Category Archives: creative

The Number One, Must-Have Survivalist Tool

Doomsday Housing Plan / Image courtesy of Duron123 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Doomsday Housing Plan / Image courtesy of Duron123 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I attended a Preparedness & Survival Expo in August.  One excellent speaker, Jay Blevins, who has been featured on National Geographic Channel’s “Doomsday Preppers,” talked about the 6 foundational aspects of prepping. At the top of the survival list?

Having the proper mindset.

This means having the will to survive, even when things get downright ugly, insecure and uncomfortable–and in the event of a ‘doomsday’ scenario, they inevitably will.  Having a strong mindset allows you to handle being outside of your comfort zone and losing your creature comforts.  That’s not a bad life skill to have for just everyday scenarios that can be their own scaled-down, personal version of doomsday, such as job loss.

I know I’ve gone soft in terms of handling anything outside of my comfort zone.  I’ve been running my writing consulting business by day, and working on my own writing on the side, including a collaborative effort at the Waterfront Writers website.  I’ve noticed that the outdoors features prominently in my stories.  Maybe that’s because lately, my outdoors pursuits have fallen by the wayside, and I feel the lack of connection with nature in my life and that sense you get of being able to find your way if needed.  In my comfortable world, this present shifting of priorities has been a good thing on the one hand, but also a mini-trauma–one I can luckily undo by shifting priorities around a bit so I can re-connect to the outdoors.

One thing I used to do to get out of my comfort zone is to go camping.  I didn’t go camping this year–and I realize that isn’t sufficient preparation for having a survivalist mindset when it’s only car camping.  But there was no way I was going to get my son to backpack, so I was always happy to just get the little gamer that far out of reach of a game console.  I have, however, had survivalist scenarios occur while car camping, such as camping next to neighbors where I wasn’t sure about their survival prospects after I’d listened to hours of their noisy shenanigans well into the night.  But I digress…

In a doomsday scenario, you may have only the bug-out pack on your back, and the only fire pit and picnic bench at your disposal will be what you create out of what you find.  And with that, you’ll need a mindset that accepts the situation and flows with it.

Car camping does serve to take me out of my self-created bubble world and remind me that I still have a lot to learn about self-reliance–and that means above and beyond earning a living.  My mindset is just fine for the daily dramas of life.  But you can always be mentally stronger, and it’s an area I want to explore more in-depth.

But not tonight.  I need a hot bath, a steaming cup of tea and then a little television.

How about you: do you feel you’d be mentally prepared should complete chaos and anarchy occur? Leave a comment! And if you don’t mind, go take a look at the website I’m collaborating on – we have four chapters posted for our new web series.  Help me justify my ‘gone soft’ condition on the Waterfront Writers

Writerly Collaboration

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I enjoy spending time with people, talking and sharing ideas, laughing, being outdoors, EATING, drinking wine or brew… but by nature, I’m more the lone wolf. My grandmother taught me as a little person how to entertain myself. I have enough reading materials to keep me busy a couple of lifetimes, and enough writing ideas… well, best not to jinx it.

When it comes to writing down those ideas, the words come in fits and starts, like a water faucet pulling from a near-dry well in an abandoned cabin. Maybe it’s because my day job requires that I write, that by the time I get around to “my” writing, my brain is in “hibernate” mode.

So it has been a twist to my worldview to discover that, collaborating with another writer on a story, I don’t have the fit-and-start thing going on… it’s more of a we-struck-oil gusher that I have to curb so I don’t dominate the storyline. Maybe there isn’t as much pressure having a writing partner.

For one, if you get stuck, they can get down into the weeds of a story with you and give that nudge to get you moving. Second, if you lose the thread of continuity, you have a second set of eyes to find it. Third, there’s a fair measure of accountability going on, because when I get the draft to work on, I know my writing partner is waiting… so I don’t have the luxury of trite, cliché or even wildly-creative excuse-making.

I enjoy collaborating, and our latest installment of our shared effort Two Weeks to Rites, which so far has been a blast, is now posted. Go to: http://waterfrontwriters.com/

Thanks for stopping by for a visit! Back to my wolf den…

Two Weeks to Rites – Launched!

Hello! We’ve launched our new fiction web series, Two Weeks to Rites. Please take a look and let us know what you think…

http://waterfrontwriters.com/2013/10/31/two-weeks-to-rites-chapter-one/

Thank you so much!

Two Weeks to Rites: Story Origins

Writers are often asked where they get their ideas. Actually, no one has ever asked me that – but I’ve had many very nice offers to write various individuals’ stories because their lives have been so interesting. I aspire to be the person who tells a writer that I’m so interesting, my life absolutely must be written about. With a straight face. However, with proper editing and generous flights of fancy, we’re all interesting, right?

But I digress…

Tomorrow is the release of the web series, Two Weeks to Rites, I am working on with my writing-partner-in-crime Sandra R. Campbell. The idea for our series has its origins in a seemingly innocuous picture: we were taking photos to put on our new site, and we noticed something odd in the picture taken of me. (Something odder than just me.) It looked like a copse of dark woods was just behind me. But, when the same area was viewed in real-time with our eyeballs, it was just a couple of skinny trees. They didn’t even have enough girth to cast a shadow.

And so, our story was born. Whether these “dark woods” will figure into our story or not, you’ll have to wait and see. There have been many twists and turns the tale has taken, and I have to say that it has been an exciting writer’s journey so far.

So if this were Aesop’s fables, I’d have to make sure I underscore the lesson: keep your eyes open, and remember to also occasionally squint to gain a different perspective, because you never know what you’ll see.

Please join us tomorrow, www.waterfrontwriters.com, for the release of the first chapter of our series.

Thanks for stopping by!

Announcement: Two Weeks to Rites

I’m pretty excited about our new web series that we’ll be launching next week. It involves a couple of writers, and if you think you have things that pull you away from YOUR writing, well… stay tuned! www.waterfront.com

TREADING THE GRAVE ZONE

TREADING THE GRAVE ZONE – Desiree Smith-Daughety.

via TREADING THE GRAVE ZONE – Desiree Smith-Daughety.

Gerbil Brain, Mental Exhaustion, Backlogged Output

The Dreaded Trickle

The Dreaded Mental Trickle

I don’t understand or relate when people say they are “bored.”  Maybe they mean “ennui” – a perfect word for listlessness, compliments of the French.  Now, THAT I have suffered from, a sort of existential dissatisfaction.  But my ennui stems from intellectual overload.

My problem is not a lack of interesting things to think about and write about… rather, there’s an overload of ideas.  I have them stacking up and backing up.

It’s not writer’s block.  It’s more a case of having a hyper gerbil loose upstairs, scampering around first on its wheel, spinning, spinning, spinning, before leaping off and thrusting its nose into every nook and cranny it can find, not staying in any one spot for too long.  And that’s what is maddening: it has proved too elusive to capture and contain.

So unfortunately, instead of a geyser of output, I am suffering the dreaded mental trickle, where output has slowed to the pace of a drought-plagued stream.  In continuing my gerbil-brain’s current mixing of metaphors and ideas just in this post, I feel like I’m looking over a box of chocolates, and there are so many choices that I’m exhausted from the very effort of trying to make a decision and need to lie down.

Any ideas for harnessing the gerbil, settling down and getting that output flowing again?

Man of Steel: Have All the Good Stories Already Been Told?

freedigitalphotos.net

freedigitalphotos.net

Last Thursday was my son’s birthday, and he wanted to go see a movie. In a theater, not in our house. I could only dig in my heels slightly when he said he wanted to see “Man of Steel.” After all… it was his birthday, so I had to be a good sport and push down my desire to use my last-resort trump card: no, because I said so. Instead, it was with gritted teeth and a grimace that I replied, “Yes, little darling… it is, after all, your day.” 

I was pleasantly surprised… I really enjoyed it. Tears, laughs, completely plugged in… who’d have thunk it? 

My initial gripe was that, here we go, Hollywood is regurgitating the same storyline over and over… and did I mention, over, again? In the name of all that’s creative, can’t they produce something fresh, new, original? Or have all the good stories already been told, and this is why we revisit the same thing, even if it is in new incarnations?

As I watched “Man of Steel,” I realized that all the good stories have already been told, and we will continue to see the same stories over and over. They will come as remakes of the same thing bringing a new twist and visual effects, or they will be those fresh, new, original stories we year for. All stories resonate with us because they share in common the same mythic structure: heroes and heroines, villains, mentors, challenges, tension, resolution.

All the good stories have been told and will continue to be told, packaged in the structure that makes them reach into our human psyche and touch our hearts.

What’s your take?

Energy Efficient Appliances… Is it Me?

courtesy of renjith krishnan/freedigitalphotos.net

courtesy of renjith krishnan/freedigitalphotos.net

I am all about taking care of Mother Earth and better stewardship and doing my part. I own an energy-efficient washing machine and dryer. I even received a tax credit for purchasing appliances that were “energy star” or some-such.

Joke is on me. And I’m sure I’ve more than spent that credit… on the electric bill. Not to mention, I think I’m failing at the “better stewardship” part.

I’m trying to figure out where the “efficiency” is, particularly with the dryer. Set on 60 minutes, the timer buzzes when it’s done. I open the door, reach in, and everything is wet, maybe just rung out a bit but wet. So, another 60 minutes… and we’re getting closer… but not before another 40 minutes or so tacked on top of that.

The efficiency part is that it uses less electricity–obviously–but I think that in order to save energy, you’d have to resign yourself to cutting your losses: take your wet clothes out and hang my stuff on chairs and throw it over the bannister and shower curtain rods.  But if I were to do that, what’s the point of having a dryer in the first place?

If I’m missing something, drop me a note… Otherwise, I’m debating going to find an old “energy hog” that gets the job done in 40 minutes. Somehow, I think that’s more efficient in the long run. At least it would save me from running up and down the steps to check one load of laundry, interrupting whatever creative thought I’m desperately trying to cling to and eke out into written form.  It’s these little things that can kill your creative flow, little annoyances from these appliances that were created to “serve you better.”

Not to mention, the energy inefficiency… such as when I forget about that load in the dryer-designed-to-serve-me-better and those wet clothes sit too long and start to get that nasty smell.  Then I’m having to start the process all over again, all the way back to the washing machine.

I guess some things sound good in theory, but it always comes down to the execution… and a little full disclosure on the front end, that maybe the money invested in a dryer would be better spent on purchasing clothes lines to hang between trees outside.