My Brain on Vacation

It’s rare that I’m actually on vacation. Like many writers, the idea of leaving my computer at home for weeks on end is nothing short of unfathomable. So, I’ve been getting up every morning, when I can, and finding a “quiet” corner to flip open the laptop and work.

Right now I’m on the longest vacation of my life. Spending fifteen days exploring a part of Europe I’ve never visited has been interesting. For the first few days it was no big deal because I had a kitchen with a coffee maker to write in. Then things got complicated, but in an interesting, and unanticipated way.

We have a family of five and are presently staying in a hotel room. It’s small and cramped but it works for sleeping. Every morning, my preferred time to write, I make my way across the street to the train station in Rome where I sit down to write for an hour or three. It’s far from what my composition teacher in college would have called, “ideal writing conditions.”

The noise if deafening, the distractions are ample, the tables are sticky. I witnessed a crowed of homeless people get roused from the dark corners of the station by the police. It’s a system I think they follow every morning of every day in a sort of truce where the homeless can sleep in the warmth of the train station as long as they go without a fuss in the morning.

Yes, it was distracting, but it was also an interesting study in human behavior. I watched people living their lives that I’d ordinarily never see. I could see it happen in true life and not on some television show. All from the perspective of a writer plying his craft from the corner booth of a fast food joint.

There were also people in the restaurant who were too busy checking their e-mail or updating their Facebook status to notice, or even care, that these things were taking place around them. I’m a bit worried about a world where we forget that it’s inhabited by other humans who feel pain and despair. Seeing their pain and despair makes us human, perhaps it’s this acknowledgement of others pain that brings us to the point were we are the most human. And it’s that humanity that all artists seek to capture.

-Your Humble Servant, Bryan the Writer

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Merry Christmas

It’s imperative we all take some time to examine the little things. Snow on the roof, a child’s look in anticipation of opening a present, the joy of a family gathering together at a special time of the year.

But don’t lose the big stuff either. A child in manger, blanket forgiveness for all of our sins, taking a close look at life and see how we can be more God like in our thoughts, words, and actions. As we open presents and prepare the feast, don’t forget the reason for the season.

And, if you are not a Christian I want to wish you the happiest of holidays as you have celebrated them in your own tradition as well. May you be greatly blessed!

That only leaves one thing to say, Merry Christmas to all!

-Your Humble Servant, Bryan the Writer

Christmastree2015

Living in My Mind

I have often said that few people I know would really want to live inside of my mind. I started saying it years ago as a bit of a joke. But as I grow older I become more and more aware of how true that statement might be. It took me years to accept who I really was. It took me a little longer to stop trying to change me and just accept that I was the way I am. There is no real need to change that.

Many years ago I wanted to be an accountant or a businessman, but it was only after many years that I realized there was no way I would be any good at those things. I read a book called, “The Highly Sensitive Person” by Dr. Elaine Aron. It completely changed the way I looked at myself. It taught me that above all I have to be happy with who I am. Every last bump, blemish, and thinning hair was part of the make-up that was me. I had to accept I’m not the organized, driven person that I thought I was. I realized, I had the heart and soul of an artist.

Getting to the point that you can accept yourself for who you are is hard. But it is hugely liberating as well. It really opens up the world when you realize your strengths, but maybe also your weaknesses.

I am Bryan the Writer. I can be moody, sad, happy, creative, dull, inspired, disinterested, and I can feel most alone in a room full of people. And sometimes I am many of these things all at once. That’s who I am. Sometimes I need to be alone. Sometimes I need to be surrounded by people. I take on other people’s emotions and will emit those back. When I am in a bad mood, sometimes it is just because I was with someone in a bad mood.

Emotions can be toxic to me, make me sick. And those emotions can flow out of my fingers and onto the page. That is the soul of an artist though. Your thoughts and feelings are manifest in your creation. What you are feeling, what you are interpreting, what you are sensing is what falls out of you when you write. Maybe the world would be a far better place if we all just learned to accept who we were and worried less about who we are not.

-Your Humble Servant, Bryan the Writer

 

I think, today, I’m going to offend you!

I am a nice guy. No, really, stop laughing, I’m a really nice guy. I pay my taxes on time, I go to church, I try not to hurt people’s feelings deliberately, I’m a nice guy. But I really want to offend you today!

Recently I re-read something I posted on Facebook and the thought occurred to me I might have actually offended someone. I was aghast, shocked, mortified, and a bunch of other adjectives. How could sweet little ole’ me offend someone? But then a dark thought occurred to my normally sunshiny brain, “How can I do it more often?”

“But Bryan, you are a good kid. Why would you want to do that?”

Hear me out! I’m a writer. I won’t make any statement on whether I’m good at it or not. I’ll let my future body of work determine that. If you wish to explore if I am any good or not, “No Name” is available on Amazon, but I digress.

Books are made up of an endless number of combinations of the same 26 letters, if you are writing in the English language. There are some combinations that are bound to insult, irritate, hurt, and generally upset any number of you out there. And that’s a great thing.

When you read about “No Name” severing the head off of the man it encounters on the street, it likely made you cringe a little bit. In my next book, I am convinced, will generate lots of angry e-mails on my portrayal of what Heaven looks like. Not because it’s bad, but because if flies in the face of some people’s ideas of a bunch of white clothed angels flying around playing harps. Yes, I’m going to upset readers at some point, but that’s reality.

There are even a certain percentage of you out there who will read this and be offended by my assertion that I am going to be offensive!

However, believe me when I say, the fact that I can offend you is a great thing. It gives us two very important date points.

  1. You are alive and can read to be offended! Congrats!
  2. My job of writer is really to communicate to you and if I’ve made you feel uncomfortable and offended your sensibilities then I have been successful!

So huzzah for us!  Both writer and reader have done their parts.

Now to be offensive: A Mexican, White Guy, African American, Chinese guy, a Polish guy, a Jew, Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Lawyer, Priest, Pastor, Monk, Rabbi, Native American Shaman, and a Non-denominational spiritualist walk into a bar (If I have missed your particular sensitivity, please feel included). They all tell racially insensitive and morally questionable jokes while drinking their favorite beverage. They all laughed at the inherent silliness of stereotypes which have persisted over the years. Ultimately they played pool, threw darts, drink beer and shared pictures of their children with one another.  No one shot anyone and everyone came out with a better understanding of what offends or doesn’t offend their fellow man.

No, it is not a funny joke, but I’ll give you my two cents worth. Ultimately humanity needs to do a better job of laughing at itself. I like to think I do my part, but sometimes I am going to offend you. I’m sorry for your sensitivities, but I’m not going to change who I am because you might have your feelings hurt.

I am of Polish descent. I love Polish jokes, I don’t find them offensive at all. I have a whole raft of them at my disposal whenever I have time to spend with a fellow Pollacks. It’s a racial slur I wear with a certain amount of pride.

So: Three pollacks walk into a bar, they all had to go the hospital for treatment.

Now, get back to reading and I will get back to writing!

-Your Humble Servant, Bryan the Writer

Sugar and Spice and Everything Work Related

It is officially the holiday season. And as such I think it is important to tackle one of the most debilitating issues we face as humans. The issue of time. Now I know you are probably more fixated on getting to the store to buy that last present to Susie for little Johnny, but hear me out for a second.

This year my family won’t be home for Christmas or New Years. As a matter of fact, we will be spending those holidays in Italy. We are doing this because it is our last season in Europe and we wanted to make the most of it. This isn’t the first time we have done something like this. The first year we really spent away from home was the year we met my Mom and Stepfather at Disney World. It was more fun than a barrel of monkeys on too much Starbucks!

That leads me to my point. Writing is all about experience. You can read a ton of books, take a ton of classes, and start writing as soon as you can hold a pen, but all of the experts agree your life experience is what matters in the long run. If you can weave a perfect sentence or construct a perfect paragraph, it may not matter. If you haven’t lived you might not have anything all that interesting to say to the world. In short, get out there, live, and take those darn kids with you!

Forget Susie’s new doll, pass on Johnny’s toy truck. Get out there and experience something with them this holiday season. Years from now those toys will be in the landfill, but the memories of vising the Grand Canyon, Tombstone, or even a short trip to your local indoor water park will always be with them. This year I am giving my kids Mount Vesuvius and the tower of Pisa. It doesn’t have to be something that spectacular, just meaningful. And who knows, years from now your kids might include their experiences in their first New York Times Bestseller.

Your Humble Servant, Bryan the Writer