Bad blogger, bad! I got home from work, paid bills for an hour and a half, then it hit me: I hadn’t contributed to my blog for 79 days… Were I any more lax I would be ex-lax!!!
Why is it that we allow ourselves to become so embroiled in routines, whether of our own design or imposed, that we unconsciously pull away from those activities that actually provide us enjoyment? Why is the futile sense of urgency with which everyone impregnates their business so communicable? Why is it that the more stress we feel, the more determined we seem to be to osmose everyone else’s stress as well?
Sure I often go on about how we must create the time for the people we love and the activities that we find fulfilling… “Thank’s Dr. Swill, now can we see you shove that microphone up your…”. In theory, everyone’s a genius on some level, right? According to the laws of attraction if I could only manage to obsess sufficiently everything I want would just manifest itself in my life, right?
Unfortunately I am utterly untalented when it comes to single-mindedness. I seem to (dys)function in a constant state of mental chaos, like an emotional and intellectual Hydra with my various heads all pulling away from each other in pursuit of seemingly unrelated endeavors.
I am the embodiment of “Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians” on an individual level. So many heads, each brilliant and special in its own unique way of course, all jockeying to monopolize one poor ol’ dogsbody. It’s bloody exhausting!
That said, this nonsense must stop. Writing makes me happy, or perhaps simply suspends disillusionment, either way however it most certainly improves my demeanor. As such I have a moral and ethical obligation to myself and to those poor souls condemned to dwell with me, to engage in that solace as often as possible.
Perhaps I will make that my New Year’s resolution – to stop feeling guilty about my creative needs and just do it!
Time and money are both very peculiar concepts. Neither is in reality something tangible. Bank notes and coins are to the concept of money what clocks and watches are to the concept of time – props in an abstract theatre of social agreement. The assignment of value can often be as erroneous as the assignment of blame – just a projection of subjectivity. I think I can understand now why Heraclitus spent the last years of his life laughing at everything and telling everyone “Love… Love” (Αγαπάτε…Αγαπάτε…), if you suddenly realize just how ridiculous most social canons are such a reaction is inevitable.
So here I am (and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one), dancing around in a vicious circle of frustration, because I never seem to have enough time or money. Never possessing a satisfactory quantity of two entirely intangible concepts is the epitome of absurdity, or at least it should be considered as such. So why do I do it? Why do I continue to piss and moan? What is it I REALLY mean when I pine for those elusive and incorporeal commodities?
“If only I had more money there are so many things I would do!” Such as? Maybe I need to focus on at least one of those “things” with serious intention, in order to allow the resources for its realization to materialize. If I won’t bother to invest the thought – I can’t expect others to invest the resources.
“I wish I had more time with my family.” But what time I do have I spend arguing with them about how little time I have, rather than making every effort for that time to be joyous so that ALL of us will work harder to eke out a bit more time for each other every day.
Maybe, if I remember to set human and humane priorities rather than a plethora of over ambitious goals that are physically impossible to reach simultaneously, time may not seem to fly by with such ruthless haste. If I allow myself to enjoy moments without succumbing to my ego’s insane efforts to make me feel guilty all the time for not being more “successful” or more “motivated”, I might just discover the inspiration that will provide the motivation that will make my efforts more effective in creating my own personal definition of success.
It just dawned on me that on August 17th my fledgling blog had its first birthday. I haven’t been as active a fairy-blog-mother as I would have liked but I have managed to post at least one entry per month so I’m not going to start beating myself up about what could of or might have been. I think I’ll just be grateful that I have those posts as snapshots of my journey these last 12 months.
My introduction to blogging actually came in March of 2012 via my Iguana Books author page , March 6th to be exact, commemorating the anniversary of meeting my late friend and co-author Donald Schwarz. I came into my stride though through this humble blog, perhaps feeling closer to it as it has been entirely my own creation. What it is going to become when it grows up I have no idea.
Loss can make us appreciate some things more, but it is no guarantee that we will magically become “different” or “better” people. ”Life changing” events do not necessarily bring about improvement and in some cases may actually reinforce existing fears, insecurities and prejudice. We are the artists that color our lives. Events may force us to pause occasionally but our circumstances and even the other people in our lives reflect OUR perception of the world, no one else’s.
To see the beauty is a conscious choice. To concentrate on the cultivation of a positive approach to daily life is an exercise in good health – sound mind, sound body. Why should we be so anxious to assign value to “things” when they only evoke a fleeting sense of satisfaction? Joy springs from allowing ourselves to fully experience the miracle of being alive. Time and money have their place, as props, but we mustn’t let those concepts direct the show!
Today was a Holy day for all Christians, the Dormition/Assumption of the Holy Mother (terminology varies according to sect e.g. Orthodox or Catholic, and if you are following the Julian calendar you get to fast for another 13 days). As religious milestones go I would say it holds a close second to the Resurrection of Christ. His birth was also significant, but being born is something that happens to everyone, being resurrected on the other hand is a far more impressive achievement.
This day presents an opportunity for friends and family to be reunited in celebration of the Great Mother’s being reunited with the Holy Spirit. In the absence of my family some good friends stepped in kindly inviting me into their fold for the day. I was treated to a lovely meal with wonderful people followed by a pleasant stroll through a gorge to a tiny chapel.
This particular chapel had been concealed within the forest for centuries, an unassuming structure facing west and overlooking the gorge and rolling hills beyond. In contrast to the grand Basilicas of the island’s population centers, this truly was an ideal place for peaceful meditation. My heart had been feeling pretty holey of late, my resolve and endurance tried and tired.
I thought my way through the last few months and the challenges they had posed: dealing with fear, trepidation, apprehension, uncertainty and finally loss of a loved one. Trying to maintain equilibrium among surviving family members while battling rage and grief. Measuring the gaps created in my personal “game plan” by the need to re-prioritize in the face of crisis on many levels, and alas endeavoring to bridge those gaps. Feeling small and often inept in the face of situations beyond the scope of my control or even influence.
I discovered that for the last 6 days I have been cocooning. Sure to all appearances I have been going about business as usual: errands, shopping, housework… but my mind has been cloistered, incubating itself in anticipation of a metamorphosis. What new form will my thoughts and actions take? What new course will those thoughts and actions chart? To what new challenges will that course eventually lead me?
Mortality, among other things, is a catalyst. Perhaps propellant would be a more accurate word choice. Being confronted with the absolute nature of mortality can motivate you to live each day wholly, thus making each day you are alive Holy. Every day becomes a sacred gift to be cherished, a new opportunity to relish love, to create beauty, to consciously choose to share the most noble elements of your self with those you contact and thus evoke their best qualities as well.
Maybe we should all try to live our lives wholly. If we manage to do that our hearts will no longer be holey. The reward will be the metamorphosis of our existence into something luminous and Holy.
Endure the pain, comprehend the commonality, sense the unity, express the amity, and live the joy which is existence.
Being way behind with what seems like absolutely everything in my life at the moment I have shamelessly borrowed the title of my 13 year-old’s favorite Lana Del Rey tune as the premise for a second person rant.
So Victoria, why exactly is it that you feel so blue? School has been out for a month now, yet try as you might there still simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Every year since you began teaching summer has loomed on the horizon like an exotic oasis – an elusive paradise where you WILL find the time to finish that manuscript… right after you get all the household chores and maintenance taken care of…NOT!
Winter and spring breaks never hold the same promise, no illusions of potentially significant achievement. In fact it is widely known and accepted that all anyone manages to do during those breaks is to become totally exhausted and to put on 5-10 lbs. The mere fact that you no longer have to get up at 6 a.m. opens the way for all sorts of debauchery and over indulgence. Best of all? You’ve attached no expectations to those breaks, thus you experience no melancholy when they reach their inevitably anticlimactic conclusion… back to the grind!
That temptress summertime however lingers languorously, seducing you into all sorts of expectations of meaningful accomplishment – only to leave you in the lurch of course. No sooner have the school end celebrations concluded and the PTA meetings ceased, when one fine August morning you awaken in a cold sweat having dreamt of lesson plans, new school clothes and supplies not to mention the relentless 6 a.m. wake-up call.
The panic that had momentarily gripped the entirety of your being gradually subsides, replaced by a dull ache and incessant pressure. You become conscious of the atomic weight of all those unfinished manuscripts and household tasks you never quite got round to. Even when you have regained your senses sufficiently to realize that August is still the better part of two weeks away the dip in your psychological barometer seems irreversible.
Your extremities feel like lead as you remember that there is wash on the line to be taken in, and that you must call the repairman to see to the machine which is holding the next load hostage while struggling with its own will to live. With superhuman effort you resist the urge to burst into indulgent sobs of utter desolation. You drag yourself out of bed by the hair to seek refuge in the warm familiarity of caffeine and peanut butter.
Trying valiantly to distance yourself from the impending day ahead you seek to single out a point of reference, a fresh perspective that will allow you to regroup with panache. Obstinately ignoring the imposing “To Do” lists which glare down at you haughtily from your “inspiration” board, you go into a trance-like state.
Taking a deep breath you summon your resolve and ask yourself the 20 Million Dollar Question: ”What is the ONE thing I want to accomplish today?” After having answered the 20 million dollar question, and having accomplished that ONE thing, you will have earned the right to enjoy, for at least a bit longer, the Summertime Madness!
As a side note I want to mention that this post was inspired in part by that wonderful writer and champion of writers Morgen (YES, that is with an “E”) Bailey! Having read on her fabulous blog that 2nd person is her favourite POV it suddenly dawned on me that I had never, ever, tried writing anything from that perspective… I must now admit that it was quite entertaining (for me at least!).
When things are at their ultimate suckiest, their scurrilous worst, when it seems absolutely certain that hope for improvement is an impossible dream… That is when it is utterly essential that we remember the best, most gallant, valiant and humane aspects of our being.
The greatest gift my love of literature has provided me over the years is countless opportunities to experience (albeit via my imagination) candid and poignant moments in the daily lives of individuals from all walks of life and from all metaphoric corners of this orb we call home.
In my humble opinion one of the hallmarks of civilization is the second-hand store. These mystical temples of practicality offer solace to the struggling student, the starving artist, and the single parent. Most often these noble establishments operate to the benefit of charitable organizations, an admirable endeavor.
My most recent humanitarian mission carried me back to the island of Paros in the Cyclades chain where I lived from 2005 to 2009. I was to host a memorial service for a friend taken in an automobile accident. The one bright spot in that otherwise solemn journey was that P.A.W.S. (the Parian Animal Welfare Society) had opened a second-hand nook in the Old Town.
My criteria for what constitutes a “good read” may diverge considerably from many mainstream opinions, my title choices more erratic than heat lightning. My delight at the discovery of the new nook was amplified by the fact that the used books were five for 3€ ($3.90).
On this particular sortie I picked up the 2001 edition of The Best American Short Stories, a wisecracking collection of sex & the city style columns titled If You Can’t Live Without Me Why Aren’t You Dead Yet?, a hard cover 1959 edition of tribute articles to Nobel Laureates, as well as Mark Haddon’s A Spot of Bother (I loved The Curious Incident…). The real hidden treasure though was an unassuming 198 page novel by Alexander McCall Smith, to whose writing I had not yet had the pleasure of being introduced.
The particular title I stumbled across was The Full Cupboard of Life, and it reached out to me as a personal message of encouragement in the wake of a rather difficult several months. Once back in Athens at my mother-in-law’s bedside I became acquainted with Mma Precious Ramotswe, proprietress and chief sleuth of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency in Gaborone, Botswana.
I soon found myself sitting serenely under the paw-paw trees, savoring the Botswana pace of life – blissfully oblivious of the 6+ million residents of Athens seething through the city on their quest to adopt genuinely European stress levels.
I was transported by the tenderness, sensitivity and authenticity of Mr. McCall Smith’s pen. Each character proved a delightfully unique individual, with even the annoying apprentice mechanics exhibiting a realistic depth to their shallowness.
I am not generally drawn to series fiction, but in this case after having read the 5th installment I am feeling a considerable thirst for a cup of bush tea and an opportunity to enjoy the previous exploits of Mma Ramotswe and her neighbors.
Admittedly my first true love was reading, thankfully my husband knows better than to try to compete with my many lovers on the page!
Victoria King-Voreadi is the co-author of the film noir anti-detective tale Interrogation Tango.
I couldn’t help noticing that, despite the global economic crisis, the world seems to be in bloom – at least the bits of it that fall between 45 degrees N and 45 degrees S. As such the world’s inhabitants are blooming too – some blooming mad, others just emitting jubilant life force. Spring is in the air, Persephone has emerged from the underworld and Demeter has blessed the land to celebrate her daughter’s brief return.
Now thinking about spring just naturally got me thinking about the “birds and the bees” which of course got me thinking about attraction. What is that? Aside from the cliches that advertisers strive to embed in our brains, aside from the bio-chemical reactions (all those B vitamins and trace minerals we are whiffing via pollen) is there another, mystical source? Something more potent than pheromones?
I think there is, and it is called confidence!
Whenever you are talking about a concept as opposed to some quantifiable value things always become complicated. It all starts to make sense though when you put things in perspective. The better we feel, regardless of age, gender, body type, fitness level, the more attractive we become – it is really that simple.
Just to clarify, when I refer to “attractiveness” I mean desirability - and not exclusively in a sexual context. I think most of you will have had the experience of meeting a person, under the most mundane or the most bizarre circumstances, who you simply felt you wanted to spend time with. Someone you were simply drawn to for no obvious reason. That is pure attraction, the sort of attraction that confidence generates.
Let me give you an example: I had an interview for a position that sounded great, I was exerting a lot of energy in fact to convince myself I should do my all to nail the job albeit not terribly effectively. I prepared extensively, did my homework to ask intelligent questions, donned full battle dress (flawless hair, discreet make-up, flattering yet conservative suit…) and I headed out in plenty of time so I would be on site at least 5 minutes before my scheduled interview time.
It seemed as if I were invisible – some guy cut me off to grab the nearest parking space. When I reached the door to the building the people who entered before me closed the door in my face. When I introduced myself at the reception desk the woman working there seemed affronted, like I was late even though I made it with one minute to spare. It was as if the uncertain energy I was emitting was creating an actual physical disturbance. Of course I didn’t get the job or even a call back interview – the HR manager couldn’t get me out of his office quickly enough.
A few weeks later I decided to make a supermarket run. I looked like crap, old stained sweats, unwashed hair, no make-up and ancient flip flops. I had however just that morning experienced a writing breakthrough. At each step of the way everyone I encountered smiled at me, regardless of age or gender, a high school kid held the door open for me, and elderly gentleman waiting at the deli counter winked at me, it was hilarious! I was suddenly a goddess travelling incognito.
So where am I taking this little tale? Well I guess it all comes back to positive energy. Each one of us, in addition to being a potentially sentient being, is an electromagnetic transmitter and receiver. The energy we produce, our “frequency” and the quality of our signal is directly affected by our emotional state. Spring seems to generate a quickening if you like, a more acute tuning that makes us all more responsive/receptive as well as amplifying the signals we transmit to others.
Now I’m thinking of trying to tap into this springtime force to generate a bit of positive energy and desirability for my novel, Interrogation Tango. The end of the month I will be visiting five of my favorite places in Greece which happen to be the five most popular and populous islands in the Cyclades chain: Mykonos, Santorini, Paros, Naxos and Syros.
Once I have the full itinerary set I will provide all of the juicy details in hope of inspiring even more springtime good vibrations!
I would be remiss not to bang the gong yet again for this spritely chap!
Please join me in welcoming Andrew (F) Marsh, talented scribe of fantastic faery tales for all ages and sophisticated thrillers for mature readers. It is my honor and privilege to showcase Andrew as my very first guest blogger! His insights ring true for me and I hope you will agree.
What makes you write?
An interesting question for someone who writes books and blogs, what is it that actually makes you want to shut yourself away in a room without company for hours on end, day after day, week after week?
Here is what drives me, maybe you see some similarities in your writing.
I write because I have to. I have little or no choice in this at all. So much data comes to me all the time that I cannot keep up. Even when writing something, say this blog, I get more ideas about story lines, characters or situations that I am constantly writing them down. I have at least 8 notebooks with “writing stuff” in it. Not to mention a long file called “book ideas” on my computer.
When I look through those notebooks, it is as though some sort of exponential creativity data dump occurs in my head and one idea leads to three, these lead to twenty and so on. It is as though a zip file has been unzipped in my head, but that unzipped file has more files in it, so much so that keeping track of them is quite hard.
But I allow it to happen, I encourage it to happen, I wallow and bathe myself in this creativity data dump, until somewhere, the writing part of me starts to sift through them and put them together in some sort of master plan (with or without the evil laugh).
I write this master plan down, and just like I have said, more and more data comes, but this is specific to this story, it is adding depth and character to the bones of the story. I type it out, the first acknowledgement that a new project, a new book is in the offing. This typing dump is enormous, it grows and grows as I type, I do not worry about structure of the words, just bullet points or short paragraphs at this stage, get the ideas down on paper and let them mingle and talk to each other, see who fits best with who and so on.
I have to give that process time: time to grow and mature.
Sometime later, and this could be a few weeks, or in the case of the book I have just finished, over ten years has past, I pick it up and kapow! It flows like wine. It flows and flows and chapter after chapter come out onto the page, the notebook right beside the computer to write notes about what should happen later in the story or whatever. Make sure that spark of an idea is not lost in the ether, write it down, and do it NOW, not in 5 minutes, not after a bathroom break, not after a trip downstairs to get food or refreshments, write it down NOW.
I have to write this story, and I just keep on writing. I have just finished the first draft of a trilogy. Volume 1 I ready for agents and publishers, Volume 2 is being proof read by another and Volume 3 is in the drawer, maturing. I wrote Volume 3 in 21 writing days out of a period of 25 days in March. 107000 words just exploded onto the page, some days three thousand words or so, others twelve thousand words were written. Stopping in mid flow is not an option. I have to write and cannot write first time material a few words at a time. I set myself a minimum of 1500 words per day for first draft writing, and exceed that all the time.
I am driven to write, it is a natural function for me, just like breathing I have to write and keep on writing. I have two other books queuing up in my head, it’s getting crowded in there so one has to come out soon. It is in the maturing stage of the notes and ideas talking to each other, accompanied by some research to make it hang together. I am desperately trying to get the trilogy presentable for the world before I start to write the next book. It is not easy, for she is a determined creature and wants to come out to play, the sun is out and she is knocking at the door.
To contact one of Andrew’s two distinct writing personas via Twitter:
Andrew F Marsh (Faery Tales)
Andrew Marsh (Steamy Thrillers and Crime Drama)
or visit his facebook pages: