Write Your Own Story!

Answer the Call to Adventure and join Our Hero in a Quest of self-discovery and transformation.

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Questrospective: The 2013 Year in Review

“Too much sanity may be madness. And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be.”
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

Hail Heroes!

One year ago I undertook a Gallant and somewhat Delusional Quest to become a screenwriter. It’s an “Impossible Dream”, according to Robert Goulet. Accordingly, I chose the Knight-Errant Don Quixote of La Mancha as a sort of totem to represent my Journey, which is rich in Ideals and not particularly steeped in”reality”.  Reality likes to impose limitations on people. Heroes hate limitations.

And yet, all Heroes have them. Whether it be their circumstances or a physical/spiritual or other weakness, the Hero must overcome themselves before they can even think about Defeating Dragons and winning the Boon.

My Achilles Heel, my Kryptonite is a raging case of adult ADHD. It hinders everything I do, from work to parenting to my marriage. It makes writing a considerably frustrating challenge. Because of the Curse of Shiny Objects, I have started, but never really finished, dozens of stories, scripts and essays. This has made my Quest a daunting, uphill challenge. Add to that a crippling self-doubt and world-class procrastination on my part, and you have a lethal cocktail for Heroisms.

All Heroes need to face their own limitations, so I started by seeking treatment for my ADHD. This year I finally found a medication that has worked for me, and I have worked hard to take ownership of my habits and behaviors.

I also used this blog to share lessons and draw motivation from real life Heroes such as Diana Nyad, Wallace Stevens, Fauja Singh, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, Orville Wright and Sylvester Stallone, all of whom persevered until their Dreams became fact.

Most of all, I have found inspiration in my Muse/wife and three Magic daughters. Rachel has helped release me from all manner of self-made tethers and encourages me everyday. She is a Heroine in her own right. She helps me see the world as it should be.

“Now look, your grace,” said Sancho, “what you see over there aren’t giants, but windmills, and what seems to be arms are just their sails, that go around in the wind and turn the millstone.”

 
“Obviously,” replied Don Quixote, “you don’t know much about adventures.”
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote .

Yet despite much efforting, as the year came to a close, I felt defeated. It seemed as if I had failed in my Quest. No producers or agents came knocking. And I was mired in a slump as I slogged through rewrites of my script. It felt like I was just tilting at windmills instead of slaying Giants.

This is why we take the opportunity to reflect on a passing year; to see the big picture and see the world as it should be. And looking back, it was a life-changing year for me. In 2013, I was pretty prolific for a Knight with a day job. I’ve written several short scripts and stories. And, while I haven’t sold any scripts, or won any contests, or been contacted by an agent, I am a screenwriter. I have completed my first script, tentatively titled From Beyond, which I am rewriting to submit to production companies, talent agencies and writing contests. This would not have been possible before this year. In fact, it is truly miraculous, the stuff of Myth. A grand Adventure.

The graphic below (click image to enlarge) shows the progress I have made in just one year. Viewing the big picture, I am energized to plan for 2014.

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Click on image to enlarge

Thanks to all who have supported me in this Quest, which is only just beginning. I hope that others will join me in pursuing their Dreams, and overcoming their limitations in 2014.

Maybe you want to start your own business, or change careers, or run your first marathon. Whatever it is, there’s no time like today to start.

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Whimsday: Ella the Entrepeneur Strikes Again

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“Dad, can I have five dollars to open a branch location in the dining room?”

My eldest loinfruit, Ella, is a born businesswoman. She has an entrepreneurial spirit and innate management acumen. At six years old, she also has more salesmanship and creativity than most of the professional stiffs that I have worked with over the years.

Yesterday, she stayed home sick from school with her dad. Not content to lie in bed watching TV, she decided to start a day care for cats. She set up her room with a variety of feline diversions and accommodations. She told me that this was her best business yet; better than the pumpkin cleaning service start-up, better even than her authentic Italian/Chinese fusion restaurant, “The Flower Garden”.

The sign below, which is currently affixed outside our front door, advertises her latest venture:

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Let’s hope Chuck E. Cheese is too preoccupied with repairing their creepy, animatronic robots to pursue a copyright infringement lawsuit.

She seemed genuinely surprised that a tidal wave of clients didn’t arrive, pounding on our door this week, cats in tow. Undeterred, she asked me if we might make a commercial for her new company. We’re still negotiating about that particular marketing campaign. I just love how she wants so badly for this to take off, and how she keeps looking for angles. She has the Heroic quality of Persistence, and the Dynastic Ambition of a mogul.

I do, however, think she needs to rethink her pricing model. If my home is going to be overrun by dozens of hairy, entitled prima donnas, I would think she could bring in more than the price of a cup of coffee. Just sayin’.

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The Ballad of the Penguin, P-Hustle, and the Turbaned Torpedo

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to
start.”  – John Bingham

“Anything worth doing is going to be difficult” – Fauja Singh

“Arch support is for pansies!” – Phidippedes

Writing a screenplay is a Marathon, not a sprint. It’s 26.2 miles of bad road, and for someone with ADHD – a sprinter in every respect – it is a formidable Adversary. They say that when you reach the 20th mile, you hit the wall. After completing my first draft in two months (actually achieving my timeline!), I am slogging through my rewrites. I am at mile 20, and have collided with the wall like a crash test dummy.

But thinking of my Quest in these terms has inspired me. The word Marathon itself has so many Courageous connotations that I have bestowed it with the highest honor on this blog: a Heroic Capitalization. So, to help break through the wall, here are my three favorite marathon runners and the lessons they impart.

“Can one of you learned philosophers invent me a jockstrap? I have been playing tetherball for days”. Phidippides. Photo credit: Wikipedia

You may have heard of Phidippides at the Battle of Marathon, a man who was the inspiration for the race run in his honor. Phidippides (or as I like to call him, P-Hustle) was an Ancient Greek professional runner and human courier service. P-Hustle famously ran 26-ish miles from the battlefield at Marathon to Athens to warn the city of an impending assault by the Persians. What many people don’t know is that he made this famous run after running from Athens to Sparta (to ask the Spartan army to join the battle against the Persians) and back. Oh yeah, Sparta was only about 140 miles away! Oh yeah, and he did it barefoot! By way of comparison, I get winded and sweaty clipping my toenails. Also barefoot. Hey, save your judgement. Those bastards can cut glass. But, more importantly, P-Hustle crashed through “the wall” more times than Kool-Aid Man in order to be a Hero.

“Any resemblance to Burgess Meredith, living or dead,  is strictly coincidental.” John Bingham. Photo Credit: http://media.mlive.com/flintjournal/runners/photo/john-bingham-2jpg-7431eb748d8b71fe.jpg

John Bingham is an American Marathon “runner” and author who has championed the idea that marathons need not be run fast. Or at all. He is also known as “The Penguin” for his racing style (not his uncanny resemblance to Burgess Meredith), and he started a movement of Marathon walkers that value enjoyment over competition. So, while he may have inadvertently contributed to a culture that hands out participation trophies and which bans tetherball in the name of political correctness, he has also inspired thousands of non-competitive athletes to challenge themselves. I personally think the bigger lesson that the Penguin offers is that Heroes need to create their own definition of success. A Heroic Quest is first and foremost a personal endeavor.

“Nothing can escape the Turbaned Torpedo. Except, perhaps, the method for programming my VCR. Get it? Because I’m super old…” Fauja Singh. Photo Credit: Indiatimes.com

Finally, today we celebrate Fauja Singh, a 102 year old British Punjabi Sikh runner who recently completed his last race after a remarkable career. Singh, known affectionately as the “Turbaned Tornado”, took up running at the age of 89 after the tragic deaths of his wife and son. He finished Marathons across the globe, even after he reached the century mark, and became an international sensation. Singh carried the Olympic torch as a part of the pre-game ceremonies in London, met foreign dignitaries and traveled the world. “From a tragedy has come a lot of success and happiness,” Singh once said of his running career. The Turbaned Torpedo teaches us that nothing, not age or tragedy, can stop the determined Hero from transforming their life, slaying Demons, and creating real life Magic. Hell, even his nickname sounds like a golden age DC Comics superhero.

So, this week I resolve to follow in the footsteps (so to say) of these three Titans in the world of running. I am going to demolish that wall.

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Whimsday: The Weird Beard

“Seize opportunity by the beard…” –Serbian Proverb

I’m officially renaming this weekly feature (usually Whimsical Wednesday) because I am posting this week’s edition on Thursday. By doing so, Whimsday becomes a made up day of the week, and I can move it around to suit my, you know… whims. Also the word whimsical, while completely consistent with my intention, sounds strangely effeminate when I say it out loud. Try it. Nobody outside of Samuel L. Jackson can make that word sound cool.

Anyhow, as I’ve described in disturbing detail before, I have a thing for older men with beards. It’s ok, Rachel is cool with it. It’s just that the best Mentors have great beards. Confucius. Freud. Gandalf. Kenobi. Jerry Garcia. Papa Smurf. And so forth.

And, last month, along with many other men celebrating “No Shave November“, I engaged in my very own pursuit of the hirsute, with mixed results…

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Our Hero and one fairly unheroic beard.

Compared with some of the Bunyanesque beards I’ve been seeing of late, my production seems to be pretty modest. In my bittersweet, scratchy, reflective moments, I stumbled across the following personal ad, which connects the dots between my wispiness and my appreciation for hairy helpers.

beard mentor needed

Photo source: Huffington Post

That’s it! Next year, I’m getting a tutor for my unpolished bristles.

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Whimsical Wednesday: Give Thanks, You Ungrateful Jerks

This isn’t technically whimsy-related, but Turkey Day is almost here. Time to get in a grateful mind space with some quotes. Also, I’m super busy rewriting my script and work is hypernuts, so I’m phoning this one in. So sue me.

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts.  No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.”  –H.U. Westermayer

“Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.”  –G.B. Stern

“Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.” —Aldous Huxley

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” –William Arthur Ward

“If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness.  It will change your life mightily.”  –Gerald Good

 

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Whimsical Wednesday: 6 Word Stories

“Brevity is the soul of wit…” –William Shakespeare, Hamlet

So, as I am doing rewrites on my script, one thing has become abundantly clear. I can be a little wordy. For the eleven or so people reading this post, this is hardly an epiphany.

Wifey sent me this article from Wired magazine, in which some pretty famous writers and entertainers were asked to write a  story… using only six words!!! The esteemed contributors came up with some compelling, funny and bizarre narratives.

So, in order to get into a concise frame of mind, I submit the following six word stories. Believe it, this was a challenge for someone with verbal diarrhea.

  • Superman sneezed. Over ten thousand dead.
  • I loved you once before, dear.
  • “It’s no costume”, wolf says, sheepishly.
  • Depressed, the android severs his cables.
  • Aliens visited Gary, Indiana once. Once.
  • D.B. Cooper just now floated to Earth.
  • Three assassins. Two guns. One bullet.
  • Representative from Saturn has the floor.
  • Hero grabs Author’s pen. Story revised.

Now, it’s your turn. All eleven of you! Send me your best six word stories.

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