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Monday, May 20, 2024

HOW TO WRITE WHEN LIFE HITS HARD

 

Monday is my "Chore Day".


I only found time to write one page of my new novel ... but I wrote it.

Those long days when I ran my bookstore, 

visited my mother as she lay dying, 

and walked back and forth to the mall and to the hospital because twice someone had put sugar in my gas tank ...

I still wrote. 

In fact those ______ who destroyed my cars improved my health with all the walking, 

gave me time to reflect on the dying of my mother & to come to grips with it, 

and allowed me the opportunity to put my thoughts into coherent order to write in my journal.


I do not know what storms hammer at you this season ... I just know they are ... or they will soon.  Life is like that.


You must ask yourself: 



WHO DO YOU WANT TO BE?

A SUNSHINE SOUL
OR
ONE FOR ALL SEASONS?



Can you sacrifice who you are for who you will become?  

Can you do with 30 minutes less sleep a day to write one page of your novel?

Can you transform your lunch half-hour into one of sipping Instant Breakfast 

while plotting the page you will write tonight or tomorrow morning?


It's not about how hard you were hit but how hard you can be hit 
and still go forward.




Remember:

1.) PICK YOUR BATTLEGROUND

Choose where you can do the most good.  

You cannot do everything.  Help where it makes sense.  Be flexible.  Be adaptable.  

Pace yourself: running yourself into the ground will not help you or anyone else.


2.) PEOPLE SEE THROUGH THEIR OWN EYES

You are entitled to your boundaries.  

You have the right to say NO.  

You have the right to safeguard your own health or sanity.

Non-writers think we’re not working when we’re plotting or researching or studying how to write better.

 It’s up to you to defend your writing time as strongly as others defend their own pursuits.

Yes, you can be more flexible. 

But writing should stay on your calendar for all but the most critical days.


3.) INVEST IN THE PERSON WHO YOU WILL BECOME

Skill is only achieved by hours and hours and hours of honing your craft.  

If you are not making your life or someone else's better ... then you are wasting your time.

You're already in grief from your dream.  Keep on and get some reward for all that grief.

You want your dream?  Then, go on and get the hits, the disappointments that come with the package.


4.) THE HIT LIST

 Before sleeping, make a list of three important things you intend to accomplish the next day. 

If you’re in the midst of storm and trauma, 

break bigger projects down into tiny steps you know you’ll be able to complete in a day. 

 As the storm eases, you can work with bigger chunks again.


5.) WINNIE THE POOH DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE

No one's life is all sunshine and rainbows.  

For most of us, the world is a mean, nasty place ... 

and life will knock you to your knees and keep you there and laugh as it kicks you ...

if you let it.

No one is ever going to hit you as hard as life. 

But it is not about how hard you are hit ... 

but how hard you CAN be hit and get back up and go forward, 

how much you can take and still stumble forward.


That's how you win, how you can stand tall, knowing you gave it your all.


6.) IT'S NOT THE TITLE THAT MAKES YOU

It is not the title AUTHOR or DOCTOR that makes you. It's not success that makes you.

It is your character that makes you.  Character defines success, defines fame, defines YOU.

And you sculpt your character with every resistance to obstacles you make, 

with every sleepless morning as you write, 

with all the early A.M. hours when you run dark streets ...

with doing something right each and every time you do it whether anyone is looking or not ... 

because you refuse to do shabby.


7.) IT'S YOUR DREAM

It's not someone else's.  

Do not expect help or support from someone who has their own dream.  

You must get up early, stay up late to make your dream come true ... no one else will do it for you.


8.) LIFE IS GOING TO SUCKER PUNCH YOU

Murphy was right.  Life is going to blind-side you when you least expect it.

It's all right to show pain, to even unleash a colorful metaphor or two, to suck air.

But those times are when the most growth occurs.  

You can let the tragedy destroy you or you can learn from it.

We all fall down in life.  The question is: who gets back up?

Please, choose to get back up and into the struggle, fighting smarter.

The companion to night is not darkness but light, for every night is followed by the dawn.



9.) YOUR MIND SET

It is not your circumstances or your situations that determine if you are going to be successful or not.


IT IS YOUR MIND SET.


It's the way you see your dream, your writing, how you feel it, how you nourish it.

Your mind is the battleground.  

But it is YOUR mind, sow the soil of it with truths that help not hinder you.

"I may give up one day ... 

BUT IT WILL NOT BE TODAY. 


 I'M GOING ALL IN, ALL THE WAY!  

I'M GOING TO MAKE THE REST OF MY LIFE THE BEST OF MY LIFE."


10.)  LEAN ON YOUR STRENGTHS


What are your personal strengths as a writer? 

Whatever they are, they’re your leverage for hard times.

 If dialogue is your strength, 

you may want to write dialogue for the next few chapters and come back later to fill in the rest of the details.

Or you might want to carry a journal and use spare moments 

to brainstorm character names and answer “What if?” questions to sketch in a story and its conflict.

AND DON'T FORGET TO REWARD YOURSELF EACH DAY YOU KEEP FIGHTING ...

if only an extra ten minutes of sleep the next day or a dessert you reserve for hard times.




Tuesday, May 14, 2024

AN ENCHANTED KINGDOM WAITS WITHIN YOU

 



There is a land not too far from where you sit right now.

Its velvet grasses miss the press of your feet.


The billowing clouds strain to see your body walk slowly up the rising hill.

The fragrant winds blow through the lonely tree branches, whispering your name as they seek some trace of you.


It is where the magic lives.

That realm is lonely, wondering where you have been.

And where have you and I been?

We have been caught up in the drudgery that writing has become. 


Burdened by life's duties and our own doubts, we have lost our way. 

We have lost the magic.

Did we lose it straining for that first perfect sentence in our new novel?

Looking at the blank, impatient computer monitor did we forget the simple wonder of just writing the first simple sentence that occurred to us?

That creative power which bubbles so tingly at the beginning of our book quiets down after a time. 


The journey becomes slower and slower, the inertia of doubt steadily dragging our steps.

Do we continue doggedly on or do we stop to refresh ourselves?

The answer to that question determines whether we find our way back to the magic or not.

How do we refresh ourselves?

How do we refresh ourselves on a long wilderness walk? We stop by a stream and drink.

Drink of those poets and writers who sparked that love of the written word spoken in the lonely heart of the reader.

As a hiker takes shade under the canopy of a huge oak, 


listen to the music of those artists who stirred you to imagine images that you just had to write and make live in your own way.

Then, you shall write as a child writes ... 


not thinking of a result but thinking in terms of discovery as if you were hiking once again where the magic lives.

It is the Zen of writing: 


the creation takes place between your fingers and the keyboard, not before in a thought or afterwards in a recasting.

The magic is there waiting for you. It will come if you but get out of its way and let it in.

Come back before the ghost of H P Lovecraft comes looking for you!

Saturday, May 11, 2024

YOUR MOTHER WAS NO SARAH CONNERS

 

She was better ...

She had no stunt double.

They do not teach how to be a good mother in public school.

Wishing someone a Happy Mother's Day is a chancy thing these days.

The person you greet may have lost a beloved mother ... or a hateful one.

Both losses leave wounds slow to heal and ones no one likes to be reminded of.

Take Mary Ball Washington, the mother of George Washington ...

In the drama of her son’s life, Mary Ball Washington has been cast as a villain and a saint—or written out entirely. 

In reality, she was an independent woman at a time when few others were.


If you are a mother, you are not seen as you are by others ... not even by yourself.

All you can do is try to be better than yesterday ... and if your children have flown the nests ...

Forgive yourself for past mistakes and forgive your children for not having the wisdom the years have pounded into your head.


May this Mother's Day find you well as can be no matter your circumstances, Roland

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Why Do You Continue With Your Blog? IWSG Post

 


Admit it ... your traffic is down. Why?

Instant gratification?

Why read paragraphs? We answers now. Short ones.

Podcasts?

YouTube can spoon feed us information.


Short Attention Spans?

We are the microwave thinkers today.


The Allure of Social Media

It gives the illusion of immediacy and intimacy without the irritation of actually being there for someone.

So Why Continue?

Cyber Journal --

Your blog is your cyber-journal. It helps create order when your world feels like chaos.

You get to know yourself when you write down your fears and doubts.

It helps you de-stress and calm down.

It puts you in touch with like minds. 


Cyber Diary --

What is  the difference between a journal and diary you ask?

You can go back through the years and see patterns to avoid or recognize as benefits to encourage in the future.

You see who you were and ask it you like what you see.


Think what you were like 2 years ago?

Heck, I can't even remember what I wanted to buy unless I write down a list before I go shopping.

How about you?

Think "Kaizen" 

The Japanese concept of continuous improvement.

Embrace the change you see around you, becoming a lifelong learner.

Engage with your visitors, visit their social media.

Have fun with your blog. It will show.


WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BLOG LATELY?


APRIL 30TH -- MAN IS WHAT HE HIDES

 Samuel McCord here --


Before Indiana Jones or Allan Quartermain 
https://www.amazon.com/dp/151877668X




André Malraux wrote:

“Man is not what he thinks he is,
he is what he hides.”


Benjamin D. Maxham - Henry David Thoreau - Restored.jpg
Portrait by Benjamin D. Maxham

Take Henry David Thoreau.

I read his Walden at least once every year, but he could not stand up to his mistakes. 

At the age of 26, he accidentally set fire to 300 acres of the Concord woods on this day in 1844.


Thoreau had taken a few days off from the family pencil-making business, and set out down the Sudbury River with a friend.

A spark from their first fire, a noonday fish-fry — this courtesy of a borrowed match, as they had forgotten to pack their own — ignited the dry shoreline grass.

When stomping and whacking the flames didn’t work, the friend went for help and Thoreau,

 after a little more futile effort, climbed a nearby cliff to observe the scene while he waited for the firefighters.

What did he write of it?

"I said to myself:

'Who are these men who are said to be the owners of these woods, and how am I related to them? I have set fire to the forest, but I have done no wrong therein, and now it is as if the lightning had done it.'



Reminds me of what President Reagan wrote:


“Politics is not a bad profession.

If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book.”



And speaking of books --

A Memorial for Margot and Anne Frank shows a Star of David and the full names and birthdates and year of death of each of the sisters, in white lettering on a large black stone. The stone sits alone in a grassy field, and the ground beneath the stone is covered with floral tributes and photographs of Anne Frank
Memorial for Margot and Anne Frank at the former Bergen-Belsen site,
along with floral and pictorial tributes

On this day, a Wednesday it was, in 1952,

the diary of Anne Frank, a Jewish victim of the Holocaust was published in English titled "The Diary of a Young Girl".

Her diary, later entitled "The Diary of Anne Frank", became one of the most popular books in the world and is included in most schools as recommended reading.

Anne Frank died of typhus just before her 16th birthday in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945.  



Recognizing that the war was ending, Hitler had retreated to his Fuhrerbunker several months previously. He and his new wife, Eva Braun, whom he had married the day before,

committed suicide on this day in 1945 by swallowing a cyanide capsule and shooting themselves in the head.




My faith in the Great Mystery was wounded by what I found in those death camps. 


It took Victor Standish entering my life again to heal it.



And on the topic of books, Anne Dillard was born on this day in 1945. 


Her wry perspective on life and writing is reflected in this quote from her LIVING BY FICTION:

"You know how a puppy, when you point off in one direction for him, looks at your hand.

It is hard to train him not to.

The modernist arts in this century have gone to a great deal of trouble to untrain us readers, to force us to look at the hand.

Contemporary modernist fine prose says, Look at my hand. Plain prose says, Look over there."




On this date in 
1939,

200,000 people attended New York World’s Fair, official opening, featuring futuristic technologies such as FM radio, television, and fluorescent lighting.



On this day in 1940,

Jimmy Dorsey and his band recorded the song "Contrasts." Along with his brother Tommy, the Dorsey Brothers eventually became an unmatched rival during the big band and swing era. 



Roger Zelaznyghost here.

You scoff. Be my guest ...

it makes it so much easier for us.

There is more to reality than you are capable of comprehending ...

after all, you are but flesh.



Oh, you are wondering who Roger Zelazny is.

Don’t be embarrassed. In life I wondered much the same thing.




Once the name, Roger Zelazny, drew crowds.

I made somewhat of a splash in Science Fiction in the sixties,


endured and evolved in the seventies and eighties.
I went the way of all flesh mid-way through the nineties in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

And Roland mourned me as a distant older brother gone over the crest of the hill before him, leaving him cold and alone.

Oh, and I inspired him to take up the pen and follow my steps into weaving tales in the genre I call Science Fantasy.


Monday, April 29, 2024

APRIL 29TH -- LOST TIME IS NEVER FOUND AGAIN

 Ghost of Mark Twain here again, children --







How mankind defers from day to day the best it can do, and the most beautiful things it can enjoy,

without thinking that every day may be the last one, and that lost time is lost eternity!


We are nearing the end of the month, and it occurs to me that some of you are much closer to your end than you would imagine. 

Cherish each moment.  I wish I had done that more.



On this day in 1969, old Duke Ellington got the Medal of Freedom on his 70th birthday.


In 1965, the Music Jury of the Pulitzer Prize Committee unaminously recommended him for a special award, but the Advisory Board declined it. 

Heathens!

Old Duke just smiled, "Fate doesn't want me to be famous too young!"


I like especially what he once told me, "I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues."

Now, there's a man for you!








Ah, gentle readers, that shows you the power of music, that magician of magicians,

who lifts his wand and says his mysterious word and all things real pass away and the phantoms of your mind walk before you clothed in flesh.





Painting, c. 1485

On this date in 1429,

young Joan of Arc arrived to relieve a siege in Orleans.  The siege had been going on since October of the previous year,

and Joan's success in lifting the siege was the first of a series of stunning victories.

Think of it: a young peasant girl, unschooled in the arts of war, leads seasoned men and commanders to a victory long denied them.


That is the way with us:

 we may go on half of our life not knowing such a thing is in us, when in reality it was there all the time, and all we needed was something to turn up that would call for it. 



On this day in 1945:

Adolf Hitler married Eva Braun. 

The two married in the Fuhrerbunker, where they had been living underground for months, and committed suicide together the next day.



KZDachau1945.jpg
American troops guarding the main entrance to Dachau just after liberation, 1945

Dachau was liberated. 

Dachau was one of the first concentration camps opened, and was the site of some of the worst atrocities of World War II.

When it was finally liberated, most of the 30,000 inmates were severely emaciated, and many more had died.



Of all the creatures that were made, man is the most detestable.

 Of the entire brood he is the only one--the solitary one--that possesses malice.

That is the basest of all instincts, passions, vices--the most hateful.

He is the only creature that inflicts pain for sport, knowing it to be pain.

Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel.

He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it.




1992 --


In a sour example of "justice",

an all-white suburban Los Angeles jury acquited four white police officers accused of beating black motorist Rodney King.

The case centered on a video, taped by an amateur cameraman which caught the scene on film

as the four police officers beat, kicked and clubbed unemployed laborer Rodney King while other officers looked on.

Three days of rioting ensued.  Man sure doesn't improve with age does he?


John Dillinger
John Dillinger mug shot.jpg

On this day in 1934, the Outlaw, John Dillinger,

is still on the run from a nationwide hunt after escaping from a band of policemen

with orders to catch him dead or alive 1 week ago in North woods Wisconsin.



On this date in 1958, Michelle Marie Pfeiffer was born in Santa Ana, California, U.S.

  Michelle Pfeiffer is an American actress who has won a number of awards including

a Golden Globe Award ( The Fabulous Baker Boys ) and a BAFTA Award ( Dangerous Liaisons ).

That gal is recognized for her talent and beauty

and was at one time featured in People Magazine's '50 Most Beautiful People in the World' issue in 1990.




I keep showing up in her boudoir, asking her to put on her catwoman outfit.  She keeps asking me to jump in the cat litter box!







The newly married Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the balcony of
Buckingham Palace.

The couple married in Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011 (St. Catherine's Day) with the day declared a bank holiday in the United Kingdom.

On this date in 1974, old Richard Nixon announced the release of the Watergate tapes.   

Nixon had tried to keep the tapes private for months and had exhausted virtually every legal channel, 

including executive privilege. He resigned before he could be impeached in August of that year.

There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Politicians!


Now, Roland has told me unreservedly NOT to pick him for when it come to authors.

But when did you ever know me to do what I am told?

The audiobook, GHOST OF A CHANCE, is now out,
 detailing Roland's and my adventures as he is sought for the murder of the ghost of Ernest Hemingway! 


Roland starts off the book with a quote from himself -- something he hardly ever does:


"To all of life there is a shadow. The shadow of sadness, doubt, despair. Still it is but an echo of a heart moving forward."
-Roland Yeomans