Friday, June 27, 2014

#MyWritingProcess Blog Tour: Everyday Demons

Quote of the Day:
Most folks are as happy 
as they make up their minds to be.
~Abraham Lincoln~

Current Local Weather:
Damp heat, dank thoughts 
and a strong potential for the thunderous roar of
forgetfulness to cleanse the palate before
night falls...

Currently on my iTunes:
Loma Vista
Family of the Year
**I can't stop listening to this...**

Currently Reading:

Michael Pollan

Dear Friends, Family and My Family of Friends, 

My client, Allison Gruber, tagged me in the #MyWritingProcess blog tour. This wonderful idea stemmed from other writers, readers and envious folks of the bookish ones in society to get the backstory to the story. 

Let me give you the backstory on Allison, first. 

Allison is one of my most favoritest clients. Not because of all the money she garnered both of us as a first-time autobiographical essayist...(hey, don't judge. She really did get paid..) but because of her creative beauty. She's truly a light in the world. And just as I tend to do with my writerly-type clients, I fell in love with her from sentence one and will be so from infinity and beyond. 

Who needs marriage when you have clients that don't dirty up the bathtub, throw wet towels on the floor and cause a mess...instead they cleanse the mind...

Clients who never leave your head too early and always stay for as long as you need, just when you need them most? Who needs romance when every time they send you a book you get the privilege of falling deep head-over-bookmark in that lusty bibliophilish phase of love that only a true book lover can know? 

This is why I do what I do.

Her first book, "You're Not Edith," started out as nothing but Trouble. (Sorry Allison, couldn't help myself) PLEASE ORDER YOURS NOW! Click the link on the title!

She has a unique and insightful take on the #Writing process. I hope you'll take a moment to go read her "audio" blog for this series. Thank you, Allison, for giving me this opportunity to talk about #MyWritingProcess. 

This concept consists of writers answering four questions about their process. Who am I to debunk the system? So here's mine: 

1) What are you working on now? 

"Deprivation" It's about a narcoleptic pilot that figured out a way to get by the FFA with his disease only to have it come back to bite him after having an affair with a "sky waitress." 

It's a comedic look at the hazards of chronic traveling and high-altitude scheming. Deprivation combines the wit of "Airplane," the absurdity of "Fight Club" and rounds it off with a bit of "Fatal Attraction."

This is absolutely a "fun" project amidst all of my "serious" ones. Not that all of them aren't fun, but this one just suits the mood I'm in more than not. 

I'm also working on a new oral history titled, "Lost and Found: The American Dream and its Greatest Faults." That one is still taking subjects. If you've lost your way and found your dreams in the process of finding yourself, call me, ASAP. 

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

This is a hard question to answer, even when coming from an agent that has to lecture clients about comp titles...

I believe each work has a lifeline of its own. But all of what I do differs from others in that it doesn't stoop to or rise against any expectations or boundaries. It's offensive and deep and deeply defensive as to the faults that seep out of yours, mine and our skin on a daily basis. 

3) Why do I write what I write?  

 I always write with the theme of humanity.  Just like you, I'm trying to figure out the meaning of our commonness, our existence and our demise. Writing about it just helps, it's the only thing that helps me as a matter-of-fact. It's the cheapest and most invaluable therapy there is to get rid of my everyday demons...

Those demons can be muses in disguise. I would recommend that if you're thinking about writing, entertain and host your demons to the party on the page. Blank pages are as good as the infamous "Proton Packs" used on Ghostbusters for exhausting the "Stay-Puff Man" in your life that's haunting you. 

4) What does my writing process look like? 

I should correct this question to read, "What does it sound like?" 

I'm completely lopsided when it comes to my sensory experiences. Sound, the making of and the listening to, inspires me. So the first thing I do when I write is to listen to the character's voice. Then I find their playlist and create it to sing to me when I write. I then take off with whatever they want me to do. I'm their pawn. Always. Whether it be in the oral-history format or my favorite fictional asshole pilot in Deprivation...I'm their only chance to have a voice. 

John, the pilot, he listens to Dead Milkmen when no one is around and Miles Davis when a woman asks and flies...soars to Johnny Cash. He's a lot like me in that respect...Eclectic. So when I write in his voice, I have to have him in his full form to write him down. 

When I was working on my book, "The New Face of Jazz," I listened to a lot guessed it...jazz. But while doing edits for the book I listened to a lot of R&B, Gospel and even, dare I say...classical. 

As far as the tangible process: I'm a quiet writer. I can't be around chaos, I can't be too hot but I can be cold and I definitely can't be in any kind of pain. Pain of any kind is the nemesis of writing. Whether it be emotional, physical or intellectual (as in...the research for this novel/article/living will could potentially kill me!) has to be in balance and in somewhat dissonant harmony with the project I'm working on. 

Thanks again to Allison for tagging me in this! 

Next up in the #MyWritingProcess Blog tour is one of my favorite storytellers. Yes, he's Natty-poo's Papa, but before I knew him as a Papa-type dude, I knew him as a full-blown Texan Storyteller. You can find him on Twitter. 

And, for the record: He's the one that did this to Natty: 

Regardless of his role and its proverbial coat of many colors through the last four plus years I've known Jimmy, I've never grown tired of his stories, his writing or his love for his family. Here's to you, Papa! And thanks for giving a great set of genes to Natty's Daddy and Natty. Sometimes the best storytellers are sitting right in front of you. Time to listen to what they have to say. 

Yours in Writing, Wordsmithing and Wondering About it All, 


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Negative Assets

Quote of the Day: 
No one is useless in this world that 
lightens the burden of another.
~Charles Dickens~

Current Local Weather: 
Muddied waters are a-comin' due to 
the endless supply of the spring tears.

Currently on my iTunes:
"Waltz of the Nuke Workers"

Currently Reading:
"Big Spoon, Little Spoon"
*haha, I get to read this before anyone else!*

Dear Friends, Family and My Family of Friends, 

To See the World...

This blog is for the writers and artists in my life... and I'm writing this as your mentor, your boss, your agent, your lover, your hopeful liaison to everything you see when you close your eyes.

I just went to see the movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. 

As an unabashed fan of the original short story, I was curious to see how Ben Stiller was going to treat it and more importantly, stretch it into a feature length movie. I ignored and refused to read any criticism or reports on the movie and patiently waited for it to deport from the big guns into the dollar theater. I didn't even sneak a peak and watch the "old" version of the movie or even entertain the idea of bootlegging it. I read it to my girls one night in preparation for going to see it. Their response to the story was...that's it?!?!  But...what happened to that? Was it a dream? Was it real? 

Things Dangerous to Come....

As a budding literary snob, I had those same questions when I read it the first time. I am an American. I WANT EXCESSIVE DETAIL AND SWAG IN EVERYTHING I CONSUME! Dammit. I should have been a Gatsby.

I digress.

I could hardly contain myself during the movie. Ok, that's a partial lie. I couldn't contain myself. I had to get out my cell phone to light up my purse so I could pull out business cards, scraps of paper and gum wrappers to write down my thoughts while I watched. This kind of inspiration doesn't come easy to me. But G*d Dammit....that movie was the very best I've seen in...well, let's just say I feel a bit on this side of greatness having been one of the privileged ones to see it. 

To See Behind the Walls...

To treat this itty bitty significant grand... with so much techni-f'in-color wonderfulness was far beyond any expectations I may have had. It's as if Jon Bon Jovi decided to put out his next hard rock album consisting of all Phillip Glass music. 

Draw Closer...

But through all the master cinematography and visual imagery, the AHA moment I walked away with lied simply in Mitty's job. He was the head of Negative Assets. 

Walter Mitty had everything in the world in his dreams and nothing, at least that he could think of, in his waking life. Sure...he has a great mom (Shirley McClaine is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. as a momma) and a quirky but lovable sister. 

To Find Each Other...

However, every great man deserves a woman. But where, as the E-harmony guy (Paton Oswald...another favorite) points out were his "Been there, done thats?" Surely he had to have ONE....

Alas, Walter Mitty had many in his dreams. Until one man left a message thanking him for his work...

And to feel...

I recently had to conquer a negative asset and figure out how to create assets that ooze positives. So, in my fashion, I started my own company. Janus Artistic Services. 

In an extensive meeting last night all four of us in the company worked out the verbage for the "why..."of the company. 

In very non-eloquent terms, I said that we basically exist to deal with all of the bullshit that no one else wants to do. We are here to serve artists in their every need and want. 

Our company slogan is, We Don't Sleep, So Artists Can Eat. 

The impetus, a.k.a. WHY...behind the company is the wanton need to take care of those that need us most so they can fulfill their dreams. We are here to serve those that are in the fight of their lives to find their true purpose and value. 

And I believe, having worked in this industry for...well, for a long time, that the journey must be done without the awareness of others but with the knowledge that often it's what we want most whether it's to be that star, to be the success we see when we close our eyes, is absolutely not something that needs the "like" button on Facebook. It's something that must be an asset to your character. It has to be DEEP inside of you to reach past the skin on your teeth. 

This life of yours needs to take place for yourself before seeking any kind of approval. You need to be the office, space cadet. You HAVE to be the Walter Mitty in your mind and dream a thousand dreams before you employee someone to listen to you talk about it. Hearing that it CAN'T be done your way or that YOU can't do what you want to do can kill your spirit, your heart and more importantly the invincible will when facing the impossible. 

Shooting down your dreams is like acquiring a manager to those negative assets in your life. 

It's dictionary time, kids! 

Asset (n) is defined as a useful or valuable thing, person, or quality. 

Negative (adj.) is defined as the absence of distinguishing, marked qualities or features, lacking positive attributes (opposite of positive). 

The words or job of someone that is a negative asset manager is a double negative in of itself. 

Whether you're an artist, a budding novelist, or musician with 40 yrs of gigs behind you and only 20 left ahead, your greatest asset is that you're POSITIVE that you've got your dreams in the palm of your hand and your head on your shoulders...and you should be able to rest knowing that what you have to offer the world, even if at the time it's only in your head, it will surely be of great use to others in the human race. Why would anyone with a dream take it...a noun with an adjective that's the most POSITIVE attribute of your core and turn it into a very dark, smellly, damning horse? 

You wouldn't. Never Compromise. Always Realize.

And in the end, Walter Mitty, the most selfless man in the story, had to realize that the hardest work is often done without the intent of recognition. Sometimes the pay you receive is only in knowing that you helped somebody else recognize their positive effects, assets and hidden life in their daydreams. 

The truth, even if only in your head, is tough. You must learn that in order to get the girl, realize your dreams, ignore the "Major Tom Weird Beard Guy" in your office and rid yourself of that negative asset taking up your hard-wired drive, that the truth lies in knowing what it means to be yourself.

And that is exactly what Walter Mitty did. 

He was no longer a dreamer, he was a doer.

And yes, SPOILER ALERT, he got the girl. 

And...he found the cover shot negative that seemingly spoiled his whole world.

Which, ironically, turned out to be a positive. 

I hope that all of you will be true to who you are regardless of your job. 

That you'll realize the "WHY" behind the "WHAT" you do every day and turn your assets away from the negative...

That is the purpose of life...

Yours in Assets, Office Assholes and Acclimating to the Truth, 


Friday, January 10, 2014

Wake Me Up

Quote of the Day: 
It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, 
they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.
~Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Current Local Weather: 
Stagnation of cold weather. Mother nature swooping in 
at alarming rates to make us all remember why seasons exist.

Currently on my iTunes: 
"Wake Me Up" 
Aloe Blacc

Currently Reading:

Dear Friends, Family and My Family of Friends,

I've got this catchy tune stuck in my much so, the blog is themed over and above its lyrics. The tune, as above, "Wake Me Up" by Aloe Blacc. It makes me want to dance and cry all at once. Strange, wonderful feelings are evoked by his "carry-on" thematics and strong vocals. Mr. Aloe, you're brilliant.

Favorite lines: 
So, Wake me up when it's all over. 
When I'm wiser and I'm older...
all this time I was finding myself and 
I didn't know I was lost. 

I tried to carry the weight of the world
but I only have two hands....
Life's a game for everyone 
and love is the prize. 

I haven't showered in two days. Haven't bothered to brush my hair. Haven't even removed the yoga clothes, of which yoga was not practiced in during said past days. I keep thinking that the time to clean up will come. (and I assure you that as soon as I get the demons out of my head this morning, it will worries!) But as of the last 48 hours, the time has escaped me. I've been working. Kinda. Well, it's not actually work. It's been a journey and one, quite frankly, that I'm still on and hope to be on for life. 

I'm one of the fortunate few in this world that gets to do what I love. What is it? Cleaning up the world and spreading love one musician/writer at a time. I was talking to my friend Bibi Green the other day and she said, upon hearing my complaints about scheduling a mega-jazz festival..."you've finally got a real're creating another venue for jazz musicians." 

She wasn't being condescending or placating or anything negative at all...She was being herself...and as usual, she was right. I finally have a "real" job. She says this on the heels of me being unemployed for many many months due to illness. She says this on the heels of knowing how dark and deep my waters ran when I didn't feel as though my purpose mattered to anyone anymore. Trust me, Bibi had to hear it all from me. As the song says, and for too long, "I tried carrying the weight of the world, but I only have two hands." I no longer subscribe to that motto. Delegation is the key to happiness. So says the girl with control issues. 

But now, I'm finally waking up. Although there is no man that is sitting by my side, Mr. Coffee has been consistently wonderful in waking me up each and every morning with his odiferous roar for the past few months. 

Purpose is a very liberating stone to throw. Creating, fielding and stuffing your purpose down your own throat until you pop is a good thing no matter how you slice it. We all have purpose, we all have a reason to be here. Some, like Mr. Aloe, has the purpose of writing music that wakes some of us up. 

Most of us don't know we're lost until we're found. After lamenting to a friend that I was down about potentially"losing" a man I don't ever want to lose whether it be as friends or more or acquaintances (the worst of all possibilities), one I don't really even know but desperately want to, I wrote the following post on my FB wall: Sometimes being lost is the only way to find yourself. I have talked many times with this said "person" about finding purpose and living for something that really drives you. He is someone that you only meet once. If you're lucky. A connection past the normal threads in the fabric of life. But we often talk about drive...And no, not the Driving Miss Daisy kind of drive...Driving as in if you don't do what is driving you, you might actually fall apart and die. I'm so blessed to know what it is in my life that drives me. Love, Music and everything else is just...buttah! 

Once again, I woke up. I had to realize that by lamenting for "what isn't in existence" isn't a good thing. I can want all of the things in the world but that doesn't mean that I'll ever get them. It doesn't mean that they were ever mine for the taking in the first place. I guess I'm just as human as the next redhead is. (Yes, we're human) Himming and hawing over anything is an anesthetic for the mind. It will soon knock your bright shiny lights right out of the park. Your purpose cannot be a thing of the past. It begs to be the only thing you do in the everyday here and now; the one thing that builds toward that greater picture known as your reason for breathing. Ahhhh....Life. As Aloe sings, "Life's a game for everyone and love is the prize..." 

Love has to stretch over into all you do. It has to be the all-purpose flour that glues your feet to the ground and stretches your personal rue into the gravy of your dreams. (Yes, sometimes I dream about gravy...) 

The bigger part of what drives me, however, is to see others find their driving dreams; to find their purpose. Whether it's the man I think of when I fall asleep and the conversation we had about losing your way or whether it's a young (even those that are just "young" at heart) jazz musician trying to find a way to reach an audience more effectively or a writer that has words that scream out PUBLISH ME!...this is my purpose. My purpose lies in others. And this purpose, the one where love is truly the prize, mostly, wholly and totally, includes my daughters. The three of them are so innocent, sweet and loving. 

The only thing I can truly think to do for any one of them is to keep loving them until they pop open like a can of All-Purpose flour Pillsbury GMO soaked biscuits. Loving them in such a way that they always know I love them even when they get to the age where they're dreaming of a man, a way of life and their greater purpose on this earth. I'm glad they're too young to understand where they are now and have that very-cool dream of a different life than their parents still lies ahead. I hope they get the chance to roam the earth until they're ready to settle for a bigger picture. They continuously provide a way to wake me up...and I'm glad they waited until, as the tune says, I was wiser and older. 

Purpose is sometimes the elephant in the room. It's not scared of you if you're not scared of it. 

Yours in Waking up, Wishing the Best for Him/You/Us, Wanting More Purpose & Less Fluff 'n' Stuff,