Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How to Maintain Your Kick-Assedness

Let's be honest. Lately, my kick-ass-o-meter has been running low. Chalk it up to lack of sleep, balmy weather, pollen; whatever, I've been feeling drained of late. It's easy for writers--or for anyone, really--to lose focus, moreso today than at any time in history. There are lots of distractions and lots of excuses we can make. That's why it's important, even as we write, to remember why it is that we do what we do.

See that picture up in the corner? That's La Jolla, California. La Jolla is the most beautiful place in the continental United States, if you ask me. I used to live in San Diego and I worked in La Jolla, and not a day went by that I didn't pray to the harvest gods that I could own property there. Maybe a little bungalow, maybe even just a trailer secreted off a trail somewhere near Black's Beach.

Then reality intervened and I had to move away. Back to the good old Mid-of-West. Then I moved to the South and then to the East Coast. But I've never forgotten San Diego. La Jolla has always remained with me. Except now I don't wistfully pine for it. I know absolutely that I'm going to end up there.

See that house way up in the tippy-top of the photo? The one with a light on? Yeah, that's my future house. Sitting atop a craggy cliff overlooking the ocean. It's where I'll spend the third 1/3 of my life. Just letting that salt spray waft over my face as I sit in my hammock that's tied between two palm trees, typing away on my laptop to the flickering light of candles. After I'm done for the night, I'll knock off and go sit on the bench at the very edge of the cliff, the one I carved by hand out of solid oak and painted purple, the same color as the darkening Western sky.

This is my dream. And I believe it will happen. No, that's not right: I know it will happen. Because I will make it happen. I'll will it so. I'll write so much and so well that people will read and read and read what I've written because I'll write my books with such love and care that people will love them right back. And all will be well with the world.

What's that great line from Lawrence of Arabia? When Omar Sharif tells Lawrence that he cannot, under any circumstances, cross the desert on his own with so little water by camel? "It is written that it cannot be done," he says. Lawrence looks right into Omar's eyes and says, "Nothing is written." And then what the hell does he do? He crosses the damned desert.

Nothing is written. You can do anything you want. You just have to believe you can do it, as Lawrence did. He'd never crossed a desert on a camal before! Heck, he was from England--the most he'd ever done is ride a motorcycle really fast down country roads. But he decided he was going to cross the desert, without a fall-back plan. And then he did it.

It's worthwhile to remind yourself of where you want to end up. Everyone talks about five and ten year plans, and those are important. But you should also visualize where you want to unltimately live, how you ultimately want to be perceived, what you want to look at every day when you wake up. We're writers after all, right? We envision things all the time and then make them real. So apply that same talent to your life. See what you want in your mind and then make it happen.

I don't yearn to make tons of money with my writing and then hoard it in some investment portfolio. No. I want to give to charity, I want to help people be the best they can be, and I want to live in the most beautiful place in the world. You can do all of this too. All you have to do is believe in yourself. And write write write!

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