Saturday, November 19, 2011

they and me can again be We

They can gawk.
They can mock.
They can swear,
and blame,
and fail to understand.
They can fear.
They can demonize.
They can protect what they know.
They can try to keep their status quo, 
with ignorance or denial.
They can rouse their forces,
weaponized beyond proportion.
They can spray the eyes or pull the hair 
of mothers or daughters or elders,
who will no longer sit.
They can crack the heads of unarmed soldiers 
who, for a decade risked their lives in far-off lands 
to preserve the promise of days like these.
They can speak from two sides, 
pretending they don’t betray the constitution,
or morality, or commonsense.
They can tear down tents, disperse crowds 
and destroy property of a free people.
They can invoke the cry of safety
to trump any law.
They can herd the young and old like cattle,
or throw men over barricades, 
like worn-out mattresses. 
They can disinfect parks sullied by occupation,
but not the hearts of an educated nation. 
They can say they'll fix the wrongs.
They can bargain for more time,
in hopes bygones will be forgot.
They will not.
They can try to silence what's already been heard.
They can try to obfuscate what's already been seen.
They can try to blame the odor on others, 
like children who hide the stink.
They can try to ignore the taste of justice 
that brews in caf├ęs and cafeterias and classrooms 
and the places where debate is still safe and welcome.
They can feel satisfied when streets are cleared 
and they think things return to normal.
They can throw money at any problem,
because it is easier to find than good judgement. 
They could find a cure in the sea of faces,
that hold the common man, woman and child,
doing uncommon things for the good of each other.
Then they, and me,
can again, be we.
And we, can overcome anything.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

18 Lame Excuses and Their No Nonsense Remedies That Will Help You Grow

Here are eighteen lame excuses I've heard, and given a few times, and no nonsense remedies that will help you grow and get your next great goal.

  1. I don’t know what my passion is. If you know you want to do something, but don’t know what, figure out where you’ve been spending your time and money over the last three months. Start there.

  2. I don’t know what I can contribute. When you strip out the noise, the only thing you can really contribute to anything is your own perspective, and that’s invaluable.

  3. I don’t have enough education. Let me Google that for you. Don’t have a computer? Go to a library and start learning.

  4. I don’t know any of the right people. They are probably on Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin. Find them, or the people who know them.

  5. I don’t have enough money. Someone does, money is everywhere. Focus on finding the right buyer.

  6. I think it’s too hard. So what? If it were too easy, you wouldn’t bother.

  7. Someone else is already doing it. It doesn’t matter, they are not you. They don’t have your perspective and set of experiences. Competition makes you better.

  8. I don’t know where to start. It’s a two part process; Someplace, and Now.

  9. I don’t know if anyone will care. Start with you. All that matters initially is that you care. People follow leaders who care.

  10. I haven’t done this before. Everything you do now was once something you hadn’t done before.

  11. I don’t think I’m that good. Give yourself permission to get better or delegate.

  12. I’ll do it later. No, you probably won’t. You haven’t yet. Revisit #8.

  13. I don’t think I can commit right now. What date can you commit?

  14. There are too many obstacles. Then you’re probably on to something. Great stories, and great lives, always have conflict.

  15. I did everything I could think of. Probably not everything, just the things you wanted to do. Keep at it. Do it again, but different this time.

  16. I’m too tired for this. Structure your day to include eating, exercising, resting, playing and working. Everyday you will be simultaneously exhausted and energized.

  17. It doesn’t “feel” right to me. Feelings are often used as an excuses to not do something your head knows is right. Feelings are important in their own right, so don’t saddle them as an alibi for inaction.

  18. I’m worried people will think I’m crazy. That’s called innovation, embrace it. Be one of the crazy ones.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Building A Writer's Character; 25 Tips, Prompts and Warnings

Below are 25 ideas around building a better character from my forthcoming book, “Write Advice II; More inspirations, tips and thoughts specifically for writers

Let me know your favorites.

1. If you know every characters’ internal and external motivation before you start writing, you’ll be less surprised by their actions. 
2. Give your protagonist a nervous tick or habit that reveals their character. Make them fold a napkin, slurp a straw, twirl their hair, check their phone incessantly.
3. To find fictional names, open up a magazine and scan the masthead of editors and contributors, then combine the first or last name with a noun. 
4. Often the best villains are the ones that practically mirror the main character except in one or two areas.
5. Are your characters developing? 
6. If your antagonist showed up in an art gallery what pieces would they gravitate to and how long would they stay?  
7. How would you feel if you were in a cafe and you learned another writer was looking at you, getting inspiration for their villain? 
8. What trait do you personally have that would serve your antagonist well?
9. What would happen if you changed the sex of every character in your story and started over? Would your characters be the same if you changed their race, or age? If not, you might not have enough life in them yet. If you change those identities, your characters should change. If they don't, you’ve got some more work to do. 
10. What would your story's antagonist blog about?
11. Put your characters in conflict. Make them uncomfortable and write them out of a predicament.
12. What would happen if one of your created characters tweeted you?
13. Pick up on a random conversation at a cafe and then imagine the backstory or create a new one.
14. Characters that have at least one thing that others admire about them, and one thing that makes them an ass, gives them realism.  
15. Run your characters through something like a Facebook 20 questions and see what they would answer. 
16. Sit your characters in front of Google. What would they do?
17. Would you like to have dinner with your character, or are you worried that they may think you're too boring? Would they pick up the tab? 
18. What’s an interesting and potentially awkward dinner topic to have with the characters you create?
19. Be careful of developing crushes on your characters, they don't love you nearly as much. 
20. Interview your fictional character. 
21. Open Cosmo or whatever they would read and have them take one of the quizzes.
22. Do you know if your characters are left or right handed or are you just assuming? 
23. Insult your characters and pick a fight with them. See what they do.
24. Your characters will tell you when the words don't feel right. Until then, let them talk. 
25. Give your villains something to love and your heros something to hate.   

Look for more in Karl Bimshas’s forthcoming book, 
“Write Advice II; More inspirations, tips and thoughts specifically for writers”

Can't wait? Click Here for the Original

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fannies, Faith and Other People's Goals

Sitting outside, enjoying my overpriced coffee and editing a piece of work over the weekend I was distracted by three lessons that simultaneously converged around me.
Lesson One: Fannies
Earlier I had noted three generations of women, clearly related, entering the store. They were all tall, blonde and attractive for their respective ages. Now, as they left I found humor, and maybe delight in the bar graph they inadvertently created as they walked in a row, oldest to youngest. Amazingly, they were all the same height. The young looking grandmother had her hair down and wore a long cardigan that draped just above her knees. The mother, also had her hair down but wore an oversized sweater that covered her buttocks. The college aged daughter had her hair in a ponytail and wore spandex pants with a jacket that stopped at above her waist.
Moral: As people get older they tend to cover up their assets.
Lesson Two: Faith
The store and surrounding parking lot crawled with people in green and yellow football jerseys. This infuriated one Charger fan in a blue and white jersey with bolts on his shoulders. He turned to his friend who was dressed in church clothes.
“They’re not real Cheeseheads, they’re just jumping on the bandwagon because the Packers are 7 and 0,” he said. 
“They’re winning,” his friend replied.
“They’re not faithful,” Bolt Man replied.
“Faithful to what? People don’t follow losers.”
“They’re top in the division”
“They’re 4 and 3,” his friend explained, “That’s not 7 and 0.”
Moral: When you perform .571 of the time many people feel let down and lose faith in you.
Lesson Three: Other People’s Goals.
A couple was walking toward their vehicle. The man looked beleaguered and besieged as he headed to the driver’s side of his truck. All I heard was the woman say, “Here’s your goal for the week...”
They doors slammed shut before I could hear anything else.
Moral: You may feel like you’re driving, but if other people are dictating what your goals should be, you’re really not.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Process, Execution and Flexibility

This year I’m following scores of writers on various social networks who are participating in NaNoWriMo. There’s already the separation of those who are struggling and those who are very pleased with themselves. As it happens every year, there’s a wide discrepancy in actual word count produced in both camps, which tells me success or failure is rooted in goal setting and personal expectations. One writer may have 2,000 words down and be happy with their progress. Another may have surpassed 10,000 and have crippling doubts about their characters’ motivation.
I take the slow and steady approach. A little bit each day equals a lot over time. I use this opportunity to rebuild my writing disciple. I also want to increase my productivity. I’m not a particularly fast typer and I burn through way too many drafts. For me it’s about process AND execution.
When I planned the novel I’m currently working on I grabbed a cup of coffee and a stack of index cards and started jotting notes on each one. It was a form of brainstorming with phrases, imagery, rough or specific ideas or thoughts, each on one card. After about fifty cards the flow of my ideas began to slow so I stopped.
I sorted the cards, shuffling and reshuffling until some semblance of a story began to unfold. I combined a few cards, tossed some and created a few more. That’s process.
For execution there’s a built in goal to have 1,666 words written each day to stay on pace. I like to overachieve that number to give me some breathing room later if I need it. As for the actual writing, a.k.a. execution, I’ve been using each card as a prompt. This method has been freeing because even though I’ve been writing linearly so far, I know I don’t have to. If I get stuck or bored I have options. I can pick any other card and start writing. I don't care where the character or story takes me between those cards because, as a composer knows, "Music is the space between the notes."

A clear process, regular execution and the flexibility of options makes for a better writing experience. Try it with the other goals in your life.