I have stepped away from my novel for a week, suggested by my teacher, Mike Ray King. This weeks class we started on editing and rewriting. I will admit not reading it made me doubt myself a bit. As they say the hardest battle is always with the self. I was thinking it wasn't good enough to be published and I was wasting my time.
Author Archives: Michael Ray King
Nanowrimo brings with it the opportunity each November to get your first draft manuscript written. I stepped into my yearly novel endeavor this evening and traveled to a somewhat surprising place afterward.
For the next few weeks, this blog will address why you may desire or need to write a book. This first post comes as one of my desires. I first got the idea (plot) for my novel over thirty years ago while in college. The writing bug bit me. I’ve had this monstrosity of a novel stuck in my heart all this time.
Back in 2004, I was privileged to attend a weekly writers group meeting in the home of playwright Jack Marshall. Jack had a number of his plays produced, some on Broadway as I understand it. One meeting, I presented a 1400 word piece on which Jack wrote me a critique.
Jacks critiques were always honest. Sometimes a writer did not want to hear what Jack had to say. Jack was never cruel, just honest. It’s a shame writers get so defensive about their work. Jack’s critiques always sounded spot-on. My critique was very positive. Jack did state the work appeared to be part of a much larger body and that he wanted to know more.
This motivated me tremulously. Then, another member of the writing group told me it read like the intro to a sci-fi. For the past eight years I’ve mulled that thought over and I agree. About a year ago, I heard from Jack’s son that Jack had died. This evening, as I went over the first chapter of my novel I thought back to those days in St. Augustine hanging with writers and Jack Marshall.
At this time, I desire to get my book written not only for me, but for a man who gave me a positive boost that told me I could actually do this “writing thing”. Jack and were not close friends, but those kind words of encouragement from a professional like Jack have traveled a long way.
These are just a couple reasons I want to write this book. Over thirty years in my head and the encouragement of a man I respect. Many of you have a book you’ve thought of writing. You may have nursed the idea in your head for decades, like me. Jack’s willingness to help writers has become a part of what I love to do.
Over the twelve years from 2000 to now, I have learned quite a bit about writing books. I now have nine published. I know I can cut years of learning curves and thousands of dollars spent on books and conferences on how to write a book for people who desire or need their books written. I do this over a four-week course that takes the writer from conception to completed first draft manuscript.
If you are in need of this type of help, I encourage you to check out my webinar at ClearViewPressInc.com. My next webinar will begin January 7, 2013. Seating is limited to 10 people per webinar.
Writing a book does not have to take forever. Thirteen years, countless hours, tens of thousands of dollars, I finally got it. Writing every day gets you places. The book inside you is not stuck. The book inside you does not fight you to come out. The book simply needs attention.
Consistent, progressive, determined attention. I found over the years that writing in gestalt spurts causes all kinds of issues with writing. Continuity issues, length of time it takes to complete the book issues, dedication issues, and many others. I’ve written five manuscripts that each one took me less than 30 days to write. Two of these books have been published.
My mission these days is to save people years of frustration and thousands of dollars by walking them through a system of writing that has proven to be very successful to me. I will be writing much more on this topic in the coming weeks. For information on my latest webinar that begins January 7, 2013 at 7:00pm EST, click on the green logo. I look forward to seeing you there!
Be aware “seating” is limited to ten (10) people, so sign up now!
Today is special. My (our) new novel, The Method Writers, officially launched yesterday at the St. Francis Inn in St. Augustine, Florida. Torrential rain kept many away, but the turnout was still decent. The guests at the Inn were excited to speak with us and purchased a number of books. That was definitely a writer thrill.
I cannot emphasize enough the camaraderie and collective support I felt signing books with my fellow Rogues. We wrote the book together. We promoted this Book Launch weekend together. We signed and smiled and spoke and reveled together.
The feeling swims within me that one day I will cherish those moments on a plane I cannot sense at this time. For now I find the comfort and oneness I feel with these writers sufficient for my day. The evening of food and fun stands as a sheltered island in a stormy sea.
As for this day, I get to look forward to another outing of the four standing Rogues (we have one cherished Rogue sidelined by life for a while). We head to Houligan’s this evening at 5:00pm for the more active Book Launch session. We have incorporated some games, a video of our “acting” debut (available at ), and a panel discussion on the intricacies and logistics of four writers completing a novel together.
Yes, we hope for a large turnout. We feel we have something special to offer people. Not just the food. Not just the games. Not just the book.
The Rogues offer a look at what people can achieve TOGETHER. In our individualistic society, teamwork almost appears limited to sports, and even then the hot-doggers and self-important egos tend to dominate.
We present diversity in writing styles, lifestyles and thought processes. We also present a unified vision of four people working together to forge ahead in a highly competitive and underpaid industry. We have a voice, and we are exercising this voice. Once we get in shape, snag some collective experience, we will strive to bring our message to as many people as will listen.
For those of you in this area, we sincerely look forward to meeting you. For those distant, one day we look forward to meeting you as well. You can get a glimpse of us in our books and our video and our blogs and our individual writing projects. We trust you will enjoy the experience. That is our hope.
I will hold dear this coming night as I do last night. Then, Sunday. But that will have to wait for my next post. One day at a time…
Hello Wriders! Yes, it’s been a couple weeks since my last post. Most of my posts go to my Poetry in Black and White blog these days. I did take about a week off from wriding and I found myself quite displeased. The exercise is very positive and enjoyable. I am more in my element there than anywhere else here in Florida.
I am gaining an appreciation for the heat down here. For years I have not cared for it, but now that I’m wriding most every day, I realize I can wride almost every day of the year. Now, yes, I did know that intellectually all along, but it’s another thing to realize a truth in your core. The fact I get to bond more with my daughter is all the more reason to love the heat. Even on the coldest days we could wride, although we usually see a couple days a year in the low thirties.
The video along with this post is of a bridge we discovered in our trail explorations. The bridge probably adds five minutes to the wride to college, but what scenic route isn’t worth a five minute detour? We got caught on it yesterday in a rainstorm. Cumulo Fracto Nimbus dumped on us (you would have to be familiar with Piers Anthony’s Xanth series to know old Cumulo…).
Always good to be back on the road again. This weekend, Sunday I’m thinking, we’ll ride the beach route and I’ll get some beachin’ video. Until then, keep wriding!!!
Our wride today felt great. After Ivy being gone for a week at summer camp, I found I missed her terribly. Something about our father-daughter daily bike wride fills a need within me. I took the pics for this post on the wride, yet most of my attention today was on a particular topic – fear.
Spoiler Alert! If you’re a member of the local Toastmasters Club, reading any further will give away most, if not all, of my speech on Wednesday night. Ok, so I’ll have a couple surprises I can’t put here on my blog, but I will be reciting one of my poems…
Fear. For some of us, fear is a motivating factor in our lives. Fear keeps us from apathy and complacency. For years, overcoming fear kept me moving forward. Fear often coursed through challenges set in front of me.
The question arises, at least in my mind, of what amount of fear becomes too much? How long can a person use fear as motivation before they become overwhelmed? How much joy and anticipation gets stolen by the intensity of fear?
These days, I find fear more my enemy than motivator. I feel apathy nipping at my heels and complacency a safe place to hide. Shouldn’t fifty-three years be enough time spent riding the fear wave?
Let’s get down to specifics here, because there are many types of fears, I’m writing about the internal, self-limiting fears. Fear owns a legitimate place in our lives. Finding yourself two feet away from a hungry, fourteen foot alligator SHOULD instill a bit of fear into you.
One of my most recent fears came last week when I agreed to teach and choreograph a ballroom dance routine for a charity event August 3rd in Flagler Beach. I had mentioned in a conversation that I wanted to get back to dancing. I did not realize the person I spoke with was heading up a recruiting committee for this “Dancing With the Stars” Flagler Beach gig.
I took private ballroom dance lessons for three years. That was over five years ago. Heck, more like seven years ago. I have not ballroom danced for at least three years. I have five days to come up with a routine, teach someone enough Triple Swing for us to look good, and then get up in front of 500 people and dance.
I’m telling you, this is way outside my comfort zone. Yet, in the past five years, I’ve been very involved with Toastmasters and my fear of getting in front of an audience has diminished. I do love to dance. I do know enough to at least have us looking competent.
Back to the fear and the meat of this post. At this stage of my life, I no longer have the inclination or time for all this internal fear. The questions of whether I can pull this off. The uncertainty of whether I will freeze like I did at a piano recital fifteen years ago (what a fear moment realized!).
I desire to anticipate the competition. I desire to enjoy the process of getting this routine down. I desire to look forward to the event instead of listing it up there among all the other fear driven tasks I have hanging over my head.
I wonder at how my life became this fear monster. I take on a new project and the next thing I know, I’m fearing whether I will come through or not. Even though I’ve never NOT come through on a project, fear still drives me. Somewhere along the way, I allowed joy and anticipation to be replaced by fear of not performing at someone else’s level of satisfaction.
I’m sure this is something embedded within me over decades of practice. At this stage in my life I want fear gone. I want to experience positivity. This motivation from a negative position has worn me out. I find I have little tolerance for naysayers and nit pickers and people with a general, overall critical outlook on life.
I realize you cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are legitimate circumstances for fear, and critique, and detail oriented action. I want more joy in my life.
I also do not totally ascribe to constantly challenging your fears in order to overcome them. I’ve been doing this most my life and I’ve fallen into quick ‘fear’ patterns. I desire to eliminate fear before it grows and consumes me. I can see this endeavor may take time and a ton of effort.
Reciting my poem Wednesday night will be one step out of this fear-driven life of mine. I love this poem. I wrote it sitting under a tree in Raleigh, North Carolina in April of 1982 at three in the morning with a nasty storm on the way. I fear reciting my poetry. I have not been able to attempt an open mic event. The fear engulfs me.
My task these next two days, is to look forward to my speech with positive anticipation. I desire to revel in the moment, to present myself, my poetry, and my views on fear, and to do all this without fear eating at me. The same goes for the dance routine. The same goes for a presentation I must give on Friday.
The same goes for marketing and promoting my book Go Write and You Won’t Go Wrong! Write Your Book in 30 Days. The same goes for marketing the webinar I’ve set up. The same goes for just about everything I want in life.
I’ve read and heard a lot about how everything you want is just outside your comfort zone. I’ve heard and understand that one of the keys to a progressively successful life is to get comfortable being uncomfortable. I heard a quote this past weekend that said, “The brave may well die, but the cautious never truly live.” That resonates with me.
I’ve come up with a little ‘internal jingle’ I’m going to repeat to myself as I work through overcoming fear and introducing anticipation and joy back into my life. It goes like this: “I can or I can’t, I will or I won’t, but I’ll have fun and get it done.” The trick will be to believe…
The weather did not do us any favors today. The crazy thing was, we had sunshine and one cloud kept following us and dumping on us at its discretion. While the rain felt cool and refreshing, I could have done without the water infused fun. Neither Ivy nor myself prepared for rain as the day was bright and sunny when we left the house. Oh well…
This morning I tuned back in to music. My reward came instant as well as somewhat prophetic. The song “Storms” by Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac “Tusk” album) hopped into my ears like a comfortable old friend’s hug. For over two decades this song resonates within me as a description of the end of my previous marriage. I am not led to live an internally quiet, level life. My passions burn far too bright to allow circumstance to tamp them down too much.
I’ve come to realize I enjoy the passions that roil within. I do not mean to say for a moment that passion suffered my reproach over the years. At times I wished I could live numb as many people appear to live. I cannot. Not for any sustained amount of time.
I now embrace my emotional ups and downs. I understand the life still remaining in my soul. I possess no desire to relinquish one ounce, one molecule, one atom, one measurement of passion. Too many times in my life, my dreams and ambitions took backseat to level-headed, calculated, analytical thought. I lived as a man of emotion trapped in a logical world.
Slowly this past year, the fact we do not live in a logical world made itself known to me. Yes, I understand logic pops up all around us. There exists an incredible symmetry in this world. Life follows semi-logical paths and many great inventions may be said to be “logical”.
As long as we live in an emotional world, though, passions and chaotic circumstances will indeed have play in our lives. I welcome this aspect of life. Before the word “passion” suffers the indignity of extremist interpretation, allow me to state that passion can swell on a breeze, a blade of grass, and as a good friend just reminded me, a flower blossom at one’s foot.
Passion does not always require the definition of volatility. Passion may also be quiet, slow-burning, and free. Free to exhilarate at things as simple as sails, seagulls, and sandwiches as in the next tune on my wride – Sails.
On my wrides lately, I’ve opted for no music, and often nothing but the wind in my ears and the rhythms of life around me. A number of times, I listened this past week to Eckhart Tolle expound on The Power of Now. I found both listening to life and listening to Tolle rewarding. Today, I rediscovered the beauty of familiar music that played with my emotions and enhanced my wride.
A third song on the wride struck me just write and sealed the deal that I would write this blog. (You do know I misspell right on purpose I hope…). At this time, my iPhone contains an inordinate amount of Elton John’s music. This comes from me owning most of his entire library of music. I set my phone to “shuffle” play and Elton often slips into my ears. Today was no exception. “Madman Across the Water” seeped into the playlist and I knew this post would have music intertwined.
I love when my spirit soars, especially while wriding my bike, listening to music, and enjoying the beauty of the world around me. We get told each day we should buy this and do that and pay bills and vote and a billion other commands on how we should live.
I feel the truth of how we should live gets buried in the clutter of modern-day life. For me, I will continue to wride my bike, listen to music or the incredible world around me, revel in the highs and lows of emotion, and search for peace in a passion-filled world. Crazy in a way if you think about it. Maybe one day I’ll be the madman across the water. If I am, I certainly hope I retain the good sense to enjoy my madness…
My morning wride today took me some places I did not expect to go. This is not an uncommon occurrence. In fact, these days, I find my morning wrides peppered with pleasant surprises. Today, I struggled a bit on the basketball court. For those who have not been reading, I stop along my route and shoot hoops for about 45 minutes, then continue on with my wride.
I noted my determination not to give up on the court. I suppose you could say I play some mind games with myself on the basketball court. Hey, I’m by myself (my daughter disdains the activity), so I create some phantom creativity to push me forward. I warm up for about ten minutes, then I run four, full court layups, ending with an around-the-back-through-the-legs layup. I must make at least two of the four or keep running.
Then I play a game of “Around the World” with myself. There are 13 spot up shots I must make within two shots or I must start over. If I make five shots in a row, I earn myself a third shot if necessary. This is where I struggled today, and the shot that hurt me was not the three pointer.
More important than the physical shooting of the shots was my determination to push myself and keep myself disciplined to the game. I could easily cheat. No one knows I’m even playing a game. I could excuse myself out of a missed shot and give myself another chance, but the integrity of disciplining myself to move forward and improve kept me true to my rules.
In fact, I made up a new rule that if I “lost” a game and had to start over, I must first run two full court layups as mentioned before. Then I decided to offer myself an opportunity out of the full court layups if I “swish” a three pointer. Getting a bit complicated now, but totally enjoyable. I love basketball.
Once I finally got past my shooting woes today, I went to the free throw line. Generally, I am an 80% free throw shooter. In fact, I will not leave the court until I shoot eight out of ten free throws. I struggled with this a bit today as well. Then, I got my focus back and promptly made eight in a row, missed one, then hit the last.
Then, of course, you never leave the court without your last shot being a perfect swish. I had a nice workout. The Florida heat, even at 8am had me drenched. Getting back on my bike and wriding with Ivy is always pleasant.
As I wrode, I looked at how I handle myself on the ball court and I recognize I want to be more in line with that determination in my writing and publishing life. Heck, in all my life. While I do “hang in there” and “persevere” in my life, I desire the willingness and the love of moving forward and pushing myself to move into the rest of my life.
While I do employ this, I do not believe I embrace the ‘joy’ of the pursuit like I do on the court. There is a joy available to us in anything we pursue. Slipping in the nanoseconds of recognitions that joy is available should be more prevalent. It does not take more than nanoseconds to glean joy from your activity. The endeavor does require that you keep yourself open to joy.
Personal experience – I noted today I often do not keep myself open to joy. Odd, isn’t it? Something as valuable and rewarding and pleasant and soothing as joy, and we do not stay vigilant to the next opportunity to experience it. Humans, we are a strange lot.
One last thing about my morning basketball escapades. Getting back on my bike and feeling the cool breeze felt nice. The next forty-five minutes of wriding allowed me to enjoy the efforts on the court even more. I tend to be a bit of a workaholic. As I complete tasks, I think I will take time to enjoy the breezes life has to offer each day.
I’m not talking idleness or laziness, just allowing myself to travel the paths I feel offer those cool breezes after some strenuous, fulfilling work. Too often I deny myself these pleasures. We shall see, eh? I’m staying open to joy and I’m looking forward to the cooldown breezes of forward motion created by efforts connected to what I wish to accomplish in life.
I hope you have goals and aspirations to help propel you forward. I certainly hope that if you do, you keep yourself open to the joys of your pursuit. When you allow the joys to pass you by, I feel you lose your passion for the endeavor. Anything worth doing well is worth doing with joy, right?
This morning’s wride took me to some cool places within. I put together some life observations that resonate, at least to me. Heck, I’m writing this, so the words and concepts better resonate, write? (hey, you do know I misspelled that on purpose, correct?…)
I wrode unplugged today. The first couple weeks of wriding, I listened to my playlist on my iPhone. Cool enough. This past week, I listened a few days to Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. Way cool stuff there.
This morning, however, I allowed my earbuds to flop around on my chest outside my shirt. I wrode with the cicadas, the birds, the street sounds, my breathing, the soft, metallic grind of our chains, the crunch of tires over pine needles, the scurrying of squirrels and bunny rabbits as we swished by them.
I embraced more of the blue skies above, more of the trees individually and collectively. I enjoyed my breathing patterns, the rhythms of our bikes, the connection to my world. I noted vines climbing everlong into trees and millions upon millions of blades of grass – and a blade of grass. My eyes took in more leaves – and a leaf.
For the first time in these three weeks, I experienced the surreal connection, albeit tenuously and a quite watered down, bike wrides from years past. I have a wride, one from Dunbar Elementary School back in the 60′s, where I sang a tune titled Swing High, Swing Low.
On this wride over forty years ago, I swung my oversized, bulky bike left and write to the rhythm and the words – Swing high, swing low. Oh what a lot of the world you see. Over the top of a tree! That wride home from school, afternoon shadows dancing from the leaves on a breeze, implanted a moment in time I must never relinquish.
Connection to places and times often involves music. As I wrote in an earlier post, specific memories of a tune playing at a particular time imbedded that place in my memory, never to be forgotten. Even though I’ve heard these songs in hundreds of different locations, one particular place in time often gets represented. For instance, the first sock hop of my seventh grade school year, probably September 1971, You Are Everything by the Stylistics and a slow dance with Dawna Martin.
Back to the wride. This morning I felt the call of past wrides, past experiences, past joys of wind in my face, songs on my heart, and hope in my world. The call felt ethereal, like ghosts of my past calling me back to better times, yet at the same time, not in a negative, escapist manner, but in a “now” manner.
Maybe the past never goes away. Maybe we simply dull ourselves to the experiences we once knew. Maybe the joy and freedom and childlike focus we once defined still lives within us. We collect so much information and experience so much sensory input, I’m coming to believe we miss the true importance of our lives. One of the most cruel aspects of ‘growing up’ appears to be our distance from the child within.
I know, many have written and continue to write on this subject. I’m no scientist, no Phd philosopher, but I sense and believe we lose the very best aspect of ourselves when we give up our youth. I don’t mean the immature, inane side of youth, but the ‘youth’ side of us that takes the time, even in a moment, to appreciate something of profound beauty, even if it be simply a song, a bike wride, a breeze, and a joy.
For my heart and soul, I would take the peace and exhilaration of those moments over the pleasures of adulthood any day, any time. Innocence, the appreciation of a moment without concern over what needs to be done at home, carefree (now there’s a great word/concept), and pure, unattached joy.
Yes, ghosts of bike wrides past whispered in my heart today. The greatest aspect of their call was not for me to come “back” to join them, but to simply join them now. They never really went away. I simply tucked them into storage because I no longer possessed the time to play with them. What a sad, sad oversight on my part. We give up the best of ourselves when we give up our joy. The more childish, often the more precious.
I’m finding the ability to reconnect with these experiences takes a willing, relaxed heart. Much like the writing muses, this cannot become a ‘forced’ pursuit. You must be willing to be open to inviting the joys of your childhood back into your life. I don’t recommend trying to live in the past either. The past had trouble enough of its own. But the past also contained joy, and peace, and beauty and many other incredible attributes. I recommend inviting them into your ‘present’.
Walk away from your “plugged in” connectedness for a while today. Give yourself a few hours to visit with the ‘ghosts’ of your childhood. You may find, as I have, they are not actually ghosts but simply friends you let slip out of your life. Joy and peace and wonder still live within you. Setting them free may only be a bike wride away.
This was my childhood genius. Shhh…. (he still lives within me!)