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.

How to pick a coffee shop

So as you know coffee is a passion of mine. Being the shortest of the four guys in my family (even though I’m 6″ 2′), I’ve been told that if I didnt drink so much, I may have been the tallest. I might start a monthly thing where I do something on coffee (subjects on my previous coffee post) every month.

Everyone knows that theres a difference between Maxwell House and premium coffee. Thats not a problem, the problem is that signs outside of coffee houses aren’t clear on which they are really brewing. This blog is for those of you who have been curious about that coffee house across the street, or for those curious if you should even bother with that kiosk in the airport.

If you just want a coffee, its quick and simple to tell if its going to be quality; ask what they are brewing. Look for answers that give a specific reigon or country. Lots of roasters will buy cheap, leftover coffee from farmers and give them names like “breakfast roast”, “light roast”, or “Columbian”. Does this mean that they will be awful coffees with these names? Not necessarily, but its a good indicator. Some indicators of good coffees? Descriptions of the roasting process. “Sun Dried Kenya” or “Aged Indonesia” is a great clue that you are going to be drinking quality brew.

Ok, so size isnt everything, but if their machine looks like something you can get at wal-mart for $50.00, then it cant be a quality drink. Its true that Great espresso machines arent always huge, but honestly, most are.

Take a look around the store, and look at their menus; is it just coffee and cappuccinos? Or do they have specialties? Is the coffee from Seattle’s Best, or is it from a local roaster? Is their coffee brewed in the same kind of pot as they do at your work? Some shops just try to copy Starbucks, and offer a worse quality in the process, while others branch out and offer something new.

On that note, did you know that an independent coffee shop is the most likely business to fail within two years? If they are going to be a lasting store, then they will have to have found a way to set them apart from big chains like Starbucks. Some stores offer soup and sandwiches, others offer teas like mate (mah tay) and special chai blends, some have rice and almond milk, and others have a constant lineup of local music for you. Ask what keeps their business afloat, and figure out what makes them special.

Here’s the most important part, though. If your coffee is called “light blend”, and is brewed through a coffee maker that has “Waffle House” scratched off from the side, but turns out being your best cup of Joe ever…. Keep going. If the espresso machine only cost $20, but it’s the best latte you have had… keep ordering it. Theres no reason to be snobby about something you love, and your local coffee shop needs the business!

So go out there, and try something new. These people need your business, and won’t judge you for asking questions!