Monday Meditations: She’s In My Blood…

I may be slightly biased, but I believe I’ve posted something that will blow your mind into the next dimension.

SONG OF THE WEEK

“Reinventing Robert Cohn” by And Then There Were None

First off, I am positive that this is a reference to Robert Cohn from Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.

Second off, this is a beautiful pop song that roars through my speakers like a tornado every time it plays. If you don’t like synthesizers, this may the song that makes you fall in love with them. They set the mood perfectly at every moment, with that peculiar sense of timing that puts you in a whole other world. Best of all, they intensify some of the most memorable songwriting I have heard in the 21st century.

“Like a thunderstorm that pulls you deep into the night…”

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“She’s in my blood

And like a fire inside me

Consumes the air then leads me blindly

She has my hopes and dreams

And she’s the one I see

Who screams, ‘Go on! Go on!’”

And Then There Were None

Notes Of A Storyteller: Hit The Gym!

.“The rain felt so good, I felt like Mother Nature had given me a kiss on the lips.”

 

Those were the first words to come to mind when I sat down at this laptop, so I wrote them. I was casting around for words to describe what I felt like this morning.

 

At 5:45 AM Central time, I threw on shorts, a T-shirt and some polyester and went to go work out with some friends. There were push-ups, and crunches, and running, and indoor football, and other nasty things that make we Americans quiver with fear. I grunted my way through it. I sweated like a pig.

 

When I stepped outside an hour later, the rain was coming down. I can’t describe the chill to you. It didn’t cut to the bone, but it thrilled my skin. It was the perfect cld temperature for a man whose body was flaming from exercise. On a sprite-like impulse, I dashed into the rain, and ran some more. By the time I made it back to the dorm, I was a soggy mess of flesh, fabric, and hair.

 

Here’s the thing that gets me thinking. The very first thing that leapt to mind when I started writing this wasn’t that arduous, sweaty hour. It was the moment in which I was done, and reveling in the water (the shower in my dorm room couldn’t hold a candle to this). I felt new, somehow. I felt like I had squeezed something slimy and poisonous out of my blood; life ran through my veins. In that moment, I felt like I could outrun a cheetah.

 

And now here’s my question to you: if you’re a writer, do you work out on a regular basis? How do you do it? Do you watch CNN and sweat on a treadmill? Do you rise with the sun and jog 3 miles? Do you benchpress or throw dumbbells around?

 

If you’re not, I truly recommend it. Do you feel comfortable right now? You shouldn’t be. All good stories are about a man or a woman removed from his/her comfort zone. Why should you be any different?

 

There’s something about pain that makes human beings excellent at describing themselves. When you do more than you think you are able to do, you gain power and you gain insight about yourself and life in general. You defy the American “good life” of couches and beer; that perspective will be invaluable in fiction and other places.

 

Are you hitting the gym? If not, do it before today is over. If you are, push yourself even harder. I have great confidence that it will make a mark on how you write and how you think. It might even make a mark on how you live.

 

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Hello! I don’t know if you heard, but this blog is moving to a new one. It’ll have all the same weekly features, and news about The Kingdom Trilogy. It will also acknowledge the other projects that I dip my toes in. Check it out here. I’ll post the weekly features on both sites for a while, but before long I’ll make the full transition to the new site.

 

The Storyteller Reports: Shake Up Your Schema!

I read a fascinating interview in The New York Times two days ago. Gary Marcus is a cognitive psychologist who learned to play the guitar as an adult. He received some thought-provoking questions, and delivered some thought-provoking answers. You can read it here.

I won’t steal too much of his thunder, but I do want to throw in some speculation. I know little about psychology, so if I trip up, feel free to throw some virtual tomatoes.

What does this mean for writers? Let’s think about genres. If you’ve been lucky enough to spend many years writing, you may or not have settled in one genre. If you’re an avid reader, you may settled into reading historical fiction (or Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time). So, after such long experience in one genre (or subject, if you write/read non-fiction), what happens when you try a new one? I wager it’s difficult.

I’m sketchy on the details, but there’s a psychological concept called the schema. Jean Piaget popularized it. Your mind takes the information that your mind takes in, and organizes it. The schema is the way it organizes. Just as we have folders with different categories (and reasons for putting different things in these categories), so our mind has different categories into which it classifies things.

After such long exposure, it might take time for the schemas to shift and get used to new information. Right? The rules for science fiction novels are a little different than literary short stories. You use different words, and even write in a different style, when it comes to French history as opposed to memoirs, or scholarly journals on astrophysics.

It seems clear that adults take more time to get used to new things than kids do, and Gary gets into more detail with that.

What the takeaway is for writers is that diversity is imperative. We can’t just stick with one genre. Those schemas could get so rigid that when something new comes along that we don’t understand, we don’t deal with it as well. I read too much highbrow fiction. I read too much fiction with dark endings, as we’ve talked about in weeks past.

That’s why, right now, I’m reading a non-fiction book about Catholicism. After that, I’m going to finish a reading a YA novel that a friend lent me a couple of weeks ago. Then I’m going to read some Elizabethan poetry. I want to shake up my schemas a little bit.

What about you?

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Hello! I don’t know if you heard, but this blog is moving to a new one. It’ll have all the same weekly features, and news about The Kingdom Trilogy. It will also acknowledge the other projects that I dip my toes in. Check it out here. I’ll post the weekly features on both sites for a while, but before long I’ll make the full transition to the new site.

Monday Meditations: Music Makes Everything Cooler And That’s Not Necessarily A Good Thing

Good guys and bad guys alike could live their lives to the Inception soundtrack. I posted three quotes below. Every one of these passages could be read with this music in the background, and make it even cooler than it already is. Think about that for a minute. These passages come from a vengeful anti-hero, a patriot, and a faithful family member. Regardless of the words, they are all amplified by the music.

Do they make the words more memorable to you? Could they make you believe what you thought you would never believe in?

SONG OF THE WEEK

“Inception Trailer Music”

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face.

The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown.

The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout ‘Save us!’… and I’ll look down and whisper ‘No.’

They had a choice, all of them. They could have followed in the footsteps of good men like my father or President Truman. Decent men who believed in a day’s work for a day’s pay. Instead they followed the droppings of lechers and communists and didn’t realize that the trail led over a precipice until it was too late. Don’t tell me they didn’t have a choice. Now the whole world stands on the brink, staring down into bloody Hell, all those liberals and intellectuals and smooth-talkers… and all of a sudden nobody can think of anything to say.”

Alan Moore

“What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’”

Winston Churchill

“And she said, ‘See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.’

But Ruth said, ‘Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God; where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if even death parts me from you.’”

Ruth 2:15-18 ( The Bible- Revised Stand Version- Catholic Edition)

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Hello! I don’t know if you heard, but this blog is moving to a new one. It’ll have all the same weekly features, and news about The Kingdom Trilogy. It will also acknowledge the other projects that I dip my toes in. Check it out here. I’ll post the weekly features on both sites for a while, but before long I’ll make the full transition to the new site.

Notes Of A Storyteller: Writing Made My Day Better

I had a rough morning. I told some college friends I would wake up bright and early to exercise. My alarm blared at 5:30, and I mindlessly slept in. In my stupor, I lifted my head and 5:55 and decided I couldn’t get to the rendezvous in time.

Grunting, I translated some Latin and got on with my day. I returned to my laptop, prepared to stay on top of my coursework. A cloud still rumbled in my mind. I was frustrated. I like my days to go the way I plan them. The fact that I had chosen to derail my day was frustrating.

I don’t even remember deciding to write but I did. I kid you not. I’m not writing this to make you keep reading, or spice up my prose. My fingers instinctively moved to a short story I’ve tinkered wit now and again. Several paragraphs later, I breathed and felt slightly more complete. I still felt in a funk, but I also felt like I had done something good and natural. We’ll see how good and natural that story looks when I dive in for an edit, but I’ll dive later. I feel good.

What’s the lesson, then? Frustration, whether with little things or great, can all be pent through writing. But not pent completely. You still have to do the work to put a smile on your face and spread it around your world. But the pen is a wonderful place to put those anti-smiling forces to rest.

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Hello! I don’t know if you heard, but this blog is moving to a new one. It’ll have all the same weekly features, and news about The Kingdom Trilogy. It will also acknowledge the other projects that I dip my toes in. Check it out here. I’ll post the weekly features on both sites for a while, but before long I’ll make the full transition to the new site.

The Storyteller Reports: Is There Too Much Darkness In Today’s Fiction?

I am pressed for time, so I will speak swiftly. For those of you wondering about the FastPencil edition of The Quest, it’s still rebelling against me. It won’t publish. I’m working on it, but I’m also juggling college coursework.

In the meantime, I want to leave just a thought today. Have you ever gotten the feeling that a lot of modern fiction tends to be grim and violent? I was writing on Friday about why I put down Watchmen in favor of more optimistic literature. Now I’m wondering whether Watchmen and other dark tales have too much power in today’s storytelling landscape.

Look at movies like The Dark KnightThe Road, and A Prophet. They were all critically acclaimed and all full of deadly moral choices. Think about the works of Cormac McCarthy, or Stephen King, or even Brad Thor. Think about The Hunger Games. Think about Twilight, even. The Wall Street Journal uncovers a brutal trend in YA novels that turns my stomach.

We still have our Harry Potters and our Frodo Bagginses. I don’t hear such hopeful works discussed in the same tone. Films like The Help, and books likeHotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, rake in plenty of cash, and people say they love them, but they don’t carry the same weight as The Godfather or a drug addict’s new book.

The message that I am being sent is this: successful, serious fiction needs to be dark. If you want to be successful and seriously considered in your literature, you have to focus on the dark side of humanity. Inspirational stories, or stories with pure good and evil, are lightweight and don’t merit as much esteem.

Am I right?

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Hello! I don’t know if you heard, but this blog is moving to a new one. It’ll have all the same weekly features, and news about The Kingdom Trilogy. It will also acknowledge the other projects that I dip my toes in. Check it out here. I’ll post the weekly features on both sites for a while, but before long I’ll make the full transition to the new site.

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful day!

Monday Meditations: Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life

SONG OF THE WEEK

“Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” by Monty Python

I’ll let the boys do the talking.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“When the world turns its back on you… you turn your back on the world.”

Timon the Meerkat

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Hello! I don’t know if you heard, but this blog is moving to a new one. It’ll have all the same weekly features, and news about The Kingdom Trilogy. It will also acknowledge the other projects that I dip my toes in. Check it out here. I’ll post the weekly features on both sites for a while, but before long I’ll make the full transition to the new site.

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful day!