Are You Honest?

A couple of weeks ago I'd met up with a friend I hadn't talked to for over a decade. He used to be an instructor at the martial arts school I'd taught at. Read about my opinions about that in my bio. bruce_lee_head

We're both writers and we'd talked about writing the story that calls to us. With all the vampiric stories that are being churned both in the publishing and film industry, I don't blame people for jumping on the band wagon.  But the point of being an artist is to express your soul.  And if your soul says write a vampire story, then write a vampire story.

When it comes to finding out what you want to do with your life, what story should be written, what path you should take, you need to be honest with yourself.  How do you be honest with yourself?

First of all, are you honest with other people? I'm not talking about being a saint, never telling lies, never doing anything wrong. Were human. But do you care about what other people say about you? Do care about what other people think about you? Do you put all your stock in your status in life?

Why is this important?

Because any of this, namely your ego, can block your true self.  You become motivated by the things that seem important--the size of your house, the German car in your massive garage, the name brand clothes you wear, the title of your job, bottled water.  Do these things matter?  That's for you to decide.  Do they matter when it comes toexpressing yourself honestly? No.

When I went to the San Francisco Writers Conference, Richard Paul Evans, one of the keynote speakers said something that really hit home. Especially since he's a New York Times bestselling author.  He said write your truth.  Don't hop on the bandwagon. Don't be a follower.  Lead by leading.

Bruce Lee said the same thing. Honestly express yourself.

Look at the things that you're drawn to.  Do you love music?  Any particular kind?  Try that out.  Do you love software programming?  Try that out.  Do you love selling?  If you have an affinity for houses, maybe you should be a real estate agent.  Or if you love helping people get healthier, maybe you should try physical therapy, personal training, nursing.

Is there a common theme that runs throughout your life?

For me, I've always loved stories.  And I always loved fantasizing, putting myself in action movie roles, imagining what it would be like to be betrayed by a close friend, finding myself in a fantasy land where I'm a warlord.  Since my sophomore year, I've tried to write novels.  But when it came to deciding a major in college, I never thought of majoring in English or creative writing.  Why?  I'm not sure.  Maybe the things I had to go through as a person lent itself to writing the series of novels that I'm writing now.

I'm not angry about it.  Nor do I judge it.  I realize that I have stories to be told, and I'm telling them.

Genius: A Small Ingredient

People will get an awesome idea and get right to work.  Then they realize one truth.  Anything worth having takes work.  It doesn't have to be difficult.  Suddenly, after a few days effort, they stop or quit, stating the inspiration has left them.

What the hell?

There’s a saying. “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration.”  Thomas Edison.

To illustrate this, I’m going to paraphrase an example I’ve read by Michael Neill.  Google him.  He’s pretty damn cool.

I have a friend who works at Home Depot.  They have mountains of white paint in the paint department.  How ironic.  When a customer requests blue, for example, my friend places a few drops of blue in the white, and voila, you have blue paint. If the customer changes their minds and wants purple, a few drops of red and there you have it.  Purple.  The drops of colored paint is the inspiration, but the white base is the work.

In all arts, the inspiration is usually short lived.  But your passion and work carries it to fruition.  If people expect ever-flowing inspiration, then eventually the paint turns black.

When I was writing my novel, I had a big problem.  There are three basic types of fantasies.  A professional novelist pointed this out to me:

1.    Strange toad in a familiar garden.

a.     Witches, vampires, and werewolves in the real world.

2.     Familiar toad in a strange garden.

a.     Humans in middle earth, humans in space, humans at the center of the earth.

3.     Strange toad in a strange garden.

a.     Witches, vampires, or werewolves in space.

Mine is the third type. Which just happens to be the hardest because I have to world build the strange toad and the strange garden.  It wasn’t my choice.  It’s not like I sat down and said, “Wow. This sounds fun.  Let’s take the hardest freakin’ thing and jump.”

The story came to me.  And I ran with it.  Now came the hard part.  I needed tons of ideas to create this world.  So I sat down every day, wrote, and ideas came slowly at first.  Then within a few days I was flooded with them.  A lot of other artists has described similar experiences.  I had to buy a notebook or I’d forget them, which quickly filled with disjointednuggets of gold.

Did I use all of them?  Most.

The moral?

Follow through with your flashes of genius.  You’ll never know what will come.  If you need ideas to support your work, ask for them.  They’ll come.

Vampires in space.  Hmmm.

Richard Paul Evans Key Note

Richard Paul Evans is a New York Times Bestselling author.  His first book is called The Christmas Box. His subsequent books - Grace:  A Novel, The Five Lessons a Millionaire Taught Me About Life and Wealth, The Last Promise - just to name a few, have also gone on the best seller list.  His keynote speech at the San Francisco Writer's Conference was awesome. He discusses what he did to get his book out to the world.  Richard was cool enough to tell a few other stories.  Some were touching and others funny.  He also  gave some inspiring advice to us authors.  I highly recommend listening him.


Tell me what you think.  Please forgive the poor recording.  All three hundred of us were having lunch.

Tomorrow, I'll upload a lecture about branding.