Haiku Friday: The Way

Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of The Way:

the Way of Haiku
walk along the same old paths
and find something new

It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.

Sharing History: Crime & Disaster in the 1990s

Here’s more of my WIP on the updated version of my book Making History: how to remember, record, interpret and share the events of your life, to now include the 1990s. Making History is divided into 8 sections, section 5 of which is Crime and Disaster. Here’s a brief sneak preview of this section.

Even if you were not affected by a disaster such as an earthquake, hurricane, airplane crash or car accident, your sense of safety in the world is affected by these happenings. If you have had experience of a disaster, no matter how minor, you will have learned about human nature, and how the bad stuff brings out the best and the worst in people. Crime also affects our sense of safety in the world, even if you don’t work in a justice-related industry, or are not a criminal yourself, or even if you never served on a jury.

A lot of bad stuff happened during the 1990s. Just a few of the happenings include: O.J. Simpson went on trial for the murder of his wife and was acquitted; Matthew Shepard was murdered in Wyoming because he was gay; Jack Kevorkian was charged with homicide because he helped terminally ill patients commit suicide; the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado stunned the nation; child beauty pageant contestant Jonbenet Ramsey was murdered; Lorena Babbitt cut off her husband’s penis; Timothy McVeigh bombed the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing and injuring hundreds of people, including children attending day care; the acquittal of police officers accused of beating Rodney King sparked riots in Los Angeles; and too many more to list.  Famous disasters of the 1990s included the 1994 Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles and Hurricane Andrew in Florida, along with many more.

Questions to write about: Did you have an opinion on the guilt or innocence of OJ Simpson? Did you think Lorena Bobbitt was justified? Were you a victim of any violent crime?  If you lived in LA, do you remember the riots? Do you remember Rodney King saying “can’t we all just get along?” Did you know anyone who was the victim of a senseless or random crime? If you were a parent in the 90s, did the Columbine massacre make you afraid to send your child to school? If you were a teacher did your fear of students increase? Or if you were a student yourself, how did Columbine affect your sense of safety at school? Did you experience a natural disaster or accident during this decade, and do you have a story about courage, compassion, corruption or cowardice from this experience?

If you have a story (or stories) about significant crimes or disasters of the 1990s, please share them, and if you share them on this blog, tell me if I can use them in my upcoming edition of Making History. (I will credit you, of course.)

 

Ghostwriting for a Dog: The Rain Box

Goody Beagle here. We have some small rooms in our house which would scare the pants off me, if I wore pants, which I don’t. Inside these rooms are big boxes. My human takes off all her fur and then climbs into the box, turns a thing called a faucet and – this is hard to believe – lets rain fall into the box and get her all wet!

Now, I love my human even though she is stupid sometimes, and when she gets into the rain box is one of those times. So when she is in the rain box I creep very carefully into the small room and sit outside the box waiting to see if she is going to be okay, even though water scares the pants off me (see above). Water is dangerous. It is evil. I hate it and to be in the same room with a rain box proves what a brave beagle I am.

I stay by the box until she turns off the faucet thing. So far she has not died in the rain box, but if one day she shows signs of dying, I will howl and howl until someone comes to save her.

The hardest thing to believe about this is that nobody makes her get inside the rain box. She does it voluntarily. I will never understand humans.

 

Haiku Friday: Guts

Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Guts:

journal for your health
spill your guts onto the page
get rid of your waste

It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.

Tip: Trust

Someone once asked me what were the highest hurdles I had to jump over when I started my career as a ghostwriter and editor. It’s a good question.

The hardest hurdles to jump over were all in my own head. Worrying about whether I’d spend all my savings and end up on welfare, worrying about pleasing my clients, worrying that no one would hire me, worrying that I’d embarrass myself and my family by failing, worrying worrying worrying.

I’m not sure you can ever banish worry entirely. It seems to be part of who we are as humans. But I have learned to replace much of my worry with trust.

On good days, and even on average days, I trust that the universe wants me to succeed. I trust that if I do my part, the universe will do its part. On bad days, I confess I might revert to worrying a little. Luckily those days are now few. One of my favorite quotes about worry is “Worry is interest paid on a debt you may not owe,” by Peter McWilliams.

So there’s my tip for today: Trust works better than Worry.

 

Compost – Adventures of Memoir Writers

This month I’m starting a new feature on this blog. I work with many memoir writers (and am one myself) and I know that we have things to say that may help other aspiring memoirists. So once a month I’ll feature excerpts from my interviews with those who have written and published a memoir. I hope you’ll find it interesting.

This month my interview is with Maria Ross, author of Rebooting My Brain: How a Freak Aneurysm Reframed My Life, published just last month.

Rebooting My Brain is the true story of what happens when you get yanked out of your life by a crisis?and have to get back on the ride all over again. With refreshing candor, Maria Ross shares how the relentless pace of her life came to a screeching halt when an undetected brain aneurysm ruptured and nearly killed her. Along her stubborn road back to health, her resulting cognitive and emotional challenges forced her – sometimes kicking and screaming – to reframe her life, her work and her identity.

Q: Why was it important for you to write your memoir? (ie, leave a legacy to your descendants; educate, enlighten, or inspire others in similar situations; heal your emotional wounds; entertain; make money; etc.)

Maria: I had an aneurysm and brain hemorrhage that kills over half of the people who get it and even those who do survive often can’t go back to the lives they had before. My doctors said my recovery was amazing but I still struggled with many unseen cognitive and psychological impairments and had to adapt to a New Me. Many people encouraged me to write a book and I thought, “No way, I’m still healing and no one will even care!” When I was interviewed for a radio show about my recovery, the outpouring of people touched by brain injury who asked for resources and advice was astounding. I thought, “I have a responsibility to use my voice to educate about brain injury from a patient point of view and inspire anyone who gets knocked out of their life by crisis.” Despite my unseen deficits, I realized that maybe my recovery was so good and I adapted so well so I could use my speaking and writing talents to help others. It ultimately became not about necessarily wanting to write the book but needing to write the book!

Q: Who were you writing for? Did you define your “ideal reader” to yourself before you wrote your memoir?

Maria: Yes, absolutely. I am a marketing and branding consultant so I think that way! I wrote for three main audiences: brain injury survivors and their families who are seeking inspiration and resources; medical caregivers who deal with brain injury and stroke and want to know the patient point of view; and finally, women between the ages of 30 and 55 who seek out inspirational memoir about overcoming adversity for hope or inspiration. My audience definitely skews towards more women than men, although many male brain injury patients have reached out to me.

Q: What publishing options did you consider for your memoir, and what were their pros and cons? How did you eventually publish your memoir?

Maria: I had published my first book, a business book, with a small press. I eventually self-published this book for a variety of reasons. One, I did all my own marketing for my first book anyway and I figured why not do it for more financial reward this time around? Second, I wanted to own the story. I was afraid a publisher might make me change it to be more sappy or sentimental. I wanted creative control over everything from the layout to the cover to the story itself. Third, I just wanted to get the book to market faster. I was taking a chance and I thought I’d lose my nerve to tell the story if I had to wait two years to make it happen. People needed this information now!

I would not be averse to signing it with a big publisher assuming they could meet certain conditions. I think that could help me get even more reach and touch even more lives.

Q:  How did/do you promote your memoir?

Maria: How much time to do you have?! I started talking up this project while I was still writing the book. You have to start marketing before your book is even done. I built a special book website, pursue guest blogging opportunities, pitch speaking engagements, and I’ve paid for a radio talk show circuit with a PR firm. I also have a PR colleague pitching me to local and national TV media. And I did a lot of guerilla marketing: I created a virtual launch with bonus content, I reached out to influential friends with big communities to share the news and use my own social media channels (Twitter, Facebook page for my business, email lists, Google+, etc) to promote. Lastly, I’ve invested in some paid activities like The San Francisco Book Review, Kindle Nation Daily and just enrolled in KDP Select which has been a huge boon to sales.

Q:  What do you wish you knew before you wrote your memoir, that you know now? What advice would you give someone who wants to write the story of their life?

Maria: For me, it was about focus. For years, I’ve been toying with another memoir about growing up Italian American. And I still may go back to it, but I realized that my health crisis and recovery was more interesting. The brain aneurysm was going to be just one chapter of that book, but I kept returning to it until finally I thought, “Screw it! This is the story I want to write!” And once I let that happen and let my gut take over, things got easier. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but the words started pouring out. I guess it goes back to the time-honored adage of, not just “write what you know” but “write what you are passionate about.” If only certain aspects of your life make you perk up, if certain chapters flow more naturally than others than maybe the memoir should not be about your whole life but about that one thing. Don’t be afraid to choose!

The other piece of advice is not to get overwhelmed. When I first thought about writing this book, I dragged my feet, thinking there was so much I had to just get down on paper. Should I hire a ghost writer? Should I get someone to interview me and transcribe? I had all these individual moments and stories but nothing was on paper. I worked with a writing coach at the very beginning that helped me get started in my own way. I wrote each vignette as a separate file. Then I strung them all together to make a story and went back in to add fillers, bridges, remove redundancies, etc. I tend to write in short story form, so this was a perfect approach for me. You have to find the mechanism that works for you and the way you write – but it can be done!

Maria had many more valuable things to say (memoirists are like that) so stay tuned for Part 2 in July!

You can buy Rebooting My Brain on Amazon or other formats and read more of Maria’s interesting thoughts on her website and blog.

Haiku Friday: Bees

Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Bees:

you must be quiet
in Grandpa’s raspberry patch
the bees are singing

It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.

Sharing History: Technology and Science in the 1990s

I’m continuing to work on the updated version of my book Making History: how to remember, record, interpret and share the events of your life, to now include the 1990s. Making History is divided into 8 sections, section 4 of which is Technology and Science. Here’s a brief sneak preview of this section.

Certainly one notable technological feature of the 1990s was the explosive growth in digital communications. Cell phones were used by just a tiny percentage of the population (remember how clunky and huge they were?). The use of the Internet grew exponentially; only a few million people were online in 1990 and the world wide web had just been invented. By 2000 more than 50% of the population in the Western world had internet access, and more than 25% used cell phones.

Questions you might write about: When did you get your first cell phone? How did it differ in appearance from the cell phone you use today? Did getting a cell phone make you feel safer or more productive? Or did it make you feel “cool”? When did you first use the Internet, or email? How did it change the way you did your job? Did you work in a technology industry during the 1990s? Do you feel you had a part in the great communication revolution? Do you believe that the Internet is one of the most important technological inventions of all time?

If you have a story (or stories) about technological or scientific advancements in the 1990s, please share them, and if you share them on this blog, tell me if I can use them in my upcoming edition of Making History. (I will credit you, of course.)

Ghostwriting for a Dog: Ownership

Goody Beagle here. A couple of months ago I blogged about my housemate Alex Terrgi protecting me from the other dogs at the dog park, especially a French Bulldog who thought my butt was the best smelling butt of all time.  Alex chased the French Bulldog away and I thought he was my hero.

Now I know that what Alex did had nothing to do with protecting or saving me. I know this because the other day at the park a German Shepherd – a very big dog with sharp teeth – took a dislike to me and growled, which means she wanted to bite me. What did Alex do? Nothing.  Even though he wasn’t very far away and saw what was going on, he just continued to play with a Puggle.

That’s because the German Shepherd was a girl dog, not a boy dog like the French Bulldog. Alex only “protects” me from the boy dogs because he thinks he owns me and doesn’t want other boy dogs to take me away from him.

Well, Alex is kidding himself. No one owns me. Not even my human (although I let her think she does.) I am a Liberated Beagle.

Haiku Friday: Bottom

Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Bottom:

lies have no bottom
no matter how far you fall
you will never land

It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.