Sep 282010

The first section was about listening, but what I found interesting in the text was the difference between “thinking something up” and “getting something down.” Thinking something up is always more difficult and while we might strive to think up something brilliant, the easier and more productive route is getting something down. When you get something down, you’re writing something that’s already there just waiting for you to put the words down on the page. I’ve heard people call it “not testing your limits” but just because something comes easier doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time to write. On the contrary, it’s probably what you should be writing or were meant to write at this time.

Perfectionism was defined this week, much to my displeasure. I suffer from perfectionism to such a degree that I stopped posting on my blog for a very long time because what I wrote was not perfect. It wasn’t interesting enough and didn’t say exactly what I wanted it to say no matter how many hours I poured into a simple post. I haven’t gotten “over it” or “passed it” but I’ve been forcing myself to post no matter what. I just type, hit post and walk away instead of spending hours going over and over it. So, I’ve actually been working on my perfectionism problem for a while now.

My only advice is, walk away and get involved in something else. If you find yourself correcting or rewriting the same line or paragraph over and over again, put on some music and go bake some cookies, paint a model, read a book. Do something that gets your mind off your writing and doesn’t let you easily come back to it. Give it some time and when you go back to writing, do not read what you’ve already written. Tell yourself you can do it later and write on. Do not let yourself stay stuck in that line or paragraph.

The biggest danger you face when editing and reediting or writing and rewriting is what you have in the end is actually worse than what you started with. I’ve seen this with my own work. I’ve published blog posts that were edited so many times they became disjointed and lacked flow or cohesiveness. I still do it, but instead of trashing everything and not posting at all, I post it anyway. Maybe if I see the mistakes I’ve made, I’ll learn to edit at the end once and leave it alone.

Hand in hand with perfectionism is risk. Perfectionists have a hard time taking risks because they’re afraid. Whether it’s fear of looking like an idiot, fool, or that we aren’t good enough, aren’t perfect enough, taking risks others would take easily is something we would never do. I can honestly say I have a hard time letting anyone read my work because I know it’s not perfect. It’s not going to be praised, published, become a #1 best seller, and so I don’t show it. If I can’t be guaranteed that good things will come from letting someone read it, I won’t take that risk. Even writing anything at all was taking a risk not so long ago.

I don’t know who said it first but anything worth doing is worth doing badly. It’s taken me a long time to believe this and even longer to act on that belief. Now, I’m writing blog posts and taking the risk of posting them for all to see regardless if anyone even sees them or gets anything out of them. I’m also writing again because I enjoy it and don’t worry about what anyone else will think when it’s done. Most days I actually pull that off now.

The biggest problem is, we tend to compare ourselves with the seasoned artists out there. We don’t compare our starting work with their starting work, but rather with their best seller that just hit the market and that often leads to jealousy. While jealousy can often be the success of someone in our field or genre, you might be surprised to find that jealousy can simply be masking fear. While I don’t agree with the author on all points about jealousy, I do agree that jealousy can cause us to believe there’s no room for us on the stage with that seasoned artist. Yes, there is only one Stephen King, Joss Whedon, and Neil Gaiman, but they are not the only ones in their field or genres standing on that stage of greats.

There is room for you, too.

 Posted by at 8:17 am
Sep 272010

Buffy the Vampire SlayerI’m not going to hold back any spoilers since this is so old, so if you haven’t watched Buffy The Vampire Slayer (TV Series) and plan to, please do not read on. This will also not be a review per say but rather my personal feelings on the series. There are much better reviews on Amazon which I will not dare to attempt to duplicate here.

I resisted watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer (TV Series) when it first started. I had seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer (The Movie) and liked it, but couldn’t see watching a TV series with the same premise. Years went by and season after season of the series aired, making me wonder if I’d made a mistake. Maybe there was something to this Buffy TV Series after all. By that time, I was so far behind I decided it wasn’t a good idea to jump in so far into things and just passed it off as a missed opportunity for entertainment.

About two years ago, my daughter had seen a few episodes at friend’s houses and started watching the series on Hulu. Remembering my initial objection, I resisted watching it again. She bugged me for about a year before I noticed that the entire series was on Netflix instant play and finally started watching.

Yes, all of you that kept telling me I needed to watch it were right. The first season was a little shaky action wise and I thought some of the camera work could have been better, but the characters were amazing right from the start. I found myself enthralled by them and couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

In season two the action improved, the camera work improved, and I became increasingly addicted to the series. While I wasn’t all that drawn to the Angel/Buffy relationship in the beginning, season two tugged at me until I started to care, which happened right before Angel turns. Some of the episodes after Angel turns are introspective and poignant. All these building episodes of pain, desire, and passion culminate in the heartbreaking season finale. And yet, throughout the entire season the humor still pervades.

While it’s hard to say I actually have a favorite season, season three is certainly a season I think back to often. While I felt like something was supposed to be explored further concerning the Mayor and his longevity, he is by far one of my favorite villains. A germaphobe, seemingly goody-goody nice guy as the nasty villain was fantastic. I wanted to dislike him, but he was so humorous and corny it was difficult to. The dynamic between the Mayor and Faith mirroring the Giles and Buffy father/daughter relationship was brilliant and enjoyable. While the big battle at the end of the season felt a little silly, it was also epic. I still find myself saying “fire bad, tree pretty” when my brain has shut down.

Season four changed the show a bit as Buffy and Willow left for college five miles away and Xander attempted to work and still remain a part of their lives. The season got a little shaky for me with the introduction of The Initiative, but later in the season it felt more like a natural progression. The Frankenstein storyline was done pretty well even though I found myself cringing at first. I think I started this season feeling like the storyline was going to fall apart, but it didn’t.

I hate Glory. That’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of season five. At first, I thought it was the actress, but I’ve seen her in things since and didn’t have that knee-jerk hate reaction. Between her whining, complaining, and needy disposition, Glory was difficult for me to stomach. I know I wasn’t supposed to love her, but I wanted to take a stake to her myself. Unlike some, I actually didn’t mind the addition of Dawn, Buffy’s sister, to the cast. She’s annoying and she’s supposed to be, but she added a needed depth and perspective to more than a few episodes. While I felt that the overall storyline was lacking, the characters still drew me in and kept me for another season.

Season six is darker than the previous seasons. The musical episode was awesome. I love Giles’ (Anthony Stewart Head) voice. I still get the songs stuck in my head for no apparent reason. I thought the Spike/Buffy back and forth was a little excessive. Bad, pissed off Willow was frightening. Turning the sweetest, cutest character into the uber bad apocalypse causing mega witch was a bold move and could have easily failed. There was no failing here, only awe. The middle of this season drug some as the subject matter took a dark turn, but I still enjoyed this season. If every season was the same it would quickly become very boring.

Season seven is the most different from the previous seasons. It is dark, but the humor of the previous seasons is almost completely gone. While the lack of humor helps to build the feeling of impending doom, it also makes the last season feel tired, much like Buffy seems throughout the season. While I missed the humor and wanted to smack several of the characters, the ending was fitting. While leaving things wide open as far as the Buffy universe goes, the ending felt huge and final.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer is by far the best TV show I’ve ever watched and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I hope to own the entire series someday, but for now I’ll be content to rewatch episodes on Netflix until they take it off instant play.

 Posted by at 8:44 am
Sep 222010

Not much progress going on here, but I’m determined to be happy if the numbers move at all. I’ve been doing a lot of jumping back to research because I have some burning question I need answered. It bugs me until I give in and find the answer whether or not it will be relevant in the future or not. Can’t shut my brain off, so it’s okay to placate it every once in a while or at least that’s my rationalization.

Again, not much going on here, but there’s still movement. I’ll take anything right now. If I can manage to write even a tiny bit with life interfering left and right, I feel like I’m making progress. I’ll keep plugging along in the meantime and remain confident that the numbers will continue to grow. An interesting task for an optimistic pessimist.

 Posted by at 11:11 am
Sep 212010

This week’s reading in The Artist’s Way was about using money as an excuse. It’s one of the easiest excuses and the easiest to rationalize. I’ve heard it from other people. I think I’ve heard, “Money always comes first and everything else is second,” more often than I’d care to admit. Those may not have been the words, but the sentiment was there.

Money is great. Money makes life a little easier, but money isn’t everything. Money doesn’t have to take every ounce of your time and energy. The more money becomes the focus the more tired you become and the less you will enjoy yourself or do other things that you enjoy.

Pampering yourself was another theme this week. When I think of pampering myself, dollar signs tend to pop into my head. Expensive things that aren’t in my budget are what I think of first, like spa treatments and nights out on the town, but pampering can be small things as well. A new candle in your favorite scent that you’ve been denying yourself could make you feel pampered. Even taking a walk by yourself, especially if you have children, can go a long way to making you feel like you’ve done something for yourself and thus feel pampered.

Some of us aren’t wired to think of ourselves first and this week’s reading will be hard for those people. It feels wrong. It feels like the author is saying, throw everything else out the window and live only for yourself! We just can’t do that. Taking time for yourself, to treat yourself, and to pamper yourself even with small things can not only improve your mood and your art, but it can help to keep you sane as well. I’m not wired this way and this week’s reading was hard, but I do believe it to be true. I can’t and I won’t put myself first all the time, but I think I can manage to do something nice for myself every once in a while. I means more that way anyway.

Whether you believe in God, an afterlife, that life just ends, or that you’re reincarnated, you have a finite amount of time to live the life you have. When you get to the end and you’re looking back over your life are you going to regret the big things you didn’t do or the little things? So you never had the money to visit Scotland, but how many little things did you miss out on because what you enjoyed always came last? Spending time with your children, taking a long walk on a spring morning, sitting outside and watching the sun set, indulging yourself with some fresh strawberries, taking a long soak in the tub, listening to music and dancing around the living room like a fool; all these things are small pleasures that can be enjoyed for little or no money if you just let yourself come first for a few hours. Not everything takes money and often times we can find something fairly cheap we can treat ourselves to that makes us feel as good as something expensive.

Remember to pamper yourself from time to time and I’ll try to remember to do the same. On that note, I think I’m going to go take a long bath. I haven’t done that in ages.

 Posted by at 12:21 pm
Sep 202010

The Thirst (2006)I wasn’t expecting much from The Thirst, which was probably a good thing. I didn’t really feel the “darkly humorous gore fest” that Netflix touted in their synopsis. It felt more like an 80’s “gallon drums of blood” type movie. Most of the humor fell flat or was non-existent. The dialog was boring. The characters were boring. I had a hard time really feeling anything for any of them other than annoyance. There’s no real plot to give away and the “twist ending” I’d seen others speak of didn’t seem like a twist to me. I was underwhelmed.

The premise that the two main characters were drug addicts that wound up with a blood addition probably should have had more of an impact on me than it did. I spent these trippy scenes wondering why a vampire would consider blood an addiction. They need blood to survive like we need food to survive. People can have a food addiction, but they can’t completely get rid of food from their lives. I waited for some new concept, some way not involving animal blood (since the cat they ate made them puke) for vampires to survive but there wasn’t one.


From Netflix:
Clean and sober for the first time in years, Lisa (Clare Kramer) and Maxx (Matt Keeslar) are just beginning to get their lives together when they fall under the spell of the seductive Darius (Jeremy Sisto), the leader of a local vampire clan. Lured into his world, the couple soon finds a new addiction — blood — in this darkly humorous gore fest co-starring Adam Baldwin and featuring the music of Rasputina, Jack the Mad and more.

WTF Moments:

At about an hour in, you can see the empty blood tube across Maxx’s back fill up with blood before spraying from the victim’s neck. I don’t often see things like people walking in the background or the wires above something or when things change places that shouldn’t or other little foibles that happen in movies. This was no little foible and I don’t understand how this got through editing.

Every moment I asked myself, “Was I supposed to laugh there?”

Does the human body really hold that much blood?

She’s dead! Why is there still blood spurting from her neck like a fountain?

Redeeming Qualities:

Introduced a new concept that made me scratch my head for a moment.

Blood, blood, and more blood. Yes, it really was a good and a bad thing at the same time.


Last Words:

If you’re a vampire movie junkie like myself, it’s worth a watch. I’d say it’s in the middle of the pack as far as vampire movies go. It was pretty far from both the worst and best vampire movies I’ve seen.

If you’re a Buffy fan, Clare Kramer was Glory in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series. Tom Lenk (Andrew from the Buffy series) also makes an appearance.

 Posted by at 7:41 am
Sep 182010

I felt the cool rain strike my warm face,
Mixing with warm tears.
A distance of a thousand years,
The time of a million miles.
A bursting heart within a barren soul.
Two hearts, two minds, two lives
joined as one,
A perfect world in a shattered glass bottle,
To be looked upon and repaired…
The Earth cries for me.


 Posted by at 1:51 pm
Sep 142010

It took another two weeks to get one weeks worth of The Artist’s Way finished. I felt bad about it last time, but not this time. We had to put one of our fur babies to sleep and got a bit accomplished in the house, so it’s not like I didn’t do anything while I wasn’t writing. I should have found the time to do it anyway, but the time was well spent just the same.

The reading this week actually caused me to take a look at how I handle my everyday life and commitments. Many times I feel like The Artist’s Way is suggesting that I should put myself first and everything else second, which is a foreign concept to me. People that do that seem self-centered and pompous, but I know there’s a happy medium there somewhere. I’m not saying I only do for other people and never myself, but there’s rarely a time when I put myself first.

Quite a few of the tasks this week involved gathering pictures for an image file. I enjoyed this more than I expected. Scouring the internet to find good pictures to represent places I wanted to visit and things I would like to have was fun even though I felt a twinge of guilt. I’m not really sure I can put my finger on why I felt guilty. Obviously it felt selfish to me, but it’s not like I’ve never had the “if we won the lottery” conversation with people before. Maybe it was because I was putting time and effort into the project. I’m not sure. Either way, I enjoyed the exercises and hope there are more like them in the weeks to come.

I know I need to work on saying no. Several times recently I planned on getting some writing done, but when I was faced with something I could have said no to so I could write, I didn’t. If someone wants to spend time with me or talk to me or chat with me or play a game with me or my help with something, I have a hard time saying no to that. This was also something in this week’s text of The Artist’s Way, so I paid more attention to what I was doing without actually changing my habits. Needless to say, I was surprised how many times I could have said no and didn’t. Several times I should have said no, but this is another happy medium I need to find.

I didn’t do my artist’s date on purpose. I did wind up doing some work in the house I’d been putting off, which made me feel like I accomplished something even if it wasn’t the something I wanted to accomplish. I’m hoping to do something a little more creative next week.

 Posted by at 11:21 pm
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