While cruising for interesting sites over at digg, I ran across this site about tips for writing. I was already familiar with several of the tips but I picked up some new ones. I had not heard about writing headlines. Headlines!
With my seemedly inexhaustible need to comment, I left my two cents on writing. I made the comment that writing is like playing a musical instrument or running marathons. I've talked to many people who wanted to be writers and they were just waiting for time or inspiration to begin writing. This is wishful dreaming and not the practical approach to writing it deserves if you are serious.
It's like someone saying they want to be a musician but they're not going to practice on whatever instrument they have some capability to use. They are going to wait until they get a gig. What kind of show would that be? No one would pay for that.
Or, some guy wants to be a marathon runner, but they are not going to go out and run everyday on some 10K or even a 5K regularly. They are going to wait until the day of the marathon to start running. How far would they get in that marathon? Not very far, and they wouldn't even deserve a t-shirt.
And yet, many people approach writing the same way. They think that just because they can talk they can write. Stream of consciousness writing only seems that way. It's lots of work even if you write everyday. It's edited, reworked, re-edited, and crafted so that eventually it appears to flow like someone's thoughts. There is a lot of effort in making something appear effortless.
I have posted earlier about the benefit of writing a blog if you have to write for a living. It's amazing how easy it is to write if you write regularly. The words just seem to flow. I'm not struggling over sentence structure, grammar, or syntax in trying to express a thought.
The other tip I left on the writing tips site is to just start writing with out any purpose or goal in mind. Just let you thought spill onto the page – sort of that first draft of the stream of consciousness writing I mentioned above. Although it's an interesting exercise, it has never lead to any short story for me, but hey, maybe one day it will.
And then there’s the story about a guy who is always being approached by young would-be writers to review something they have written in the hopes that he will tell them they have what it takes. They give him a manuscript or something they have written.
He reads the material, comments on the quality of writing, tells them of the tips I have mentioned before and were listed at the site linked above, especially the one about writers write. Musicians play for the joy of it even if there is no performance in their future. Runners run because of how it makes them feel and keeps them in shape, and writers write whether they are going to be published or not.
Then at the climax, he asked them to expose a most intimate part of their anatomy. If it’s a female, he asked to see her breast. If it’s a male, he asked to see his penis. Of course they are shocked, embarrassed, and extracting themselves from their reviewer with as much haste as they can muster. (However, a few are not shocked and begin to disrobe. Invariably these people eventually go into advertising – but that’s another story.)
And then when they are so shocked and want to leave his present immediately, he offers them their manuscript and says that when they feel as exposed in offering their manuscript as they just did at the suggestion of exposing themselves, then maybe they will have something worth reading.
They were more embarrassed in exposing some intimate part of there anatomy than their writing. When it’s the other way around, they may have written something somebody would want to read. Imagine you are more exposed in your writings than if you stood up naked in front of people totally nude and they could comment on every thing they see. Your words expose you more than being naked.
In other words, write naked or write as if what you are writing is your most naked self – or something like that. Just a thought, try it and see. You can always keep it under wraps.
The Presence of Being
Saw an article at msn.com on presence. I’ve seen it, you’ve seen it, we all have seen someone who commands attention in a room just by being there. Someone who has trouble with computers, who has difficulty answering their emails, who doesn’t know who Ben Bernanke is or even who is the Vice President of the United States, and yet, can walk in a room full of people and take over the conversation as if they were an authority in all things that matter.
In the movie “The Lion and the Wind”, the little boy said it of the character being portrayed by Sean Connery – a presence on the screen if ever there was one – “He’s got the way.” This was a declaration of presence he made to his mother who was portrayed by Candice Bergin, another noted presence. This movie had lots of them; it was eat up with them. Brian Keith nearly stole the show portraying President Teddy Roosevelt – another presence. Here we have a movie by someone who has presence playing someone who had presence at the turn of the previous century.
The guy that wrote the article, Tom Chiarella, started it off writing about Bill Murray. The Bill Murray. First off, he’s famous – which by the way is a whole nother subject of a post – and which gives him presence out the ying yang. He gets to play the famous card. But Mr. Chiarella seems to think he had presence in spite of being famous as though this chicken or egg came first. Whatever.
You want presence? I got the secret right here. And I’m not sending out any scam emails selling it, but like the two colored pills in the Matrix, you must choose, now. Continue reading, the red pill, learn about presence and live with the knowledge forever more, or take the green pill by clicking on something else. Go see what Britney Spears or Paris Hilton is up to.
READ NO FURTHER – YOU CAN’T UNREAD ONCE YOU CONTINUE.
It’s simple. Be yourself. What ever presence you have within must be played straight – you can’t act it. (That’s where the writer dude in the article got it wrong.) If you don’t have any, I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is. “He also serves who only stands and waits.” It was written a long time ago and is still just a true today. Presence is not necessary for happiness or contentment. Get on with your life. Appreciate the abilities of others.
But if you have it – if you have any of it – it will be maximized by being yourself. That sounds easy, but oh no my friend, it’s quite hard. If you have been trying to be cool, stylish, or accepted by others, you will not know how to be yourself. It’s a hard role to play because you’re not playing a role.
You will have to work at it. It may take you years. Young people who are just discovering themselves will have difficulty with this, but it’s a noble goal to work toward.
Lots of middle aged people got years of experience acting cool or acceptable to their friends or those they wish were their friends and got no clue as to who they really are. They got no presence but they keep buying the right kind of stuff, going to the right kind of places, and saying all the right kind of sayings and yet at the end of the day, it just doesn’t seem to work.
They’re trying to be something they’re not. If they got lots of money, it will appear to work. Money like fame buys you presence.
But all it takes is to be in the presence of one who has it abundantly, naturally, and the phonies standout like they are so last century. It’s sort of like being cool, only we all posses the ability to be as cool as we can but only a few of us have presence.
So, go and read the article linked above, but don’t pay much attention to it. Taking up acting is not where it’s at – that is unless you have always wanted to be an actor down deep inside. Be yourself and whatever presence is within you will come out.
I can guarantee it. And if you get to know who you really are, and you realize you don’t have any presence, you really won’t give a shit – and that’s a presence all its own.
Does the Universe have a Purpose?
This question was in an advertisement of this Sunday’s NYTimes Week in Review section. Several notable persons weighted in with differing opinions. The ad directs the reader to the following site – where these notables’ opinions were fleshed out.
First, since according to current prevailing cosmology, way over half the universe is missing – “dark”. How can we determine if something has a purpose when we don’t know what most of it is? It’s like that old parable (or is it a fable or allegory?) about the blind men reporting on their observations of an elephant. We know there is more to the elephant than what we can detect and that it’s different from what we are observing, and that’s all we can say right now. What’s the purpose of an elephant when all we know is the tail or the trunk or one of those column-like legs and that’s there’s a lot more but we don’t what it is?
The universe appears to be a chaotic system in which the galaxies, stars, plants, and solar systems, all appear to be strange attractors in a chaos theory – not that I know that much about mathematical or physical theories, but that’s what it appears to me. Even atomic particles could be seen as strange attractors that appeared after the Big Bang. Given that, how can the universe have a purpose? By nothing more than a definition of terms, if it is chaotic it can’t have a purpose. If it has a purpose, it can’t be chaotic.
And then we come to the strangest of all strange attractors, life. If there was no life there would be no question about purpose. Rocks don’t ask what’s my purpose. Gas giants don’t wonder why they are here. Life has a purpose: more life. That is the essence of life. That is what separates it from all other chemical processes. Life is order in a chaotic universe.
Life’s purpose is to begat more life. In its simplest form, life is a molecule that exploits its environment to reproduce itself. This molecule evolves to enhance this exploitation and to be better reproduce itself. It cooperates with other molecules; it becomes a chemical process; it continually evolves becoming more complex, more exploitive and more numerous; but always the basic principle or purpose remains the same. Survive and reproduce.
While we have yet to find proof of life anywhere else but on earth, everywhere we look on or in the earth, we find life. The way life is going, given time, the whole earth will be come alive. After that, we will expand to incorporate the rest of the solar system and then the galaxy and then the universe. Maybe that’s the universe’s purpose. To be the matrix or platform eventually incorporated into life.
Because of life, the question of whether God is or is not is a moot point. Worse case scenario: There is no God; we a totally alone; when you die, that is the end of you, you are no more. If that’s the case, then we are God or will become God one day.
When looking at the age of the universe, our existence and current state is nothing short of a miracle. In the span of time, we just appeared as a species, and yet look at all that has happen since we got here – and most of that is in the last 10,000 years. Instantaneous. While life may seem the strangest of strange attractors in a chaotic system, intelligence seemed preordained in life’s purpose. Why depend on exploitation of random chance to advance yourself, when it would be better to take charge and choose the more successful strategy.
Given our present state of advancement, we will conquer time just as we have the other dimensions. We will go back in time and save all that have ever lived. Either through God or human progress, you will have everlasting life. The prophecies will be fulfilled.