Ever Thought About Quitting This Way?

Pardon my absence lately.

I’ve been super sick for almost a week and until today, just the thought of opening my laptop made me even more nauseous. So I’ve been doing lots of Olympic-watching, sleeping, The Walking Dead, sleeping, a Lethal Weapon marathon, sleeping, and I just started Breaking Bad (I’m one episode in and it’s kind of weird, but I’m intrigued). 

My wife deserves the gold medal for taking care of me and the also-sick kids. Or whatever is better than gold (green and wrinkly maybe?).

Anyway, I’ve been thinking.

Writers often feel like they’re alone in the struggle to conceive and develop a good story. But being at home for practically the last 144 consecutive hours, I’ve stared a lot at our personal library. And I was thinking that behind each book is an author who probably felt they were alone in the struggle.

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Each one probably wanted to give up, to call it quits, to throw their hands in the air and yell, “What’s the point?”

Hell, just a quick glance through your Netflix library, and you can come to the same conclusion. Behind each movie or TV show there’s a writer or staff of writers facing the same struggle.

That’s a lot of movies. A lot of books. A lot of plays. A lot of writers.

So maybe quitting isn’t as common and “normal” as we think. Maybe quitting is actually the weird thing to do. Perhaps quitting actually makes us losers in a world of winners.

Let’s Get Physical!

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The Olympics. While our athletic representatives are busting their butts to stack up our gold, Sarabeth and I have been doing our patriotic duty keeping the economy going by ordering pizzas, calzones, Chipolte, and lots of ice cream to root on our favorite Olympians.

First off, let me just say that we were totally robbed last night! I mean, what the hell, it’s track and field, not diving!! It’s a foot race! Not a stretchy-hand exercise! I say, good job, Allyson, you’re a winner in our house!

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And why are people so upset with Gabby Douglas? What’s with this hashtag-CrabbyGabby crap? Folks, she’s an Olympian, not an actress. Her focus is on her performance as an Olympian. We and the media should not be enticing her to focus on her bloody facial expressions, too. If we want to be judgmental on anyone, I say release the four horsemen on Aly Raisman’s parents. I mean, they should be cheering and yelling and smiling for their little girl – she’s in the Olympics! If it were our little girl out there, we’d be screaming with foamy fingers and painted faces for little Kat.

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Okay, so I got that off my chest. As you can see, the Olympics bring on a lot of stress, which brings on a lot of binge-eating, which brings on some questions. My wife asked one the other night.

Why have the Olympics at all? She doesn’t mean it like, Why are you wearing that plaid skirt with pink spikes in your hair and Clogs on your feet? She means it like, I love the Olympics, but when you get down to its origins, what’s the point? Like, why did Greece, in 1800-something, decide to reinstate it? 

I’ve been pondering this question for a few nights now, and I have my ideas. But I decided I wanted to hear your thoughts. What is it that draws every country together every two years to compete in high vaulting, bobsledding, Karate, and even handball? Why spend millions of dollars to promote people to compete in sports that, in the end, don’t matter? Like, if the world went to hell, how would trampolining save anyone? Why are the Olympics such a big deal and why do we have them? As much as we love them, what’s the point?

Tweet your thoughts to @AToy1208 or comment below!

A Little About “The Underneath”

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Endever Studios just released the third installment of the serial novel, “The Underneath.”

Take a moment to meet the characters who suddenly find themselves in an increasingly changing world.

All over the globe there is a disturbing siren that blasts through the air. It lasts for half an hour and ends with an earth-jolting shake, felt by everyone, everywhere. Suddenly the sun does not shine in places where the skies are clear, rain doesn’t fall from impregnated rain clouds. The wind ceases to blow, the temperature drops drastically.

Kyle Logan is newly divorced and trying to adjust to the single life. He loses his suit and tie, moves out of town, and buys a ranch house. A new start. But it’s difficult to start over when his ex-wife Stacey drops by for a visit. Some ghosts are hard to run from.

Dr. Edwin Remy: A young, accomplished professor who recently lost his tenure due to his escalating schizophrenic condition. In his hallucinations, he sees Ollie, his former research partner, who taunts him about his knowledge, his (possible) past history with this otherworldly encounter, and makes Edwin question everything he knows, including himself.

Cameron Agee acts as a surrogate father to his sixteen-year-old sister leaving him no time to party or live the normal life of a high school senior. When all hell breaks lose, he is unable to find her in the school mob as the students make a rush for their homes.

Desi Moreno: A teenage, Hispanic boy – neighbor to Edwin Remy – who helps takes care of his mother and sister. He is a talented painter, often skipping school to sell his pieces to support his family. Once the encounter occurs, he starts receiving visions (often harmful to himself) while he paints that foresee upcoming events. These visions, in turn, threaten to expose the person he has been hiding within himself for years.
“The Underneath” is a serial novel of suspense and mystery of epic proportions. Enjoy the third installment here!

Addressing My Own Stubbornness

Great conversation and comments on yesterday’s post! Thank you for all who contributed. I’ve read through most of your reasons for being stubborn by not walking away from the written word and indulging fully in the technology age, and I’ve got to say, many of you are much deeper and intellectually-minded than I am.

I thought through my own reasons for not being willing to put down my books, and here’s what I came up with:

  1. I am a control freak. My poor family has to deal with this on a regular basis. I know I’m not trying hard enough to break the habit, but I’m trying to try hard enough. Anyway, when I’m reading a book I get to control the pace of the story. Rent a movie and you’re slapped with the 142 min. run time. No more, no less, unless of course you skip the credits (GASP!). If I want a scene to unfold slowly, then I can choose to take my time processing the information before me. If a scene is boring, I can read fast. If a scene is suspenseful . . . (A huge shout-out to Sarah Angleton from The Practical Historian for nailing this one)
  2. THE SUSPENSE! I am absolutely obsessed with being in suspense. It’s like a weird non-sexual dominatrix thing I’ve got going on. Everyone loves a good cliffhanger, and that’s the exact reason I love books more than movies and TV shows:

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In movies, the suspense is revealed according to the director’s timing. You can’t hold out a little longer if he/she decides to reveal the outcome of a suspenseful situation.

TV shows are just too painful. They leave you with a cliffhanger and then you’re stuck scratching an irritating itch for a whole week or even several months. (This is why I love discovering shows really late because then I can Netflix them. Then the problem becomes not knowing when to stop. I’ve got to reach the next cliffhanger, I’ve got to know what happens, I’ve got to reach the next cliffhanger, what happens, cliffhanger, answers! It’s an endless cycle.)

So those are my two reasons why I refuse to let go of my books. I’m a suspense junkie. Speaking of suspense, you should check out the serial novel, “The Underneath” that my publishing company’s authors are writing.

Thanks for contributing to the conversation and may your weekend be filled with words, intimacy with your characters, and suspense!

Let’s Address Your Stubbornness

Leona, 7, poses inside a labyrinth installation made up of 250,000 books titled "aMAZEme" at the Royal Festival Hall in central London

Leona, 7, poses inside a labyrinth installation made up of 250,000 books titled “aMAZEme” by Marcos Saboya and Gualter Pupo at the Royal Festival Hall in central London July 31, 2012. REUTERS/Olivia Harris (BRITAIN – Tags: ENTERTAINMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) – RTR35PZS

If you follow my blog, it’s likely you love books as much as I do. Not more than I do. But at least as much.

But why?

In an age saturated with HBO, AMC, and MGM, why do we remain so stubborn as to cling to our paperbacks and hardcovers and tablets? When supervillains dominate the silver screen with special effects and bright colors and zombie hunters invade the big screens in our living rooms, what is it about the written word that keeps us captivated?

For me, I just love that I can leave the story and return at a whim. Toilet breaks, walks, red lights . . . Those characters are still going to be there. But the same can be said of visual entertainment, so that can’t be it. . .

Maybe it’s because narrators can take us deeper into a character’s psyche. But then, there are some pretty intense character studies in movies and films, so it can’t be that . . .

What about you? Do you have any ideas? What separates a book from movies and TV? What makes you choose to pick up a John Grisham book over watching the newest episode of “Game of Thrones”? I’m not saying we replace TV and movies with books, but we bibliophiles are stubborn, refusing to let go of one of the most primal entertainment mediums.

What makes you so stubborn?

 

The Burden of Creativity

space-exploration-43327We creative types have a difficult job. Essentially, our job is to create something out of nothing. Our job is to be original. To stand out. And eventually, to not only find fulfillment in our creation but fulfill others with it.

For most creative-types, we strive to guide our audiences through an emotional journey. . .

I take that back.

We strive to control our audience’s emotions. Through our creations.

And the fact is, we cannot live without creativity. Creativity turns the wheels of the world.

The reason people go insane in jail cells or on deserted islands? Many will say it’s because of a lack of community and communication. That’s true to a point, but I’d like to add a third option to create a holy trinity of functionality: There is also a lack of creativity being given and received.

When we’re not creating, or thinking organically, or processing, we go stir-crazy. When we’re not being stimulated by other people’s creativity, we get bored, we lose interest in things, we lose focus of life in general.

After all, a single life is a creative force in process, is it not?

So back to us creative-types. We are more than just wayward wanderers, or left-filed players. We are shape-shifters, world-changers, earth-spinners.

 

We are the inventors of existence in that we create something out of nothing. We storytellers guide and influence people’s thoughts, actions, and decisions. We decide what is relevant and important.

But being born centuries late into a creative world, we are faced with a problem. We’re torn between exposing ourselves to creativity for inspiration and shielding ourselves for fear of the temptation to mimic.

As serious storytellers, we are charged with the task to explore uncharted territories. We don’t have the luxury of recreating a school for wizards, a son-hunting fish, clashing superheros with differing powers.

I see serious storytellers as space explorers, forced to venture further than anyone has gone before. The storytellers before us have claimed the nearest stars, those stories have been told and many have been well received. But now we must go further, push ourselves deeper into the darkness and uncertainty of space. It can be scary because what if we waste too much time on an idea, or a star, that’s going to burn out?

That’s the risk we take. But we’ll never know unless we test it. And if we let one story go untested, that just may be one less the story the world, or a life, can be influenced by.

Not What It Seems

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Since I was young I’ve had bad hearing. Thirty-percent hearing loss in one ear and forty-percent in the other. Something like that.

As a result I used to get words words wrong all the time.

For instance…

I thought there was an N in early: “Earnly.”

I used to say “supposebly” instead of “supposedly.” (Except I don’t know what sentences would require me to say that word, but if I said it, that’s how I would have pronounced it.)

I pronounced helicopter: helicockter. 

And if something was corny, I’d say it was horny.

A lot of times things aren’t what they seem. Your life could be heading in a direction completely different from what you expect.

I heard of a guy at work who got passed up for a promotion. Turns out the boss was holding out for a better promotion which he didn’t get because he let his performance slide.

I thought those spots on Michael Phelps were because he sucks at Nerf. Turns out it’s a form of therapy involving suction cups.

I once thought my highest aspiration was to be an author. Now I own my own company.

So take my advice with a great assault and remember that things are hardly ever what they seem.

And check out Endever’s serial novel, “The Underneath” if you’ve caught up with your Olympics viewing.

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