Saturday, June 28, 2014

What's so hard about goal based thinking?

Working very hard.

What do you consider a good yardstick for hard work?
Someone who jackhammers a road for eight hours in 90 degree heat works very hard.  The man in the bucket who guided the take down of a gigantic tree in my backyard had to be super precise and also worked very, very hard.

Can thinking be considered hard work? 
Yes it can.  It is very hard work especially if you are not used to thinking and you have to call back all your sequential thinking molecules and tell them to show up in one place and stay there.

What's so hard about goal based thinking?
You know how you have to coral wayward cattle and coax and baby them into a group - and go after the strays and bring them back and then the others are veering in all directions?   That's how it is to sustain goal based thinking.  The thoughts just want to stray and you need them to stay put.

What is goal based thinking?
It is thinking that is laser focused on one outcome.  It can't flit around from "Should Rosie really go back on The View" to  "Can Facexercises really lift my neck?" and stay fixed until your mind and the goal are one and locked in an embrace.  Yep.  Locked in an embrace.

Does that happen?  I mean about your mind melding with the goal?
Yes.  At some point, that's what happens.  You get lost in what you are doing. Your mind delivers the goods you've ordered.

And why are we talking about this?
For two weeks, Amazon has attached me to the process that will result in a re-publishing of one of my books.  I received the copyeditor's marked manuscript and learned of all of the many missteps that had been embedded in my original six-hundred plus page manuscript even though it had been seriously published (and copyedited) by one of the big six.  I learned (among many things) that the timeline had some glitches, that Laurence Olivier did not play King Lear on film until 1983,  that the word camouflage was not in the language  until 1917 and that the word beatnik was first used in 1958.   Also, there were too many Georges and too many Leilas in the book.
I learned how to use Word's "Track Changes" apparatus (it made me nervous and nervouser). I also learned that my knowledge of grammar is lacking and that I should re-think changing tenses capriciously.  The that/which use debacle and the comma debacle is needlessly complicated.  No.  Really. 
I went through the entire manuscript twice, re-working, re-writing, re-checking Arabic language idioms.   There are many ways to spell tabouleh, kibbeh, sheik, megnuneh (crazy person).  Right now Spellcheck is flashing alerts.

Is there any take away good news?
If you keep it up, hard work can be addictive.  You crave it.  Little else feels as good.
As for me, I'm going to leave the computer screen today and go sit by the Atlantic Ocean. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Yes, dust mites poop, too.

I wish I could interest Apple in doing something about dust.   Dust is the last frontier to be conquered but it lives under the radar.  Apple could call it idust and immediately it would gain attention and status.  

The problem with dust is that it is relentless, ubiquitous, universal, insolent, an equal opportunity pest.  The folks over at SC Johnson want us to believe lemon-scented Pledge is the answer (a double insult one for the fake lemon smell and the other for the idea that you should smear a sticky mist over an already horrid, stale bunch of debris). 

What is dust?  It's everything that comes off of you and off of your pets and off of the ground and off of all the fabrics in your house and whatever is pooped out by bugs and mites.  Yes, mites poop, too.
What's up?

I feel if Apple took dust over for me, it would tame it, contain it, put it in a well-designed case and finally make it so precious it would all be transported to the Apple warehouse.  Oh, god, yes.  Apple might even make dust talk to me, like Siri on iphone.  As I'm lying in bed I could whisper in the silence, "Hey, dust, are you still there, under this bed?"
I am.
Will you ever go away.
I think about you every day.
That's sweet.
It's because you make me cough and sneeze.
Yeah.  I know.
But you have no purpose.
I teach you to endure.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Drying the silverware by hand.

This morning I was drying silverware by hand.  Why, you ask.  Because the dishwasher soap had a fake lemon scent that almost made me retch (love that word) and yes I could still smell it after all the rinse cycles of my Kitchen Aid and it permeated the entire kitchen just from opening the container for a few seconds. 

Drying silverware is a zen activity. Wiping down the little bowl of the spoon tricks the mind into getting off the thought loop.  I had an un-chore like thought and I was thinking it of another.  What is her essence?  What is my essence?  What is it that I want so badly that it drives every single act?

Good ciabatta bread and cheese. 
You complete me.
Beyond that. 
Some humidity in this overheated house. (It's still cold in the morning).
No.  Think about it.  If you get to the singular word at the core of all your hopes and dreams.  Reduce it to one word.
Yes.  All my behavior, planning and driving force is to achieve comfort.
Comfort?  Huh.  Like a good mattress?
I'll see you tonight.
No.  The comfort of knowing you are okay with yourself.  That you are okay with your journey and you are okay with your progress and you are okay with your behavior toward others even the neighbor who runs landscaping equipment from dawn til dusk.
This morning I am okay.  Even though I'm reeling from an embarrassing marketing video I made that looks awful and sounds awful and even though I got up in the middle of the night and ate Haagen Dazs pineapple/coconut ice cream (how is that not like crack?) I was okay with myself.  I was okay with the path and I was okay with the progress.
Stop hounding me, I want to get clean!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Grey Lady gets a good scolding. (sort of).

I'm going to recommend a really good blogger.  Her name is Pat Holt and she has had every job you can have in the book world:  editor, publicity, etc. Pat is very smart and she analyzes current events as they relate to books and the publishing revolution. You finish one of her posts  and feel that you know the ripples that lead to the very heart of what happened. She always makes me feel smarter.  This week her post has to do with the recent shenanigans at the Paper of Record.  The Grey Lady.

Here's the link to Holt Uncensored:

I also highly recommend Pat's post on Donna Tartt's current book, The Goldfinch that won this year's Pulitzer. She made me understand why I loved it and why I was puzzled at parts of it and why I was sorry when it ended 700+ pages later.   Pat will explain it all to you.  It was a long book and I've heard people say, "I didn't finish.  I lost interest."  That to me is like saying, "I was watching this baby tossed out of a burning building while a fireman waited to catch him but I didn't stay for the whole thing. I lost interest."  How could you stop reading The Goldfinch??????

Here's the thing about why Pat always leaves you better off than she found you.  You hear about a news item and you sort of get what happened but there are a lot of little question marks that you'd like answered but not enough to pursue it further.  I wanted to know more about the female editor of the New York Times who was fired - there was a lot of nuance surrounding that story but little hard context.  Pat supplies the context and although she might not have answered my particular questions she gave me a broader and better understanding of what took place.  Whereas before I was disturbed by what happened.  After reading Holt Uncensored I was mad and disgusted.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

You must read this book in the summer, preferably at the beach.

I’m going to skip the big analysis and review The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair as if we were talking on the deck over a cup of coffee. 

What made you read it? 
It was about writers who have phenomenal success. And greedy unprincipled publishers. Greedy agents.  Duh. I’m a writer.

Is that the plot?
It was the “shadow plot.” An old successful writer/professor mentors a student on how to be a real writer.  Boxing is involved.  You’ve got to be willing to get beat up.

That doesn’t sound compelling.
The rest of the world loves this book for the multi-faceted mystery factor: solving an old murder to free an innocent party.  In France it won three literary prizes and it’s an international best seller and the kid (the author) was only twenty-eight when he wrote it.

So it was a literary book?
Not at all.  It was breathtakingly not well written but there was murder in it and a small town and a lot of local people who were trying (unrealistically) to get something from the two famous writers who came to their town. And a very crazy pastor.   It also had a great seaside New England house and a very annoying young girl who happened to be beautiful.

So it was compelling?
Exactly.  Unexpected twists and turns right to the end.  People in small towns can be pretty crazy.  Everyone thinks “Small town = good.”  I say,  “Small town = crazy times a hundred.”

Would you recommend it?
Only as a summer beach read.  You must read it in the summer and preferably at the beach.