Save Me, Jeebus!

I can’t believe I didn’t post this before now:

 

 
“In an attempt to end a pledge drive which interrupts a favorite show of his on PBS (a Thames Television British sitcom entitled Do Shut Up), Homer pledges $10,000 to the network. Homer is applauded for saving the network, but it quickly becomes apparent that he does not have the money, prompting pledge drive host Betty White and a mob of characters and personalities from various PBS shows (including Fred Rogers, Yo-Yo Ma, the Teletubbies, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, and Elmo) to chase him through the streets. Fortunately, Reverend Lovejoy saves Homer after he runs into the church. Reverend Lovejoy gets Homer past the mob by hiding him in a bag disguised as a sack of children’s letters to God. Lovejoy puts Homer on a cargo plane to the South Pacific, where he will become a missionary in Micronesia despite Homer’s lack of religious faith and ignorance of his professed Christianity . . .” Wikipedia

 

 

William Kenower Interview

 
   This was my Epiphany Video. Watching my son’s fiancee’, Nicole Persun‘s father, Terry Persun, interviewing William Kenower about his book, Fearless Writing, has changed everything. See why Bill believes that content, not form, is what matters for writers. His own content, what he cares so much about, why he writes: To share his deep belief that Unconditional Love – for life, for others, for our own lives, for our work and art – is why we’re here and should be why we do whatever we do.

 

Time for Some Tom

 
“I’ll say this much: virtually every advancement made by our species since civilization first peeked out of its nest of stone has been initiated by lone individuals, mavericks who more often than not were ignored, mocked, or viciously persecuted by society and its institutions. Society in general maintains such a vested interested in its cozy habits and solidified belief systems that it had rather die — or kill — than entertain change. Consider how threatened religious fundamentalists of all faiths remain to this day by science in general and Darwin in particular.

“Cultural institutions by and large share one primary objective: herd control. Even when ostensibly benign, their propensity for manipulation, compartmentalization, standardization and suppression of potentially disruptive behavior or ideas, has served to freeze the evolution of consciousness practically in its tracks. In technological development, in production of material goods and creature comforts, we’ve challenged the very gods, but psychologically, emotionally, we’re scarcely more than chimpanzees with bulldozers, baboons with big bombs.”

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Read the delightful interview the excerpt, above, was taken from: Reality Sandwich

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“Emotionally, we’re scarcely more than chimpanzees with bulldozers, baboons with big bombs.” Has this ever been more true than now?

 

Faith

   “If a person who fears rejection were suddenly unafraid of it, what might she be capable of? Wouldn’t she be better at everything she does? If she were an artist or musician and didn’t fear how people received her work, wouldn’t she be able to search deep into her soul and make pieces that truly reflect who she is?”

   Jia Jiang, Rejection Proof

   I came across Jia Jiang when Sue and I were listening to TED talks during a several hour drive recently. (Discovering that we have the technology to play things from the Internet through our radio has been a gift that keeps on giving.)
   Jia is an immigrant who, early in his life, was inspired by a Bill Gates’ visit to his hometown in China. As a teenager, Jia came to the U.S. via a high school exchange student program, intending to get started building the next Microsoft.
   Within a few years he earned a cushy job in marketing for a Fortune 500 company, with a six-figure income, got married, and was expecting his first child. He was also miserable. He’d wanted to be an entrepreneur, realize his own vision, live his dream.
   His wife, just weeks from delivering their first child, gave him an astonishing gift: She encouraged him to quit his job and take six-months to put together a tech team and build a company around an app he’d envisioned.
   He and his team worked round the clock and reached a point where a venture capitalist appeared ready to make a major investment in their business.
   Jia was thrilled, so much so that he had nightly dreams that the investment came through and they were on their way to success.
   Except it didn’t. The investor said no. Jia was devastated, to the point of giving up. His wife wouldn’t allow it, and reminded him there were still two of the six months remaining.
   The epiphany in Jia’s life came when he decided that he needed to deal with his fear of rejection. He knew his entrepreneurial heroes, like Bill Gates, would never let being turned down by the first prospective investor be the death of their vision.
   After lots of googling around, he found a website created by a man who believed that the best way to overcome rejection is to seek it out. In essence, to desensitize yourself to it. JasonComely.com
   This appealed to Jia, who decided to create his own list of 100 exercises likely to produce rejection. For example:

   1. Ask the security guy in his office building to borrow $100.
   No. But the man was curious and asked why, even though Jia was too busy fleeing back to his office, in embarrassment, to respond.

   2. Ask for a free “refill” of his cheeseburger at Five Guys Burgers and Fries.
   No. But the guy behind the counter was amused and thought about it for awhile.

   It was number 3 that turned Jia’s world upside down:

 

 
   Jia’s Youtube was a worldwide sensation. He received dozens of requests for radio and TV interviews, job offers, an offer to host his own TV reality show.
   When the Krispy Kreme girl took his request to custom make five doughnuts, linked together like the Olympic Rings, seriously, made them on the spot, and didn’t charge him for them, his idea to desensitize himself to rejection got turned on its head.
   The idea to deliberately solicit rejection became a passion to discover why, on only his third experiment, his outlandish request was granted. Now he wanted to learn about how he could present his goofy requests in ways that encouraged a yes.
   His email inbox, and the comment section of his Youtube, filled up with expressions of gratitude from people who shared his fear of rejection and took heart from watching his goofy request be greeted with enthusiastic acceptance.
   That’s why, a quarter of the way into his book, Rejection Therapy, Jia wrote what is quoted to open this post:

   “If a person who fears rejection were suddenly unafraid of it, what might she be capable of? Wouldn’t she be better at everything she does? If she were an artist or musician and didn’t fear how people received her work, wouldn’t she be able to search deep into her soul and make pieces that truly reflect who she is?”

   That first sentence, “If a person who fears rejection were suddenly unafraid of it, what might she be capable of?” sent me skittering back to Bill Kenower’s Fearless Writing, which I posted about a few weeks ago:

   “To write your story you must love it unconditionally. You must love it simply because you love it, be interested in it simply because you’re interested in it. You don’t love it because other people might love it, or because your writing group praised it, or because you think it will get published and bring you lots of money and win you a bunch of awards – you love it simply because it feels good to focus your attention on it. Most people live conditionally. We think about outcomes and about what pleases other people.”

   (i.e. We are afraid what we love, and want to write about, will be rejected by other people.)

   “Your portal to your greatest creative potential is your unconditional love of what interests you. Open that door, and what you most want in your life will flow through it.”

   Bill Kenower, Fearless Writing

   Jia Jiang discovered the power of ignoring the fear of rejection, of not worry about pleasing other people, of not being concerned about outcomes, but just asking for something. No matter how ridiculous or outlandish. Fully expecting rejection, but being stunned by more than a million views and an avalanche of heartfelt, grateful responses.
   Bill Kenower has discovered the power of just writing something that you love enough to write about, regardless of outcome or what other people will think of it.
   Bill Kenower and Jia Jiang have tapped into the same powerful magic. It dawned on me that I think I know what that magic is, and I think I am beginning to understand it better than I ever have.
   The magic is FAITH.
   What happened to Jia Jiang on only the third day of asking for ridiculous things, just so he could learn to be comfortable with being told no, taught him the importance of asking anyway.
   Just ask. Just write. Trust the power of asking for what you desire, of doing what you love to do.
   Here’s what another teacher said about Faith:

   “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
   “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

   Jesus, Mark 11:23, 24 (KJV)

   If you want Krispy Kreme doughnuts custom made to look like the Olympic Rings, even though you are certain you’ll be laughed out of the doughnut shop . . . just ask.

   Here’s Jia Jiang’s TED Talk, if you want to hear him tell his story himself:

 

 
   Jia Jiang: Just Ask

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
   Bill Kenower: Just Write

   

 

You Had Me At Wacky

 
From the Amazon blurb:

 

 
“This wacky, charming novel…draws you in with humor, then turns out to contain both a suspenseful subplot and a sweet romance….Hilarious and moving.”

You had me at wacky. But I’ll take humor, suspense, romance, hilarity, and … moving.

I’d add heartbreaking. In the bit that follows, Eleanor has made a fool of herself in a rare moment of leaving the emotional cocoon she’s been in since some horrific childhood event involving “Mummy.” Think Mummy Dearest.

She responds to her shame by attempting suicide by alcohol poisoning. She’s discovered, all but dead, by her only real friend.

 

 

Everyone has their own reasons for reading fiction. Above all, I love fiction for illumination, epiphany, literary open heart surgery. This novel is luminous. And it will make your heart better.

 
A little about the debut author, Gail Honeyman:

 

Here’s the full article and author interview: Foyles

 

Natalie Goldberg

We have a wonderful thing about to happen in Port Townsend: an evening with Natalie Goldberg.

 

 
Writing Down the Bones liberates wannabe writers to tell their inner critic to STFU and then to get on with putting words on the page. Anne Lamott does the same thing with Bird by Bird, Bill Kenower with Fearless Writing. These are literary Emancipation Proclamations.

 
“What I hope, when people write, and learn to just keep their hand moving, not good or bad, no judgment, is you start to find out what you really think, see, or feel. And that’s very powerful, because often we walk around and have no idea who we are. Once we connect with that, and understand that, you’re centered and you can actually hear what someone else has to say, and you can clearly say what you have to say.” Natalie Goldberg

 

 
Don’t miss this. Thursday, October 26th, 7 pm, @Writers’ Workshoppe, 820 Water Street, Port Townsend

Why Ask Why?

This video has nothing whatsoever to do with the subject of this post:

 

 
But, these old ‘90s beer ads are still kind of funny and I did steal their tagline. Attribution was called for. (And I do wonder what advertising wunderkind thought it was a good idea to put dry in the name of a beer. Why? I haven’t had one in 12 years, 348 days, but back before I admitted my allergy to alcohol, I didn’t pull a beer out of the fridge because I wanted to feel even more dry.)

I have wasted more time asking why than I want to think about. (Sometime in my 20’s I decided the thing to do when you’re lying in bed is to take advantage of the solitude to figure things out. Forty-plus years later I am unable to shake the habit. I resist, even resent, having to use bedtime for sleep.)

Feeling compelled to figure out why has not served me well:

“Why go back to school and get a graduate degree in English, when I already have this law degree?” “Because I really want to, and I applied and was accepted into the program, and maybe it would mean I could do something I really love,” turned out to not be a good enough answer for me. I never showed up for class.

“Why spend all that time and effort and money when the trip to (wherever) will be over in a week or two and after awhile it’ll be like I never went?” Too often it’s been easier to just not go.

“Why change things around? I’m doing okay with things the way they are.” Okay has become the end game.

 

 
Which brings me to this chapter from Write Within Yourself by one of my favorite writers about writing (and living), Bill Kenower: I Don’t Know Why.

In case you don’t click through to the whole article, here’s the best part, IMHO:

 

 
Why didn’t I know this forty years ago? I would be getting a lot more sleep, probably in some interesting places. I might have written a few books or taught some classes about something – writing and literature – that I love. At the very least, I’d know more about it than I do.

You know what? I’m in catch-up mode from here on out, but I insist it’s not too late to stop asking why?

 

Tattoo Me

   We just returned from a trip to visit my mother and sisters in Alberta. (They didn’t start out in Canada, but all moved there around the time I was a senior in college, beginning with my parents, who moved to a ranch in BC, along with my youngest sister. Meanwhile my other two sisters, who went to college in Alberta, married Canucks. I’m the Remainer. (Although the Trumpocalypse has me re-visiting that decision.)
    One of my Canadian nephews is a gifted artist – Mark Schmidt Art – and musician – Invin – and professional tattoo artist – Mark Schmidt Tattoos. Knowing I was going to be visiting his shop was enough to push me past the edge of wondering if I should get a simple pair of tattoos. I had been daydreaming about having some favorite words “typed”, in typewriter-like script, on my inner forearms.
    On the left inner forearm:

 

 
   There’s a reason this is the title of the novel I’m working on, creating my “shitty first draft,” as Anne Lamott calls them. Shitty First Draft
   Jeebus (or, Jebus) has a wonderful backstory. From my first draft:
   I’m no missionary, I don’t even believe in Jeebus! … Save me, Jeebus! – HOMER SIMPSON (The Simpsons – Episode 15, Season 11 – “Missionary:Impossible”)
   Jeebus – Variation of “Jesus” first invented by Duke Ellington so as not to be beaten by nuns. Borrowed by Frank Zappa and, from there, by Matt Groening.Urban Dictionary – Comment by “mavi”, August 30, 2007)
   Besides the lovely backstory, I like the idea of personalizing the name of Jesus. Just because it’s personal. And, it gives a little tweak to the shibboleth, “What Would Jesus Do.” Give that name to a redeemer figure in a novel and I’m keen to write that story, even if it’s just for my own edification and nobody reads it.
   Turn the question into a tattoo and I’ve given myself the power of icons and symbols. The tattoo gives me creative electricity. And a conversation starter.
   On the right inner forearm:

 

 
   This is borrowed from Jitterbug Perfume, my favorite Tom Robbins novel.
   It means Lighten up!
   The best way to show how Tom uses the word is to look to the final pages of the novel. The main female character is Kudra, a woman of many talents, including distilling marvellous perfumes. Near the end of the story, after following her through centuries (she and her partner, Alobar, discovered the secrets of immortality), she winds up, unexpectedly, in the staging area for the Afterlife.
   In Egyptian mythology the Afterlife begins at a wharf where ghostly ships and barges come and go. Your Afterlife destiny is determined when the Wharfmaster, a young woman, has her assistant cut out your heart. Still beating, it is weighed on a balance against a feather. If your heart is lighter than a feather, you win immortality. If not, you will most likely vanish in a poof of spirit. If you are close to lighthearted, you may win a birth on an eternal party barge, marked HELL on one side, and HEAVEN on the other. You’re in for an eternal party, which for some will be hell, for others heaven.
   Kudra just wants out, back to her earthly version of immortality. The Wharfmaster is sympathetic and directs her to look for a door that will lead back to earthly life. Kudra is flummoxed, because there are many doors. The Wharfmaster directs her to a door marked ERLEICHDA. Lighten up.
   I’m someone who needs that reminder almost constantly, to ward off habitual high anxiety and to stop taking myself, and everything and everybody else, so damned seriously.
   Now I have it tattoed on my body where I can easily see it. As can others, giving me another conversation starter.
   Not that I’m looking for conversations. I’m a card-carrying introvert. But I do like the right kind of conversations. Like the ones that might be lit off by my tattoos.

 

More Fearless Writing

 
I’ve become a great fan of William Kenower’s book, Fearless Writing. So, I was more than a little interested when he posted a link to a recent interview with Blogger, Kathy Pooler, who has a website called Memoir Writer’s Journey.

I’ve snipped a few paragraphs from that interview, because they illustrate why Bill Kenower’s book is so effective. It’s as much or more about how to live as about how to write. Try this: Read the paragraphs below as if Bill was talking about your life, not about a story you’re writing. E.g “To create you Life, you must… etc.”:

“To write your story you must love it unconditionally.You must love it simply because you love it, be interested in it simply because you’re interested in it. You don’t love it because other people might love it, or because your writing group praised it, or because you think it will get published and bring you lots of money and win you a bunch of awards – you love it simply because it feels good to focus your attention on it. Most people live conditionally. We think about outcomes and about what pleases other people.

“Your portal to your greatest creative potential is your unconditional love of what interests you. Open that door, and what you most want in your life will flow through it.

“Confidence is accepting your inherent self-worth. It is not a product of craft or really even experience, although experience is often what teaches us that we were born worthy of telling any story we want to tell. When you rest in your confidence it will be the most natural thing you can possibly do. At first, it will feel strange and new and maybe thrilling, but that is only because you are used to the discomfort of thinking you are not worthy. Soon you get used to your inherent self-worth, and then people will start saying, ‘You’re so confident!’ and you will think, ‘It’s not actually that big a deal.’

“There is no failure. There’s only lifelong learning to find your inherent fearlessness.”