Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Will Smith on Hustle




"The only thing distinctly different about me is that I'm not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be overworked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me. But if we get on the treadmill together, there's two things that can happen. Either you're going to get off first, or I'm going to die. It's really simple. So let's go back to what I do when people reject me. I'm either going to get back in, or I'm going to die. The majority of people who aren't getting the things they want, or aren't achieving the things they want, is strictly based on hustle. It's strictly being based on being outworked, on missing crucial opportunities. If you stay ready, you don't have to get ready."
                                                                                                                                   - Will Smith

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Breaking Good

Things are a little hectic up in this joint right now. At work, my boss is on sabbatical, so I've had to fold his duties into mine, and on the personal front, I can't seem to stop trying to do all of the things. This isn't a complaint. I dig it. Usually.

Now? I need to buy myself some time so that I can work on finishing www.serenamcclain.com! I've wanted a new online home for a while, so I'm stoked to get it up and running. The problem is that I write slowly (obsessing over almost every word), and when I have to write about anything related to me, we're talking glacial. The ice caps melt faster than I can write an about page. So, instead of just leaving this space blank for a bit, I'm going to combine my love of pop culture with my collection of quotes and just keep the next month simple. I'm calling it breaking good :-)

TFIOS

I think this post may break one of own blogging rules*. Oh well, we're all a little hypocritical, right?

*The first rule of fight club is that you do not talk about fight club.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Gilead: Book Review



















Gilead (by Marilynne Robinson) took me by surprise. I'd listened to Rebecca and Jeff discuss it on the Book Riot Podcast, so I was fairly certain there would be tears. I just misjudged completely what would make me emotional.

Let's back up. Gilead is the story of a much older father writing to his young son, attempting to cram a lifetime of learning and relationship into what he thinks are the last few weeks or months of his life. In an almost stream of consciousness, the father (a preacher) weaves family history with spiritual struggle in a way that's entirely unpretentious and, yet, rendered beautifully.

I fully expected to cry at the father's anticipated death. Instead, I found tears pouring down my cheeks at the points where his struggles are my struggles and when he nails ideas I've only begun to circle around. He speaks of each of us being alone, essentially being unknowable to each other and comparable to distinct civilizations. Somehow, it was in these words that I felt known, unalone.

Robinson captures so eloquently my desire to know, really know, my family. Parents lead such interior, seemingly secret lives from their children, and to be able to share in what makes them them seems precious.

"I'm trying to make the best of our situation..."



































You need only look at my dog-eared copy to know that there are so many highlight-worthy passages in this book. I can tell it's one I'll keep coming back to.

Do you have books you read on the regular? It's somewhat abnormal for me.

Listen to Ravena and I talk about this and other books we've been reading over the last two weeks!






Sunday, June 01, 2014

Where have all the mix CDs gone?

found music, 05.30.14

I realize I'm a bit of a sucker for nostalgia, but can we reminisce for a moment about where all of the CDs have gone?

I was digging through a few old purses last week in a desperate search for my expired passport when I uncovered this relic of the past. It shared a snazzy envelope with a mix of Muse songs and was tucked in next to a "best of" Foreigner set. [I know I'm not the only one to want nothing more than to be able to belt out I Want to Know What Love Is while driving down the highway.]

Anyway, I digress. Is anyone still making mix CDs these days, or are the kids just trading Spotify playlists? If so, where's the magic in that? Can you accidentally stumble upon a playlist someone made for you five years later and become instantly overwhelmed with the rush of emotion you used to feel when you listened to those songs?

Serendipity is such a charmer. It was awesome to rediscover this mix CD and pop it in, having totally forgotten who gave it to me or what was on it. I didn't even mind that a couple of the songs made me tear up as, in the popular vernacular of our times, I had all the feels ;-)

Do you still make mix CDs? When was the last time you made one?

P.S. I consider finding an eight-year old fossilized chocolate bar a sign that every now and then I can muster great restraint.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

That's What She Read: The Brief Wondrous Episode

Oscar Wao Graphic

A new episode of That's What She Read (TWSR) went live last Tuesday, and if you like books, I reckon* there's something in there for you. Ravena and I sat down with Amy from Lemon and Raspberry and Megan from The Nerd Nest, discussing everything from superheroes and trickster gods to John Quincy Adams and Sherman Alexie.

I'm really enjoying our periodic "supper club" episodes and the opportunity to talk to other awesome readers. It should come as no surprise that my to-read list grows with each new episode. Megan's discussion of Burgess's invented slang in A Clockwork Orange immediately set me on the hunt for my own copy with the original British ending.

If you're interested in expanding your reading game even more, Amy has started the L&R Book Club, a "non-fiction, leadership/business/self-helpy/personal development" book club. In the latest episode of TWSR, she talks about their current selection, The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp.

"I love the idea that creativity is not mystical, that it's not that the muse is going to come down and anoint you with her powers. It's that creativity is a job, and you just need to get the structure in place to be able to leverage the creativity that you already have." - Amy T. Schubert

I would totally join this book club if I didn't dislike Facebook so much.

Even Ravena has me thinking about reading the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne.

As for me, I'm still feeling gushy about The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (part of the amazing Indonesian cover above) by Junot Diaz. Listen to this mega, book-filled episode of the podcast to hear more about it and all of the other books we discussed!


*Why, yes, I did bust out the Texas vernacular.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Kara Walker is a fucking genius



This is what art is all about for me. It's the visceral, fuck yeah reaction you get in your gut from simply an initial glance. It's a message so fully formed that words aren't even needed.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

63 Distractingly Delightful Tips for Writers

Untitled

A little over a week ago, a small group of friends and I held the kickoff meeting for a new writing group. Most of us are somewhere in our novel-writing journey, and this seemed like a way for us to both encourage each other and help each other grow as writers. Plus, if it's good enough for the Inklings, well, you know...

Our plan is to keep the group small at first in order to work out the kinks. Everyone is understandably nervous about sharing and critiquing work. We used our first gathering to discuss things like meeting frequency, what everyone hoped to get out of a writing group, etc., and we now have a name thanks to Scarlet! Introducing the Interrobang Writing Group. I've already learned something because I had no idea what an interrobang was. ;-)

At some point toward the end of the night, Abbie asked everyone where they found writing inspiration. The type-A overachiever in me decided to get semi-comprehensive about it and ended up pulling together a list of links for the group covering everything from general inspiration to feedback/critique to some nitty-gritty tools. I even included a spreadsheet I pulled together a couple of years ago with information on potential places to submit stories. After discovering I had 63 links* to articles, video, and audio, I decided to format it and will share it with my newsletter subscribers this week. 

Why am I telling you this? If you want a copy of these 63 distractingly delightful tips and my spreadsheet of places to submit your writing, you should sign up for my newsletter ASAP! Just enter your email address below, and I'll make sure you get a copy. Besides, the last edition of the newsletter included a yummy photo of Idris Elba, and who doesn't want that?


I want to go behind the scenes!

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*My favorite inspiration comes when I curl up with a good novel, and the best tip (IMO) is to just write.