What’s the Difference?

Writers deal with resistance in multiple forms almost every time they sit down to write.

Fatigue, writer’s block, laziness, criticism, overloaded schedules, day jobs, apathy – all can serve as stumbling blocks that slow down or completely stop your work.

But there is another obstacle that may be even harder to overcome than all the rest.

Defeatism.

That nagging voice in the back of your mind that stands in accusation of your work, whispering not-so-sweet somethings to your confidence.

“Who’s going to read your writing, anyway?”

“Who cares about your opinion?”

“What difference does it make if you don’t write today?” (more…)

Pursuit of Pride

As a writing exercise, my friend Scott asked me to name one accomplishment I’m proud of. Being a self-deprecating perfectionist, listing achievements that may cause a swollen ego isn’t exactly my strong suit – I can always point to several things I’d change or do differently to make the thing better next time. To add to the difficulty, I tend to see pride in general as a liability rather than an asset, so I’ve significantly handicapped myself right out of the gate.

In order to get through the exercise, then, I have to adjust the phraseology of the original question. Instead of naming something I’m proud of, let’s see if I can’t at least name some pursuit that I enjoy and am reasonably good at.

On that subject, my wife and I were talking about the intersection of passion and work the other day, and she asked me what I’m passionate about; what do I like doing so much that I’d do it for free; what do I do that can solve problems for others, etc.

I drew a complete blank. (more…)

Politically Incorrect Career Counseling

Jimmy strode toward his high school counselor’s office with a purpose, armed with high test scores and naïve optimism. Today was the day – the day he’d discover what his future would hold. Wealth, fame, accolades – it all hung on the career decisions he would make behind the doors of the humble office ahead. He took a deep breath, squared his shoulders, and opened the door.

“Well, well,” said Mr. Snidely, the counselor. “Good morning, Jimmy! Are you ready for the first day of the rest of your life?”

“Absolutely, Mr. Snidely,” Jimmy said with a smile. “I can’t wait!”

“Good, good. Take a seat there, and we’ll get started.” Jimmy sat on the edge of a cheap plastic chair facing Snidely’s desk. He felt his pulse quicken with anticipation and the promise of a bright future.

“Now, then,” Snidely said, looking over several forms. “Let me just make some preliminary notes here…” He peered through his glasses and spoke under his breath as he checked several boxes. “Career Description: Prostitute.”

“Excuse me?” (more…)

No, Thank You

The other day I was reading a post on Ernie Dempsey’s blog where Ernie discussed the disturbing trend of ingratitude in our society these days. The example he cited was Apple’s recent launch of the iPhone 6, where Apple execs simultaneously gave away rock band U2’s latest album – to every iTunes user on the planet.

On the surface, this seems like a pretty magnanimous gesture, not just for Apple, but more especially for U2. They’re the ones who put in the work to produce an entire album of new music, only to give it away completely free.

Publicity stunt, you say?

Okay, yeah, that’s probably their angle. Apple technology launches are still a pretty big deal worldwide, so this would give U2 heavy exposure to that demographic. What U2 and Apple may not have anticipated was (more…)

The Courage of Conviction

 “…a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.”                                                                                                                             – Thomas Paine, Common Sense

Courage comes in many forms.

For most of us, the word evokes mental images of heroic physical action under extreme danger.

A soldier sprints unprotected through enemy fire to pull a friend to safety.

A good Samaritan wades through flames to rescue an accident victim on a lonely stretch of freeway.

A bystander steps in front of a weapon, preventing a criminal from harming an innocent.

These are all examples of people who willingly face injury or death to help others in need; but facing physical danger in spite of fear is not the only definition of courage. (more…)

The Perspective of Elapsed Time

Sometimes it’s difficult to see our lives objectively.

We’re so close, so caught up in the living of our daily grind that we can’t always see what got us here; what we missed by taking this path, or what we gained by not taking another.

Things may look better or worse to us in our present situation, simply because of our perspective.

For example:

Twenty-two years ago, (more…)

Ninety Day Wonder

Ninety days ago, I was very close to being in the worst shape of my life. I was forty pounds overweight, I had back and knee pain constantly, and no endurance for anything more stressful than climbing one flight of stairs. (Even that was becoming a stretch.)

I felt like my weight and lifestyle were inevitable and irreversible – it was too much weigh to lose, and too difficult to get it off. I didn’t have time, energy or expertise enough to turn my life around to that extent.

I looked forward to eating.

I loved food, and it was slowly killing me.

Then I looked in the mirror one morning and thought – You, sir, are a disgusting pig. (more…)

Lost in Translation

The following is a post I wrote for my previous blog when we were in China adopting our daughter in late 2010. Remembering it makes me laugh – maybe it’ll do the same for you.

When one culture attempts to translate their language into another for the benefit of tourists from a second culture, there will inevitably be some degree of confusion.  In some cases, that confusion can manifest itself into high comedy. (more…)

The Published Writer

Today, I got published.

No, not six-figure book deal, private jet, book tour published.

Not self-published on this site either, where I control the editorial staff with an iron fist.

But published – somewhere else.

Somewhere that someone else controls – which requires knowing somebody on the inside. (more…)

Clean Your Plate

My parents grew up during the Great Depression.

That experience taught them the importance of not wasting anything – and they passed that on to me.

At meals, they impressed upon me the fact that somewhere in the world, starving kids would be happy to have leftover boiled potatoes (again?!?), so I’d better eat mine.

I took that lesson to heart, and now I have an innate aversion to throwing food away.

I hate wasting food, so I always clean my plate.

The problem is that I used to load my plate with more food than I really needed, which sadly caused my waistband to expand at an alarming rate, and led to an urgent need to change my behavior. (more…)