Dreams

song in my head — “Impossible” by Anberlin

I had a wild dream last night. It played out vivid and clear, just like I was watching a movie. It even starred John Krasinski! (Must be all that Office binge-watching my wife and I still do to this day…)

I’ll write it down and revisit it later. I have other things to work on now, but who knows. It may rear its head again. It would make for decent fiction.

Dreams never die. They might get tired. They might fall asleep for while. But we wake them up again, and it’s like they never left.

Even the ones that star Jim Halpert.

— G

Some Days

song in my head — “One Foot Before The Other” by Frank Turner

Some days the words come. They flow from mind to fingertip or pen as easily as a river flows to the sea. The Muse is with us and there’s magic in our bones.

Other days the words are hard to come by. They hide in dark shadows just on the edge of our vision; they gang up on us and overwhelm us until we can’t make sense of them. On days like these, we might think we’ll never write again.

The great Steven Pressfield would call this feeling “Resistance.”

In the opening of his masterful creative manifesto, The War of Art, Pressfield says:

“There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.”

But are you a real writer or a wannabe?

If you’re a real writer then do the hard part. Sit down to write.

This doesn’t always mean the words will arrive, but it means the intention to write has. Struggling with the work—thinking of it, pressing through it, mulling it over—is the valuable work of a writer, too. It’s not just words on the page. It’s butt in the seat and story in the head. It’s exploring. It’s discovery. It’s wrestling with yourself and the material, battling with the Muse and the forces of Resistance. If you run from it, you’re lost. But if you face it, if your intentional, you’re doing the work.

So are you intentional with your writing time whether the words are there or not? Good. You’re being persistent. And Resistance hates persistence.

—G

Keep Moving Forward

song in my head — “Diamonds” by The Boxer Rebellion

"When I grow up, I want to be..."

But what does it even mean to grown up?

The truth is, we're never fully grown, never finished learning and discovering. Or at least we shouldn't be.

In the depths of our souls, in the quiet places of our inner lives, a longing for progression and growth burns on. Our ideal state of mind, as the Robinsons put it, is to "keep moving forward." When we keep moving forward, failure is a welcomed teacher, and the process outweighs the destination.

Setting goals and resolutions is great, but building systems and processes is better, especially if those systems are tied to never "growing up," never being done with discovery.

So that dream you had when you were 15? That invention you sketch out when you were 21? The life you wanted when you were 8 and the world was full of possibility? It’s all still obtainable, no matter how many calendars you've spent on this planet. And the opportunities of the internet and technology make such dreams and ideas more accessible than ever.

So what did you want to be when you grew up?

If you're still breathing, you're still growing. So go be it.

"Happiness is a byproduct, not an actual destination." — Jewel

—G

Thoughts On Chaos

song in my head — “It’s A Job” by Wolfie’s Just Fine

In this life, chaos is unavoidable. We all know it. We sense it. We see it. Chaos, suffering, the unexpected… these things surround us all the time. It’s in many ways, the human condition. So this being the case—that no amount of human planning or programming or control can do away entirely with the unexpected, with chaos, then the only thing that we can do to find harmony or peace is to reframe the way in which we look at chaos. Because like almost everything else, there are two sides to the chaotic coin, a lightness to the dark.

Our most human of intuitions is to look for patterns, to look for a cause and effect. With the micro chaos, sometimes this is easy. We ran over a nail; therefore we have a flat tire. Mystery solved. With the big stuff, though… this can be more difficult. This healthy person I know now has cancer. They have 6 months to live, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

That phrase, “there’s nothing anyone can do about it” has evolved into a pretty prevalent axiom these days: “It is what it is.” While on its face, this is a rather cynical or dismissive way to approach everyday chaos, (and that’s usually how it’s used), it’s a saying not without its truth. It really is what it is. But recognizing “it is what it is” and being at peace with “it is what it is” are two very different things.

The word chaos is primarily used to describe a state of total confusion or disorder, something unorganized and unbridled. But there’s another definition that I think is worth pondering for our purposes. It’s often seen as Chaos with a big C, related to the idea of the creation of the universe, the creation of all things. Chaos—that place of disorder before order is introduced—is a state of things in which chance is supreme. So if there’s a CHANCE that bad stuff we “don’t deserve” will come our way, isn’t there also a chance that GOOD things we don’t deserve will come our way? And not only that, but what if every moment of chaos, every state where chance is supreme, was approached with the mindset that not only will Good possibly come from this moment, but that Good ultimately CAN come from this moment. The possibility of either is there. It’s just a matter of how you look at it.

—G

The Points Still Count

"Without a ruler to do it against, you can’t make crooked straight." — Seneca

song in my head—”Real World” by Matchbox Twenty

We would all do better in the wilderness with a guide, someone to show us the lay of the land—where not to go, what areas are good to explore, etc. And I don't think it limits our experiences to have boundaries of a sort.

Guides don't have to be "rulers," per se, though there are aspects of life that should inspire stricter order. For the purposes of the artist, I think the best guides leave some wiggle room, some space for improvisation and exploration. I don't think a healthy aim for life (or our work) is to plan on making one perfect, impossible shot after another. That's not realistic. Instead, think of guides as goalposts in football. The kicker has a range in which to score points. It doesn't matter if the ball goes straight down the center or barely eeks in. The points still count either way.

—G

Just Keep Writing

Just keep writing.

You won’t always be understood. You won’t always be taken seriously or correctly. Your message might fall on deaf ears. Or hostile ears. Or ears with lots of opinions.

It doesn’t matter. If you have something to say, say it. The right people will find it.

That post your wrote that only one person read—that might have been just the encouragement that person needed. That little movie you made with your friends and no budget because you just had to get it out—that might become someone’s favorite movie, or a catalyst that inspires someone else’s long-shot story.

In his book, Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting, the incomparable Robert McKee says, “In a world of lies and liars, an honest work of art is always an act of social responsibility.”

If you have an honest work inside you, something within you that needs to be said, say it. There’s a reason that spark is there—in life and in art, there are no accidents. So set it off. And pretty soon, you’ll have a bonfire, a career. You’ll be writer, and no one can take that away from you.

“A writer isn’t done being a writer until they decide they’re done.
No matter what has gotten in your way: Just. Keep. Writing.”

Just keep writing.

—G (and @Massawyrm)

Ninety-Nine Voices

song in my head—”Take Lots With Alcohol” by Alkaline Trio

We are very good at focusing on the bad.

We might receive ninety-nine compliments in a day, but remember only the one negative word spoke towards us.

That book you published on Amazon? Ninety-nine 5-star reviews. So why does that lone one-star chew at your brain like a termite?

A co-worker we enjoy being around and have much in common with disagrees with us on one thing. Why do we feel the sudden urge to write them off completely?

The truth of the matter is that our brains have a negativity bias. It’s actually easier to remember bad news. So today, do your best to remember the good. Write it down if you have to. Create positive mantras for yourself that counteract the negative. Focus on your strengths and let your weaknesses be stepping stones to growth, rather than the things that trip us up.

And as you find the positive, make sure to pay it forward. Because if one voice can drown out the ninety-nine, the last the you want to be is that one.

—G