Thursday, May 10, 2012

You are what you eat, you become what you think ....

We've all heard the saying, "You are what you eat." In essence, what you put into your body is what your body will use in the construction and replacement of its cells, hormones and neurotransmitters. Quite literally then you are composed of the very food you consume. It is logical then to say a body constructed of junk food and low nutrition will be inferior to a body constructed from wholesome food in the correct quantities. And consider that most cells in your body will be completely replaced within 7-10 years, so do you want a body built from Twinkies and soda or whole grains, fruits and vegetables? The former will be less able to adapt to daily life stresses and will be more susceptible to sickness and disease.

However, equally true and important is the mental axiom that you become what you most often think about. Scientific studies have shown that repetitive thoughts actually create chemical and physical changes in the brain. Specifically, neural connections are made that change the shape and function of the brain. An analogy could then be made that negative thoughts are like junk food and positive thoughts are like nutritious food. If your spending more time processing negative thoughts than positive ones the resulting neural connections and neurochemistry will be that of an unhealthily stressed brain. Of course it is almost impossible not to have some negative thoughts, but we should try as best we can to replace our thoughts of hatred, guilt, and frustration with compassion, forgiveness, and humor.

Taken together, choosing a healthy diet, exercise, and replacing negative thoughts with positive, productive ones will help us to achieve our optimal physical and mental health.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Who are you writing for?

A woman's naked breast---The context of a subject can have a very dramatic impact on the audience's interpretation. For instance, is this naked breast being fondled by a man in a pornographic film, or is it being suckled on by an infant? In the former context the breast could be considered lewd and sinful, whereas in the latter context it is the complete opposite--wholesome and nurturing.

I will never forget being on an Employee Activity Committee and sitting in a room deciding on what movie to show at the Company Halloween party. The two movies that were being discussed were Scary Movie or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The decision was made to show the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But the reason for the decision is what shocked me and demonstrated to me an awareness of the messed up cultural norms of our society. Scary Movie was not allowed to be shown because there was a scene in which a virgin man finally had sex and a visual joke was made exaggerating his ejaculation. Ok, fine I can understand how that might offend people of more religious or conservative views. But explain to me how these same people shouldn't be more offended by showing a guy in a wheel chair get his legs, arms and head chainsawed off!  The former is making a joke about a natural body function in a situation between two consulting adults. In the latter a handicapped person is being brutally murdered.

The point I am trying to make here is this: While it is true that as a writer you must consider your audience and how they will interpret the context of your subject matter, you should also realize that there is no accounting for the priorities and values of all, and so you must write what you feel you must write, not what others want you to write. Sure there will be a number of people you may offend, but there will be an equal amount of people who respect you for it. And most importantly, in the end we must be true to ourselves.

Friday, February 3, 2012

I'm Back

There comes a time in each writer's life where life gets in the way of writing for a while. And then, like muscles sore from not going to the gym in a while, the brain yearns to be exercised again. So here I am again flexing my neurons and getting back into the mental gymnasium of writing out my thoughts.

My topic for today is attitude. The power of a positive attitude is amazing in that if developed to its full capacity you virtually make yourself untouchable from the plethora of negativity that assaults us from all sides in our daily lives. But it is one of those things that is easier said than done. When I wrote The Leaf Catcher, I created the main character to embody the epitome of the power of a positive attitude. He endured financial hardship, temptations, being separated from his family and tortured in a dungeon. And though he neared his breaking point, it was the epiphany in his darkest of hours - our attitude determines our quality of life, nothing else - that saved him and allowed him to forgive his tormentors, find peace of mind and happiness no matter what the circumstance.

Each day I challenge myself to find the strength to keep a positive attitude and find something good in every aspect of my life no matter the difficulties that face me. Will I get discouraged and depressed from time to time? Undoubtedly ... we all will. But what will make the difference in the quality of life we enjoy is the realization that the sooner we are able to pull ourselves out of our mental prisons and replace the negativity with a positive outlook and attitude, the sooner we will be able to enjoy life to the fullest of our ability.

It's good to be back. Thank you all for your patience, you can look forward to more thought provoking post as we explore the mind together.

Friday, November 18, 2011

An Author Interview by Mandi Casey

Hi all, I am still busy with the NaNoWriMo and am doing very well with it. I should have a very entertaining and thought provoking science fiction novel to show for it afterward. In the meantime, please check out the latest interview author Mandi Casey did with me on her blog:

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Lighter Side of NaNoWriMo

Thought I would celebrate the end of the first week of the NaNoWriMo by giving my fellow writers a much deserved break with a little humor we can all relate to. Enjoy, and also take a look at the video "So You Want to Write a Novel" on the side bar of this blog. Go ahead and treat yourself to a couple of minutes of good humor then get back to work, there's only 3 weeks left till deadline!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Our Many Different Voices

I was thinking today how my writing voice sounds different than my talking voice. We have many different voices. For example, have you ever heard one of your favorite musicians or actors talk for the first time and you were surprised to hear how completely different it is from their performing voice? It is very eerie how one's writing, talking, and singing voices can all sound so different. In fact, brain imaging has proven that we use different regions of our brain when we use these other mediums of communication.

Personally I feel I communicate best through my writing voice, perhaps because I have more time to consider the perfect words to use to convey my thoughts. That is not to say that I can't also communicate well in a conversation, just that I feel I can get my point across more efficaciously when writing. I have a vast vocabulary that I can draw upon when I am relaxed and writing, but often when I'm speaking I find that I will pause as I mentally search for the right word. As far as singing, well you won't catch me doing much of that, but I can carry a tune.

I bring this topic up as a reminder to writers that the sound of your writing voice will set the tone for your entire story and is just as important as other aspects such as plot, setting and character development. Obviously the qualities of a writing voice are not measured in the same physical qualities of the spoken voice, such as timbre, pitch, volume and tone. Although they can convey these qualities by the subtle nuances of the words we chose.
The narrator and characters in our stories speak to our readers through our writing voice. We can make the reader hear the deep resonating voice of a wise old man, the rich and sultry whispers of a temptress, or the giggles and high pitched voices of children all by the choice of words we use-- our writing voice. Pay attention to this when you write and see if you can hear how your readers will hear the voices of your characters.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Jack of All Trades, Master of None

Many of us have a number of interests going on at once. It is understandable since there are so many things to learn and enjoy in life. We continually add to our "to do" list: learn a new language, to play a musical instrument, to paint, etc. We may even actually accomplish a number of them to some degree, but mostly what we come to find is that we only really have enough time to devote to a few of them.

 I noticed my son was starting to get involved in a new hobby every 3 months, spending a few hundred dollars to finish a couple of projects and then moving on to the next hobby. As parents we should encourage our children and support them in their interests. I would think well he is young and still trying to figure out what he really wants to do, but then I  thought, well actually I am 40 and I still have changing interests. There are a few that always stay with me (weightlifting, chess, and writing) but I too will find something new almost every few months that I would like to try my hand at.

I had a boss once pull me aside and tell me, "You try to do too many things at once, you should find one thing and concentrate on being very good at that." Likewise, I have had chess masters suggest that I study just a couple of main openings and understand them as best I could. I can see the wisdom in these philosophies, but I just can't get myself to stay with only a few things. I will read about something or see an interesting documentary and I am off again, learning as much as I can until the next topic or hobby grabs my attention. I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing to be a Jack of all trades master of none, but I do wonder from time to time how good could I really be in one thing if I just devoted all my time to it....