Monday, October 28, 2013

Motivation: Dance with your skeletons.

"If you have a skeleton in your closet, take it out and dance with it." ~Carolyn MacKenzie

I found that quote in Walking On Alligators: A Book of Meditations for Writers, by Susan Shaughnessy.  She spells out:
"Writers dance with skeletons--their own.   
"The one thing you least want to write about--the shame you shiver and shrink from--will work its way into your writing somehow.   
"Why?  Because that is where your psychic energy has bunched up.  In writing about it, you smooth it out."
With Halloween just a few days away, it's a perfect time to dig up my skeletons and dance.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Comic Relief: Young Frankenstein

Or should I say, "Fronken-steen."

Scary movies, well, scare me. So, I go for the monster movies made for laughs. This is one of my favorites.

Trailer: Young Frankenstein (1974)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Motivation: Doubt does not indicate a lack of talent.

"The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as consolation prize."  ~Robert Hughes

I take comfort in this quote because it's been a tough year for me, plagued with doubt. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Comic Relief: Sullivan's Travels

Sometimes my husband rolls his eyes at my movie selections, but submits to sitting through films he hasn't heard of. Such was the case when Sullivan's Travels (1941) arrived from Netflix. To tell the truth, I wasn't sure what we were in for either. It was highly recommended by someone in the film industry, who said it was hilarious, but that doesn't mean anything... I was also told a certain Chinese film was comedy and ended up crying through the hard-luck tear jerker.

So with some skeptical hesitation we watched the movie, which is now a favorite.

The character, John Sullivan (Joel McCrea), is a director of comedy films, but he wants to do a "serious" film for a change, something about poverty and hardship. His producers, thinking to discourage him from veering from his proven successful path, convince Sullivan that he hasn't experienced enough trouble in his life to create anything of a serious nature. Sullivan agrees, and decides to dress as a hobo and hit the road to find adversity.

Worried about the safety of their money-producing director, the producers decide to send an entourage to follow Sullivan, as well as cash in on his story. Here's that scene:

And here's how Sullivan tries to ditch the entourage:

I love when after the hair raising go-cart ride, Sullivan tells the kid, "Drive careful," to which the boy responds, "You know me!"

The movie was full of humor, but also had food for thought such as when Sullivan's butler, who disapproves of his quest to make a film about the poor, tells him, "The poor know all about poverty and only the morbid rich would find the topic glamorous."

The film takes a serious turn when Sullivan gets a major dose of trouble, still, comedy carries the story and the message, "There's a lot to be said for making people laugh."

Our concerns before watching the film were unfounded. No wonder it is a classic.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Action!: Journal Writing

[I found this post in my blog drafts. Originally written in January of this year, I didn't publish it. I felt nervous about exposing my soft underbelly to unknown readers, but today I feel ready… I hope.]

In September 2012 I posted Action: Writing and more writing. I listed a variety of writing I do, and have shared samples since then. (See: Action!: Morning Pages, Action!: My memoirs, and Comic Relief: Humor Notebook.)

I have faithfully kept journals since 1975. Sadly, some of my early journal entries are fading because I used regular looseleaf paper and ballpoint pens. At one point I thought it was cute to write with a different color felt pen each day... those pages are now blank.

I learned my lesson and switched to archival quality journals and ink. I use 3-ring binders because I can put keepsake items (ticket stubs, obituaries, announcements) into acid-free sheet protectors and add them to my journal. Also, when I travel, I use my laptop to type my journal entries, then print them out when I get home to put in the binder.

I get my journals from Deseret Book, and they are available on-line (click here).
I prefer the large journals with 8 1/2 x 11 pages, but they also come in a smaller size.  

I prefer blue ink, and the extra fine point which is difficult to find,
so I usually have to order a box of a dozen (click here).
Journal writing, for me, began as a college assignment for English Composition. We were required to write regularly in a journal during the semester. The next semester I took English Literature with the same professor, and same requirement. I wish I could give that instructor a hug for starting me on a valuable habit.

Yep, just a few of my journals.

A majority of my journal pages are filled with trivial day-to-day happenings, but it's my hope that my posterity will glean interesting phrases such as I needed to put up my hair (who says that anymore?). Even what seems like mundane daily life captures a bit of history.

But my main reason for maintaining a journal almost daily is so when special events or heartfelt moments need recorded I'm already in the habit and more likely to write it down.

Here is an example of a trivial entry:

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Last night I met Kurt at Sears and we looked at glasses. I need to have mine changed--frames and all. I didn't make a decision, but I did select some I like.

This morning I exercised for a little more than an hour. I hope I don't get overly tired today -- my long day on campus. I still have one class I haven't attended which I will go to tonight from 6-10 p.m.  Then I need to decide (and pray about the decision) which classes to keep and which (if any) to drop.

Nothing too interesting in that entry, huh? But then two days later I pour my heart out on paper...

Friday, January 11, 2008

I am sitting on the couch, crying. Why? Because it snowed in Baghdad. I just read about it on the Internet and it is difficult for me to express why snow falling in Baghdad caused tears falling for me. My first--and foremost--reaction was shame and sorrow. Here I live in a free country able to worship how and where and what I please, with others free to do the same. Here I live in a warm and comfortable apartment and attend a wonderful university. Yet... I have been wallowing in grumbliness because of snow -- the very thing that brought joy into the lives of many in Baghdad. Reading about it was a wake up call to me. Yes, we have far more snow here than in Iraq. Yes, it is cold here, and yes it is miserable to walk to class bundled up and slipping on ice -- BUT, there are far worse problems than "Poor me, I don't know what classes to take." or "Poor me, I wish it was Spring." I could be living in a war zone. I could be living in a country or city ravaged by fear and bombs, with conditions that can be compared to "hell" and that "hell" has just frozen over and, ironically, it brought joy.

So I sit here ashamed at my petty problems. And I sit here in sorrow that I, who have so much, rarely think of those in Iraq. I rarely think of their lives and their hope and fears. They are a "lump"--a country--in my mind. Rarely individuals, although they are God's children. I feel sorrow that it took "hell" freezing over to bring them to my attention. My tears are of shame and sorrow -- but strangely also of joy. Joy for God's children seeing a miracle, and something new. Joy that in their time of darkness and war they were given some moments of delight. And joy that through God's watchful eye they have seen peace...even if only for a couple hours.

When I look through my journals, I can tell which entries were written when I was feeling the Spirit--the handwriting is more elegant and the thoughts more eloquent. Which brings me to...

On Tuesday, November 3, 2009, I penned the following:

This semester I am taking a digital photography course for non-majors. It has been an interesting and at times frustrating experience. There are times that I take numerous shots of an object or subject yet it still looks like a snapshot, or a documentary, "Look, here is a flower." But then, when I continue taking pictures from different angles, different lenses, different lighting, I somehow manage to capture an image that looks more like a photograph. 

Today, as I browsed through some past journal entries, I realized that keeping a journal is like photography. Sometimes the entries are more like snapshots, or documentaries, "Look, here are some days of my life." But then, because I continue writing in my journal, there are times when I see from a different angle, or a different perspective or distance, and the "Light" (the Spirit) touches my writing in such a way that what I put on paper photographs the image of my soul.

Monday, October 7, 2013

"Block" Buster: Writer's block is bunk.

"Writer's block is bunk. ... It's simply a sad excuse for not confronting the blinking cursor and your own inadequacies." ~ Daniel H. Pink

Well now.  Don't I feel silly for devoting space on my blog for "block" busters.

I agree that creative blocks come from within, but it's nice to have weapons for the inner conflict, and reminders that it all boils down to, simply, get to work.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Comic Relief: The solution is right in front of me.

I know this video is old, but it still makes me laugh... and gives me a reminder: stop spending so much time complaining, just get moving. The solution to my problem is usually right in front of me.