Tag Archives: nanowrimo

waving. life.

just wanted to send all you guys a quick wave – NaNoWriMo, the national novel writing month in which i am writing 50,000 words towards a novel, is almost over, and i hope to be able to pay more attention here again come next week.

what an experience this is!  it is, among other things, an exercise in quantity not quality, and that brings some interesting learning.  as i shared on twitter the other night: ” ‘everything is practice’ – tonight, it’ll be living with the irritation i feel at the mountains of cliches in my NaNoWriMo script.”  focus on output, never mind the rest.  focus.  focus.

and as usual in novel writing, there are plot and character surprises galore.  why did one of the (lesser) characters find herself at a willy pickton party all of a sudden?  how come so many animals populate the pages?  what’s up with my main character, waley, who dedicates most of her life to compassionate action but is also a drug dealer and pathological liar?

it was also fascinating to see how the writing interacts with the rest of my life.  this was probably one of the most emotional months of my life.  one day i spent half of the day crying; it did absolute wonders for my writing!  another night i was in the middle of describing in some detail the death of one of my characters, only to be interrupted by yet another drama.  that felt – weird.
all of this is what’s called life.  so that’s a good thing.

scribbling like mad: an excerpt from my nanowrimo novel

here’s an excerpt from the novel i’m writing for national novel writing month (NaNoWriMo).  it’s raw and unedited, just the way i wrote it.  19,391 words and counting …

“next thing i can recall is a bed, the softest, most comfortable bed i’ve ever slept in. there were blankets all over, so soft and so colourful, there must have been at least 6. all very light and clean-smelling. and the pillows! big and poofy, a whole bunch, and the bed was big but not too big, and there were stuffies all over, my favourite ones, too! all cats and birds. that’s kinda strange, don’t you think, strange and amazing and i loved it. and the room, it was so cute! windows all over and the sun shining in and it was warm and so, so cozy. the person who had picked me up, he came in once in a while, and everytime he did, or she, really, i could never figure it out, this cat came in, too, big and gray and fluffy. always smelling of patchouli. the person, i mean.

there was – love. yes, it’s true, there was love. somewhere. in the house. in the food. i felt it. and the cat, she had love, too. then there was a big bird somewhere, a raven maybe? and a turtle. and love. i’ve often wondered since then, what kind of love was that? i mean, there was no sex. i couldn’t even figure out, ever, whether that person was a guy or a woman. but she kept bringing me food and put stuff on my leg and on my back, and it just didn’t hurt anymore, i have no idea how she did that. pills, too, some pretty potent sleeping pills but not the kind that makes you feel awful when you wake up the next day.

what kind of love was that? it felt big and real, like bread maybe.”

“love like bread?,” asked lu, incredulously. “what happened to the mansion?”

“what mansion?”

“weren’t you in a mansion?”

“when?”

“well, when you got picked up, weren’t you in a mansion?”

“who said that?”

“robin, i think.”

“robin? what does he know about this?”

“he said burke had told him.”

“burke? that’s not what i told him. he’s full of it. there was no mansion. just this nice person and the rook and the bed and the cat and stuff.”

“and love like bread,” snorted lu.

“you leave her alone!” all of a sudden mohan’s index finger was in lu’s face. “it was love, and it was like bread.”

“yeah, like bread. now that i think of it, that’s what jesus talks about, isn’t it? in the bible? the bread is his body, and that means he loves people. maybe it was like that. i’m not sure what that means. i have to think about it. hey, tomas!”

she waved at a thin, tall man standing at the entrance to the room. “tomas, come over here!”

the man detached himself from the dirty wall – everything was dirty, or at least dirty looking because it was so old and used, the walls, the furniture, the door, the floor, the dishes, and often enough the people – and ambled over to the three of them, gangly, black-clad arms dangling, black hair falling into his hawk-nosed face. big brown eyes. big mouth, big teeth.

“what’s up, ella? hey lu, hey mohan.”

the two others nodded.

“tell me, when jesus broke bread, was that his body, and was that love?”

“absolutely! everything that jesus did was love.”

ella looked at lu with a look that was both confused and triumphant.

“jesus is the embodiment of love. therefore everything he does is love. jesus was born to embody love. love needed to be seen and felt, and jesus came to this earth. that’s why his parents sent him.”

“his parents?” now ella really was confused.

“see, when they say it was his father that sent him, that was because they did not want to tell the truth. but think about it – how can he have a father and not a mother? they made love, like, they MADE it, the way guy over there makes coffee and they gave it to people but often they didn’t understand it, so that’s why they sent jesus. he told me so.”

“right. right.” ella slurped some coffee and said nothing for a while. then, “well, thanks, tomas. you cleared that up for me.”

the four of them were quiet for a while. lu looked around a little lost, wondering what was going to happen next.

“love is patient, love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. it does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. love never ends.”

more coffee slurping.

“st. paul, first corinthians”, added tomas with a helpful smile.

“in that way, love is like the bread that jesus keeps breaking with us. it never ends. you don’t see bread being boastful or resentful.”

having given this proof, tomas smiled even more broadly.

mohan didn’t say much but he wasn’t stupid. he liked tomas, everyone did, but – “bread believes all things?” how was tomas going to explain that one?

“well, bread is a metaphor for love. of course, as a metaphor, it can’t cover everything. metaphors are good for illustrating concepts but a metaphor is not the same thing as the thing it illustrates. it is similar to a simile – i know, that sounds a little confusing – in that a simile performs mestoctomal economics that prefer silvicultural anomies. marx said that – ”

that’s where the three saw themselves forced to stop listening. tomas was a wonderful guy, friendly, helpful, well educated, extremely intelligent. the illness had struck him as he was starting his PhD in theology at the tender age of 22. he went in and out of it, from moment to moment, he’d have a clear head for months on end and then one day it would strike him, sometimes in the middle of a sentence, then he might go back and forth a few times within an hour. it was completely unpredictable.

a minute or two into his incomprehensible monologue, tomas stopped talking. he just sat there, looking off into space, his mind occupied by the complicated tangles of his inner world.

“you know, in a way, tomas is right. what he said about love is perfect and kind and refreshing – ”

“not resentful,” that was mohan, back to muttering but still paying attention.

“well, yeah, whatever, not resentful but refreshing, too. what happened there in that room, it refreshed me, that’s for sure. i can’t believe in god the way tomas did and i can’t believe that that guy or woman or whatever he or she was spent a lot of time in church – actually, i was always wondering whether she was some sort of good witch – but what happened there, that was love.

we didn’t talk much, we didn’t talk much at all. i didn’t feel like it at first and by the time i would have liked to we already had some sort of rhythm, the little guy coming in, dressing my back, checking my ankle, bringing me food and something to drink, the cat jumping on my bed, all that, and all we’d say would be how are you, how did you sleep, here, you have to finish this, it’ll help you get better, that’s it. for some reason i never asked for her name. she also put a CD player in my room that played all the music i liked, i don’t know how she, or he, figured that one out. maybe i said something about it at the beginning.”

“so what happened in the end? are you still in touch with, uh, whoever it was?”

“oh no. i have no idea where they live. i don’t think it’s here. for some reason i think it was out on the sunshine coast.”

“sunshine coast? so, how did you get back down here? did you take the ferry?”

“it gets a little fuzzy, i don’t know. remember i was still stoned most of the time back then, really until i met mohan, you know. no it’s just the occasional beer and joint but back then -”

“what? she’d give you stuff? crack?”

“no, no, but still, it’s all a bit fuzzy. really, i think it was on the sunshine coast because it all reminds me of that trip my aunt took me on when i was 9. that was the best trip i ever had, the best summer i ever had, and the place was like that.”

another novel excerpt

did i post at least one excerpt from the novel i’m working on during NaNoWriMo?  i don’t think so.  anyways, i think it’s time for another one.

this plays on a sugar plantation in louisiana in the beginning of the 19th century.  mr jones-patterson is the neurotic plantation owner, elise his daughter.  joe,  the “field negro”, is my main hero, who lives in a complicated relationship with everyone, one of them with mr. jones-patterson (we never find out his first name, everyone calls him by his last name), who, against prudence and common practice, is obsessed with educating joe to the hilt, including the classics.

louisiana sugar plantation by http://flickr.com/photos/neworleanslady/

for elise’s 9th birthday, mr jones patterson arranged a big celebration. he remembered a great event for his 9th birthday; it was during the first of two protracted visits he had paid to england. a band was hired, there were sweets everywhere, people of all ages from all around the county; and he was given his first coach.

elise must have a 9th birthday like that! of course the band would never be as fine as the one commissioned from bristol, the people that could be invited would be – well, most of the spaniards and acadiens were out of the question, of course – and a girl did not need a coach until much later – but still! a grand affair it must be!

“i don’t want to go to that stupid party!”

“it’s your birthday party, miss elise. you’ll enjoy it!” joe was behind the house cutting wood, elise sitting on the fence watching him.

“it’s a stupid party with stupid people and stupid food! with my stupid father and my drunk mother!” each time she said “stupid”, elise slapped the fence, and her voice got louder and more frustrated. by the time she said “drunk”, she was ready to cry.

“now, miss elise …”

“… and don’t you dare call me miss! that’s stupid, stupid, stupid!”

like all men. joe didn’t know what to do with a female close to tears, so he stood there watching her for a while, and then went back at it with his axe.

she looked quite something, with her red-blond curls wild and long against the rising sun, slapping that fence, her eyes fierce and sparkly – and all that in that sweet angelic face and her long body, coltish already, draped in a delicate, lacey beige dress.

“i hate it when you and dora call me miss! i’m no miss! i’m not like elvira, i’m not like my mother, and if you and dora won’t come to the party, i won’t go!”

“oh elise … ”

“i’m going right in and telling my father. you’re coming or i’m not coming!” she jumped off the fence and off she went.

joe winced. elise was a good friend but her impulsive denials of what was real were hard to take often; she never understood the consequences. she couldn’t understand what it was like to be a field negro and yet to spend so much time in the big house, what that cost him. it was a bit easier for dora; she was quieter, less impulsive, she knew how to keep secrets, everyone just saw her pretty, sweet nature; her clear mind and the way she looked at things, animals, plants and people, hardly anyone noticed that. and books. only joe knew how many she had read.

so yes, he knew how to keep secrets, too, had to. but they weighed heavily on him and the smaller ones, he often blurted them out, he let them crash the dam here and there, and it took off the pressure.

it was no secret, however, that he was miss elise’s pet. this tall, strong, muscular young man, he was that little girl’s pet. it was cause for ridicule and envy in most parts of the plantation; fortunately, a good many also approved of it. the girl needed a friend, what with that father who thought she was someone else, some sort of doll, and a mother absent so often, and half of the time she was present, she was chained to a bottle. the choice of betsy as a nurse had been unfortunate, there was just no spark between the two. so it was joe and mama cass who were her true family and later, when dora showed up, her soft and quiet demeanor and her beautiful singing voice added to the strange trio.

dora would know right away how to react to this crazy notion of miss elise’s. “oh, no” she’d say in that soothing voice of hers. not an alarmed “oh, no!!”, not a dismissive one, not a disgusted one, but a sweet, smiling, contented “oh, no” that would end any of elise’s suggestions.

but joe didn’t know how to speak like that. if he would have known, maybe all of this with mr jones-patterson … joe didn’t want to think it to the end.

rumor had it that dora was one of the few girls who had never been touched by a man. so pretty, and still a virgin. she did it with her gentle voice and her friendly way of being elusive, for sure. had done it to him, as a matter of fact.

he was pondering these two girls, elise and dora, when he heard mr jones-patterson’s voice. “joe! kosi!” he quickly stashed away the axe, dusted himself off, and ran into the house.

mr jones-patterson was by the window, arms behind his back. the pose of a man who makes decisions. his riding boots and britches were clean yet, and as often, might remain that way. more and more, he relied on cortez and bradley to inform him of the state of the plantation. they were the practical men – he made decisions.

“my daughter elise just talked to me,” he began. this is how he referred to her, ‘my daughter elise.’

“she wishes that you attend her birthday party. i will have to think of a way of arranging this, but of course you will attend. so will dora.”

joe stood there at the entrance, mr jones-patterson all the way across the room, his back to him. joe erect, strong, young, his face in the shadow but something about the way he held his shoulders showed the mixture of fear, affection, disgust, anticipation and irritation that he almost always felt in the presence of the plantation owner.

“this is not an easy decision. it reminds us of what?” with that, mr jones-patterson swiftly turned around.

“archidamos and sthenelaidas, sir. sparta, sir,” joe mumbled. “the dilemma between old and new.”

“very good, very good, joe. the old and new. what is the old?” he moved a step closer and pointed at joe.

“sparta against athens, sir. sparta decided to give up its old military ways, which allowed it to conquer athens, but it became as hated as athens.”

mr jones patterson looked at joe. “you have an astonishing mind, young man.” his voice quiet and wistful. his hand started to reach out but then fell to his side.

“i will make a decision. you can go now.” with that, he turned back to the window.

image by new orleans lady

wordy ramblings on world philosophy day

once again i’m incapacitated by an awful cold. however, today is world philosophy day, so i just have to throw my thoughts into the mix. because, you know, the world, and especially the world of philosophy, would be so very much impoverished without my snot-nosed words of wisdom.

so here’s a few chatty bits, laced, of course, with NaNoWriMoness. please arrange them in the logical, chaotic, pre-determined or random order of your choosing.

last year i met up with one of my old philosophy profs who i hold in high esteem for a number of reasons, one of them being that he had a wonderful way of facilitating classes. i took philosophy 101 with him, at a community college, so you can imagine that there were all kinds of, um, “interesting” people attending, with lots of wild, wonderful and often extremely woolly ideas, which they spat out with gusto. this prof had the lovely ability of patiently listening to the most hair-raising drivel, picking out from it the one little sentence that made sense and then exclaiming enthusiastically: “fabulous idea, mr. borschthead! now let’s investigate this a little further” – and then bringing the class back on track.

at any rate, at our little get-together for a coffee at starbucks last year i told him of my dream/idea/hope of writing my PhD thesis in novel form. the poor guy was aghast. novels, he snorted, have nothing to do with either science or philosophy. my attempts at pointing at dostoevsky, proust and camus were met with disdain. simple minded stuff, totally unthought-through.

on the other hand, another philosophy prof with whom i had a series of absolutely delightful thought exchanges, was a catalyst in my writing my book of poetry. he, too, was not overly conversant with the convoluted thought patterns of creative forms of writing (why are poetry and prose called creative, by the way? are philosophic, scientific or business forms of writing, to name just a few, uncreative?) … where was i … ah, yes, not conversant with poetic thoughts – but he was curious about it and encouraged me to “translate” my poetry, which then became the theme for my tea table book.

by the way, both of them let me play with my papers. i wrote one in the form of a play, and another as a letter from leibniz to freud. i’m still very grateful they indulged me. they weren’t my most brilliant philosophical spewings but boy, was it fun.

and of course i’m not exactly the first person to think about the connection between literature and philosophy. the good people from the university of tampere in finland (those europeans, ey?) have put together a whole bunch of links for philosophy of literature. this leads to interesting books like between philosophy and poetry

between philosophy and poetry examines the complex and controversial relation that has informed literary theory since ancient times: the difference between philosophy and poetry. the book explores three specific areas: the practice of writing with respect to orality; the interpretive modes of poetic and philosophical discourse as self-narration and historical understanding; how rhythm marks the differential spaces in poetry and philosophy.

the book brings together some of the most prominent international scholars in the fields of philosophy and literature to examine the differences between orality and writing, the signs and traces of gender in writing, the historical dimension of the tension between philosophical and poetic language, and the future possibility of a musical thinking that would go beyond the opposition between philosophy and poetry.

in the final instance, rhythm is the force to be reckoned with and is the essential element in an understanding of philosophy and poetry. rhythm in effect provides a musical ethics of philosophy, for musical thinking goes beyond the metaphysical opposition between philosophy and poetry and sets the frame for post-philosophical practice.

as well as this mouth-watering journal of philosophy and literature

philosophy and literature challenges the cant and pretensions of academic priesthoods by publishing an assortment of lively, wide-ranging essays, notes, and reviews that are written in clear, jargon-free prose. in his regular column, editor denis dutton targets the fashions and inanities of contemporary intellectual life.

definitely sounds like something to check out.

then there’s “archives of nonsensuous similarities”: poetic exploration and extension of philosophical thought in charles bernstein’s shadowtime,” which contains these ponderings:

fault no lease
add thump whimsy
aver
a sash onto
a
mire

here bernstein undertakes a phonetic transposition to demonstrate the notion of ‘similarity’. simply put, ‘fault no lease’ picks up the vowel sounds of ‘walk slowly’ (/o:/, /ou/, /i:/) as bernstein mirrors the phonetic cluster with different linguistic units. ‘over’ and ‘aver’ as well as ‘the’ and ‘a’ (/É™/) also share the same sounds. the punning also works visually, particularly in the second lines: ‘jump’ and ‘thump’. to reiterate one of benjamin’s statements: ‘if words meaning the same thing in different languages are arranged about the signifier as their center, we have to inquire how they all […] are similar to the signified in the center’.

now i have never taken a course in philosophy and literature so i am sure – and i’m not saying this tongue-in-cheek – that there are precious joys in this niche of philosophy that i have never tasted and therefore am in no position to judge their scrumptuousness.

having said this, i find hard to imagine the usefulness of taking this lovely piece of nonsense or dada poetry or whatever pigeonhole you want to put it into, and throw it on the operating table for such crass vivisection. undertakes a phonetic transposition to demonstrate? poets among my dear readers, how often do you do that? how often do you put pen to paper and say, hm, i think this morning i’ll do me some phonetic clustering with different linguistic units?

is this why my old philosophy prof rolled his eyes when i said i wanted to write a novel for my PhD?

hey, how’d this post get so long?

november buddhist carnival, part 2

here’s part 2 of this month’s buddhist carnival.

thoughts … thank you!
gigablonde offers making peace with meditation, something i can relate to very well. she opens up space for a whole new relationship with meditation through principles of jack kornfield’s buddhist meditation for beginners.

meet whatever arises with kindness and balance and wisdom … and whatever comes to you can be a part of your meditation.
“oh, here’s remembering. thank you for your contribution.”
“worry, thank you.”
“aah, planning.”

buddhism in thailand: ordaining as a monk
we have two posts relating to thai buddhism this month. here is an interesting description of a thai tradition:

in thailand it’s a tradition to ordain as a monk at least once in your lifetime. some ordain for just a few hours while others do it for a whole year. traditionally, it was done for a period of three months known as the rains retreat. ordaining gives you a chance to study and practice lord buddha’s teachings and it gives your parents the opportunity to offer you the monk robes, alms bowl and other necessities.
for someone who isn’t the least familiar with buddhist culture, it would be only natural to view monks as beggars and therefore a burden to society but according to buddhist teachings giving and generosity are meritorious deeds.

read more at monk in thailand.

thai charms and amulets
dr. callaway’s blog has only been around for a short while – talk about a niche blog. it concentrates exclusively on lucky charms and mystical amulets from thailand, made and blessed by buddhist monks. i think there’s quite some potential there – i liked the stories callaway tells, and i hope he keeps up with this blog. good luck charms are a way of life in thailand and southeast asia. it is believed that when chants and prayers are spoken to these charms, the spirits invoked will reciprocate to the owner of the charm or amulet, good luck and protection from harm.

of course this is very different from the more cerebral, less mystical buddhism that we hear about in the west – but i think it’s useful to remember that buddhism, a religion practiced by millions and millions of people (300 million is a number i’ve often seen). with so many adherents, there is a wide variety of practices, and i find it quite fascinating to look at all the different varieties. at any rate, here is dr. callaway’s post, lucky charms.

timeless lessons
reading this post, i am reminded of a twitter remark by merlin mann today, “90% of all self-help is buddhism with comfortable chairs and a service mark“. flippancy aside, i agree with him, although i’d probably refer to buddhist “techniques” rather than buddhism. buddhism as a whole is a rich historical, cultural, spiritual and theological stew, and part of that stew are these techniques – the things practiced by many buddhists: mindfulness, meditation, compassion, etc. of those techniques, many are totally straightforward, and that’s what this last post is about: peaceful simplicity: 10 refreshing ways to live in the here and now. this excerpt is about the practice of smiling:

the foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet. feeling joyful is not paramount for presence, but it’s one of the most powerful ways to induce it. joy creates an almost immediate sense of expansion ” an inner smile that’s like a warm bath. some call this warm bath “flow” or “spirit.” experiencing it connects us to ourselves and to everyone and everything around us.

think about someone or something that you love. this could be a child, a corner in nature, or a cherished memory. whatever you choose, make sure that just contemplating upon it creates an automatic inner smile. then surrender to that inner smile. let it light you up. feel it spread through your body and even beyond it, uniting you joyously with your surroundings.


NaNoWriMo

oh, and before i go, i need to say something about NaNoWriMo, right? here’s a hello then to enlighten up’s buddhist blogger lans in texas, who’s not blogging this month because he, too, is working on completing a 50,000 word novel in november.

that’s it then for this month, folks. if you want to read part 1 of the november buddhist carnival, here it is. as for next month’s – it’s on december 15, and will be hosted by loden jinpa.

if you have a buddhist blog post you’d like to contribute, please send it to me here, or, if you have a hard time connecting to blog carnival, drop me a line.

1 year of buddhist carnival!

thai buddhist templewelcome, welcome, welcome! this is the 12th edition of the buddhist carnival – one year of a monthly celebration of bloggers who write about buddhism. as usual, i’ll post it in two parts. it occurred to me a while ago that there is something decidedly un-buddhist or at least un-zen in a buddhist post that’s completely overloaded with information.

i’ll post part 2 on monday, november 17.

the peace of wild things
as usual, we start with a poem, a beautiful one by wendell berry

the peace of wild things

when despair for the world grows in me
and i wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
i go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
i come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. i come into the presence of still water.
and i feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. for a time
i rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

this comes to us from bodhileaf.

a NaNoWriMo-er walks her talk
dharmashanti “dharma” kelleher writes fiction and non-fiction, focusing on the effects of addiction, depression and discrimination on the LGBT community. glad to find her here in the blogosphere; it looks like we have a lot of interests in common. her work is shown here because of my promise to talk about NaNoWriMo in every post this month; she’s participating in it, too. i really enjoyed this post, what it takes to get what you want. here’s an excerpt:

if you want a world based on respect, peace and compassion, then that’s what you have to put into the world. and you can only put it into the world if you allow it to exist unhindered within you. in other words, you have to let go of hate and practice the way of peace. as within, so without.

look at the presidential election. in a contest between hope and fear, the people chose hope. in a contest between unity and division, we chose unity.

“i can’t do what they did,” we say. people think that revolutionaries like gandhi and dr. king were saints. they weren’t.

i’d say she’s walking her talk – a concept that’s very important to me. in fact, some time ago, in a discussion about motivation, i realized that that’s one of my biggest motivators. if you want to get me to do something, make a convincing case that that would mean i’d be walking my talk, and i’ll show up.

a concise definition of buddhism
in his post the meaning and purpose behind buddhist chanting and prayer, loden jinpa gives a great concise definition of buddhism:

the buddhist path could be summarized as having two main aspects. the removal of dysfunctional states of mind, such as anger, attachment and ignorance and the development of functional minds such as compassion and wisdom – the wisdom knowing the nature of reality.

loden jinpa will also be hosting next month’s buddhist carnival – please bookmark his blog and visit on december 15!

emptiness
the last contribution for today comes from ambud, who talks, among other things about one of biggest myths about buddhism. i am always surprised how even some people who have investigated buddhism a little bit tend to think that buddhism is about complete detachment and disinterest – the nihilism that ambud mentions. this misconception often arises in the context of “emptiness”.

whenever we work with emptiness we must be on guard to the extremes of nihilism and absolutism. our path is the ‘middle way’, between nihilism and absolutism, and as such rejects both nothingness and ‘me-ness’. nihilism refutes the existence of things, which contradicts reality; we can plainly see that objects do exist. the buddhist argument is with how things exist, not that things are non-existent.

absolutism is the opposite extreme which avows predefined characteristics both in the substratum of the universe and in individual objects themselves. absolutism is the assertion that objects exist intrinsically, without dependence on other factors.

read here for the rest.

see you on monday for part 2!  and if you have a buddhist blog post you’d like to contribute, please send it to me here, or, if you have a hard time connecting to blog carnival, drop me a line.

the image from a thai buddhist temple comes from aimforawesome

masha malkin: celebrating our resources

if there is something you want in life and still do not have it, never blame yourself for it. because if you can dream it, you can have it!if you haven’t reached your goals yet, it is not because you are not smart enough or capable enough – in fact you have everything you need to achieve your goals… you are just missing the right tools: information, skills, and mindset, to do it. and that is all learnable!so never stop dreaming and never give up going after your dreams. enjoy every moment of your journey, because it is your journey and not necessarily the end result, that makes life exciting, worthwhile and fulfilling!

once again i’m part of a blog book tour. blog book tours are always exciting for me; they combine three things that have fascinated me forever: books, IT, and community. come to think of it, that’s probably also why i’m so tickled to be part of NaNoWriMo, the online community of people who are crazy enough to try and write 50,000 words towards a novel in the month of november.

the tour i’m part of this time around is for masha malka’s the one minute coach. that’s a quote from masha up there at the beginning of the post. masha specializes in coaching busy people – and she knows what she’s talking about, as a mother of three children and businessperson.

how might masha’s approach help all of us who are busily working on our novels?

i like this part:

you have everything you need to achieve your goals.

this is a philosophy that i subscribe to, as well.

in practical terms, what does that mean for, say, a 21-year-old 3rd year university student taking a full load of courses and with a little part-time job on the side? let’s call him – what should we call him? raj? okay, let’s see what resources raj has.

  • the energy of youthfulness
  • the writing skills accumulated at university
  • a track record of success with deadlines
  • research skills (if he’s like me and can’t leave that to after NaNoWriMo)
  • a big library close by (useful for all kinds of things: research; being surrounded by books; quiet areas)
  • surrounded by others with similar or at least somewhat similar pursuits
  • really wanting to do it
  • the support of the NaNoWriMo community (a HUGE resource that includes, among other things, weekly pep talks from )
  • the admiration of his friends and family
  • physical and mental health (well, as much mental health as any 3rd year student has)

quite an impressive list, huh?

anything else you can think of? let’s put our heads together and help out raj with his crazy project, see what else he has going for him.

understanding war

the idea of the warrior has been very interesting to me in the last few months.

the idea.

this sentence does not mean: for the last few months, i’ve been exciting about becoming a soldier.

on one extreme, there is this image, or platonic ideal, of the noble, principled, disciplined, courageous and hopefully often victorious warrior engaged in the work of defending, protecting and promoting civic good.

on the other extreme, there is the tired, dirty, wounded soldier somewhere out on the foreign soil of afghanistan, a soldier who was, perhaps, seduced by the ideal of the warrior, and now lies there in her blood, wondering how the dickens she got herself into this, and what it’s all for.

in my NaNoWriMo book, my hero’s grandmother, bumbda’a, starts off as one of the famed african amazons of dahomey. she ends up as one of the millions of victims of one of the biggest wars against humanity: the slave trade. the way i portray it, she goes from the ideal – where i talk about her skills, her uniforms, her courage, and her practice of meditating before each battle – to the mundanely horrible.

as i am writing this, i realize that my understanding of war is minimal. all i have are these almost cartoon-like images. i probably read an average of 4 ,5 books a month but try my darndest to stay away from anything war-related. on the internet, i don’t seek out anything about wars, and i’ll avoid even the best movies about war (over 20 years ago, i walked out of deer hunter, which i regret to this day, because it was obvious that it was a very good movie).

i hide from war.

where it comes from is not difficult to guess. the first and second world wars, together with the nazi times, were the biggest shapers of my parents’ and grandparents’, and therefore to a large degree my, history. i grew up with stories of hiding in cellars, of my grandfather riding off on his motorcycle into battle where he worked as a medic, my other grandfather being a POW, my mother finding a burned body on a pleasant little afternoon walk. one of the shapers of my personal history was a documentary film about the nuclear explosion over hiroshima; traumatic for a 9-year-old. so i’m scared of war, and i hide.

and here is a question: as long as i hide from war, can i truly call myself a pacifist? as long as i hide from war, am i not in danger of turning the ideal of the “warrior for peace” into some romantic, disney-like dream with little substance? if i don’t understand what i’m against, how can i intelligently oppose it?

perhaps the first step, today, november 11, will be this: “my” park right outside my doorstep is memorial park, a park dedicated to veterans. remembrance day celebrations will begin in a short while. rather than not going there because i don’t want anything to do with war (as i always have) i can explore it, allow myself to taste the atmosphere.

and in response to a suggestion from a reader, here is another remembrance day song: terry kelly’s pittance of time.