The path to fictional writing enlightenment lies in Bluto

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Oh baby, it is time! I’ve got the itch and it needs to be scratched! We’re talking about getting a move on the sequel to FLOUR CITY BLUES.

I don’t know what other authors do while they write—if they listen to music, have a particular spot to write, etc. For me, I gather my inspiration from classic pop culture and music.

I set up a soundtrack with my last book, and made references to Bill Murray movies (Stripes and Meatballs), because I developed this character—who for some reason—loves those classic SNL cast members (Murray, Chase, Belushi) and carries that type of juvenile, pervy humor with him well.

The soundtrack included the bands that the characters love. It consisted of doo-wop, garage and pop-punk. I listened my soundtrack well into the hours of the night, while I wrote. For me, music playing consistently helps me cut out any distractions and permits me to write for a few hours.

So the next book is going to pick up where the last left off. We have high school graduates! The story will continue as my lovely boys experience life after high school. College? What about the band? I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say one thing—two words:

Animal House.

Yes. Animal House. When I started talking about toying with the idea of writing a sequel I immediately thought of this movie. It is perfectly appropriate with nonsense, oozing with collegiate sexuality and you have your resident flunkie student, Bluto. It has been my go-to reference while jotting notes and ideas for the next book.

Toga! Toga! Toga!

And believe me, this is going to be a riot to write. I have some anecdotes and scene ideas scribbled out, and I found myself laughing so hard, I started coughing.

You know, those types of coughs where it really hurts and your eyes start watering…

 

Writers: How do you write? Do you set up a soundtrack or write in silence? Where do you get your inspiration? 

 

Let your novel consume you

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So you want to write a book, but what is holding you back?

It’s going to suck.

I don’t have the time to write it.

It’s going to suck.

No one cares what I have to say.

It’s going to suck. 

 

Truth is, these thoughts will constantly be on your mind. Books only get written when you ignore all that mental chatter and fear.

So what else will get you through it?

Booze. Just like all those other gin-soaked “classic” authors.

Kidding. (Am I?)

Anyway, it is how you tell the story. Think about something you enjoy doing. Or someone. Or someone you enjoy doing.  (giggle)

It’s all how you see and describe things.

Take some time to free write. Describe what you see around you. Go to a cafe and people watch. Be as descriptive as possible. As you work on your writing, think about your story line. Do you feel as though you have something to share? Have a compelling plot in mind?

Even if you claim to not have the time, try to devote 15-30 minutes free writing or planning your idea.

If you come up with something, eventually your idea will consumer you and the time to write will just appear. The more motivated you are, the more you will find your self accessible to work on your new craft, because the only thing that is going to suck is keeping that idea to yourself.

“Love what you do and do what you love. Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. Imagination should be the center of your life.”

-Ray Bradbury

Photo: We Heart It

When you feel you need to break up with your town

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You’re bored with the lore of the subway system that once was, a grocery chain that eats up small business potential, large corporations that just can’t pull through anymore, a signature dish that is picnic food piled on top of each other.

The picturesque Finger Lakes are in your backyard and since childhood, they are the backdrop to many parties and events. You continue to take advantage of them until the novelty wears off. When out-of-towners are breathlessly taken away by the views, you don’t understand why.

When the regular haunts you visited in your 20’s just don’t have the same appeal in your 30’s. Or any public place, for that matter. You’d rather be home and snuggle with Netflix.

You try to give festivals, town events and other things out of your comfort zone and chance, and no. Just no. The magic is gone.

When you get to know someone new, they eventually ask you, “Why are you here? This place is too small for you to grow!”

When you constantly ask yourself, “What does this place offer me?”

You feel as if you’re in a constant circle of depression and an identity crisis.

Sometimes family and friends can be soul suckers and tear you down for dreaming big.

Staying positive and making the attempt to be adventurous still drags you down.

Jealousy becomes the prominent emotion from “friends,” because there you don’t have many forces keeping you here.

Dreaming of a fresh start becomes obsessive.

Your heart pitter-patters hard, you get sweaty palms and googly-eyed over a new destination.

 

 

Image from We Heart It.

On purpose, passion and feeling uneasy while watching all the food porn in ‘The One-Hundred Foot Journey’

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Everything we do is caused by our need or desire to feel a certain way. Constantly, we yearn for the things that make us feel good—whether it is something we buy, create or give in a material or spiritual sense.

Anyway, have you ever asked yourself “What is my purpose?” or “What is my passion?”

I’ve been thinking about both. A lot.

In the last month, I’ve been decompressing, trying to figure out this thing called “relaxing” and planning the next move for my business. Mentally, I’m a mess. I’ve realized the hard work I’ve endured in the past and my body is trying to croak out a “Slow down there, partner where’s the fire?” I’m doing my best to listen to it, but I find it hard to follow through.

There is a destination and state of mind I’d like to be at, but I’m not quite there yet. I’m fighting very hard for it. Bare-knuckle fightin’. It has made me think long and hard about purpose and passion, defining and differentiating the two.

Passion—that drive, that spark, that feeling I get where I can’t put my finger on it but it makes me utter a growl when I describe it to others.

Purpose—the reason why something exists. That’s pretty much all I got. So can’t that go back to living out your passion? Is your passion your purpose—or your purpose your passion?

Maybe I’m just over-thinking it?

I decided to give the day a hall pass and went to see The One-Hundred Foot Journey to clear my mind. First off, I was a bit uneasy with the all food porn. Lemme just say this, the tomatoes—all bright, red and plump were damn sexy. Kudos to the food stylists for the film. I could describe those aforementioned tomatoes much better, but we’d be stepping into erotic territory. Not to mention, an irrelevant tangent.

Passion and purpose go along simultaneously throughout the film:

  • That desire to create something beautiful with two hands that evoke all of the senses.
  • To provide your craft to a community, to introduce a new experience.

 

So how do you figure out all this passion/purpose mumbo jumbo? Consider these thoughts:

What do you enjoy doing? Consider your talents.

Take a good hard look at what you enjoy doing and some of your talents. Is there is common ground with any of them? You may notice a trend in your own interests and skills!

Who do you admire?

Look at your family, anyone you look up to? Is there a reason why you’re following a ton of celebrity chefs on Twitter? Think about who you admire and see if you notice any similar patterns, especially if they are anything close to your talents and skills.

Go back in time.

Conjuring up childhood memories may be another indicator. What did a younger version of you want to be when you grew up? Or, what did you do when you were younger? Some of these ideas may spark new insight.

Does it feel right?

So if you act on your passion, does it come easy for you or are you struggling with ways to get it off the ground? If you feel the slightest resistance, it may not be the best idea. A passion should not have any roadblocks, no matter the steps you have to take. Can you see yourself pursuing your actions for a long time? Then, you may have found the one.

 

 

 Photo via Flickr

When you’re a walking mess, it may not matter what you’re wearing

jodie blytheYesterday I was walking around Target and noticed a woman click-clacking her way down an aisle dressed in perfectly tanned pumps, neatly pressed skirt and crisp blouse. Honestly, the fashion lover in me wanted to chase her down and compliment her use of bright colors and toning things down with nude-colored heels. After checking my phone for the time, I mentally confirmed that she had to be on her lunch hour, which involved her to arrive at Target with a shopping basket hanging on the crook of her elbow for a few much-needed items. She walked with great purpose and confidence, click-clacking toward the registers.

Then there was moi, hiding behind the rack of 70% off clothing, most of which were the ugliest articles of mismatched two-piece swim suits. My once-black New Balance sneakers now a faded dark grey, one of my holey black tee shirts (hence, the need to buy new clothing) and face sporting no makeup and hair that probably deserved to have a brush run through it a few times.

I could not help but wonder if that woman had “it all together.” She sure as hell looked as if she did, at lease on the outside. On the inside, she might be battling some serious mental shit. Maybe after she makes her purchase, she reenters the parking lot of her office, turns off the engine and breaks down in tears because something is on her mind. Maybe after ten minutes, she wipes her face clean with her finger tips, looks into the rearview mirror to touch up her mascara. After a deep breath and a self-assuring “You can do this,” she goes back to work to finish off the afternoon.

On my outside, I look as if I am the poster girl of giving up. I also feel as if I’ve given up. I ended up at Target only because my brain processed this as the best place to go to for a change of scenery. I have been feeling very lost and confused, curious if my present efforts will prove to be fruitful.

There are places I want to be at, milestones I’m striving to reach—and I’m questioning each and every move I make—while gingerly grinning through each day as a ploy to hold back any sort of tear-filled meltdown.

Depression or just in a funk? I don’t quite know.

So back to the woman at Target: Maybe she’s good at hiding what’s bothering her, and maybe my unkempt look screams something different. Either way you slice it, everyone is goes through tough times in their lives.

*Note: Since the passing of Robin Williams, there has been an increase of suicide awareness and depression essays cropping up around the web. This blog’s stats have also showed an increase of readership scouring some of my posts of about entrepreneurs and depression, so with that, I will be adding more posts about depression and being in a funk. If I could lend a voice to anyone of perspective out there, I would be happy to help. 

Image source: Check out Jodie Dee McGuire’s brilliant Blythe photos here, via Flickr

The beautiful complexity of self

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I was once told I was a complicated gal for enjoying both coffee and tea. Of course, I’m not a random nutter who enjoys them together (does anyone do that?), but they are two beverage choices that I tend to switch off on. Coffee—specifically, espresso keeps me centered and focused, and tea makes me all warm and snuggly in the evening. That’s how I roll.

So if that was criteria for considering me a complicated person, I take it with great acceptance. I like to think that my identity and my being is made up of little intricate parts that someone has to piece together to understand me. A mystery. A riddle. It makes a person clamor for more information. This is how I like to be known.

A high-demand mystery. Beautifully complex.

I began to think this since I’m transitioning from bakery owner to ___________. We live in a culture where you can be defined by what you do as an occupation. It is one of the first introductory questions we ask when meeting someone new:  “So, what do you do?”  I’m probably not alone when thinking that this is a piece of knowledge of a person we must know about, something we are inclined to ask and formulate some sort of opinion on the person. It is a shocking revelation to realize you are lacking a sense of identity when it comes to this particular mode of thinking. 

Right now, I don’t have a firm answer or title to call someone who slouches on the couch and watches the many hours both ABCFamily and MTV2 air of Boy Meets World. (#harleykeinerforthewin)

BUT, my couch slumming activity is juxtaposed against the action I am taking for the next phase in my entrepreneurial efforts. I trade in business suits for black holey shirts and Facebook chat business meetings.

Bonjour, uniqueness. There are no black or white set-in-stone traits and roles for anyone. The realization that we can carry around many facets of ourselves through our lifetimes is what makes us our true, authentic selves. We can be strong and weak, lazy and motivated, scared and brave. Accepting those binaries offers dimension to our personality and character.

Eventually, the mystery starts to ooze out a bit, like a thick translucent glaze of adjectives that define who you are to others.

You are you, darling.

 

 

Image source: MorgueFile

31 things learned

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This past Sunday, I officially crossed the threshold into early thirties domain. I have not been able to accept birthdays for the past few years, with the inability to pinpoint the reason(s). Those few days before the big day are the gloomiest and darkest, usually leading to a reflection of what has happened in the last year and what can be changed/improved/completed in the next.

It has become a staple saying that the thirties are the best decade of your life, there is more clarity with your own wants and needs, you’ve develop a mature sense of self that the confused twenties version of yourself endured. This decade is also the best for stabilizing relationships—so whoever’s lucky out there to put up with me, chances are we’re in for a life sentence. *wink*

So after three decades of puttering about and making some awesome accomplishments (which I reminded myself numerous times to try and squash the birthday blues), I want to share 31 things I have finally learned.

  1. If it is still on your mind in the next morning, it is probably worth taking action.
  2. Trust your gut.
  3. Personal tastes definitely do change.
  4. Create/build your own experience.
  5. Become active.
  6. It is totally okay to hang out with yourself.
  7. Don’t worry about what “everybody” thinks.
  8. Be thankful for what you have now.
  9. Make memories.
  10. You’ll find more common ground with people and develop closer bonds.
  11. Do the research, shop smart.
  12. Learn how to live well within your means.
  13. If you don’t know what you say, silence is always an option.
  14. Don’t be afraid to ask.
  15. Make use of the weekend.
  16. Stay in touch.
  17. Stop being hard on yourself.
  18. Accept yourself.
  19. The sacrifices you make will pay off.
  20. Behind everything beautiful, lies some past pain.
  21. Time heals.
  22. Admitting your feelings shows true strength, rather than bottling them.
  23. When given a chance, act on it.
  24. Try a new look. You might be glad you did.
  25. Things do happen for a reason.
  26. Sometimes, you just need to let it out.
  27. There are other ways to find happiness.
  28. Breathe. 
  29. It is usually them, and not you.
  30. There is nothing wrong with you.
  31. Act like you know what you’re doing.

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