Christmas “eureka moments” may happen in the quiet times

Pause to reflect. A writer needs refreshment and the Christmas period is quite obviously a good time for that.

I’ve been doing less writing recently and more note taking, research, and reflection.

But I trust that the pleasures of contemplation can draw me back to the discipline of writing in a fresh way.

Pre-Christmas can be busy, but the post-Christmas break is a good chance to re-store, re-think and re-charge, and even re-prioritize.

Life can be busy yet I wonder if it’s all helpful. Busyness is self-multiplying, in that work multiplies work. In a rush of doing work, one may find inspiration after inspiration, but rather thoughtlessly (don’t I know it).

In busyness, one may not be thinking clearly about what one is doing. However, in a period of reflection, like at Christmas, things can become clearer. Career decisions and direction can be made during the quiet times and in the process of reflection.

Reflection can spawn even Eureka moments that clear the mind with solutions and answers.

In reflection one sees the road ahead clearer in a transparent dose of reality that isn’t inspired by the adrenalin of the year that’s gone.

Sleep, get lazy, hazy, do something completely different, and don’t think too much. Pause.

writing day-by-day

Is a writer human?

Is it okay for a writer to take a break?  Yes and no. First the no.

No in that a writer shouldn’t take a break. Taking a break is not expected of writer, so should accept this and do their job as is expected. Since it’s deemed fit for a writer to not take a break then their should be no relenting on behalf of the writer. Keep on working until your eyes fall out and the screen turns purple. Do your job.

Of course, writer doesn’t need to be told this, but is often told by peers and companions to get their motor running. What do you do all day in there in your room? Playing games? Bringing the mates over? Keeping the seat warm? Of course, these questions aren’t framed as questions, but as statements.

So, the writer is considered a lay about and should get a real job. No one believes a writer actually does any real work except for the one nice word which was, “He burns the candle at both ends of the stick”, which seems to be about one’s endurance as a writer, or is a disparaging comment on one’s perceived religion, if one is believed to be Catholic.

But this most undervalued of professions is given shock relief when a writer finally makes the big time and is praised for his enduring work.

Nonsense that a writer shouldn’t take a break. Everyone knows or should know, a writer must take a break. We are not in the ‘civilization’ of the slave trade. In this day and age, writers like any other worker are allowed by right to take a break.

Writers are the most underpaid but hardest and devoted of workers. They must take a break. Even a long one if necessary. Writers are human, too.

I like

At Eternity’s Gate (2018)

Why is there a glut of films being released, but I only feel motivated or compelled to see so few of them? There are a few films released in America this year that I like to see. One of them is this week’s release of At Eternity’s Gate.

The end of the trailer gives us a little insight into the title. Vincent Van Gough, played by Willem Dafoe, says, in a manner of words, that’s he’s facing his relationship to eternity.

It’s a profound statement in the context and tops off profoundly an exquisite trailer, that eschews formulaic production values for the values of an artistic production.

The cinematography is luminescent, the camera placement intimate, the drama riveting, the acting genuinely convincing. This is about more than a simple biography of Vincent Van Gough, it’s his whole life, his heart, but unlike the bio-pic of Gandhi, doesn’t announce it.


writing day-by-day

The writer with entitlement [read: high level of motivation] is a storm force

Motivation can be an issue for a writer if not on assignment. I mean, although it’s possible for a writer not on assignment to be extremely motivated, it’s also possible that a writer not on assignment is unmotivated to produce their own material without much external pressure.

Pressure to get the assignment done is motivating, but without that pressure a writer may stop writing.

In those times, when there isn’t an assignment, I’m either inspired to write something or like I’ve said I just don’t bother.

But the writer with a sense of entitlement probably can do anything they set themselves to do. I don’t think I’m in that camp, but I’ve wondered what it feels like. To write off several books without a worry.

I found if I had a publisher in mind that was going to foreseeably publish my work, I did the work no worries. But when I wrote on speculation, without the expectation my work would get published, it gets harder when there’s been rejections with the work. The cumulative effect can be draining.

Expectation can also be a crippler as expectation doesn’t always match reality. But alas, one has hope one will be face the road blocks with ease one day.


An episode of Autopsy had much to do with the liver

This one made me think—about my coffee intake. Although the program was about alcoholism, the common link for the rest of us is what we do to our liver.

If one can relate, Autopsy is an appropriate title to make one think twice about taking care of one’s self. It made me think twice about my coffee intake.

It is a television series from Britain’s ITV studios that analyses the life and last days of famous people. Dr. Jason Payne-James looks at the cause of death that is on the celebrity’s death certificate but looking closely at the evidence he concurs with the certificate or comes to another conclusion.

The subjects of the series are people well-known in film, music, and sports. For example, the days leading up to the untimely deaths of actors Robin Williams and Heath Ledger are analysed. In the episode I watched, the life and death of Irish-born Manchester United footballer George Best are scrutinized.

It wasn’t easy for Best. The reason for Best’s drinking habit is given at the start. He was a shy young man and became a social drinker. This led him to going to the bottle when challenges in life came his way.

One such challenge was the death of his mother. She couldn’t take the public criticism of his son when he gave up football and she took to the bottle and eventually died of alcoholism. He suffered in that process, too.

The tricky winger is regarded as the one of the greatest UK footballers [soccer] if not the best ever. But his downfall was that he had a disease—he was an alcoholic. Death by alcoholism is not mentioned on the death certificate, but Dr Payne-James postulates that Best may have died from alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Payne-James investigates. This is where this program gets scary, if one cares about the liver.

Best’s alcoholism, which was a progressive disease over thirty years, certainly had an impact on Best’s liver. Doesn’t heavy coffee drinking over time have some impact on the liver, as well?

A lesson of this episode is to look after yourself whatever’s happened to you. Keep off self-destructive tendencies no matter what it takes. Do something about it. This program can scare one into submission to doing the good thing.

writing day-by-day

What is writing “on spec”?

Writing on spec involves reading the writer’s guidelines of a newspaper or magazine, online or in print, and deciding to submit an article, poem, piece of art work, or story to that publication, according to their guidelines.

The on-spec part is that the piece isn’t guaranteed publication once one sends it. It may be accepted or rejected. That’s the risk the writer or contributor takes in submitting on-spec.

All that hard work and it gets rejected. Well, you try another publisher and another one, until it gets accepted or until one has exhausted the possibilities and you realize that it will never get published as it is. Re-write it, perhaps, and try again.

Submitting on spec is a treadmill at times and it’s hard to write on-spec when you don’t have guarantee it will get published. Writing on assignment is guaranteed but writing on-spec can be a test of a writer’s perseverance when there’s a chance of getting it rejected. Why bother?

But if one can get in the mood to write on-spec, why not? One may get published somewhere along the line.  Write it well, send it well. Go well. See what happens.