Something greater than yourself

You’re in service of something stronger than you. Like the story has to be stronger than you. And your certainty has to be stronger than anybody else’s because the story speaks to you. Not because it’s you. (It’s) because you say “Look this is what it needs, not me.” And you actually feel carried on. You go through the difficulties but you feel carried on in terms of faith and certainty — Mexican film director, screenwriter, producer and novelist Guillermo del Toro speaking at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival

As a writer, you are in service of something bigger than just simply your existence. You are a storyteller whether the tales you tell are true-life or fictionalized.

It has taken me a lifetime to definitively conclude that I am a storyteller. Whether through images or words or a combination of both, I am a storyteller. That is something I am most proud of and is the most comfortable skin I’ve ever worn.

There will always be people who expect me to wear a different skin because of the way I look and the stereotypes/biases that come with it. I have to humour them. Or least humour them long enough to figure out what it is they really want from me and make the conscious and pointed decision to disappoint them.

My current writing project has pushed me onto another level of storytelling. It’s something I’ve always planned to do… push myself with each writing project. The field research is a part of this process. This story is so different from the first book. And I anticipate getting interesting reactions about it once it’s done.

I’m a ‘like it’, ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ kind of person. You can’t get more basic that that. I’m not crazy about over-analyzing things. Navel-gazing isn’t all that much fun in my opinion. I’ll leave that to the folks who like doing that kind of thing. Reminds me of dealing with a backseat driver. I’d rather kick them out of the car and let them fend for themselves rather than listen to them tell me what my thought process is. Adiós, amigos.

Those who really know me, respect me, love me and are weirdly entertained by me. And not necessarily in that order. Being weirdly entertaining wins out most of the time.

Four days into my field research, I have met people, with interesting stories, who are genuinely interested in me and the silly things I get myself into. If I sound surprised, it’s because I am. The idea of me actually being interesting to another human being is a bit baffling at times.

As a result, I’ll be walking away, at the conclusion of my field research, with a few more friends to populate my life.

The field research has been going great. A lot of information to process and absorb. I’ve been taking notes. Not everything I’ve been exposed to will end up in my current writing project. But there is always the chance some of that information will appear in future stories. I don’t know if I’ll absorb enough stuff to have a truly nerdy did-you-know moment á la Cliff Clavin from Cheers.

Anyway, there is more stuff to do this week. I brought books with me to read and I haven’t gotten around to reading them yet. Ack. I really should set aside some time to unwind and read. There might be time near the end of the trip. But maybe I should start now. Hmmm.

For now, there is more stuff to process, to absorb and to be greater than the sum of its parts.

Time to recharge

Personally, I don’t take holidays; I go on trips — Martin Parr

This week, I get to take a break and go on a trip. There’s field research involved but it’s a trip and I’m looking forward to it.

The trip is almost jammed pack with things to do but there will be moments where I can hopefully just chill out. I’m not sure how good I’m at chilling out, though. I think my definition of chilling out doesn’t necessarily jives with everybody else’s. And that’s fine by me.

By doing something different, I’m recharging my batteries. And I find that to be the best way to chill and to get out of my head, in my humble opinion. Being in a different part of the world helps with that, too. You just get to focus on what you need to do and not what other folks need you to do. Fuck that.There will be ample opportunity for that when I get back.

Then there’s the fun of getting things squared away before heading off on a trip. Getting laundry done. Taking the garbage out. Making the sure the fridge doesn’t have anything that will turn into a science experiment while you’re away. Give the plants enough water so they don’t die. Yep, the details of life.

For the trip, I’ll be taking two books with me, plus an audiobook. And maybe a magazine about psychic phenomenon. I do have a lot of reading to catch up on. But then, I have my writing project to work on, too.

Wow, I just might be too busy to do everything I want to do on the trip. Well, it’s better than not having enough to do and let boredom settle in. I do better being over-stimulated than being under-stimulated. It can lead to nothing but trouble.

Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop, I think, is the saying. Trust me, you really do not want my hands to be idle.

It’ll be good to get all the extraneous shit out of my head for a little while. It’s always fun when all that stuff overrides the focus of your true intentions/callings/needs. I think I’ve figured out the fine line between life and writing. But, we shall see. It will always be a balancing act that requires me to be fluid and flexible.

Doing something completely different and something that will be in the service of my creative goals makes me happy. I’m looking forward to this trip. I’ve talked with friends about it and they’re just plain excited that I’m off to somewhere warmer. The warmer weather is a side benefit. I’ve had one friend check out on Google maps the exact location of where I will be doing my field research. He was curious and, possibly, looking out for me, in his own little way which I appreciate.

Looking forward to the adventure that awaits.

Need more stamped pages in the passport

Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought — Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Research can be fun. And you might be asking yourself whether or not I’m a glutton for punishment or have a bizarre definition of fun.

If you’re doing research for your job, then okay, fun might be questionable depending on what it is you’re being asked to look for and examine. Right now, I’ve been unfortunate that some of the research I’ve had to do for work has been interesting and enlightening.

But I’m not really focussing on work-related research right now. I’m more interested in the research related to my writing. Recently, wanderlust has been attempting to settle itself into my bones. As much as I would like to pick up and leave right now to regions unexplored, it’s not going to happen just yet.

Work on the current writing project has me wanting to explore a specific region of the North American continent. The flight has been booked and the only thing I need to figure out is how much ground can I cover once I’m there. Nine days doesn’t seem long enough because of time constraints so it’ll be jam-packed if I do this correctly. If I had my druthers, it would be three weeks of field research, not nine days. Oh well.

I relish doing this kind of research because it addresses my wanderlust. But then I forget how tired I can be after doing something like this. Invigorated but tired. Working vacations/field research tend to have that effect. But I think I’ve factored in enough decompression time that I won’t be telling colleagues when I return to work that I need a vacation from my vacation.

I told my best friend about the research trip because who doesn’t want to escape for a little while. She wanted to come with me but her life is pretty busy so it’s not going to happen this time. One day, we are going to travel together to some fun location and have the time of our lives. Still have no idea where that would be since she’s travelled to more places than I have. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind having a few more stamps in my passport. Well, maybe a lot more stamps. Hopefully, it will happen. Travel is on my top ten list but not the top five. Not too concerned about it right now.

Another field trip. It gets the heart beating a little faster. It refocusses the energy. Yep, I’m ready.