Archive for April, 2011


So this is a blog on writing for all of those who write or desire to. I’ve been working on a novel for a while now, and I’m also working on this blog as well. I know I’ve had some gross inconsistencies, but this is for the most part past mistakes I’ve learned from.

Some people are born with an inate sense of organization. Life is orderly, and things seem to naturally organize themselves with little or no effort. Then there are those of you who are like me; organization is a funny word you say over and over as you miss the hamper with your socks. Things get cleaned and structured- occasionally, and the rare cleaning out your pants is a payday all in and of it’s self.

But organized writing is vital. It can make or break you when what you’ve written is a random mess of thought. What I recommend is that you treat your book, blog, or whatever like a research paper. Write out an outline, and fill in the points as you go.

On the topic of research papers, try to think of a thesis statement for your posts; or at least have some semblance of a lesson to to teach your readers. Remember; you will have plenty of time to ramble on incoherently in your old age, so make sense while you still can.

Stephen King put in the opening of his book on writing “To write is human, but to edit is divine”. Edit your work, cause no one gets it perfect the first time. Do your best to remain objective and eliminate that extra bit of fluff that may (and probably will) be there.

Then, there is a pivotal paradigm to hold if you want anyone else to see your writing; you have to be thick skinned. I’m not talking about constructive criticism from a peer, I’m talking about haters showing up out of nowhere, saying awful stuff about you, your writing, your Grandma, and the stuffed tiger you loved growing up. Just remember this; haters are gonna hate. No matter what you do, someone is going to dislike you for no good reason just because you put your thoughts to paper.

So start writing. I mean it, we all have something to say, so say it, and see what kind of reaction you will get.

Books!

So much time has passed since the last time I’ve written about books, and to be honest, I haven’t read as much this year as I have in previous years. At first, it bummed me out, but I have decided to start this blog to reignite my fire for the written word instead.

I have given this a lot of thought, and I have picked the five books that have shaped my life the most, and I promise to explain them with no spoilers. I would hate to spoil a chance of you reading any of these.

The Eyes of Kid Midas was written for a much younger audience, but to be honest, I bought a new copy a few years ago, read it loved it all over again.

Essentially it’s a poorly veiled retelling of King Midas, but instead of a king, Kevin is in middle school. It’s a great tale about power, and what it does to us.

East of Eden was recommended to me by my wife just after we started dating, and I would daresay it’s the most influential book I have ever read. It follows the like of a simple man named Adam Trask, and is loosely allegorical to the life of Adam in Genesis.

It covers topics that everyone struggles with; free will, predestination, love, loss, and the struggle to do right. It’s a beautiful tale, and I love it. The Trask family embodies the entire human spectrum, from our most pure, benevolent side all the way to our darkest points.

Quantum Leap Thinking. I know that I have mentioned this before, but it is a really great read. It seemed really quirky with the name, and evidently he was some kind of hypnotherapist before he wrote this book, but it is really amazing.

This book breaks down your life, helps you analyze it, and helps you realistically reach your goals. It’s as simple as that.

Crime and punishment. This was definitely a tough read, but well worth it. Dostoyevsky writes in a very unique fashion. This classic book explores every facet of life and what we as people are capable of doing in tough times. It explores, awakens, and helps us examine how we perceive others. It’s one of Joanna’s favorites too, so you know it has to be good!

And there you have it; go to amazon, borders, or wherever you get your books and pick up these to change your life.

Stuck in the middle

What does “middle” really mean? We carry this preconceived notion that it means we are perfectly centered between extremes. We order a medium fry, call ourselves centrists, and even feel comfortable being “middle class citizens”. You see where Im going with this?

Im going to be honest here; this post will very medium sized. It will contain moderate material, and has some very centrist views.

We gravitate towards extremes; I used to be about 60 lbs heavier than I am today, and I lost it all through a series of changes I set in my life. I started eating a more reasonable amount, and I started working out. We look at Jared’s before pictures in the Subway commercials and pity the man, but do we exalt the huge guy in the gym as he grunts out his reps on the bench? No, what we see is another extreme. We dont want to be “Fat Jared”, but  most of us dont want to look like Schwarzenegger in his glory days either.

So what happens? Why do we slip into these extremes? Many times it feels like it happens overnight. We wake up 40 lbs heavier, and wonder what caused it all. What happens is that we make a series of subtle changes, and never notice the difference.

No this isnt a blog about weight loss, thats just the metaphor, its about extremes.

Lets look at the term “Middle Class”. Im not going to post some dictionary reference, but I think that we can all agree that a Middle class family is  a family that earns around $60K a year, has a stable job, and owns their own house, but compared to any third world country, those people see us living as kings and queens.

Now lets go back to food for a second. I love food (hence the fact I had to lose 60 lbs). Go to Starbucks and order a medium (grande) latte, and you will get a 16oz drink. Now head to Sonic for a medium lemonade slush, and you will get 20 oz of sweet lemony goodness. Now go to Hardees (Carl’s Jr.) for a medium Dr. Pepper, and you will get a 32oz cup of delicious sugar! The term is completely irrelevant as far as drinks go, because there is no standard. Ive been told that a medium fry from McDonalds in France is about the same size as what you get in an American Happy Meal… So did the fries just shrink crossing the Atlantic? No, we just slowly kept increasing our portions.

Declaring yourself as a political centrist works the same way. In the 1800s, just after the constitution was ratified, a centrist would be seen as someone who wanted to transfer more power to the federal government than just the Post Office and Military. They would have seen the states as the absolute power, and there was no federal income tax! Things shifted but by bit; when the federal income tax was first instated, it only applied to the 1% richest population, and now look at how we all wait by the mailbox waiting on our returns!

Just think of this: how do we keep ourselves from sliding all over the place when we have no idea what size a medium is? Set your principles like a stake in the ground and dont let your views shift because one day your ideal fry is a kids’ size or because your views are one day seen as “radical”. Dont be mad or hate someone because they have differing principles, just remember and be ready to defend your own.

There you have it. I tried to be as morally, politically, and religiously ambiguous.