Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Unbearable Darkness of Being…Creative

People talk about creativity like it's a good thing. And it is…most of the time. But there is a very dark side to being creative and having an imagination that doesn't stop churning and turning ideas out like a giant ice cream maker with no off switch. That dark side is a constant pull towards a black hole where, once beyond the event horizon, you become something entirely different than when you were initially standing on the edge. That dark side is total obsession with ideas and stories, lack of sleep, living a large chunk of your life disconnected from outer reality while you create inner worlds, having people wonder if you are "slow" because your mind is always dancing in black shadows or soaring through clouds…and the overwhelming sense of being utterly and completely alone when doing so.

I have a ton of writer friends and creative types in my life, so I am sure they know what this dark pull is and have felt it themselves many times. I am sure they have stood at the edge and given themselves to the gravitational gulp of forces beyond their control. I don't have to preach to the choir… It's the people in my life that don't do something that is primarily focused on the creation and execution of ideas that may not get it. No matter how much good I have in my life, I live with a voracious emptiness that threatens to swallow me whole if I don't constantly feed it…with ideas and stories and research and theories and facts and stuff I've learned and now want to share with the world. The bitch is insatiable and I live with it daily.

Creativity is a wonderful thing, but we have to admit this darker side exists, and then find a way to fully embrace it, accept it and just plain absorb it as a part of who we are and what we do. I will never be a calm, peaceful person so long as characters and concepts rampage about in my mind. I will never want to take life slowly when the end of the world could come about at any time in my imagination. I will never hesitate or be shy about asking for and going for what I want when my dreams demand I step up and grab the brass ring or consume me alive. It's not a way of life most people have the fortitude and inner courage for, not to mention the balls...and many times neither do I.

But creativity chooses us and chooses to express through us, whether we want it to or not, and for those of us who do this for a living (and the whole feast or famine thing is another study in the duality of dark and light, good and evil!), well, as the song once said, "The girl can't help it."

I am a friendly, generous, loving, caring, optimistic and humorous person. But fail to see the dark side and you fail to see the part of me that drives my reality, inside and out. I walk on the edge of black holes every day, and sometimes it's all I can to to not fall in forever, never to be heard from again. The thing that keeps me sane is that same duality I just referenced. Just as I love the coming together, I love the being torn apart.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Overwhelm vs. Underwhelm

I have been challenged by some feisty, troublemaking writer friends to resurrect my blog, and I couldn't think of a better topic to start the new year off with than the challenge of taking on too much. So, a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…wait a second, that sounds familiar…I realized that what worked for me as a writer was far different than what I was being told SHOULD work for me as a writer. Let me explain. All the classes and books and conferences I had taken over the years, since I began seriously pursuing writing as a teenager, suggested very strongly that I become disciplined and write a certain amount of words each and every day…and that I work on one project at a time through to completion, to avoid brain and creativity burn-out. This was hammered into my head over and over again. WORD COUNT. PAGE GOALS. DISCIPLINE. ONE AT A TIME.

NOT!

It quickly became evident that this was not for me. Since childhood, when I began writing stories, I knew that the whole "one thing at a time" just wasn't going to cut it. At least not with me. My brain was filled with ideas and stories and characters and subjects I wanted to learn and write about. Nor was the idea that I should write a set amount of words each day. I just couldn't do it and make it feel natural. I felt embarrassed and awkward talking to other writers, especially writing teachers, who pushed the whole "5 pages a day" on me…because for me, it felt unnatural for my own tendencies. It took me a couple of decades to feel comfortable in my own writing skin, despite their admonitions.

What works for me is writing at least two things at once, preferably not the same genre or age group, or even format. Maybe a novel and a script. Or a non-fiction book and a novel. A middle grade story and an adult sci fi tale. You get the picture. Sometimes I have three things going at once. I love it!!! It gets my blood boiling and my passions raging and it stokes the creative fires.

What works for me is having tons of deadlines hanging over my head because I perform so much better under pressure. What works for me is writing in fits and starts, doing a ton of writing in my head before I ever put a word down on paper, and going days without writing anything, only to bang out half a book the following week. IT WORKS FOR ME. I SHALL NO LONGER QUESTION IT!

I am widely published, with tons of writing credits under my belt in non-fiction, screenwriting, short stories, essays, reviews, gift books, magazine articles and now fiction. I THINK IT WORKS FOR ME JUST FINE. So the next time someone chastises me for being overwhelmed, I will simply tell them it works for me. I like overwhelm.

It's the underwhelm that gets me into trouble.

Find your patterns, your rhythms, your methods and your modes and stick to them. The most important thing is getting the stuff on paper, no matter how you do it.

Hey, I blogged!!!!!

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Seed of Hope in Despair

One of the themes I've been most driven to explore is despair. Oh, I've felt it…and recently, too, caring for a child that is chronically ill and feeling like a failure as a parent, struggling to live my dreams against ALL odds…trying to fight the doubts and fears that plague any of us when we step out of our comfort zone…losing people we care about, and love…Failure can make you feel despair. Fear can. Hopelessness can. Loneliness…Loss. Loss of SELF most of all.

But one thing I've realized is that there is an incredible POWER to despair…a reconstructive power that begins when realization dawns that you have hit ROCK BOTTOM emotionally, maybe even physically…and have absolutely nowhere else to go but up. Yes, you can choose to stay down, lay down, even die. But most of us won't do that, because even in the deepest, darkest moments, we have an inherent urge to survive…and a capacity to see and feel joy even when we have nothing left. Even when we are empty.

I think there is an amazing force behind despair and emptiness…a cleanliness to your life and a clarity that did not exist when you were filled with anything, even good things. Feeling empty is an impetus point for going out into the world and bravely choosing what to now fill yourself with. Despair is an end point at which you finally can turn onto a different path, a different road with a different outcome, because you've been to hell down that one road and you won't go back for anything.

I have always wanted to write about despair, and I think in some small way, all of my fictional works, even my screenplays, have featured an element of being lost, of being despairing, of being empty and having one's back fully flattened against the wall of life. My stories, and my characters, always involve coming away from that wall stronger, with a fighting spirit that overpowers all fear and doubt and lack of courage. Even the more humorous or lighthearted fare has involved a character feeling lost, alone, empty of hope…shoved against a flat surface, told that this was indeed the end of the road, and then pushing off that flat surface with newfound "pissed off-ness" and a refusal to take any more crap from anyone.

Life is filled with both joy and despair…and mostly it's filled with in-between stuff that comes nowhere close to either extreme. But I fully believe that it's the extremes that fuel us and shape who we are…and drive us forward into the abyss of becoming.

Despair may feel like the most unempowering place to be. But to me, it is where all the power in the universe is suddenly placed at our feet…reverent to us...

Friday, April 12, 2013

Identity Shift Ahead!

Wow, so within the next year and a half, my longtime dream of being a novelist will come true. I am currenly working on a number of projects, from children's to YA, that will be released over the next 18 months and it has really got me thinking about how we identify ourselves to the world…and to ourselves.

I've always been "a writer," having been published since my teens, and yes, paid for it. But over the last twelve years, I've focused on non-fiction, oh, writing a few scripts here and there, but mainly putting out a steady stream of non-fiction books. I began to view myself, and be viewed by others, as a "non-fiction author" who does a ton of research and writes books about everything from the paranoramal to science to metaphysics and all points in between. Someone who does a lot of radio interviews, speaks at events and writes articles for magazines about…well…non-fiction.

So now I find myself feeling a little shaky and off center, but in a great way, because the doors that are opening are doors I've wanted to open for a long, long time. But my identity…will I now view myself as a "fiction author" and "storyteller?" Will others change their view of who I am and what I do?

I guess in the end I am just as I have always been…"a writer." I am expanding my reach now and moving into a format that I may not yet be known for in terms of my public persona. I just hope that readers accept me for who I am, and who I am becoming.

I know I do.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

3 GATES OF THE DEAD by Jonathan Ryan

Hey, I have a friend and colleague named Jonathan Ryan who is releasing a book in October.
It's called 3 GATES OF THE DEAD and promises to be a real thrill ride!

Here's a synopsis:

Conflicted with his faith in God and the hypocrisy of the church, Aidan Schaeffer, a young assistant pastor, is in a constant state of spiritual turmoil. When Aidan learns that his ex-fiancée is the first victim in a string of ritualistic killings, he finds himself catapulted into an even deeper fight. Tormented by demonic threats and haunted by spirits, Aidan throws himself into investigating Amanda’s death; all the while supernatural forces have begun to attack the people around him. The more questions he asks, the more he is drawn into the world of a mysterious Anglican priest, a paranormal investigation group and a rogue female detective investigating the murders. As the gruesome rituals escalate, ancient hidden secrets and an evil long buried threaten to rip apart Aidan’s world.

The book will be available in both digital and print format from Premier Digital Publishing and will be available at all book outlets, or visit http://www.premierdigitalpublishing.com.

Jonathan is an amazing talent and I am excited for his book launch!!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Don't Tread On Me…And I Won't Tread On You


            Like a lot of women, I often have a problem with people taking advantage of my kindness, generosity and caring, even with my ability to get things done fast. That seems the case with so many of my female friends, and hey, I’m not just saying it’s the OTHER gender that takes advantage...because women take advantage of other women, too. Even their friends and family. It happens to everyone at some time.

            So I thought about why this is the case. Why do so many people think it’s perfectly OK to behave like this, and are these people even aware they are doing it? My conclusion is, they don’t know. They are not aware. Perhaps it’s how they were raised, to believe they were entitled to others doing everything for them. Perhaps they are just lazy and arrogant and believe they shouldn’t HAVE to work hard when there are others around to do it for them.

            But perhaps...just perhaps...taking advantage of another person masks a very deep-seated fear of inadequacy and insecurity in one’s own abilities to do things, to be successful, to go for it. Hey, if someone else can go for it FOR you, why bother? But if you want to become a strong, self-sufficient person with a solid identity and the ability to pursue your own life vision and make your dreams and goals come true...you cannot do it through another person. Because in the end, it will be THERE vision that manifested, their hard work that is rewarded, their goals that are achieved, and once again you will be able to tell yourself you could have done it all if

a)    you had more time
b)   you had more money
c)    you had more energy
d)   you were older, younger, prettier, hotter, sexier...
e)    yadda yadda yadda

            I’ve taken advantage of others, yep. I admit it. We all do. It’s a human thang, you know? But I’ve had to really ask myself lately WHY. Was it because I wasn’t aware I was doing it? Hell no, the twist in my gut told me I was doing something wrong. Was it because I couldn’t do for myself what I thought the other person could do for me? Hell yes, because I let me own fears and self-doubts constantly sabotage any efforts to do it myself (so hard to admit!). Was it because I was lazy? Oh, maybe sometimes, sure. Was it because I was scared shitless to try it on my own because...
I MIGHT FAIL?????

          Hell to the yes. And when I got real and admitted that truth, I realized that other people could never make my life better, or make my dreams come true, or solve my problems for me. I also realized that people take advantage of me because I allow them to. And by putting up new boundaries and standing up for myself and realizing I am worth being respected and cared about, I hope it doesn't happen much anymore. I hope I never take advantage of anyone else either. I will do my best to try to avoid being at the giving end as well as the receiving end.

          Do unto others comes to mind. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

To Time Travel…or Not To Time Travel (THAT is the question…)





            Everyone wants to find a device that can send him or her back to the past or into the future. Everyone wants to go back in time and either fix something, relive something, or take a whole different approach altogether; or jet into some future period of time to see if everything they DIDN’T fix, relive or re-approach works out ok.
            It’s natural for humans to want to control time. We seek to control our space, why not the passage of time? Yet what few people contemplate when they fantasize about time travel are those pesky paradoxes and ethical questions, such as: if you went back and fixed the past, might you somehow be breaking the future? Or how about this one: If you make a tiny change to your own past, how are you affecting the pasts, presents and even futures of everyone you came in contact with, because, let’s face it, we are all tied into the same fabric of existence. We are all links in the chain of cause and effect. So change your cause, and you may be changing the causes, and thus, the effects, of so many other lives.
            What gives you the right?
            Imagine a whole new branch of law...time travel law. A whole new field of ethical studies...time travel ethics. People suing others in court for changing their present, altering their future, all without their consent. It could happen, should we somehow master the technological and scientific aspects of time travel, and find a way to breach the limitations of light speed and bypass the existing laws of physics that keep us grounded in the present. At least as of now.
            Time travel is within our grasp, albeit theoretically at this point. But with the exponential increase of knowledge and progress, it’s only a matter of, pun intended, time before we figure out how to get from here to there...or maybe from now to then. Experiments with particle physics at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, outside of Geneva, Switzerland, may lead to proof of particles that can outpace light speed, or proof of wormholes that can act as shortcuts through space/time and get us from Point A to Point B, even if Point B is in the past, or the future. Meanwhile, the world of quantum physics is constantly pushing the outside of the envelope of our understanding of the bizarre nature of the most fundamental energy and form, and how perhaps at this level, we have already achieved time travel, albeit minutely.
            Regardless of when we finally master moving through time physically, we still have to face the fact of those paradoxes that ask if we can, indeed, go back in time, kill our Grandfather, and still exist to write about it in the present. Or whether we can alter the future without it also “reaching back” in time to alter the present, and the past... Hell, it’s almost like pulling on tiny threads in a patchwork quilt, and wondering if the whole damn thing will unravel, despite your best intentions to only get rid of that pesky thread.
            The ethical question of whether or not any of us, individually or collectively, has the right to alter and mess with the chronological order of things, will no doubt be debated even once we have achieved physical escape velocity, whether by Tardis or by tube, via black hole or wormhole or rip in the fabric of space/time...Who will decide what can be changed in terms of history, and what is not to be messed with? Who will determine the extent of our alterations and warn those who may be affected by our desires to fix what we alone deem broken, or what we alone regret?
            It just doesn’t cross too many minds, this question of “do we or don’t we,” probably because we all know we will, if we can. That’s the human spirit, for good or for bad. If we have the opportunity, even knowing the risks, we’ll go for it.
            Perhaps the most successful Fortune 500 companies of the future will be led by lawyers devoted to time travel cases. Imagine the Law Office of Delorean and Tardis.
            It could happen.



Read my latest book with Larry Flaxman, THIS BOOK IS FROM THE FUTURE: A JOURNEY THROUGH PORTALS, RELATIVITY, WORMHOLES AND OTHER ADVENTURES IN TIME TRAVEL – out now!