Monday, December 27, 2010

If You Believe in Magic...

Christmas is a time of year marked by fantasy and magic, an entire season which centers largely on the notion that a red-suited giftgiver embarks on an annual quest to reward the well-behaved children of the world by piloting a reindeer-powered sleigh through the skies in the wee hours before dawn.

When we're little, we're all too prone to committing ourselves without shame or reserve to this fanciful notion. Unencumbered by the weight of responsiblity and heartache that inevitably accompanies age, we see the world as a realm of limitless possibilities, a place where anything is possible and the existence of Santa Claus is just another example of how incredible life truly is.

As the years go by, we realize that our Christmas memories are based on a fantasy, and this truth - coupled with our continuing understanding that the world is a lot more complicated than we had previously thought - causes us to accept that the magic that we so clung to in our childhood is nothing more than a mirage, a beautiful lie designed to coddle youngsters and protect them from the harsh reality.

It may be undeniable that... yes, Santa Claus is a mythical figure, one now used mostly for the commercialization of the holiday. However, I still firmly believe in the existence of magic.

Hold on, let me qualify that. Please don't think that I'm ready to quit my day job and sign up at Hogwart's or anything like that. Rather, during this holiday season, it occurred to me that there is much in the world that can be considered magical. But only if you believe in it and open your eyes.

Whether it's the kindness of a stranger, laughter with family and friends or the embrace of someone you love, magic is all around us. How else do you explain the indelible, intangible and inexplicable bonds that bring people together?

How about the moment when inspiration strikes and your conscious mind plucks a great idea seemingly out of thin air? Or a long, meaningful conversation with someone who genuinely "gets" you? Connection, friendship, creativity, even love... these are all everyday examples of magic at work.

But just as little ones must have faith that Santa exists, one must keep vigilant and consciously acknowledge the magic that happens around you each and every day. They may not be amazing, death-defying feats the likes of which Harry Houdini or David Copperfield have aspired, but there is no denying that - although the world can be bleak, unfair and even downright cruel - there is much to be amazed by.

Too often, adults are weighed down by all the darker aspects of the world that they become cynical and therefore blinded to the magic of everyday life. It is times like these that we need to reach back into the recesses of our heart and mind and recall those days long since past when we still believed in the existence of magic.

Because, when it comes right down to it, each and every day presents more magic than all the children of the world could ever imagined. And none of it involves Jolly Old Saint Nick.

Happy writing (and living),


Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Art of Being Silly

I know what you must be thinking. Who is this nut ^ and what insane asylum did he escape from?

No one can fault your curiosity... I mean, seriously, look at him. Maybe it's just my second medium-sized cup of raspberry iced tea talking, but it certainly doesn't seem to me like he has any knowledge of the martial arts.

Although, in all honesty, the abundance of crazy in his eyes DOES make me concerned about what kind of shenanigans would occur were we to bump into each in a darkened alley somewhere.

Oh, wait... hold on. I think I get it now. He must be joking. Hahaha... silly Robbie. Whew, really thought he'd lost it there for a second.

But I guess it's not entirely my fault for hesitating to let myself in on the joke. It seems that society isn't as readily accepting as some of us would like to the kind of random silliness exhibited in the above photo.

Far too often, people take themselves way too seriously, refusing to succumb to their inner goofball for fear of being viewed as "weird" or "unusual." But I say "to hell with all that noise!"

Turn on your TV and watch the news for a half-hour... 20 minutes... even 90 seconds, and you'll see the world is way too serious already. Really, what harm is there in spicing things up a little?!?

If laughter really is the best medicine, why not keep yourself and those around you laughing all year round? Imagine the money you'd save on doctor's visits!!!

Okay, maybe you're concerned that people wouldn't "get" your sense of humor, and I can understand that. I totally do, trust me.
A lot of humor admittedly is based on your perspective. The better you know someone, the more at ease you'll feel to let your wackiness out of its cage and the more likely that person is to not only understand where you're coming from but actually appreciate your unique sense of humor.

That's why you have to adjust your Joke-o-Meter accordingly, given your company and circumstance. For example, you don't want to go ahead and bust out some truly goofy dance moves in the middle of a business meeting. Well, not if you value your job. You wouldn't even want to bust out a "that's what she said" retort on a first date. It's just not practical.

However, luckily for you and I, there's no limit to the kinds of humor out there. Sarcasm, pratfalls, innuendos, knock-knock jokes... whatever your preference is, there's sure to be a viable humor mode for any and all times and places.

They say that life is what you make it. So why not make it awesome? Trust me, your long-neglected silly side will thank you, and you'll surely feel a whole lot better about the world and your place in it.

So live a little... and put on a silly face.

Happy writing, you goofy bastards! ;)


Wheres does the time go?

When I was a little boy, I used to fantasize about what my adult life would be like. Driving my own car, having my own place and one day starting a family with someone special... it was all a part of some grand scheme that I had for my life, and though I am inching ever closer towards happiness, I think back to that spirited, out-of-control little boy I once was and he looks back at me, bemused and curious.

Truth be told, I literally thought it would all come so easy, that my future would simply fall into place like the oddly-shapen blocks in a game of Tetris. But life doesn't work like that, the older, wiser version of myself now realizes.

I thought I would have everything all figured out by now, much like most people do, I presume. Yet, here I sit midway through my 27th year on this planet, and I am still at a loss for answers. Although I now know more than ever what I want in life, I have no clue what awaits me in the future.

2010 a.k.a. The Year of Robbie (as I've referred to it sporadically) has been a monumental triumph for my personal and professional development. It was a year marked by several milestones, and as much as I wish I had a crystal ball or even a time-travelling Delorean to tip me off to what I can expect in 2011 and beyond, no such luck.

And - much to my surprise - therein lies perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned in the past 12 months.

I spent much of my childhood and adolescence quietly planning away my future. In fact, I spent so much time plotting exactly what and when I would reach each objective that I forgot one crucial step: actually making things happen.

I've written about the importance of being pro-active in previous Table posts so I'll steer clear of that topic, but the real epiphany here is that... even though I may not have all the answers, I have come to accept that not everything is in my control.

Life takes time to bring you what you want. You just have to stay the course and remain faithful that you won't miss the opportunities life presents to you. Over the trials, tribulations and successes the past year has brought me, I think I'm finally beginning to understand.

I may not be where I thought I would be when I was a kid - and hell, I still have a pile of regrets stirring within me - but maybe... just maybe... I'm exactly where I need to be.

After all, without all my past experiences, I wouldn't be the man I am today. I may not have all the answers in life or know exactly what the future holds, but I feel like I'm more equipped than ever to handle whatever life brings my way.

Armed with the knowledge of what I want and what I'm looking for, all I need to do now is go after it, knowing that with time and patience, I will make my dreams a reality. It's all up to me.

Happy writing... and Happy New Year!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

You have to do it for YOU!

Some people are baffled by the fact that they are never able to see anything through to completion. The workout plan they abandon after just a couple of weeks, the graduate degree they never claimed and... yes, the creative writing project they have yet to finish. We've all been guilty of getting ourselves all geared up to engage in a brand-new endeavor and then wind up scratching our heads trying to figure out what went wrong, how we were able to lose focus and end up back to the drawing board on a never-ending cycle of start-and-stop that leaves us chasing our tails but never really being able to check that objective off our to-do list.

The most commom excuse I've heard - and I've used this one quite often myself - is that "Life got in the way." While it's true that circumstances sometimes delay the pursuit of our personal goals, the fact is that a very small percentage of us face the extenuating circumstances that truly excuse long-term lack of productivity. More likely, the issue isn't the opportunity, it's lack of motivation.

Let's be honest: The problem isn't that we don't have time to do get things done. The problem is that we lack the motivation to make the time and effort to progress. Every day should, ideally, bring you one baby step closer to your ultimate goal, but this requires time away from distractions and a sharp enough focus to block out all of life's little inconveniences.

The question of motivation then arises... And you must ask yourself, "WHY am I really doing this?" Although the underlying purpose of this blog is to help provide advice and guidance for writers struggling to make it in a world where everyone and their mother thinks they have the chops to have their voices be heard, this question can really be applied to all aspects of life.

It seems to me that, in today's celebrity-obsessed world of social networking sites and reality television, so many people out there do things and then obnoxiously announce the details of their lives not out of a sense of accomplishment or aim towards self-improvement but out of some superficial pursuit of fame. It's almost as if some people are filling their time with activities specifically so that they can have something to share with the masses.

While tools such as Twitter and Facebook can be useful in keeping in touch with distant friends and relatives, they have also perpetuated the worldwide trend favoring celebrity over personal growth. It's the same reason that a little part of me shudders at the thought that nonsensical entertainment like "Jackass 3D" sits atop the box office and crapfests such as "Jersey Shore" and basically anything else that airs on MTV these days are lauded by an entire generation of teens and twenty-somethings.

Maybe this is just a sign that I'm truly becoming too old to fully grasp the next generation's "perception over reality" mindset, but to me, it just seems as if so many people have chosen to live as a caricature rather than as themselves, following their own dreams and goals in life. No one's real. No one's authentic. No one... is doing it for themselves because they are all so focused on creating an "image," on letting others define who they are and who they should be.

And I'm not going to allow myself to sit atop some equine pedestal and claiming that I have all the answers or cling to some delusion of superiority. I'm just a guy like anyone else, and while I too often find myself sharing my daily exploits on Facebook, the difference is that the rationale behind it all is one of the utmost sincerity. I don't put on some facade to try and gain the attention of those around me.

Here's the thing: For so many years in my past, I have felt socially awkward and lacked the confidence that who I am inside is truly enough. So I trapped myself in my own skin, afraid of the criticisms people would hurl in my direction and how those insults would only cause further damage to my sense of self. And because I didn't trust myself and my ability to handle myself, I let numerous opportunities, personal and professional, slip past me.

However, times have changed. Now - and especially in the last couple of years - I have become increasingly comfortable in my own skin and have systematically taken steps to progress in all areas of my life. I have continually met and actually exceeded my professional goals and have kept busy in a number of "extracurricular" activities. I have steadily developed my own personal social network and moved into my very own living space for the first time. I have also reclaimed my desire to progress with my creative writing and get into better physical shape. And most importantly, I'm no longer afraid to share who I am with the people around me. Or, at least, I'm becoming more and more open with being exactly who I am inside.

And all the little quirky things about myself that I once tried to keep hidden away... the fact that I like to do impressions and voices, that I really enjoy singing and actually can carry a tune, that I possess a vast and random assortment of entertainment knowledge and that I have a wry and playful sense of humor... I am now free to share with the people I know personally, with my Facebook "friends," with each and every person I meet.

So if I happen to post sometime online about myself, it's not in some vain attempt to gain recognition or to try and win anybody over. It's simply an example of me being me and embracing the fact that I no longer feel a need to remain locked away in my shell. I don't have anything to prove to anybody, and quite frankly, if they can't handle me being exactly who I am inside, then it's a pointless endeavor for me to create a customized version of myself simply to please someone else.

I've said this before, but let me reiterate. Unlike a lot of people who focus entirely on the moment, I see the big picture. I view my life as a journey, and while I may regret certain segments of the past and worry about what awaits me in the future, the fact of the matter is that the present is all about me doing what I need to do for me to get my life in order.

Somewhere in today's fame-centric world, people forgot that the only one you really need to win over is yourself. If you possess that sense of purpose, that understanding of and love for yourself and your place in the world, that pride in the fact that you are working to become the very best person you possibly can be, that's all that matters. Everything else will simply fall into place from there.

Happy writing (and living),

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Freelance Writer is a One Man Band

You Are on Your Own in More Ways Than One
this was originally posted at

A common misconception about freelance writing is that it is glamorous and fabulous with work coming in all the time and everything moves swiftly and smoothly. Are you ready for the hard truth? It ain’t all cherries and roses!

As a freelance writer you are a one man band. Below is a list of just a few hats you will wear.

Everyday you will be pimping yourself out to new clients. You have to call, email and practically harass everyone you know to get work. Once you are lucky enough to get work, you have to convince these people they still need you.

Bookkeeper and Accountant
You are now responsible for sending invoices, paying bills, following up on payments. You also get to have the task of making sure supplies are stocked up.

Time Manager
You have to run the whole show and decide what will fill each hour you work. When will you go to lunch? What time can the meeting with a potential client fill? How long can the meeting last?

Radell Hunter said, “Learning to manage our time is an important way to reduce stress in our lives.” View her top ten time management tips HERE

There is no one else to answer the phone, check email, send the faxes, doing research etc… All these tasks that can be delegated to others now fall on you. However, there is the option of getting a virtual assistant. The catch is making sure that they won’t cost you more than you are making.

Ferrero Stella said, “Virtual assistant offer you all the facilities, which you can avail from an office-based personal assistants. Their tasks range from appointment scheduling to internet research to offer you an ease in completion of your numerous tasks.” Read her story on How to Select a Cost Effective Virtual Assistant HERE

In many cases you will end up having to take your own pictures. For some people just the thought of using a camera for professional use is a scary thought. Hiring a photographer can get pricey and depending on your pay for an assignment it might not be practical.

Photo editor
Now that the photos were taken by you, you have to edit them to make sure they are print ready.

Once you finally get an interview or a subject to write about, it’s time to write the article you hope to be paid for.

Copy Editor
Don’t forget once the article is written it has to be checked for spelling and grammatical errors. Make sure the word count requirement is met too.

I’m sure there are a lot more hats I haven’t listed here, but all these hats are what keep freelance writing so interesting. If freelance writing is something you are considering pursuing, it is important to think about all of the factors involved. Sometimes it can make the decision of whether or not to pursue it as a full time job an easy one.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Writing for One, for All - by Kai Elan

Hello fellow writers,

The below post is by Kai Elan, a freelance writer and blogger currently sharing her experiences from halfway around the world on her blog. Check out her work at and enjoy her post below.

Happy writing,


Writing for One, for All
by Kai Elan

In the course of writing, there tends to be pressure to be a great writer. Even good would suffice. Being a good writer can involve several techniques: the techniques of the creative input, the organization of the writing, the voice of the writer, the choice of words, fluency in the sentences, and the grammar consistency ( These techniques for evaluation are important, however, pertaining to writing; good writing is not all of these factors. From the writing observed, and in my own writing, there are just a few which compose good writing.

These elements involve:

The topic matter. Is the topic matter interesting, relatable, and relevant? Obviously, people read something because it is interesting. A part of it caught the person’s eye, which influenced the individual to read further. This could be on a conscious level or a sub-conscious level. The piece was relatable in regards to what the person wanted to know about. It is relatable in the sense that the article is about enjoying tennis, and the reader plays tennis or would like to learn about tennis. The writing is also relevant through displaying current information; the reader is able to incorporate it in their life in some way. Old news stories, for example, don’t attract many readers because the stories are no longer relevant.

It is also the grammatical structure. Yes, grammar rules are crucial in writing. However, understanding the difference between a noun modification versus a noun phrase, is not; this is an instance of grammar rules getting even the best writers down. Grammar is constantly changing and evolving. Writers should not feel as inclined to always follow grammar rules as the rules will often change. Grammar rules are important, for the reason, if a sentence is formatted incorrectly or words are spelled wrong, readers are puzzled or frustrated by the message being delivered. Readers know the speech taught and grasp the basic fundamentals of grammar, so it is best to know and understand more than the basics to come across as a competent, good writer.

The voice of the writer is important. It was a tie between voice and word choice. The reason why voice is important to a piece of writing is because good writing utilizes the actual voice of the writer. Writing should sound as if the writer is speaking to its readers. It happens to be through visual words instead. The voice invites readers in or it shuts them out. It showcases the personality of the writer as well as the mood. The questions asked while writing: is the piece inviting, casual, informative, professional, and angry, etc…? Voice creates an angle of objectivity and subjectivity. Based on the voice, it can swing around the entire tone of the piece.

There was hesitation to mention word choice because word choice is a cautious path to take in writing. The issues with word choice are the manner in how words are used, the comprehension, and the suitability of the word. The vocabulary used can confuse the reader, turn the reader off, or appeal to the reader. Not to mention, confusing the writer as well. Yes, the thesaurus feature is great, and it adds some entertaining elements to a bland topic. However, if the writer is not familiar with the particular word, it is best to not use it. The thesaurus does not tend to explain the context of said word; it only relays the definition. The word selected may not make sense to the reader. Word choice can also turn the reader off by simply making them feel incompetent or stupid. Worse even, the reader viewing the writer as stupid because the piece wasn’t written for the proper audience. The goal with word choice is to appeal to readers and even inspire readers to further their writing abilities. Using appropriate words that deliver the effective voice and tying the ideas together.

Good writing and a good writer have different meanings. It is trivial to get caught up with being a good writer. This takes time and practice. This can be about churning out consistent work and utilizing all the methods of good writing techniques. Good writing means, the certain writer was able to relate to their audience and take the piece to another level. Meanwhile, it doesn’t mean the next piece will be as good.

The point is to write because it is enjoyable, not because of a specific writing formula. Writing is a hobby, a pleasant talent to take part in; it should not be viewed as a chore.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Just take a step back...

Okay, I don't feel too bad now. Here I was thinking that I'd let this ass-slicing little site slip off my focus again, but it's been less than a month since my last post so it's all good. :)

I don't know if it's the fact that I'm getting older and seeing so much around me change, but lately, I've taken particular notice to the role that timing plays in everyday life. I'm not certain what the rhyme or reason of it all is... what endgame it's all leading to... and I'm not even going to breach the subject of whether or not there's some higher power overseeing it all because, in the end, it doesn't really matter.

The harsh reality is that everything in life is centered on timing. Call it fate. Call it destiny. Or even a random sequence of events. Everything depends on timing. The job you could've had. The relationship you could've started. The life you could've had. It's all a bit moot to even think about since there's little point in looking back on the missed opportunities of the past. Granted, it's never too late to make changes in life. If you're unhappy about something, stop bitching about it and get a move on.

However, some events are so dependent on all the pieces falling in just the right places for the puzzle to be complete that it becomes a bit like catching lightning in a bottle. As hard as you try and as much as you may want it, you'll never be able to capture that chance again. It's sailed past you, off on its course toward that little corner of your mind with the rest of your life's regrets.

This may sound disparaging, but there's a plus side as well. Here's an example from my own personal experience. During my adolescence, I wasn't particularly social, to the point that I now wish I had taken better advantage of my high school experience and made a little more effort to venture out of my shell. On the other hand, would I have performed well enough academically to get a scholarship for college? Would I be the moderately successful professional I am now if I'd never earned my degree... or would my professional life have remained frozen in place?

I guess my point is that, although it doesn't feel like it at the time, everything we do and every single moment in our lives is a relevant one. It's all leading someplace. Every experience we have affects who we are and how we react and relate to the world around us. It affects our future choices, and each decision we make, each person we encounter and each day we're lucky enough to walk this earth is a critical part in deciding where you'll be 5, 10 years from now.

It's all part of a larger picture, and while some of us (guilty!) get a little too caught up in the big picture, I personally find it a bit perplexing when some people are so devoid of self-awareness that they totally miss out on what's happening around them.

True, in my life, there's a good deal of decisions I would change, of opportunities I would go back and take advantage of. But it's all important in forming who I am today so in a way, I wouldn't change a thing. All I can do at this point is be mindful in the future and try to do the very best I can with the people who enter my life, hoping and praying that each decision I make will lead me to a better place. Because, when it comes down to it, it all matters.

Just take a step back... and look at your life as one big picture. You'll see what I mean.

Happy living, fellow writers...


Thursday, August 12, 2010

6th Annual Writer's Digest Poetry Awards Competition

Writer's Digest competition exclusively for poets! Regardless of style—rhyming, free verse, haiku and more—if your poems are 32 lines or fewer, they want them all.
Entry Deadline: December 15, 2010


First Place: $500 and a trip to the Writer's Digest Conference in New York City

Second Place: $250

Third Place: $100

Fourth Through Tenth Place: $25

Eleventh Through Twenty-Fifth Place: $50 gift certificate for Writer's Digest Books.

* The names and poem titles of the First through Tenth-Place winners will be printed in the August 2011 Writer's Digest, and afterwards their names will appear on All winners will receive the 2011 Poet's Market.

For more information and to enter Click HERE
Don't forget to check out

A Short Story Competition from Writer's Digest

Compete and Win in All 5 Categories!

* Romance
* Mystery/Crime Fiction
* Science Fiction/Fantasy
* Thriller/Suspense
* Horror

The Grand Prize-Winner will receive a trip to the Writer's Digest Conference in New York City, $2,500 cash, $100 worth of Writer's Digest Books and the 2011 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market.

Entry Deadline: November 01, 2010.

Entry Fee: All entries are $20.00 each. You can pay with a check or money order, Visa, Mastercard or American Express when you enter online or via regular mail.


Grand Prize: a trip to the Writer's Digest Conference in New York City, $2,500 cash, $100 worth of Writer's Digest Books and the 2011 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market.

First Prize: The First Place-Winner in each of the five categories receives $500 cash, $100 worth of Writer's Digest Books and the 2011 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market.

Honorable Mention: Honorable Mentions will receive promotion in Writer's Digest and the 2011 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market.

Entry Deadline: November 01, 2010

Don't forget to check out!!!

Oh, I'm scared all right

How are things going my fellow creative geniuses?

I've written four poems today!

Yes, four!

That's an amazing feat for me.

The one who could crack out twelve poems plus a couple short stories in less than a day.

Those were my days and I feel them slowly but surely coming back.

I even *gasp* submitted a poem to an online publication yesterday.

How do I feel about it?


I'm not getting paid for it.

Poets have to make money by selling books.

I get that.

But I just want my name out there.

I want to BE WHO I AM.

Allow me to explain.

Every time my aunt visits, I swear it's every time, she always gives me some words of wisdom.

It's like having your own yogi or something because she "gets it" in my opinion.

What I mean by that is that we share similar spiritual views.

She tells me that my focus right now is to be who I really am.

I'll admit the real me got lost somewhere in between everything that's happened with me in my personal (medical) life.

For someone who boasts pretty loudly that they don't care what the world thinks, I always have.

I'm just as insecure as any other girl.

Writing has always been my way to get that out.

Then it became the thing I just enjoyed doing above all else.

I'm starting to feel it though.

This pull to break free from whatever chains I've placed on myself and just BE.

I've had other writer/poet friends tell me that I'm "almost there" or that "if only you could just bleed, really bleed onto that paper" just to name some examples.

I get what they mean.

And to get deeper into yourself is scary.

So much muck (for me) to claw through.

So much darkness.

Pain, even.

But I've got to.

I feel it's starting to reflect already.

And I'm enjoying it as well.

This is who I am.

I'm a friggen' poet!

Reading poetry helps too.

And at night I have some on audio.

Poetry is not dead.

I'm going to prove it.


But in the meantime please feel free to check out my personal blog for updates.

Wish me luck, comrades!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

When Old Stories Attack...

It's a funny thing... this business of trying to forge a name for yourself as a creative force to be reckoned with. I could go on and on about how real life gets in the way, how procrastination continually rears its ugly head, blah blah blah. But to be honest, I'm getting kind of sick of hearing myself whine about the hardships of making the time and mustering up the motivation to progress with my writing. For those of you who have yet to reach this breaking point, check the archives for my previous posts. I think it's safe to say that I've beaten that point to a bloody pulp long ago.

Anyway, on to the business at hand... even though my apartment search, full-time job and burgeoning social life have cut into the amount of man-hours I've been devoting to my creative writing i.e. the kind I'm NOT getting paid for (at least, not, I know that I need to be returning to my dust-covered novel. It's been so long since I paid a visit to my cynical, world-weary protagonist that he's probably starting to resent me for it.

Yet, while I should be filled with a sense of obligation to better realize the universe he inhabits, I am instead finding myself drawn back to another story. Call it creative infidelity if you want, but I keep feeling like this tale - which I previously started but never finished as a screenplay - is screaming to finally be told. I've told some of you that it is my intention to turn this semiautobiographical coming-of-age love story into a trilogy of novellas. And Lord knows that the pages and pages of notes I have are more than enough material to coalesce into an AMAZING story if executed properly.

But here's my quandary: The writing gods always say never to actively begin work on another project whilst your current one remains unfinished. I've already broken this commandment once, and I'm hesitant to let the novel lie for a while longer to tell this much more personal story. However, at the same time, I don't want to let this inspiration slip me by if I'm finally ready to build enough momentum with this project to get it done.

So, in my dilemma, I turn to you, fellow writers. Should I push myself to revise my novel and get that 100% ready to go first or should I allow it to rest comfortably on the backburner while I return to my pet project, which has been simmering in some form or another for the better part of a decade?

Sound off in the comments.. and, as always, happy writing!!!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Article Spotlight: Why You Shouldn't Work For Free

More and more people want to be writers and there is an excitement that comes with having your name in a publication. Letting a magazine have your work for free makes them think that it is okay to ask others to work for free.

The Article "Why You Shouldn't Work For Free" was written by The Famous Ashley Grant of Read the entire article HERE

Hey Crooked Table viewers!! Do you have an article that was recently published?
Tell us about it!!! Post a comment with a link and we'll do an article spotlight on you!!

If you are one of our Crooked Table writers then post an article spotlight on yourself. The whole point of being part of The Table is to bring your talent to The Table!!!

Besides there are 2 things every Table viewer/member should remember:
1. There is no harm in shameless self promotion as a writer and
2. Every article you post could give another writer an idea for a new story/Table post!!!

Errors Spell Check Won't Catch


Its versus It’s (and all other apostrophes):
According to a copy editing instructor for California-based copy editing service provider Edicetera, confusing “its” and “it’s” is the most common error in the English language. That one minuscule apostrophe (or lack thereof) drastically changes the meaning of the entire sentence. “It’s” is a contraction of “it is,” whereas “its” refers to possession. Also, watch out for “your” versus “you’re.”

Sales versus Sails
Can you imagine writing on your resume that you “increased sails by 20 percent”?! Unless you’re applying to a job for a sail boat manufacturer, this careless mistake will probably get your resume sailing right into the recycling bin.

Affect versus Effect
There is a lot of confusion around this one but here’s the rule: “Affect” is a verb and “effect” is a noun. It’s as simple as that.

Would Have NOT Would of

The subtlety in pronunciation leads to the rampant misuse of this phrase; however “would of” is never correct and may make you appear as if you are not well-read.

Through versus Threw
“He threw the ball through the window.” “Threw” is a verb and “through” is a preposition. And speaking of “through,” be careful to make sure you don’t actually mean “thorough” or vice versa. The slight variation in spelling will not be picked up by a computer, but writing “I am through” when you mean “I am thorough” is quite ironic, don’t you think?

Then versus Than

Six is more than five; after five then comes six. “Than” refers to a comparison, while “then” refers to a subsequent event.

Supposed To NOT Suppose To

“Suppose” is a verb, meaning to think or to ponder. The correct way to express a duty is to write, “I was supposed to…”

Wonder versus Wander
You can wander around while you wonder why “wander” and “wonder” have such different meanings, yet sound oh so similar.

Their versus There versus They’re
OK, once and for all: “Their” is possessive; “there” refers to distance; and “they’re” is a contraction of “they are.”

Farther versus Further
While both words refer to distance, grammarians distinguish “farther” as physical distance and “further” as metaphorical distance. You can dive further into a project, for instance, or you can dive farther into the ocean.

Please check out

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Yesterday Was a Great Day!


Very late on Monday/early into Tuesday I said I was going to be more optimistic and that I would praise myself for things accomplished rather than kick myself for things left undone and I gotta say it was a GREAT day!!!

I didn't get as much done as I would have liked, but I did get a lot done and am now motivated to get even more done today. I was able to publish a couple of articles, do a few blog posts, got a lot of errands done and purchased the main piece for a photo project I have been saying I wanted to do FOREVER!!!

Today I am pumped and looking forward to a great Wednesday! Happy Hump Day ya'll!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Creativity is Key in Freelancing


I was reading this fascinating story today about two women that took a regular kitchen tool and turned it into a lifesaving device. If you haven't read the story, read the story HERE The reader's digest version of the tale is that Rice University undergraduates Lila Kerr and Lauren Theis were given an assignment to "diagnose anemia without power, without it being very costly and with a portable device."

What the girls did was transform a simple salad spinner into a centrifuge which "separates blood to allow diagnosis of anemia with no electricity."

The story got me to thinking about how crucial creativity is with freelancing. There are literally thousands of story ideas out there, but coming up with a creative angle is the key to getting your name and your story into the magazines and newspapers.

I used to write business advertorials for a local Tampa magazine and three issues in a row we has to write stories about tile. Yes, boring tile. How did we write three different stories?

The first story was about using tile to be fashionable in the home. You could choose colors and patterns that could transform a room for blah to fabulous.

The second story was about the background of the tile store's owner. We mentioned the fact that he had all kinds of patterns and colors, but focused more on how long the company had been in business and the reputation the company had built in the community.

Last but not least, the third story was about how tile could give your home a cleaner look and upgrade it's value.

One story can have multiple angles. Your job is to find a different one from what has already been published. Sometimes the same angle can be rehashed, but wait a while before suggesting it again. The same story every three months will get old. Give it a year if it isn't timely.

A brainstorming technique that we had to do in one of my journalism classes is find one classified ad and come up with 5 story ideas based on it.

Example- I found an ad for a single man seeking a single women that liked dogs.
5 story ideas I generated from the ad:
-do relationships that start from a want ad ever work out?
-having things in common with your partner will help the relationship last longer
-how does one go about putting a want ad in the paper? what words work best? what do all those abbreviations mean?
-who likes dogs more? men or women?
-does owning a dog mean you're responsible?

Happy Brainstorming everyone! Be Creative and get more gigs!!!

You Should Always Write in Public

Found this online finally and had to share. Love always,

Monday, July 19, 2010

Glass Half Full


As per usual I'm reflecting on the day since it is late at night and kicking myself for all the things I set out to do and then didn't do.

Here's what I've realized today. When you wake up in a pissy mood, it's easy to stay in a pissy mood. I let myself believe that the day was already ruined because of my mood and thus ruined my entire day because I didn't kick it in the ass upon realization.

What I could have done was gone for a jog, written an article, something proactive! Hmmm...reminds me of a post I read at The Crooked Table about fifteen minutes ago by the fabulous Robert Yaniz Jr.

I actually did accomplish a few things today though. I went grocery shopping, threw out some crap I don't need and began to see the light at the end of the tunnel of disorganization and lack of motivation.

Early this morning I sent off sets of galleries that were going to be published today. I sent off an invoice that has been needing to be sent for a few weeks. I also finished burning 9 CDs worth of images tonight that should have been done a couple of days ago.

Okay, I have huge dreams, but the thing I have to keep in mind is that it is progress to be taking baby steps. I have held onto my dreams for more than 4 years and they are not just going to come true over night. The fact that I did do a few things even though I didn't accomplish everything I had planned to do today is a step in the right direction.

On the docket for tomorrow?
I will be performing as Bubbles the Clown at AMC Regency 24 in Brandon and after that I have a long list of plans towards my dreams and career. I would love to post tomorrow night that I checked off every single thing on my list, but rather than beat myself up for missions unaccomplished, I have decided I will instead praise my self for things I do get done.

Hopefully in praising myself for the stuff that does get done I will encourage myself to continue on and eventually my dreams will come true and then I'll have a chance to come up with new dreams.

What do you do when you don't accomplish the tasks on your to-do list? If you beat yourself up, take a moment and think about the things you did do!!! Positive reinforcement will go a lot further than feeling like a failure.

This week my personal mission since I was not very nice to Monday is to look at the glass half-full.


Proactive isn't just a skin care product

I've never been one to believe in that everything happens for a reason.

To some, that may make me appear cynical, but as I so often point out, I consider myself a "pragmatic idealist." I see the world as a flawed place capable of great beauty, even in the smallest of things. Whereas a full-on optimist remains wholly positive, my approach is more balanced, hoping for the best but keeping it all in a more realistic perspective that is - in theory, at least - designed to prevent disappointment.

I could go on and on about my laundry list of regrets, many of which involve my lack of progress with my creative writing. Yet, here I sit in one of my local Starbucks (but of course!!), reflecting on the extensive positive changes that I've experienced thus far this year. 2010 has been a tremendous step forward for me, both personally and professionally, and though the year is already more than half over, I can't help but feel that the best is still yet to come.

Though I usually don't divulge this to the world at large, I have often been frustrated with my life, especially the past few years. I've felt stagnant, unmoving... like the world is spinning past me and everyone around me is growing up, moving on up to the East Side in a deluxe apartment in the sky... You get the idea.

And the saddest part of that is that I truly had no one but myself to blame. I used to simply wait for things to happen, hoping and praying that the world would deliver everything I ever wanted right to my doorstep. But the more time that goes by and the older I get, the more I realize that this is nothing but a fantasy.

The real world isn't like that. I've often heard that "life is what you make it," but it wasn't until recently that the truth of that statement has really sunken into the core of my being. Except for the lucky few for whom the stars align serendipitously, the people who get anywhere is this world are the ones who work damn hard to get there. These are the people who advance professionally, who find the loves of their lives, who see their dreams come true. And yes, fellow writers, these too are the people who actually see their writing get published.

For years, I've told people I'm writing a screenplay, a novel, etc., etc. But yet, here I am more than a decade after I first got the creative writing bug with the creation of my first original character, Robert Fox, and I have yet to really see any of these projects 100% through to completion. All I have to show for it thus far is a half-written screenplay and a pile of accompanying notes, several rough drafts of songs, a very rough first draft of a novel and page after page of undeveloped story ideas.

And so it was with this very blog. Astute readers may notice that the archive here reaches all the way back to May 2007, and though three years have passed seemingly in the blink of an eye, The Crooked Table has still not taken off as I have so often hoped it would. And once again, I have no one to blame for this but myself. I haven't really tried. I haven't committed to it or devoted sufficient time to this little pet project of mine.

The old me would have internalized this self-fulfilled prophecy of failure, but something has changed in me. I really hate to mention "Glee" again on this blog since those of you who don't really know me probably think I'm obsessed with it by now... lol (I'm only Gleek on my mother's side... :P) But I have been listening to the show's soundtracks incessantly the last few weeks, since I'm just now discovering the show. There's a song on there called "Defying Gravity" from the musical "Wicked," and one lyric has stood out to me since my very first listen.

"I'm through accepting limits 'cause someone says they're so.
Some things I cannot change but till I try I'll never know."

These past several years, I've been too afraid to put myself out there... afraid of building my hopes up too high only to tumble down. Afraid of change. Afraid to try. But now I'm ready to put that version of myself behind me.

The past few months have seen my social life burgeon even more, my professional life leap forward and my plans to get my very own apartment finally inching towards realization. And The Crooked Table is undoubtedly part of the renaissance my life is going through this year.

I've joked with my family that 2010 is "The Year of Robbie," though part of me still felt that this was just another way I would let myself down. Yet, by keeping a positive attitude and pushing myself to chase after what I want, I have surprised even myself with the progress I have made.

I look forward to continuing to build up this blog, finishing my novel and making creative writing progress and following the new path I've designed for myself. I truly feel like I've turned a corner and can't wait to see what 2010 has in store.

You too, fellow writers, must keep that same optimism and sense of adventure about your life. It will carry you through with your writing and in the rest of your life. Stay strong, keep writing and remember: Proactive isn't just a skin care product. ;)

Happy writing, as always...


Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Moment of Inspiration


As artists, we always are dreaming of the day that we will get our big break! It excites us to think of the moment we will have thousands of fans and finally have all of our hours of work somehow legitimized.

I found these two stories of art being made popular and I found them so inspirational I decided to share them with whoever is reading my page.

The first is an amazing story of an unknown waitress becoming famous overnight thanks to the show So You Think You Can Dance. Christina Perri wrote a breakup song called "Jar of Hearts" that inevitably ended up in the hands of a choreographer from the popular reality dance show. The song is played in the video below, but you can read the story HERE

The second, although not about a traditional artist, is about an artist nonetheless. A man who used to live in a 4,000 sq. ft. home has made his business, but more importantly his life out of now living in a home that is bare 100 square feet. Jay Shafer is showing people how to live with less. Do you think you could handle a life with less?

If you are anything like me you have too much excess in your life and there is a lot of downsizing you could do that would probably make you happier than you are now. See inside this man's tiny home below and watch his Yahoo! news story HERE

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I'm Ready and This Time I Mean It!!!!


I went on a much needed vacation to Kentucky for a few days and now I feel recharged and ready to get my career back on track. Sadly, I have said this many times before but have been too damn lazy to actually act on anything I have talked about for the past 3 or 4 years.

The first piece of good news now that I am back in Tampa is that I am so excited to report that I will be taking pictures on Fridays and Saturdays at Club AJA at Wiregrass for the next several weeks and possibly even beyond that!
I've been looking for a little more regular income and this is truly a blessing!!!

I still have lots of plans rolling around in my head and I'm anxious for all of them to start being played out, but definitely needed to get some dollars in the bank before I could move forward.

I can't wait to see where the next few weeks take me, but here is a taste of what is to come:

1. Full redesign and upgrade of three of my websites:
- We Are Full of Bull

- The Photographic Times

- The Famous Ashley Grant

2. Official launch of Tampa Bay Freebies

3. More posting and linking to The Crooked Table

4. I don't know what else at this point...but I'm working on it =)

I'm also doing a body makeover on myself. In an effort to have the energy to do all of the things I want to do to make my dreams come true, I'm going to make a more valiant effort at getting my body in the condition it needs to be in. I got my hair did and I worked out today and plan on trying to get myself right in body and mind and hopefully spirit.

Welcome to the NEW Table! Pull up a chair...

Fellow writers,

You may have noticed that The Crooked Table doesn't look exactly the same. In fact, it looks much better! That's because - at long last - we have begun making design tweaks. And officially have pushing you to the site!

In short, the wheels are finally in motion to improve our fledgling writer's site. My co-conspirator - The Famous Ashley Grant - and I recently met up to discuss the future of the Table, and I look forward to developing this little pet project of mine over the next several months.

Expect a new logo to appear soon, the announcement of our first OFFICIAL meeting, more regular posts from yours truly, and with any luck, some new, fresh contributors (plus, maybe more than a handful of readers!! LOL!) in the near future. To say that the best of The Crooked Table is still ahead of us is more than a possibility. In fact, it's damn near a certainty.

Although I have loads going on in both my personal and professional lives, I remain committed to not only keeping the Table up and running but helping it to flourish. I really believe that writers out there can benefit from this blog, and I fully intend on seeing through on the vast potential that has laid dormant since I first conceived of The Crooked Table three years ago. 2010 has been a year of tremendous positive changes for me thus far, and I hope to be able to cross "Make The Crooked Table a resounding success" off my year-long to-do list very soon.

However, I need YOUR help to do so. If you're at all interested in getting involved in this fabulous little blog of ours, feel free to shoot me an e-mail at (just put "The Crooked Table" in the subject line). Whether you're a writer looking to contribute, wanting to cross-promote your site with us or simply have a suggestion on how we can make the site better, now is the time to speak up!

The Crooked Table is about to enter the fast lane so get on board before the Table is full!! ;)

Happy writing... you'll hear from me again soon!


Regarding the Conception of "Inception"

Anyone who even remotely knows me knows that there are few things I love as much as a really great movie. I'm addicted to storytelling. It's why I became a writer, and when a filmmaker as brilliant as Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight) has something to say about the writing process - even something as brief as the below piece - well, I say it's worth checking out. The following article, in which Nolan discusses his new film Inception (which you should all check out, by the way!!!) was originally posted at Enjoy, fellow writers!!!


Leonardo DiCaprio in "Inception"

Photo: Warner Bros.

Christopher Nolan Never Created A 'Bible' For 'Inception'

'You don't want to go back in and change the rule set,' he says of restricting himself with a guidebook.

"That's how this felt to me," he explained to MTV News. "It felt like there's a world here that I'm just trying to understand and put together for the audience. ... You feel like it already exists, and you're kind of uncovering it."

Unlike James Cameron in the writing of "Avatar," Nolan declined to create an "Inception" bible to track his various ideas, characters and plot threads. "I kept thinking about doing that," he said. "But what happens is, you come up with a rule set, then you're writing the script, and you need the story to go somewhere else, you don't want to go back in and change the rule set."

Because, as Nolan made clear, he would have had to do a ton of revision to that bible over the course of the writing process. "The backstory, the rules of the world, they evolve as the picture of the whole movie evolves," he said. "You also want to bring actors in and technicians in and really keep the thing fluid until it has to be locked down. So to me, the rules are sort of evolutionary in a film like 'Inception.' You have to be true to them. There's no question about that. You can't cheat with them. But you don't want to sit down and put one to 10, 'OK, these are the rules.'

"Writing is a strange thing, because sometimes it's cart before horse," he added. "Sometimes you know there's a scene that's going to happen, but you don't quite know how you're going to get there. And that's one of the things that I really enjoy about writing."

Monday, July 12, 2010

I Wasn't in the Mood

Boredom is a rare thing for me. I do my best to keep myself occupied by something because the feeling of "stir crazy" never sits well.

Tonight, I was bored.

I felt a headache coming on and decided that even though it was late, I'd make a little bit of coffee to hopefully knock a possible migraine right back to wherever they come from.

I texted a friend who was busy reading. I realized I hadn't read in a few days. I didn't think I had anything good on the shelf even though it's full of ones I've never even read the back covers of. I remembered a book the friend lent me about a month ago. I knew it was about writing. I knew it was supposed to be some type of self-help, motivational thing and I wasn't in the mood for that.

Somehow I found my way to the bookshelf anway and saw the book sitting there.

"A kick in the ass," one critic wrote.

Two hours later, my life is changed.

Resistance Doesn't Have to Live On

The Book (totally deserves to be capitalized from here on out) is Steven Pressfield's The War of Art.

You may have heard of him if you've read The Legend of Bagger Vance.

I haven't. Now I want to. This guy is that good.

The Book is divided into three sections and they all share one common theme: Resistance.

This blog is full of articles about all of our little resistances.

Not to offend anyone (and I know I'm guilty of it) but how many times have we posted on here about how we "need to be writing"?

We need to "just do it!"?

How many tips can we give each other about "how to overcome writer's block"?

We're not overcoming anything by just talking about it.

The Book opens with Mr. Pressfield telling us how "he rolls".

He wakes up and WRITES.

He works.

It's a job.

There is no calling out on your 9-5 most of the time is there?

If we're writers, we're writers.

It's what we do.

There's a part of the Book that talks about what we do if we were the last person on Earth.

If you answer writing...guess what? Yeah, you're a writer.

Now you can proceed.

The Enemy

The War of Art declares resistance the enemy.

Steven Pressfield even goes as far as to say that resistance is the Devil himself.

That it's self destructive and that self destructiveness spreads to the entire planet.

Resistance is fear.

"The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it."

He doesn't sugarcoat.

This guy tells you like it is.

And he tells you how he feels about it.

Whether you like it or not.

You find yourself wanting to throw the book down.

Then you realiize that's resistance.

And you don't want that garbage anymore.

The Battle

The second part of the Book discusses ways to "combat resistance."

This is where he tells us how "the pros" do it.

He makes it seem so simple, really.

"It's not the writing part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to write."

It's a short section but it explains a bit of his background and how he got to where he is.

It's a strategy guide.

It's also telling us that we can do it.

Many have.

And many will.

Don't Get Freaked Out

The last section of the Book may be a bit controversial for some.

Keep an open mind about it.

Pressfield has no problem with sharing his religious and spiritual beliefs and I truly feel he considers writing to be his purpose in life and he treats it as if it's a spiritual journey.

A few chapters might fly over the heads of some because there are some metaphysical and "new age" principles in it.

To me, this is Pressfield's Philosophy 101. It's going to work for some and not for others.

But it helps you to move beyond that five-headed dragon now that youv'e defeated it.

And if you respond to the Book as quickly as I have, you may find yourself immediately setting a gameplan to make some changes or to suddenly write after not being able to really put anything down for like *cough cough* a year.

So Do Yourself a Favor....

Read it.

I feel it can be applied to all aspects of life and not just our creative endeavors.

For me, it helped to remind me of what I missed most about really working at writing.

It made me realize all the resistances I was giving in to.

I have an older writer friend who's pretty darn amazing.

I told him once that I had an idea for a novel.

"Don't spend one minute on it if you can't throw it in a fire and watch it burn into the Heavens," he said.

I didn't quite understand what he said. I only thought I did.

Now, after reading The War of Art, I do.

And my hope is that you will too.

Tomorrow's going to be a new day for me.

It couldn't have come at a better time, either.

As always, good luck comrades and I hope you get a chance to check out this amazing book!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

When Work Gets Cancelled


A little bummed because a project I was supposed to work on this afternoon that would have paid me 1/3 of a standard week's pay got pushed back. On top of that I am waiting on 3 checks from 3 different clients and watching the dollars in my account keep going down. My husband Jeremy continues to try to comfort me by saying that when I begin to get regular work I won't feel the pinch of waiting on the money as much...but getting to the regular work part is becoming more difficult than the feeling of waiting on a check.
When work slows down for you, what do you do for extra money?

Monday, July 5, 2010

It's a sign!!!

On my way to a coffee shop today I saw this sign and had to take a picture of it. To me it is a sign that the writers of Tampa need to unite and make this blog all it was meant to be. We should post job openings, freelance gigs, contests, ideas, story assistance and so much more on this blog. As I see things that is exactly what I plan on doing from here on out. Hope you and some of your writer friends will jump on the bandwagon and do it too!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Did I Really Only Make $50?!?

This was originally posted at

So, it just hit me that so far this week I have only made $50!!! Grrr! Grant it I have been sick and have not felt at all like writing, working or asking people for work, but still! This sucks! I basically just got a rude awakening about what happens when you work for yourself! The days you don't work, you don't make money!!!

There are no sick days, no paid vacations, nothing! Sure, there are lots of perks to working for myself, but it was hard to look at my books and see such a dismal amount of money to be made 3 days into the work week. Even more saddening is knowing that I won't make any money again until Saturday because me being ill has kept me from setting up appointments and all that jazz.

This post is not my way of trying to get people to feel bad for me, so let's clear that up right this second. Instead it is my way of showing you that although my job is the coolest ever, it does have its downsides. I'm not a millionaire [yet ;)] and I do have to work every single day that I hope to make money. That is until I come up with some amazing book that makes me royalties while I sleep, right? Hey! It could happen so don't hate.

Photo credit:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Minor Epiphany

WhatUP fellow writers!

Yes, it's 5am, and yes, I'm not only awake but online and blogging at this ungodly hour, jumping intermittently from an online traffic school and my usual social networking sites all the while listening to my newly acquired "Glee" soundtracks (my most recent pop cultural obsession... lol).

In the vein of my previous Table post, I still find myself wondering why it can't be easier to simply stop contemplating what we should be doing and, you know, get to it already! Why are writers doomed to this eternal inner struggle? Is it this uncommon, more introspective neurotic mindset the source of a writer's power, the simultaneous gift and curse that every creative-minded individual must bear in order to share his or her observations with the world at large? Is that why so many ingenious artists seem to live some of the most tumultuous lives?

If that sounds like a paragraph full of questions, that's probably because I'm in a bit of an inquisitive mood at the moment. Maybe that explains the fact that I'm wide awake and sharing my innermost thoughts with you, fellow writers and, of course, let's not forget my cyberstalking brigade of fans (Don't worry, guys, your "Robert Rocks!" t-shirts will be in the mail shortly! :p).

In any case, I can definitively say that the "quarter-life crisis" is behind me at this point, and since I'm about to officially enter my late twenties in a couple weeks, I'd say I'm right on schedule. On schedule for what, you may ask...

Whereas a couple of years ago, I might have felt somewhat lost as to where I wanted to take this life of mine, I feel that more than ever, I'm closer to finding my place. I have finally landed a decent-paying job doing something that I (for the most part) enjoy, and it feels good to be one of those rare writers that gets paid to write, even if my professional writing doesn't reflect my creative ambitions.

The continuing issue, at least as far as my life as a writer is concerned (in the interest of keeping this post at least ostensibly on topic), is how to fit writing into my ever-hectic schedule. To those of you who frequent this blog (you know, all three of my devoted Table enthusiasts... lol), this might sound like "same ol', same ol'" from me, and you'd be partially correct. I do seem to spend a disproportionate amount of time bitching about my lack of writing progress than I do actually writing, and that dovetails nicely into my next point.

As writers, we spend so much time planning and plotting and outlining our projects that, oftentimes (at least from my perspective), we build it up so much in our heads, essentially psyching ourselves out in the process. In fact, the only reason I was able to finish the first draft of my novel in less than a million years is due to the fact that I simply wrote and wrote with only the vaguest idea where it was heading (much like the writers of LOST... Ba-zing!!). As a result, the revision process that looms intimidatingly in front of me seems even more daunting than ever before.

So, in an attempt to bring this rambling, near-nonsensical post full-circle, let me address the queries I posed at the outset of this post: Do all writers (and creative-minded individuals, for that matter) plagued by the need to overanalyze, dissect and decipher nearly every thought that crosses their collective path, trying in vein to answer the unanswerable and pinpoint what it all means?

I believe so. The difference between those millions of aspiring writers and the lucky bastards who actually get published and make a career out it is their ability to get out of their own heads and shake off any lingering self-doubt or distractions that might impede the realization of their creative vision.

The question that every writer must ask himself or herself is if they are passionate enough about their writing, about getting their work out there, to make it a constant focus... to brave the fickle storm that is life, keeping their compass firmly locked on their objective despite whatever weather they must face to reach their destination (this navigational metaphor working for any of you? haha).

While I have undoubtedly wavered from my path more than a few times, I remain steadfast in eventually getting where I need to be. It's just been taking me a bit longer to set sail is all. But it's all good... as long as I keep one hand steering me in the general direction of my goal. :)

As always, happy writing, and please feel free to comment away! I can always use the ego boost... ;)


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Turn off the Television!!

Reposting this from The Famous Ashley Grant

Image Credit HERE

One of my problems? The television. It has become a bad habit to turn on the t.v. as soon as I wake up. I even gave myself the excuse that I just wanted to watch the news, but as soon as the news is over daytime t.v. shows somehow manage to be on my screen.The t.v. is very distracting. I can see myself developing into an even lazier stay at home worker if I don't start taking control right away. It would appear I need to leave the tube off and just turn on the radio if I need the news fix to get me going that badly.Thank goodness I'm figuring out all my vices and distractions early so that I can hopefully combat them quickly and get to work!

Monday, May 31, 2010

WTF Are We Waiting For???

Sigh… I’m going to be perfectly honest with y’all, fellow writers. Even if it is trapped in its perpetual infancy, The Crooked Table should be a place where writers can vent their frustrations, share their victories and generally speak their mind on any and all topics, from a writer’s perspective, of course. That is, after all, what I envision to be the site’s underlying philosophy.

So here’s my piece: I’m. Sick. Of. This. Shit. If that’s too vague and indistinct for you, allow me to clarify and add a bit of context . I have been thinking seriously about becoming some form of creative writer since the freshman year of high school, when I created the secret agent character whose name I have since adopted as my faux alter ego.

Years passed with little creative development, save for the expansion of an ever-growing laundry list of story ideas and concepts. I began to develop an interest in screenwriting and came up with an entirely new, semi-autobiographical tale to tell. This process involved lots of brainstorming , note-taking and other, more arbitrary preparatory work, but I never completed what I considered to be a satisfactory draft of that story. I blamed this largely on the screenwriting format itself, but really, the problem was that I never developed all my notes and ideas into a cohesive outline. But I digress…

From there, I attempted to team up with a couple different friends of mine on a writing project, but nothing ever came of it. It sucks that it’s even harder to find someone else as committed to writing than it is motivate yourself to do it. Again with the digressions… haha... Don’t worry, I’m getting focused now.

Finally, after a year and a half of little significant writing progress, I took it upon myself to take sole ownership of a project that had been intended to be a collaboration, and last year, I finished the first draft of my first-ever novel. Having given myself Thanksgiving Day as a deadline, I finished that very night, my belly still full of turkey, mashed potatoes and black beans and rice (my family’s Cuban, btw… lol).

Having reached such a milestone, I figured that I had earned a little break from the dark, trippy and hyper-cynical perspective of my main character. However, somehow a break of just a couple weeks has turned into six months. In the blink of an eye, my novel-in-progress has gone from being a constant focus to a dust-gathering memory.

Which, of course, brings me to the title of this post. WTF am I waiting for? I seemed to have a good thing going with this story. Along the way, I had even developed deeper themes, sharper dialogue and innumerable suggestions on ways I can flesh out and repair the skeleton of the initial draft. Even the few people who I’d let read selections from it had given me positive feedback and helped me stay optimistic that what I was doing was worthwhile and not the biggest time-waster of all-time.

So, with all that moving along so smoothly… why is it that I have let so much time go by with picking up the proverbial pen and returning to work? This reminded me of a quote from “Planet Terror,” the Robert Rodriguez-directed half of the 2007 double feature film Grindhouse (of all things…). When one character asks another about her failed dreams to become a doctor, she simply replies, “That’s the thing about dreams. They become the thing you talk about instead of the thing you do.”

If we are truly so passionate about making it as writers, why do we shortchange ourselves by half-assing our efforts? Is it that we’re more infatuated with the romanticized notion of what a writer is and how he represents society through the written word than the rush we get when a project is going really well or when we finally get what’s on paper to match the brilliance in our own heads?

Naturally, for some people, this is the case, but for argument’s sake, if you’re reading this, I’m going to assume that you truly are serious about being a writer. Either that, or you’re one of the many Robert Yaniz Jr. cyber-stalkers out there. You know who you are… ;)

The most obvious reason for slipping into inactivity is laziness. That, coupled with a hectic day job and subsequent sleep deprivation, is probably the most common and certainly the most justifiable reason for letting your creative mindset slip temporarily into the ether. I know that this is usually my default cop-out as to why I haven’t done any work on my novel.

But really, there’s got to be more to it than that, some subversive part of our subconscious that prevents us from continuing to follow our dreams, building ever closer to that fateful day when we can see our work sitting snugly between “Lord of the Flies” and “The Da Vinci Code” on a Barnes and Noble shelf. (Yes, I realize those two books are not classified in the same section, but the point stands regardless… )

I believe it’s the intimidation factor. We know before we begin the near-insurmountable odds that anything we write will ever see the light of day or gain a readership any larger than ourselves, our family members and close friends. This fear of failure cripples us right from the outset. To a writer, there are few things as terrifying and sweat-inducing as the blank page.

This only gets the worry wheels turning even faster… Is my story worth a damn? Do I have any idea what I’m talking about? Is my whole goddamned existence a sham, a self-induced fabrication designed to shield myself from the harsh reality that I possess absolutely no creative talent whatsoever?

And really, it’s an awful lot of time to spend on a pastime that – in all honesty – is unlikely to ever garner us a single cent. That’s when the practical side of us kicks in, attempting to rationalize away our total lack of writing progress on the fact that we’ve been busy with our “real” job. You know, the one that actually pays the bills and keeps us fed and sheltered.

But for us true writers, it doesn’t matter where our paycheck comes from. The act of creative writing, whether it’s screenplays, poems, short stories, songs, novels or whatever… That’s our calling. It’s what drives us and carries us from day to day. It’s not so much something we want to do as something we must do. Without it, we feel like we’re being untrue to ourselves and that eats us up inside.

That’s what I’ve been experiencing over the last several months, and it’s gotten to the point that I’ve undergone so much self-exploration thinking about not writing that it seems a shame to not expound that same amount of energy towards something that I am truly passionate about. Passionate about, but up to now, not 100% committed to. That’s what I need to change… That’s what I need to focus on.

In fact, let me get to it now… I suggest y’all do the same. See ya on the other side! ;)

Happy writing,