Tag Archives: inspiration

The 20/20 Vision

Last week I talked about making New Year’s Resolutions, and I offered four resolutions that I will try to complete in the year 2017. In case you forgot, those resolutions are:

Resolution 1: I will successfully pay off all of my credit card debt by putting at least half of my paycheck aside each month.

Resolution 2: I will finish writing the first draft of my third novel (title still undecided) by the end of the academic school year (July 2017).

Resolution 3: Assuming I complete the first two resolutions, my third resolution will be to publish my second novel, The Curse of Pirini Lilapa, by the end of 2017 in both e-book and paperback forms.

Resolution 4: I will begin work on my 3-year Professional Development Plan (PDP), in order to move from a probationary to a professional teaching license by the year 2020.

I would categorize all of these things as short-term goals. Hopefully, everyone reading knows that there are two types of goals, though, short-term and long-term (short-term again being the ones listed above).

This week I want to expand on that and help you to create resolutions that are long-term resolutions or goals. Sometimes it’s necessary to think about the bigger picture, too. For example, if you’ve ever been asked this question in an interview “Where do you see yourself in five years?” They want to know your long-term goals, and it’s a point of seeing how well you can organize your life because, essentially, completing long-term goals comes down to organization and persistence if I had to choose only two qualities (although I’m sure there are more).

So, this all came about when my friend and I decided to make our goals for 2020. We vacationed together while in South America and have been in contact lots since we have both gone our separate paths but we always talk about our return to South America in 2020, we call it, our 20/20 Vision. Catchy, right?

This return to South America (specifically Chile, Columbia, and perhaps Brazil) would be seen as the incentive, right? Because you have to earn it. So, what are the long term goals I plan on accomplishing before this time? Well, let’s take a look.

20/20 Goal #1: I will have written the first draft of all four books in my series, Guardian of the Core, by the summer of 2020.

20/20 Goal #2: I will have completed my PDP and successfully achieved professional licensure in Secondary English Education.

20/20 Goal #3: I will have set aside a sufficient amount of money in order to take the vacation in question by putting money into a separate account every month.


Okay, so I want you, the readers, to look at these goals carefully. What do you notice? What isn’t on my goal list? Things such as “I will have settled down and have a family by 2020,” “I will have settled down at a permanent job,” “I will have published all of my books,” or even, “I will have published three of my books by 2020.” All of these things do not belong on long-term lists.

So, why don’t I include goals like those? All of them are great goals, and I wouldn’t be opposed by having any of them happen, but why shouldn’t goals like that be included? Perhaps you can already think of the reason. It’s because of this word: indeterminable. All of those goals that I mentioned in quotations depend on outside factors that are beyond my control and that I shouldn’t worry about. Would I like to have a family? Absolutely. But, will I meet the right person by 2020? Who knows. . . By having that as a goal, I am putting myself in a position to search for anyone instead of searching for the right one. Would I like to have a permanent job by 2020? Yes, of course! But, this requires that I like the school district that I end up at in that time, and that the environment is good, the pay is good, and the opportunity for advancement is there. All of those things I cannot control.

Okay, so how about the last couple, the ones about my book. You can control those, why aren’t they up there, you say. Well, you’re right, I can definitely control how fast I work and could potentially get them all published or even three of them published by 2020, but even they have indeterminable factors. For example, any good book needs multiple edits, and it needs people to read it, and these proofreaders have lives as well, I cannot demand that they read something in a month and then send it back to me so that I can stay on schedule. The market has a volatility that I have to be cognizant of and perhaps one year may be better for releasing than another year.

But, what else do you notice? Anything? If you noticed that all of my goals for 2020 are related to my resolutions for 2017, then congratulations, you’re correct. I firmly believe that in order to have good long-term goals, you need to make them relevant to what you are doing now. This has two factors: (1) when you complete your short-term goal, you are completing part of your long-term goal (2) and because of this, you become excited and motivated to continue your resolution instead of fizzling out. This is huge because as I mentioned before two qualities of successfully completing your long-term goals is organization and persistence. If you are currently dating someone you really like and you want to get engaged to them, and you know you want to get engaged to them, well, you don’t wake up with 1000+ dollars one day, you have to set money aside and start planning for the investment of that ring. I’m not going to wake up and have money for this trip to South America unless if I first clear my debt and then continue to put aside money for the trip. This is where organization and persistence comes into play.

So, I ask you this question, what is your 20/20 vision? How would you define your perfect life by the year 2020? I highly recommend you create some sort of long-term goal for your plan because just as completing short-term goals helps with long-term goals, the same goes for short-term goals. By having long-term goals, and having them be relevant to your short-term resolutions, it will hold you more accountable to achieving those resolutions.

Happy goal-setting and as it’s officially 2017 now, I welcome the new you, and the new visions you plan on accomplishing this year and the years to come.

Sincerely,

Michael E. Thies

Inspiration – What Makes It Happen?

So, this is my first post on this blog for a year or more now. It’s interesting, then, that I should write something about inspiration as I have not seemed to have it for the past year or more. And while that’s not entirely true, I did want to sit back and comment on a few things that I think writers have some trouble with and some easy remedies as I have found that these things have helped me more than I know. Hence, the reason I am writing now.

#1 Problem = Coming up with Ideas

Whenever I tell people that I have written a novel they always ask me two questions to begin. (A) “What is your book about?” … And after I tell them typically the second question is (B) “How did you think of it?”

The second question is the one I want to answer here. To be honest, one of my best friends in high school had a collection of drawings of people and figures. I was fascinated with it and in middle school we went through the process of creating a card game from these figures based off of something like Yu-Gi-Oh. It was an interesting concept with it’s own twist. Anyways, these cards became the characters for a short story that I wrote in school. And then three years later as I was cleaning out my room in high school I found that short story again and I thought to myself, “Well, what would happen if I continued writing it.” So, after many many revisions and character additions and reductions, I arrived at The Trials of the Core by Michael E. Thies. My first novel.

And, although this may be self-explanatory, I wrote because I saw things. It seems elementary but if you take a look at any writer one of their greatest tools is the power of observation — to see something that is beyond the page or beyond the person in question. In Californication, for example, during the first season we see the author protagonist, Hank Moody (David Duchovny), tell a woman who she is based off merely the power of observation. She gets mad (because Moody is not very tactful) and storms off, but under that an analysis is that perhaps she was embarrassed that he was right about her. In the second season we see him shadow the life of a rockstar in order to write a book about him.

And that’s what we do as author, we observe. So, when I saw those drawings in my friends book of sketches, I saw more than just figures I saw people that were dying to come off of the page and hop into a story. And, now, I have actually gotten many inspirational ideas through sleep. I have crazy dreams, and I mean crazy dreams, that I wake up and wonder, “Well, what if that turned into a novel…” So, I jot down what I remember quickly into one of my notepads for writing and at a future date maybe I’ll get back to it and actually write a story or short story about it. Right now, I can’t, because I’m focused on Guardian of the Core but when I finish that series I will need something new to write about and who knows by then!

So, in essence, we get inspiration because we use our eyes and not just physical ones, but a mental eye (your brain as it dreams) and it’s imagination, as well.

Problem #2 = Coming up with sentences

Alright, another problem. Maybe you have a vivid imagination. Maybe you have an idea for a story. But, you don’t have the words. Where can you draw your inspiration from then? Well, I have had this problem, too, with inspiration. Honestly, this is how I solve it.

I read.

I remember that my writing improved so greatly after I started reading The Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin. After reading such a great book like that, it makes you want to write. It makes you want to see if you can craft a sentence as perfectly constructed as he does. At least, this was the side effect I had.

Even if a book isn’t necessarily good, like the book I am reading now, I still find it an inspiration, but an inspiration in a different sense. I want to write to write better. i see the flaws of that work and I write and make sure I don’t see any of the same flaws happen in my own book.

But, regardless of if it’s a good book or a bad book there are still ways that it can enhance your writing. Vocabulary, for instance, is something that is built through reading.

Problem #3 = Time for writing

This is probably the hardest issue to deal with. It’s true, there is just not enough time in the day. It gets more complicated when you have a family and a job. I am extremely fortunate that I have a profession, an English teacher, that allows me time for writing. In the States it would be during the summer when I don’t have the hustle and bustle of the school year to contend with. Now, while I’m over in Chile, it’s when I go on vacation to renew my passport. My mother came down to take me on a cruise from Valparaíso down around Cape Horn up to Buenos Aires. It was the best 14 days of my life. And, while on that cruise, I managed to write five to six chapters. I had never been more into my writing (besides when I’ve had to write for a deadline). It was fantastic and I wish I could live on a permanent vacation, but, alas, my books aren’t popular enough for that yet haha. But, maybe one day.

Anyways, like I was saying before, as a teacher not only do I get vacation time, but I get the luxury of being able to teach anywhere. I am currently taking a position to teach English overseas in China for a year, or more, and I’ll have lots of time to explore and write about the places I see. I am positive that Chile and my experiences here will turn up in my writing eventually. In fact, unknowingly, it already has, but it wasn’t as intentional as I would have liked.

So, what happens if you don’t have a profession like mine?

Then you have to go above and beyond in order to tackle this boundary to inspiration. Like the Corona commercials you have to “Find your beach.” Meaning, find a place that relaxes you and where you can write. Ideally, this is a beach, but not everyone has a beach in their backyard. So, without a beach, maybe you can have a beach be your writing den, or living room before the kids wake up, or the kitchen area. The idea is, though, that you need to create a routine that works for you in a setting that works for you.

Analysis 

For me, inspiration comes and goes like the wind, although I definitely do have more inspiration in any of the three situations I outlined above. Unless if I have to, I never force myself to write, because when I do it doesn’t come out as well as I want it to. That is why I stopped writing this blog a year ago when I was cranking out a post per week. Now, I want to continue but at my own pace, maybe at once every two weeks or once a month. I don’t know the exact time table but I had the itch to write a blog post today and that is what I did.

So, the next time you have any type of writer’s block, don’t feel that you have to write. It may be more painful for you to do so. Instead, perhaps try one of the methods outlined above, and then see how you feel. Welcome writing, don’t worship it or feel inclined to do it.

-Michael E. Thies

F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

Friends. F.R.I.E.N.D.S. It has been my what I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Along with multiple other things, too. This is going to be one of my more personal blog posts but it’s just important for me to get things off my chest and have someplace to vent it all to even if that’s just myself online.

Family. Friends are family. They are there for you when everything else has turned against you, or your life has gone in an opposite direction you weren’t expecting. They are your crutch when you have a broken leg. They have ears when you want someone to hear you. And they have eyes when you have trouble seeing straight. I couldn’t be more appreciative of my friends and family as I go through the changes in myself right now.

Right. What seems right to you, may not be. It just may be that you are comfortable with wrong and don’t know what right feels like. Or, perhaps you have an idea of what right could feel like but are too afraid to take the plunge to see if that water is deep or shallow. I’m in a stasis now trying to figure out what is right because what I thought was right, has taken a different turn. I have yet to figure out if that is going to be a good or bad decision but, to me, I feel as though it’s the right move and I can’t be thankful enough for the friends who have been my crutch during this time.

Inspiration. There are a few phrases that have really stuck out to me during this time. “Don’t live life with regrets.” “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s about learning to walk in the rain.” We can’t just sit in the comfort zone, we need to travel outside of it, even if it means getting dirty, and crying, and being confused, but we will never get to our destination if we always have to stop for shelter when it starts to rain. All of these have been big proponents in my next letter and the things that are happening in my life now.

Experience. This has what has been really pushing me to take this dramatic shift in my life right now. For the first time in seven years, I am single. It’s crazy. I am still not entirely sure how to take it. But, before this, I was previously engaged and for the past couple years we have been always unsure if we are “settling” or “truly happy”. And although I won’t get into the finite details of our relationship coming to an end, I will say that although it may not have worked out for us now, I am still happy to have had the relationship. Statistics nowadays say you need something like 12 relationships to know who you are supposed to be with. That’s bullshit. But, I do believe you need more than one. Especially when that relationship starts in high school and continues on past college. The person you are in high school is so different than who you are after college. Your tastes are definitely bound to change, and I think that is what is happening to me now. What I thought I wanted, perhaps I mistook. I am not saying that me and my ex will never get back together but if we do I don’t want to be in this stasis I feel now, I want to be engaged and happily engaged and planning a wedding.

New. People are so afraid of change. I am too. Although I try and hide behind a stalwart facade I really do wonder if the choices I’ve made thus far in my life have been or will be beneficial to me. But, with new choices, comes new experience. To be honest, this one year of no schooling, but real world experience, has given me the confidence to take those inspirational quotes above and utilize them. I couldn’t be more thankful to have the blessings I do have and the support of friends and family behind me as I continue with publishing and continue sorting out me emotionally. The things I experience are sure to be new, in fact, some of them have already been so, but it’s been a kind of good new. For example, I know this is trivial, but at a bar the week after I ended it with my ex, a lady bought me a drink. It was the first time that has ever happened. I was flattered. And it made me realize that maybe new isn’t bad, it’s just not what we’ve been used to, and so that’s how we perceive it. As I take this moment in life as a time of self-discovery I can’t wait to experience a newness and a rejuvenation in the life I thought I had, or will have in the future.

Determination. With a large change in your life, it’s up to you to make what you will of it. If you want something you go out there and get it. Honestly, I feel as though that is a huge problem in our society right now. This “self propriety” complex. People think that they should be handed things on a silver platter. I don’t. I think it’s when you dredge through life’s problems that you become an overall better and well-rounded individual. Although I do not know where this path is going to lead me I am determined to make the most of it and pray everyday. I’m going to count my blessings that I currently have and those that come into my life.

Surety. I think this is another big thing that you need to have when going through any life changing event. Although you can be afraid of change, I think you need to be sure and confident that it will work out for the best. I’ve always been an advocate of God having plans for everyone and I think that is what is in store for me as I continue down this new path. I have to take a look at the accomplishments in my life, set a goal of where I want to be in the future, and be sure of myself that those things will happen. I just passed my Praxis exam and will officially be going back to school next semester to pursue my teaching license and by fall of 2015 I hope to have a full-time teaching job. In December I have my debut novel coming out and already people are saying good things about it. In 2015 I hope to have my book’s sequel published.

All of these things that have happened to me so far just confirm in my mind that this is a path meant to go down, and although I don’t know where it leads, I plan on seeing a new me on the other side. Until then, I have F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and an unwavering amount of everything included within.