Tag Archives: goals

Laying The Groundwork For Age 50

Hi!  Sorry about that, I’ve been hiding under a blanket for the last few weeks. I was pretty sleepy.

A year ago, I came across this article about women in their fifties, and the importance of having a group of girlfriends. Rather than focus on these friendships themselves, it had me thinking about the kind of power a person gains with age. In the US at least, women in their fifties are free to leverage their experience, wealth, and connections to create positive change in their communities and beyond. Once again, the mask falls to the floor, and we have the option to redefine our lives, identities, and impact in the world.

When a question like “where do you want to be when you’re fifty” comes up, I don’t want to think of it as a goal. I want to think of it as experience. We’re climbing stairs, or walking a path, yes — but what is that path made of?

Marble? Plush velvet? Jello?  Hot coals?

What do you want to have accomplished by then, that sets the stage for something even greater once you’ve come into  power as a sage?
What do you want to learn?
What do you want to experience?

Is this something you’ve thought about before?

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What you know is only the beginning

When I achieved my teenage dream of training in a kung-fu monastery, I had no idea what to do next. I felt aimless.  Goal-less.  With six months to graduate, I had planned to move to a new city until I could dream up a new dream.

As I was getting my plans together, I got into a huge argument with my brother.  I said that once I graduated, I wanted to work in a cushy, air-conditioned office where I was making just enough that I wasn’t worried about money. He responded by saying that when he graduates, after medical school, he expected to make around 125 times what I would be making, that I was aiming for the gutter, and that maybe he had an inaccurate view of my potential. 

He went on to say that I would find no writing inspiration in a cubicle, and that I would only have things to write about if I talked to felons with eight fingers, or farmers with seven kids who speak only in biblical German.  “That’ll give you some stories,” he said.

It’s always difficult to navigate that part of a conversation.

Needless to say, it made me furious.  It made me screaming, crying, wall-punching mad. How dare my own blood say I’m aiming for the gutter by wanting to be comfortable. I deserved a break, god-dammit. What right did he have; the child who partied all through high school, then spent five years as an MP in Germany because HE didn’t have a plan? How can he speak? He, who ended up a veteran of two wars before he decided to calm down enough to have a semblance of a relationship with our family– 

–and other scathing, self-centered, self-righteous sentiments.

All of this happened, as far as I can tell, because he had no plan.  I haven’t been through what he’s been through. There are some schools of thought that say I’ll be a shitty writer as a result. Maybe I should stop. Maybe I’ll have nothing to write about unless I divorce my family and lead a dangerous, sluttish existence peppered with drug-infused club scenes and war-zones.

We’re told to write what we know because only an authentic voice will resonate with people that have lived what we’ve written. My brother has lived through experiences and stories I could never dream. There’s also a strong chance he’ll hate everything I write. So far, my family has been supportive of my being a writer, but I don’t think they like my work all that much. That’s ok, though. Not my audience. 

At first I was sad, thinking that if I where better at this, my brother and people like him might become my audience. It doesn’t work that way.

The scenes that do land well are the ones in which I could translate my own life experience into something the characters would go through.  I haven’t spoken to felons, used magic, or visited rural German communities; but I’ve been angry. I can write angry.

Stick to what you know, but don’t stop your imagination from telling its tale.  What you know is your foundation — build up from there.

“Write what you know.” 
— Mark Twain

“Imagination is more important than knowledge; for knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
— Albert Einstein

“I mean when you look at ‘Midnight Express’ the film, you don’t see any good Turks at all.  It creates this overall impression that Turkey is this horrific place. Well, that’s not fair to Turkey. I love Istanbul.  I actually spent quite a bit of time in Istanbul before I was arrested.”
— Billy Hayes


Liebster Nomination, and embarassingly personal stuff

Check it out! Margit Sage of Ominous Whimsy nominated me for a Liebster Award!  Liebe really IST für alle da!https://i0.wp.com/margitsage.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/liebster-blog-award-2.png

Rules:
1. Each nominee must link back the person who nominated them. (Done)
2. Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator. (See below)
3. Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award who have less than 200 followers. (See below)
4. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer. (down further below)
5. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them. (Message delivered)

ONE:  What is the soundtrack to a great writing day for you?
RAMMSTEIN
.  At least right now. Ask me again in a few weeks and it may be showtunes, The Duhks, Qntal, Christen Lien; who knows.

TWO:  Is there a song that embodies your favorite character (or poem) that you’ve written? If so, what is it?
Almost all my characters have theme songs. Music helps us set the tone. For one of my toughest, hardest characters, Sirenia’s “Save Me From Myself” jumped out immediately. The song is so mournful, it reminded me of all the impossible choices she made and decisions she refuses to second-guess. She amasses political and martial power because she’s hurting; and no amount of armor will ever be able to make her feel safe again.

THREE: Do you know exactly what each of your characters looks like? Or do you just have some vague notion (or none at all)? Does your visual conception of characters change over time?
Some characters are as clear as day — right down to their cheekbones and the smell of their sweat. Other characters are more vague, as though they’re two blocks away. I have a file of image references, but connect more strongly to their personality than their appearance.

FOUR: Why do you write?
Because I have to.

FIVE: How does your writing begin? With a visual, a concept, or something else entirely?
It always feels like addiction in the beginning. Sometimes it’s a piece of music. Sometimes it’s visual, like a key on a bracelet. Unbearable emotion is another source. If I can’t talk about it — or talking isn’t enough — I apply those feelings in a completely different context and let them unravel there.

SIX: When you write, where are you? What are you surrounded with/by?
I am in the story. I am in the character. Whoever is talking and thinking — whoever the narration focuses on — I am in their soul and their heart, feeling around. If they laugh, I laugh. If they cry, I cry.

SEVEN: What author do you wish every writer you talk to had previously read?
Joe Abercrombie. Or Paulo Coelho. Or both — I love a hard-ass with a soul.

EIGHT: What are your writing goals this year?
Snag an agent for my fantasy novel, finish the steam book, and finish the antichrist book.

NINE: What advice would you like to share with your blog readers right now?
That thing you want to do, you can do it. Seriously. Even if you’re scared.

TEN: What is the reaction you’re most hoping for from your readers? What reaction would put a giant grin on your face?
I want them to feel. I want them to relate. I want them to step outside themselves for just a moment and realize how much more is possible — and then I want them to pass it on.

On a more superficial level, I want to see them dress up as my characters for a packed reading at the Castro Theater. That would be such a great party.

~

Now you, RD, Yvone, TomCarry, Susan, Shana, Bob, Michelle, Kira Lyn, and Drew must answer the following ten questions:

  1. What’s the harshest piece of criticism you’ve grown from?
  2. If you had to be without one of your five senses, which would it be and why?
  3. What material is hard for you to write, and how do you tackle it (emotional rawness, erotica, gore, etc)?
  4. What did you have in mind when you started blogging, and how did your blog deviate from your original idea?
  5. What’s the strangest compliment you’ve ever received?
  6. What question do you wish people would ask you, and how would you answer?
  7. How do you deal with an unhealthy obsession (if you don’t have obsessions, I suspect you’re fibbing — but go ahead and give advice for ‘your friend’ who does)?
  8. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to do, and what would be the first step toward accomplishing that goal?
  9. What makes you a great friend?
  10. What does your personal paradise look, sound, and smell like?

The world is not obligated to care.”
– David Drake, from Shared Worlds Exhibit

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return.”
– Eden Ahbez

Compensating For Your Weaknesses

Whenever I hear that someone has finished a book, published a book, or is off to perform at an open-mic, I get jealous. I feel like I’m a stupid, talentless, lazy worm that talks a lot and produces nothing.

On the first day of fifth grade, everyone in my class received a homework planner. Each day had lots of space for us to write assignments, appointments, and other notes — and have room left over for stickers. From the moment I popped that sucker into my TrapperKeeper all the way through college, I’ve relied on planners. I still slice off the upper right corner so I can thumb directly to the page I need.

My memory sucks. If I don’t have a planner, I don’t know what day it is.

I’ve gone through lots of other planners of varying sizes, colors, formats, school-year, calendar-year, spiral bound, thread-bound, plastic-covered and gold-tipped. Sadly, I haven’t been able to reconcile the size of the planner with the size of a pocket. I really enjoyed Lauren’s blog post that mentioned keeping a writing kit. I built one that includes printed critiques, a notepad, a black pen, a red pen, a highlighter, business cards and sticky notes.

The truth is, it doesn’t matter how lazy or talented you are. It doesn’t matter how good your memory is. You are how you are, and there’s no shame in that. The key to success is identifying your weaknesses and putting systems in place to help you work around them.

Cowards make the best tacticians — they don’t want to die.
Lazy people are the most efficient — they don’t want to work hard.

Think about what you want to accomplish. Think about what’s in the way. Now… consider what it would take to never have to worry about that obstacle again.

Efficiency is intelligent laziness.”
― David Dunham

A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution applied ten minutes later.”
― George S. Patton

Get on it.