Television, Distraction or Inspiration?

Standard

As a writer there’s a lot I can justify in the name of writing. Almost any experience or activity can be seen as a necessary part of the writing process. For years it fueled my already voracious reading habits. I’ve always believe the advice to become a better writer you have to read, and read widely. As if I needed a excuse to excessively shop for books. Even with my often visits to the library, my book collection has grown considerably the past couple of years.

But thanks to a good friend and her Netflix account, my new favorite medium is television shows. In the past I’ve been critical of myself watching too much TV, it felt too much like a waste of time. It’s likely because of the lack of choices, hundreds of channels and still nothing good is ever on. But after thoroughly browsing the horror and sci-fi/fantasy categories I realized the potential for inspiration it provided. So I’ve been pretty much binging on all shows having to do with witches, monsters, space travel, fae, etc.

I have to admit if it wasn’t for the content I’d probably be saying this was a real problem. At my worst I’ve spent almost entire days watching at least half a season. And more than a few times I was up until at least 4am because I just couldn’t walk away. So I’m starting to wonder if I really am lying to myself. Is this binging really just a distraction from the things I should be doing, or is it a part of the process? Some days I feel like I’m really benefiting, inspiring new creative work. Other’s I feel like I’m wasting too much time. I do have a bad habit of become a little obsessive.

I’m sure plenty of other people have lost time getting sucked into a TV watching binge. How do you know when it’s really a problem? I’d love to hear from my readers, especially other writers. Do you think TV can really be a productive use of time in terms of finding inspiration, or is it a big time suck?

Advertisements

Can’t Escape Information Overload, Help!

Standard

Information overload isn’t a new issue, nor is this the first time I’ve been stuck in it’s grip. The past couple of months have been quite overwintering. In the chaos there’s one thing that’s totally been neglected, my email inbox. I’ve managed a couple of times to clear it out but it seems to fill right back up. I have over 300 unopened emails in my inbox. Plus clearing out my inbox I tend to just move emails to folders that I intend to review later. So in addition to the unopened emails I have another buttload of emails waiting to actually be read. Most days I just scroll through opening anything that might be of importance and deleting junk. Every week or so I sit down intending to really clean it out, then anxiety sets it and I give up. It’s just too much, I’ll never have the time, and even if I do it’s a waste of time. With these thoughts ringing through my head is no surprise I can’t get through it.

The easiest solution would be to just delete everything. But as I’ve said it just fills back up again, plus I get nervous about just deleting it all. Would if I miss that one important article, contest, submission deadline, etc., that changes everything. I know ridiculous right. I admit I’m a bit of an information junkie. I’m always signing up for new online courses, subscribing to newsletters, following blogs, and don’t even get me started on social media. But the problem is I just can’t keep up with it. And I honestly wonder if it’s even worth it to. A lot of the information I collect is inspiration for my writing, career and business advice, self improvement advice, and generally just anything I think might be interesting or useful.

The funniest part is it’s never going to be useful if I never actually read it. I just feel so overwhelmed it’s essentially paralyzed me, I’m not sure where to even start. I’m sure I’m not alone in this issue and I’d love to hear how other deal with it. Please comment with any ideas or advice. Or simply let me know I’m not alone or being completely crazy.

 

A Case of The Mondays

Standard

The majority of my working life, I haven’t worked typical Monday to Friday jobs work weeks. Yet I’ve always felt the pressure to conform to that standard. With it has come the dreaded Monday syndrome. While it includes the feeling of having a fresh start, it also includes not wanting to go back to work after the weekend. It’s continued now that I am freelancing with no day job. Many a weeks have passed where Monday came and I just wasn’t really into doing anything productive. It was a day for me just to really begin preparing for the week ahead.

Hate Mondays

Image credit: 7thplanetout via DeviantArt

I wonder sometimes if it’s not just peer pressure to align my schedule with the rest of the business world or if it’s ingrained in me from years of school. Actually for a long time I’ve based my life according to academic calendars, whether I was in school or not. I spent many summers wasting away time, more concerned with hanging out and enjoying the weather. But the minute September comes, it feel like it’s time to buckle down and get to work.

I’m really not sure how to break out of these cycles. Honestly I feel like its a major roadblock to being more productive and successful. I also wonder if other people that work odd schedules feel this way. I’d like to know how many writers work out routines that resemble normal office hours. Reading about successful writers I realized I do need some sort of schedule but I haven’t been able to successfully implement one. I’ve tried but honestly unless I am accountable to somebody else I find it hard to stick with it. I wonder if there are any successful writers that simply wing it doing what they want whenever they feel like it. I suspect that doesn’t work very well.

I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on this subject. If you’ve found a way to chase way the Monday blues, or embraced a totally different weekly schedule fill me in on your secret.

How Ethical and Fair are Drug Testing Policies

Standard

I recently went on an interview for a retail store. As I filled out the application, one of the forms given to me outlined hiring procedures which included drug testing. It specified that a negative result was required for hiring. I paused for a second but then quickly moved on. Thinking I needed the money so I guess I’d have to oblige them. But afterwords I couldn’t get it out of my head. How is it possible that the most menial jobs require people to pass a drug test. I’ve always pretty much avoided jobs that required drug testing, not because I was afraid of failing but simply because I don’t think it’s right. For one I don’t think its useful, many horrible employees don’t do drugs at all and most people that do have found ways to get a negative result. Plus that fact that it just seems way too invasive. And while a positive result guarantees you will not be hired, having a criminal record supposedly will not be held against you. So instead of hiring a kid that occasionally smokes a little weed, it’s better to hire a convicted criminal. What about that makes sense.

There are some jobs that require drug testing and it makes sense. Jobs like airplane pilots, train operators, and other places where they are responsible for the safety of others. And yet hospital employees aren’t required to take drug tests. A situation that looked at closely can easily be dangerous for many reasons. Take for example this story, where a worker not only stole drugs but harmed patients. But to work a cash register and answer customer question I have to be subjected to a drug test. Yeah that makes sense.

While I actually thought I’d like to work for this company, I’m starting to second guess that. I know my refusal wont make a difference. Plenty of people are willing to put aside whatever feelings they have about the practice so they can get a job. But if I go along with it just like everybody else that’s the same as approving of it. If it was a different moral ideal they made me push aside in order to make a living would I still oblige. If part of my job was to lie or steal would it seem so small a issue.

All this pondering is probably for no reason, I still haven’t heard back from them. I guess I just needed to rant a little bit. I’d also like to hear other people’s thoughts. Do you agree that drug testing is too much to ask or do you think it’s a reasonable request? Does it really help employers make better hiring decisions or is it a waste of everybody’s time?

Riding The Waves Of The Mind

Standard

I started bike riding this year, an attempt to be active and get out of the house more often. I try to make it out everyday but usually it’s only a couple days a week. I’ve found that it’s a great way to clear my mind and sometimes I find sparks of inspiration. My regular route is along Shore Road in Bayridge, Brooklyn. Last week I was out for a ride and focused in on the sound of the waves. Then my mind started wandering. As I focused on the experience and the world around, the word waves kept rolling around in the back of my mind. Without thinking hard, I went through a little free association, and ended up with the line, “I’d rather ride the waves of my mind than keep up with modern times.”

It was a rather quick and random process, I wont bore you with the details. But once the line was in my head new ideas just kept coming to me. Immediately, I thought I needed to catch a picture of the waves to post on Instagram with the line. I also thought it was the great start to a poem. Which I ended up writing later that day. Then I realized that the anecdote about the line coming to me while riding was perfect for a blog post I had been working on about finding inspiration. I’d been working on the draft for a while but it just wasn’t coming together.

Waves

Riding the Waves of the Mind

One of the challenges of being a writer or any kind of content producer these days is always coming up with new ideas. Most of the time I push too hard trying to force it. But when I stop focusing on it and let my mind drift ideas just pop into my head. This isn’t exactly a new revelation, in many creative fields professionals advise doing something else to jump start creativity. But I thought it would help to see how a simple bike ride led to one line that turned into social media posts and a poem. I’m also even considering expanding the idea further to include other techniques and pitching it as an article to a writing publication.

Next time you feel stuck or out of ideas maybe you should go for a bike ride. If you don’t have a bike, go for a walk, or do anything that keeps you from thinking to hard. The point is to let your mind just wander, see where it takes you and enjoy the ride.

Where Has My Love For Bookstores Gone

Standard

I remember loving to visit different bookstores when I was younger. I had a few in particular that I loved to visit often and I could spend hours wondering around. Not just the small bookstores either, Barnes & Noble was like heaven for me. But recently I’ve realized that almost every time I go in a one I can’t wait to leave. I noticed the change a while ago at Barnes & Noble. It was right about when they made it easier and more comfortable for people to sit and read in the store by adding chairs. (Most likely to stop people from sitting in the aisles reading, which I never understood.) I’m not sure why but the whole ordeal annoyed me and the stores always seemed so much more crowded.

But even in small bookstores these days I just don’t enjoy looking around as much as I used to. I wonder if it’s actually the stores themselves or the actual reading materials that they carry. They don’t give me the same feeling of peace and solitude, I just feel uncomfortable. But it could just as easily be that there’s nothing in the stores that actually captures my attention. I do admit in the rare occasion that I find a used bookstore, I tend to linger much longer.

But then again it could just be me. It has been a long time since my high school days when I spent the most time in bookstores. I’ve found a lot of different and I guess more exciting ways to spend my time.

Just Another Thing I Don’t Get

Standard

Lately I’ve been attending writing workshops. Luckily there are some that meet regularly and are free. The workshop leaders give us a prompt and a set time to write. At the end of the time we share what we wrote and comment on what we liked, what was memorable or anything else that might be helpful. You always have the option not to read or give any feedback, and there’s really no pressure. The best thing is they are very noncommittal, there is usually no sign up before hand and you can show up whenever you feel like it. Which is why I find it odd when people don’t seem to really want to be there.

Well, maybe it’s not that they don’t want to be there but technically they really are not mentally there. I’ve seen people that instead of writing they are on their computer checking email, Facebook, or whatever else. Now on occasion I can see having the computer there distract you, and on occasion I’ll pull out my phone for a quick check. But I swear at least once I saw somebody spend the entire two hours surfing the web. Now I wonder why they bother to show up then. Not only does it seem like a waste of their time, but it’s pretty rude to the other participants. Instead of listening and participating in the discussion about the writing being done, they are basically just taking up space.

I just have to wonder what goes through people’s minds when they do things like this. Is it that they just don’t care, don’t think others care, or that they just don’t realize what they are doing. I get it’s free, it’s not the most professional groups of people, and it’s not that serious. But it just seems, I don’t know, kind of wrong. Well maybe not wrong but it sure is pretty damn pointless to attend a writing group to do everything else except what you’re there for.

Dress Codes That Expose Sexism

Standard

I know I’m really late on this story but I just had to get some thoughts out. It seems the employee was sent home for violating a dress code that does not include the clothing that the store itself sells as office wear. Reading this story I could sympathize with the employee. I myself have never liked dress codes and had issues adhering to them. I won’t say they are all unfair or ridiculous but I’ve found that many are. For example the cafe chain I worked at once that did not allow facial piercings or showing tattoos. I don’t see the point, I assume most people don’t really care what the person serving them looks like, other than clean. But at least it was pretty standard across the board for all workers.

But I’ve also had experiences where it was an obviously unfair and discriminatory. An office job I once had didn’t allow women to wear shirts that showed cleavage. While I found it odd to phrase it that way instead of just advising against low cut shirts, especially coming from a female supervisor. But I didn’t think much of it until she suggested a company loan for me to purchase more appropriate clothing and offered to come along to advise me. I agreed, naive and young enough to think she knew better and was looking out for my best interest. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised since I can’t tolerate shirts with a high collar and as one of my friends put it I would have cleavage in a turtle neck. It wasn’t until she pointed out a particular shirt that would be inappropriate I realized how ridiculous and incredibly wrong the policy was. After pointing out a low cut shirt, she commented that it would be okay for our intern, who was less endowed, to wear it but not herself or me. Since it was one of my first professional jobs and I didn’t want to lose it I kept my mouth shut.

Looking back I probably should have said something and today there is no way I would have went along but that’s now. I didn’t last long at the job, the dress code was the least of their problems. It worked out better for me in the end anyway.

They Say Nice Guys Never Get the Girl

Standard

So this popped up on my newsfeed last week, An Open Letter To The Girl Who Let The Nice Guy Go. After reading it I was kind of annoyed. I think the idea that women don’t like nice guys is a bullshit stereotype. With all stereotypes there’s some truth in it, but really it just encourages guys to treat women badly. But there was something else that nagged at me, I just couldn’t figure it out. Have you read it? Go ahead, take a quick look. Actually before you keep reading I really want you to read it. No really go read it now.

Okay so now you must have read it. I wonder if you assumed it was written by a guy like myself and others commenting. Even though the opening and closing of the letter clearly indicate it’s a woman writing to herself, I almost completely ignored that because it just didn’t ring true as a woman’s perspective. I can only assume that many of the other readers thought so as well, some even said it was misogynistic. I wont get into that debate because it’s not the battle I want to fight, but I can understand that judgement. In particular some parts if coming from a man would be condemned by most women, even if they believe it themselves. For example,  “Every girl says she likes the assh*le because he’s the challenge — the one she must break, train and force to be more than just a douchebag.”

And that sentence pretty much made me come to realization of what the overall problem with this piece of writing was. While this was supposed to be about this girls experience, the lesson she learned and how that could be a lesson to girls that dismiss nice guys, there was nothing personal in the writing to connect with. I can’t say that she wasn’t honest about her feelings or about her experience but the way it is written does not make it seem like an honest or personal piece. All the ideas are very general and leave way to up to the reader to define.

Comments on the blog and on Facebook, where I saw it, people debated about if all girls want the bad boy type, the definition of the nice guys, whether the rejection was about love or sex, or if the stereotypes applied in all situations. Because they didn’t have the context of the relationship that she was writing about they easily drew their own conclusions about the situation or focused on the general statements made. After reading it over again, I thought well what does she mean by nice guy, how did he give her everything she needed, how was she hurt before, and how did she push him away? I was left with so many unanswered questions that the only thing I felt needed to be said was it was poorly written or purposely general to create controversy. Nobody cared about the nice guy, or about her. And nobody was ever going to get the supposed lesson unless they already felt the same way. So just for fun I’ve penned a little letter myself, something I think is a whole lot more personal, though maybe not expressing the same sentiment.

Dear Nice Guy,

I knew you were a nice guy the first time we met. I had you down on your knees tying my shoelaces, you walked me to train station and almost immediately called me when you got home. We met on my birthday and you said you were my gift. You fell for me hard and even predicted I would break your heart. I realized now I did love you, but I don’t think I was in love. I let you be my first because I’d rather it be with a nice guy and I thought I owed it to you. You were sweet, careful and loving, I felt safe in your arms. I met your family and they told me about how much you loved me. You wanted to meet my father and it never happened. I was young, curious and a bit of a wild child. I like to test my limits, push peoples buttons, and stir up trouble. When I was a raging bitch, angry for no reason you didn’t get angry back. When I was being too demanding you just tried harder. When I pulled away you came running after me. I could do no wrong even when I did. I kissed that guy and told you because I knew you deserved the truth. You let it pass way too easily. When I told you I wanted to break up, you said lets just take a break. I knew it was the end but humored you hoping you’d realize it too. Yet it still came as a shock when I thought it was time to move on.

I didn’t think I deserved you, and I didn’t. If we continued I would have learned not to care and the damage would have been much worse. Sometimes I think it would have been better if I made you hate me. But I didn’t lie, I loved you and needed you more as a friend but that wasn’t enough for you. I tried to do you a favor and save you a lot of grief. You hung around maybe hoping I’d change my mind. Even though we were only together three months your pain made it seem like a lifetime. But you gave me that hope for what I might come to appreciate one day. If commitment didn’t scare the shit out of me, I could have married you. If it hadn’t been so intense, so quick it could have lasted longer. Maybe it was just bad timing or maybe you were only meant to get me through a short time. Moral of the story is although more guys should be like you, they shouldn’t chase after girls like me. I know I did the right thing for us both. I don’t regret letting you go and I hope the girl that got you in the end realizes how lucky she is.

Sincerly,

The Wild Child with No Regrets

 

Now maybe the author is more worried about getting page views and comments than producing a compelling piece of writing that makes people look at something from a different view point. In that case I guess they’ve succeeded. Besides what do I know they’ve got pages of commentary and even I viewed the page several times. Meanwhile, I’ve got like thirty followers and have maxed out at two whole comments on a post. If only people with an audience that large cared more about their writing, the internet wouldn’t be so full of crap and stupid arguments that just waste more time in the day.

 

It’s my body, I’ll condemn it if i want to

Standard

As with all hot topics, social media has been a buzz with chatter about female body image and standards of beauty. Interesting enough I noticed a few men chiming in with their opinions and/or words of wisdom for us women. I found the intervention of these men pretty amusing. Especially those who felt it necessary to let us know that women come in all shapes and sizes and that we shouldn’t compare women’s bodies. Laughing I thought, while he’s at it maybe he should tell men to stop equating penis size with manhood or that their sons will be just as manly if they play with dolls instead of trucks or to stop comparing guns, muscles and real firearms. Just maybe if he says it enough men will stop debating what makes a real man or what activities are suitably masculine.

I don’t automatically assume men can’t have opinions on female issues, just that I really don’t give a shit what they have to say. They may have had good intentions but it really came off sounding arrogant. I wondered if they really understand why this is an issue for women. Most men don’t seem to understand women at all. So for your pleasure here are some random thoughts from a woman.

  1. I don’t take what men say about looks seriously. Men do not see the same things as women, plus they usually wont tell a woman she looks bad. Whether they don’t want to hurt my feelings or they want to get laid men will lie about how I look.
  2. When I go out and get dressed up it’s not about attracting men or impressing other people. The shoes, the clothes, makeup, and even the sexy underwear are all for me. It’s fun, makes me feel special and helps not to worry about stupid things like being insecure. Once I’ve decided I look good, nobody elses opinion matters.
  3. I strive for both comfort and looking good. But I will sacrifice comfort on occasion, but it better look damn good.
  4.  On good days I don’t care what anybody else thinks. On bad days, a wrong look can send me spiralling into depression. The goal is to have more good days than bad ones.
  5. I will never have the body I want. It’s not that I don’t think I look good. I know I’m hot shit. But I always think I can look better. There’s always going to be something that could be smaller, bigger, tighter. It doesn’t consume my life, but the thoughts are always there.
  6. I criticize other women. I look at pictures and judge them. I’ve said a model in a picture looked too skinny, too fat, or pointed out body parts I didn’t like. I’ve picked apart women walking down the street. So does every other woman I know. There are women, and even men, who have made a career out of this for entertainment purposes. People that are famous for pointing out flaws and shaming people for them. I don’t approve of either.
  7. I don’t walk around telling people how they should look, unless I’m asked. I might make a suggestion to friends or family out of concern. I give my honest opinion because I would hope for the same in return. Sometimes I look in the mirror and see what I want not what’s really there.
  8. My opinion of somebody’s appearance is a small part of what I think of them. But I am aware that I judge them by their appearance. I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing.
  9. People don’t know what’s real anymore. I’ve had total strangers, men and women, ask if my breasts are real. (For the record, they are real and they are spectacular.) I was almost more offended that they had to ask than by how inappropriate it was.
  10. Everybody’s beautiful is bullshit. If everybody is beautiful than nobody is. Beauty is subjective. Everybody is beautiful to somebody but we all see some ugly.
  11. Once I hit 12 my body started changing and has never stopped. I constantly have to relearn how to feel comfortable in my own skin. I’ve been thin, I’ve been overweight and everything between. I feel like there are days that my body looks completly different from the day before.
  12.  People and Maxim create lists of the most beautiful people. InTouch and Star point out flaws and shame women for them. Heavy women are the punchline of jokes, while stars share their secrets to staying skinny, and weight loss success is a lifetime achivement. Women’s bodies are remade into unnatural figures in photos and real life, because it’s somebody’s idea of beauty. I can understand why women feel the need to declare what they think is beautiful.
heavier me pic

About two years and 15 or 20 pounds ago.

These are all just my own random thoughts. Some maybe relevant, others just popped into my head. I don’t claim all women feel that same way. I may get in trouble because no matter what I say somebody will be offended. But should I keep it to myself because it might upset some people?