Well dear readers, I have to apologize for not posting anything for the past few days. I had a real surprise when I opened my stats page today, I actually broke my record of 42 views in one day and it now stands at 48. The reason I didn’t post anything is I was simply feeling a bit burned out from writing a great deal. I have been going to workshops and book signings, I even went to a book launch today and did some great photography for it, but I won’t bore you all with that here. I have also been working diligently on a Young Adult Historical Fiction Novel which seems to be coming along nicely. On Wednesday I took advantage of my local library’s writer in residence program and had a very nice young woman work with me on the first 10 pages of my YA book. When I first had it looked at by my dear friend and mentor Richard Van Camp, he said that it seemed rushed. It was in fact rushed, I sat down and wrote the whole 23,000 word mess in just two days. After Richard suggested taking more time, adding more detail and a few other things I went over it and added another 8,000 words. In the past day I have been editing the work line by line and have added probably about another 1,500 words to the total. These seem like grand tasks, but I have to stress that there were times in my life where I accomplished very little in my writing other than improving my typing skills in chat rooms.
What I kind of wanted to discuss today though was the whole concept of ‘Inching Back To Sane’. This is of course, the title of a book I wrote which you can find right on this website for sale, but it is also kind of a mindset I have about recovery. Before I explain too much, let me say that I strongly believe that a man (or woman) who has one friend is a rich man. We all need a friend, whether they be a member of our family, it is of course ideal that they be a life partner, but your friend can be anyone. Together people can do so much more than they will ever get done alone. Back in 2001, just after 9/11, which was the same time that I was released from the mental hospital, I was in a very poor state. Somehow my retired father was able to make time each and every day to drive to my house, pick me up and take me to the park and we would walk. Walking is a fantastic exercise I think because it is low impact and generally good for the soul. Even the Buddhists talk about something called ‘walking meditation’ where you get into something of a rhythm and focus your mind and cleanse your thoughts. So anyhow, my Dad would come and get me and was very understanding and we would walk through the beautiful river valley of Edmonton and after a time I was able to be fit enough to quit smoking, and my mood and general situation improved greatly and then before long my Dad and I were going to different parks and then with the advent of less expensive digital cameras (I never did have luck with film cameras) we started taking pictures of birds. I became almost obsessed with photography but I still liked doing it with my Dad and went on to do magazine work, newspaper photography and I recently saved up my dough and bought a very nice little Nikon D3200 with a regular and a telephoto lens. My Dad has filled the wall of his apartment with his bird photos and basically something really special came out of my Dad’s effort to help me recover from the shock of spending 5 months in the mental hospital.
This adage, this concept of taking small steps and maintaining them until great things happens applies to a lot of things in life I think. Years ago I made the decision that I wanted to be a writer and I started out with short poems, then longer ones, then short stories which I eventually tied all together into a book. By chance I met an old friend who knew a professional editor who I hired to turn the book into something publishable, then after being unable to find a publisher I learned how to self-publish and have gained a lot of respect from friends, co-workers and family members and even members of the general public as far as my writing goes. I should mention also I suppose that when I wasn’t writing I was reading as much as I could get my hands on and went to great lengths to increase my collection of poetry books and through a lot of that time each day I would force myself to write a journal entry that filled a page.
All that I have really covered before, but here I just wanted to encourage people to lay down goals for themselves, achievable goals, concrete, written out goals. A distant goal of mine was to publish a book even before I had written my first short story or half decent poem. At the time I didn’t even own a pen that I used for anything other than writing down women’s phone numbers in my little black book. But I set down my goal and then had something to move towards. Even the horrors of becoming severely mentally ill and facing the treatment I went through didn’t deter me. Another goal I remember setting for myself years ago was to have a sports car and a motorbike. Not long ago I had both, thanks to a ruling by the government with regard to deductions made to disability payments plus my awesome job setting up concerts. So for anyone who reads this, I want to quote the title of the YA Novel I am working on. The title is “Those Who Dare To Dream” and I suppose I could change it to a catchy phrase like ‘great rewards come to those who dare to dream’ which sounds a little hokey, but it would be great if someone read this and felt inspired enough to write out what they want out of life, where they want to be in ten years and be able to come back and tell me that they did these things. These goals are different than New Year’s resolutions, of which 99% never seem to get done. I did set one for myself this year, which was to lose 20 pounds but I think what I’m discussing is something larger. Something you need to get very specific about. “I want to have $150,000.00 to put down on a house in ten years” is something like that. You can set smaller goals along the way, just like when I was discussing “The Richest Man in Babylon” you can say first I want to improve my work performance to get a 15% raise, then I want to put 10% of that in a savings account and reward myself with the other 5% with a vacation to the coast.
For those of you who read this who feel their whole life is a mess and that things will never turn around for them, I want to say that you can set goals to make yourself feel better, for example you could say “I am going to get myself on better medications over the next year until I can feel good enough to work 10 hours a week as a volunteer and make it to church at least twice a month”. You don’t have to conquer the world, but it would mean so much if you could just improve your own life a little. I know it has for me and that my life has become the biggest dream come true I never even imagined could have come about. But, at the risk of sounding manic I will pass on any more commentary. I would love it if people who read this would send me feedback, I can be reached as always at: firstname.lastname@example.org