Category Archives: fear

The Theme of Your Life

Alphonse Mucha - Fate

Alphonse Mucha – Fate

Here’s a particularly interesting piece by Steven Pressfield about theme–specifically, what is the theme of your life? He posits that by looking at the books you’ve written, or the art you’ve created, that you should be able to make out a theme for your life, and/or understand your destiny. “…we discover who we are, not just by our actions … but, if we’re artists, by the works we produce.”

Pressfield’s blog post was sparked by watching a documentary on Tony Robbins of “Walking on Fire” fame. Years ago when I lived in northern California, I participated in a fire walk (on two different occasions. I never said I was sane…) although not as part of Robbins’s massive event. The workshop (for lack of a better word) was more personalized, and extremely powerful. Every participant walked away (pun alert) from the experience with the belief that they could accomplish anything.

And no, none of us had to go to the hospital 🙂 I was working at a winery in the Dry Creek Valley at the time and mentioned it to some customers the day after. One of them, a big, burly dude who was obviously a skeptic asked if he could see my feet. I showed him. I’m not sure he believed me, but he was surprised there weren’t any blisters.

Anyway, back to theme. I’ve always been passionate about human rights, protecting the innocent, and choosing courage over fear, even when fear is the predominant emotion. I’m also interested in exploring forgiveness and unconditional acceptance, and why so many seem to have a problem with putting those concepts into play (myself included). And, when and why do people “do the right thing” over the most expedient thing. These themes have all emerged in my writing, and I’m even more committed to exploring my relationship to each. Part of this is certainly based on the way I was raised, and part is from what I’ve experienced so far in life.

Eleven years ago (give or take) I began work on my first novel. Since then, I’ve discovered more about myself through writing than I probably would have from a daily psychotherapy session. Let me tell you–it’s been an interesting trip.

Not all of it has been pleasant. But all of it has been valuable. I realized that I do my best work when something pisses me off, igniting a fire inside of me. Talk about having access to a LOT of raw material these days…

So my question to you is, what is the theme of your life? What’s important to you, and do  you bring that out in your work (whether you consider yourself an artist or not)? Do you believe you’re here for a reason? Or are we all just a bunch of random cells smashed together in this space and time and will all disintegrate when we die?

Remember: there are no wrong answers 🙂

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Konrath Fisks Child

Marlene Dietrich Stage Fright Trailer 2

“Is this THE END?”

Here’s an interesting post by indie author JA Konrath, in which he fisks an article by author Lee Child regarding Amazon’s push for 299 brick-and-mortar bookstores, apparently resulting in the end of the world as we know it.

I’ve never understood authors who rail against Amazon and yet still sell their books there. But then again, I don’t much understand hypocrites.


A Conversation with Father Time

1328101886 HourGlassSo there I was, sitting at my computer, toiling away on my seemingly endless work in progress, chewing my fingernails and glancing furtively at the clock, when *poof* this old, ratty-looking dude appears in the chair across from me. Now, when I say ratty, I mean some truly matted, snarly hair that was way past dreds, a year’s worth of beard on a gnarly, wind and sunburned face, and the clothes—uh, well let’s just say his clothes would have made a nice little mid-winter bonfire. A more odoriferous fellow I’ve not yet had the fortune to meet.

He smiled a languorous smile, the spaces between his Jack O’ Lantern teeth big enough to drive a flatbed through, and pulled out what was once euphemistically referred to as a Marley. He drew it beneath his nose, snuffling the scent with a satisfied smile, and wasted no time in lighting the fatty with a wooden match pulled from the well-worn folds of his attire. And he did indeed inhale.

“Who the fuck are you?” I asked, my annoyance obvious at this most unwelcome intrusion. You see, I was on a roll. Writing like my life depended on it, savoring the cadence and ebb and flow of a day in the zone.

Well, actually, that’s a lie. I was struggling mightily putting words to page, on the verge of throwing my keyboard across the room.

But still.

“Whoa. Am I detecting a little attitude?” he asked, as  a dense, aromatic cloud  of what I assumed to be cannabis sativa bellowed forth.

“You didn’t answer me, pops. Now who the hell are you?” My cheeks flushed hot, reminding me I hadn’t slept well the night before, which always leaves me cranky.

He picked what appeared to be vegetation from between his teeth and grinned, leaning back in his chair. “I’m Father Time.”

“You’re what?”

“Father Time. You know, out with the old, in with the new?”

“Yeah, I know who Father Time is. But isn’t he a tired old man with a scythe who’s ready to kick?” I looked him up and down. “I mean, you’re no picnic, but looks to me like you’ve got some mileage left.”

He grinned again and offered me a hit. I declined, preferring to be fully in control of my faculties when experiencing a psychotic break—which this most unfortunately appeared to be.

“If I may be so bold,” he continued. “You strike me as a writerly sort, am I right?”

I rolled my eyes and answered, “What, did the computer, thesaurus, and Chicago Manual of Style give me away? Or perhaps it was the quotes on the wall by Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Parker?”

A throaty chuckle escaped him and he shifted, crossing one leg over the other, his huarache-clad feet expelling little dust clouds as he moved.

“Yeah. That would be it. Along with the sarcasm. Tell me,” he said as he took another hit off the joint and stubbed it out on the sole of his shoe, “Are you happy?”

The words stopped me cold.“Wha—what do you mean? Of course I’m happy. Happy as a goddamned lark, buddy, so back the fuck off, okay?” I rose from my chair and started to pace. “Where do you get off, asking me if I’m happy?”

Time just shrugged, cocked his head, and looked at me sideways. “Look, no offense, but all you ever seem to do is sit at your computer, day in and day out, writing about murder and mayhem and shoving your characters into all sorts of crappy situations. You spend your time researching the lower aspects of humanity and then you write a story around them. Yeah, for the most part, there’s a happy ending and the bad guys get theirs, but when do you take a break? When do you live your life?”

“My life? I—uh—I don’t…” I sat back in my chair as the realization hit. He had a point. Was I living well? I ran through the past year, remembering the elation when I’d published books, sharing time with new friends and old, the book signings, the travel, the sales. Yeah, that all seemed fun, great, even. But then I reminded myself of all the bad things that happened throughout the year, not necessarily for me or my family and friends, but the world in general. The acidic political posturing, Paris and San Bernardino, Syria and the refugees, mass shootings, murders, global warming, canned hunting, human and animal trafficking, etc., etc., etc. But mainly I realized how my attitude started slowly shifting toward fear. And protection.

And FEAR.

Time gave me a wistful smile. “Sneaks up on you, doesn’t it?”

Tears sprang to my eyes. “Like little cat feet,” I murmured.

“The trick is, you’ve got to put your attention somewhere positive.”

“But,” I protested, “I can’t just ignore the news. I write crime novels.”

“Sure. But you don’t have to spend all of your time there.”

“There’s so much to process. I can’t absorb it all.”

“So don’t. Spend time doing things you like to do—things with a positive return. And let go of outcomes. You can’t control what’s going to happen. Yeah, you can mitigate some of the stuff just by being aware of your surroundings, but what if you let go and let life happen? Use your imagination for your books, not your fears.”

“Oh.” Yet another salient point. “Is it really that easy?” I asked, hope pinned to my chest.

The wise old dude nodded. “Yep,” he replied. “Don’t get me wrong. It’s not gonna be all unicorns and kittens, believe me. Your readers wouldn’t like that, anyway.  All I’m saying is, accentuate the positive—like when you’re done writing for the day. It’s all about balance. Capiche?”

“So this really isn’t a psychotic break? You’re actually Father Time?”

Time pulled out the fatty and slipped it between his lips. “Girl, what you been smokin’?”

 

2010-07-20 Black windup alarm clock face


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