much.

Only a minute and a half through a ten minute video, I realized I was dividing my time between so many projects I loved, I wasn’t getting any of them done.

So, mind already blown by this dude talking on a porch, I’m continuing to watch the video for …

The Advice

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Posted by on February 19, 2021 in Blog, Memoir, Motivation, Writing

 

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So You Think You Can’t …

So You Think You Can’t …

Where we poke fun at one fine fallacy that keeps us from enjoying our full potential, because we don’t know any better.

“I can’t … “

You can put just about anything after those two words… I can’t draw. I can’t swim. I can’t write. I can’t fly. I can’t drive a manual stick shift. I can’t roller skate. I can’t juggle wombats.

I don’t know when we first pick up that phrase, but I imagine for most of us it was pretty early on. And those things we learn early on are hard to shake, too. Like shyness, or comic books, or an aversion to broccoli.

I remember as early as kindergarten, there was already that peer pressure to compare our creative work with the work of others. We look over and notice the next kid’s finger-painting has a nuance ours can barely aspire to. And that little girl can stack blocks in a more collinear fashion than seems natural.

The embarrassment at such a young age, when adults expect so much of us, like remembering the order of words, or this staying vertical on two too-tiny feets thing. It’s simply so much easier to sit down, stick our lip out, and give up on the whole idea to save ourselves further embarrassment.

“I can’t,” we say. I wonder who taught us those words?

Well meaning (or clueless) teachers or parents might tut-tut and simply agree with us, offering thoroughly unhelpful comforts, like “I guess your sister got all the talent for that in the family,” or “you’ll never make a living doing that anyway,” or “I’ll never get that paint off the cat.”

Actually, I think I heard the middle one later on, regarding something I could do… never mind.

Perhaps you gave it a really good try, but the right mentor wasn’t handy at that moment to ease you over the one tiny bump to “I can”. Perhaps you were on your way there, but some jealous person decided to insult your efforts at a sensitive moment. Perhaps you simply lost your patience.

And “I can’t” was ready.

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Posted by on February 8, 2021 in Blog, Fiction, Memoir, Motivation, Screenplay, Silly

 

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Process: The Online Workshop

Process: The Online Workshop

The fourth in a series about finding your writing process, discussing the value of finding other writers to help tow you in from the vacuum of space.

For a writing process, this one is a little different. But it is one that has truly helped me to develop (and re-find my love for) several of my short works and poems, as well as scenes and chapters from my longer work. It also provided a happy relief from that vacuum so many of us writers find ourselves creating in.

What I’m referring to is the online writing workshop. These come in lots of flavors and forms–including the Meetup.com variety, but sadly the pandemic has put a hurting on those for a bit.

Most online writing workshops involve sharing your work–or chunks of it–online for others to read and review, like a regular in-person writing workshop or writer gathering at the local coffee shop.

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Posted by on February 1, 2021 in Blog, Process, Review, Writing

 

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Delight and Happy Crying

Delight and Happy Crying

I thought I’d take a break from the serious writing stuff and share something I wrote in my journal nearly a year ago (2/1/2020) about delight, and crying. The good kind.

Background: OPB, “The Show of Delights”

I’m getting ready to get out of my car at Starbucks, but I can’t seem to stop listening to the radio. It’s OPB, doing a This American Life segment about Delight. It’s oddly delightful, beginning with the story of a poet who wrote a book about finding delight in his life every day for a year and what he learned about that. Turns out, it had a lot to do with curiosity and being open to finding new things that bring delight. It’s also about embracing your inner child, who sees everything as new; not the jaded way we adults look at things. Like when a kid runs in telling all the adults in the room that there’s a rainbow outside–a fairly common occurrence–and everyone runs outside and “shares a gasp” with each other.

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Posted by on January 27, 2021 in Blog, Memoir, Review

 

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Process: Writing in Sequences

Process: Writing in Sequences

The third in a series about finding your writing process, continuing with borrowing wisdom from the big screen to write your novel, using the 8-Sequence Method.

The 8-Sequence Method is nothing new. In fact, it began when cinema began, when movies were only as long as film reels could hold, about 15 minutes of rolled plastic. When they figured out how to quickly change reels in the projection room, the movies we know now were born; and even today when reels are rare, they are designed to give us an interesting turn of the plot every fifteen minutes or so. (If you write screenplays, you might want to check out Screenwriting: The Sequence Approach.)

It just works. Fifteen minutes is just long enough to give us some fun with the current state of affairs, but about the time we’re looking for something new to happen. Boom, the main character falls down and must reassess and set out on a new plan.

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Posted by on January 18, 2021 in Blog, Process, Review, Writing

 

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