Just Joshing 100

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It’s been one hundred episodes.

One hundred.

Wow.

So before I talk about the episode, I want to begin with a thank you.  Thank you to each and every person who took the time to listen to any of the episodes I’ve produced in the past.  This episode is special for a number of reasons.  The first is that this is the hundredth episode (obviously) but the second reason is the story behind this.

This was my first live show.  The episode was recorded At Owl’s Nest Books in Calgary, Alberta Canada on Wednesday, May 24th, 2017.  Now if you are aware of the weather that day, you know I was a little worried about the day.  After I got my awesome cake, the trees bent, the rain fell, and we had hurricane winds out there.

There was a question of whether or not anyone would show up.  I had rum, I had cake, Axel had brought whiskey, and we waited.  Fortunately, people showed and the show went on.

I opened up the show with a little bit of a monologue.  Heck, you only get to one hundred once right?

This being a live show called for some live guests.

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Robert Bose has yet to be on my live podcast offically, (that will soon be amended).  That said, he’s someone that I’ve wanted to have on the show for while. Robert is a heck of a short story writer who has a ton of credits in quite a variety of publications.

Through Coffin Hop Press Robert is releasing his first short story collection, Fishing with the Devil.  I personally dig the fact that Robert wrote a short story based on the fact that his grandfather is the devil.  That’s a hell of a tagline and his reading really captured a sense of what to expect this July.

I look forward to seeing Robert again on the podcast, and really dug the glimpse I got into his collection.  This July, check this collection out.  I know I will.

 

 

 

My next guest has been on the show before and has his first Noirvella coming out this July.

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Axel Howerton is probably one of the most talented writer/publisher/performers I’ve had the privilege to have on the show.  We continued some of our conversation from last time, and got into the history of Coffin Hop Press.  We both talk nicely about Sarah Johnson.

Then in my view, Axel just took it to the next level with his reading from his book.  He just killed it.  I really want this story.  Up until this podcast, I didn’t quite have a good idea of what noir was until Axel defined it.  Con Morte is a dark and vivid place that hits you hard the moment you hear him start reading from it.

This is damn good and also coming out this July. Axel and Robert are both going to be getting my hard earned dollars with their works and I’m encouraging you to do take a look at both of Robert’s and Axel’s stuff.

This July looks promising indeed.

 

Like I said at the event, I tried to design the live event like a talk show.  Now with a talk show you close the event one or two ways.  You either find someone funny, or you bring about someone with great musical talent.

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I’ve had Vanessa Cardui before on the show as well.  I wanted her back for a number of reasons.  She’s one of my most popular guests ever, and she’s also fantastic live.  She’s an amazing musician well versed in a variety of instruments and Styles.

We talk about her album Patience which is going to be released September 7th, 2017.  We talk about the process this album took and one of the big reasons why this album took so long.

Also, she performed as musicians are known to do from time to time.  Vanessa performed a pirate song called Chapter 122, which is a direct reference to Moby Dick.  It’s an excellent song about rum which the whole group managed to sing to.

We talked about her chosen venue, and the odd coincidence/serendipity it ties to this image and much, much more.  Vanessa is one of my favorite guests and she delivered a fun interview and a great performance to close out the show.

Well, almost.  I closed out the show with a bit of my poetry book The Wandering God.  All in all it was a fun show I was happy to do it.

I promise this, at some point I will do another show like this again.  But this show was special for a lot of reasons.  It was my first live show, and it was one hundred.  But all the circumstances, the people – it was one heck of an experience.  I went outside my comfort zone, and was rewarded with something truly special.

Before I close with the link to the podcast, I want to make one small thank you to Vanessa.  She mastered the live episode for me.

And what would a live episode be like without a cool preview?

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This is the cover from Tom Bagley for Coffin Hop’s Christmas anthology.

Coffin Hop Press.  : http://www.coffinhop.com

Vanessa Cardui: http://Vanessacardui.bandcamp.com

Listen here:  Just Joshing Episode 100

The Boxes we build ourselves

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I always try to encourage people to believe that they can do anything.  I rarely ask the opposite.  So my thought for today is a question for each of you.

Ready?

What can’t you do?

Now I know that all of us have things we’re not good at.  For example, I can’t draw worth a lick.  My stick figures revolt at the thought of this attempt.  Another example of something I don’t do well is sing.  Singing isn’t my forte.  At When Words Collide last year, I got the opportunity to do some karaoke.  I murdered a song by U2 and believe me I still haven’t found that tune that I’m needing for.

Those are limitations I came with.  We all have those kinds of things.  Now I can overcome these things.  The secret to that is practice, practice, practice.  Some things I will pick up quickly, while others I will still struggle with.   Given enough time, I will pick the things I struggle with up too.  If that is, I put the proper time into them.  For now, my stick figures will revolt and it may be best Bono never hear my take on his song.

But there’s another can’t.

The can’t you listen to.

It’s that voice inside your head that thinks you can’t overcome the obstacle in front of you.  This is the harder one to answer, and the one I’m putting to the question.

What do you believe you can’t do?

A lot of our limitations aren’t physical abilities but are the ones we put ourselves.   Now they usually start with some kind of outside inference.  I’ve been called crazy (I’ve embraced this one a bit), weird.  One of my heroes actually called me the weirdest person he ever met.  That still stings a bit coming from him.

Personal gripes aside, we all have those things.  Some of us have them as trigger words.  At least two people I know very well respond to the word stupid in near rage.  I don’t need a psychiatrist to know that those people somewhere believe that.

That’s not cool.   But it really makes me want to hear what those friends of mine say to themselves.  Our mental voices reinforce our walls.  If we tell ourselves we can’t do something, we’ll believe it, and not do it.

A lot of time, it’s an illusion.

I’ve written about this before, but if you haven’t read the blog in the past, one of my favorite stories about my dad was the time he took me to fanshawe dam in London Ontario.  I remember we were walking along the stream when my dad just looked up.

“Josh, you want to climb that?”

I looked up.  I really didn’t but I didn’t want to let my dad down so I nodded.  Dad was with me at first, and we slowly started to scale upward.  Shortly after we went up I remember slipping climbing and sliding back down the hill.  I was at the bottom and I decided I didn’t want to try and scale up the hill.

Dad vaulted up the thing.  My dad in his prime could do some incredible things and here was him just making the thing look easy.   I had no choice but to try.

The whole time I went up the thing I said out loud “I can’t do it.”  Every inch I bellowed this thing out.

I can’t do it.

I can’t do it.

Until I did it.  I was so shocked.  Somehow this thing that was impossible was not only possible, but I did it.

Can’t is a very dangerous box.  We all have our limitations.  None of us have all the skills in the world.  I have a lot of limitations and things that don’t come to me as easily as it does to others.  That doesn’t mean I can’t work on those things.  With some effort, I will grow.

But I try not to tell myself I can’t do something.  It doesn’t mean I will succeed, but it does mean that I won’t beat myself.  Most things in life we want come down to what we can see ourselves going forward to.  The more fantastic dreams can be yours.

Can’t is an illusion but a powerful one.  It’s a box we build ourselves.  And one we need to avoid doing to ourselves at all costs.  Just imagine what you can accomplish if you change that voice from can’t, to can.

People that Inspire You – 200th Blog

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Before I begin, let’s do a little bit of fun.

My podcast has been on a roll of late, and the last few episodes should give you an idea as to why.

My last three episodes have been with Colleen Anderson, JM Dematteis and Saima Khalid.  Click a name to listen to their episode.  My show is approaching the 100th episode of being on the air and it’s been a thrill.  The show is Just Joshing and I hope you check it out.

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Why do we struggle?

It’s an age old question and I don’t think there is an easy answer.  Struggle, pain, those things have been debated for ever and ever.   I’m not going to discuss where I believe struggle comes from or why it exists.   Instead, I’m going to point out people in my life, who face their own obstacles every day.

My dad is my hero.  It’s no secret to those that know me.  He came from an incredibly tough neighbourhood and overcame being a statistic and right now is helping people in Windsor Ontario with holistic medicine.   He is a genius at using food as medicine and does in a way anyone can learn to apply themselves.

My sister makes me smile.  She didn’t have the same kind of support I had with family, and yet is one of the kindest most decent people I know.  She’s gifted, smart, and maybe one of the sweetest people I know.  I’m her brother, and I know there’s a bias there, but I’m super proud to have her as a sister.

I have a friend who beat the odds living today.  He’s a chef and one of the sweetest dudes I know.  He’s a chef and he’s been there for me in ways I’ve enjoyed.  Sometimes i think he’s the devil in my life – others, he’s the wise man.  I am proud to know him.

I know this one person who sometimes feel she’s worthless.  Thoughts of how to proceed with her life tend to make her pause.  I can only offer kind words here and there.  I don’t pretend to fully comprehend the pressures she faces in the world we live in.  That said, she is smart, she has a hunger to learn.  She taught herself english.  She communicates incredibly well and understands well beyond some people I know here.  I think she’s amazing for having that kind of drive.

Another friend I know is about to become a mom.  She’s scared sometimes, because I know she worries about the kind of mom she’s going to be.  She’s dealt with a lot in her life, and may be the second toughest woman I know.   She’s going to be a great mom.

You can find inspiration with the people in your lives.  Those people who chase dreams and try to make them real.  Those who face unbearable obstacles and still persevere and strive to live.   Those who want more and show incredible ability to do so.  People truly tend to forget how amazing they really are.  I can use anyone in this example.

We all struggle.  We all have things to overcome and learn and deal with.   It can be depression, it can be abandonment, or loss, or knowledge and responsibilities.  It can be a question of purpose.  I may be describing you in there somewhere, or someone you know.   If you look hard enough, you can see those struggles and put yourself if not in people’s shoes completely, empathize.

So for you that face things head on, thank you for taking away my excuses.  Thank you for amazing me in what you do and how you do it.  Thanks for being inspiration in just being yourselves.

We all forget how great we are.  In how we stand, we can inspire others.  When we can see where people struggle, then the walls can come down and maybe, just maybe we can help heal each other.

For are all are in pain.

But we can all be healed.

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Thanks for being here for 200 blogs.  Thanks for those who read and are inspired by what I write, and thank you for inspiring me to write.  This is only the beginning.

Ninety Percent of Your Battle

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Before we begin the blog, gotta say I’m really proud of two things.  The first is I have a youtube channel now.  Hooray right?  Right as I type this thirty some odd episodes are up there for you to listen to.  My channel is here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBr8pyMELcMcaHLd4qTWyaw

Watch and let me know what you think.

The other thing?  I got to talk to a comic book legend in JM Dematteis.  Been a big fan of his since his Silver Surfer run and have read a lot of his material since.

The episode is here. I also read a bit of The Cloud Diver at the end of episode.

Cool right?  On to the blog.

There is no guaranteed path to success.  I’m not saying that this will insure that you will always achieve your desired outcome.  Success and failure have no assurances.

I have a friend who has this cynical view of dreams coming true.  “You can be anything you want to be,” he says in that sarcastic tone.   There’s a tinge of sadness every time he says this.  A friend of mine I haven’t talked with for a long, long time finished the thought.

“..If you’re good enough.”

It’s a very unspoken part of the sentence.   Not many people say it, but a lot of people believe it.  That’s the problem.

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I don’t know about you but that images pisses me off.

But we all feel this way sometimes.  Not good enough for that girl, that job, that career, whatever.  We beat ourselves most of the time when we think like that.  Our minds are powerful.  If we tell ourselves we can’t do something, we can’t do it.  With very few exceptions.

Thing is, can’t do it is in our heads a lot.  One of the most important lessons of my life involved my dad.  At eight years old, he took me to Fanshawe Park.  There we walked along the stream and then, for whatever reason, decided to scale the hill.   I was eight and little and small and looked at this hill with dread.  To be honest, I didn’t want to do it.

Dad scaled the thing with ease, which meant I had to try.  The first time, I fell…well, more like skidded down the hill.  I really didn’t want to climb the thing again.  Dad encouraged me.  I on the other hand, discouraged myself.

“I can’t do it.” I said to myself.  I kept climbing, saying that mantra over and over again.  To my surprise, somehow I found myself on the top of the hill.

This is one of my most important lessons.  Can’t is a concept.  Worth is a concept.  Deserving is also a concept.  Life is inherently unfair and that isn’t exactly a bad thing.

That hill taught me that I can do anything and that confidence carries me into situations sometimes I had no idea what exactly I am doing.  (My career can be described in jumping into situations I had no idea what I was doing, but whatever.)

But there are no guarantees.  Success and failure are possible outcomes.   That said, ninety percent of all your battles are just one thing, and that’s this:  If you want something and you want the best chance to succeed at getting it, show up and take action.

It sounds simple.   In essence that’s what you do when you go to work, that’s what you do when you go on a date, that’s what you do when you choose to do anything.  Show up and do something.  There are no guarantees after that, but really, that’s ninety percent of the work with anything.

Don’t let those negative thoughts beat you.   Just do the above paragraph.  Show up and deal with the task in front of you.  Every task in life is just those two things.   You are big enough, brave enough, smart enough,  and capable of doing anything if you just do those two things.

Show up, and do the work.  And don’t let any voice in your head tell you that you can’t do it.  Don’t sabotage yourself.  Because, why not you?

Greatnes...just-ahead

Rising Up

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First things first…

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Man, it feels good.

I looked at my pay stub from my day job and noticed that my garnishment was a lot smaller than it had been.

I did it.  I’m out.

I’m free.

The last few months were tough.  I had been garnished.  I’ve been through attempted blackmail, struggling to make my bills pay.  You know the usual curveballs life throws at you.  Even this last week – right when this week’s check goes back to me, the day job looks like it’s about to go on strike.  Fortunately that didn’t happen, so that thoughts of me wondering how to make twenty dollar grocery purchases could go away.

There are no perfect moments.  Even though those struggles are over, I know other struggles are going to come my way.  It’s life.  If you wait for those perfect moments to do something, they don’t come.

You got to go for it.  And this year, I have been.

 

And this year so far…

  • I’ve sent one book to a publisher.I’ve written a second book, and am typing it up for betas.  It’s about 50% (a little behind schedule) but I’m getting there.
  • The third book is being co written.
  • I’ve submitted an essay to a reputable magazine.
  • I’ve submitted an epic style poem to an anthology.
  • My podcast cracked the top 1000 and saw it rise to 576 on podomatic.  Not bad with a place with over 15 000 podcasts.
  • I may have a forth project in the realm of comics this year.

We are at March 31st and this is what I’ve accomplished so far.  I have so much farther to go.

Somehow, someway, I got to release three books, do a live podcast, continue the podcasts, add to a youtube channel, travel, meet people, and deliver on every single promise I have made to myself this year.

I like challenges.  I like doing things.  I like stepping up and going for giant leaps into the unknown.   I like delivering on cue.   I like to see what i can and can’t do.

I like having things in front of me.  I like having obstacles to climb.  I like risking failure. I like risking disappointment.  I didn’t always like this stuff.  Once upon a time I wanted to shrink away and pretend that I was the smallest thing out there.

I don’t got time for that anymore.  Size and scope are not my concerns with what I do.  My concerns are doing the things that make me happy.

I have to bet on me.  So far this is what I’ve done.  Now comes the point to go forward and take the chance that I’m as good as I feel I am.  It’s megalomaniacal, but megalomania is a necessary trait.  You need ego and confidence to bet on yourself.  You need to be fearless.

I have failed on my tasks.  I will keep failing.  But each and every time I fall, I come out stronger.  I learn more about myself.

Then I try again.

This may sound self aggrandizing.  It is a little, if I’m honest.  I’m proud of what I’ve done with my life, and I’m not ashamed to admit that.  But you have to have that faith in yourself that you can do the things that you set out to do in order to do it.  Very few people are so lucky that things falls into their lap.  Even if it does, out of that bunch, fewer still have the wisdom and fortitude to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them.

Rise up.  You can do whatever you set your mind to.  Find your purpose and make it drive you.   It will get you into a place you wouldn’t believe you’d find yourself in.  What you can do too with that purpose?  Incredible.

Enough pep talk.  I got things to do, ass to kick and risks to take.

Be bold.

 

Greatness

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I had an interesting read the other day via facebook and a friend of mine named Chelsea Seaker.  I only had one problem with it, I didn’t like the idea of mediocre life.  I really have a problem with the word mediocre.   I equate mediocre with settling.  Settling never works out well for anyone.

But we’ll get there.

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I want to begin with my least favorite conversation.  It’s four lines.  Ready?

“Hello.”

“Hi.”

“How are you?”

“Good.  Yourself?”

“Good.”

Okay it was five lines.  I hate this conversation.  It tells me nothing, and is just a polite excuse to avoid having a real conversation.

I hate the word great, even if I am guilty of using this particular word.   The reason is the choice of words here.  Good, great, mediocre.  What exactly is “good”?  How do you define “good”?  Great and mediocre are in the same category.

I equate mediocre with settling, and my reasons for that is a whole different blog, but the other two?  They are trickier.

I’m going to focus now on Great.  Of all the words, great is the most intimidating.  Great sounds larger than life.  Great sounds a lot like divine level accomplishments.  Great just sounds so big you know?  How do us mere mortals measure up?

Society has its own commentary on this word.  Great is that guy that does a start up company, travels, segregates their time between work and charitable causes, and somehow manages to also be a super athlete with perfect cheekbones and has a deal with several major companies.

I could mash this up a million different ways.  There are people who do this.  Purpose is important.  Purpose gives you focus and direction and gives you a road map to follow.  Purpose is necessary in this life.  I think if their is one thing society does show (but not tell) enough, is that you need to figure out what the heck you want.  Knowing that is crucial.

But after that?  Fuck society. It doesn’t matter what your life looks like to society.  No one fits the mold that is advertised.   Society is an illusion.  Like all good illusions it looks just real enough (another tricky word, real) that it can convince people that this is what you are going for.

It’s not about the house, the car, the kids, the wife or husband, or the perfect career.  Your life is not about necessarily being as big as possible.  Big is scary.  I don’t want a mansion at this point in my life.  I don’t want to work for a giant super mega corporation.  I like the idea of a girlfriend at this point in my life, but not exactly into the whole wife thing yet.  I’m not sure I’m ready for that.

But that’s me.   And you know what?  None of that would make me great anyway.  Lucky? Maybe.  Blessed?  Sure.  Great?  Not so much.

But wait, I said great is vague.  Well for me, it’s not.  I want to be great.   But in order to be great, I had to take a moment and think about what greatness looks like.  After thinking about it and failing and trying to do things, this is what I think greatness is.  Greatness is not big or giant.  Greatness is simply being happy in what you are doing.  Knowing what you want, pursuing it and making it happen.   It sounds so simple when I type this.  It’s a hard road though.

And the results?  May not be big in the grand scheme of the universe.   Big is kind of relative too.  Notice that a lot of descriptives people use are vague concepts?  Good, great, real, big, the list goes on and on, but I digress.

Greatness is knowing who you are and what you want.  So take some time.  Turn off your youtube and ignore cat memes for just a second and take some time to ask yourself some tough questions.

But take your time and try to answer them.   Mediocre is settling for less than what you want and doing things that aren’t you.  Good?  That’s more complicated.

But great is letting yourself be yourself, without any excuses, doing the things you feel called to do.  Because it’s in you to do whatever you want.  Life has given us all a gift.  We can live according to what we choose.  So choose wisely.

Find what makes you passionate.  Find what makes you smile.  Find what gives you joy in life, and then give yourself no excuses but to achieve it.  That is great, and I wish it for each and every one of you.

Here, below is my favorite ted talk.   Watch it and turn off your Youtube afterwards.

Gratitude

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Perspective is everything.

Today I ran into an old boss.  I used to work at a chain of grocery stores called Safeway.  Safeway was a decent employee by and large.  I worked in a small grocery store based out of Kensington and it was for me a great starting point from my experiences in Arizona.  Arizona has been mentioned in the past of kicking my ass hard, and while that was a good experience, I was a broken mess and I needed a fresh start.

Ironically, if I had chosen to stay in the states, Safeway very well might have been my next job.  I had a job interview for it in Show Low, Arizona.  A month later, in Calgary Alberta, I ended up working there.

The job wasn’t anything special, but it was a good come back for me.  My experience working in grocery stores was a big help and I found myself regaining my footwork back into life.

She wasn’t my first boss, but she was the one I worked with the most.  I’m not going to say we were friends, but she was very accommodating to my schedule and what I was willing to do to rebuild.  And when it was my time to leave, she let me go early.

So there I was, looking for some emergency cleaning supplies, and there she was, doing the work required in the store.  We talked, exchanged pleasantries, and I managed to get out two important words.

“Thank you.”

A lot of people didn’t like her, but she was good to me.  So once again, Thank you.

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Let’s take it to another level.

I have a friend on facebook I call Rockstar.  Rockstar every night goes through her day and lists all the things that happened to her that she’s thankful for.  Every night I read it.  And it’s not big things most of the time.  Most of the time it’s the little moments in life.  People singing her happy birthday, people saying hi, that kind of thing.

Her life is much harder than mine.  Yet, each and every day no matter what struggles I may think about, I watch her and go “Damn.  She’s got me beat and she still carries on.”

So thank you Rockstar.

Sometimes it’s the smallest things that you need to remember.  We all struggle.  Right now I am going through my obstacles.  Yet for all the moments that have gone wrong the last couple, I’m grateful for a lot of things that have gone right

I am grateful for the fact that I have books coming out this year.  I am grateful that I have good people that I work with and that they’ve been so understanding.  I am grateful that so many people want to be on my podcast.  It’s such a surreal thing to me.  I’ve already talked to some amazing people this year.  You can listen to some of them right now and I encourage you to do so.

I am thankful I am still here struggling.  I am thankful that all this will pass.  And I find that for all I am going through,  I am able to smile about it most of the time.

How do I stay so positive?  I’m thankful.

Whatever you do in life, you always should be thankful to whomever gives you the time of day.  My time in Arizona taught me that nobody owes you anything.  Chances are given on whims.  Opportunities are not certain.

And when you are given them, make sure you thank the people you work with, and the people you help.  In Stormdancer, my most recent release, I made it a point to acknowledge just about each and every person I worked with in the last few years that had a positive influence during my time.   One of the other cool things about thanking people?  You take a moment and realize just how much people do for you.  It’s really humbling.

I have taken this to some extremes.  I’m still looking for some of the people that helped me back when I was a kid…and…

well, this year (because I know she’s not reading this) I made a promise that this year I’d keep my promise to my grandmother.  When I was a kid, I promised her that I’d buy her diamonds someday.   I remember getting a bracelet from a cereal box and found a whole bunch of diamond stickers on it.  I put together the bracelet, surrounding them with diamonds and gave it to her.

She still has it to this day.

I’m going to add something to it.  Not because she was serious, but because I’m that grateful.  My grandmother is one of the pillars of my life.  I love her more than she knows.  So Nanna, thank you.

Go forth and if nothing else, remember that you are still living.  That alone is reason to be thankful.

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Building your own Positive Spaces

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I just finished a podcast (Check it out here if you want to see what my latest episodes are like.) and decided to address the elephant in the room that is my facebook feed.

I could post pictures, but I think it’s safe to say that social media has been a bit bi-polar lately.  I’ve never seen so much anger, outrage, division and chaos than what I’ve seen in the last few weeks.  Trump being elected is a definite game changer; but I never know what I’m going to get on my feed now as a result.

But beyond Trump, as I look at my feeds, it’s been noticeably growing a touch more negative when I read the feed.  Sometimes it’s stuff like health from some of my friends and professional colleagues.

Some of this is depression related.  That’s a serious thing and I’ve been seeing a lot of my friends going through this a lot more.  I’m not a mental health expert.  I’m not sure what I’m going to write here is practical.  I don’t pretend to have any magical answers.  But I did want to talk a little bit about this.

Negativity seems to be kind of like a virus.  You see a little trickle hear and there, and slowly but surely it seems to spread.  It’s almost hive like.

It’d be easy to me to be negative too.  In the last few months my wages have been garnished.  I didn’t have a computer, someone tried to blackmail me, and I’m not exactly where I want to be with my latest book and there’s a girl I wish I was closer with.

That’s about as negative as I’m going to get.

There’s a lot of positives I can take already from this year.  20161229_020933

Very, very soon, I’ll be able to start putting a few check marks on this thing.  I got a ton of things and a dream to pursue, roads to travel and people to meet and adventures to perform.

I have a lot to look forward to.

Part of it is I’m just an excitable thing.  I still get pumped when I interview someone.  I’m flattered beyond belief when people want to talk to me.  Now it’s gone to the point where people contact me.  I have some personal challenges with the podcast this year.  I want more value to come out of it and get more people to listen to it.   (Once again, click here if you want to listen to the current episodes.)

So I have that.

I have written two books already this year.  That is freaking insane to me.  Sure, one is an epic poem and the other is a dime novel.  But man, this is only February.  I want to see just how much I can produce this year.

If you can hear the passion and abundance in my sentences it’s because I’m legitimate in my excitement.  My next book is my first co-written project and I’m really flattered to be working with the person I am working with.  She is amazing and I’m hoping to be able to say something soon.

Part of this is my bubbly personality.  Part of it though is I’m choosing to build on my own positive spaces.

I’m choosing to have fun with my engagement with people.  I’m talking about unicorns and rainbows and dragons that are reminescent of Knighty Knight Bugs.

You know,  this:

 

We all go through crap.  Every day.  We have jobs we don’t like, situations we can’t control, our personal demons and darkness.  Our fears.  Our insecurities.

But we also got our loves.  Our passions.  The people that we care about.  Our dreams, goals, visions, faith, beliefs.  We all have things to push us forward.

It’s really up to us.

I’m doing what I can to keep my spirits up.  I choose to build on my positive spaces.  And that’s it.  It’s not easy.  The crap in front of you is always daunting and it stinks.  Poop always stinks.

That said, everything passes.  What is your light at the end of the tunnel?

Now if you’ll excuse me I got a dragon chasing a demon and a unicorn that farts rainbow advertisements to its consumers.  I got to figure out how to get out of the situation.  But as you can see above, some dragons are dumber than others.

Finishing

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Tonight I asked an interesting question on my twitter and facebook.

cool right?

Why ask the question?

I’m at the end of my latest book.  It’s not quite there yet.  In fact, I’m writing this blog because of the quagmire finishing a story can be.

My players are in an elevator.  I know what’s waiting for them on the other side of the door when the elevator dings.  I know the horrors, the monstrosities, and the wonders that await my characters.  I know it’s there.

But I’m hesitant to cross it.

The story is nearly done you see.  I’m at the climax, the big action sequence, and the finale.

After that?  It’s over.

gameover

That’s the crux of it isn’t it?

Most of us look at the end of the story with nothing to look forward to.  I mean, once it’s done, it’s done right?  Where do you go from there?

I feel this feeling persists not just in writing, but in everything.  We are great at beginnings.  I get excited personally at the process of the challenge.  It’s like seeing something in the horizon that is amazing.  You have to work at it, (but that’s part of the fun) yet there is a journey and a path to walk.

Oh sure, problems come along.  Which project goes perfect in the end?  Yet you keep going.  Writing, composing, engineering, crafting…you name it, take work and time and care to produce.

And then you get to where I’m at…at the end.

Then what do you do?

Part of the problem too is that I’m good.  Now that might sound arrogant, but as an artist let me ask you something.   How do you know you know something at the craft, if you don’t believe yourself to be good?

The answer is that you know enough to know that there is still room for improvement.  You see your flaws with clarity; there is room for growth and you can see it.  You are at the very least, competent enough to see it.

Artists are never satisfied.  It doesn’t matter who you are, you know there is more.  There is better.  You can do better.

That, my friends is the evil trap.  It’s a seductive trap.  It is the dark side of the farce.  There comes a point when you as an artist settle.  This work you slaved, sweated, and strived at can only be so good with you as you are now.  You have to at some point let the work go and share it to the world.

It could be a publisher, agent, beta reader, or your audience.  But you as a writer in particular, need that exposure to an eye not as close to this work you have struggled with.

Sharing your work with someone in any art form is part of your growth.  You NEED to do this.  Let go.  You have other projects that are calling for your attention.  You only have so much time to do it.

Of course, none of this above is talking about the fear.  Fear is a big part of this fear of moving forward to the end.  It’s not rational.  I know deep down I have more stories to tell.  I’m a writer dang it!  I have ideas and I got at least one more book I want to do this year.   That is my rational brain functioning.

My irrational part of me still wonders.  Is this it?  Is this the last story I’m going to tell?  Who’s going to read it anyway?  Am I pretentious to put the pen to paper and do it?

The end is here.

sunrise

There’s another way to look at it.   Endings are beginnings too.  When I finish this story and it’s not in my head, and I’m letting my friends and beta readers eviscerate the story and make it something that my audience wants to read.  I got other stories I need to tell.  Doing other projects will help me grow.  Each journey I take is part of my growth as an artist.  It will make me stronger and better at my craft.  It will allow me to triple down on my strengths as a storyteller.  I will look back on my story and see where I can make it better.

But I won’t touch it.  I will finish it and move on.  I have more stories to tell and things to say.  I have to write them dang it.

It’s not just my ending.  It’s a new beginning.  When I think of it like that, it’s easier to put those last words to the page.  Which is now what I’m going to do.

start-writing

The journey goes on.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I got a story to finish.  I left my characters in the elevator.  I have to see what happens when they open the door.

Don’t be afraid to open yours.

Write!

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Before I begin with the entry, I encourage you all to check out my guest blog at project awesome.   The link is here, and you can learn a bit about the podcasts.  The link is here.  Read it and come back here.  I’ll be waiting.

Read it?  Good.

Ready?

writing-stuff

Last night I convinced someone to write her novel.

I tend to be an encouraging guy.  I want everyone to succeed.   I don’t really care what your dreams are;  I want you to have them.  You deserve them.  Make those dreams real, and make it so your dreams never were dreams at all.

I really believe that.  So one of the most frustrating things for me is that there are so many people out there (writers, I am talking to YOU) that want to write that book, that want to

But you don’t.

I don’t know why you don’t.  Maybe you think you’re not good enough.   If you are one of those people I want to stop you right here.  Good is a very relative term.  “Good” is the most terrible answer to “How are you?” I know of.  Why you ask?  You say nothing.  What is good?

Good you see is up for grabs.  Good is an ideal, and you can’t quantify it with any form of measurement.   Good is…meaningless.

When someone asks me how I am, I tell them, what is on my mind right that minute.  Fine or good only come out of my mouth when I’m tired.  I suck at small talk and have no intention of working to get good at it.

Upon further reflection, good may not quite be right here.  Maybe it’s the phrase “Good enough.”  I mean enough is kind of how we are conditioned in school you know?  “You can be anything you want to be…provided you get an education.” or “provided you meet the requirements.”  Now provided is a provision.  The underscored, unmentioned word in provided is good enough.

Now before I continue, I’m not trying to denigrate getting an education. I bring up that example because it’s an easy example.  Good enough is ingrained into us at a very young age.  So that maybe when you get that calling inside you to write that book, you just don’t think the work, or you are good enough.

I’m here to say this:  until you actually write the book, I don’t want you to think about the idea of “good” or “enough” or the words together.  Instead I want you to focus on the more important thing.

Doing it.  You know, putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, or even voice to phone.   Really it doesn’t matter how you do it. I don’t care if you plot or pants (no pun intended) or some combination of the two.   What matters is that you do it.

Doing and not doing is the biggest reason people do not make their dreams real.  You have to actually put in the work to get things done.   You have to be willing to make the sacrifices of your time and energy to work towards those goals you see yourself doing.

In short, if you’re a writer, you have to write.  That means being on a keyboard like I am right now putting together this short little entry that’s trying to get you off your butt to write your face off.

You got a novel in you?  Several?  Great.  Put the pen to paper.  Write it down.   Make sure the whole idea is out there, laid bare in its pure skeletal phase.  When you get to the point of revisions, you can play around with it and take apart the guts of your work and put them back together – adding entrails, some meat and muscle to the prose you worked hard crafting together.

But to get to this point, you need to write.  So that story you got in your head?  I want you to write that first sentence right now.  Take a pen, or turn on your word processor and put that sentence to the screen.

Afterwards, the next day, do it again.  Add to the sentence with the next one.  It will come to you.  Even if all you do is sentence, little by little that masterpiece you have inside you will come out.   It will tell you things you didn’t know to be true, and learn about your characters and yourself in the process.

Okay, enough blabbering from me.  I got stuff to do.  You do too.  I’ll leave the entry with this quote.  Remember it, and do it.  Doing may be the most important thing of all, and with writing it’s no different.

start-writing

Have a good one!