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Posts Tagged ‘balance’

I wrote this short piece over nineteen years ago. Time for another look,

I save things just in case. I save things because I haven’t decided. I haven’t decided if the things saved are worth saving or simply made no decision. After all, I may need something later.

Know what I need (require) and toss the rest. This act is a new beginning. I am, therefore I think. I am, therefore I act. I am, therefore I am. I am me. I serve no other.

I want to neither rule nor be ruled. I have never wanted power. I have always been uncomfortable with the thought of power. Now I know why. Neither I, nor any other man has the right to rule another, just as no man has the right to rule me.

I have allowed myself to be swayed by the opinions of others. I have actively sought their approval. ‘What do you think?’ I knew I was right, that I had done something well that I wanted to do. Yet, I asked for their opinions? Does that make me a second rater? I offer no excuses. I believed them when they told me that god made me in his image and likeness. I believed when they told me I was a seven year old sinner. I believed when they told me I would go to hell if I committed a mortal sin.

I allowed them to write the script for my life. Tell me what to do, I said. I’ll try to live up to your expectations.

I’ve never known a true friend. I’ve always been alone. I’ve never known what to do at parties (except when I rendered myself unconscious). I’m uncomfortable with small talk. I never learned how to do it correctly. I don’t want to learn now.

I’ve always felt a sense of unease. I’ve always felt that something wasn’t quite right. I thought something was wrong with me. I was wrong. Nothing is wrong with me except my relationship with them. Nothing is wrong with me except my non acceptance of my own judgement and happiness. They have lost their power over me. I can see them for what they are. I can see without guilt. I can feel free to look to myself for all of my needs. I am my own responsibility. I choose!

 I know all this. Now I choose to act on this knowledge. I know I must learn many things. I must learn to think entirely for myself. If I read something, I must use my mind. I must use my reason to examine and to judge. Yes! I will judge.

The most important questions I must ask are: Who am I and what are my goals. Think long and deep. What have I always wanted to make of my life? What have I always wanted to create? Don’t ask how or why. Simply ask what. Then find the answers. No matter how painful. Find the answers. Act on the answers that I find. I am, therefore I think. I am, therefore, I am.

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Writing an E-Book has me thinking a lot a about format. PDF files are based on printed paper sizes first and viewing with a computer second. I got to wondering about standards, where they come from and why we use them. Did you know that the standard gauge for American railroads (the 4 ft. – 8 1/2 in. distance between the rails) is the same spacing used by Imperial Roman war chariots?

490px-Thor_in_his_chariot

Thor in his war chariot

Of course we didn’t base our railroad design on the Roman chariot. The Romans built their roads in Britain (among other places) to accommodate their chariots. When horse drawn wagons gave way to the first “iron horses” in Britain, it was only natural they use the same roads with the same ruts. The Americans borrowed from the British in the early days of railroading and the standard simply evolved out of circumstances.

So does a paper standard for E-Books make any sense in a digital world? Paper comes in sheets of definite size while the computer excels at scrolling. Traditional printed books give the reader clues in the form of the table of contents, page numbers, formatting, etc. The PDF version of turning the analog pages of a book are hyperlinks in the text and an index or thumbnails alongside the text.

Readers need to find their way around inside a book.
They need visual clues no matter what the medium. Electronic reading devices are springing up like weeds after a rainstorm and each has it’s own screen size and format. There are no standards yet. If you format for all possible conditions, you can’t format at all because the device itself will wrap text depending on screen size and the font size choices the user makes. You lose all the visual clues with a plain text file.

I’m sticking with PDF for now. Does that limit me? Yes, but I think it’s worth the limitations because I can provide the visual clues that a reader needs. I struggled with the page size but settled on 8 1/2 X 11 inches. Why? Because this format is easy to read on a typical computer monitor and can be printed on demand. Yes, I know my E-Book won’t work on a small screen, but I’ll worry about that tomorrow, when we have standards.

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I got to thinking about writing the other morning while writing my morning pages. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, introduced me to morning pages. She says “In order to retrieve your creativity, you need to find it.” Morning pages are three pages of longhand stream of consciousness writing done each morning before you do anything else. I suppose I should do mine first thing. Instead, I wait until after breakfast. Then I pull up a chair, fire up my pipe, savor that first sip of fresh brewed coffee, pull out a fresh sheet of paper, uncap one of my favorite fountain pens and let my mind go.

Homemade-merry-go-round

The morning pages ritual is not about writing. Morning pages are an outlet for your thoughts and feelings. Morning pages are a mind dump and you never know what will come out. Hint: getting things out into the daylight is the whole point.

I wondered. If morning pages aren’t about writing maybe first drafts aren’t about writing either. The same holds true for clustering and writing vignettes. Although we might be using writing tools (in my case pen and paper) we aren’t writing at all, we’re freeing our minds and allowing our ideas to come out on the page, real or virtual, without pre-judging or organizing.

We lump every activity we do while creating a written piece into “writing” but it’s not all the same. We do different things at different stages and label all of what we do as “writing.” Thinking about this can take you in circles.

If all writing is re-writing (and ultimately it is) it means we are editing at some stages. But wait! If we sit down to write and censor our first drafts as we write then we’re editors when we ought to be writers. Kind of makes you dizzy thinking about it.

The great sports writer “Red” Smith once said: “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” Yes, and the more you edit in the early idea stages, the more you tighten the tourniquet until the blood flow of insight slows to a disappointing drip or stops altogether.

Balance. Balance and co-operation between our right brain design mind and our left brain inner critic are the keys to finding our voice. Only then will we be writing from within. We may lump all we do when we create into the term writing and that’s OK — so long as we keep things in the proper sequence.

All design, all truly creative acts are iterative and circular. We go round and round, spiraling closer and closer to the finished work. Writing is a journey of discovery, of finding and polishing the gems and discarding (or saving for another time) the ideas that don’t fit.

Going in circles reminds me of the merry-go-rounds in playgrounds all over. Fun places where kids spin themselves in circles making themselves dizzy. I remember getting that merry-go-round cranking then laying back to watch the sky go by. Relax on your writing merry-go-round. Be easy and have fun. Allow your self (your dragon) to come out and play.

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