Tag Archives: blog

Albert Einstein’s Secret To a Creative Life

Do you think of Albert Einstein as a creative? He was.Albert Einstein during a lecture in Vienna in 1921

His left brain was hard at work in the fields of physics and mathematics. His right brain assisted the left in developing his theories.

He was exposed to music early in life and learned to play the violin. He fell in love with Mozart’s Sonatas and is quoted as saying, “Love is a better teacher than a sense of duty.”

A love of art in any form allows creativity to flow in the interpretation of the medium.

Einstein, himself, can explain his secret better via this  summary of a story I read about him.

In 1955, Jerome Weidman, a novelist, screenwriter and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who died in 1998, met Albert Einstein at a dinner party hosted by a New York philanthropist.

After dinner,  the guests were led to a room lined with gilded chairs and a setup for musicians. Jerome was immediately uncomfortable realizing he was about to be entertained with chamber music.

It wasn’t that Jerome didn’t want to enjoy music; he just couldn’t. He closed his ears from the inside as the music played and turned his thoughts to anything but music.

After a while he realized people were clapping. He decided it was safe to unplug his ears and he joined them in their applause. A voice next to him said, “Are you fond of Bach?”

Jerome turned to his neighbor and looked into this man’s extraordinary eyes.  He knew he couldn’t lie to this man…Albert Einstein. Jerome explained that he had never heard Bach’s music and didn’t know anything about him. Besides, all music sounded like just a lot of arranged noise.

“It isn’t that I don’t want to like Bach, it’s just that I’m tone deaf and I’ve never really heard anybody’s music.”

At that, Einstein’s face took on a look of serious concern. He took Jerome by the arm, led him upstairs to a book-lined study and closed the door.

Einstein began to question Jerome about his feelings toward music.  “Tell me, please, is there any kind of music that you do like?”

“Well, I like songs with words and the kind of music where I can follow the tune. I like almost anything by Bing Crosby”

Einstein smiled and nodded, “Good!”
Einstein went to the phonograph and put on a record of Bing Crosby. After a few phrases, he lifted the needle and said, “Now, will you tell me, please, what you just heard?”

For Jerome the simplest answer was to sing the words back to Einstein. He sang it the best he could and the look on Einstein’s face ‘was like the sunrise’. “You see? You do have an ear!”

Jerome thought that was nonsense. Einstein used an analogy to explain it for Jerome. “Do you remember your first arithmetic lesson in school? Suppose at your very first contact with numbers, your teacher had ordered you to work out a problem in, say, long division or fractions. Could you have done so?”

Jerome answered, “No, of course not.”

“Precisely!” Einstein made a triumphant wave with his arm. “It would have been impossible and you would have reacted in panic. You would have closed your mind to long division and fractions. As a result, your whole life would be devoid of the beauty of long division.”

Einstein continued to explain that a teacher would normally begin with something more elementary and increase the difficulty as the boy gained skills.
He likened the Bing Crosby music to simple addition and told Jerome they would go on to something more complicated.

With each more difficult set of musical phrases, Jerome sang them all back to Einstein. Einstein was thrilled with Jerome’s progress. “Now you are ready for Bach!”

Back in the music room with the other guests, Einstein whispered to Jerome,

“Just allow yourself to listen. That is all.”

When the concert was over, Jerome was genuinely applauding his praise. The hostess came over to chastise Einstein for missing so much of the performance.

Einstein and Jerome jumped to the feet to apologize. Einstein said, “I am sorry. My young friend here and I were engaged in the greatest activity of which man is capable.” Einstein put arm around Jerome’s shoulders and said,

“Opening up yet another fragment of the frontier of beauty.

I guess a far shorter way to say this would have been something my 4th grade Nun used to tell us. “Stop walking around with your eyes and ears closed!” In other words, be open to everything beautiful around you. Don’t be afraid to experience or try new things. Creativity will come.

But I like Albert Einstein’s story better.

Creativity

As writers, painters, singers, quilters, woodworkers, cooks or any other creative you can think of, we often told ourselves untruths when we were novices.

Our inner critics would say, “You’ll never be any good at this. Why keep trying? Look at So-and-so over there and how well she’s doing. You should just give up.”

Some take those lies to heart and do give up. Others press on toward success.

The most important advice I read as I was learning the craft of writing a book was this (I’d love to credit the person who said, but I can’t remember who it was):

“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”

When just finishing my 1st draft, comparing myself to the likes of James Rollins, Stephen King or Christina Dodd is self-defeating.

My most important goals are to be the best I can be, never stop learning, and always be open to discovering new ideas, noticing the beauty of nature and cheering on others who do the same.

What will you do to open up yet another fragment of the frontier of beauty?

What are your most important goals? What lies have you told yourself?

Come back on Friday when Sonia Medeiros will be here!

And don’t forget that June 29th is the One – Year Anniversary of The Life List Club AND it’s Milestone Party time!! Woohoo! 

We Life Listers would like our readers to answer the same question all of us writers will answer: What goal on your Life List has held the most surprise or invoked the most unforeseen benefits/changes?

Post your answer in the comment section of our Milestone Friday post between June 29th and July 6th. The BIG WINNER will be announced on July 6th.

What sort of prize would mean the most to all of you?

Spam and Eggs: Gems from the Spam Filter

Spam & EggsIf you’ve blogged (or twittered) for a while, you’ve probably harvested at least a crop or two of spam.

Ah, the spammers are in bloom again…isn’t it lovely *inhales*

In fact, they may have even been your very first comments. But, as time passed and the spam filter grew fat with bizarrely worded pseudo-comments, you probably began to resent them…especially when the spam far outweighed the legitimate comments.

But maybe we’re not giving spam its due. Sure, most of the time, the “comments” are only fit for the compost bin. But, sometimes, you harvest a few gems, stuff that makes you laugh and/or makes good fodder for a blog post when you’re running a little low on ideas. Maybe it even has something to teach us, as author Jami Gold points out.

Recently, I had a bumper crop, mostly in response to Thus Spake the Dragon and Got Apocalypse. Here are a few prize specimen:

“Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it’s really informative. I’m going to watch out for brussels. I will be grateful if you continue this in future”

Indeed, you are wise to watch out for brussels. They are tricky beasts. Relax your vigilance for just a moment and they’ll sneak up behind you and stick a spit-moistened finger in your ear, then you’ll be a brussel too…don’t say I didn’t warn you.

“Certainly there are millions of more pleasurable times up front for people who browse through your blog.”

Oh yes, millions of pleasurable times up front…but it’s the pay off over time that’s the real joy. We’re talking gazillions here. Gazillions of pleasurable times. Plus…the hardcore facts that will save you from the apocalypse.

“My husband and i have been absolutely relieved that Michael could do his inquiry with the precious recommendations he discovered through your blog. “

This was from Got Apocalypse. You see, their son Michael was inquiring into the process of become a Certified Apocalypse Survival Instructor and the movies I shared were critical to his education. So, study up, folks. The apocalypse is nigh.

“You completed a number of good points there. I did a search on the theme and found mainly people will go along with your blog.”

Mainly, they do…but there is a dissenting faction. We’re planning to take care of them by sending in the dreaded brussels.

“Thank you a lot for providing individuals with remarkably terrific opportunity to read in detail from here. It really is very sweet and also jam-packed with a lot of fun for me personally and my office peers to search your website at least thrice every week to learn the latest guides you have got. Not to mention, I’m so certainly happy with the staggering inspiring ideas served by you.”

You hear that folks? Thrice weekly. Not just once or twice, but thrice. I’m that good.

“I want to express my thanks to you just for bailing me out of this situation. Because of browsing throughout the the net and meeting suggestions that were not beneficial, I was thinking my entire life was gone. Living minus the answers to the problems you have fixed as a result of your good article content is a critical case, and the ones that might have badly affected my entire career if I had not come across your blog post. “

Again, when the apocalypse rolls around and the brussels are attacking in hordes, you’ll be glad you read my blog.

“I was suggested this blog by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my problem. You’re incredible! Thanks!”

It’s true. Your cousin did write this. He didn’t want to but I made him. I threatened to lock him in a room with a brussel.  In the end, though, he saw that writing the post was the right thing to do. For you and the the world.

“I loved as much as you’ll receive carried out right here. “

And this one is just sheer philosophical brilliance. Think about it. The love we receive must be carried out to others. *tears up*

Of course, a ripe crop of spam isn’t the only collateral benefit of blogging. You may find also find tasty search term bits here and there. author Chuck Wendig is famous for  the wild search terms that roam his blog. Check out some of his search term bingos: Search Term Bingo and the Revenge of the Hamster Skin Codpiece, Search Term Bingopocalypse, and Search Term Bingo Stole My Dingo.

Incidentally, spam is very good with eggs. And fried rice. And ramen. And…

Spam and Eggs

Have you harvested any delicious spam or caught any wild search terms? What are your favorites?

***

Image Attribution (In Order of Appearance):
Spam & Eggs by toddsmithdesign, on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Spam and Eggs by iconsam, on Flickr  CC BY-NC 2.0

If you missed Marcia’s post on creating passion in our lives, be sure to check it out! And stay tuned for David Walker’s post on Wednesday.

Executive Prerogative

Switching gears, changing lanes, executive decisions.

A woman’s prerogative.

There is a lot of work for a writer to do that isn’t writing. Building a platform before novel publication seems an impossible task.

WRITER: I’m a writer. Come read my blog!

READER: A  writer with a blog? How totally bizarre, unusual, and original. What do you write?

WRITER: My novels feature strong heroines with suspenseful, romantic and sometimes paranormal elements.

READER: Wow, that’s exactly the kind of books I like to read. How many books have you written?

WRITER: Three.

READER: Three? Oh, goody. Where can I get them?

(Insert sound of air deflating from balloon. P-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-t.)

WRITER: I’ll let you know as soon as I’m published.

Marketing takes time, and though one may be a writer, they may not be a natural marketer. Harder still, a writer may enjoy marketing their book, but marketing oneself is a little different, and can make some authors cringe. Me? I cry in a corner, then put my author hat on and come out smiling. The knee-knocking isn’t nearly so noticeable when I’m sitting down.

Yet we must have a platform. Agents want to know we have a network. Get on Facebook, Tweet until your thumbs fall off, join a writing association, build a readership.

The same stuff every other writer is doing.

What else, what else… Think-think-think.

Present a workshop. Neato! Except, teaching fellow emerging writers means you know something they don’t yet know. You want them to listen to you, you want them to lick the sharpened tip of their lead pencil and set it to paper, taking note of every ounce of wisdom that drips from your tongue. You want them to absorb each nugget of information on every slide in your presentation.

You have to be credible.

Credibility comes with sales. Credibility comes with publication.

Hark! I have a published book. Storyteller, my collection of short stories. SQUEE!

And one of my shorts won an award. An award named for an author synonymous with short stories: Alice Munro.

Yippee and yahoo! Now that’s impressive!

And so I drafted a presentation on short story structure, using my shortest short, Sweet Dreams, as the basis. Item # 3 on my Life List reads:

Workshop presentations

  • Short Story Structure, spit & polish
  • Platform before Publication, write
  • Seek out venues to present
And now, end of May, I look at this item and realize, this is not going to happen. At least not this year.
Sunny day, shade of an umbrella, glass of wine with a long-time, non-writing friend. Friend shares this innocent observation:
“I see your Facebook updates, but they’re about blogs and other writers. When do you write?”
The question stings, as valid questions do.
I work on my writing career a minimum of five days per week. I write an impressive word count everyday. And yet, I am four months behind my writing schedule.
Why?
I’m not working on my work-in-progress. I am not editing, I am not producing new words, I am not revising nor am I drafting an outline for the next book in the queue.  And y’all know I haven’t been exercising. Snort.

Image uploaded from Wikipedia

I’m writing blog posts. Necessary. I’m networking. Necessary. But let’s face it,
Something’s Got to Give.

Interesting that this phrase is also the title of Monroe’s unfinished film.

And so, the time has come to make decisions. Weeding out my Life List closet, I hold the hanger beneath my chin, press the fabric to my waistline, and twirl before the mirror.

The goal’s a little snug, but it still fits. If I pair it with a funky pair of sandals, I can get some use out of it this summer. A BBQ, perhaps? A day at the races?

Ah, but what shall I miss at home when I’m out exercising this workshop presentation goal? Progress on my work-in-progress?

Damn straight.

I have a decision to make, and so I make it. For the good of all else on my list, I shall sacrifice presentations. At least for this year.

First, I paraphrase Bobby Brown: I made this list, you didn’t. Right, Gloria? And then, I quote Bobby Brown, It’s My Prerogative. 

PMS

We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.

One of the bloggers I follow regularly ran a post recently with a list of things PMS could stand for. Stupidly, I didn’t make a note of which blogger to give the credit to, so I apologize to whoever gave me the idea. I would credit you if I could.

Having made that half-baked attempt at attribution, let me proceed to give my take on a few of the ideas from that post.

PMS could stand for Pass My Shotgun. Actually, I’ve never been with a woman who was violent enough to use a shotgun. However, I’ve been with several who could make you wish they’d just use a shotgun and get it over with.

Psychotic Mood Shift. This one is a definite yes. When this happens, the best thing a husband or boyfriend can do is not have been there. Golf only take four hours or so, which is not nearly long enough. This must be why so many men love to fish. They can stay out an indefinite length of time and return after she’s over the symptoms.

Puffy Mid-Section. Hmmm. If I ever noticed this, I certainly wouldn’t notice it. I’m not saying whether I’ve seen such a phenomenon or not, but I wouldn’t notice it if I did. I’m smarter than that.

Provide Me Sweets. Well, maybe so, but be across the room and run fast to get out of there. (See fishing, above.)

Pardon My Sobbing. Okay, guys, here’s a real test. She DOES NOT want you to fix anything. Just hold her and pet her and say nothing at all. If she asks you a question, don’t answer. It’s a trick, and any answer you give is a reason to start a war. If holding her and petting her doesn’t work, see fishing advice.

Pissy Mood Syndrome. This is actually what the letters stand for. You guys know this is not really limited to the timing of her menstrual cycle. If you can appease her well enough to live that long, you’ll also discover that post-menopausal women can have PMS also.

Potential Murder Suspect. Although Pissy Mood Syndrome is the actual meaning of PMS, this captures the strongly possible result of it. We’re talking serious stuff here.

If you enjoy danger, go play with an anaconda or wrestle a crocodile or some such thing. Maybe attack an armed terrorist with a cap gun. Don’t challenge your woman when she’s exhibiting the signs of PMS. Go fishing instead.

——————————————

clip_image001David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of that career was spent in Texas, but for a few years he traveled many other states. He started writing about 20 years ago, and has six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. He is currently putting the finishing touches on his non-fiction Web Wisdom: Godly Thoughts and Inspiration from the Inbox and starting his new fiction work—a series of novellas set during the period from 1860 to 1880.

Contact me at davwalktx@yahoo.com or tweet me at @davidnwalkertx

New Computer

We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.

Okay, everybody who enjoys getting a new computer and loading all the software onto it stand up and shout. I don’t hear you. How about the joy of building a whole new set of favorites? Hooking up to a home network so your new computer can communicate with your other one or run your printer?

Would you rather do all that once or twice? I thought so.

About five or six weeks ago, I decided to give my wife my desktop computer, since she preferred it to hers anyhow. I bought a new laptop to use both at home and when I’m away, and I gave her old one to a friend who reconditions them and gives them to people who can’t afford to buy new ones.

Since my desktop is several years old and hers was older than that, we both got upgrades out of the deal. And since she’d been using mine 90% of the time anyway, she had no learning curve or new installation or download process to go through. Me—well, that’s a different story.

I loved my new laptop, but I had a lot of work to do. First of all, every new computer comes with a bunch of junk loaded on it that I have no use for, so I had to try to figure out what to delete or disable and what I’d better leave alone—you know, just in case . . .

Then I had to drag out the CDs for all the software I had loaded on my old computer and install them onto the new one. What a crock! How come every time a program gets installed I have to reboot the computer? Oh, well.

When I downloaded Tweetdeck, I got a new version that’s a bunch of cra not as user-friendly as the old one. I fumbled around for a couple of weeks trying to adapt to it before I discovered how to download the old version.

Of course, I had to start saving websites to my favorites so I could get to them once again. Seems like I never find all the ones I want.

I don’t even try to work with my local network. I throw up my hands and call my tech buddy to come deal with it.

After three or four weeks, I finally had the printer working and probably 80% to 90% of what I wanted in place. Then the computer decided it didn’t want to boot up. I called my tech buddy, and he led me through everything he could think of to try to make it work, but nothing did. He finally told me to take it back to Best Buy. He was sure the Geeks could remedy the problem.

One of the Geeks worked on it for maybe ten minutes before deciding it had died and I needed a new one. I was actually one day beyond my thirty-day period for a free exchange, but they were kind enough to give me a new one anyway. As a matter of fact, the price had dropped about $30, so they gave me a credit for the difference. That’s about the only good thing I can find about all this.

Once I got home, I started dragging out all those CDs I’d so recently put up and reloading software. And downloading Twitter and Facebook and all that stuff, along with Yahoo and Google toolbars. Of course, half the stuff I installed came with its own toolbars, some of which installed themselves without asking me if I wanted them.

Then I had to try to find my Tweetdeck 0.38.2 again. I had carefully saved the information for downloading this, but I haven’t been able to figure out where I saved it. After a week or so of not thanking anyone for mentions and RTs, I finally got the right place to download this from. It’s now up and running, and I think I’ve caught up on thanking people. I hope.

Still got a few pieces of software to install, but I getting there. Now if I can just rebuild my favorites. Ack!

Right now, if I want to print something, I have to load it onto my flash drive and take it over to my desktop computer and print from there. I hope I can get my friend over before too long to remedy that, too.

Have you traded computers and had to go through this recently? If so, I hope only once.

Do you feel overwhelmed by your computer and all the programs we have to load and use, or is it just us old farts senior citizens who have trouble with it?

clip_image001David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of that career was spent in Texas, but for a few years he traveled many other states. He started writing about 20 years ago, and has six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. He is currently putting the finishing touches on his non-fiction Web Wisdom: Godly Thoughts and Inspiration from the Inbox and starting his new fiction work—a series of novellas set during the period from 1860 to 1880.

Contact me at davwalktx@yahoo.com or tweet me at @davidnwalkertx