Archive for the ‘Chuck Wendig’ Category

“Where There Is No Vision, the People Perish” ~ the Bible, Book of Proverbs

Last night, I went along to a speech contest, one of four which take place each year within Toastmasters. The Humorous and Table Topics Contest this year had within it a most thought-provoking question. The chair asked each contestant, “Is art essential to daily life?”

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Wow, what a great question. I thought about it all the way home.

When you think the earliest examples of the cave art of our ancestors began to appear around 30,000 years ago, it makes you realize how deep this question really is. From that artistic moment in man’s history, we sought to express strong feelings through imagery. This proved a great intellectual breakthrough for our species.

In effect, man could ‘freeze’ part of his environment long enough for his powerful intelligence to think about it, to manipulate it, to understand it fully. ~ Readers Digest, The First Two Million Years.

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Art can show us who we are and who we want to be, and it can give us the metaphors and thematic connections that let us understand our world in a bigger, weirder, more resonant way. ~ Chuck Wendig

When you think that our primitive art led to teaching aids, toys and tools, you realize that art has played a quintessential part of our evolution. Therefore, the answer to the question could be, art is not only essential to life but life as we know it today would not have been possible without it.

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This morning, there was a new post out by Wendig, entitled, It Is Art That Will Help Us Survive http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2016/09/21/it-is-art-that-will-help-us-survive/

Wendig gave verdant life to some deep concerns people have these days about the future of everything. Yet, he leavens the doom and despair of “reality” with the message, ‘Spoiler warning: it’s art that will save us.’ In other words, he’s doing through his blog what art does for the observer.

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He likens the positive effect to being healthy for us: ‘The act of art as a probiotic boost to our emotional and spiritual immune systems. Art as rebellion, revelation, renewal.’ I like the idea of that, art as antioxidant! Thanks, Chuck. You, the man.

I’ve been an artist all my life, whether through art or the written word. About a year ago, a talented, creative friend asked, Does being able to draw have a purpose these days…it doesn’t seem to have any artistic or financial merit.

I replied: “My oil paintings will outlive me. I kind of like that. However, leaving legacies aside, a world without art and artists of all kinds I would not want to live in. Our purpose may not be expressed in the same clearly linear format of hours done/recompense given/living earned sort of thing as other people get to do. The arts are about much more than that. They’re about spiritual, emotional, mental, physical expression and transmutation and magical processes.

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‘The arts provide the rest of mankind with those most important of elusive experiences: hope, and inspiration, and aspiration and joy. They’re about the alchemy of being reminded to look up and remember the bigger picture.’

And as Wendig reminded us, ‘We learn who other people are through art — it’s not just our stories we need reflected, but everyone’s. Art maybe won’t create empathy out of whole cloth, but it can stir it, it can stoke it, like breath blown against cooling embers.’

Empathy is a vital asset in these explosive, uncertain times. Therefore art provides a vehicle for understanding one another.

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This is why in times gone by, the Ancient Maori, for instance, would greet a group from another tribe by stating who they were, who their kin were, and then by sitting and sharing stories (the “mihi”). In this way, they would create common ground with those they needed to ally with and trade with or whatever. Art greases the wheels of reciprocity and peace.

Therefore, you could say, art is essential to future life.

It was the wonderful writer, Terry Pratchett, who said, Before you can change the world, you have to be able to form a picture of the world being other than it appears. I think this is the essence of the argument right here. Yes, as Wendig says, art provides an escape, and this opens us to envision, to build new worlds, better, greater, more sustainable worlds.

Imagination, said Pratchett, not intelligence, made us human. It’s art, said Wendig, that will save us. It’s art, said Carol, that will preserve our species and our world.

Yes. Art is essential to life!

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Humans, in order to live effectively and happily, need a goal—a vision—to pursue. ~ Paul Rosenberg

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Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me! As a child, I totally believed in the protective powers of this chant.

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As an adult, I realize how ridiculous this notion is, because of course words can hurt you!

As an author, I respect the power of words.

Any fellow scribe or teacher will tell you the same. As Chuck Wendig said, ‘Writers know the power of words. Words change the world. Words have always been more effective than bullets when it comes to changing both the present and the future.’

Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist at Thomas Jefferson University, and Mark Robert Waldman, a communications expert, collaborated on the book, “Words Can Change Your Brain.” In it, they write,a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.

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At our Toastmasters meeting this week, one of the speakers ran a brainstorming session, about life purpose. He asked the question, what stops us from fulfilling our life purpose? I said, ‘Negative thoughts.’ It’s my belief there is nothing more damaging to our evolution than stinky thinking or speaking.

The science backs it up. The scientific research done by Dr. Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman on this topic is fascinating. “By holding a positive and optimistic [word] in your mind, you stimulate frontal lobe activity. This area includes specific language centers that connect directly to the motor cortex responsible for moving you into action. And as our research has shown, the longer you concentrate on positive words, the more you begin to affect other areas of the brain.

Functions in the parietal lobe start to change, which changes your perception of yourself and the people you interact with. A positive view of yourself will bias you toward seeing the good in others, whereas a negative self-image will include you toward suspicion and doubt. Over time the structure of your thalamus will also change in response to your conscious words, thoughts, and feelings, and we believe that the thalamic changes affect the way in which you perceive reality.”

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At the beginning of this year, Michelle Buchanan, Numerologist for the Women’s Day magazine, did a numerology reading for me.

With regards fulfilling one’s life purpose, Michelle said, ‘It’s not just about trying to manifest the goal that you have, it’s about keeping your overall life force energy at a high vibration, which comes from what you think and believe about everything, from everything you think about your neighbours and your mother-in-law, to worrying about your waistline and cancer. Because all these things contribute to your overall life force energy, that is determining what you will attract and what you won’t attract. And it’s not just about that goal that you have, it’s everything.’

It’s the idea of using the right words to ‘keep one’s overall life force energy high,’ as Michelle put it, to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress, as the scientist and communication expert put it. In this way, by utilising such a simple thing as word choice, we can alter our reality.

Our word choice wields the power to influence either our good health or our state of stress.

This means we can literally control our own stress levels, by deliberately choosing the words we use, by turning the negatives into positives. How cool!

As part of my New Year’s resolutions, I set out this year to apply the rule of positive thinking with regards my every word, inner or outer. I’m here to report; I immediately experienced a lighter frame of mind right away that has been enduring.

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In my life generally, I have noticed changes. An opportunity came up at Toastmasters last week, to represent my club at a public “Open Mic” event and it was another good step forward for me, in terms of personal development. Things like this seem to happen more often.

I feel more strongly than ever convinced that if we want to experience changes of any kind in our lives, we need to start first and foremost with our words. All our words, the things we say to others, the things we say to ourselves.

With this in mind, how’s this for a new playground chant: Words and thoughts may build my life but sticks and stones can never touch that!

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Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen” – Goethe

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“If I were to write a play I’d write it any damn way I pleased and it would come out all right.” ~ Charles Bukowski. ~ “It makes me nervous to read those articles on playwriting, ‘A play must have a premise’ and so forth. I am afraid that the problems of our playwrights … is they are TOLD the proper way to do a thing.”

My thoughts exactly, Charles! Yes, folks, once again we get to visit one of my pet peeves, upon which I’m going to bestow a grand name – #WhySoManyRules?

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Story is not born of convention or following the rules. Yes, we writers must be neat and tidy and write within the lines. To a point. Award-winning kiwi author, Kate de Goldi, put it this way. “I don’t care about the classifications of what constitutes children’s literature. I want to write articulate, textural, demanding fiction. I think current stories are lacking in complex structure, and nuance. Kids need more than a limited diction.”

Kate is my writing hero and I admire her attitude fiercely. She’s how brave I aim to be when I grow up.

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#WhySoManyRules?

You see, I feel stifled a lot of times by the laundry list of modern do’s and do-not’s for writing fiction. The “was police” won’t allow a single use of the word. Using gerunds is never allowed under any circumstances. Descriptive passages are an absolute “no-no.” Flashbacks should be avoided, the same goes for prologues and epilogues. The new one I hear is don’t include maps. And so on, and so forth.

Sometimes, I feel reduced to a kindergartner, unable to make a single coherent decision unassisted.

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I’m immersed in the happy process at present, of refining the original vision of my book, ‘The Sasori Empire’ i.e. making presentable fiction through the steady process of attrition: the edit-critique-rewrite-critque-edit cycle.

The polishing is necessary but what I question is, do we really have to take out every ‘was, were, had?’ Can’t I use ‘ing’ once, or twice, or maybe thrice?

Why are there so many should’s and should-nots these days?

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When I read classic bedtime stories to the kids, I realize how comforting the old style of writing was for the reader. The boys and I are currently reading Paddington. We all agree how much we’re enjoying the story.

Here’s a sample of the text (italics, mine):

‘The Browns were there to meet their daughter Judy, who was coming home from school for the holidays. It was a warm summer day and the station was crowded with people on their way to the seaside.’

This is a perfect example because a passage like this from Paddington would never get past an editor or critique reader today. You’d have to take all of the italicized words out. This is the sort of constrictive thinking I’m talking about for a writer in these times.

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It was Maya Angelou who said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” This is the truth. Any creative person will know this deeply. The wellspring within must find its outlet.

What do we do when the walls and structures of modern fiction hem us in, watering down our work? Diluting our inspiration?

We compromise. I do take out a lot of was words and gerunds and description in the editing process. But I don’t take them all out. I pick what goes and what stays by how it feels to me, and how important it is to the telling of my story.

As my dear friend, James Preller said when I wondered whether to quit early on editing my first book, “It’s your name on the spine.”

We need to seek that particular middle ground which will serve the spirit of this project.

A delicate balance can be found, I believe, between the popular expectations, and respect for the muse and our own writer’s voice.

We respect that our name will be on the spine of a book which may outlive us.

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Chuck Wendig said, “Writing involves a series of stylistic choices. Sometimes these choices mean breaking rules. It’s okay to make these choices as an author. It’s okay to not like these choices as a reader. The end.”

When I started blogging, author and film-maker, PJ Reece responded to my first post. “The writing world needs more unedited truth. I can see it all now… fans showing up to hear ever more about the king with no clothes on. Is there not far too much conventional thinking in the wannabe writing world? Your site could be the antidote. I`m in! And all the best!

I don’t know about ‘unedited truth’ however, I can visit and re-visit the heck out of my pet peeves.

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Do we need so many rules for our fiction? Agree or disagree?

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Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Don’t tell me what I’m doing, I don’t want to know. ~ Federico Fellini

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