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J. J. Brown, Wordslinger

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Observations

So, history keeps repeating itself……

…….and the theory behind the repetition of events and actions is this – until you learn the lesson, you will continually find yourself inside it.  This is speaking directly to one’s personal life, of course – relationships that don’t work out, jobs that don’t suit, etc.  But until you identify and change one small thing, you will continue to find yourself in those very situations that you rail against and want to break free of.

And it’s not easy – it requires conscious decision making and discipline to carry it through.  This applies to your own life as well as to the collective world at large.  Change is hard, to begin with, but we are constantly changing from the time we are born.  Surely, conscious change can not only be incorporated into one’s life, but embraced as a positive.

I am thinking of bigger issues than relationships, of course, but they are so huge, I’m not sure I could fit it into one blog post.  It could take up several.  And there so many issues to tackle, that I’m even less sure of where to begin.  And change is frightening to a lot of people – so much so, that they’d rather stagnate than make any real positive efforts to experience something that is outside their comfort zone.

And there it is – comfort zones and change don’t mix.  In order to get out of the comfort zone, you have to open up and change – a perspective, a piece of knowledge, a diet.  Regardless of how concrete the action to change is, the end result is a relative unknown.  The unknown can be acceptance or rejection, whether it’s an idea, a person or a philosophy.  It’s not so much the end result that incites fear – it’s the unknown reaction to that result.

From personal decisions to global ones, the unknown result from an act of change (no matter how positive or good that change can be) is fear.  Where do we belong?  Do we belong?  Am I not a part of this world?  What can I do to be relevant to others?  How can I be a better human being in this world?  What can I bring to the table?

It’s questions like that which define us.  It’s how we answer them that will either elevate or condemn us.

Something to think about.

 

“Some people think the future means the end of history.  Well…We haven’t run out of history quite yet.  Your father called the future…the undiscovered country.  People can be very frightened of change.”
Captain James T. Kirk, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

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So, I’m about thirty chapters into Novel Now Finished revision…..

……and it’s going.  I’ve finally worked out the timeline of the novel from beginning to end and it comes out to about a week.  While there’s a lot going on, the bulk of the action seems to be happening on the weekend, beginning on Friday and ending on Monday.

A lot always seems to happen on the weekend.

Had I thought about it a little more, I would have set up Novel Now Finished much in the same way that I had set up Secrets & Howls.  In that book, I had designed it to take place over the course of a week.  To clarify this point, I placed an independent page stating the day of the week, followed by the chapters that took place over the course of that day and then ended the day with a segment of a letter from 1852.  Then it would start all over again, until the novel ended with the final fragment from 1852.

But it was also a different kind of story than Novel Now Finished, which had always felt more fluid with its time than structured.  This is in part due to the fact that Secrets & Howls is told primarily in third person, with the ability to dip into the lives of various other characters and places without breaking the narrative.  Novel Now Finished is told in first person and, with very few exceptions, remains that way throughout.

Still, in keeping a timeline for any novel, it helps to keep the story’s continuity flowing and if you’re really on top of it, you’ll catch errors before it goes into print.  Whether it’s in third, first or second Point of View, it’s a helpful aid in keeping track of your characters and their actions within the story.

All I can say now is, whew!

The Manuscript in Question.

 

So, lately, I’ve been feeling really angry…..

…..and it’s about nothing that I can put a finger on and say “Ha! I see this, it is making me angry and I will correct it and turn that feeling around to a more positive (if not happy) feeling!”

It’s more of a free-floating anger about life in general.  It’s a thought that hovers just outside my conscious thinking, present, but not the focus.  I’m not sure, really, why I’m feeling this anger, this hot brick of energy that sits squarely on my chest and in my mind.  I just know that it’s there, it’s wanting my attention and that I am going to have to address it in order for it to go away.

Or, at least, to put myself in control of my feelings, rather than let it (or any other feeling) have control of me.

This is where I know my art and my writing will help.  By putting my emotions on canvas, I’m acknowledging what’s going on inside my mind.  By writing it out, by creating a story with fully realized characters, I’m giving those emotions a voice.

This feeling of anger is not there without reason.  It’s not making itself present in my thoughts or my life just because it can.  Something in my subconscious really needs to be addressed and I need to pay attention to it.  Therapy can help, but I’m not in the mood for talking.  By talking about it, I end up feeling like I’m poisoning the air around me.

I don’t want to do that.  That’s exhausting for me.  I’d rather focus on things that make me feel good and happy.

So, art and writing it is.  Years ago, I wrote a thriller screenplay that was incredibly dark and creepy.  I’ve been toying with turning it into a novel and printed it out.  I’m making a bullet list of what I hope to accomplish within the story, how I want to format it.

That simple act is helpful for me.

This is something that I am doing for me.  If, however, you feel in need of outside help, please, by all means, seek it out.  There’s no shame in getting help, whether it’s to manage your feelings or your health or even improving your mindset.

Be creative and be active and be pro-active.

What are you creating today?

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about chances…..

…….and its cousins, opportunities and risks.

We go through life making choices that present us with one or all three.  It’s up to us to decide whether or not the outcome is worth it.

There’s a lot of fear that goes into making that choice and that’s okay.  Fear of the unknown is what helps us be alert to red flags or, in extreme situations, keep us from harm.  And fear is a good survival instinct.  It lets us know that maybe there’s a situation out there that’s too much or too dangerous for us to handle.

But you can’t let fear be the ruling factor in your life.  Stopping before you even start or because of thoughts of failing is fear.  You can’t let the possible negative outcomes determine your choices.

If you have a dream to write a novel, go write it.  Don’t let your real-life responsibilities slide, but do make the time to write every day, even if it’s 20 minutes.  Set a time and just do it.  Same thing goes for any other creative form.  Or if you want to add to your skill set in your field, if it’s medicine or law or cooking.  Add to those skills.  Make the time.

You have a dream.  Accept that there’s fear in making that first step and push through it.  There will be failures and false starts and rejection and obstacles.  Stick with it.  The only thing you have to fear is fear itself.

So, it’s March 9, only eleven days or so until spring……

……..but the temperature suggests that it’s actually the middle of summer.  I’m not someone who enjoys hot weather – I can barely move when it hits 80.  Don’t ask what it’s like when it hits triple digits.

Just know that it isn’t pretty.

I love cold weather and rainy weather, especially if I don’t have to go out in it.  If there’s no reason for me to leave the house, then i’m more likely to go out for a walk and enjoy the rain as it patters on my umbrella.

I recently took a trip to Morro Bay and, while I knew it was going to rain, it ended up being more of a storm than I was expecting.  I ended up staying an extra night – I don’t like driving in the rain to begin with and the storm that was coming was pretty bad.

Still, I loved it – watching the surf pound the breakers, the bay churning and the wind fighting with the birds about who had dominion.

Yep, I’m definitely a cold weather person.

Stormy morning on the bay.

So, it’s the first day of March……

……..and it got me thinking about how the word ‘march’ is not only a noun, but a verb.  It’s not just the name for a month (or a person), but it’s also an action.

The month of March, therefore, can be interpreted as a month of action. I know what it is to be stuck, to not know what direction to go in. What’s difficult about it is that there are so many choices, that we often freeze. We feel paralyzed and panicked and end up staying in the same spot. We are so scared of making the wrong decision that we end up not deciding, which in itself is a decision.

The only true wrong decision is to not decide and remain stuck.

So make a decision and move forward. March forward.

If you realize the path is wrong, change direction. Just keep marching forward.

Eventually, you’ll find your way. You’ll find that the panicked and stuck feeling will fall away and you can breathe easier. You’ll feel lighter, more buoyant. Your energy will come back and you’ll find excitement at your favorite activities that only a few weeks ago, felt dull and routine, boring and stagnant.

Pick a direction, make a decision and go forward. March forth towards your goals and dreams.

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So, I’ve been working on my Patreon page……

……….setting up posts so that when I’m finally ready to officially launch it, there will be things already in place for subscribers to enjoy.

It’s not quite ready for the public yet, but I’m excited about what I hope to accomplish. There will be a serialized story or two, one of which will have multiple choices to drive the plot forward. It will also have general posts open to all patrons, an occasional one for the public and some art work to go along with the writing.

It should be interesting.

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So, I worked at a small farm for a couple of days…..

…….packing fruit.

Tangerines, specifically. Well, smaller than tangerines, if you can believe that. I don’t remember the name of it and probably couldn’t spell it on a dare. I was able to sample some of the tangerine family fruit and it was pretty good stuff. Fresh off the trees, just like nature intended for fruit to be.

It wasn’t an intellectually demanding job – you had to cull out the rotten fruit and sort out the remainder for orders to ship and farmer’s market. Once you got the knack of what to look for, it was pretty easy-peasy.

It wasn’t a job that was hugely physical, either, except in picking up crates of fruit and carrying it over to the sorting table. If you were early enough to nab a chair, you could sit or stand during the course of the day as you worked. It helped, but I was still exhausted after my first day. I just wanted to go home, crawl into bed and go to sleep until I had to be up the next day and do it all over again.

But I enjoyed the experience and will probably have some use for it in a story. I’m thinking the Narrator in my current Novel in Progress might have worked at such a citrus ranch. It’s seasonal work, so it would make sense to have her come for a month or so, then disappear. It happens in some situations and it did on this job, whether by conscious decision or an injury.

I’d definitely recommend getting out there and having an experience like this, whether it’s a citrus ranch or a cow ranch. Life experiences enrich us and help us grow. They also inform our creative work.

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So, I’m just gonna keep this post short…..

…….because I’m in a mood. The things I want to discuss are being difficult. Not in writing it down, but writing it in such a way that the salient points get across. There’s no absolute guarantee, of course, but my goal in writing about heavy, serious subjects is to make sure understanding can take place.

I mean, that’s the whole point of writing, right? And the arts, in general? To create a space where understanding happens, whether it’s from as far back as millions of years ago, or as recently as this morning.

Even if it’s wrapped up in bubble gum and a bow. Because sometimes sugar does help the medicine go down, to paraphrase that venerable movie nanny, Mary Poppins.

Gene Roddenberry knew that, which is how he was able to talk politics and social issues in Star Trek. It went by the execs’ heads, but the fans picked up on it and some found a calling in the sciences or other fields.

I could go on, I’m feeling that rambly, but I’m gonna leave it here for now. I’m still moody. And those subjects still need more citing and arranging before I let them go out into the wide world of the interwebs.

Have a good night, everyone. Read a good book, watch a favorite movie, listen to some music that fills your heart.

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