Archives for May 2012

The Blogiversary Post You Deserve To Read & I Wanted To Write

Writer's Block

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Ernest Hemingway

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.” Anais Nin

The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is that you really want to say.” Mark Twain’s Notebook, 1902-1903

I spent 37 minutes producing a little more than 1000 words of crap. And now I have lost those 37 minutes and have scrapped most of the post that I had written for the sole reason that it made my skin crawl.

That post had no rhythm nor sense of self. I wanted to give it life. I wanted to paint a picture of words dancing on a page and create the sort of compelling image that you can’t stop thinking about. I wanted to be witty, profound and insightful. I wanted to be erudite, smooth and sophisticated but I fell short of the mark…again.

It happens every year. I write a post that is supposed to be a celebration of blogging. I write a post that is supposed to sing and inspire and instead I sigh and wonder why I can’t quite get it right.

And then I exhale and remind myself to stop trying so hard. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and just write with reckless abandon. Write without regard for boundaries, editors or consequences.

Write with confidence. Write with cadence. Write with the voice you hear in your head and trust in your words

Here I Am -The Blogiversary Post You Deserve To Read & I Wanted To Write

Here I am doing what Hemingway speaks of- bleeding at the keyboard. Here I am trying to produce posts that do all that I said above. I want them to sing and dance. I want them to entertain. I want them to inspire. I want them to make you think and I want them to make you laugh.

It took a long while to reach this point. Some of it can be attributed to thousands of hours spent writing and some of it to thousands of words that were written. And life experience, we cannot forget life experience.

When I write about what it is like to be a father and the angst I sometimes feel about trying to figure out how to take care of my children it is all based upon life experience. When I write about how to become a better writer or how to make money as a blogger it is all based upon life experience.

Everything I write is tied into life experience and that is part of why you guys show up at this shack. My life experience isn’t so different from yours. Many of you can relate to the struggle every parent goes through. When I write about the struggle of paying for private school you nod your head. When I say that there is no harder job and no better job than being a parent you nod your head.

That is because it is a common experience. Common experiences are a significant part of why people keep showing up here. We find ways to relate to each other. Sure I hope that you also come by because you like my writing. I hope that you love it because if you do you will probably buy my books and that would make me happy.

Make me happy and I keep writing and in turn make you happy. It works out well for everyone or so I hope.

secretformulaforlife

What Now?

What now is the question that is pressed up against my lips. Is this supposed to be the time where I share links to my favorite posts. Or is this the time where I share links to the posts that are cited as being most popular.

I don’t know, am not really sure. Maybe it is because it is past midnight and I am exhausted or maybe it is some other reason. So I’ll punt on this one and say that I decided not to go crazy about this.

Maybe the best course of action is to ask you to share your favorite posts. Maybe the best course of action is to ask you to tell me what your favorite posts are.

I don’t know exactly where the blog is going but I can tell you what I want. It is the same thing that I have been saying for a while now. I want to write books. I want to become a published author. I want to earn enough money from writing to work anywhere that has a lap top and internet connection.

Part of the reason why I have been working on building this joint is that I am told it might help me convince a publisher to take a shot on me. And even if it doesn’t it stands to reason that if you like my writing many of you will be willing to pay a couple of bucks for a book.

That is not the only reason why I am trying to build a bigger community here. It is also because I learn from you. It is also because I have met amazing people and made some great friends through blogging.

It is not any one thing- it is many things.

Many things- those many things are why I keep blogging. They are why I am still here and so many aren’t. I still love this and am grateful for all of the gifts it has given me. Blogging has been a part of my best and my worst moments.

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts”

As You Like It- William Shakespeare

Thank you again for being a part of my community and for making this such a memorable experience. I appreciate you and hope that you continue to journey with me.  Can’t wait to see what lies ahead. Won’t be long before I try to make this into my first book and hopefully there will be many more to come.

Good night from Los Angeles. I will see you around cyberspace.

Change Isn’t Coming, It Is Happening Now

Change isn’t coming, it is happening. That is not me trying to be a fancy philosopher. Don’t call be Descartes because I don’t need to burn myself with wax to know that I am alive or to say snappy things like “I think, therefore I am.”

I am just an everyday Joe who has learned a little bit from the life I have led. Around these parts folks call it all sorts of things that make it sound really important but not me. I aim for the simple term I use called “Life experience.”

My ability to simplify things is what enabled me to become a mighty dad blogger who earns millions of dollars from blogging or maybe not. I’ll let you decide if I am mighty or earning millions from blogging.

While you think about I want to move on to talking about before and after photos. I have been thinking about them quite a bit lately. That is because there are some pretty big changes coming up on the horizon. None of them are guaranteed to happen but that doesn’t mean they won’t or that they will.

If you haven’t figured it out yet my mind works at about a million miles a minute which means that it is not unusual to find me thinking about things like changes and wondering what they will be like and that is what brings me to the before and after pictures I mentioned before.

The picture just below this paragraph is from the kitchen in my old house. I call it the “old kitchen” but in truth it is what the kitchen looked like after we remodeled it. I loved that kitchen and I miss it. It wasn’t easy to give up.fridge and range2

And now here is what the kitchen looked like before we gutted it and redid it. It was a mess and falling apart. There are no words for how happy it made us to change it or how much more useful it became afterwards.

kitchen before #2

When big changes come I often wish to be able to see the “after” picture so that I know things will be better. I already know what the before looks like.

But sometimes I have to remind myself that change is taking place daily even when we don’t think about it and it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I suppose you can attribute all this as part of an effort to control what cannot be controlled.

I talk to my children about managing life as opposed to controlling it because it is much easier to manage things than to control them. That is not the most profound or insightful advice but it is among the most practical I have to offer.

And now that I look at the “before” picture again it reminds me that I need to get rid of more stuff because I don’t really need as much as I have. That is another benefit of moving, it encourages you to pare down your belongings and focus on the things that really matter.

What do you think?

Dad’s Car Died

And I remember that I promised someone a song. I don’t know if we know the words, but the melody has already been written upon our hearts and we have sung it together. Perhaps one day we shall again and when that day comes to pass you can tell everybody that this is your song. Until then keep looking up at the moon and know that when you are thinking about me I am thinking of you.

The radiator in my car died Monday afternoon but the techs didn’t make the announcement until this afternoon. I looked at the service manager and told him that I was beyond, disturbed, dismayed and disconcerted. I was calm when I said it. I asked him to review my service history and we figured out that I had replaced the radiator three years ago.

And then he told me that because it was an aftermarket part the warranty that came with it was good for 12 months or 12,000 miles. It died after 37 months and almost 20,000 miles. I explained the service manager this was unacceptable and asked him to try to provide compensation for having sold me a part of inferior quality. I am pleased to say they worked with me, but irritated that I had to go through it.

Birthday Parties

The dark haired beauty is going to have her birthday party next month.  She is turning 8 but thinks she is 30. I love her dearly even though she told me that this will be a very girly party and that boys won’t like it. She said not to worry because I am invited because I am her daddy but asked me to uninvite her brother because he was being a pest.

He would be thrilled if I said that he didn’t have to go but that is not an option. In this family brothers and sisters don’t miss birthday parties. Sadly that rule doesn’t apply to some of the girls who were invited. Or should I say that some of their mothers will not send their children because they don’t like me.  I won’t apologize for confronting mean moms or suggesting that they earn their living on their backs.

You see when you act snotty it sometimes bites you in the ass. Unfortunately when you tell people that they cannot mistreat others and then add a little bling to it they sometimes choose to punish your child by not sending theirs to attend a birthday party. Because some of them are dumb and far too vocal I know that this is their way of sending a message.

The only reason I am irritated is because it affects my daughter and because I think it is sad to see them corrupt their children. The good news is that my daughter’s best and closest friends are coming so she is happy.

Dad’s Car Died

When I walked into the house I heard my children talking to each other.

“Was dad playing basketball?”

“No, his car died and he walked home.”

I would have preferred to work up the sweat playing ball but the walk home today was good. I was irritated with the whole situation. Cars always seem to know to break down when your wallet is thinner and or lighter than you would like it to be.

It was about a four mile walk. If I were Jack Reacher it would have led me into a great adventure. Would have had to beat up a few people, kill two or three bad guys and sleep with the really hot sheriff, but I am not Jack Reacher.

Didn’t stop me from talking to myself the whole way home. Used a funny voice and accent and created a character who sounded a bit like Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman. I looked at the trees and told them if I was half the man I was five years ago I would take a flame thrower to this place.

In case you are wondering the trees didn’t answer, but if they had I would have stopped to speak with them. C’mon now, you always stop to speak with the talking tree. If you ever see me talking to a tree be careful not to interrupt my conversation- they hate when people do that.

Do The Work- The Write Way To Write

 

Twenty-five years ago I listened to one of the guys tell us about how to use music to supercharge our sex lives. He said that picking something like Bolero by Ravel would help us set the sort of tempo that would drive our women wild.

Naturally we told him that he couldn’t talk about sex until he had actually done it. Of course we followed that prescription up with a series of encounters that would not count including animals, blow up dolls and siblings. Yes, we were classy fools now weren’t we.

I can’t speak for any of the other guys but I made a mental note to try it. Of course if you are of a certain age you might remember Bo Derek and the movie ’10’ so this music did have a sort of association with sex that I couldn’t or maybe wouldn’t ignore.

But that wasn’t the only reason that I loved music. The how and why could easily become the topic of a much longer post but for now let’s just say that music helped me to Do The Work.

If and when you ask me to tell you what Do The Work means I’ll tell you that Jeff Goins made me think of a comment I left over at Danny Brown’s blog.  I’ll walk you through how this all works.

Jeff’s first few ‘graphs make me think about Danny’s post, or should I say the blogger that guest posted there today. He used the term A-listers and I hate it because it is ridiculous, meaningless and worthless. But don’t get caught up in my gut reaction to one piece of the post there or at Jeff’s.

You see Jeff talks about being irritated about a comment he read where a reader suggested a popular blogger didn’t have to work hard to earn his audience. That isn’t what I thought about. No, what I thought about is how once you obtain a certain level of popularity people let you get away with saying stupid shit. You can suggest that the smartest bloggers only use Macs and that they write will covered in melted Gouda and commenters will say that you are really freaking smart/

Whereas an ordinary blogger could say the same thing and they would be excoriated for saying something stupid. Of course if you suggested using Mozzarella you might find a different reception.  In fact let’s test this. I would love to see one of my readers cover themselves in cheese. If you choose to do this and are male I would ask that you approach a woman and say the following words: “eat me.”

Don’t forget to let me know how it goes. Inquiring minds love learning about this kind of stuff. And for those of you who care, I have always been good at stirring things up and causing trouble. That isn’t always my finest trait, but sometimes you need to play to your strengths.

And now for the serious portion of our post.

DO THE WORK

It is in all caps because it is of critical importance. This is a message to both you and me. If you want to be successful you have to do the work. That means if you want to be a successful writer (Jack is speaking to himself now) you have to do the work. You have to immerse yourself in this world. You have to write like your life depends upon it because it does. You need to write like your hair is on fire and do it every freaking day until you figure out how to make the magic happen more often than not.

That is a funky way of saying you have to practice but it is also a reminder that there are multiple pieces to play with and you can’t afford to play with one and not the others. Ignore the others at your peril. Do the damn work. Read. Write. Repeat.

Learn about the business end so that you can figure out how to draw a roadmap to move from Point A all the way over to Z. That is ‘Z’ and not ‘Zed’ Canadians. Yes, you crazy Canucks we haven’t forgotten about your colours, flavours and favourites now have we.

Y’all are nice people so it is easier to pick on you. You’ll just politely take it or ask me nicely to stop. Remind me to tell you about the time at the ’96 Olympics when I told Angus of the Clan McCleod that he made a nice Brit. Dude wanted to go all Highlander on me. I explained that there can be only one and that he wouldn’t want to lose his head but I don’t know if he understood. Or maybe I was the one who didn’t understand, one heck of an accent. Very cool accent.

Which leads me to make a note to tell you the story about the girl from Scotland that I met in Jerusalem. We had quite the time, no not the Ravel playing Bolero time. We talked. But we won’t discuss that now.

The Write Way To Write

The write way to write is with your voice and your style. I repeat this point over and over. Consider this fair warning that I will write more posts about this. But if my stats don’t lie people really like the posts about writing.

And that is part of why I am doing this. But mostly I am doing this because I love to write and I love to just write. It reminds me of the question that so many bloggers ask me.

How long should a post be?

The answer is as long as it needs to be and that leads me to say that it is time to sleep now. Big day tomorrow and if I am going to do the work I need to get some shut eye. But mind my words there, Do The Work is of paramount importance. If you want to become something more than you are now you need to do the work. Put the time in and become who you want to be. Do the work.

Why Me Versus Why You

My car overheated today. It happened a little after 4 PM. I was heading North on Sepulveda Boulevard when I smelled something burning. I looked down at the dash and saw the little arrow heading up and cursed.

This isn’t the first time that I have dealt with this particular gremlin. First time in this car, but not the first time I have had to turn on the heat while driving a car where the temperature inside was already pushing 90. It was just myself traffic and my traveling sauna. Good times.

The location was bad. It is not the place I want to be stuck. That is not because it is unsafe but because inside the Mulholland Pass you have long sections of road that wind in between the mountains. There are no rest stops, gas stations, homes or restaurants to use as refuge. Just lots of road. It gets hot out there.

I know. I have run and walked through large sections of it. The heat rises off of the road and you wonder if you are going to come upon a chain gang working on the road. Except that doesn’t happen out here. You won’t see Paul Newman dueling with the man with no eyes. There is no failure to communicate because there is no one to communicate with.

What I Am Is Not Who I Was Or Who I Will Be. I See Possibilities of Opportunities That Can Be Realities.”

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong are singing Summertime and I am staring at a different screen than the one you see. That is not because we don’t share computers but because what you are reading is a finished post and what I am looking at is the possibility of a finished post.

Of course there is a question about what that means…finished that is. When it comes to yours truly I see myself as who I was but not who I am. I see what I might become and what I could be. I see possibilities of opportunities that could become my reality.

That might sound like gibberish to you. It might sound like me trying too hard to be a philosopher. Or maybe it sounds like something else. I don’t know. What I know is that at this very moment 10:59 PM P.S.T. I see my life with the sort of clarity that I rarely have.

It gladdens my heart and soothes my soul. Really, I feel like I am in touch with a presence that flits in and out of my llife. For the moment my batteries feel as they have been recharged and I am glad for that.

When the car started acting up I talked to it. I told it that I couldn’t allow it to break down right then. I said that it was the mechanical equivalent of my steed and that I couldn’t very well ride into battle without it. I promised the car that if it got too tired I would push and or pull it up the hill and then jump back into it in time to coast down the other side.

Can’t say if the car heard or understood me but I can say that I got home in due time. I can say that tomorrow is a big day for a multitude of reasons. I don’t know if I am going to be online all that much so I will probably post twice tonight.

But in truth that isn’t just because I don’t know what the morrow will bring. It is because at this very moment, 11:04 P.M. P.S.T. I feel like I have found my feet and I have a rhythm that works for my words.

And when you have that feeling you just have to go with it because you can’t always know how long it will stay with you. It is like when you have the hot hand on the court. You keep shooting the ball until you can’t.

Be A Good Friend

I showed the video below to my son today. I told him that I want him to be a good friend. I told him that I want him to have the kind of friendship you see below.

He asked me if Spock died and I nodded. I don’t know if he saw the tears in my eyes. It is a scene that always catches me, but this time was more powerful than normal. It made me think of ‘D.’ In a few months it is going to be 14 years since he died.

Fourteen years ago we really were so much younger and so very different. I wasn’t a father. I was much more like the guy I once was than the man I am becoming. He was good that guy, flawed but good. The man I am becoming isn’t so very different, good and flawed also.

But so much has happened since then. I want to tell ‘D’ about so many things. He never got married. Never got to be a dad. He would have been great at it. He would have been shocked as I have been at how many of our friends have died, but this is how it goes.

I want my children to know this kind of friendship. I want them to know that some bonds are too strong to be completely broken. I want them to know what it means to make a promise never to forget someone and to keep it.

There is magic in the moment and music in the night, oh how I wish they could feel it.

This is part of Yeah Write #59.