Category Archives: Writing

Destiny: I just don’t believe in it.

Don't waste your life pondering your fate; take risks and take everything into your own hands.

Don’t waste your life pondering your fate; take risks and take everything into your own hands.

Destiny. It’s a cool word, it really is. As a writer, I admire words that carry power, and among such words, ‘destiny’ is a heavy-hitting word that is both melodious and haunting in sound.

I just don’t believe in the notion of destiny.

Sure, we’re all born into different families and in different identities. Our early lives may be ‘fated’ because we were born into specific roles. But by no means do I believe in destiny.

I believe life is all about the opportunities you take, and the opportunities you don’t take. Once you start making the choices in life and break out of the role that you were born into, you become the master of your own destiny. The cards of fate no longer rule over you; you rule over yourself.

You know, a lot of people go through life blaming destiny for everything. They hang their heads and say, “I’m not even going to bother. Fate has cursed me.”

Fate curses no one; fate is just a convenient scapegoat for people’s frustration. It’s so much easier to throw your hands up in the air and blame fate for wronging you, than it is to accept that the situation can be mended with ambition and endurance.

These are lazy people. Hopeless people. If they consign themselves to a terrible destiny, then they will indeed chain themselves to that destiny until they die.

But people who don’t believe in destiny know that they have all the power in their hands. These people know that they are the drivers on the road of life; that their lives are like clay and can be molded into any shape­— as long as the hands shaping the clay are hard and unrelenting.

I say this to inspire you. Those of you who are in a low place in life right now, have faith. Stop cursing your luck and start making luck play in your favor. You hold all the power to dream, to work, to accomplish.

Destiny is an enemy of dreaming; if you accept destiny, you have no use for dreams. Destiny is the notion that everything is predetermined and locked in place— while dreaming is the opposite notion that anything is possible. And I stand by this, now and forever: anything is possible.

If you don’t have your dreams, you are nothing. You are just another pawn, controlled by the false notion that destiny is your puppeteer. You are no puppet. You are free to dream, to achieve, to conquer the mountains towering above you.

-G.D.

Photo credit: Francisco Diaz

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Filed under Life, Writing

Gotta go slow in LIFE

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You won’t win if you go too fast.

Has anyone ever played Milton Bradley’s The Game of LIFE, simply known as the board game LIFE? Fun game, isn’t it? It’s certainly one of my favorites. And there’s even a lesson to take away from it.

For those of you unfamiliar with the game, when it’s your turn, you get to spin the spinner and move anywhere between one and ten spaces. But the thing is…you really don’t want to get the number 10 all the time. In fact, if you do, you’ll probably lose.

Ideally, you’ll want to go as slow as possible, so that you can collect as many LIFE tokens (to be traded in for cash, later) before you “die.” This board game is different from others in that it actually has a “finish line,” and once you cross it, you’re done. So you don’t really want to race through the game, you want to slow down and smell the roses.

 

Real life is like that too. Strangely, people think of real life more like Monopoly than the game of LIFE. People want to get the high rolls and spin again on doubles and just whizz through life to make dough. Well, let me tell you…this is not a good approach to life.

Life is full of many different aspects and hidden treasures. It’s not all about ascending to the top of the corporate ladder and buying a private jet and a house in the Caribbean. Make sure you slow down, too…or else you’ll surely lose everything. Like in the game of LIFE, if you don’t go slow enough, you’re just racing to your death. And you must be sure to fill your life with as much happiness as possible before the end.

 

So, as you go about life…make sure to enjoy every little thing that passes your way. Say hello to people you’ve never met before. Pick up the phone and tell three people you love them. Send an e-mail to a friend you haven’t talked to in forever.

‘Cause, you know what? Any day now, it could all be over. And when you die, you’re not going to take your dollars with you. Only your smiles.

Gotta go slow in life. Enjoy the distractions. Indulge in the moments.

-G.D.

Photo credit: Morning Toast

 

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Filed under Board Games, Books, Games, Life, Writing

The Fear of Losing

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When the thing holding you back is fear, train yourself to ignore it.

When I was in elementary school, I really wanted to run for class president. Like, I really really wanted to run for class president. Ever since I was a kid I had this pathological need for people to look up to me; to listen to the things that I said, to read the things that I wrote. Class president was the perfect office for me— and I wanted it, so, so bad.

When it came time to turn in applications for elections, my application was not in the box. I hadn’t filled one out. I hadn’t even picked one up. I was afraid. Afraid of losing.

Now I realize that the only thing holding me back from running for office was my fear of losing the election. I was worried that the other candidates were more popular than me; that they would get more applause after the speech, that in the end they would walk away victorious while I would be forced to bear the shame of loss.

I was so young! And already I had this huge fear of losing.

Why is our culture so afraid to lose? At what age do children develop a hatred of losing? My neighbors’ son cried whenever his soccer team lost a game. He was only eight— why did he care so much? Why do we fear losing so much, even as children?

We don’t like being shamed. We don’t like coming back as the loser of an election or a sports game only to hear consoling words from our family and friends. Those words of comfort hurt us more than soothe us. Losing rattles our confidence; destroys our self-esteem. And we don’t like feeling bad about ourselves. Similarly, us writers sometimes keep our work locked in the shelves, afraid that no one will like them; that no one will appreciate the hours and years we’ve poured into them.

Now I realize I was wrong to have been a coward. I could have been class president. I could have. If you don’t do something because you’re afraid of failure…all you’ll ever end up with is “could-haves.” Since then I’ve made a conscious effort to rework the gears in my brain to sidestep fear. I’ve cliff-dived off a 50-foot rock. I’ve waded into a stream with crabs. I’ve made connections with people I would normally have not dared to approach.

And I’ve surmounted my biggest fear: I went ahead and self- published my book online. Because once you realize all the opportunities you’ve missed because of your own silly fear, you’ll never want to miss another one. I encourage you all to recall everything in life you’ve passed on because you were too afraid…and now to change that “fear factor” within your own brains, and re-train yourselves to accept challenges with bravery.

At the end of your life, would you want to look back and remember a sea of missed opportunities? In five or six years, nobody will remember that one time you lost an election…or came in third in the local karaoke contest. Don’t be scared to run for office, or sing, or act, or publish your book and your poems…you don’t know all the readers who may come to adore you. The only person you’re cheating is yourself. Just do it. Take a shot. Risk it all. Because if you do, and you win…people will remember that. People will remember you, and praise your bravery.

Life is too short for second-guessing. Go after the things you want, no matter how outlandish your dreams may be. Fear of failure should not be in your mind. If nobody feared failure, I’m sure that American Idol would have three or four times as many auditions.

Don’t wait for opportunities to grab you— seize them, and don’t be afraid of the consequences should you fail. Life is full of failure, but the biggest failures are missed attempts.

-G.D.

Photo credit: Kyra Ashtin

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The Merits of Being Lost

You wouldn't believe what you can discover when you're lost.

You wouldn’t believe what you can discover when you’re lost.

I read a truly inspirational piece yesterday by a San Franciscan writer named Rebecca Solnit, called “Open Door.”

Solnit talked about how beautiful being lost is…how essential being lost is to finding one’s identity. She amalgamated the work and philosophies of many other thinkers before her (such as Thoreau) and produced a powerful message: To be lost, in a sense, is to live. Being lost is the state where the familiar is washed away and totally replaced by the unfamiliar. Being lost is when the ordinary ceases to exist, and mystery prevails in life.

It’s a beautiful thing, being lost. It is an opportunity to glimpse into another universe. Solnit writes that artists are always the ones who are pushing their audience into the darkness, into mystery…artists are the ones who help us to get lost.

And why should we get lost? To get lost is to discover something new. Without being lost there is no innovation. No creation. Without people sacrificing the safe and familiar in order to muddle around in new worlds, the things and ideas we have today could not possibly exist.

Being lost is more than just the physical sense of being in an unfamiliar place- it is more about the mental insecurity that results from a drastic change in environment.

If ever you are feeling down in life, give being lost a try. While you rummage around in dark tunnels you may find the light.

-G.D.

Photo Credit: Aey Laboratories

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Filed under Adventure, Writing

Success really does happen…sold my first copy!

After having my recently published book on the Kindle Marketplace for two days, I recently discovered that I have sold my first copy. Of course, I hope to sell more than just one copy!— but the incident of this one sale to get the ball rolling has really set me in good spirits.

For me, it’s not about money. I don’t write for a living, and I have more than enough money to live on. Sure, the royalty is nice— but for me, it’s more about reaching an audience with my writing. I want people to read my work, think on it critically, share it with their friends, and send feedback back to me: what did they learn from the book? Did they identify with the characters? And I welcome criticism as well: what can I work on? What just really sucked about it?

After all, most of us don’t just write for ourselves— we write to be read, to be shared, and to be enjoyed. And these elements involve a reader!

So I offer this as encouragement to anyone who has a work out there that they’d like to publish: if you believe in it, other people will give it a chance. You just have to put it out there and see what can happen. It’s you who has to take the first step from being a closeted writer into a published author.

I’m still in the amateur stage, and proud of it…but I hope to reach greater heights soon! And the best of wishes to you as well.

-G.D.

 

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Nighttime is Prime Time for Writing

The prime time for writing, at least for me, is nighttime. 9 PM or later. Like now, at 12:26PM. I think it’s because the whole day is behind me and there’s nothing left to think about but writing, and getting those feelings out on paper.

Sometimes if I try to work on writing in the middle of the day, I get distracted. I have to get up to do this!— or that! And I have too many responsibilities to take care of that have to come before writing.

But at night, when it’s quiet, I really churn out my best work. Every sentence just gleefully flows together when it’s way past a normal person’s bedtime. New ideas even surface.

I’ve always written the last word of each manuscript I ever wrote late at night, after a furious, ecstatic streak of racing through those final chapters (and then editing through the hasty writing later!)

What about you? When do you do your best work? A lot of writers recommend that you set a time and place for writing, and that you come to that place at the same time every day and spill whatever’s on your mind. What works for you?

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Breaking into the Business

Two days ago I finally worked up the nerve to publish on the Kindle format. I’d been working on this novel for about 3 years (started it in 2009!) and I submitted it to many agents. One gave it a bite and wrote me back, saying “I’d love to read the rest of the manuscript.” I was excited and prepared the entire manuscript to send off, but a few weeks later I got a notification from that agent saying that she’d left the agenting business.

That crushed my ambitions: I had wanted to see my name in print ever since I was a kid. But I didn’t give up, and I was convinced to cut corners around the “traditional” method and instead go for electronic self-publishing. I am excited to have my work out in the market now! I’m working hard to build an audience.

The book is called Of a Greener World, and click here to reach its page on the Kindle Marketplace. It’s available for $3.25, or free for Amazon Prime users. If you’re interested, please take the time to go through the free first few chapters!

I’d love to hear your publishing war stories. Or maybe they’re success stories? Tips, encouragement, criticism…it’s all welcome here!

-G.D.

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Filed under Books, Writing