A Tao of Me

This post was written in response to a series of questions posed by my friend at 1874 First Impressionist Exhibition. Go visit her blog!

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Me me me me me

1. What’s the best piece of advice on writing you’ve received?

Hmm. I’m not sure anyone’s ever directly given me writing advice – except for perhaps my 12th grade English teacher. When I graduated from high school I wrote her a book of short stories as a thank you gift. I had it bound and everything. I think mostly I just wanted the thrill of having published my own book.

Oh, but I digress….

2. How often do you write or work on writing (e.g. researching)?

If we’re talking about my own personal writing, probably 4 or 5 times a week since I began blogging again.

I try to keep my research to a minimum, so I only write about things I know about (which is why you see me write so much about me).

3. Are you an atheist, agnostic or a believer or something else?

Believer. I was brought up Catholic and still picture a guy in a toga and a white beard when I pray.

Interestingly enough I’ve had several experiences where I felt like I was being sent a message from a higher power. The one that stands out the most was on Christmas Eve of 2000. I was heartbroken over a guy who had been using me (although in retrospect I was more than complicit in that experience), and tired of hurting that evening I was well on my way to crying myself to sleep, wishing I knew how to let go of a relationship that was clearly keeping me from being happy.

In my head I was half praying, half indulging in a self pity-party when suddenly a prayer popped into my head. I’d heard it a million times – the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi – but it was not one that I’d recited or thought about very often. It floated around in my head for a while, until I eventually drifted off to sleep.

The next day I dragged my puffy-eyed self out of bed, probably closer to noon than to morning, and found one last unopened present for me under the Christmas tree. It was from my grandmother, who is now 95 but used to be quite adept at working with ceramics when she was in her 70’s and 80’s. She had made me a ceramic plaque as a gift, and on it she had handwritten the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Conclusion – either there is a God who was telling me everything would be OK, or I have psychic powers.

4. Do you think this affects your writing?

Indirectly. It affects my being, which affects my writing. Ultimately my writing is a reflection of what I’m experiencing, and much of my point of view is driven by the belief that there is an ultimate purpose propelling us forward.

5. What’s your favorite book?

Ack. Tough one. I used to be an avid reader, but not so much anymore. Most recently Eat Pray Love touched me, mostly because I see a lot of myself in the author and what she chose to do with her life. She wasn’t happy, so she had the balls to change something.

People who have read the book criticize Elizabeth Gilbert for leaving a perfectly wonderful life for petty reasons, but her reasons are HERS and you can’t judge someone else’s existence through the lens of your own values. She was unhappy. And she chose to do something about it. Period.

6. Who is your favorite author?

I have such a hard time picking favorite stuff. I have several favorites: Paulo Coelho, Elizabeth Gilbert, JRR Tolkien are three that come to mind just off the top of my head.

7. What’s your favorite movie?

Again I’m going to cheat and list several. The Lord of the Rings trilogy. American Beauty. Amelie. Jerry Maguire.

There is just something about people who take the bull by the horns and do things that make them happy as opposed to doing what others expect them to do that is really appealing to me.

8. Who is the awesomest person you know (or know of) dead or alive?

My son. Hands down.

I may be a little prejudiced but he’s so kind and thoughtful (for a six-year-old) that I can’t help but smile when he’s around. Even when he’s having a temper tantrum or being a brat.

I look back on my life before he was born and I wonder how on earth I could have existed without him. Sometimes people ask me whether I would change anything about my past and my answer is always that I’d leave every moment – good or painful – exactly as it is. I wouldn’t want to risk creating any sort of alternate future that doesn’t have D in it.

9. How would you define creativity?

Creativity is taking random creative elements – words, thoughts, ideas, textures, materials, colors – and putting them together in a counter-intuitive way. It doesn’t have to be beautiful, it just has to be different.

10. How long have you been on WordPress?

Two months. I had another blog for about a year (about eBay if you can believe that), but it was on a different platform.

11. Do you write for a living?

Not yet. 🙂

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