Last year, when I was launching my Destiny Interview Series, significant changes were unfolding in my life.
I’d been asked to teach Novel-Writing at CAE in September 2016, and so I figured I’d do the right thing by my students: I’d do what I was asking them to do and write a novel. One of the ideas in my filing cabinet had been calling me for some time – it was a concept I’d jotted down some eight years ago, and I’d been scribbling notes and bits of dialogue for it ever since. As I was calling my students to work on novel structure and character development, I figured I’d apply the lessons to my own project at the same time.
Have you seen Michael Moore’s documentary, Where To Invade Next? If not, watch it immediately! It’s wonderful.
If you’re not familiar with Michael Moore, he’s a baseball-cap-wearing, grossly overweight documentary-maker with a heart of gold, an eye for the important issues, and the ability to make his points with elegance, profundity and humour.
Where To Invade Next flips the idea of invasion on its head and explores which countries are doing wonderful things that America should ‘steal’. Follow the link below to find out a little more. (Warning: contains spoilers…)
I haven’t read any Stephen King books because I’m not into the thriller/horror/mystery genre, but I decided I wanted to read his On Writing, and I’m really enjoying it. The man values the literary arts more than I had expected. His turn of phrase is entertaining and delightful. I particularly love his humility in sharing an excerpt of his own work, unedited and then rewritten, for the reader to see how he goes about the process of refining his work.
But when he gets to the heart of his book and states that while he believes an incompetent writer can become competent, a good writer can never be great, I cannot agree.
We’ve been keeping an eye on terrorist activity in the northern hemisphere because our three children are travelling through Europe at the moment. It’s quite unsettling as news of these crises emerges, sometimes only a day after our kids have been in one of those locations; I have to remind myself to trust that they have much too much living to do for their numbers to be up yet…
That might sound irrelevant considering that plenty of children die in these attacks, but I remember my editor Tim Marlowe saying that if you really looked into it, you’d find that those who passed had chosen that at some level.
If you lived at our place you would by now have become familiar with the sound of my voice yelling, ‘Oh no!’ and the clatter of my feet madly dashing to the sink so that I could turn the water filter off before the whole house flooded.
In fact, I did once flood the kitchen so effectively that water leaked through the floor and into a light bulb in the garage below, shorting the system…
If you read my blog of a few weeks ago (‘Watch a human being emerge from a cocoon’) you’ll know that I was in the process of rethinking my life! Well, I’ve scratched a hole in the chrysalis and I’m peering out. Here’s what I discovered in the process of being ‘liquified’…
I've emerged from my cocoon with the realisation that my core area of mastery is writing and teaching writing. Duh, right?
The phenomenon of the caterpillar constructing a chrysalis and secretly transforming itself into a butterfly is a powerful and wonderful metaphor that inspires most of us.
- What a beautiful illustration of the idea that nothing is destroyed or created but simply changes form!
- What a beautiful symbol of transformation.
- What a stunningly elegant demonstration of the fact that some degree of struggle (the squeezing out of the cocoon) is necessary to develop strength (without being squeezed, the butterfly would be too moist and heavy to fly).
But have you ever wondered about that process inside the cocoon? What is actually going on in there? And what parallels can we draw from that process to our own lives?
One of my ex-writing students is a Marketing Manager and we’re doing an exchange of services at the moment. Something I really appreciate about Ellen is the cleanness of her communication style. In one of our early conversations she deliberately addressed the subject of our expectations.
‘Conflict Resolution Skills’ is a course I taught years ago, and Ellen demonstrated them perfectly. There’s a sliding scale of events that result in conflict from initial Discomforts and Incidents through Misunderstandings and Tension to outright Conflict. In other worlds, conflict doesn’t just happen out of the clear blue sky; it starts with little baby steps…
A friend of mine reckons that water is only good for washing dishes. His beverage of choice is champagne, and his life philosophy is that he’s 'here for a good time, not a long time'.
It sounds good and it’s very amusing but I suspect that when his body starts to fall apart he might have second thoughts. On the other hand, his great attitude to life is such that I’m sure it’s providing him with some pretty decent immunity. At sixty-odd, he’s fitter than many a younger man. I’m going to be interested to see which wins out, physical laws or the laws of the mind!
The Perfect Partner - Perfect for What?
A first-hand account of the retrieval of a drowning relationship.
“Describe your perfect partner,” someone asks you.
“Okay,” you say. “Tall, good-looking, riveting eyes, sex appeal, intelligent, sensitive, honest, good communicator, creative, spiritual, great in bed, fun-loving, financially independent, aligned with whole health and whole food, romantic…”
The list of glowing adjectives just spills out, doesn’t it? It’s not at all difficult to be a Pygmalion, dreaming up an ideal partner, but let’s just fast forward the film past those first few exhilarating years to when the rose-coloured path begins to look boggy... or even bloody...
Don't Look for Mr Right, Or Give Up on Him
– Create Him!
I recently read an article in which the author, Lori Gottlieb, believes that many women are too fussy in their choice of a life partner. In her opinion, they should settle for Mr Good Enough rather than holding out for a romantic fantasy. She advises her reader: “Don’t worry about passion or intense connection. Don’t nix a guy based on his annoying habit of yelling ‘Bravo!’ in movie theatres. Overlook his halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics. Because if you want to have the infrastructure in place to have a family, settling is the way to go.”
And she makes a valid point. We’re fed such a steady diet of Hollywood romances on TV – in fact, her article draws heavily on television characters – that it’s easy to compare real people with celluloid people who’ve had powder dusted on their blemishes, whose words and actions are backed by stirring music, and who’ve had to re-state their lines until the Director is satisfied. So, yep, if you want to be happy in a relationship, you need a decent sense of reality.
‘Riches, my boy, don’t consist in having things but in not having to do something you don’t want to do, and don’t you forget it. Riches is being able to thumb your nose.’ - Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey
I was at a business networking event recently when I found myself chatting with Jay, an Indian businessman who shared with me the following story:
Jay's son had discovered that his friend received 50c for doing the dishes. After telling his mother, she asked, ‘Do you want 50c too?’
You’ve probably heard the proverb, ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’.
It’s a good one. It makes sense at an everyday human level, but if we delve a little more deeply, it’s actually telling us how the universe works. You know that guidebook everyone says we didn’t come to earth with? Well, that proverb is your guidebook.