Month: December 2014

Who are you talking to?

Ten and Rose

Do you ever have conversations with someone else in your head? Someone real, or maybe even someone fictitious? Surely I’m not the only one who does this.

In the middle of the night, not quite awake but not quite asleep, I’ll “write.” I’ll imagine writing out entire stories, blog posts, book chapters. I’ll envision standing on a stage and speaking to an audience. It’s brilliant stuff, too, if I only had a way to capture it. Continue reading

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Patterns: they rule us, and we rule by them

Reincarnation gone horribly wrong

I’m sure at some point you have looked at a cloud in the sky and said, “That one looks like Mickey Mouse.” You have seen a picture of a famous person on a piece of toast. You have thought the car in front of you looked as if it had a face, and it was smiling at you.

Human beings seek patterns. It’s how we recognize faces, but it’s also how we see faces where there really are none. Continue reading

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Developing the wisdom to know the difference

Serenity prayer

Most people know the Serenity Prayer, at least in its abbreviated form. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” It seems custom-made for printing on 1970s plaster gift plaques and graphics suitable today for Facebook. (This is only the first part, worded slightly differently, of the original version.)

In its simplicity, though, it has a lot of wisdom, not least being the recognition that there is a difference, and also recognizing that, like all wisdom, it’s not immediately obvious. Continue reading

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Stories: the low-tech mind meld

robinson

If you think about your own experience, I think you can see how a good story deserves the metaphorical label of “mind meld.” I remember being enthralled as I listened to Appalachian storytellers at the Museum of Appalachia’s Fall Homecoming, as I read my first novel that a teacher didn’t assign (it was Have Space Suit – Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein), and as I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey. You know that power on the receiving end, and (I hope) have experienced it on the other end.

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Floss one tooth bird by bird

Bird with teeth

There is a much-beloved-among-writers book by Anne Lamott called Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. It covers many of the challenges writers (and speakers) face, but the title is one of the most important parts to me. It reminds me of how to manage huge projects, like a novel. Continue reading

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