Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The one constant

There is one constant in life: everything changes. Those who cannot adapt shall perish, and the world will move on as if they never were. Therefore, it is essential for survival to roll with the punches.

Human beings seek to control everything, but are often reminded of how insignificant they are. The world turns without their consent, planets orbit without their permission, and the entire galaxy moves without asking if they wish it to. The arrogance of man is as nothing to the immensity of the cosmos.

Since we cannot control the world, we must learn to move with it. Reality can crush us, but a wise man merely steps aside when a huge boulder is plummeting towards him. The fool will try to catch it…

It is important to remain steadfast on the inside, but the outside should be as water: taking the path of least resistance. When it is time to act, the heart leads. The mind analyzes the situation and suggests the best course of action. The body moves forward, following its orders.

The heart is the only thing not bound by reality. If it leads to destruction, then the problem is within. One must be honest to overcome their failings. And part of being honest is to recognize the weakness of flesh.

There is the changing of the seasons, night turns into day, the tide advances and then it recedes. The more things change, the more they stay the same. One must learn the ebb and flow, and how best to ride the currents. The world is vast, but it is harder to hit a moving target.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Giving your all

What does it mean to give your all? People often talk about doing their best, but have no idea what that is. To do your best, you must pour every last bit of energy into the accomplishment of a goal. Blood, sweat and tears may actually be required.

If anything is held back, by definition you have not given your all. While it is not always necessary to utterly exhaust oneself in the completion of a task, it makes a big difference when examining the quality of the outcome. Those who do their best will naturally outpace those who put forth an effort.

Good is not good enough. There are plenty of people who are good. To succeed you must be better, and one should always strive to be the best. Those who do not fully intend to win a race should never start one.

It is easy to give up, when the road is long and the dust is in your teeth. Even those with a great deal of stamina will begin to flag as they are gasping for air and sweating profusely. The superhuman few will press on, determined to just finish. But only one or two will dedicate themselves entirely to attaining the goal, and only one can win.

So, what separates first and second place? The winner will tap into reserves they did not even know they had. They cannot falter, they cannot fail and they shall succeed.

Approaching the finish line, anything can happen. Life is not fair and never will be. To do your best means just that: to give every last bit of energy, to use every resource at your disposal, all of your faculties, heart and soul, mind and strength. It will exhaust one's very spirit, but you will know deep in your soul that you held nothing back, not content to just finish but actually, literally determined to win. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Inspired ideas

Ideas seem better while they are in one’s head. But once written down, their worth can be seen. The fantasy is peeled away, and the harsh reality stares you in the face.

No story can be written without an idea, but this does not make the notion a good one. If it has never been done before, there may be a reason. And if you were to create something new, would anyone want to read it?

Certain things just work, but there is a great deal of variety possible. There are a finite number of elements in the universe, a few basic colors, and a limited number of shapes. Yet, these are the building blocks of reality, the hues of the rainbow and the form of all things.

Inspiration can come from anywhere, and the only real limit is your imagination. The world is the same, but everyone sees it through different eyes. So, a familiar idea can be imagined anew.

Hackneyed notions have one thing in common: a lack of inspiration. If the concept was fresh, it would not feel so tired and overused. But writers have the power to re-imagine, and thus breathe life into that which was dead.

But will it shamble about like a corpse, seeking the flesh of the living? Or can it truly live and breathe once more? Blood is the life of the body, but it will stagnate and congeal without the heart spreading it far and wide.  Concepts whither and fade, but an inspired idea has a life all its own.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

To elude the astute and confound the jaded

How do you maintain the element of surprise? People expect things to go a certain way. These expectations you can play on, secure in the knowledge of how things will actually go.

Do not reveal your secrets until the proper time. Plot twists are woven into the very fabric of a story, but it is important to hold back a few. When a reader thinks they know what you will do, it is the opportune time to shake things up.

The movements of a story are not arbitrary. If something happens, there is a rhyme and reason to it. On some level, the author must be aware of this. However, reveal as little as possible to keep the anticipation strong.

Fear not the savvy reader, who picks out the pattern before the work is complete. There is also an excitement in discovery, so long as a certain amount of effort was required to descry your design. And that which is clever cannot fail to impress.

Be willing to take risks. Modern readers have seen just about every trick in the book. An author must be cagey to elude the astute and confound the jaded. The genius is not in the gimmick, but in the timing.

Subtlety is key: it unlocks many doors. The tried and true will always outdo the desperate and new. Surprise is not in the idea, but in the execution. And it always sneaks up on you…