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The Battle Between Writer vs. Fan Strikes Again

20 May

I stayed away from the internet until I had seen it all and digested it. I was at an emotional standstill. I always need more time when things end like that.

I’d been addicted to it just like I was with Breaking Bad, LOST, 24, The Wire, and Sons of Anarchy. Yeah. I’m talking about the Thrones.

Game of Thrones.

Every good show leaves a bit of longing for the characters. I’m saddened to see them go. Apparently people were pretty angry about the ending and how things unfolded. And if you didn’t see it and went online … forget it! The story was ruined.

I find that logging onto Facebook is a horrible idea. I can’t do that to myself after season finales. I can’t do that to myself in general. It’s bad for morale.

People’s opinions running rampant and how they would have named this person King or this person Queen, or how this person should or should not have died.

Someone always has to die in the end. It’s part of the story. If it makes for a heart-wrenching moment that crushes you, well then the writers did a GOOD job. That means you were invested in this character and in their life. You were drawn into the world they created and you were enjoying the ride. The writers made something from nothing and made you care so much about it that you got angry or sad (I mean, granted it was based on a book) but the writers helped create a story that mattered.

Now don’t get me wrong … I’m all for closure and not leaving things up in the air. Everybody hates that, it just cheapens the story and you feel like you were cheated out of something real.

But I’ve got to say, other than feeling a little rushed this season, I really enjoyed and sympathized with the characters. I’d always loved Jon Snow and Arya, and followed Danny’s story closely. These characters, along with Ned Stark, were my favorites. I rooted for them, and hoped for them. I’d gotten attached.

And while watching this amazingness of Game of Thrones, I was just reminded of how important the story is … story matters. Storytellers are important and being one is a good thing. I just have to keep going … and not get discouraged. Not everyone will appreciate your story or its ending, but that’s all right not everyone enjoyed the ending of GOT and it was one of the best shows ever.

The writers felt this was the best way to end it for these characters and as a fan I always struggle with those choices if I love the show and its characters. The battle between fan and writer. It strikes again. They battle between these two is fierce especially if there is a death at the end … and it’s someone I truly rooted for the entire journey. But in the end the writer in me edged out the fan because it was for the good of the story.

So? How was your season finale?

Burn Camino my friends!!

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I Don’t Have a Red Leather Jumpsuit …

30 Mar

I know what kind of storyteller I am, the behind-the-scenes kind. I like watching the reactions of people as they hear my words on stage, or as their eyes scan the page. I like the undercover nature of being a writer. No one sees you, but they hear your voice, and feel emotion.

But in this quest for keeping up with resolutions and being the better-best me that I can possibly be that Oprah continually encourages me to be, I’ve once again tried something new this year. For the month of March I’ve gone and done it. Something that would require me to take a deep breath.

Most of the pieces I submit are for magazines, online publications, or collection of short stories. I get rejected from all kinds of people. But I’ve never gotten rejected for the stage. It’s something I always thought about doing ever since I saw a buddy of mine perform on stage and totally kill it. She just owned that staged and rocked the house in that red leather jumpsuit with black trim and rhinestones. Red leather, it’s pretty powerful. People change their names when they wear stuff like that.

I don’t own a red leather jumpsuit, though. But that didn’t stop me. I saw the open call for stories and wondered about it for a couple of weeks. I wasn’t sure. I’m not dynamic on stage, although I can’t say for sure because I’ve never been on stage. But I thought … it might make me a better storyteller. It may bring out something new. So I went outside my comfort zone and put my name inside that big giant hat so the The Universe could pick me at random.

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🙂

I’m not sure if I’ll get chosen or not, but I put myself out there. I recorded a demo and hit send. They heard my storytelling ways and inflections. That makes me nervous. My voice sounds odd. I don’t think I can do the Top 40 Countdown, but I’d be fine doing a local podcast. I don’t have that cool-pleasant-sounding-DJ-sweet-Barry-White tone that makes the listener just melt. I have that Downtown, East Side sound. But it’s got personality and maybe that’s all right for storytelling. Maybe I’m better at print.

I like how my stories unfold and how people hear their own voice with my words and they turn the pages. However, there’s something about telling your own story and people hearing your voice and emphasis. I wasn’t sure. But I still took a chance on me, on being a stage storyteller for once, and right now my voice is being listened to by Big Cheeses and they’re thinking about it.

Either way my story will be heard. And it’s the kind of story that deserves a red leather jumpsuit, but I still don’t own one. I’ll wear my outfit, the one that may make me look like a college basketball coach. I’m comfortable in cotton blends, and black-and-white converse. But if I don’t get selected my story will still be out there. If not on stage, then in print, right here at The Wish Factor. Stay tuned …

 

Buen Camino my friends!

 

Podcasts … Making Dishwashing So Much Better

20 Mar

I’ve been washing dishes since the sixth grade … and it’s the chore that I hate the most. Gloves. No gloves. Lavender fragrant soap. Nothing has made this experience pleasant. The only thing that would have rocked would have been getting an actual dishwasher. But no space. So every day I wash. I didn’t think anything could make it better.

But then … Podcasts.

Some started ten years ago but just in the last couple of years I have uncovered these hidden bits of awesomeness that make washing dishes, scrubbing toilets, mopping floors, and driving in traffic so much easier.

I’m almost at the point where I’m out of control, but not quite. It’s still not at the writing-reviews-phase for every episode. I’m just a quiet fan who thanks the creators of these stories for making the mundane bearable. I mean I still hate washing dishes, with a passion, but at least I’m not completely miserable when I’m doing them and anything that makes this kind of improvement needs some form of recognition.

I enjoy podcasts so much I thought about starting a Podcast Club with some friends … like a book club, but for podcasts. People say and do things on podcasts that I immediately want to discuss because it’s made me crazy, but there are so many out there and people listen to series at their own pace that the idea might not work. But you never know … I’m thinking about it. Some people just stick to book clubs, podcasts might be a fad.

I mean, it’s not a new idea. This is what radio was back in the day, you know before television hit the scene. I mean podcasts are talk radio … 2.0.

But nevertheless they bring something new. Anyone can start one, and usually does. But the good ones create a space where I’m completely committed to the story that’s unraveling, and I can’t wait to hear what happens next. I’m hooked. And if you haven’t tried one yet because you’re not sure where to start no worries, with podcasts there is absolutely no guilt. You can turn it off in five minutes if it’s not for you. It’s not like a bad book, where you feel like, I started this and I have to finish it. You think it’s probably going to get better, and then it doesn’t, but you keep going because it’s a book and you’ve got the guilt and you have to finish it. Nope. Not here. You can switch it and move on.

The trick is picking something you’ll enjoy, something that’ll grip you. And they have something for everyone.

Me.

I’ve got a little podcast sampler set. I listen to a variety and I enjoy it.

I enjoy the fact that another avenue of storytelling opened up and people are discovering narratives that they would’ve never known. Compelling stories that need to be heard and finally someone putting it out there, someone taking a risk. These series effect change, at least the good ones do. You get to listen to multiple perspectives and voices, some that don’t have a platform that are finally being heard. Everyone listening. You get inspired. You get news. You get advice. You get stories.

You get pieces of peoples lives that may help you with your own puzzle and I think that’s what I enjoy the best.

So what are my top ten?

They change every couple of months as I discover new ones out there, but these series had me at hello …

 

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I have plenty that are on my list that I have yet to listen to, but there will always be dishes in the sink waiting for me, bathtubs to be scrubbed, and laundry to be folded so I’m sure I’ll be clearing my podcast list soon.

What about you? … Which do you recommend? Let me know as I’m always looking for some new ones to add to my imaginary podcast club.

Buen Camino, my friends.

 

Nature’s Hideouts

13 Oct
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During a hike I had to take a minute and appreciate nature’s hideouts.

The rejuvenating powers of nature work its magic when you’re hiking, biking, or running the trails. Probably why I’m a big fan of Bear Grylls and his adventures. They inspire the exploration of the Great Outdoors.

Granted you don’t have to jump out of helicopters or rappel down cliffs as Grylls does to appreciate the beauty and magnitudal effect nature can have on you.

Living in the city, I’m still able to find nature’s hideouts and be wowed by its effect.

Sometimes the experience is so great that I end up in the moment and forget to snap the shot. Other times I catch up and I’m lucky enough to remember.

Photographer Louie Schwartzberg’s short Tedx Talk Gratitude speaks about his project Gratitude Revealed. He captures these breathtaking shots of nature as well as the connection and gratitude he feels being surrounded by it. These time lapse captures took time and patience. When he put them together in the film with the older gentleman’s narrative  the reaction, including my own, was a collective appreciation of the day and its possibilities.

It connected you with parts of the world that made you mindful that you’re part of something much bigger. Reminding you of the blessings that come with the day was the backdrop of the landscape.

Living in a big city, it’s important to find nature’s hideouts and escape in the early morning before I tackle the day. Watching Schwartzberg’s talk reminds me of the importance of mindfulness and the place that helps me get to that frame of mind faster is within nature and any of its hideouts within the city.

 

Buen Camino, my friends.

 

 

Writer Wednesday’s: Storytellers at Their Best

10 Oct

The good ones are found in the nooks and crannies if you look hard enough, and I found one today. A good one.

You see most people think they can tell a story, and some can. But only a few are really good storytellers, the kind you get curious about, the kind you want to get to know. Chris Stapleton for instance. He hit the country scene a few years ago and people were wowed with his songs and ability to tell it with heart and soul. Paulo Cohelo and Laura Esquivel weaved journeys into epic stories that captured my attention and inspired. Kurt Sutter with his Sons of Anarchy and Vince Gillian with Breaking Bad imagined worlds with deep, complex, strong and flawed characters in powerful stories that humbled me as a writer.

You get stories in songs, books, TV shows, and movies every one of them requires a special something. I like it when I discover or remember one. I see them and it inspires me to get off my ass and be better.

And that’s what happened today.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I recently was gifted a Hulu subscription, and found a new treasure chest of stories. Some good, others not really my style. And in this search to find the good I rediscovered my interest in documentaries. I watched a couple great ones, but the one that stood out today was Page One: Inside the The New York Times. I imagine it may be similar to the one I have yet to see, The Fourth Estate, but focuses on different parts of the journalistic world.

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Page One: Inside the New York Times

In this story I found the great storyteller I had forgotten about I had lost. David Carr is a gritty, humble, and staunch defender of journalistic integrity and the freedom of the press. But beyond that he was a great storyteller, based in truth, and I was reminded of that after watching the film, and inspired to continue my journey no matter how difficult it may be at times.

It’s a difficult period for the press, especially when it’s being attacked by people who don’t like being called out on their lies and who fail to take responsibility for their actions in addition to those complicit in their behavior or cover-up. The press, when it’s at its best, acts as a mirror and uncovers the truth behind the dark corners of what people are hiding. Some people confuse news stories with columnists and that at times is the problem. There is a difference. One is news, one is opinion. People forget. The press itself  is a good check and balance for those in power. And I’m glad that this documentary reveals the hard work that goes into being a reporter.

I especially admired Carr, who at one point in his life hit the ultimate low personally and professionally, but was able to turn the corner and find something he was passionate about: storytelling. He not only asked questions, but he asked the right questions. And that’s when you know you have a good one, because not only are they passionately curious and smart, but they’re in this invested in this quest for truth.

When you witness someone bring that sense of integrity and honesty to storytelling, it gut-checks you and makes you wonder, where’s your story?

And so I find myself getting back to it.

 

Buen Camino, my friends!

 

 

Finding My Storyteller Again.

4 Apr

I’d been inspired to be a better person. I’d been inspired to be a better parent. I’d been inspired to make a difference. Books, movies, documentaries, and shows have all had the power to affect this kind of change. But it’s been a long time since I’ve been inspired to be a better storyteller.

See the last time I felt this way, was when I finished Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture. That amazing book inspired me to be a better person and  better dreamer. It uncovered the importance of being a good storyteller and passing on those life lessons and anecdotes to the people who mattered most. And of course, it came at the right time … You know, just when I needed it. The universe helping me out, trying to get me on the right track.

That was a long time ago … And then Mitch Albom resurfaced.

You see, I hadn’t felt like a better storyteller in a long time, but this book … this book turned up the gears and found its way onto my path. And it found me just in time.

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The first time I read Mitch Albom, his book Tuesdays with Morrie, changed my trajectory. It helped me look for the lessons and wisdom that were passing me by, helped me listen to the stories and advice that my Dad, my mentor, and other good friends were trying to pass onto me. It helped me appreciate.

The next book I discovered, helped me to chase my own stories, make-believe and true. I was caught up in Frankie Presto’s story and his amazing life. I hadn’t heard of The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, but I was so glad I went looking for “something,” to read. I found it. Now that I’ve read it, I feel sad that I might not have come across it. It’s one of those amazing things you’re so glad happened that you get a little sad, because it could have almost never happened.

But it did. And I’m glad.

As a storyteller, I can appreciate how it is so beautifully crafted, woven with hints and clues and then everything connecting with the big reveal. I loved the mixing of jazz legends, musicians, and artists that came into Frankie’s life and how Frankie changed their lives. I enjoyed the different points of view and voices. I thought it interesting that Music, itself, was a character, the narrator.

Frankie’s journey across the globe, his musical and love adventure, drew me in right away. I loved this character, his passion, his humble kindness, his quest, his life lessons, his love for his guitar, the magic behind the six strings, and his love for Aurora. I rooted for him. I wished for things to happen for him. I wished for him to find his story, to know about his father, his teacher, his past, and his future. I rooted for his redemption and for his love of Aurora.

Throughout his journey I was inspired to find any lost stories of my own, stories of my father, of his childhood, stories that I never knew that could tell me something more. I was inspired to write something new. I also felt like writing my own stories, so that my kids would know my own adventure, so they could fill in the gaps when I was gone. I wanted to leave them something.

Frankie Presto reminded me how important stories are, and the importance of passing them onto the people that matter. Frankie Presto helped me find my storyteller again. When a book can do that, it’s pretty awesome. I hope he does something magical for you too.

Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

 

Friday Feel Goods

5 Jan

Now I would have been the first to doubt this mini-accomplishment. You know … because of my below basic book club member skills. I had two books on my GoodReads page all year and I didn’t finish them.

Sad. I know.

For being a writer I’m pretty lame at reading. But in my defense I am a kick-ass member of the Parenthood Book Club. I make an awesome chocolate cake and rock during discussions. The kids and I finished so many interesting books filled with funny characters and great stories. But our highlights were reading the series Chicken Squad by Doreen Cronin, Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park,  Timmy Failure by Stephan Pastis, All The Wrong Questions: Shouldn’t You Be in School?, by Lemony Snickets,  Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams, and Wonder by RJ Palacio.

 

You see?

Kick ass member.

But when it came to being an adult and opening up my GoodReads shelf, I was super lame. So when I finished a book in three days, I totally got the feel good vibes! I felt all warm and fuzzy. It was one  in the morning and I was still turning pages, that’s how hooked I was on the book.

 

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I had heard of this book for some reason. I think a friend had mentioned it a while back when it first came out. Then I heard it had turned into a series with Nicole Kidman. I hadn’t watched it, but I thought if I need to open up the New Year with a good story this one might be it. I wasn’t into the hype or popularity of it. I just got drawn to it somehow. Strong female characters, someone said. And I was like … yeah. I need some strong, female characters.

Little Big Lies.

Duuuuuuuuuuuuuude.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers in case it’s still on your to-do list, but if this book can be finished in three days by someone like myself you need to read it! Now granted it took me some time to figure out the beginning and latch on, but after a couple of chapters I was in. By the middle of it,  I couldn’t put it down. I was up passed my bedtime reading via flashlight, cozy under the covers, cracking up at times, exhaling in frustration during others, and gasping in surprise towards the end. It’s a story about three women and the “big little lies,” they have to tell themselves and each other in order to get through the days with ex-husbands, teenage daughters, encounters with the Gossipy-Mommy-And-Me-PTA-Mafia, unfounded accusations, and the school drama and scandal that brings everything crashing down at the end. The lies ALL COME OUT. Big and little.

It. Was. Awesome.

I got the feel goods after the big reveal and those warm and fuzzies continued even when I got to the last page. Finishing a book! Being engaged in this story in the lives of these women. It was a good way to end the week. You know, it was on my self-project list for the year. Read 12 books in 12 months. Could it be done by someone like myself?

Hmph. I wasn’t sure.

But as of today … things are looking good.

Finishing a great story just sort of feels like drinking the last drop of hot chocolate in your warm and toasty mug.

That’s how it made me feel. Not because it was a warm and fuzzy novel, far from it. There’s a murder in it. But it cracked me up and made me smile at times, because I could totally recognize some of these people. But it also frustrated me at times because I thought c’mon … you ladies are stronger than that. I was invested in the story until the end, until the last word.

I thought maaaaaaaaaaaaan! Friday Feel Goods feel great.

If you have any page-turners you’d like to suggest for my year long reading quest, feel free.

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

 

 

 

Writer Wednesdays on a Monday: Turning Things Around

8 May

It’s like hearing that song on the radio and you just stop because you feeeeeeeeeel the lyric.  You feel George Harrison. You feel Mavis Staples. You feel Springsteen. You feel Hall and Oates. You feel Phil Collins. You feel Chris Stapleton. You feel Juan Gabriel. You feel Ana Gabriel. You feel Katrina and The Waves.

It is in you. You feel like it was written just for you, and you sit there in your car at the stop light listening.

Them words.

You think to yourself, maaaaaaaan. They got this one right. The lyric, combined with the music. They got this one.

Then you go back to your keyboard, inspired, hoping that you can put something like that on the page. You want to make someone laugh, smile, feel your heart through your characters. And sometimes it happens … other times … you fail miserably because you just can’t get it. It’s not there. You thought you had it with all that inspiration jazzing you up, but then you lost it because of a phone call, bad memory, or wasted time. Lack of discipline attacks you on Wednesday after you had the umph to get you through Monday and Tuesday.

Burn.

I hate it when that happens.

So how is it that I try to turn things around? Especially on a Monday?

I try to remember that waking up wasn’t an accident. It was on purpose, for something bigger than just fixing lunches, dropping off kids, and racing through traffic. There has to be more that I leave my kids than memories.

Pieces of me in my writing out there for them to read and get. Whether on my laptop, in my notebooks, posts, or published writings. Something of me is out there for them to see, to get, that I’m on the star map chasing the Milky Way and hoping I land.

So when I feel like dropping it because I’ve dropped the ball as a writer and haven’t found the nooks and crannies of time to write every day, I remember not everybody is on the same ride. I’ve got all kinds of detours and stops on mine. It may take a little longer, but I’ll get there. As long as I don’t give up.

So I don’t.

I get the Andre Agassi in me … ready to make a comeback.

It’s bigger than me. That’s what I think … I can’t walk around six months from now and still be in the same spot, because it’s bigger than me. I’ve got my Zen back and it took me a loooooooooooonnnnnng time to rework my magic with this crazy environment and lack of support, with the failing of my awesome play earlier this year. I thought things would spark after that. It took a while to find my center … a lot of podcasts.

But I found it.

I woke up and remembered … waking up was not an accident. Turn the corner.

Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grabbing The Mic

22 Mar

It involved getting bailed out of county jail, stepping in a pool of vomit on the subway, riding in the trunk of a car in a zebra bathing suit, playing with a lighter and can of hair spray, and a dead cat in the wall of an apartment.

It was only an hour, but it was the most inspirational sixty minutes of the week.

Hanging out with a bunch of storytellers and a glass of wine proved to be a memorable evening. I came away feeling motivated to finish my own stories after hearing about these adventures. Something about hanging out with a bunch of creatives and listening to them craft their epic misfortunes into Silver Lining Playbook stories centered on friendship was contagious.

I came home ready to dig deep, although with my life I didn’t have to go far to capture moments. Although the one thing about these artists was that the stories were free flowing. No script. They had it in their head. They performed their stories. They were animated and I felt like I was part of the circle. I was there when he was making the call from county jail and no one came to bail him out. I was there watching the woman slip in a pool of vomit on her way to steal the elderly woman’s seat on the subway. I was there when the zebra bathing suit got pulled over by the CHP. I was there when the curtains caught on fire from the can of hairspray. And I was there when the girl had to break her lease because she kept getting fleas from a dead cat in the wall.

The stories came to life. These storytellers were the writers, actors, and directors themselves. They placed full confidence in their stories and their ability to tell it. They stepped on stage, grabbed the microphone, and began. Fear or no fear. They grabbed the mic.

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I left away with that feeling … the one with butterflies. They took creative control of their story and it was empowering to see. No one changed their timeline. No one added unnecessary  dialog. No one changed the integrity of their characters. No one changed their soundtrack. No one changed their stories.

It was great to see how their bravery helped maintain their creative control.

I watched. I listened. I learned.

I might be grabbing the mic soon myself, as I was invited to come back “try it out”.

And I just might.

After my experience with the play director, creative control seemed to matter more in my next endeavor. But I’m not rigid, I welcome constructive criticism, and collaborations. I like input that makes the story better. With every creative, story and characters matter. Every writer has this intention.

But not every project ends that way.

So my lesson learned during this inspirational outing?

Be brave enough to grab the mic and hold onto your creative control, but be willing to work with others, just choose people you trust when sharing your visions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writer Wednesdays … Fan Battles, BS-Ometers, and Nooks & Crannies

1 Feb

When you decided to pursue your passion a twist came at the end of it … Along the journey and after all the obstacles, you ended up seeing what was behind the giant curtain.

Through the discovery, some of the mystery disappeared.

How is the doctor different when she’s a patient? How is the lawyer different when she’s a client? How is the teacher different when he’s the student? How is the pitcher different when he is the batter? How is the writer different when she is the reader?

Yup. Perspectives change when you’re on the other side.

As a writer this question has been posed to me before.

Like the doctor, lawyer, pitcher, and teacher, the writer becomes more aware of the approach and of the details. We  give our fellow writer the benefit of the doubt, but don’t walk blindly into the story.

We just pay attention more. We can smell the BS when it surfaces and tries to camouflage itself as substance. I feel like my BS-ometer has gotten better throughout the years. You notice things that others might not, even with the most avid readers, you still have an edge because you’ve been behind the scenes.

But aside from having a finely tuned BS-ometer,  I get into the nitty-gritty of it with characters. I’m in the nooks and crannies. Characters are big for me, whether it’s from a book or on a television show. Characters are what make it happen for me. Story and plot are intriguing, they peak my interest, but characters are what make me stay all the way to the end. I pay attention to how the character mattered to this writer and how they developed. I’m constantly on the look-out for that A-HA! moment and see how the character responds. Is it the way I thought she would?

When the character becomes so amazingly great that it changes me from a writer into a fan, that’s a job well done by the creator. It’s hard for me to watch series finales sometimes because the fan in me battles the writer in me. Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, LOST, 24, The Closer … all of these had me on the edge of my seat for the series finales and as a writer, I battled with the fan inside of me.

The fan roots for the underdog and the happy ending, but sometimes as a writer you just know … you know that can’t happen because it’ll betray the story and the character’s intention.

Being a writer, enhanced the reading and watching experiences for me. I see the strings being pulled and think wow how amazingly awesome that they pulled this off, or when I’m disappointed I think, man there could have been a better way. The fan and writer constantly battle each other when the stories are good.

Some people may think it works against them to know what’s coming, to know how the pieces are being moved. I just think it makes you pay attention more, makes you look at the decisions being made and if you end up becoming a fan … well then, once a fan, always a fan maybe even a die-hard fan.

 

 

Happy Wednesday