Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I'm thankful for...

My wonderful, supportive family and friends.

My health.

My job.

That I've got the time, energy, and wherewithal to write.

Writers like Harper Lee, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Dave Simon, and George R.R. Martin.

That fragrant pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese frosting I just ate.

The warm, friendly waves at Bellows Beach.

The Advil I just took to counteract the sugar headache from the pumpkin cupcake.

Dictionaries, thesauri, Google, wikipedia, my DSL connection.

Whoever designed my favorite underwear.

How a newborn baby feels when you hold him.

Ink on paper.

Dreams. Hope. Excitement. Laughing till I squeak.

A fat yellow full moon hovering over the Hollywood Hills.

My cat Lucy asleep with her legs in the air.

The smell of orange blossoms.

Plumbing that works.

My other cat Max insisting on lying on top of me.

Charlotte's Web, the Chronicles of Narnia, Half Magic, and all the other books I loved as a child.

Emily Dickinson, John Ford, Van Gogh, Nefertiti's sculptor, the Cave at Chauvet.

Having a wonderful place to go on Thanksgiving filled with people I love and the smell of turkey and pie.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Just Keep Writing, Just Keep Writing...

There's a character is Finding Nemo named Dory who is terribly upbeat and goofy, and one the little mantras she sings is "just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."

I've been feeling a bit low and sorry for myself and disappointed in some stuff. Some of the waiting is over, and I didn't hear what I wanted to hear.

So, after some wallowing, I go back to the mantra - Just Keep Writing. Thank goodness I have supportive friends, some of them fellow writers, some of them not, who tell me that I'm not insane, not to give up, and to get off my ass and keep writing.

So I'm brainstorming some new ideas and having a blast. Nothing like creating a whole new world to make you feel empowered, at least in your own imagination.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Put It Out There

Why is it so hard for me to show people my writing? That's what I want to do for a living (eventually, fingers crossed, if I'm lucky), right?

But some part of me magically wants to make that living writing cool stuff that no one will ever see. Because then no one can ever judge me and find me lacking, silly, or pointless.

Conversely, I find it super frustrating to write continuously in a vacuum, with no reward coming from all the effort.

Jeez, I'm a pain in the ass. I feel like kicking my own butt all over the planet.

But these are the contradictory feelings that I'm always battling - I suck. No I'm great. Why does no one realize how fabulous I am and pay me for it? Why would anyone pay me to do anything?

I suppose there's a middle way, and the truth lies somewhere in there. In the meantime, I'm going to keep pushing back the fear and darkness and try to put it out there, let people see my stuff, and see what happens. It's terrifying, man! But life is short, and other cliches. Just because you broke your leg last time you jumped doesn't mean this one will go badly. Just triple check your parachute.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Why Does this Feel Appropriate?

From The Onion:

Cancer June 22 - July 22
While it's true that the universe works in mysterious ways, it's becoming pretty clear what it has against you.

The Hardest Part

Remember that Tom Petty song, The Waiting? The lyrics say it all: "You take it on faith/You take it to the heart/The waiting is the hardest part."

I can't be specific about what I'm waiting for. It's just not politic. But waiting is part of what you have to do as a writer, and it just fricking sucks. So much about being a writer sucks! It's really hard, man. Don't do it unless you can't help yourself.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Write or Die

Found a cool widget/website at Write or Die/Dr. Wicked that will help you get words on the page.

Check it out here - put in your word count and the time you allocate for yourself to achieve that goal, click, and start to write. The widget will keep track of your time, word count, and even help you paste what you wrote to the clipboard to save it.

I'm not participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year, but this would be very handy for any NaNo-ers out there trying to meet their word count goals every day.

Or consider this NaNoWriMo calculator to help you stay on track:


Monday, November 10, 2008


I finally downloaded my photos of Prague and Budapest. You can see them all at my Flickr site, here.

That's me in front of the John Lennon wall in Prague. Back in the communist days, students started graffiti-ing a tribute to Lennon on a wall in the Castle district of Prague. Despite crackdowns and white washing by both communist and the current regimes, new graffiti continues to appear. I added: "All You Need is Love."

Here I am overlooking Budapest. I'm in a very cool series of towers and walkways in the Buda section of town, overlooking the Danube and Pest on the eastern shore.

Travel is such a privilege. I'm so grateful that I get to galavant all over creation, taking photos and soaking it all in. It's wonderful to be surprised, and every new place I go surprises me in some way, beyond anything the guidebooks could ever tell me. It keeps me humble, widens my viewpoint, and makes me appreciate coming home. If you can get away to another country - go! The flights are hell, the lack of sleep is daunting, and you get sick of looking at a map every time you want to go somewhere. But in return you get to see the world from a different perspective, like a shaft of sunlight hitting the world at an angle you've never seen before. It's revelatory. And it's damned fun.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Jet Lag = Early Voting

Thanks to jet lag, I awoke at 6am today. So what the hell - I got up, got ready for work, and walked to my polling place at Gardner Elementary School in Hollywood. I'm not a morning person, so I've always voted after work. But today, with an historic, exciting election in the offing, plus jet lag from my trip to Europe, I broke with precedent and actually GOT IN LINE to vote.

I've never had to wait more than two minutes to vote. But today, with a possible victory for a Hawaiian-born black man, I had to wait a whole 30 minutes. It was worth every second.

I love voting on Election Day. I'm all for early voting, absentee voting, or voting by telepathy if that were possible. Anything that makes voting easy and available to all is fabulous. But for myself I love doing it on the official day, stepping up to that rickety little voting "booth" (really more of plastic mini-cubicle at my polling place) and using that short squat inky pen-thingie to mark my choices. Folks around me in the other wobbly cubicles were taking their time marking up their ballots.

I trucked through - click click click, and looked up, blinking. Was I really done? I made way for the next voter and handed my ballot to the wild-haired elderly Russian-American man waiting for me next to the crouched machine that ate it up and belched somehow to show him all was well. He handed me my "I Voted" sticker and a felt a swell of silly pride - in myself, and justified pride - in my country, where power changes hands peacefully at the command of the people.

Voting rocks. It's like telling, for a brief moment, the story of our country, the narrative of your state, the tale of your city.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Empty shoes - Budapest

Another great shot by Wendy. This time we're in Budapest, and the shoes are a memorial to the victims of the Nazis who were executed as they stood along the river Danube. They were forced to take off their shoes before they were shot and fell into the river.

Who were the people who once stood in these shoes? As a writer, my head spins with the possible stories that lead the people to this spot and this horrible fate. How many fascinating stories will never be lived or told because people weren't allowed to live their lives in peace.

Me at the Lennon Wall - Prague

Taken by my lovely travel companion, Wendy. This is a wall in Prague where, during the days of communism, young people would graffiti images of John Lennon. He inspired them. The tradition continues to this day, even though the government routinely white washes the wall. It only provides more room for new folks (like me) to add their own tributes to Lennon.

Interesting how popular art like this can be so moving, so inspirational. I not only had to add my phrase, I wanted immediately to listen to Lennon's music and start lobbying for peace.