memory

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.

 

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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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.”

 

News and Updates

10,000 Words


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Today is a very special day for me. I have reached 10,000 words of my memoir. It was my first goal, and milestone when writing this book. I feel like I have accomplished a great task and even though I have tens of thousands of words left to write, I am proud.

Like a house is built one brick at a time, a book is written one word at a time. Just keep writing!

 

Musings

Vietnam Trip


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I’m currently writing the section of my memoir about my trip to Vietnam back in the summer of 2005. It’s a strange experience looking at the old pictures that I have locked away. I want to share some of them with you.

view

Check out this view!

tossoverboard

Wait guys, I come in peace!

nicerocks

Why am I looking satisfied like, “Hmm, this is a nice rock.”

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That money exchange rate though…

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Check them Jesus sandals! Also, our dumb prison poses

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Had to take a picture with these two. No clue what’s the deal with that unfinished wooden structure behind us though.

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Ok, so this was actually in the Hong Kong airport on our way TO Vietnam, but I just thought it would be a good one to share because it is important to laugh at yourself!

 

Overall, I had the best time ever, I can’t even describe what it did for my perspective in life. I only knew my small chunk of the world in Massachusetts and our way of life there. It is amazing how different life is on the other side of the world, and also how similar we all are in other ways. If you ever get the chance to travel, do it. Those memories and lessons are irreplaceable. I recommend Vietnam to everyone because I had an absolute blast! Thanks for reading

Motivation, News and Updates

Black Friday Update


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Let me begin by saying that it was stupid of me to attempt a new diet two days before Thanksgiving. Especially a Keto diet considering Thanksgiving is the carbiest holiday of the year! I’m not giving up, but I definitely chose to enjoy myself on Thursday.

With that being said, I want to remind those who are struggling with bringing new, good habits into their life that there will be days that are set backs. Don’t let that turn into giving up! I had two successful days of Keto, then I carbed up. Does that mean those two days are worthless? No. Even though I have to start over, I learned alot from those days. First, I learned that I can do go a whole day with minimal carbs. Second, I learned what meals to eat. So now, it will be much easier to attempt it again! Don’t let a set back ruin your motivation. You still learn with every attempt. I know people that attempted to quit smoking, 5-6 times before they actually succeeded! The goal was still reached, and they are living a much healthier life now. You just have to keep at it. What is the old saying? “If at first you don’t succeed. Destroy all evidence that you tried.” Just kidding. “Get your ass back in gear and try again!”

I think it is important to admit your failures. Especially when you’re like me and bragging all over the internet that you’re accomplishing your goals. You never now who is reading, or listening, and taking your words to heart. The problem begins when someone is influenced by you, but they reach a set back, and when they compare themselves to you, Mr. “Never fails” then they think they just aren’t capable of being better. I’m here to say, I’ve failed my way to success, every time. There are always set backs. I don’t feel bad about them anymore. I used to, but now I know that they are part of the process. Water beats stone every time in the long game.

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After indulging in some delicious food, my wife and I decided to go to bed early to wake up and go out shopping. We didn’t have anything in mind that warranted being out at midnight, so we got up at 6 and headed to the stores after the mobs have left. It was slow at first, not really finding anything great, but after 8 hours of shopping, we made out pretty good. We got our daughter some stuff that she wanted for Christmas, and we got our puppy some bones and a few hoodies. He’s a little guy and it gets mighty cold in Massachusetts.

I took the day off from posting, but I’m back at it again today. Perhaps the break was necessary because this very morning, I finally figured out the plot of my book! I’ve been writing a fiction story for a few months now. I have written 50-60 pages, most of which is being thrown out, but it led me to where I am now. I have far fewer pages, but they’re good pages and I’ve got the plot now so it is going to zoom from here! I’m so excited. I used to write all the time in the past but when I reached a road block that would demand me starting over, or throwing out most of my work, I’d give up on the story entirely and start a new one. I thought that If I didn’t write it perfectly on the first go, then it wasn’t a good story. How dumb was I right? Now I know, writing is rewriting. A college professor changed my world when she said, “Nothing is ever done, only due.”

I just wanted to share what is going on with me, with you. I’m just so excited to announce that my book finally has direction and I can’t wait to get back to writing it! Have a wonderful day!

 

Motivation

Attempting a Keto Diet


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I have been trying new diets for the better part of a decade now and I’ve been toying with the idea of going keto. It seems to be all the rage right now.

When I first started paying attention to my food, it was a mess. I wanted to gain weight, being a life long skinny man

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Yes, that’s a baby swan.

So, I only focused on the calories. I didn’t care how I got them, just as long as I kept shoveling food into my face. At one point, I was eating 4000 calories a day.

 

 

These became my portion sizes, every day. I was eating full meals, every 2 hours.

But I grew into a 205 lb beast!

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I got big, and strong, but also slow, tired, and not as little around the middle. I could bench 315, squat 320, and dead lift 405! Not record breaking numbers, but for the kid who could barely bench the bar when he started, it was like climbing Everest!

However, I couldn’t maintain the caloric intake after the military, because food wasn’t free anymore. Because of my metabolism, I quickly lost size. I shredded up, which was nice, but I couldn’t get over the fact that I lost all of mys strength.

Back down at 170

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I started paying more attention to my diet. I cut out sugar, almost entirely. No more soda. I tried to eat vegan, vegetarian, and even a very short attempt at carnivore. I just didn’t feel great on those diets. I’ve lost even more weight, now back to my original 165 lbs, but with a much more solid frame. Recently, I’ve got the kick to try Keto. I’ve been hearing so much about it and decided that I’d give it a shot. I like trying new diets, and if worse comes to worst, I’ll just shovel pasta in my gullet and balloon back up!

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Motivation

The Biggest Lesson I learned in my 20’s


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I don’t know how it is for everyone else, but my 20’s were a shit show. Well the first half of my 20’s. I was homeless from my late teens until I was 21. I spent my 21st birthday as a guinea pig for a group of friends who wanted to see if I could stay drunk for 21 days straight (which I succeeded at, then surpassed into a habit). Life was terrible because I didn’t care about myself.

Then, I decided to live. I joined the military (GO NAVY!) and got my life on track. Not overnight, because while in the Navy, I still drank like a sailor and didn’t do much looking inward at first. When I turned 24/25-ish is when I began to rebuild myself, from the inside-out. If there is just one lesson that needs to be learned in your 20’s, though it may sound cliché, but it is simply to learn to Love Yourself.

People like me seek the approval of others in order to define themselves. I’ve been like that for as long as I can remember. I had an easy time making acquaintances, but my problem was that I would latch on to people. If I made a friend, I would say it is my best friend, and then I’d go out of my way to make that person happy. They would usually reciprocate when it would be just us, but when there was someone they thought was “cooler” than me available to hang out with, guess who’d be alone? Yup, little ole me. It took me over 20 years to realize that this was a problem with me, and not them. I thought that these people were fake and not a true friend, like me. Don’t be so full of yourself. They had lives outside of our friendship and that’s okay. I blamed my lack of a life beyond them, on them. Not cool old me, not cool.

The real issue was that these people didn’t depend on me for happiness as I did to them. I wasn’t happy with myself and I was using them like a drug to numb my emptiness. I couldn’t be alone without crying my eyes out for no reason. Maybe you’re not as messed up as I was, but the advice still applies. Love yourself. Spend some time thinking about your own insecurities and then figure out WHY you are insecure about them.

For me, I found that my older brother and my mother played a big role in mine. My mom was a single mother, living in poverty, who worked constantly for little money. She worked all day, and when she was home, she would be too tired to spend much time with us. My brother bullied me verbally and physically, so I went out and found comfort in friends. It was in my 20’s that I was able to figure this out and forgive them for their faults. I’ve learned that they have their own insecurities and that they never maliciously contributed to mine. I’ve learned that my brother’s anger was a problem with HIM and not with ME. I have learned to love me for me and you know what? I can be alone now, in fact, I prefer it most of the time.

One good decision led to another and before long, I ended the bad relationships that I held on to for no good reason other than my fear of being alone. Good bye to the drug users and dealers, Good bye to the unmotivated and negative thinkers, and Good bye to the old me! I now keep a small circle and if I see them, I enjoy what I can, and if I don’t, I enjoy my own company.

Love yourself! Nobody has a clue what this is…Life. Some people are convincing and pretend that they know, but I promise you, not a single person has a clue. We are all just trying to do the best we can with what we have. Unfortunately some people have less to work with than others, but we all can find happiness within. And if you ever feel like nobody cares, just know, you still have you!

Motivation

How to Improve Your Imagination


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If you’re like me, you might feel like you lack imagination. Which is strange because as a child, I had the wildest imagination. Somehow, over the years, it began to fade. I became more literal and logical. These are great qualities to have, especially in this world that we live in, but let’s be honest, the outside-the-box thinkers are just as necessary. It takes imagination to dream and wonder “what if?” Then it takes the logical mind to bring dreams into reality. I used to think that I had to choose between the two ways of thinking, but I now believe it is possible to be both.

Just a little over a month ago, I began to read books again. Like page turning, hold in my hand, use a book mark, type of books. I have grown to dislike reading, mostly because I have a huge love for movies. However, it is the media that I consume that I believe killed my own imagination. Movies and games are amazing, but they do the creativity part for you. You don’t have to picture anything. However, those mediums do still keep your logical brain challenged. In movies, you might be trying to figure out what’s going to happen next, or analyzing the message of the movie, or something. In video games, especially in the ones that I enjoy, there is a strategic element that challenges me to figure out how to best my opponent. Thus, the logical brain has been strengthening over the years.

Reading books was a challenge for myself, mostly because I enjoy writing and all writers that I know or follow say, “Reading and writing go hand in hand. To be a better writer, one must read.” Honestly, I didn’t want to believe it, but I have decided that I would give it a shot. I didn’t realize the impact that reading would have on my imagination. At first, it was so difficult to even picture what was happening on the page that I was reading. Words were just words to me. I read them, but I wasn’t being whisked away by them, and I stayed in the reality of the situation. That is, sitting there, staring at a page, reading words. However, after a few days, maybe a week of continuous reading (just 25 pages a day), I began imagining small details. Not entire scenes, or the the whole story, but little things, like the description of a characters neck tie, or, while reading a detailed description of a room, I could imagine just the chair. It was small, but it was a start, like I was flicking the imagination switch back on and impulses were starting to connect.

After a month of reading daily, I can now imagine whole scenes. I still have work to do to keep me in the story, but I can see steady growth in my imagination. It has given me more motivation to read because I am seeing tangible results, which pleases my logical brain =] I have been writing daily too, and I am starting to add more details to it as I go and revise.

So there you have it. Just read books. Something that many still do, but also something that is increasingly becoming a digital task. Spend some time, everyday, just 25 pages, and read a real, page turning, physical book, and I guarantee that your imagination will improve.