The Calm within the Storm

We’re gonna be brief here today folks. The reality portion of my life is pushing the blurry side aside for the day. I’ve got things to do–like getting groceries (energy so I can keep writing), shaving (something I should do more often than I do), and dealing with the air conditioner dude. Hopefully, he’ll get it fixed this time. Third time’s the charm. Right?

So, with all the chaos going on around me, how do I handle it, you might ask? Here’s my secret and the reason you’re all here today.

Stay focused. Stay centered. Be the calm within the storm. Now, you might find this all Zen and that’s fine. I’ve read a number of books on Eastern philosophy in my day, but I’ll westernize this (as I am wont to do.) You have to give yourself an opportunity to recharge. Just like you don’t expect to stay up twenty-four hours a day or your phone calls to last seven hours at a time. You have to take opportunities to chill. This doesn’t mean, however, you cannot gain some value and insight to your work while you’re off doing other things. Ray Bradbury wrote a most excellent book entitled Zen in the Art of Writing which I read at many years ago. In that particular work, the big takeaway I had was this amazingly famous and talented author gave me permission to be an eavesdropper. Before that, I was a bit too polite to really listen to other people’s conversations. Since then, I study human behavior. When I’m out and about, I look at social dynamics, study people’s mannerisms, and, yes, listen to conversations I may not necessarily be privy to. All this stuff becomes grist for the mill. Essentially, whenever I’m out and about, I’m a lint collector. I absorb the atmosphere of places, their smells, sounds, the lighting, and all of these things better inform my work. When I watch movies, I’m hopefully being entertained, but I’m drilling deeper and looking at the plot structure and studying how certain effects (be they emotional or action) are achieved. I’m never not working, and this is the art of being focused. All things mean something and the smallest detail you notice in passing may well rise up to be a kernel of a story or help you solve some dilemma you are facing in your work. Try it and let me know how it turns out for you.

Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!


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