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J. J. Brown, Wordslinger

"I Sling Words As I Go Along."

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thoughts

So, In Solitude, You Can Hear Yourself Think…….

…….and that’s not as easy or as fun as it sounds.  Trust me on this – I am the over-thinker extraordinaire and getting out of my head is a task unto itself.  Embracing solitude and being alone with your thoughts can be intimidating or even frightening – my observation has been that those who fear or are uncomfortable with their own thoughts tend towards unhealthy or toxic situations and habits.  For me, solitude, being solitary and alone with my thoughts is as natural as breathing.

Also, thinking is how I get my brilliant story ideas, so at least there’s a trade-off.

I’m a solitary introvert with the occasional social tendencies. This means that, while I tend to prefer the company of Me, Myself and I, there are times when I also want to be in the company of others and share in conversation or experiences.  I’m also an Asperger’s, which may be why I’m comfortable with being solitary, but it’s also high-functioning and I’ve got the tools to navigate the social world.  Somewhere, there is a post about the times I enjoy socializing and the pros and cons of such an effort, but this is not that post.  This post is about solitude, why I enjoy it and the frustrations of trying to communicate this bit of joy to those who thrive on social interaction.

So, here goes.

Being solitary is my nature.  It’s something I don’t put a lot of thought into and it certainly never had a negative impact on me.  I’m free to entertain my own schedule and alter course as I please.  I can be as excited and energized over something I enjoy as I want – likewise, I can also be as introspective and contemplative as I want.  In neither case do I have to worry about a person being uncomfortable in my presence. [1]  When I go on my mini-road trips, I have no responsibility to anyone but myself and I am therefore able to see the details around me that would otherwise go unnoticed.

In solitude, everything can be seen and felt.

Details like dragonflies and hummingbirds flitting by; a sea otter playing in the bay; the sounds of gulls and seals arguing over property rights; waves crashing over a jetty; silence wrapping itself around you while walking along a dirt path; the smell of wet earth and the canopy of trees shielding you from the sun.

In my world, being solitary is heavenly, energizing in a way that I can only compare to working on a  play – which involves people.  There’s a kind of synergistic high as an actor when you connect with the audience and your fellow actors. The fact that I have a literal script to follow is an absolute bonus – as someone with Asperger’s, this allowed me to see structure in social interaction. [2]  This is probably the reason I thrived in theater for so many years – I had a literal blueprint for something that confused the hell out of me off-stage.  As an Asperger’s, having a script that told me what to do, what to say and when was a HUGE relief and it was probably the most social thing I ever did.  I not only willingly chose to participate with other people, but I also felt comfortable enough to keep separate at times without drawing criticism. [3]

Mask created by Robert Lamarche.

Being social in other environments requires me to wear a mask, so that I can at least pass for ‘normal’ – whatever that means. [4]  The pressure I feel to be just the right amount of social and Self in order to go out and mingle with people is so stressful that I’m already exhausted before I set foot outside my bedroom, let alone my house.  It’s sensory overload, or the anticipation of it, anyway.

How can I describe this, so that you, the person reading this, understands?  Because language is very important when communicating, I make an effort to find the right words.  I have many friends who are extroverts and thrive on social events.  I have an equal number of friends who are introverts and thrive on their own company.

People who are extroverts, and are used to being stimulated by external influences, may find solitude depressing or even frightening.  An extrovert friend mentioned something along those lines to me and I suggested that perhaps it’s because when you’re alone, you’re faced with yourself – no distractions, no filters, no smoke and mirrors.  Just you, your Self and your thoughts.

And that can be frightening – what kind of person are we when we’re alone?  Are we really the person we think we are, hope we are?  Or are we less than we hope to be?

It’s something I’ve reflected on, consciously and unconsciously, my entire life.  I’ve never been uncomfortable being on my own or alone, because that’s my constant state.  It has always been that way.  Do I want to share my world with someone?  Of course, I do.  But I’d like it if people would stop automatically assuming it’s because I’m lonely (“You need to learn how to be alone”) or that I don’t have a life (news flash – just because my life doesn’t live up to what you think it should be, doesn’t mean I don’t have one) or some other lame-ass opinion.

If I’m inviting you into my world, it’s because I think you’d not only enjoy it, but that you’d add to it, just as my presence might add to yours. [5]

Being alone is my preferred state.  I am not forced to be in a box to make others comfortable, I am free to be as elemental as I want and, while occasionally frustrating, my thoughts are perfectly suited as company.  I lack for nothing in my life as a solitary person – I have my own beat, I have my art and stories to research, I have horses and cats and the occasional foray into social interactions.  I also have my adventures to plan.

And the best adventurers are usually loners……with the occasional side-kick.

[1] I’m aware that what other people think of me is A. none of my business and B. who gives a fuck.

[2] Real life needs to be scripted. It also needs to be accompanied with a music score, so that one could more easily recognize certain situations for what they are.  A bad situation in alley is easy to recognize – a bad situation surrounded by people whom you know, not so much.

[3] I was once cornered at a table by two people whom I’d known for at least three years in the same social setting.  They knew of my Asperger’s and the techniques I utilized to take care of myself when feeling overwhelmed in social settings, and yet chose to be critical of me and those techniques.  My crime?  Sitting by myself, writing in my journal about the day I’d had, the enjoyment I’d felt and the people I’d chosen to share it with.

[4] I’m aware of the fact that others may feel overwhelmed and stressed in social gatherings, but they can either tell their own stories or be quiet. Dismissing and/or talking over someone who is opening up and trying to articulate their discomfort, their feelings and experience as best they can is disrespectful, to say the least.

[5] Before you make assumptions about someone, it’s best to look at why you’re making those assumptions.

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Morning Thoughts* (7)

1. I’ve been thinking a lot about the term ‘good old days’.

2. ^^^ As we all know, there’s no such thing – it’s just rose-colored glasses on a period of time that we have no experience or memory of.

3. I’ve also been watching old TV shows on channels like COZITV and Antenna – Emergency, Adam-12, I Dream of Jeannie, Little House on the Prairie, etc

4. ^^^ I’ve often caught myself remembering when I’d originally watched these shows – I was under the age of ten, I had no real responsibilities, no real worries to weigh upon me. I just lived and did my thing and was pretty happy.

5. Then it occurred to me – maybe the ‘good old days’ that everyone keeps talking about are the days of childhood, before responsibility and the need for a paycheck became an overwhelming concern.

6. ^^^ This makes sense to me – that, in varying degrees, we are trying to get back to the ‘good old days’ of when we were free from worry, responsibility and just focused on being who we were and enjoying our lives.

7. So the trick, then, is to try and bring that feeling into our present.

8. ^^^ I know how difficult this can be – I never said it was easy.

9. But maybe re-discover the things that made you happy as a kid – painting, or dance or something – and add that to your life.

10. It might not bring radical change, but it won’t hurt you, either.

11. It might just make you happier and better able to face the challenges of being an adult.

 

* not to be confused with Evening Thoughts. 😉

Morning Thoughts* (5)

1. Coffee is a food group unto itself. But I’m sure you already knew that.

2. I have the best gym in the world and I don’t even pay fees – in 30 to 45 minutes, I’ve worked out almost all the major muscle groups at once at least two or three times a week. How? I clean horse pens.

3. In ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’, there’s a character named Catherine, who advises Francis (Diane Lane) to live spherically. I’m interpreting that to mean “Don’t make yourself small to make other people feel comfortable. That’s not your problem.”

4. Who is Kesyer Soze? A mousy character in The Usual Suspects (1995), obviously. But this can also describe someone who blows the secret to the fucking movie in his acceptance speech.

5. People will experience you differently, but there’s always a constant thread. As Maya Angelou once said, ““I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

6. One of my many goals in life is to just give people something to smile about. There is nothing too small or insignificant to smile about.

7. Naps, the terror of childhood, are actually good things.

8. I’ve compartmentalized my life so well, it would shock you. I’m not kidding – it shocks me, sometimes.

9. Road trips are a must – take them as often as you can, even if it’s an hour or two away.

*as opposed to evening thoughts.

Peaceful day at the bay.

Evening Thoughts (1)

1. It is the ultimate form of abuse to tell someone who has finally found their voice and courage to speak up and say “No more!” to being disrespected, abused and bullied that they need therapy.

2. If you can’t speak up for yourself, you will never be able to speak up for others.

General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher).
Credit: Pacify Mind

3. Carrie Fisher is my rebel patron saint of No Fucks to Give.

4. I am feeling a tremendous amount of pure energy in my heart and soul. Yesterday, I could hardly sit still – I wanted to move hills and reshape valleys and redirect rivers. For lack of a better word, I will call it the Force.

5. I am one with the Force, the Force is one with me.

6. I know the difference between someone making a naughty joke and someone who is deadly fucking serious.

7. I am enough.

8. The actions, feelings and words of others are not my problem – do not attempt to make it so.

9. A woman who knows her own power and claims it is not to be trifled with.

10. I am surrounded by books. I may have to send up the white flag and surrender.

So, it looks like I skipped the entire month of September…..

……and all I can say is that September must have been a lot busier than I remember.  I looked for a place to live; I went to an orientation to help build my editing business; on the last Monday of that month, I got my book back with notes; and I’m pushing through some walls I’d built around myself.

Can that take up an entire month?  Maybe, but it sure doesn’t seem like it was a lot.

At least, not to me.

October looks to be more of the same – looking for a place to live; working on the notes for my book; push through walls; possibly relocate altogether – but there are some other things to look forward to, as well.

The orientation is now a workshop, where I start taking steps to ensure the success of my editing business.  I’ll learn how to execute a plan (I’ve always got a plan) that will help me to secure new and on-going clients; gain more training as an editor (like writing, it’s always an ongoing education); apply for a business license; and how to advertise my business (which definitely ties into the plan).

I’ve got my work cut out for me and I am more than okay with that.  This is something I’m not only good at, but enjoy.  The written word is still our main form of communication – from web content to fiction to advertising – and there will always be a need for someone who can help polish that to a shine and make it sparkle.

Need an editor?  Hire me.  Unsure of my qualifications or skill level?  Give it a single 5 hour session and see if it works for you.  Still not satisfied?  I can refer you to another editor, if you feel we are not a good match.

For more information about my rates, please contact me here:

wordslingercopy@hotmail.com

 

 

So, I’m plugging along on my Ancient Greek Comedy….

……and I can feel the tangents wanting to take off and create something new.  This is exciting to me, because it means that this play has a lot to say, that there’s more depth to it than I had originally anticipated.  But because these tangents are too nebulous and without form, I’m making them wait until this revision is finished.

I know, I know, I’m being terribly mean to these tangents.  I mean, they only want to help my Ancient Greek comedy become something truly magnificent.

And I can’t argue with that, because I want the same thing.  Still, this revision has to happen first and then the tangents can come in and do as they please.  If it makes anyone feel any better about it, I write these tangents down to remember them.  That is, if there’s something solid enough to write down.

In any case, I’m delighted to see characters that I’d written out make their way back in,  One character has regained his speech after I took it away from him.  Issues that I have strong ideas and feelings about are working their way in, which is only right.  Theater, and the arts in general, are about exploring ideas (good, bad, ugly) and politics and feelings.  The arts are here to make us think, not just make us feel.  There is something at work within the confines of this play that I can’t readily identify, but it’s exciting to me.

And that’s a very good thing.

Title and cast list of Hotel Mt. Olympus.

So, I’m enjoying the constant learning…..

……of my websites, from this blog to my Patreon page.  The joys of finding little things that make the process of posting a little easier.  Of being able to write as many posts as I want and not sharing them immediately, but scheduling them out a little at a time.  Of finding new ways to shape what I’m presenting to you, my audience, that will make you feel welcome and inspired and energized.

It’s not just the technical aspects, either.  The more I post, the more ideas seem to come out of thin air, some as solid and real as cotton candy, some with the substantive weight of a thousand pound horse.

Some of those ideas survive, some don’t, and that’s okay.

That’s known as process.

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.

IMG_20160227_115204-2-2-2

So, as 2014 winds down…….

……..and 2015 fast approaches, I’ve been ruminating on some observations and thoughts that have occurred to me over the last year.

Turns out, they also make good writing points.

*Every experience you have, the good, the bad, the ugly, belongs to you. This, of course, also means that the other people in those experiences are bringing their truths/reality to the same situation, thus creating a conflicting dynamic. You can’t control that in life, so let it go. Putting it in a story, however, adds some rich texture to the plot and characters.

*People are complex creatures, but they are also pretty black and white. A good-hearted person can have a moment of coldness, and a narcissist can have a moment of genuine empathy. What happened in those moments before that caused them to behave in such a manner? At the end of the day, this makes them human. This is a good thing to remember when developing characters and giving them motivation.

*There are stories everywhere – in a bar, on a crosswalk, in a room where the packing of books and other items occur. Who are these people? Why are they in that place, in that moment? Why did this person order this particular book/item? Where? When? What? How? Every person you meet, every situation or place you walk into, has a story to tell. Find it.

*Life is unpredictable, chaotic. This is okay. Stories should also be unpredictable and chaotic, but the nice thing is, you get to control the story. Life is not so easy, but you can at least manage the sails enough to navigate the waters in good times and bad. Sometimes, the story can act as the ballast or the anchor as you go.

These are my thoughts, such as they are. You may find them helpful and insightful or you may not. That’s the way the ball bounces.

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