So, almost two years later, I finished my 52nd story, which you can check out here. If there is anyone out there who isn’t convinced that writing is like exercise and must be done regularly in order to stay in shape, well this story is proof of that. Writing is not easy, but the act of writing does become just a bit less taxing when you get that butt in the seat and start. In fact, it’s quite enjoyable–sometimes. My 52nd story, is a step towards finding my footing again, which is good. That said, in my opinion, it seems to suffer from something I call the beeflessness of bad writing: Interesting idea, but maybe not quite right for the genre of micro-fiction, or just lacking in enough intellectual protein to make the complete journey. So why do I post it?
You can only find out what works by getting yourself writing, and I need deadlines in order to get myself writing. So I told myself I wanted post this week and I went for it. But here’s the problem: how do I balance my need for getting things done with the need to be patient?
One thing I have not done enough as a writer is give myself the permission and time to go back and re-do things, which is odd considerimng the name and theme of this blog. But what I mean here is that I’ve come to realize that one of my biggest challenges is finding the right line between patience and laziness. In other words, the more I listen to other people talk about their projects, the more I realize that the reason that a lot of projects don’t get done is that people don’t actually do the hard work and do them. At the same time, you have to be patient. You have to value your work enough to make sure that it’s worthy of readers.
For the film projects I’m working on, patience is not a choice. I’m kind of stuck right now because I don’t have some basic gear yet, and even when I do get that done, there is also the problem of not having the right people or having the right people who don’t have time just now. So, patience is forced upon me. That said, I have to push hard to look for ways to do what I can or I won’t ever find the funds to get my equipment or to get those people I need.
As I write this, I realize that what it means to be an artist, a real artist, is finding that sweet spot for yourself and not giving in to some kind of external pressure. The idea of taking that kind of control is both extremely exciting AND overwhelming. But it is where I need to get.
What do you guys think? How do you find that place between pushing yourself to get work done and waiting for it to be done?
I have no idea. I think the birth of my son may have hastened the process, but I’m pretty sure I was on the way before him, so I won’t blame the little guy.
Here’s a story, though, in case you think I’m just being harsh to myself. On Mondays, I teach both a day and night class. At the day class, I’m sitting across from from one of my students, who as I am talking to another new student, starts flinching. Not sure why the first student is flinching, but he can be twitchy, so I don’t give it too much thought. But when I go back to him, I can tell that this new twitch has something to do with me. Without saying a word, he gets up, goes into the bathroom, and comes back with what looks like half a roll of toilet paper. Why? Because I have what must have been the mother lode of boogers dangling from my nose.
How does that happen?
A couple hours later, I’m teaching another student–a crazy, stubborn older student who I love to pieces when she isn’t driving me bonkers. At one point, I notice that she starts doing a Jesse James, by which I mean that she has the top part of her sweatshirt pulled over her mouth and nose. For a moment, I assume it must be that the room is cold. Because even though I almost killed a student THAT SAME DAY with a booger-boulder, I cannot imagine that this other student’s strange hiding of the face could have anything to do with me. Well, of course it did. I’d spent that day drinking coffee and little else, and I was walking around with caffeine-powered dragon breath.
WTF? How is this happening?
I know it’s age. But it’s age combined with vanity in my case. There’s just this part of me that does not think of myself as a middle-aged man. Hell, I think it was only about 5 years ago that I actually took on the mantle of Mr. Martinez. But age, like its cousin, time, stops for no one, and neither does my halitosis, apparently.
I want to make something positive out of this. I am coming to terms that I have to go on a diet, or at least, be more careful what I eat. Running alone is not enough because I neither have the time nor do I have the energy to run enough to keep up with my calories and my slowing metabolism. I realize that when I walk into a room, people see me for what I don’t see in myself: I am no longer young, though I will say, in fairness to myself, I often laugh like a kid and I’m glad for that. But to go back to the positive thing for a second, I think this whole aging thing has made me aware of something that somehow I have missed all this time: that the body is important and should be cared for.
I guess I can admit that part of the problem is that I am one of those people who is often stuck in my head. It’s the only reason I can come up with that I didn’t realize before that I was developing a paunch or that my skin was getting freckly–new discoveries. These things do not happen over night. It’s time to slow down and take better care of myself, and that means, spend a little more time grooming. I know, it sounds soo obvious. My wife has said the same for some time: stray nose hairs, ear hairs, ashy skin. I need to wear sun block. I need to moisturize. I need to eat better, not so late. I need to sleep more (at least I will when The Boy stops waking me up at 3 am as he did tonight.)
I need to realize I’m not 20, and that’s cool. It is. I just have to take care of myself and stop having my head in the clouds. It’s time to take responsibility and drink more water, clip stray nose hairs and wipe the boogers from my nostrils. Jesus. I am growing up, after all.
Enjoy this lovely and quiet film from the guys at Flow Media. A digital creative agency out of Europe.
I saw this on the GH3 User group on Vimeo. It’s a group of people who have the same camera I just bought. This is an interesting short film that shows off some of the qualities I like about this camera and that I hope to learn how to harness.
Enjoy & Happy Marvelous Monday!
I’ve been looking at a lot of images lately. It’s kind of a new thing for me. If I’m honest, somewhere in my writer’s mind, I developed a distrust of images. Truth resided in words, I used to tell myself this, not in the facile quality of images. Even the old saying about pictures being worth a thousand words only made me feel that the words in question were better because of the effort they required. There was no way that those thousand words weren’t getting at some subtlety lost in that one lonely image.
As with so many things in life, the truth is never so black and white–no pun intended. Words have their place, and so do images. And as I learn more about how to use both–separately and in concert–I find that one teaches me about the other. Case in point: last week, when I was putting together my Marvelous Mondays post (a series I do on Mondays, obviously, in which I share pictures I’ve seen over the week that I love), I realized that increasingly I am drawn to photos of very ordinary things but composed in ways that make them seem new. Usually, this means looking at something from an unusual angle or with a stylized look to the point that it makes the ordinary seem abstract.
[one_third]I don’t know why, but right now, those are the images that are really bringing me in. I still the love street photography. I still love looking at people’s faces, but this new love of abstraction has seemed to come out of nowhere, and it started making me wonder where it was coming from and what it meant for me as an artist. This is where children’s fiction has come in.[/one_third]
If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, then you know that this year, I finished my first picture book. Currently, G.E. Gallas is finishing up the art as I am researching where to send the MS. It’s been an odd couple years for my writing, but one of the more surprising realizations I’ve had is that in my heart of hearts, the type of book I most want to write is a successful book for children, by which I mean a book that children can love and that adults who are open to such stories can love, as well. This would be a major accomplishment, I realize, but as a writer, I’ve come to realize it is a goal I want to work towards.
There are a lot of reasons for this: probably first among them, I like tales where something strange happens, something that runs counter to what we normally experience but that somehow highlights something about our own reality. I’ve said it before, but the stuff I love best lies somewhere between the Twilight Zone and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And when you write that kind of story, it just seems that kids are the first audience, the early adapters, to use a word from the tech-world. So there’s that.
But going back to my recent appreciation of abstraction in images, I think it comes out of the same impulse as my writing for children. When I think of the children’s writers whose work I most appreciate: the Roald Dahls, the Maurice Sendaks, even Dr. Seuss books I grew up with, they often look at very ordinary things, but something about the angle the author takes makes those ordinary things seem fresh, full of wonder. I love that, not only as a goal for art, but for life.
It’s taken me almost 600 words to say something quite ordinary, I know. I like to find ways to wonder at the ordinary. But sometimes these obvious realizations need to be expressed. Have you discovered anything recently about your art or craft? Please share if you have. I’d love to hear from you.
Not unlike a lot of other writers, I have my doubts about myself–specifically, I sometimes wonder if I truly am meant to be one. But what does it mean to be a writer? At its most basic, I think it means you have to write. DUH. But that simple definition, though useful in that it keeps you honest about your craft, can get you into some trouble, because there are some times in a person’s writing life in which life takes over the writing. This past year, my son was born–a first child for me–which means I had to and am still trying to cope with less sleep than I’d like. This also means that writing has suffered.
But The Boy and his craziness is not the only reason for my lack of writing these past seven months; there is also that itch to try new things that I think a lot of artists seem to suffer from. Last year, I wrote and produced a couple short films, and out of that, came an urge to tell different kinds of stories in different ways and through different media. I became aware that I want to be a storyteller more than a writer, by which I mean I am less caught up in the idea that the book is the only way I can get my stories out in the world.
I still hold to that idea. But the vagueness of the term, “storyteller,” though liberating, can be confusing. And thanks to the lack of sleep I mentioned above coupled with this new found freedom, I spent the last few months, a little adrift. Some positive things have come out of this time: the children’s book project with GE Gallas, which we will be sending to agents and publishers next month has been a fruitful experience. And those couple short films taught me quite a bit, as well. But I’ve been uneasy through it all.
Now I know why: I wasn’t writing. I mean, I was blogging. I was writing copy for this or that project. BUT I was NOT writing.
There’s a lot of talk, I know, about this crazy time of Twitter and Facebook that is making us all dumb and destroying out ability to focus in on anything for any extended amount of time, but the solution–at least my solution–is to sit down and come up with characters and scenarios for those people who live in my mind. The act of writing, if it does nothing else, grounds me. It makes me feel whole. To put in the words of Renee Zellweger in Jerry Macguire, it “completes me.”
What I realize now is that even if I am a storyteller, the starting point is always the story, and that begins with tapping out words on a screen. So, that’s what I’m going to do right now. Time to start writing!