Saturday, March 22, 2014
Recently, my daughter Emma twisted her knee while skiing. The MRI was proof that I was going to be her chauffeur for the next few weeks, since my wife was laboring as an art educator at another school. That left me with two choices: I could whine or I could have fun. After drying my tears and consuming a double-chocolate fudge muffin, I felt strong enough to opt for the fun. So I told Emma that I would be happy to take her friends and her to school each day in my Funmobile.
Since the days when my children were sucking pacifiers, I’ve referred to my car as the Funmobile. Of the two cars we own, the Funmobile is always the vehicle of choice. Why? Because it’s fun! Here are three simple steps you can take to convert your car to a Funmobile at no cost in time or money whatsoever.
Shakespeare was dead wrong when he said, “A car if called by any other name would still smell greasy” (or words to that effect). Just calling your car a Funmobile transforms it into a marvelous work and a wonder, and without any additional detailing. In fact, a dirty car can be more fun than a clean car because you can write cool stuff on the back windshield like “Dad, you’re okay, but I love the Funmobile.” Did you catch the attitude from that last statement about a dirty car? That leads me to #2.
Get excited! Be positive and enthusiastic. Everything is fun. “Only those who wanna have fun can ride in the Funmobile!” Enthusiasm is infectious and once it starts spreading it’s hard to stop. In one trip to school, Emma and her friends played “Corners.” When I made a turn everyone would shift wildly to the side, crash into each other, and shriek at well over 85 decibels. I ask, in all honesty, What can be funner [sic] than that? I’ll tell you what….
As word spread that the Funmobile existed, more kids showed up for rides (with parental permission). One time, there were nine kids in my little four-seater. I told them to make sure they were all buckled in some way. I stated, while driving at 20 miles per hour, “We want to be safe. Otherwise, if we get into a crash, we’ll look like a can of Spaghettios.” Three passengers began singing, “Oh, oh, Spaghettios.”
When I stopped in front of the school, the Principal happened to be out front. Nine kids stepped out of my jocular jalopy one at a time like some kind of circus act. The Principal was astounded. I rolled down my window and said, “If you promise not to tell the cops, I’ll donate to the PTA.” You see, everything is positive when you drive a Funmobile. (Below is a photo of a re-enactment of the “circus act.”)
One of my favorites is to find secret routes. One time, one of my passengers had to pick up something at Walmart. Afterwards, I said, “Should we take the secret route?” Well, duh! So I drove around the back of Walmart past the loading docks. Everyone was delighted.
A word of caution: Don’t let things get out of hand or unsafe. One time, some of my passengers rolled down their windows with the intent of hanging out. I rolled the windows back up. Safety is more important than fun; but even being safe is fun when you’re cruising in the Funmobile. Keep living!
Monday, March 10, 2014
NOTE: Although written for writers, this piece applies to any worthwhile life objective.
If you’re going to fail as a writer, then you might as well get it over with now. Then you can focus on your day job and watch television all night. The following 3 keys are guaranteed to unlock the door to instant failure and free you to flop like a floundering fish on the cold floor of life.
1. Just say no
Why didn’t you think of this before? Stop writing. It’s as simple as that. Firmly inform your laptop that you're done.
Wait for huge blocks of time to open up, and refuse to write until they do. Now that’s commitment! Don’t touch that keyboard until your Muse flies down from Mount Parnassus to reveal the 101 master plots. Failure comes to those who wait.
And don’t listen to barkers like that Trottier fellow who tells you to make realistic writing goals and make time to achieve them. “Writing is its own reward,” he says. What kind of bull crap is that? Remember, success comes one day at a time, but failure is an all-or-nothing deal. You can have it right now by not acting right now. Insist on your story unfolding immediately to you at this instant, or find relief with a TV remote. With any luck, you’ll be asleep before those pesky desires to reach your God-given potential begin to bother you.
2. Listen to those voices
You know which ones. “You’ll never amount to anything,” and “This is the biggest waste of time since Dole ran for president.” And don’t forget to repeat this next one ten times before you fall asleep each night: “I’ll never be Hemingway.” And you never will! Affirm that. Of course, Hemingway will never be you, but that’s beside the point. Face your fears and back off.
When you are tempted to write, seize this thought: “My work is worthless until it is absolutely perfect, and since it can’t ever be perfect, I am the most wretched creature to ever pick up a pencil. My writing is an embarrassment to the free world.” Pay no attention to those who talk about developing your craft or listening to Joseph Conrad’s “inner voice that knows.” What inner voice? That’s just the result of a half digested Whopper rotting in your gut. “Have it your way” and take a nap from the joy of creation.
3. Submit your work prematurely
How can you possibly know when your script or manuscript is ready to be submitted to a potential buyer? It’s never ready. Send that unfinished work out now so that it will be rejected, proving that “those voices” mentioned earlier are right on the mark. Why waste time striving for excellence when you can fail with grace, knowing full well that it wasn’t your best work that was rejected anyway.
And don’t waste time with a marketing plan or research. Just find some names in a directory or book and mail off some half-baked query letters. The rejection slips will give you the perfect excuse to end the writing madness once and for all. Remember, the road to Heaven is paved with a helluva lot of effort. You don’t need the pain.
Most importantly, cloud your mind and medicate. Here, have a beer…and some donut holes. Don’t you feel better with writing out of your life? Now, shuffle up to that big plasma TV and sit down. There, there; everything is going to be just fine. Soon you’ll be unconscious. Nighty night.
What! Can’t sleep? Well then maybe you should keep writing...and keep living. :-)