Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Experiment

Well, it's been a while since I last posted. I blame a combination of deadlines and falling under the weather repeatedly. But I'm back with a new update.

My husband and I are trying something new. We've found ourselves trancing in front of the television in our spare time, to the point that plans to be productive after watching our favorite show are all too often sabotaged by our need to get through the backlog on our DVR. It's not uncommon, I think, given how convenient and tailored TV watching has become, but it was becoming an umbilical cord that kept us anchored in the living room and not working on other things. So we decided to do something dramatic.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Review: The Borgias

I have a bone to pick with Showtime's The Borgias mini-series. Now I am a huge fan of Neil Jordan, and have loved his work ever since my jaw slammed into the theater floor during the Crying Game. So I was super excited when I found out we were getting a Tudors meets Godfather style mini-series that he was helming.

The series started off strong but lost me about the fourth episode with its irredeemable characters and the amount of time spent on showing them in the sack. In one of the episodes, we actually see /every/ single member of the Borgia family getting it on, and two of them got an encore showing. Frankly, if it's not moving the story forward or the personal plots, then please, for the love of God, move on to something more interesting.

Here's an idea:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bad Guys We Love but Probably Shouldn't

I was watching Se7en the other day and it dawned on me that at the end, I'm actually sort of rooting for the bad guy to get away with it. A serial killer gets my vote for winning the day? What the hell?

So I had to examine why. What is going on in the story that I'm actually cheering for the antagonist to see his wicked plans come to fruition?

Nathan Bransford once mentioned on his blog that characters, even bad characters, have to be redeemable to be likable. I see this. I think it gives us some sympathy and humanity to relate to. Sure, Shaw is a major tool in Jaws, but when he takes a swipe at a higher social class and recites that haunting story of being in the water while sharks ate his war buddies, it draws the audience into his world, his life, and ultimately, his point of view.

I examined Se7en and the antagonist's twisted, brilliant opus, and I had to ask myself if I found him to be a redeemable character. His message is grounded in teaching the world a lesson, and there's something epically Lex Luthorian about how it's executed, especially how he fulfills the last two sins, but I am not sure that his desire to teach humanity a lesson makes him redeemable enough.

Am I just a sucker for brilliant psychopaths in fiction or is something else going on?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

To Done List!

"I forgot to stretch my butt."

This was my concern as I left the gym after a hard core workout. I wasn't congratulating myself on getting my keister to the gym and actually doing cardio for 35 minutes. I wasn't celebrating a hard work out and some good, responsible stretching afterward. My thought as I left the gym was about how after all of that effort, I forgot to stretch a certain part of my body.

The To Do list is a great way to organize ourselves and to feel accomplished. It lets us tick off those nagging little tasks that worry and chew at the periphery of our free time.

However, to do lists become an albatross when we are focusing on what we haven't done instead of celebrating what we have. When did taking care of 99 out of the 100 things on a day's list become a failure for many of us? An unfinished day?

Obviously we need a shift in perspective. This shift needs to happen in two areas.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hypothetically Speaking... It's Wednesday

Those who know me know I love a good hypothetical question. I love discovering where people stand on gray issues. Asking these types of questions often leads to deeper conversation and better understanding of a person's philosophies, beliefs, and reasonings.

Today is Hypothetical Wednesday and so I challenge readers out there to take the risk and answer me this:

Would you rather be moderately wealthy from the art you create (e.g., acting, writing, painting, photography, singing, software design, etc.) and be known for it in this lifetime, or would you rather become part of the canon for instruction in the future and globally famous but only after your death?


Would your answer change if you knew that you'd get a Nobel prize or Pulitzer posthumously?

I look forward to hearing the results!

Photo Courtesy of Flickr's purple.glasses.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Slow Boil

Ever hear the story about the frog and the boiling water? The science is that if you drop a frog in boiling water, it will hop right out. But if you place a frog in water and slowly turn up the heat, it will boil to death without realizing it.

Now I am not advocating the slow boil of frogs or any creature for that matter. My point is that gradual changes can take their toll, and as creators, we have to protect our energy and optimism if we want to be free to create. We have to recognize the changes so we can jump out of the water before it's too late.

Here are some areas where the heat might be increasing:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Whispering Truths as Writers

The most powerful stories move us in some way. They connect with us and help us recognize or learn something about ourselves or our human neighbors.

Sometimes the power is from a big reveal or a familiar personality playing out choices with results we understand. Other times, that power comes from a little secret the authors whispers to us in the text.

This secret whisper occurs when a certain emotion or moment in the story is punctuated by a single truth that resonates beyond the page and hums a little in the heart. It is the moment when the author peels back the layer of safety on our world and shows us an underlying reality that we might have overlooked, or perhaps not wanted to see at all.

It is the type of secret the soul recognizes.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tough Defense

Know thyself. The two words sound like they should be a part of an after school special at this point, but I didn't realize until my thirties just how important it was to understand myself so that I could reach my goals.

Setting a goal is easy. It's a vision that feels within reach. We daydream about it. The Secret would tell us that's all we need to do, and though there is power in positive thinking and affirmation of possibility becoming reality, we must take action if we are to ever reach that goal.
For some, action is the hardest part. I know it was for me. How many goals had I logged into my virtual calendar on Someday in the month of When I Have the Time? It took some inspiration from a dear friend and a swift kick in the pants from her for me to realize that someday was always going to be a future date until I took ownership of my time and made it now. So I did.

However, the action is just the beginning. As with any goal, there is a journey involved and it is amazing how often something will rise up to try and thwart that journey. If the momentum of the journey can be slowed or stalled, it is much easier to never finish. All too often, these antagonists are ourselves.

I have three: the Critic, the iDeserve It, and the Demotivator.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Power of Niche

There is something to be said about catering to a niche market. Sure, you might not make as much as someone who is producing mass-sales to zillions of people, but I think the interaction can be more personal.

For something to be a niche area, it must have certain standards that define it. Not everything will meet those standards. There is a community identity that usually evolves from a niche, especially one that is seen as stepping outside of the flow of society.

So imagine being in that niche and searching for something that caters to your interests or appetite. How great does it feel when someone shows up with a product or work that not only meets those standards but satisfies-- maybe even excites? How awesome is it to have that connection with an artist who understands why you love and perhaps live in that niche?

Suddenly there is conversation around this product or work and it gains value not only for how it is celebrated but because so many identify with it. It becomes a community prize and, with time and if good enough, an icon for that niche.

We can create things that will win us the most money, and there's nothing wrong with that. But if value is weighed beyond revenue and defined by cultural significance, then playing to a niche market will have more lasting and intimate impact.

Sometimes the odd duck needs a hero too.

Photo courtesy of Flickr's AhnjF

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What Is Scary?

I love being scared. I love curling up with my husband on an air mattress in our living room and watching some psychological thriller. The rush of adrenaline. The guessing. I like horror/thrillers that make me think and that still haunt me when the movie is over or the book's last page has long been read.

There are three things that terrify me most:
1) Intelligent, realistic threats that toy with my understanding of the world and help me see it differently.
2) Ghostly/Demonic movies that play off of the supernatural.
3) Creepy Southern People.

These things will have me running from a dark room to a lit room or looking over my shoulder when I swim in a lake. They will even have me getting a car check-up and locking my doors before heading below the Mason/Dixon line (I can say this, I lived in Tennessee for seven years. Very sweet people, generally, but there are some crazy, creepy southerners too.)

Why do these things scare me? Because they can be true. (I know, I know, my fellow friends who are skeptics may not agree with the entire list, but I assure you that creepy southern people do exist!)

In this day and age, it seems there are two types of horror: the startlefest and torture porn.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lemons Looking for Ade

I've noticed an increasing trend amongst some of my family and friends. There seems to be this concept that if bad stuff happens to us when we are young that the world owes us something great later. I've seen this with so many-- from the young adult who decides to have the child but gives up the last of their teens and all of their twenties to do so (which is /very/ brave, in my opinion, and worthy of praise), to the divorcee who was treated so crappily by an ex that it devastated him and now he can't move on.

I am not sure if it's our modern day fairy tales in movies or books where the cinder cleaning stepsister or the boy kept in the cupboard under the stairway have great things happen to them, or if it's just this idea that the pursuit of happiness has been translated to mean entitled to happiness.


Well if we're entitled to something that means that we don't have to bother trying, because it's coming, right? What a paralyzing concept.

If we're dwelling on what's happened to us and waiting for the MegaMillions bus to stop in front of our house, then what happens when the bus doesn't show? What does all of that waiting really accomplish in the end?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Creators on Standby

It seems that for the longest time, we lived in a world of passive audience members and a handful of creators. More and more people were coming home, plunking themselves down in a chair, and hunting for the latest recording on their DVR. This is their down-time. This is when they relax. And what a boon to those who write the shows or the authors who create books, because it means we have an audience. Let's face it, the work doesn't exist until someone reads it, watches it, or experiences it.

But day after day, more and more people were not doing much else with their days. They were working, eating, and watching. I know because I was one of these people. I was a part of the culture where entertainment raised our kids and the TV, Internet, and Books were escapes from the reality I wasn't finding fulfillment in. New creations were something "other" people did.

This is all changing and I couldn't be happier.

With the introduction of applications that help us design better, write faster, and compose with more quality, we have streamlined the execution process for getting ideas out. Couple this with the capability to self-publish-- whether on YouTube or iTunes or as an indie book writer-- and we now have an easy way to share those creations with others. We are in the midst of a revolution for creative enterprises.