Door Reflection

On a sunny day, you’ve been ringing the doorbell to your friend’s apartment for a good ten minutes. There’s been no answer. Turning to leave, you notice a white car parked perpendicularly across the way. What catches your eye is the pattern of water against the door, it moves with the breeze. But there has been no rain. As you look at the door, a shape emerges. You move in closer, to inspect. What do you find?


Do you believe in the existence of an internal compass? It’s the closest thing to a writer’s spirituality – you have to have faith that it exists, without any physical proof. You just have to believe, because without it, you have no guide, no point of reference, just options. There are too many options, or none. To make a choice, you have to believe sometimes, that you know what you’re doing, you have to trust in your creative instincts, and set aside the doubt.


I like a bit of green in my day. It sets the mind at ease. These photographs are from Zack Seckler’s Botswana exhibition, which was going on in New York back in February. He took them from a low flying plane, which is something I wish I could do. You have possibly seconds to compose and create your shot. It sounds exciting, and infuses each shot with a living, breathing quality. Every shot is an action shot. 



Artifact the Film
In 2008, the band 30 Seconds to Mars was sued by their own record label for $30 million dollars. This is a pretty entertaining documentary about the raw deal musicians get when they get screwed by sign with a major record label. No more guilt about downloading that album, eh?

Self-Publishing Changed My Life, But My Publisher Grew My Sales
So…the epic battle between the forces of Self publishing v. Traditional publishing continues!

Advice From Artists on How to Overcome Creative Block, Handle Criticism, and Nurture Your Sense of Self Worth
Here’s a collection of advice from established authors, good to look at when you’re feeling bummed, need to pick your self-worth out of the toilet and so on. Those days come and go.

The End of Facebook
Now that Facebook is in the business of making money, they’re no longer in the business of providing you with a forum to reach your audience of followers. If you use Facebook to promote yourself or your business, this is worth a look.

Free Stuff
550 Free Audiobooks
I’ve probably posted this before, but since that was awhile go, here it is again. Free stuff!


There is a mental audience inside every writer, every artist, every person that creates. This is something that I believe exists, like a literary Santa Claus. I think it’s a part of human nature to create an audience, and this…is a problem.
Ever pandered to an audience? It’s reflexive. They like something, you give them more. They don’t like it, you stop. Cause and effect. Here’s what my mental audience is like: it fluctuates a lot – sometimes it’s people I know, sometimes members of my family, sometimes it’s co-workers, and sometimes it’s just a mass of faceless strangers, but the quality they have in common, is that they are complete @$$holes. If you’ve read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, I believe she referred to a radio station running through her head called K-F*cked. You see where I’m going with this?
The easiest way to keep writing, to keep going, is to clear the audience out. That’s why I emphasize simplicity. That’s what I got from the Dalai Lama talk.* So you don’t write while considering what other people will think, you choose your one goal (singular), and move towards it. You screen everything else out. I like the quote above: your goal is to create beauty, and no one else matters. The clearer the mind, the easier the goal is to reach. 
* The Dalai Lama post on Happiness, where he distilled happiness into really simple ideas: focusing on others, being part of a community. And you’re done. If you meet him, he’s one happy guy. 


Who is Better World Books? from Better World Books on Vimeo.

Better World Books (BWB) sells books online. Shipping is free. BWB then uses the money from books sold to fund literacy projects both in the US and internationally. BWB makes a book donation for every book sold, book for book
If that’s not enough: 

“In addition to selling new titles, Better World Books supports book drives and collects used books and textbooks through a network of over 2,300 college campuses and partnerships with over 3,000 libraries nationwide. So far, the company has converted more than 117 million books into over $15 million in funding for literacy and education. In the process, we’ve also diverted more than 73,000 tons of books from landfills.”  

As a bonus, they even have shipping that is carbon balanced by Green-e climate certified offsets approved by 3 Degrees.
They even sell eBooks and used audiobooks. I checked. I’m trying to think of reasons not to buy from them, but until I can, you should check them out.


Dalai Lama ticket

There were no cameras allowed at the Dalai Lama talk. No computers. No cell phones. No photographic instruments of any kind. What was allowed? Babies. The kind that scream. There were a few of those, and then there I was at the very back of the balcony, with a notebook and a pen.
I just want to give a little background to what I am about to share, so you can add a little salt to this post, in place of an absolute truth.  
The Dalai Lama is the reincarnation of the Buddha of compassion. His topic was a good one: How to Achieve Happiness. Happiness is a buzz word: it grabs most people’s attention, and if you attach “how to” anywhere near it, you pretty much have a captive audience. 
He had about one hour to answer this elusive question, and to also fit in a brief audience Q & A. So what he provided were his conclusions, and then some supporting stories.

My notes follow below in red, but before I write down what he said, I want to take a moment to describe the Dalai Lama, just the visual impression, because if you just sit and observe, and watch him as he speaks, there is a lightness in him. He’s joyful. He has a really good sense of humor. When he talks about happiness, he also happens to embody it.

Here are my notes: 

Focus on others and oneness, rather than self:

“A self-centered attitude is contrary to happiness… mentally, emotionally, spiritually, we are the same.”  

“We are social animals, we need to work together in a oneness of humanity.”  

“If there is too much emphasis on the self, you make yourself a prisoner.  The oneness of humanity is very essential.”

“We all come from the same God. Everyone has the spark of God. If you do good, you get the benefit.”  

Money does not lead to happiness:

“Money leads to physical comfort, but not happiness of the mind. Happiness depends on internal values.” 

He then told the story about his friend who lived in a small house by the side of a mountain. This man ate only bread and water. He spent his days in meditation.  However, when you looked into his eyes, you saw that his eyes overflowed with happiness.

How do you reconcile the first notion that humans are social animals with this man’s isolated happiness? I thought about this. It may be that meditation is a form of socialization. Through meditation, you connect to a universal truth, or oneness, and this connection is a social connection.  

On Faith:

“The purpose of faith is to be more compassionate.”

“It shows a lack of firm convictions if you want more edicts.”

On Death:

“Death is changing old clothes. Change of body, not self. Self remains.”  

“When you liberate from ignorance and destructive emotion, that is salvation.” 

In the aftermath, I read my notes out loud to someone, who disagreed with pretty much every statement here. It didn’t occur to me that these statements were controversial. I thought they sounded very simple, and wondered how I could apply while I was commuting to work or making dinner.*     
What do you think? Is this useful?
*As an aside here, there was also a huge protest outside the building where the talk took place. People were chanting for the Dalai Lama to give and stop lying. I can’t help thinking that there are better ways to spend your Saturday morning.