Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. - Eleanor Roosevelt



Friday, April 30, 2010

In pursuit of perfection

Practice makes perfect. You hear that being said about every skill out there, whether it be playing a musical instrument or practicing an Olympic sport.

I don't have many talent-based skills beyond the written word. I guess I can knit, and can attest to the fact that without knitting different pieces with varying degrees of difficulty, I would still only be able to knit scarves and hats. I can also crochet, and without practicing that with varying shapes and difficulties, I'd just be making swatches of crochet stitches for all eternity.

Back to my written word talent-based skills: they are two-sided.

One side of my skills is the actual process of writing. This side is one I feel confident using as a commodity, not only because I studied a form of it in college, but because it is the only thing that qualifies as work that makes me happy. I enjoy it, it's a passion. I have days when it's more difficult than others to sit down and compose something of value, but there are days where it flows out of me like exhaled air, polluted with my thoughts and views, my feelings.

The other side of my skills with the written word is reading. I love to read the written word. I am the person who prefers to read NPR online, than to listen to it on the radio. I understand better, I visualize better what I am being told by the writer when I get to see it. I don't know why that is, but I just love looking at a printed page. I read fast, I comprehend and read between the lines, never missing a beat.

But it hasn't always been that way. It took many years of searching for a passion, reading things I didn't really want to read and feedback from people I respect to get me to the point where I'm at, where I feel like practicing actually will make perfect.

But as much as I practiced these skills, I realized that there was always room for growth, so I wrote more, read more. Eventually, it took maturity to realize that you never quite stop practicing, no matter how good you get, because practice is a never ending process. I also realized that perfection is an eternal destination, a mirage we see in the distance and are forever traveling toward, never reaching.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A thought to round out a sick day.

They're just four books, the one on top, the smallest, being the most scary, but they have so much power...

I'm feeling groggy, I'm having to squint to avoid feeling the strain that the computer screen is causing my eyes to feel, and I'm also feeling slightly feverish.

I'm sick, ladies and gentlemen.

My body feels drained, I've been drinking fluids like they're going out of style and finding things to keep my mind off the things I don't want to think about; such thoughts being brought on by being somewhat idle, considering how difficult it is to sit in front of the computer and produce anything of value.

This illness came at the worst possible time, motivationally speaking. You see, just before I fell into this uncomfortable abyss, I was feeling pumped, ready to get really serious about getting my writing out there, into the hands of publications that still print on paper and pay their contributors. I even went to the library and checked out tomes with contact information of every publication under the sun (within the United States, anyway) and was planning on spending a large chunk of my coming days looking through, getting pointers on how to be successful at such endeavors and finding my market. I planned on spending other chunks of those days working diligently toward filling those spaces I'm sure are just waiting for my writing to fill them.

Well, the motivation went down some, and it's probably just the fluids, or the Nyquil I took last night, or maybe just the fever, but I felt discouraged most of today. I even resorted to watching a movie during a time when I could've been doing the things I had set out to do just days ago. I felt completely defeated and helpless in the face of all those obstacles that have succeeded for years at keeping me from doing the things I've always known I needed to be doing.

It's days like this that make me look at all the information, the resources, the tools available to me to get my writing seriously going somewhere seriously good, and feel complete and absolute fear. The small pile of books I got from the library sits next to my bed, staring me down, daring me to crack them open and get any more overwhelmed than I already feel.

I've exhausted myself in this fight, so much so that I am going to call it a night. But despite the horrible feelings I had all day, I have succeeded in giving myself the strength to go to bed and know that tomorrow will be completely different: a lot more productive.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Who's that behind the bushes?

Can't you just taste this snow on your tongue?

Each spring, right when we Coloradans start to get comfortable with the 60 to 70-degree weather, we get hit by a snow storm, which although doesn't bring icy roads or cold temperatures, covers the green with white.

It's unsettling, and quite annoying to wake up and look out your window to find that what sounds like rain feeding the grass and tulips is actually really wet snow that's already covered everything with white. You think that Old Man Winter is still hiding somewhere, pointing at you, laughing at you like a kid who rang the doorbell and ran away before you opened the door.

Once you get over the initial shock, which is really just being annoyed, you stand out on the porch in your light clothes and feel the mild cold, the moisture, and most wonderfully, you hear birds singing. That's when your mind is assured that Old Man Winter is gone for good... until next winter.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Writer Self

I’ve finally found my writing groove, which entails that...

I don’t beat myself up so much anymore about not writing daily, or even well. I kind of trust the flow of my creative juices to carry me where I need to be carried in order to be productive, and if that means going nowhere for the time being, then that’s that. No sense in forcing or even expecting profundity, I say.

Of course, that doesn’t make for a very prosperous writer, I imagine, but until the day when I am writing under a less personalized deadline, and a more survival-based one, I will continue to utilize this writing freedom I have. It’s nice to understand and accept this part of my writer self, because I could use all that saved energy to write, and maybe beat myself up about the other facets of writing.

Happy Earth Day!

Anatomy of a storm cloud...  on Twitpic
There is beauty everywhere, just waiting to be captured.

This is a storm cloud that gathered in front of my house to produce rain and hail... just enough to turn earth into my definition of heaven.

How walls are built

I was reading through the document I mentioned in my last post, which is my journal, where I write the things I don't feel comfortable sharing with the world, when I came across this entry, which albeit, is a bit sappy, is a piece I feel comfortable sharing.

December 25, 2009

The hardest thing about meeting people is that even though you really like them and feel a connection with them, they might not feel it on the same level. You have great conversation, you laugh, you get butterflies from their words, then you begin to depend on them to make you smile everyday, to give you a reason to be happy, even if you already were before they came into your life. The chemistry between you begins to act like glue, it makes you stick to them so that you talk daily. It’s great. Then something happens, and you drift apart. You feel like you’re still in the same spot while the sea of life sweeps these people away, making them drift far on a strong tide. You then have to get used to life without those who left an impression on your heart, a life which suddenly feels broken and scattered.

And that is how walls are built around hearts.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A publishable random thought...

Some days, I have nothing to write. Other days I want to write my thoughts or frustrations down somewhere, sometimes I specifically want to blog, but can find nothing to merit a blog post for everyone's eyes to see. That's when I resort to writing nonsense in a Word document journal I started over the winter.

What I write in there is mostly just a stream of conciousness that makes me cringe when I read it later for its drama and lack of purpose, it's such crap. I use this journal because I don't feel particularly good about my writing altogether, or just because I don't want to let everybody into my brain. And although this document rarely ever makes me feel good when I read it, it is good that I have it, if for nothing else, than for it helping me do my own little part in keeping the Internet free of worthless writing.

This brings me to an actual thought, worthy of a blog post, even.

Before blogs, or Twitter, or Facebook, or even the Internet, you could itch to write, you could want to tell the world about your problem, or whatever it is you've got to say, but there was no chance for you to inundate the world with pure crap. Before the Internet made everybody a published writer, the publishing world could keep a lid on the crappy writing that is now circulating like poisonous gas, infecting those who breathe it with horrible ideas that just because you can tell an entertaining story then you must be a Tolstoy or Vidal.

This probably should've just gone in my Word document journal, but everybody is publishing everything nowadays, so I'm just going with the flow, just for today. That's my publishable (in my humble opinion) thought for the day.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Give me a spine to break, or give me death!

Ever since I got my iPod Touch, a little over three months ago, my habits have changed.

I'm not sure if the new habits are good or bad, but I am definitely missing books; actual books with spines to break and covers to judge. I am still trudging through an e-book I started at the beginning of March, and I must say that e-books take away entirely too much from the reading experience.

I know that not all e-reading devices are created equal, but what I experienced of e-books through the iPod Touch has been less than thrilling.

The e-book I downloaded from Apple's app store doesn't provide page numbers for me to measure how much I've read in one sitting. It also just scrolls down the page, sometimes on its own if I just tilt the device a teeny bit by accident. If you double tap the glass one thing happens, while if you just single tap the glass something else happens... I can't even remember what does what, but I know that I can never keep it straight, and end up either losing my place, or have what look like toolbars appear at the top and bottom parts of the screen. It is all so very frustrating and repellant.

I have really missed actual books in the process, and have started reading a new book, complete with a spine to break and cover to judge. Reading is fun again!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Why did I do that?

"We promise according to our hopes, and perform according to our fears." ~Francois duc de la Rochefoucauld


I am not feeling so good today. Not because I’m physically sick, but because I broke a promise to myself.

People promise themselves they’ll eat better, they’ll work out more, or they’ll make more of an effort to keep in touch. Such promises are dubbed resolutions sometimes, I think for nothing else than to block out the word that gives the whole thing a tone of seriousness; promises.

There are also promises more serious, more significant to a person’s happiness and well-being. A person must keep these in order to live well with themselves. I made myself a promise of that nature a little over a month ago, and now I feel pretty crummy for acting like someone I would hate.

What makes it worse is that minus the promise, just doing what I did brings with it oodles of icky feelings that make me feel down on their own. Add letting yourself down to the mix and it is sheer agony.

Weird, how the mind works against us sometimes. In the meantime, I know there is nothing I can do about my failure, other than to get back on the horse and renew the promise in the hopes that I don’t break it a second time. I need to keep it so I can be happy with every aspect of me, toward me.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I'm featured again! I like this!

All right, so, after watching Julie and Julia and feeling irritated and down about how my writing isn't getting me anywhere, yet, it was a nice surprise to check my E-mail and find that the last piece I published at Intrepid Media's gallery was picked up as a feature.

It is the same piece I blogged about on Saturday, called Their is two much bad spelling four me too bare.

If you want to see it all nice and pretty on the home page, it is best to click on the link I've provided above before Friday. If you can't make it before Friday, do not despair, for it will just move down the list a notch. And if you really don't have the time until your next vacation, also do not despair, because there are archives.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Self loathing and how it alters the pattern

It's funny how humans act sometimes, and I feel that no one is as funny as me when it comes to dealing with my shortcomings.

Well, I see them as my shortcomings, but who knows how anyone outside my head and body would view what I am talking about-- they could see them as just the many facets of what makes me a crazy person. But let's just assume that they are just simple shortcomings for the sake of this blog post.

I think my biggest shortcoming of all is that I have a tendency to act like a person who is jaded and tired of the daily grind, almost bitter. It's not an everyday behavior pattern, but if my life were like one of those line graphs, and the majority of my days kept the line straight and static, signifying my overall satisfaction with my life, there would be sharp drops to the bottom of the graph every bit of distance where I am just fed up with it all, and self loathing takes place. There are also sharp spikes that drive me to the top of the graph, and although those are few and far between, when they happen, it is oh so sweet.

I am being especially reflective about this, perhaps in a cliche sort of way, because I watched the movie Julie & Julia today, and when it was over, I felt a mix of emotions that brought on the behavior I mentioned, the jadedness, the tiredness. Although I liked the movie, I found things wrong with it, none of which are a reflection of the quality of the movie itself, but rather the characteristics of a character.

I have absolutely no complaints about the Julia Child part of the story. In fact, thanks to Meryl Streep's impeccable portrayal of the culinary personality, I think I would love to meet Julia Child and have a talk with her-- and I don't even have any interest in cooking, whatsoever. So, that part's copasetic.

What irritated me, and I can't find any other way to describe the bad part of the mixture of emotions I felt as the credits rolled, was the character of Julie Powell. Julie Powell is a negative person, a writer, who dreams of becoming a writer, and who beats herself up about not being her idea of a writer.

Julie Powell is just like about 95% of the population, especially the population of those who dream of legitimately calling themselves writers, without having to explain why they call themselves writers. How much easier life would be for me if I could just say "I'm a writer," and talk about my job at a magazine where I actually write, or talk about my book that has just been bought by a big publishing house.

Instead, I am a grain of sand in a vast ocean of writers, all floating along. Some making headway toward land, some drowning. And some basking in the sun as they float close to the shore, sipping their beverages with the little tiny umbrellas, without a single care in the world, because they've already been on land and gotten their fill of land, and they now have the luxury to float for leisure rather than for a destination.

Julie Powell especially got on my nerves after she expressed her dislike of living in a run-down apartment with plenty of room, over a pizzeria in Queens, New York. Then she went on to express her dislike of close to everything about her life. Her job, her apartment, Queens... she complained about everything she could complain about.

To someone who lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado, the idea of someone hating their life in an urban, lively place like Queens, is like telling me someone hates how chocolate sticks to the roof of their mouth, so that they end up having to spend extra time tasting the chocolate in their mouth. In short, it's infuriating.

Julie Powell got me in her corner for a little while, when at a lunch with her circle of friends, who all seem to be much more successful in their work lives and clueless about how to be real, she showed her inability to fit in with such a group. I saw myself in Julie Powell at that point, and felt comfortable knowing that I'm not the only one who doesn't always feel like they fit in with their circle of friends who seem to be on a completely different wavelength than myself. That was cool.

I even saw myself in Julie when she sat in bed with her husband and gave all the no-good excuses one can muster to stave expectation or possibility of failure. Who hasn't done that... especially those who write? Julie mentions her inability to finish anything she starts and her ADD as excuses to not create and maintain the blog that in the end got her a book contract, and obviously, a movie deal.

Then Julie Powell really got on my nerves.

She created the blog, maintained it regularly, made delicious food, and, over time, began to get comments on her entries, regular followers and even gifts from readers. It wasn't long before Julie's blog was ranked in the top 5 of Salon.com.

I was rooting for Julie as things came together for her, I really was. Because I saw myself in Julie, I also saw the possibility of succeeding like her. Problem was that in the midst of all of this, she forgot everything else, and sometimes forgot just how far she'd come. She began to neglect her marriage, and all the good things that were going for her.

When dishes didn't come out right, or burned, she would sit and sulk and cry and whine to her ever-supportive husband, who encouraged her to begin the blog in the first place. At one point in the movie, I wanted to slap Julie, because when an important personality can't make it to dinner one night, her husband looks on the bright side, which is that they have more beef bovignon for themselves. Instead of just shrugging it off and remembering that it's an honor just to have such a chance, one that all bloggers and writers would kill for, Julie asks her husband, a magazine writer himself, to "stop looking at the bright side."

For someone who has a blog, and has gotten a total of maybe 10 comments since starting it in 2007, it's infuriating to see someone like Julie Powell who continues to wallow in unnecessary self pity. It's good to not be satisfied with just anything, but sometimes you are just pushing the limits, and Julie Powell does just that, especially with my nerves.

Perhaps I am just jealous, and I suppose I am. This relative nobody just decided to do something as simple as cook each recipe in a tome of a cookbook over the course of a year, and write about it. As a result, she ended up with a book and an Oscar-nominated movie with Meryl Streep in the lead. It doesn't get any better than that for any writer, I don't think.

As an aspiring writer watching this movie, it makes me wonder if my writing needs to be more narrowed down to one subject, whether I am living in the wrong environment, or if I am just destined to be in writing limbo, floating and searching for a place to land and become someone, preferably a writer.

Until that day comes when I can feel like I've sated my writing hunger, I will forever be annoyed with the likes of Julie Powell. Those who are never satisfied, no matter how many people read them, or respond to their words.

Out of all this negativity I feel toward the success of a writer who had the same doubts and hesitation I feel on a daily basis with my writing, there is a positive, believe it or not. I know that just being read as a writer by people who have no stake in your success are the best reward any writer can have, book and movie deal or not.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A new offering at the gallery

Well, it's nothing too special, but I wrote a piece and have it up on Intrepid Media's gallery.

Their is two much bad spelling four me too bare is the name of the column, and it's a little bit of a rant that is a little bit disjointed and a little all over the place, but it gets my point across: spelling continues to get worse. I even included a timeline that demonstrates how far we've come to effortlessly improve spelling, to no avail.

Hop on over there and take a look, if you have the time, you just might learn something new. In the meantime, thanks for reading.
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