Insider Secrets

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When I was a kid- my grade eight math teacher told our class about a mail-order scam where someone would put an ad in the classifieds–offering an ancient secret to becoming rich and famous. All you had to do was send nine dollars to a box number and the secret of unlimited wealth would be yours.

A few weeks later, a booklet in a plain brown package would arrive. You would tear open the package to discover that the secret was putting your own ad in the paper-and sending out the booklet yourself.  You could buy the booklet in bulk. You could put your ad in multiple newspapers and then before you knew it  you would be raking in the millions, nine bucks at a time.

I don’t think the mail-order scam is still around, but we have plenty of high tech versions of the same thing.

Recently out of curiosity,  I signed up for a free seminar that promised to teach the secrets to becoming a best selling author on Amazon.com

I realized pretty quickly that the the free seminar was just a pitch for the upgrade.

An upgrade would give me instant access to the special secret insider info, which was being shared for the first time by the hottest-most powerful, most successful superstars in the booming billion dollar e-book business. Apparently there were over ten thousand people who had already clicked through to the upgrade according to the ticking counter on the sidebar.  The upgrades were going like hotcakes.

Now I am a little bit overly skeptical by nature,  probably because of the x-ray glasses that I trustingly sent away for when I was eight. My x-ray glasses were a real life lesson.  But apparently there are many people who are willing to  believe that the flow of  wealth is only a secret away.

I clicked over to the upgrade page just to see what the deal was.

I saw–various upgrade packages available. For  two hundred and fifty dollars you would get the seminar but the  five hundred dollar bundle would get you the seminar plus the bonus lessons, and if you wanted to go directly to the sanctum of  insider secrets– well that would be a thousand dollars where you could get the seminar and the bonus lessons and a private coaching session from one of the experts,  plus  they would help you build your own website so that you could sell your ebooks and offer seminars  where you could sell  insider secrets. Well, I clicked myself out of there pretty quickly– but I have to admit a part of me was thinking, “Was I being negative again? Was I being fearful and closed minded? Was I blocking the flow of wealth and money?”  “No!” said the other part of me. What kind of inside track would you be on if ten thousand people were on it with you? That seminar and all those so called secrets were just the mail-order scam 2.0.

It’s kind of a metaphor for our human frailty. We want to believe there’s a short cut, a secret door, an easy way to get rich quick. Even rational intelligent people with college educations  and a lot of success in life will fall for Ponzi schemes.

Here is my secret.  And it’s free.  If you want to get rich writing ebooks, write one. Find out how hard it is to  actually write a book. Find out how difficult it is to shape an original idea and then develop it into something that makes sense. Find out how writing is painful and takes diligence and determination and time. A lot of time. Then when you have done that– you can look into how to sell it and get people to buy it.  It goes for anything in life. Do the work. There’s no shortcut. There’s no secret.

 

B-Boy--2

Mind your own business

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“There are only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours, and God’s.” ~ Byron Katie

Today, I had the urge to write about something that I was outraged about. I was annoyed  about a particular internet  art star. I wanted to be the kid in the crowd who cries out that the emperor has no clothes. But I changed my mind. And even if I am right and the emperor is truly naked a lot of people love her. A lot of people hang on her every word and lavish fawning praise every time she overshares on her facebook fan page.

My grandmother used to say- “A still tongue in a wise head” In other words, keep your opinions to your self. So I will. I will not blab my snarly opinions, even though I want to. I will not be a critic. I will not be a judge. I will hold my tongue. It is just me being skeptical, about what I see as bullshit.

Truth is, I feel threatened by it. Not sure why. Some form of jealousy maybe? Some kind of resentful feelings about her success. Feelings of injustice maybe? My judgements might be my own insecurity. I don’t know. Then again I could be right. My skepticism could be spot on. What I see as a load of crap, could be indeed–crap. But it’s not my business. People apparently love crap. So who am I to try to counter that. Who am I to tell them what to believe. So I have told myself– Don’t sit around grumping in self righteous indignation about whether or not someone deserves their success.

You have your own work to do. I am reminded about my grade two teacher Mrs Clippingdale who never listened to tattle tales. She said if we were busy doing our work we wouldn’t be noticing other people not doing theirs. So thanks Mrs. C. I am taking your advice. I will do my own work. It’s not my job to save the world from naked emperors. Life is too short. So now–Back to work on this play. I am on draft three of that and I have a ways to go. Right now my play sucks so I need to stop avoiding it with indignation and other wastes of time.

Sally LIves Here
Sally LIves Here

Phew!

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I am working on my play again

after a couple of months of avoiding it.

I feel like I am standing in front of a house with no door–

and I am trying to figure out how to get back in.

Today I am going for a long walk around Trout Lake with my characters.

I hope they will speak to me and tell me where the secret door is.

Walking is often the way that I re-connect with my imagination,

when it has been otherwise engaged.

Lately it has been busy scaring me half to death about things.

Life has been complicated in recent months.

But my imagination likes to get in there with the worry,

and exaggerate it–turn it into an epic tragedy.

It likes to get me to rehearse my internal drama

and perform it to myself long after the curtain has

come down on whatever difficulty or annoyance or perceived injustice

I am facing. Yes I am obsessive.

Time to re-direct my unruly imagination and tell

it to stop scaring me– and instead help me write my damn play.

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Reminding myself of the light within.

The traveler driving down a lonely country road at night, is encouraged by the distant twinkling lights of her destination.

But it’s the headlights of her car that keep her from driving off the road.

In life we are drawn toward the bright light of desire and distant dreams.

But only the light we carry with us, will keep our wheels on the road and our footsteps on the path.

We have to keep that light burning.

Mountain-road

This is a re-post from last year but I needed to remind myself of this today.

ART AND COURAGE

If we had to say what writing is, we would have to define it essentially as an act of courage. —Cynthia Ozick

Fear and Courage
Fear and Courage

I do believe that writing is an act of courage.

Courage to keep going when life is in chaos–

courage to keep going when your are tired and drained and empty,

when you think you have been left behind,

when you think someone else is better than you.

when you think you have nothing to say.

when no one pays any attention

to what you have written.

It takes courage to write.

I believe this.

Over and over and over in my life,

my fear has stopped  me dead in my tracks.

And courage was nowhere to be found.

I didn’t understand that fear was necessary for courage to exist.

I didn’t realize courage and fear were inseparable companions.

So now I live my life,

knowing fear is always present

and always talking to me–

And somehow I have to keep going anyway and trust that I can.

Because courage is standing right there with fear-

waiting to be called on–waiting to  take the lead-

waiting to carry me across whatever dangerous territory–

whatever hidden enemies–

I think I am facing.

I need to remember this.

Now especially.

I have an opportunity to include an excerpt of my new play

in a festival of new work but fear is plaguing me.

It’s screaming at me.

It’s sneaking up on me.

Covert attacks.

Constantly.

Every little obstacle that I have to face or every tiny suggestion

that something needs work or should be cut–

is scaring me to the point that I am angry.

I wake up in the morning

with dread that I am not good enough–

That the play is not ready.

I find myself reacting angrily to things.

Or I am annoyed at the person who offered me

the opportunity at the wrong time.

I have to constantly remind myself,

That I am not actually in danger.

It’s just my fear  trying to protect me.

It’s just my fear,  wanting me to quit —

so that I don’t have to take a risk–

or feel the pain of possible failure.

And every demand of my life–

and there are many these days-

seems to suggest I don’t have  the time

or the stamina or the ability.

But  it is just my fear trying to stop me

from failing.

But I am not going to fail.

I can do this.

I can do it.

There is no conquering fear.

There is no need to conquer it.

Courage needs me to know this.

Ready or not here I come.Ready or Not

Poem from a recurring dream.

I have built a little cage

on the edge of a cliff,

where I pretend–

to live contentedly,

rather than learn to swim across

the turbulent waters below.

Cushioned by the delusion of safety,

I hang there trapped–

above murky waters-

as if sitting alone in a cage–

is  preferable to the risk of drowning.

I watch with envy, all the

happy swimmers passing by.

They seem to calm the water

with their powerful strokes.

But the thought of being

swallowed by the current,

keeps me here,

behind the iron bars of

disappointment.

I  have dreamed this flooded landscape.

I have dreamed this turbulent water.

I have dreamed the murky depths.

And I have dreamed this cage.

Now  wide awake–

I am dreaming of a little red boat.

Red boat JPG

Days in the haunted room a poem

red fire

I find myself at times

living my life

as if I was trapped

in a haunted room–

spending all  my days and nights

all alone with

my hopeless longings

hanging like torn and tattered

curtains,

heavy with years.

Ghostly companions

whispering in the darkIMG_0196

And even when I

try to escape

I can’t get far–

without tripping on

all my unanswered questions

and unfulfilled dreams

piled in the corners,

like unpaid bills.

As if I owe myself

more agony

As if I fear getting behind

in my suffering.

As if only the frightening truth

will set me free.

I would love to renovate

so the the walls of that

room could come crashing down–

and all the old secrets would

crumble and blow away.

Or maybe it would be enough

just for the door to be

locked forever–

and left as a resting place

for other ghosts– not mine

who would keep company

with all that I had

finally left behind in that

old haunted room.
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Knowing and accepting- Creative Process Part One

Knowing and accepting

that we will be criticized-

that we will be judged,

rejected or even worse

ignored–

and choosing to

continue anyway-

is an essential skill

that we need to acquire-

that we can not do without-

in life and in art.

So is knowing and accepting

that sometimes the road is

long and hard-

and straight uphill-

all the way–

and that our chosen path

will take us through

mud and sludge and swamp-

and steep mountains

and dark forests.

And that for much

of the journey

we are absolutely

alone.

To be lost and afraid

and to ache

and nearly break–

is part of the journey.

There is no avoiding it.

When we are engaged

in the process of writing or painting–

where the product matters-

where it’s not just therapeutic–

or an exercise in self inquiry-

but where expectations of merit-

and quality play an important part–

we will at some point-

feel all of the awful.

fearful, jealous, disappointed,

rejected, despairing, angry emotions.

And we will be full of doubt.

We will from time to time

believe that we can not

keep going.

But there is the trick

to surviving all this misery.

It’s remembering that if

you are feeling these

things–you are on your path.

If you feeling all tis pain

you are doing it right.

You are staying on track.

If you opened your lap top today

and hate what your wrote yesterday–

and the day before–

You are in the process

of doing the work.

You are getting there-

you are slogging up the hill-

you are getting it done.

You are getting somewhere.

So when you are stuck with nothing to say-

remember that you are supposed to get stuck-

sometimes.

You are not going anywhere folks if–

from time to time

you don’t get stuck-

waylaid, distracted, completely lost.

You haven’t left the comfort zone if

you never want to rage and moan.

It is part of the creative process.

That is all it is.

You wanna quit but don’t.

You gotta go through this part.

On the other side of this

is your reward.

Coming soon. Part two,