inspiration

Motivation, Musings, News and Updates

New Year’s Resolution


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This year I am going to finish my memoir and hopefully get it published!

I also want to get more viewers to my site, especially participants that will submit writing to me for my “What’s Your Story?” section.

Most importantly, I want to be happy and as stress free as possible. I put in some serious work in 2018 to lower my stress and I made it a good portion of the year being happy, but the last month started taking its toll on me and I can feel myself slipping backwards. I am fully aware of it and doing what I can to prevent myself from taking too many steps back. Sometimes a step back is necessary to move ahead, so I’m going to chalk it up to that and keep it moving.

Writing has been my outlet that has saved me from breaking. I always feel better, calmer, lighter, after writing. It feels so good to put my laptop screen down, signifying that I’m done for the moment, and knowing that I am one step closer to finishing this book. I can’t express the joy I feel in being proud of myself. It isn’t a feeling I’m familiar with. I’ve always downplayed my achievements because they weren’t things I cared about, just what I thought I should do. Writing this book is something I care about, and every day that I write, I still can’t believe that I’m actually doing it. If I can, anyone can, a tired cliche that I loathe myself for saying, but (again at the risk of sounding cliche) it is true. Ask anyone who knows me personally and they’ll tell you, I had the potential, but not the drive. But here I am, new year, 52,000 words deep in this memoir. I can’t be stopped and I can’t wait for you all to read it when it is done!

Happy New Year!

2019’s mantra is “Keep it light, Dutch. Keep it light.”

Musings

Goodbye 2018!


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I am glad that you’re over!

Why was 2018 so tough for everyone? For me it was the year of uncertainty. I felt stuck in life and complacency gives me anxiety like you wouldn’t believe. The problem was that I had to wait. For instance,

I took the firefighter’s exam in March. I had to wait for them to schedule the physical exam over the summer. Then I had to wait for results to come out. Though I am still waiting, I’m in the final phase, which is waiting for a job opening in my city! That could take years but because of my veteran status, I’m higher on the list. *fingers crossed*

I have to wait to purchase a home. I have the VA loan waiting for me, but I need a provable income and for 2018, my income was the GI Bill (Thanks Uncle Sam!). Unfortunately, though it was acceptable money to pay my bills, it isn’t acceptable money to take out a loan, so I was waiting to graduate, which I did this December! Look out 2019! I’m making moves this year.

I had to wait, again for the provable income, to refinance my car through my bank. The Honda dealership I went through got the best of me that day and I signed a horrible deal that I can’t wait to get out of. Once I have obtained provable income, which I am currently job searching for while I patiently await for my firefighting position, I will take out a loan from my bank, pay off my car, and have a much better deal to pay every month.

Most importantly, I had to wait to grow mentally and emotionally. I have spent too much of my life harboring anger inside, and though I am not perfect, I am far better at expressing myself. I used to hold it in and self destruct. I wasn’t much of the “lash-out” type, but more of the implosion, giving up, and making bad decisions type. I have been putting in work for years on this, but it still takes time to become habit, and I’ve been waiting to reach the point that I am at now, which, over the past few months, has allowed me to sit down and read and write daily. I love the person I have become.

I appreciate 2018 for its challenges and for the opportunities for growth, but I soooo look forward to sending it packing and welcoming in the new year!

2019, this one is mine.

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Musings

The Hardest Part of Writing a Memoir


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It all comes down to one question. Did that really happen that way? Memory is a tricky thing. However, when writing a memoir, it is your job as an author to bring as much validity to the story as possible. We’ve all heard about that best selling author that turned out to be a liar. If I don’t remember this exactly the way it happened, will they call me a liar too?

Worrying about that prevented me from writing for a long time. Whenever I reached a moment of uncertainty, I stopped writing, and eventually gave up. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with a professor at my school that I was able to put that fear aside.

He told me that a memoir is called creative non-fiction for a reason. While we try to keep as close to the truth as possible, in the end, you’re writing a story. Readers don’t think of the character as you do, they see it as a character in a book. He urged me to see it the same. “It is a character based on you, with a story based on your life.”

That one simple sentence helped me to keep writing when things got foggy. Is my memoir entirely true? In a word, no. The events that took place are true, but most of the people’s names have been changed. Some of the details about where we were or which day could be off. Dialogue gets reconstructed, and though I try my best to keep it to the actually conversations that took place, I don’t remember every word that was said. I recall the essence of a conversation and that’s where I get creative.

Do any of these things prevent you from writing? Do you agree that creativity can be a part of a true story? Some people don’t and that’s okay too. However, I believe intentions matter when writing. If you intentionally fool your audience, then that’s fraud. If you do your best to recreate truth, but have to fill in some gaps, then that’s the thin line of acceptability.

 

Motivation, News and Updates

The First Draft is Done


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Today is a very special day. I have finished my first draft of my memoir. It is just a skeletal outline of the whole story, but it give me a framework to work with. I have just over 50,000 words and 157 pages.

I have been taking notes along the way and already have at least another 30,000 words to add. So, I am a little ways away from being completely done, and like my professor told me in college, “When it comes to writing, nothing is ever done, just due.”

I can’t even begin to express how happy I feel about this. I never thought that I would actually do it. I have been talking about writing this memoir for a decade but didn’t sit down to do the important part…writing.

The only thing that kick started it was my final project for my master’s degree. I didn’t want to write a thesis paper, so I asked if I could do something more creative. They green lit the idea to write a sample of my memoir, then a 10 page paper “justifying” it. I had an adviser, Askold, that guided me through the process and read my work along the way, but most importantly, he gave me deadlines to adhere to.

After I finished the requirement for the project, I passed it in and received my passing grade, only to tuck away the memoir and not look at it again for almost a year.

I made a promise to myself that since I spent my twenties focusing on physical growth (I was skinny growing up so I hit the gym and kitchen hard), I would spend my thirties on intellectual growth. That meant more reading and writing. I wasn’t keeping that promise to myself until a few months ago when I read this quote that said, “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who can not.” That hit me hard for some reason.

I made a new morning routine that I still stick to. I wake up early everyday, and the first thing I do is make coffee and sit down at my computer and work on my memoir. I don’t have a word count that I must hit, but I average about 1000 words daily. Then, I read 25 pages of a book. Then, I write a blog post. That’s the routine and it has changed my world!

50,000 words, four 300-500 page books read in a just a few months. I can’t wait to see where I am in a few more.

News and Updates

100 Pages


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I have officially passed the 100 page mark for my memoir. I never would have dreamed that I would find the discipline to sit down and write this book. I had the idea nearly a decade ago, and I wrote a few pages here and there, but I have made it my goal to sit down and finish this project once and for all!

I am thankful to my friends that have been helping me along with encouragement and feedback. I can’t even describe in words how much it means to me.

The more I write, the more I believe I am a writer. I have fallen back in love with my passion and I hope you all enjoy it when it is finished!

100 pages and counting!

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Musings

How To Write a Mean Letter


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Dear _____,

I hope you’re having a day as terrible as your breath. How don’t you notice that you’ve consumed nothing but coffee and cigarettes for the past four hours? We all talk about it, but I’m on to you. I think you know. I think you do it on purpose as a little social experiment. You’re trying to see how gross you can be in the office and still get away with it aren’t you? Well, not anymore! I am writing this letter to tell you that your breath is so bad that it makes me want to light a match and burn off my own taste buds. (I hear those are necessary for smell). I have taken the liberty of including a care kit for your breath with this letter. Enclosed you will find a tooth brush, tooth paste, Listerine, and Listerine strips. Please use them immediately, and especially when you need to speak with me directly. Otherwise, contact me via email or text message.

Down-wind and ready to vomit,

(Your Name Here)

Motivation

How to Get Back on The Horse


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“If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.”

That was my motto for many years. If I was great at something, I showed off. If I sucked, I pretended it sucked and that I wasn’t to be bother with whatever it was. Loser mentality. However, I’ve grown into a person who admits failure, and that is something that I’m proud of.

We’ve all seen them, the people who are amazing and never fall. Well guess what? That’s BS. They fail, all the time, but they, like I used to, don’t admit it. When you see a photo on Instagram and you think, “Wow, why can’t I look that perfect?” What you don’t see is the 100 photos that got deleted, or the number of filters put on it, or even some Photo Shopping that happened.

When you see a video of someone doing some crazy stunt, a flip or trick, they’ve got hours and hours of footage of them falling, failing, and trying again. You just see the final product.

Even your favorite TV show or movie has an outtake reel.

The point is, no matter what you’re trying to be better at, the road to success is built on failed attempts. I’m not perfect at any of the things I preach. My diet slips now and then, and I’ve gone on a 3-day Chinese food bender. I’ve skipped workouts, and I’ve even missed some writing days. It happens, and that’s okay.

Don’t let your idea of perfection ruin your attempt. Be proud of your failures, because that’s what makes your story great! Nobody wants to read about someone who was born amazing and never lost. We all love a good comeback tale. I learned that lesson early. My brother was the “screw up” and I was mommy’s perfect little angel.

I couldn’t understand why, even though I was the “favorite” child, did my brother get all the attention. He got unbelievable praise for basic stuff. Like if he didn’t misbehave in public, he’d get candy or a compliment. I behaved all the time, but nobody rewarded it. It was expected of me. I got good grades, and my brother didn’t do his work. If he ever did, he was showered with love. It wasn’t until I fell off my pedestal that I got attention, but negative attention. When you do the right thing all the time, people notice when you don’t. When you do the wrong thing all the time, people notice when you do the right thing. It’s a strange dynamic that we all tend to do. We grow accustomed to people’s behaviors and expectations form.

After a while of doing bad things, it wasn’t shocking to my family any longer. I was expected to be rebellious. Then, whenever I did something right, I got that praise I longed for. I learned that people love to see you fall from grace and come back up. They will criticize you the whole way down, but, depending on how far you fall of course, they will build you back up too. There’s no hope for Cosby or Weinstein, but we’ve seen many celebrities fall down and come back. Robert Downey Jr. Brittany Speares, Mike Tyson, etc. Their failures give them character, and it makes them interesting. Yours do too! Embrace them. Yes, people will judge you, and that is why we hide, but I’m telling you, they will forget and/or move on and suddenly you will be revered for overcoming your failure.

So make mistakes, fall off that horse, but don’t destroy the evidence of trying, embrace the error, learn from it, get back on that horse and maybe fail a little less next time. Repeat and before you know it, you’ve succeeded at whatever you were trying to accomplish, and ready to fail at something new!

 

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Motivation

Quotes I Adore


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“A wise man has something to say, A fool has to say something”

“Don’t speak unless you can improve the silence.”

“A single raindrop feels no responsibility for the flood.”

“Remember, you’re just a walk on part in everyone else’s play.”

“Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.”

“Pay no attention to what the critics say; no statue has ever been erected to a critic.”

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”

“When you start yelling, you lost the fight.”

“What we think, we become.”

I love quotes like these. They help me ground myself when I am off balance.

 

Motivation

What’s Your Story?


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Last summer I was taking a course called “Literary Sites and Spaces.” It was one of the best experiences I had ever had with a class. We took field trips for a week, visiting literary places around Massachusetts. For example, we went to Walden Pond and read excerpts of Thoreau in the woods, near where he had gone “into the woods to live intentionally.” We visited Louisa May Alcott’s home and saw the very spot that she wrote “Little Women” by hand. We headed to Salem, Ma. and took a tour of the “House of Seven Gables,” and read excerpts of Hawthorne’s novel of the same name. There were several other places we visited but you get the idea.

While on this trip, a group of us formed a bond and swapped life stories. I gave some examples of my past which often shocked the group. They came from stability and I must have seemed like Oliver Twist or something to them. I’ll never forget what one girl in the group said to me. She said that she didn’t feel like she had any stories to contribute because her life was so boring compared to mine. I assured her that her “boring,” normal life is what intrigued me. I was fascinated by people who got along with their siblings and actually hung out with them. I was fascinated by people who called their parents on a regular basis and met up with them for meals. I told her that her stories are like fairy tales to people like me and I would love to hear them. She eventually shared, and she explained how her sister is the “favored” one because she was married and pregnant, which their mother was excited for, and my friend was pursuing a career over family at the moment. I said, “See? You have some stories after all, and that one has some drama to it!”

I believe that everyone has a story. That’s what makes us unique. Although the path of life is linear, birth, career, death, when we zoom in to any one person’s lens, their path varies in their own way and that is fascinating. Even if your life isn’t filled with explosions, or adventure, and if you lived in a little town your entire existence, you still have a story to tell. Your life isn’t boring. Your life is your own, and you might think that nobody wants to hear about it, but I’m telling you that people do. I do. I love life experiences more than anything else in this world. Oddly enough, I despise reality TV, but that’s a separate issue. I want to hear your story. Pick up a pen, or start a blog! Write it down, and be brave enough to share it. I guarantee, somebody out there will read it and they might even say, “Wow, my life is boring compared to their’s” about YOU.

 

Typewriter What is Your Story

Musings

Diligent Dilettante


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Remember that old Planet Fitness commercial with the big guy who repeats, “I pick things up and put them down?” Well that’s me, only not with weights, but with everything I do.

As a writer, I am told, “Find your niche and stick to it.” If I want to make any type of living off my writing, I am supposed to be an “expert” at something and write content in that area. Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t I be that way?

I love too many things to pick just one or two. I have always been that way. A jack of all trades, master of none type of guy. I have a gift/curse that allows me to be “naturally” good at most everything I try, which creates motivation enough to stick to something for a little while, while it is fun.

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Then I reach a point that it isn’t as fun anymore, because it takes real dedication and time to get to the next level. That’s when something else will pique my interest and surprise surprise, I’m good enough at it to want to do that instead.

Some activities that I’ve done include:
writing, rapping, painting, crafting, cooking, gaming, Tae Kwon Do, boxing, power lifting, calisthenics, poetry, running, gymnastics, etymology, English composition, teaching, dog training, food critic, movie critic, relationship advisor, motivational speaking, plumbing, electronic technician, chauffeur, customer service, waiting tables, light construction, hiking, camping, survivalist, archery, how to bulk on a budget, protein powder reviewer, dress nice on a budget, yoga, mediation, etc.
The list goes on.

I loved every moment I spent pursuing these momentary passions, and I learned so much doing them, but inevitably, they all came to an end. Some were picked up again, and some lasted longer than others, like rapping, which I did almost daily for 10-15 years. Poetry was sporadic, but something I still do, and writing motivation comes and goes, though I am currently on a hot streak of daily writing with this blog. I stay in relatively good shape, though I don’t hit the weights nearly as hard as I used to. I got my degree in English Composition, and I teach at Umass Boston, but that is coming to an end because there aren’t enough classes available next semester for me to teach any, being lower on the seniority totem pole.

Either way, I don’t know what I can write about to build an audience big enough to allow me to write as a profession. I have a vast amount of knowledge through life experiences, but I haven’t the slightest clue how to create a niche with it, nor do I really want to.

I never want to become something I’m not just to make money. I never want to be locked into something I no longer enjoy. Being a niche writer is putting me in a box, and that’s something that I cannot do. To quote Roy from Shanghai Noon,

“I am like a wild horse, you can’t tame me. You put the oats in the pen though and i’ll come in for a nibble every day, but if you ever shut that gate, i’ll jump the fence and you’ll never see me again.”