Tag Archives: self-help

Do you live life as a classicist or a jazzer?

Although I like to consider myself more of a “jazzer” (“able to improv through life”) than a “classicist” (“plays life like a score: no surprises & well-rehearsed”), when life doesn’t “work,” I quickly become a classicist.

Take this morning and my Jeep.  Please!  Take it!  Somewhere within its electrical system is a tiny wire or a little fuse that has decided to render the thing dead.

So at 6 AM, I began to improvise: juggling this person here to fulfill that need there, emailing so-and-so to ward off affecting you-know-who.  Plotting, planning, thinking, scheming…

Etc., etc., etc.

So as a “jazzer,” you’d think I’d love this early morning composition, which has been more like a frantic bebop piece than a cool ballad.  But I’m not.  No, I’m really, really not!  In fact, I wish my life was a classical score so I could go practice, nail my part, and bow to wondrous applause.

So how about you?

“Jazzer” or “classicist?”

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Never Forget Your First Love

When I was in college, I learned a valuable life lesson from an unlikely source…my bass professor.

During a lesson in preparation for my senior recital, he stopped me midway through a section.  I studied the music to see where I’d made a mistake (but didn’t see anything) so I began again.  He quickly stopped me and said, “Play a C major scale.”

Without flinching, I flew up the fingerboard, but before I had reached the next octave, he interrupted me yet again.

“Let me see it,” he said.  Unnerved, I handed him my upright bass and bow, wondering if it wasn’t too late to change majors.  He began to play the scale slowly, making each note ring with purpose. In fact, my instrument had never sounded better!

“You’ve forgotten why you became a bassist,” he counseled, as he made my instrument come alive.  “Listen to each note.  Enjoy how rich it sounds.  Feel how it resonates through your body.”

He was right.  I had become so consumed with flashy speed and finger dexterity that I’d lost touch with my passion.  I was playing notes, not music.

Although this was a music lesson, I’ve found that this truth spills over into every aspect of my life: writing, marriage, parenting, spirituality…

I often have to take a moment and ask myself: “Have I forgotten my first love?”  “Have I forgotten why I became a _____?”

And since speed kills–and we’re all going 100 mph in a 50 zone–I know I need to take drastic measures.  So I take my foot of the gas, pull off to the side of the road, gaze into the sunset, and get reacquainted with my heart.

For me, it’s the difference between life and LIFE!


To War or “Let it Be”?

The nice thing about living in the Southeast is the milder weather.  Case in point: yesterday I weed wacked my big yard.  As I listened to the buzz-brrr of my machine, I took stock of my yard.

The weed to grass ratio was, well, embarrassing.  Weed killer would reduce my yard to Oklahoma during the 1930’s Dust Bowl!

And then there are the moles in the back.  They’ve built a tunnel system that rivals London’s Tube.

A wealthy man would pay to have someone fix it.  A zealous “green-thumber” would roll up his sleeves and dive in.  Seeing I’m neither, I have to either declare all out war or start singing “Let it Be.”

Of course, there’s another solution. I could unleash my dachshund on the moles (since they’re bred to hunt badgers) and force my kids into slave labor for the next 6 months.  I would “manage” from the shade, sipping mint juleps and serenading them with, “Let it Be.”

Now THAT sounds like a plan! 🙂


It’s In the Blood!

Courtesy of Microsoft

Yesterday, I had the privilege of speaking to a high school literary group.  I shared  my journey as an author, passed out free bookmarks, and showed them the original manuscript.

I thought they would find the facts dull, but instead, their eyes lit up and there was a “connection.”  We conversed about writing and marketing instead of me merely pitching  Tears of Min Brock like a sleazy car salesman.  In short, I’ve found MY way to connect with my audience and readers.  And walking out to my car, I also realized that for a brief moment, I was a teacher.  What a great feeling!

This shouldn’t surprise me.  After all, my Dad was a college professor and had a true gift for taking complex subject matter and not only making it palatable, but enjoyable to learn.

Sure, I hope all those kids went home, looked up my book and ordered it.  But even if they didn’t, I’m still going to reach out to other schools.

It’s in the blood!


Are you one of these?

Courtesy Microsoft

Maybe you’re already aware.  Maybe your friends have said, “That’s you!”  Maybe you’re like so many who avoid self-analysis at all cost.

No matter which category you fall into, I’m here to help you find, discover, and embrace the truth of who you are!

So, in the spirit of Jeff Foxworthy: “You may be an author if you…”

Walk into a bookstore, see the amassed talent and mumble, “I suck!”

Walk into a bookstore, see the amassed talent and mumble, “They suck!”

Eavesdrop on a spicy conversation to get some “nuggets” for your story’s upcoming dialogue.

Consider your Christmas letter proof that you’re published.

Love replying to every email in order to sharpen your writing skills.

Get excited when your teacher states, “Write about what you did for the summer.”

Think C-Span’s Book TV is exciting to watch.

These are but a few indicators that you may be an author. 

Have any to share?

 


New Baby!

Photo courtesy of Microsoft

Right now, my friends and family are FREAKING OUT!  “They’re PREGNANT?”  “He’s in his fifties!  How’s that even possible?”

Rest assured, folks, that the “new baby” is merely allegorical.  As a writer, I’m always striving to grow, and one way I do this is by increasing my vocabulary.  So when I discover a new word, for me, it’s like having a new baby (only without the stinky diapers, 3 A.M. feedings, and subsequent college tuition.)

If you’re still reading this, then I have to assume you’re a writer since everyone else thought:  “Oh, this isn’t about a baby…”  “Oh, it’s not about sex…”

So let’s continue…

Recently, I uncovered a plethora of gems in a fantasy I was reading and added them to my Excel vocab worksheet.  Geeky?  Yep!  But I’ll be the first to admit where I’m weakest (vocab/grammar) and need to improve.  Plus, with the spreadsheet nearby while I write, I have a handy tool and resource at my fingertips.  If not, I tend to use the same tired word or phrasing, which is boring, and if I’m bored, my reader has to be too.

So when I discover a new word, especially one that sums up several words, I get excited.  Honest, I really do!  And you can bet your booty I’ll have these new tots dressed and ready to go, anxious to insert them in a page and watch them help my story grow up. The trick, of course, is to not be the obnoxious parent who shows off baby all the time!

So what tricks of the trade do you use?

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I’m blind!

Picture compliments of Fotolia

If you can’t see, then how do you know where you’re going?  How do you know when you arrive?

Without vision, you’re lost.

Although this sounds like banter from a motivational speaker, please bear with me.

Whether I like it or not, I’m the captain responsible for sailing my books out into the marketplace.  This is frustrating because my passion is writing fiction and storytelling, not being a sales guy.  Yet if I don’t take this on, no one will.   I’ve also come to the conclusion that since no one has the same drive/passion for my books as I do, that I’m the man for the job.  So I’ve rolled up my sleeves and grabbed the helm.

But to me, marketing is a blinding sea storm of chaos.  So many voices shouting, “Do this!” or “Gotta head this way!” and the perilous, “You’ll never make it unless you__”

Instead of feeling like I’m on target, I feel like I am the target!

So I’m going to stop “doing” and “go below deck” to determine what I want and why.  Based upon Michael Hyatt’s blog, this is paramount to setting my compass.  My subsequent answer to “why” will illuminate my “how to.”

This feels unnatural and even a bit frightening (“If I stop, won’t we sink?” or “Resting constitutes laziness!”)  But if I don’t, then I’ll be doing something even worse: sailing blindly into who knows what.

Do you need a vision stop? 

Do you have any stories to share?


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