What did you DO?!


Thought I'd quickly post about the peasant's new clothes before I go to bed. You see, I was putting up a post at our photography blog tonight and realized that it was in desperate need of a makeover. That got me to looking around for a new theme for it that I rather like (although the top picture needs to be replace, but all in due time). And of course that got me to looking at all the other cool themes they had available. 

I've always wanted a three column theme, but could never find one that I liked. Tonight I decided to look again. Something like 15 pages into my search I happened upon this one and loved it. Anyone who really knows me will tell you, "this is Dave." Total eastern wisdom tree hugger stuff going on here . . . and it's all in green. :o) 

Anyway, this layout appears to have more room to play around in, and frankly, all of those buttons and gizmos that I painstakingly programmed by hand weren't really being used as far as I know, so I decided to let go of my attachment to them. If you want to know what's been keeping me away from writing here, check out the photography blog. Things have been going really well on that end. Also, I'm gearing up to send Spark off to Writers of the Future. Deadline is the 31st, so I'll be getting it off the first of the week. 

Your Writing Secret Santa

Who Keeps You Going?

“My wife.” “My family.” “The Crit Nazis.” “An angry little voice inside my head named Sergio Velasquez of Pompedore.” These are common answers to the title question. And we often give thanks to these people around this time of the year. I know that Sergio was very happy that I mentioned him over Thanksgiving dinner prayer. But I also think that there are other people in our lives that deserve thanks for keeping us going and we don't often acknowledge them.

I'm not about to chastise you about service members or the Red Cross or something like that. I'm talking about people who don't even intend to help you out. They're just being themselves and for some reason that's all it takes. Something about their presence in your life, no matter how small, helps your inner voice to sing, “What I do really does matter.”

For my wife it would be the one in a hundred former student that chimes in on Facebook to say, “I used to love it when you'd read to us. That was my favorite time of class.” For you it's someone different, maybe a waiter at your favorite restaurant that knows your order by heart. Could be that manager in another department that makes sure to stop and tell you what a good job she thinks you're doing.

For the past few weeks my unknown motivators have been a couple of high school students. We'll call them David and Heather. Back when I was just about to let this entire blog thing die altogether, my wife stopped to ask me about it.

“So what's going on with the blog?”

“Eh, I'm not worried about it. If I feel inspired I might post something, but at this point I'm pretty much burnt out.”

She gave me that sad look as though she was witnessing a dream die in front of her. “That's too bad. My students asked me about it the other day.”

I looked up from my laptop. “Your students? Why would they ask you about it?”

“Some of them enjoy reading it and they wanted to know why you hadn't been on in a while.”

A few days later I took our son into school with me so that my wife could take pictures of a play. Heather happened to be in it, and Aiden loved Heather. He'd run across the stage to where she was standing on the ground below and jump off into her arms only to have me follow him all the way around to guide him up the stairs and then do it all over again.

At one point, while the little guy was distracted, she mentioned that she enjoyed reading what I put up here and said that she missed my posts.  

Honestly, that was all that it took. A couple of inquiries from David and Heather was all that I needed to get that little voice inside my head to sing again.

So here's a great big thank you to you guys for sticking with me. I think that everyone reading this should go out an thank their secret inspiration, that person or persons who keep you going without their knowing it. Tis the season after all.   

You Are Beautiful

Here's another writerly thought from the vacation of television viewing. On one of the days we were in Denver over break (what? I didn't tell you we went to Denver? Well of course I didn't. Do you know how many loonies are out there waiting for a public broadcast about when a person is not going to be home for an extended period of time? Sheesh.) my sister-in-law had a marathon of some fashion show on. It was some makeover show where two totally obnoxious people, a gay guy and a fashionista, makeover a woman and throw out all of her clothes while they make fun of her for not dressing like they do. It's really rather disgusting.  

During one of the episodes my brother chimed in with how he thought that all of them women were unattractive. His reasoning was that just about every one of them cried during their makeover and that to him was an ugly thing. He likes strong women who are sure of themselves and don't need clothing to feel important or worthy.

What troubled me about this was that my brother, the big NRA, Ron Paul, motorcycle mechanic, who I love, is not really all that in tune with the feminine psyche. While women will always be an enigma to me, I do seem to understand them a bit more than most men (even if I try not to let on like I do). Growing up in a divorced home where all I wanted for my mom was to find true love, I bent my will to trying to become the perfect man for some woman someday. I'd horde my mother's issues of Glamour and Cosmo. I'm sure that others in the family thought I was doing it for the pictures of the gorgeous models when in truth what I was doing was reading all of the articles pertaining to men and what women wanted. After many years of teenage research, all of them spent bumbling through failed interactions with women, I discovered some truths. The first truth is that you shouldn't believe what you read in women's magazines. Often times a woman's expressed desire does not match with what she takes action on. Years later I would finally understand why.

What my brother was seeing as a weakness, and even a rarity in women was in fact quite the opposite. Hell, it's not even confined to women, we're all that insecure. It's just that these fashionistas and their producers have found a way to break down the walls of defense so that they can get tears on film. What my brother doesn't seem to get is that almost all women feel that way. They struggle with weight, apply makeup, shave, spend thousands on clothing, work on posture, mannerisms, all the things that he would think are silly plague women from the time they are little girls. That's why Twilight even for as bad a production as it is, has captured the minds of so many women.

Here you have a girl who is insecure, unsure of herself, not the prettiest, or smartest, or most loved and then suddenly one day it all changes. In steps a man who sees her for her inner beauty, who loves her unfailingly, willing to give up everything to be with her and will even “wait” for her.

It struck me as rather sad that so many men don't get it. Heck, our entire culture doesn't seem to get it even though half of it is suffering from it. It has inspired me to delve into it more in my writing. Strong female protagonists are fun and sexy, but unless we show how they struggle with what all women struggle with, and possibly suggest ways for them to get past it, we are doing a disservice to our readers, to truth.

And just in case you're a guy out there or a tough as nails woman in denial, I'll add a note from the photography world that I happened upon. While I was researching posing women for glamour shots, I happened upon a female photographer whose profession it has been to take glamour and fashion shots of gorgeous women for over a decade noted that the most difficult part of her job is simply this: getting her model to believe that she's beautiful because even the most gorgeous women in the world don't believe it.

Photo two is from Cheryl McLaughlin, titled: My Insecurities.