There’s a part of me that hate going to writer’s conferences and groups. There’s a lot of advice and egos that I don’t like surrounding myself with, having to deal with a lot of that at work already and the corporate structure already takes bland to the next level.
In saying that, I do go every once in a while to see if the are good publishing ideas I can leech. There was this self published writer who puts out books several times a year and from what he says, which I took with many pinches of salt, then drank a cup of seawater from the Pacific, is doing alright. A woman had asked a question and that guy jumped on her, stating that you shouldn’t call your book your baby: it’s a product. You’re writing a product, marketing a product, and ultimately selling a product.
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by
any other name would smell as sweet
I watched the movie PRECIOUS, a movie based on the book PUSH. Afterward, what I love to do is watch the special features on the DVD. The author of the book, Ramona Loftin, Sapphire, was hesitant on letting her book go, her baby as she affectionately called it, to be made into a movie. If this guy jumped on her for calling her book her baby, I think she would have tore him a new hole to go along with the one that expelled all that hot air.
I know several very successful self-help authors who call every book their baby. They would be a little bit more enlightened when it comes to this, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that some writers, not this guy whose ego jumped in his way, just care about their projects. And why wouldn’t they? Many of us put our hearts and souls into our work because its a work of art. And if we are to believe the famed photographer, Rodney Lough, art is the language of the soul.
Chancing on another writer’s group with the subject on self publishing, I heard an architect turned writer that the DA VINCI CODE was a horrible book. Then the leader of the group said the publishing world publishes things like HARRY POTTER like it as a bad thing.
Oh mah lawd.
So there are two things going on here. On the one hand, the guy with a lot of hot air has a point, artists who want to make it big in the big world of big business has to think like a business person. No doubt. And artists who want to make it big have to create works that are commercial, meaning that the babies we’re creating can be sold as a product.
I remember watching a documentary about how Asians are portrayed in Hollywood. And Justin Lin who directed the new up coming FAST AND FURIOUS movie was one of the featured subjects, given that he’s Asian and works in Hollywood and took a huge chance by making the amazing BETTER LUCK TOMORROW, an Asian-cast movie. Yah. When he was in film school, he saw both sides of the fence: film makers who were pure artists, stating they would never sell out, and those who were willing to sell out. Lin said something that I’d never forget, the only thing I thought worth remembering from that documentary: it’s hard to sell out.
So as writers, we have to determine what we want out of our projects, which can vary. Do we want to do it for the fun of it, do we want some mid level success, or do we want the whole freakin’ world to read it? Since we cannot control what happens, we see evidence of this in the industry since no one really knows what makes a best seller, I suggest do it because you find it fun, do it because you have something to say, do it for whatever reason that gets you to write, but do it if you want and let the world decide if they want to read it.
Most people who go to Hawaii spend a lot of money on two basic things: Airfare and hotel accommodations. You can mitigate the price of airfare by points or planning way ahead of time. Combining them with hotel and car can definitely help. But if you do a little research and maybe talk to people who frequent the H.I., they can help reduce the cost and spend your cheddah (cash for you Ebonics challenged) on other overpriced things like food and tours.
Hawaii Estimated Arrival
The Bus, Hawaii’s bus system, is incredibly convenient and cheap. There’s even an app called Da Bus that you can download that will give you real time arrivals and maps. Combine that with Google Maps and you got the islands in the palm of your hand. Why do people say that? Where else is the palm gonna be? Da Srings? For at least Oahu, The Bus takes you pretty much everywhere including the North Shore. It’ll take time due to the many stops the bus makes, but for the month that I was there, I saved a lot from not renting a car, which by the way you can get good discounts at discounthawaiicarrental.com.
I sound like a freakin’ commercial.
When I go with a girlfriend, I usually stay at hotels. The ladies like the comfort. But when I go alone, I book a stay at hostels. They’re cheap, convenient due to their proximity to the beach, and the best part is the communal kitchens/common area. They’re highly conducive to meeting people from all over the world. Many think hostels are for young people like us (wink), probably due to their associated name youth hostels. But there’s no age limitation, and most have rules like no drugs, alcohol, and quiet times at ten or eleven at night.
Issue with the hostels in Hawaii, specifically Waikiki, is that all of them will let you stay for a limited time, like two weeks. Some even require you to show a plane ticket back where you came from. I’ve never really understood the logic until I found the one hostel that let people stay indefinitely, which worked for my month stay. When I arrived I mumbled, “What da fuck?”
To say this was the worst hostel that I’ve stayed at would only glaze over the real issue that the Hawaiian Islands is facing, the homeless. My first room consisted of three bunk beds, six guys, and one bathroom.
Now, ladies. If you’ve ever lived with a man, stayed over a man’s place, or gone into a man’s bathroom, you understand keeping the water closet clean isn’t our number one priority. Getting you to his place was (wink). Now, imagine six dudes with little care to a bathroom that don’t belong to them, what do you think the condition of that bathroom would look like? And continue that image with blokes that give less care to hygiene cuz they’s took a dip in the Pacific Ocean where things there take a piss. And, yes, I’m talking about kids. Talk about B to the O!
The guys in my room were smoking cigarettes, pot, drinking beer, and laughin’ an’ hollerin’, and keeping me awake. I have to wake up at 5 freakin’ A to the freakin’ M for work. And all these guys have night jobs. With rent being so cheap, many locals live in these places because the only real industry in Hawaii is tourism.
To make things worse, there’s no lockers for me to use. Steal my iPhone, my wallet, my iPad, whatever. It’d suck, but they can be replaced. Steal my work laptop, and I’d lose my job. Every single hostel I’ve ever stayed at had lockers. You know, things to lock yo shit in. If we be livin’ all togethers an’all, with strangers, peeps I’ve never met before, I’s gonna need me a locker.
And what really capped off this wonderful experience was the process of checking in. What I didn’t know then, was the front desk was really just a wooden box at the front of their garage, filled with parking spaces for four cars. This woman, who liked to dress like a man, signed me in with their fancy advanced system of erasing my name from the reservation list, a piece of paper written with pencil, then penning me onto another piece of paper, then logging me into their log book, then writing me a receipt, highlighting it so it’s highlighted, and telling me I had to give that back to them along with the room key in order to get my $35 cash deposit back. Can.’t ya just check my name off your log book that’s written in pen. Why do you need this flimsy receipt to give me my deposit back? And let’s talk about this young woman’s enthusiasm. Done.
What I had found out was most of the front desk people were residents of the hostel. They got free rent for working there. Many quit, which is a small indicator of the working conditions presented by this fine establishment.
Fortunately, I moved to another room with a big black dude, who was the literal definition of gentle giant. Easily the nicest guy in the whole hostel, and very considerate. Another fine dude who spent five years in lockup and actually learned his lesson. And a fifty-seven year old dance instructor and street performer doin’ what he luvs.
My new roomies were awesome! Much better than those whipper snappers, who didn’t realize that closing the screen door didn’t prevent smoke or their loud voices from entering the room. And I don’t know why they gave me a key, since no one ever bothered to lock the door, which left the issue of my work laptop.
I could carry it around, but having to worry about that thing 24/7 for the next four weeks would have sucked ass. And yes I have, so I know. Actually, sucking ass was better. Again, fortunate for me, the manager of the place was nice enough to lock it in her office, a door like any door in your house, accessed by one key. No dead bolt, no alarm system (yeah, right. Remember the front desk?), no guard dog. Fantastic. And this woman looked like death with bags under her eyes. You know how you get those baggy eyes when you wake up from an unsatisfying nights sleep? Beat up bags, not the luxury kind from Luis Vuitton. The kind where they’ve seen Hell, spent a long time there, then for some reason Satan said, “All right. I’ve decided to let you leave,” when He’s never let anyone else leave before since the beginning of time. Those bags. But I used my manly wiles to get her to lock up my laptop everyday, a slight inconvenience on her part. Then she got that look in her eye, and I stopped using my manly wiles.
This sounds like an article about not using hostels. Nope. It’s an article of what to look for in a hostel. Do they have rules about alcohol, drugs, and quiet time? Is there plenty of parking? Free Weefee? Is there a real communal kitchen. This one was located in another guests’ room. Serious? Read the damn reviews, which I did and should have gotten the clue when I saw better reviews at the other hostels. Do the dregs of society live at the hostel? Unlikely if there’s limited stay, which most should have. And location (the one redeeming factor here). This one was located in Waikiki, which is what I wanted.
Most hostels have semi-private and private rooms, so lockers may not be a concern if you’re reserving that. But all hostels should have lockers. Jeez.
Again, hostels are a great way to meet different people, stay close to the sights, and save cash. You can meet people at hotels, but I found they aren’t as conducive.
One last thing is make sure the reviews state the rooms are clean. Bed bugs are a real issue. I was bitten no less than a hundred times, sometimes over dozen a day. I get Hawaii is a tropical place, and mosquitos are supercharged there, but I got bit a lot while working on my bed. Oh, yeah…my office:
Having lived in Hawaii for the month of March was an interesting experience on too many levels for a single article. But the center of it all has been a spiritual experience. And not the kind where I’ve found Gawd, and Gawd spoke to me through the gates of Heaven, and I throw all my materialistic wears out and forgo wearing clothes as I become free of any shame, and blah blah the fucking blah.
Many people have asked me if living there has inspired my writing.
Others state how lucky I am to vacation there for so long.
Well, I had to wake up at 5 AM Hawaii time, so I can log in at 8 AM PST. I know. Poor me. But that’s no vacation.
You’re still lucky to have that freedom, they say.
For sure. No doubt.
Many years ago, I saw an interview with Brandon Lee, Bruce Lee’s son, and he was talking about the movie THE CROW. He stated something to the effect that nothing is meaningless, that even the smallest task like brushing our teeth is important, not in regards to dental health, but just the task itself. How many full moons will we ever see, he stated? Hell. How many moons in any phase will we see?
No one is ever guaranteed tomorrow, and this isn’t a sadistic statement as much as a simple fact. Filming the last scene of the movie, Brandon was shot by accident on set, rushed to the hospital, but the operation to remove the bullet that had lodged against his spine wasn’t successful, and he passed.
This simple statement wasn’t lost on me as I sat on the beach in Waikiki. Because the rainy season extends into March, I did my best to see every single sunset. To see the Pacific, the grandest of all oceans, for now anyways, to engulf that great ball of fiya, fire for those not in the know, is a rare treat for most mainlanders.
A sunset by any other name is still damn awesome. And here’s the funny part, sunsets are fake. Or the use of that word is fake.
The people of today consider themselves very smart, technologically advanced, aware beings. Though we throw around terms like sunrise and sunsets like those are real things. Like the Earth is still flat. The sun never sets, nor does it rise. But that doesn’t make it any less beautiful. What is it about these moments that amaze us?
I think it’s one of those rare times when we marvel at the beauty of the world and nothing enters our mind. That to me—Peace & Quiet—is the ultimate spiritual experience. Well…sex is one, too, but peace and quiet is not elements of that act. TMI?
Peace. Quiet. When our minds are free from everything and anything possible at that moment is possible. Ideas come from this place. Dreams emanate from this space. Connection comes from this place. True connection anyways.
And the times when I wrought myself out of that connection was when I thought about how many more of these will I ever see? Here, my characters in my book understand forever moments. Moments that stretch into eternity, not through memory, but where time itself just doesn’t matter anymore. Only this moment matters because it’s the only moment where we can have any effect. And the effect is really only us.
In Asian numerology, this is a bad sign. In Chinese, the number four is a homophone of die, words that sound the same but spelled differently. Well you ain’t spellin’ in Chinese, but those two characters sound eerily alike. So Asians tend to think da numbah foh is bad ruck. And at the same time, they love the number eight because it sounds like prosperity and fortune. So when house hunting, we slanty eye folks tend not to buy a home with a number four in the address.
Now, of course, if I wrote the date as 4/4/2013, then there’s really no importance to that date except a death of an icon, Robert Ebert.
I’ve been a fan of Siskel and Ebert since my childhood days. And I’ve always been a huge fan of movies. As a storyteller, I’ve always read critiques from people who I’ve grown to trust. Mick LaSalle is one. His use of the little man in a chair is sorta like the four star rating that Ebert used.
But a lot has been written about Ebert, his genius, giving, and kind nature. For me to add to it since I’ve never met the man would be useless. However, finding critics of anything in your field of art is always a good idea.
There were reviews of Ebert’s that I totally agreed with, both good and bad films. Then there were ones that I completely and vehemently disagreed with. His assertion that KICK ASS was just too violent and ludicrous I thought missed the point of the movie. And his four star review of PROMETHIUS was missing the issue of the vast plot holes it presented. Even if the plot holes were on purpose to make a statement, it was a bad statement lost in the sea of holes.
So what’s the importance of reading critical reviews, especially if I’ve expressed in other articles not to listen to reviews good or bad because they can blind you to your works’ truth? Reading others’ view of a story outside of our own works, for example, can open your eyes to different aspects and opinions on storytelling.
In his review of PROMETHIUS, he talks a lot about the strong women in the movie and that made me think about the women in my books. Are they strong? Or do I move them into the position of supporting wife, daughter, background fodder?
My point: Well written reviews can open your minds. On slow days at work (ahem), I often find myself reading Ebert’s reviews, including old ones, and the Suntimes.com has done an incredible job of importing reviews from the days before the Internet. My quest was often to learn and expand my definition of what a good story was—is, a never-ending journey.
And that leads us to his legacy. His reviews will remain in the blogosphere, and his ability to open minds will be far reaching.
Entering my fourth week living in Hawaii, I find myself a bit lonely and go off looking for parties and get-togethers. So I go to this guy’s 65-foot boat, which he told a woman is big (compensating?), and enjoy Waikiki’s Friday night fireworks, a regular thing. Everyone brings food and drink, the owner of the boat fires up the BBQ, and friends and strangers talk.
One woman from Taiwan, I think, sulks about her Apple stock. Back in September it was trading above $700 per share, and was da most valuable company on da planet. Sorry. My Hawaiian came out a little. Now it pingpongs in the mid 400′s. As much as I love Apple, I don’t own stock cuz no one really knows how stocks will behave, AAPL being the most recent and best example. (Just a note: I’ve done a little research and there’s no real reason for the stock’s downfall, save for emotional sell off due to false rumors.)
This same woman announced for Steve Jobs’ revival, which would scare the shit out of me if it happened, and shakes her tiny fist at the overcast sky. Being an Apple fan, I’m prone to reading everything about the fruit company, even though I may not invest in it, except to give my money to buy those precious–my precious–products. So I said that it wasn’t due to Jobs’ death that the stock fell, or else the stock would have fallen when his death was announced in October of 2011, and that back in September of last year, the stock had grown to its highest ever.
Then the popular guy in our group stated it was! He went on to say that Apple’s map debacle would never have happened had Jobs been alive. People have very short memories because Steve had released products that tanked like MobileMe. Jobs also said, when meeting President Obama for the first time, that he’d be a one-term president. Even the chosen one isn’t right all the time.
In vain, I try to give my opinion, but the popular guy shook his head and spoke over me, shelling his diatribe, the same crap that helped pummel the stock in the first place, none of it having any basis. My ego stepped in front of me and puffed his broad, massive, humongous, armor plated chest. I, on the other hand, kept quiet.
As an artist, not only do I have to read people, but myself–my ego almost getting me in trouble for arguing with people who regurgitate emotional baseless articles about Apple. Those two would never have listened to me, despite the fact that I was wearing an Apple cap. Not that people wearing Apple caps would know everything about Apple, but maybe I would have a different opinion, given that this is a get-together and we’re here to converse.
You may ask why I stopped myself? Well, sometimes I feel that I don’t connect with people, and I’ve asked myself why? Normally, the reason is that I judge them. When you judge someone, like that person is below you, you can’t connect with them. That’s how a lot of slave owners got away with mistreating slaves, slaves aren’t human. They disconnected themselves from the real truth.
There were two other guys that were friends with the popular dude, and immediately I read them as being a little closed minded. That’s me pre-judging them, so I throw that notion away in an attempt to connect. One of them brought pork bellies to the BBQ, and I said yuck. It’s pure fat. The one who brought it looked toward the horizon and said you only live once, and the other stated once in a while is ok, it’s the accumulation that you have to worry about. I agree with that. My vice is ice cream, and I consume that once a week. But pork belly? I think that’s a bit worse than ice cream. But they slurped it up like it was their last meal before the needle.
Then the conversation got to iPhones. Somehow we got to talking about pricing, and I said that you can get an iPhone for free on a two-year contract, if you’re ok to settle for older tech. The guys lectured me saying their has never been an iPhone for free.
Now, at this point I could have pulled my iPhone and proved them wrong. But what’s the point. My initial read of them was correct. They’re in their own little club, and anyone who brings their own opinion will be met with opposition. Does that mean that I don’t like anyone with their own opinion? No, that’s stupid. But a debate can only be held if opinions are given, not stopped. Does that mean I should always rely on my first impression of others. Yep. But I give them a chance to disprove it. And in this case, they only proved it.
Into my second week of living in the H.I., I fly to da Big Island, better known as Hawaii. People have told me that it’s very country. Through the small window of the small plane, the kind that papers write about having crashed on desert islands, I see acres of plots of land, agriculture, and tiny houses placed in the middle. It’s very country.
I book a tour to the famous lava flows. What I didn’t realize was a ten mile round trip hike to the flows over barren, treacherous terrain that is made up of 50% silica, another word for glass. One of the requirements for this trip were pants, not leggings, but pants. One fall usually ends with cuts. Since I only packed shorts, I wore shorts. Live and learn.
We start the hike and quickly find out that the terrain is treacherous. I think a 4X4 truck would keel over. Every step sounded like glass breaking under our shoes. Everywhere you look is just cold lava where a community once lived. Our ranger said that houses still in this area has been built over the last eight years, people who are unwilling to let their land go, and insurance companies don’t offer coverage to them because…well…it’s lava. You can’t stop lava. If it flows toward your wooden home, then pack up and say good-bye.
What seem like years, two hours go by, the sun had set. The ranger warned us: if you see a glowing crack, that means it’s hot. Duh. Don’t put your hand over it. Duh. We ain’t stupid! One of the tourists call out and point to a glowing crack. We whip out our cameras and snap away like little boys ogling a topless woman. I stick my hand over the crack and yank it back. Yup. It’s hot.
At this point, we’re about a mile away from the flows:
Can you see it? It’s the little red dot.
Here, the ranger said we’re about a quarter mile away:
Getting closer and it feels like a hot summer day. And bam!
We were lucky because an earlier group stated that the flows had stopped. But when we got there, a small hole burst open and lava oozed out. When I say burst, I mean, there was no flow, then there was. A snail after ten shots of bad vodka moved faster. But it was amazing. I was about fifteen yards away, but any closer and the heat would start melting my Nike shoes.
I think tens of thousands of tourists come to the Big Island specifically to see this. It’s the only place on da planet where new land is being created. As we trudged our way toward the flows, a lot of what we walked over was anywhere from a few hours to several days old. Most people never walk on any type of earth, given the concrete jungle that we live in. So to walk on new earth, and then to witness new earth being born is amazing. All of us watched this flow for what seemed like an eternity.
Then we hike another quarter mile and see this:
How often do we see ocean water combat red hot lava? It’s like two opposites hashing it out, making brand new land. Land that someday, if we humans are still around, an agent will sell. To think we can own that is stupid, but oh well.
For me, I’ve always loved the creation of art. When I hike through San Francisco, I love watching street performers. They’re creating art right in front of our eyes. I think that’s why we love certain reality shows like American Idol, or theater, or live music, or even Cirque du Solei. We want to live in the moment, but when it comes to our own lives, we don’t. So we succumb to something like cooking shows because they’re not only taking risks by being in a competition, but they’re creating something new, something from nothing. It’s pretty amazing stuff. My vice is Design Star on the HGTV channel.
Back to the flows. I’m not sure I’ll be back. It’s quite an effort to get there. I’ll never forget it because I have pictures. And because the experience of getting there, seeing something like that, then not wanting to leave, but we do, is a cool experience to be had, much like being in da Hawaiian Islands.
One funny story: The ranger said if we needed to pee, we should let him know. He doesn’t want to lose a tourist and have that reputation fowl our time here. As it happened, I needed to go and headed over a small hill. This way, I’ll get privacy, not that anyone would shine a light to watch me pee, and hope its far enough away where the smell of pee won’t reach the rest of the group. As I peed, the sound of sizzle on the hot rock startle me. It’s not a normal thing for me to pee and here sizzling. Then the smell of urine punches my nostrils. Whoa. Have you ever walked by an alleyway and realize people use that alleyway to pee in? Now multiply that by a thousand, add heat, mugginess, and downwind. Yuck.
My characters who are both warriors and hunters understand that concept of downwind. I apparently do not. Worse was when I trekked back to my group, that downwind blew toward us and carried with it my boiled pee, fowling that area. Live and learn.
One suggestion if you do go to the lava flows. Do wear pants. We almost made it out when two people fell. One man fell on his hand and cut his palm open. Another woman fell on her shin, but she wore leggings. Rolling her leggings back revealed she suffered some deep bruising in its early stages and several cuts. Ouchy.
All artists draw from experiences in life. Not that we must have them in order to be good storytellers, but, like dirty nuggets of gold, they help create space in our minds and allow our emotions and creative and insightful thoughts to come to us. And sometimes, outside of any artistic endeavor, it reminds me of what’s important to me in life.
Sitting at the Island Vintage Coffee in my third day living in Hawaii, for a month anyway, my first day filled me with events that went beyond my expectation.
Downtown Honolulu has a first Friday art walk, and it was something I wanted to do, loving the Oakland First Fridays Arts Festival. Think massive street party filled with live street bands, performers, galleries, chains of food trucks, and merchandise only found locally. It’s like ten blocks of fantastic experience with alleyways intermingled.
Honolulu’s paled in comparison–one live band, two blocks of stuff, and a smattering of artists struggling to find their place in their world. I had met up with a group of people to go on this walk, none of them had ever experienced Oakland’s, and my failing to explain to them the grandness of it all, despite Oaktown’s reputation, didn’t do the other city by the bay nuthin.
I did meet this beautiful woman with depth and sensed a connection. So we walked and talked and people watched. We slowly got to know each other and things seemed to go well. Then I found out she was leaving the H.I. in the morning following the next day. To make things a little worse, her ride wanted to leave and so she had to as well.
While sitting alone in a restaurant, I witness someone throwing a bottle at another man’s face for reasons unbeknown to me, then watched a Capoeira demonstration, which was awesome, saw a homeless woman drop someteen dollars, pointed at her then her money and she raised her hang loose hand and stared at me, and stared at me, and stared at me for a lot longer than I felt comfortable with, then went back to the hostel to find my young roommates hollering’ it up, preventing the sandman from calling. That was my first day in the Hawaiian Islands.
Oh, did I mention the hookers stalking the streets? Yeah, I found them while walking off the main strip of Waikiki. Yes, Hawaiian women are naturally beautiful, so…yeah…and no I did not.
Next morning, I looked at my phone and that woman from the night before asked if she could tag along with me to the North Shore. We drove the perimeter of Oahu, saw a sleeping sea turtle, and she treated me to a Polynesian Fire God hamburger, which was as spicy as it sounds, tried the famed Fumis Fresh Shrimp truck, then drove about a quarter of a mile to find another famed Fumis Fresh Shrimp truck, only to find another farther down the highway. “Shady” she yelled, and we both laughed.
We decided to settle down at a beach and catch some Hawaiian sun and entered Waimea Bay. The winds were whisking up the waves to the point where the current was able to swallow unskilled swimmers into the Pacific Ocean, us, and the lifeguard had to announce a warning. He suggested to us that we hit Turtle Bay Resort, which has sort of an alcove, hint: you two don’t belong in here’s torrential waves. Good thing we did cuz it was exactly what we wanted. For the next few hours, we talked about life, love, kids, passions, what hers were, told her about my soul search that lead me to writing, and then I found out that she was going to stay for a few more days, but had to leave for personal reasons.
Hmm. Puzzle. Let’s see if I can gain her trust enough to reveal what that is.
We continued to talk about our experiences with Hawaii, well my love for it, my heartbreaking point of having to cancel my home purchase to stay with my ailing mom (sympathy card, gentlemen), and she blurted out something about a boyfriend.
Sucker punch in the nuts. My nuts. Not hers. Wait. She don’t have none. Wait! She doesn’t have none–any.
Her trip to Hawaii was a response to his inability to commit. I’ll go as far as that.
Doing what I do as a former mentor of children, I told her that she should just end it with this guy, move up to Nor Cal, and date me.
Right. Remember, I have no balls cuz she sucker punched them, flat. Not that I consoled her, but more listened and offered advise when the conversation seemed to point to it. In the end, she left earlier than scheduled to be with him, and that’s sweet.
After I dropped her off, there was a feeling of lost connection because I realized something. I wasn’t hoping that we would somehow get together, she lives many, many hours away from me, but that I value the connection between a man and a woman. Especially from my point of view, I cherished feeling connected to her, or any woman of depth. Whether she felt that way too, I don’t know. Maybe, she was one of those angels, like friends who stay for only a day, to remind me that connection, that being with someone who I want to share life with is important. I mean, isn’t that what we all want? Which is a line one of my favorite characters in my book uses.
This connection is probably why I want to write my fantasies so much. For whatever reason, I feel connected to these stories, and I can’t help but tell them.
Wherever you are, I hope you find what you’re looking for, and I thank you for making my trip here all the better. Ciao.
My first trip to Hawaii, I went with my dream girl. Whoo! Beautiful. Gorgeous. Incredible ass. Nice breasts, handfuls. Loved sex. Oh, man. We did it like rabbits. My libido was running on rocket fuel. And she was passionate about life, lived it full of wonderment. TMI? When we landed, I stepped off the plane and into Honolulu airport. A feeling of being home engulfed my heart, my mind, and my soul (maybe).
Predictably, my dream became to live in Hawaii. I mean, Terry Brooks lives there part of the year, so why can’t I?
As things go when fire is introduce to oil—me and my girlfriend—an explosion of emotions tore us apart. And I was left singed and what seemed like a never-ending ocean of pain. Whoo. Coincidentally, all of that completely and happily helped me discover my main man, Talon, family of Warfire, the protag of my book, NIGHTFALL. I think without going through all that pain, Talon would be a bland character, given the things he goes through. And what he goes through I would never wish on my worst enemy. Well, unless that person really pissed me off.
Did you catch the little grammar faux paus I left in the beginning of the last paragraph? Just making sure you’re awake.
Years marched by, my dream of being a published author is alive and well, and along trudged my dream of living in Hawaii. I worked hard to earn the trust of my boss so I could work at home full time. I went to the islands twice to go house hunting, put in an offer, accepted. Dream reached. Then I realized that I had been living my dream, my purpose, all this time.
The prospect of leaving my ailing mother on the main land blared loudly on my mind. So when I had gone back to Hawaii, the feeling of being home never returned as strongly, but I sorta lied to myself that it was there, like being sorta pregnant. Paradise lost. Don’t get me wrong. I love HI, love being there and this March will be there for a whole month. But my home is not there. Nor is it here where I currently reside. I realized I’ve been living in heaven all this time, sitting in various cafes, putting my main man through hell.
But this realization came at a price. I struggled with the decision to stay or move. It was heart wrenching. I won’t go into the pros and cons of it all. But living close to the beach with a forever stretch of blue gem water where the sun was always out trumped all of the pros of staying.
I recently met up with a friend from my acting days. He lent me a book called DO IT! Let’s Get Off Our Buts, written by Peter McWilliams and John Roger. They wrote that a goal is tangible, like an achievement, or a milestone. Think NaNoWriMo for you fellow writers. A purpose, however, is a direction like perfection. My dream of living in Hawaii was a goal, a choice. Being a great storyteller is my purpose, my direction.
To stay is the right decision. To go is correct as well. To not have a purpose, however, is to deny who we are as human beings.
How crazy is it? There is an actual society, a group, that believes the Earth is flat like a plate sitting on a flat table in the middle of a flat field on a flat Earth. Um…what? Despite the plethora, myriad, the millions of freakin’ pictures, and apparently no evidence of an edge, these peeps perpetuate the idea that the Earth ain’t a sphere. Get out much?
Last Halloween, I went to a party with a whole bunch of adults trying to reclaim their childhood glory days. I was dressed as an Asian man in American clothes. A friend of mine saw a sculpture, a bust, and asked me if that was Yip Man, Bruce Lee’s famed teacher. I’ve never met the Man (get it?) and shrugged. The party was held at a Wing Chun / Yoga studio in San Francisco. A cowboy said that was his Wing Chun teacher. I’ve met a Wing Chun master before and asked him a question about the system. If you’ve read my bio, then you know my absolute love and devotion and complete disregard for the classical martial arts. Though, I will admit, Wing Chun does something that most classical martial arts don’t do.
“The shortest distance between two points is a straight line,” he said, supporting one of the main tenets of Wing Chun. This ain’t no math class. I would know. I came to the party as an Asian. Circular strikes aren’t really taught in Wing Chun. All their strikes come from the center of the body with little to no movement in the hips or shoulders for speed.
Now, it’s true, the shortest distance is a straight line. So why do boxers have hooks, uppercuts, overhands along with their jabs and straights? Simple. Limiting your strikes limits the amount of tools and avenues of attacks. And if the boxer is good, they can set up strikes and hide circular ones like an uppercut. Sneaky. Add kicks to it, and not only do you have to worry about punches but kicks. Take a fight to the ground, and all of the sudden the fight changes completely, needing a completely different skill set.
That’s what we have today. Mixed martial arts are a combination of different martial arts. Duh. As Bruce Lee always taught when he came to America, take what’s useful and throw out the rest. For those classical martial artists, like my former school, they hold on to their tenets, doctrines, dogmas created thousands of years ago. They’re like Catholic priests who don’t believe in evolution. Nothing is more evident of the evolution of martial arts than the Ultimate Fighting Championship, better known as the UFC.
The initial idea was to see which martial arts was the best. They had boxers, Karate masters, wrestlers, etc. But most infamous was Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ). When the UFC first started, there were no weight classes. So you could have a 300-pound man fight a 178-pound dude. And that’s basically what happened. The tournament winner, Royce Gracie, a 178-pound man, was a BJJ whiz, submitting all his opponents to win.
All of a sudden, everyone started to study BJJ. BJJ schools touting the Gracie name popped all over the place. Karate? Kung Fu? Boxing? Kick boxing? Pff. Waste O’time.
Then evolution kicked in. Since the UFC was basically a no-holds-bar kinda fight, with some rules, people started to put things together. Wrestlers were great at getting the fight to the ground and keeping an opponent down, but had to learn how to strike and submissions; strikers began to learn how to avoid getting put on the ground and learned BJJ and wrestling (grappling); BJJ practitioners needed to learn how to strike and incorporate wrestling; and round and round we go. Nowadays, it’s very difficult to be successful in the UFC if you aren’t what they call a complete fighter, having a complete grasp of submission, striking, and grappling skills.
The need for evolving one’s skills became evident in UFC 60, when then current welterweight champion, Matt Hughes fought Royce Gracie. Remember, Gracie is a master submission artist (BJJ Blackbelt), but he lacked striking and wrestling, something Hughes had in his arsenal. Ultimately, Hughes used strikes and wrestling to get Gracie down to the ground, almost submitted the submission master, but ended the fight in the first round with strikes.
I’m not saying that for someone to be able to defend themselves on the street, they have to be a MMA fighter. But training only in straight lines can be limiting. Stranger even, my former martial arts school practiced hundreds of highly complicated techniques in the air that would not work on a real person (I’ve tried with friends), having little idea of what’s it like to deal with the physical weight of a real person like grapplers do. At least Wing Chun has a lot of partner drills, something that seems to escape my former teachers.
So why am I writing about this on a site that mainly talks about storytelling, trying to promote my book NIGHTFALL? The time to submit (get it?) query letters is fast approaching. And I love talking shit about my former school. How crazy is it? They had a whole meeting about little ol’me when I wrote this article. Get out much?
When I first started pitching my book to various literary agents, the most common question they asked was why is my main character so against unification, the joining of the seven provinces in my story. Like many things in life, I didn’t know the real answer.
The actual story, however, did know it.
I watched a documentary on Netflix called AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY. Ai Weiwei is a Chinese artist who helped design the Bird’s Nest featured in the Beijing Olympics. He uses social media and art to inspire protests against the Chinese government. The thing about China is that freedom of speech is not a basic freedom like it is here. And to inspire any level of protest there would only result in one end.
An interviewer asked him why he’s so fearless compared to other people. His response: I’m so fearful that’s not fearless. I’m more fearful than other people maybe…then because I act more brave because I know the danger’s really there. If you don’t act, the danger becomes stronger.
That hit me like a brick wall that swung through the humid jungles of South China. That’s an absurd sentence, but Weiwei’s answer completely encompasses why my main character fights against totalitarianism than just rolling over and joining an enemy that seemed too strong.
And the actual story, the character, knew this without me consciously having to know. I can see the words, sentences and dialogue where he states this, just not in those exact words. Otherwise I’d know how to answer the question.
Now, I’m not here proclaiming my genius, nor am I proclaiming anything about me. There are two things going on here that I can see. One; stories choose us, the storytellers. Somehow we become the experts to those stories because we were chosen, and two; if we don’t tell it, if we do not follow that path given to us, we will in some way suffer.
We become the experts. What the hell does that mean? That doesn’t mean we as writers don’t need to do the research. We do when needed. We are the experts because somehow in some divine way we were given insights or the true meaning behind the stories we tell. In NIGHTFALL, if a person wanted to read for pure fun without wanting to know anything more than just the superficial stuff—the rollercoaster ride, the adventure—that’s fine. But if that person was curious enough, the hidden meaning behind the whole story and what drives every character in NIGHTFALL could be revealed to him or her, and they may learn something about themselves. In that sense, there are two basic layers to NIGHTFALL. Obviously, I can’t control whether the reader delves deeper or not. It’s their choice, and I wouldn’t want that control anyways.
I do believe, as people, we have gifts that we were given to give to the world. Huh? I do think we were put here for that reason. Every scientist and philosopher is trying to answer that question, and they can’t because the answer is different for every one of us. As far as I can tell at this moment, I was supposed to write the 7th Province series. Others were put here to teach lessons to their children, students, sections of society, the world. But if we don’t follow our paths, then what happens? Suffering. Whether it’s within that person who didn’t follow their path, or the people the gift wasn’t given to, I’m not sure. Something goes missing, then maybe it’ll fall onto another human to give that gift.
I was asked what my main character’s passion was. I didn’t know. For a long time I didn’t know. A few years after completing the first draft of NIGHTFALL, I figured it out. And the amazing thing was it was in the writing. I just didn’t see it.