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Fictional Tendencies

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“Nice Pictures.”

Life is filled with adventures and journeys and many a wondrous and complex events, feelings, emotions, thoughts and surprises. It’s no wonder that we humans get overwhelmed with our lives, even though we are mostly responsible for what we fill our lives with. While out on one such adventure I spent a good portion of my time taking pictures; most of them are for my eyes and my families eyes only, after all, they’re our cherished memories. There are some pictures that I was particularly proud of, while others I didn’t think anything, one way good or bad, about them. They are pictures and they captured what I saw. But here comes life, in the form of a close friend, to hit me with a surprise.

The following images I shared with my friend Carl over at Photographic Central and his was response was, “Nice pictures.” Nothing more. Nothing less. And honestly I was a little taken aback. I was expecting a different response. No, I’m not sure what type of response I was expecting but I was hoping it was more than “Nice pictures.”

Now that’s not to say that “Nice pictures.” isn’t  a decent compliment, because it is. It is my fault in expecting, or hoping, that he would see what I see. Maybe he does or did. Maybe he didn’t. I shared some pictures I was proud of and that’s what matters. Whatever you decide to share be proud of it. Don’t expect anyone else to see what you see. Differing opinions are okay. In fact, they are more than okay, they’re great. Ultimately I believe differing opinions have the opportunity to promote and create growth; both personally and artistically.

Carl and I tend to push each other…a lot. We motivate and inspire each other. Sometimes we know whether or not one of us has inspired the other. Most of the time not. We’re men that want to be better men. We strive to be better, to be the best. Do we fail, yes. Do we keep “driving, and striving”? You’re damn right. We have a silent agreement of sorts. A pact.

I sent Carl a link to this blog to let him know, “Hey, not that you need me to tell you this because I’m sure you already know, but I’m still working on my goals and making decent headway.” I sent him a link to my HERE…WE…GO… blog post. If you clicked on the link you’ll see the featured image, a black and white shot of the open ocean.

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My intent was to only share my progress on my goals, nothing more. I wasn’t expecting his response to the image; “Awesome. Love that image too. Really love it.” His response made me do a double take on the image. I threw that in there, the image, because I thought it was a “Nice picture.” Nothing more. Nothing less. But Carl really loves it. Why? I went back and looked over the image and kept asking myself, what does he see that I don’t? And here we are, a day later, and many minutes (possibly hours) spent going over the image that Carl “really loves” and I’m still thinking “What am I missing?”.

The answer is nothing. I’m not missing anything. Pictures. Art. Stories. Images. Everything operates on its own level, its own wave length. What works for me might not work for you. What you find awesome I might find below average. And guess what, that’s okay.

So wherever you are on your journey, whatever stage you’re at with your novel, your canvass, your photography, your art, your creation, wherever you are…that’s where you need to be. It’s okay to be a work in progress, we all are. It’s okay for a friend or family member to not see what you see. Keep creating. Keep moving forward. Allow yourself to be open to the possibility of differing opinions. Embrace life’s little – and big – surprises.

Expect the unexpected.

Your journey starts with a step, where are you headed?

What’s Your Story?

Recently returned from an eight-day adventure/family vacation/journey I’ve come to appreciate my life a little more. My family and I went on a four-day, which really means four nights and the fifth day you return to the original port of departure, Disney Cruise with some great friends and their family. We went to the Bahamas. My main focus of thought with this blog post is appreciation. Appreciation in general. And appreciation for everyone’s story, whatever that may be.

While on the cruise one of our ports of call was the port of Nassau. We took a tour around the island and soaked up its rich and violent history. We heard stories about its corrupt government. Its horrible social and economic status. But, of course, we also soaked up its beautiful people.

Towards the end of the tour we were taken to a beach. While there an older local woman approached us. She was “hustling” her trade, braiding and beading hair. We declined for the moment as we were trying to get settled. As our time on the beach passed my friend’s daughter asked to get her hair braided, which of course triggered my daughter to request the same.

Now, I don’t quite remember where I heard it, so I’ll paraphrase here but I remember hearing or reading something about how everyone has their own story and whatever it is, it is an important one. Maybe I read it from a Neil Gaiman Tweet. Or maybe I read it in an introduction of one of Neil Gaiman’s book. Or was it John Crowley’s? Either way, I remember reading or hearing the about the importance of stories.

When it was my daughter’s turn to have her hair braided and beaded I asked the woman if I could take some pictures of her. Forgive me, but I forgot to ask her what her name was so for the sake of this post I’ll refer to her as Bahama Mama, because she was in fact one.

Bahama Mama tells me that it’s okay for me to take pictures. I thank her. My daughter is complaining about how much her braids hurt. I laugh and tell her, “I told you so.” And Bahama Mama says, “Hush child.”

Keep in mind, we could have her hair braided on the Disney ship but why give them more money when you can give directly to the community itself?

Bahama Mama is talking about how she’s out walking the beaches everyday hustling. Island life isn’t all you would think it is. She’s getting older, she’s 55. She’s anemic, she needs new blood. Her daughter is lazy and doesn’t work. She, Bahama Mama, has to take care of her 5 grandchildren. She can’t do this forever. She’s tired. Her hands hurt, braiding and beading hair for hours on end is hard work.

I sit there in the white sand listening. I ask questions, so does my daughter. Bahama Mama shares what she knows. She shares her story. I thank her.

This is Bahama Mama.

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Your journey starts with a step, where are you headed?

HERE…WE…GO…

Here we are half way through the month of January already and time seems to be flying faster than it used to. So far I’m staying motivated and I still feel accomplished…so far. I ended last year reading Little, Big by John Crowley and started this year by finishing it. If you’re interested you can read my thoughts on it here at, Little, Big: Thoughts & The Journey.

I followed up Little, Big with The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov and followed this story up with Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. This story, Blood Meridian, is something else entirely. It will have to be the second book that I will willingly return to, to re-read. I was able to finish the book while traveling with my family last week; airplane rides and waiting at in airports is the perfect time to read. I’m already jumping into my fourth book of the year with another book by John Crowley titled Engine Summer. I can already tell that I’m in for a treat.

My reading goals are moving along quite nicely but what about my writing? Well, before I went on the above mentioned trip I was able to write a “flash fiction” story titled The Hunter and The Firefly. I sent this story to two of my close friends and asked for their thoughts and suggestions on it. Also, I asked them to look for any grammatical errors. But I let doubt creep in and before I left on vacation, I headed over to Scout Media and paid for their editing services. As of today’s date, I’m still awaiting their response with their suggestions and edits. Of course more doubt creeps in. I ask myself am I good enough? What will they think? I hope I’m not too horrible. But, this is all a part of the learning process. I feel confident enough in the story I wrote with the requirements given. I hope to submit it for a “Collections of…” book in the near future.

So, here I am, moving right along in my goals and I came across this little “nugget” regarding stories from Engine Summer:

“Begin at the beginning; go on till you reach the end. Then stop.”

I’m not sure why, but this strikes a chord with me. Something about it rings true. Maybe I’m looking into it too much. Maybe I’m making it more than it is. Maybe, just maybe, it’s the motivation I need. Whatever it is, I’m looking forward to figuring it out.

Thanks for reading.

Your journey starts with a step, where are you headed?

Goals 2019, Right out of the Gate

Well, here we are two days into the new year and I’ve already came out swinging. I attacked one of my scary goals from my GOALS FOR 2019 article. Well, I tackled half of one of my goals, the goal to Submit at least 2 Short Stories to Magazine of books of Collections of.

Yesterday I noticed on Fiction Writing, a Writer’s Group on Facebook, a new post about the next “Of Words” volume. If you’re interested you can go click on the following link, Fiction Writing and joint the group. You’ll have to answer a few questions. Once you’re in, go to the “Announcements” section and scroll through the requirements.

If you already have a story, 1,000 words or less, ready and the story revolves around “Games” than by all means head on over to Scout Media and fill out the Submission Form.

I might be getting a little ahead of myself, I haven’t submitted the story yet. But I did write it, tonight. While at lunch I cranked out around 500 words of the story and emailed home to myself. When I got home I finished the story at 999 words. Currently, the story is being, or will be, read, reviewed, edited and suggestions will be offered. When I officially submit the story I will post about it here with the Title of the story and any additional thoughts of feelings I have on the process.

Thanks for reading.

Your journey starts with a step, where are you headed?

GOALS FOR 2019

Here it is, the first day of the new year. So many questions to ask ourselves. What to do? Where to go? Who do you want to be? What do you want to create? Where have you been? I know where I’ve been and I would like to think that I know where I’m going, but I’m also aware that life usually has other plans. Looking back on 2018 I can say I’ve accomplished most of the goals I set for myself. Could I do more? Sure I could. We could always do more.

Let’s look back, a little more in depth, into 2018, the goals I set for myself and my thoughts on those goals:

  1. Write more: I certainly did. I would say that the months of October and November were particularly filled with plenty of writing.
  2. Read more: Yes, I read a lot of book in 2018. My guess is I read somewhere north of 16 books. I arrived at that number because I have a “Books that have been Read” stack. Unfortunately not every book that I read last year made it into the stack, they’re in other stacks.
  3. Submit short stories for publishing: I can proudly say that I submitted one story. It wasn’t published but that was a big first step.
  4. Continue to develop my story for my novel: Yes, I’ve slowly added to what I already had going into 2018.
  5. Continue to develop my story The GardenI started this story sometime last year and that’s where I left it, where I started. I still have my notes on it so maybe this could be a goal for 2019.
  6. Blog on a “surprise” adventure that I hope will inspire and drive my writing forward: This one didn’t pan out. I was waiting for a gift to arrive but it didn’t work out that way. That’s okay, maybe one day.

Five out of six goals accomplished isn’t perfect, but it’s something to be proud of. Life has its own plans so you might as well set goals that can be accomplished and set yourself up for success. But don’t be too easy, make sure to challenge yourself. Looking ahead with 2019 I plan to do just that, challenge myself. And I’m scared. And that is a natural response but I also think it’s a vital component to growth, both personally and as a writer.

Without further ado, my goals for 2019 are as follows:

  1. To Create. Whatever, Whenever. Wherever. (No that is not a reference to a Shakira song)
  2. To Write more.
  3. To Read more.

The above three goals will be my short-term goals. They’re easily attainable and they are goals that I can always fall back to for support or a boost of confidence or inspiration. These are goals that I can constantly work on regardless of what life is throwing my way at any given moment.

The goals that I have set for myself that are scary goals, they are a challenge or will be challenging are the following:

  1. Work more on my Work In Progress (WIP) story. 
  2. Enter a competition. I hesitant because I need to look into this venue further but the idea of this type of competition intrigues me. Plus, it’s a minimal monetary risk to take. The Short Story Challenge
  3. Submit at least 2 Short Stories to Magazines or books that are Collections of.
  4. A surprise blog post. This will be dependent on a few things but I’m sure it will happen. Stay tuned.

If I’m working on the first set of goals, this set of goals shouldn’t be an issue. Not really. Here’s to stepping outside of my comfort zone and living a little.

The next set of goals are on the creative side, yes, writing is creative but the following goals involve creativity outside of writing…well, for the most part.

  1. Build a bookcase.
  2. Photography.
  3. Draw or Sketch.
  4. Excercise, Mountain Bike and Hike. This might not sound creative but I believe stepping away from whatever you’re working on and doing something different, getting outside, getting the blood flowing, helps the creative juices.

I think that about covers it. What are your goals for the coming year? Whatever they are, remember it’s okay to fail. Keep trying. Nothing is ever perfect. Do the best you can. Practice makes perfect. Be happy. Be helpful. Be love. Be.

Thank you for reading.

Your journey starts with a step, where are you headed?

A Reflection, of Sorts…

As 2018 comes to a close I can honestly state that I’m proud of what I accomplished for myself; both personally and with writing. I set out to write more, which I did. I focused a little more on taking notes for a story that I hope to turn into a novel (I’m still undecided about the title which is why I haven’t shared that yet. Once I have a title, it will be a lot easier to talk about.) I directed a majority of my energies towards my family. I started to save some of that energy for myself (you’re important too). I got back out on my mountain bikes. And I focused (no pun intended) a little more energy towards photography. I believe creating is very important for the soul.

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On a recent outing on my mountain bike around the lake I took some extra time for myself to sit and relax and soak up my surroundings. This ride will be will be something that I keep for myself and to myself for a long time, if not forever. (That’s okay too. You don’t have to share everything.)

While having a discussion, that covered a varying array of topics, with a dear friend I had mentioned that his blog post was genuine and inspiring. If you feel so inclined you can read it here at Photographic Central. It’s an open and honest experience on a part of his life. So, while I’ve stated that I will keep my most recent ride as a ride for myself and to myself I did want to share some images that I captured while out around the lake.

I tried something different. I’m sure on a technical level I failed in many aspects of photography. But that isn’t important because on a personal level I feel I succeeded in my attempt to capture images as I hoped to, so in that regard, maybe I didn’t fail technically. Either way, I tried something new, and that should count for something.

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Throughout this article are the images that I captured and wanted to share. Thanks for reading. I’m looking forward to experiencing what 2019 has to offer.

Little, Big: Thoughts & The Journey

THE JOURNEY

Almost three years ago I was introduced to the novel Little, Big by John Crowley. The introduction came by way of Maynard James Keenan’s book A Perfect Union of Contrary Things, a book I highlighted in a post titled Fictional Tendencies: The Beginning. Shortly after I had finished reading Maynard’s book I purchased Little, Big by John Crowley, upon its delivery, and me opening the shipping package, I began reading. Now, I don’t recall why but I stopped reading after 80 or 90 pages. I think I started another book or became involved in another one of my projects.

Now I’m off on this tangent, not reading Little, Big, and I won’t return to it until the beginning of the month of November 2018. Something about it kept calling me back, it was in one of my many stacks of unread books, and I thought, okay, I’m ready now. While standing in my room, holding the book and brushing off the dust, I asked myself, “Do I start over? Or do I start where I left off?” I opted to start where I left off, and I’m glad I did.  Everything that I had read came flooding back into my head, it was as though I never left.

THOUGHTS

On the surface Little, Big is the story of Smoky Barnable and his journey on foot from the City to a place called Edgewood. And as the back book cover states, “It is the story of four generations of a singular family, living in a house that is many houses on the magical border of an otherworld. It is a story of fantastic love and heartrending loss; of impossible things and unshakable destinies; and of the great Tale that envelops us all.”

Now, the above is certainly true, it’s all there in the book. But it’s more than that too. This is a book that’s an onion, there are layers upon layers of great stuff here. There are nuggets of knowledge. This is a story and is neither here nor there but both. And it’s everywhere in between. It’s as simple as it is complex. It entails everything about life and all of its complexities. While asking one question, the characters in Little, Big might answer a completely different question and be okay with the answer they have, even if it isn’t the one they were looking for. Maybe they were looking for it and weren’t quite ready for it. Maybe it was the answer they never knew they needed.

Maybe life is a journey with more questions left unanswered than answered and we’re all here trying to make the most sense we can out of what we’re given. What choices we’ve made. And where, when and what we’re trying to reach.

John Crowley’s prose is masterful and beautiful.

I’ve read several books – this is the first book I’ve read that John Crowley has written – and a large majority of the books I’ve read I’m okay with only reading them once. Little, Big is the first book that I might actively attempt to re-read. It’s that special.

Little, Big could be considered a “heavy” book, as the characters experience every success and failure and love and loss that life has to offer. Each character accepts their fate and even when they question their lot in life, they never give up, they continue to push through. When I say that Little, Big could be considered “heavy” my only comparison is that when I finished reading Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, I felt heavy.

Both books, Little, Big and The Fountainhead, moved me, made me feel something. That is something that all great books should do, move you, make you feel, make you think, make you question. They should inspire. And however any of those emotions or responses occur is up to you the reader.

When I finished Little, Big my heart-felt heavy; heavy with love and appreciation and a little bit of sadness. Heavy with hope. My heart-felt full. I closed the book smiling and with tears beginning to pool in the corner of my eyes. I experienced something special. I might not have understood everything that occurred in the book but what I understood was enough, enough to feel touched or moved. Maybe that’s why I want to re-read it, to better understand it, to better understand life.

Little, Big is a story that is whatever you make of it, sort of like life. It’s as complex or as simple as you want it to be, and it’s as simple or as complex as it wants to be for you. We all have our own journeys to make. We all have our own stories to tell. I’m thankful for John Crowley writing this one. Little, Big such a gem.

Thank you for reading.

Your journey starts with a step, where are you headed?

NEBULA EMBRACE

Nebula Embrace

After a storm,
Sometimes,
I want to be held
Like the clouds hold the mountains.

The Return

Sometimes we need a reset. We need to step away from the lives we’ve created for ourselves and just run, or ride. Feel the crisp winter air on our face. Feel the faintest of icicles form in your lungs. Lick your chapped lips, they aren’t chapped enough. Enjoy the sun, when it decides to come out of hiding from behind the clouds.

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Getting outside and away from civilization, even if you aren’t too far away, should be a requirement for the living. People who enjoy nature seem to be more relaxed, more centered and overall appear to be genuinely nicer people.

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Fresh air clears the head, so does exercise. I rode twenty miles today. I haven’t done that for close to a year. Sure I’m sore, but it’s the good type of sore. I took a few photographs Watched a Bald Eagle eat a meal. Watched a Crow watch it’s brother or sister get eaten by the Bald Eagle and also try to get a bite as well. I watched the waters rise and paused to reflect.

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And when all was said in a done I was humbled by a gust of wind.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

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