Far and Away.

“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

–Theodore Roosevelt

I just wanted to remind all of us that this is SO TRUE. Whatever your passion happens to be, some days it will feel like work. In fact, MOST days it will feel like work. But how lucky we are to be able to work hard.

Writers in particular can surely identify with this statement. Our work is so hard. But goodness is it ever worth doing! The work itself is the best prize, better than publication and the accolades of the crowd.

So be happy today as you work hard at work worth doing. Enjoy yourself!

Problem?

I have a problem, but part of it might not be an actual problem.

Also, I’ve been considering things that begin with the letter ‘M.’ Have you any idea why a raven is like a writing desk?

Sorry, I’m just really excited for this.

But I really do have a problem/not problem.

My ancient laptop has finally sort of died. At least the screen has, and I don’t know the actual extent of the deadness since I can’t actually SEE anything.

So that’s a problem, especially as I’m in the middle of a design job for my Young Life area.

However, during the several days I’ve spent in denial, expecting the thing to magically resurrect, I’ve noticed an interesting trend in my writing. Working longhand has changed my process a little. I find that my thoughts translate into words easier, and I end up with an almost “free-writing” flow, with more personal elements.

I have no idea why this is… something to do with a mind/body connection perhaps? If anybody has insight about this, I’d love to hear it. I also have no idea whether this will be a good thing in the long run, but it’s certainly an interesting. I imagine there might be a similar change if you are used to writing longhand and switch to writing on a computer.

Might be an experiment worth trying if you ever get stuck… Let me know if you try making a switch, especially if anything interesting happens!

Before I’m 30.

So I’m turning twenty-five tomorrow.

Cue the songs of stirring, heartbreaking nostalgia.

No, but seriously, people, I feel like I’m approaching my sixtieth birthday instead of what should be the prime of my life. Quarter-life crisis, I suppose.

What does one do to seek inspiration when one wakes up disgruntled because every morning is ONE. DAY. CLOSER?

One hits up good old lifehack.org. And one finds a list of 20 books to read before age 30.

  1. Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job & Your Dream Job – Jon Acuff
  2. The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg
  3. Total Money Makeover – Dave Ramsey
  4. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life –Henry Cloud and John Townsend
  5. The $100 Startup – Chris Guillebeau
  6. Do The Work – Steven Pressfield
  7. The Traveler’s Gift: Seven Decisions That Determine Personal Success –Andy Andrews
  8. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – Daniel Pink
  9. Essentialism – Greg McKeown
  10. 48 Days to the Work You Love – Dan Miller
  11. The 4 Hour Workweek – Tim Ferriss
  12. Blue Like Jazz – Donald Miller
  13. How to Win Friends and Influence People –  Dale Carnegie
  14. The Energy Bus – Jon Gordon
  15. Man’s Search for Meaning – Victor Frankl
  16. The Greatest Salesman in the World –Og Mandino
  17. Confessions of a Terrible Husband: Lessons Learned From a Lumpy Couch – Nick Pavlidis
  18. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain
  19. The Bible
  20. The Obstacle is the Way – Ryan Holiday

The titles in blue are the ones I’ve read. Which means at this point that I have a pretty extensive program ahead.

I feel better.

I don’t know anything about most of these titles… have you read any of these? What did you think? Let me know.

Please Do Your Research.

This is going to be a very short rant-post. Just sayin’.

So, basically all I have to say is, make sure you do your research. As a writer, as an artist, as a human being. Because otherwise you’ll end up looking like this person:

cringefest

I kid you not. I found this person on Youtube. And they inspired this post.

That’s all I have to say.

Favorite and NotSoMuch.

Well, people, this post is a bit of a latecomer… but I have an excuse! I lead a double life: burbler by day, and Young Life leader by… well, also by day. And I have a Bible study to plan for tomorrow evening. So yeah. Working on that nearly made me forget that I have other duties on Tuesdays.

So congratulations, blog, on being important enough that I didn’t completely forget about you.

I thought it would be fun to make this post somewhat collaborative, so we can all inspire each other. Don’t freak out, I’m not asking you to do anything crazy!  Simply share your favorite and least favorite words down below in the comments, preferably with your reasons for passionate love and burning hatred.

Okay, I’ll start:

My favorite word is “serendipity.” Not only because it’s fun to say and means finding something good without looking for it, but because it originated from A PERSIAN FAIRYTALE. I am not even kidding, people. I’ve never actually heard the full story, but apparently there are these three dudes, the Princes of Serendip, and they go off to sea seeking… well, something. And they keep on bumbling around and not finding whatever they were looking for, but finding all kinds of awesome stuff anyway.

Now tell me that isn’t fabulous.

My least favorite word is “should.” Because ew. Does anybody out there actually like that word?

Alrighty, I’ve done my part. Now it’s your turn.

Revision and Negative Self-Talk.

Most of us here are probably familiar with the term “inner editor” or “inner critic,” and we probably have mixed feelings about them. As I am in the middle of revising the first awful draft of last November’s novel, I can attest that my own feelings are incredibly strong and as mixed as a cocktail.

For many of us, our favorite part of the writing process is when we get to tell the inner editor to shut up and get back in its box so we can scribble our guts out. So much fun. But we also know that once we’ve gotten all the words down, it’s time to let the editor back out of the box so they can help us figure out what we’re trying to say and how best to say it. Not as much fun, perhaps, but indispensable.

The trouble is, our inner editor has an evil twin. You know the one I’m talking about. It’s name is Negative self talk. Not only is it absolutely no fun to be around, it doesn’t even want to help. It’s favorite thing to talk about is how lame your topic is; how nobody cares what you have to say because your brain is total garbage and a middle school kid could do better,* and oh by the way, you really shouldn’t have eaten that slice of pound cake yesterday, because summer’s coming, ya know…

Yeah, that voice.

Negative self-talk likes to show up right when our inner editor does and try to fool us into thinking they’re the same person, but guess what? They’re totally not. Here’s how to tell the difference: The inner editor believes in your project, and it wants to help you make it the best it can be. Negative self-talk just wants to tear you down.

In order to accomplish anything in life, we all have to conquer negative self-talk. We have to wrestle it down and pin it to the mat.

Then we have to set it on fire and walk away in slow motion to the sound of stirring music.

In boring terms, that means that we must counteract every negative thought with two positive ones: “Oh, you think my story is stupid? Well, I know it’s a story the world needs to hear, and also, I am a sexy beast.”

giphy

“Yeah, but, Elisabeth…” I can hear you say, “sometimes it’s not that easy.”

Oh believe me, I know. I’m the queen of negative self-talk. See? That was totally negative self-talk right there. It’s a true statement, but it’s not all that I am. I am a fighter, and I am an accomplished up-stream swimmer.

However, I understand that some days we’ve got no ammo to fight back with. And those are the days we simply keep our heads down and march. We say, “Okay, yeah, this is total trash and I’m the world’s worst writer and generally a terrible human being, but you know what? I’m gonna keep working on it anyway. And you can’t stop me.”

 


*This might in fact be true, because middle school kids are awesome, but it’s still not a nice thing to say.

Transforming Art History.

Right now (no literally, at this PRECISE MOMENT) I am reading T.S. Eliot’s essay, “Tradition and the Individual Talent.” It’s so good, people. So good. In fact, you should all read it. Here’s a link, because I love you.

There’s one line in particular, however, that I wanted to talk about. I’m so stoked about it that I haven’t even finished reading the essay yet, because I needed to run and share it with you:

“…what happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it.”

I mean, come on. If you don’t think that’s cool, you can just get off my blog.

Because, when you think about it, it’s really true. We can tend to think of history as being static. Like, it is what it is (was???), and nothing can change it. But then consider the fact that we all view the past through the filter of everything that has happened since. Most likely none of us can view one of DaVincii’s paintings now without having at least an awareness of the art movements that have sprung from it since.

Look at the Donmar’s AMAZING production of Coriolanus, for another example…

For the production design, they took inspiration from many modern sources (including my beloved Banksy), and the play has a different energy as a result. Also, to stretch the point, when the play was written, the idea of a working democracy was no more than a thought experiment. We live in a culture now (especially me, as an American) where democracies, and nations built on the idea of free speech, are a living, functional reality. Or semi-functional, at least. I’m not quite sure whether we could call American politics totally functional at the moment, to be honest. Oh, lawrdy.

But we won’t get into all that.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed that little thought-provoker, and I REALLY hope you go read the rest of the essay right now. That’s what I’m going to do.

Definitely Burbling.

I’m stepping out of the personality profile routine for an indefinite period… possibly I will start up again next week, or possibly I won’t. The thing is, today when I sat down to blog, I ended up staring at the screen for a good five minutes, wondering what to do. Then I checked Twitter. Then I followed some links. Then I started to mentally beat myself up for not writing my blog post. Then I followed more links. Two hours have passed. I finally figured out that I don’t really want to write about personality quizzes today.

And here’s the thing: There’s nothing to be ashamed of in stepping out of the routine once in a while, yet I can’t be the only person out there who allows “shoulds” and “have tos” send me into a downward spiral of guilt and procrastination and more guilt about procrastinating, and…

It’s so silly, really. We’re creative people, right? Sometimes our creative brains want to go looping off in different directions, or maybe they just need a rest. If decide I want to draw a flower instead of revising the current WIP, then what is going to be more productive in the end? Grinding out a chapter of revision that is dull and sulky because my heart wasn’t in it, or drawing a flower?

Exactly. And then, once the flower is down on paper in ink or graphite (or whatever), I can head back to the writing with a refreshed outlook and enthusiasm.

I somehow developed a mentality that it is always better to do the things you don’t want to do before you are allowed to have fun.

What utter bilge.

Usually this tactic leads to nothing. No productivity (oh, stuff may get done… but will the end product be any good?) and certainly no fun or fulfillment.

So yes, I’m writing this rambling post instead of a nicely organized guide to developing fictional characters.

And once it is posted, I am going to draw a flower. Then I will work on my revision.

Music for Joyous Ascents.

Happy May, everybody! I don’t know what the weather is like on your piece of the planet, but I got to spend the first of the month down by the lake swimming and getting a sunburn with a dear friend. Hence I forgot to listen to THIS MONTH’S FILM SCORE from Adam Young. And then yesterday I downloaded it but forgot to transfer it to my iPod. So today is my first time listening, and I can’t believe I missed out on two whole days.

This time, the score is based on the first ascent of Mt. Everest. It’s a lovely blend of electronic sounds that get more and more bleached out as you near the top of the mountain, but never lose their excitement and can-do attitude.

As usual, listen and download from the main website, or listen on Spotify right down…

here.