The Writer’s Lens – E34: Heroes and Anti-Heroes – Which Do You Prefer?

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-gmiiv-92eb6f

We love heroes. We aspire to be like them. We adore what makes them great. And we want to be around them. 

Yet, as much as we love heroes, we also have an adoration for anti-heroes too. You know, the lone wolves. The girls who diverge from conventional attitudes; the single-minded warriors. Anti-heroes have as much sway in our culture as the tried and true heroes. 

But, why? What makes them attractive? If the anti-hero is not the standard of excellence, then why gravitate towards them? 

In this episode, I take a deeper look at why we love both types of heroes. And even how the time of our life can be a big reason for it. 

P.S. be sure to check out my Facebook live launch party with Dr. Robert Snyder and his book, Why Did Daddy Have to Leave? This book is a follow up to What Is A Veteran, Anyway? – a children’s book detailing what veterans are and what those in the armed services do for the United States. 

You can find Dr. Snyder at https://www.robertsnyderbooks.com/

The Writer’s Lens – E33: “Soul Mates” In Storytelling – What Are They?

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-cy464-9236b2

“You complete me” – Jerry Maguire. 

It’s a famous line from the ’90s. One that spawned a great many parodies and memes in its wake. It’s a statement of love from one person to another. That without you, I’m not me. Or at the very least, I’m not the me I’m meant to be. You’re my soul mate – the one who completes my existence.

Yet – at the risk of sounding like a major Debbie downer – is this concept really true? Be it in the context of a fictional story or our waking lives. Truth can be stranger than fiction, but fiction can communicate truths in indirect ways. So, in this – rather ranty – episode, I dive deeper into what constitutes a “soul mate” in story. What does it look like? Why is it so attractive? And from my own perspective, does such a thing actually exist (fictional or non-fictional). And if you disagree, let me know. As a writer, I’m open to critique. 

Mostly. 

Enjoy! 

 

Links

Webpage: www.jclfaltot.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_writers_lens/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thewriterslens/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel 

The Writer’s Lens – E32: Showing People What They’ve Never Seen, Yet Telling Them What They Already Know

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-bgeyb-914863

There’s an old adage in storytelling: “show, but don’t tell”. It basically means this – when telling a story, it’s better to let your reader decipher the emotions, motivations, and settings rather than telling him what he ought to think or believe is happening. Sounds easy, but in practice, it’s harder than you may think. 

In this episode, I explore the nature of “show, don’t tell” and give some examples of what this looks like. Granted, there are times when “show, don’t tell” is appropriate. And there are times when it isn’t. 

Going deeper – what is it like to show people what they’ve never seen before, yet still tell them what they already know? What does that mean? And should writers, authors, storytellers be aware of this dynamic? Well, that’s another topic worth discussing in this episode. 

Enjoy! 

The Writer’s Lens – E31: When Timing Meets Thick Skin

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-9p3bf-90328c

You gotta have thick skin when you’re a creative. If there’s one thing I lacked early on, it was thick skin. The ability to take criticism – good or bad – and keep moving forward. Taking criticism is paramount to a writer’s long-term success. Hearing it; absorbing it; applying it. 

But, there was another thing I lacked even more: patience.

I’ve always possessed a strange anxiety about my writing. I’ve often thought that if I didn’t write my book fast enough – or publish it quick enough – then some other author might steal my idea. And therefore take my place in whatever niche I was trying to fill. Ultimately, this kind of worry is unnecessary. And highly toxic to a creative’s craft. 

And in hindsight, as much as I needed to learn the value of criticism, I also needed to learn the value of taking time with my ideas. Not just the good ideas, but my best idea. 

 

The Writer’s Lens – E30: For Every Creative, The Stakes Are Incredibly High

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-e78kf-8f474a

Inside every creative is an entrepreneurial spirit. Why? Because there’s an innate desire to make something new. Something original.  And when you have that kind of gumption, the stakes tend to rise. There is more at risk; more knowledge needed; and more confidence required to make your dream a reality. 

Enter the fear of failure. For even if we do share out gift with others, we still face the fear of being mocked or laughed at. It’s an experience that’s relative to every creative, and as a writer, I know how that can paralyze a person – no matter how gifted or talented he is. 

In this episode, I talk through that process of making my own leap into writing – only to realize how crowded the creative / entrepreneurial space really is. And even if we make it through the woods and back up the mountain to finish what we started, there’s a whole other plane of challenges waiting there for us too. And plenty more people trying to make it there too! 

So, as I said in the beginning, the stakes are high. And not everyone gets to the finish line first. 

P.S. if you enjoy this episode, be sure to like it or follow (however which way you choose to do so, i.e. iTunes, YouTube, Podbean, etc.). I can be found almost anywhere. Well, almost. 

The Writer’s Lens – E29: People Are Always Looking To Take Advantage Of Your Dreams

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-k22wz-8e85e9

We will go to great lengths to reach our dreams. We’ll throw caution to the wind. We’ll forget what it means to ‘play it safe.’ We will do more than the usual to get there. 

But, with that in mind, we must be careful of what that pursuit looks like to other people. Because if we are so willing to chase our dreams so blindly, then we must be cognizant of how others might take advantage of us. And our dreams. 

Yes, it’d be nice to live in a world where everyone has our best interests in mind. It would be less stressful, for sure. But, we don’t. And we can’t fool ourselves into thinking otherwise. As a creative – one who is writing books – I’ve had to learn this hard truth of entrepreneurship. My ideas are special to me. I want them to succeed. Yet, I can’t be someone who throws money at the next person willing to extend a helping hand. I have to be smarter than that. And so does anyone else trying to make his / her dream a reality. 

In this episode, I talk through a recent experience I had involving a potential scammer. With so many aspiring authors out there, the number of ‘reputable marketing agencies’ has also increased. And as I detailed above, this should not come as a surprise to anyone in the creative, entrepreneurial sphere of things. 

Enjoy! 

I Am Still Writing And I’m (Still) Publishing A Book This Year

I don’t do the blog thing much these days. Between parenting, husband-ing, socializing, podcasting – there is very little time for therapeutic writing (though writing a book is quite therapeutic).

That being said, I wanted to put something out there. Namely how I am still writing. Just not on this platform. I’m actually trying to finish a book. Yeah, no joke.

The Shadow of Mars, the follow up to The Road To Mars, should be available sometime this year. When? I have no idea. Don’t ask me. But, I am on the second read through of the manuscript. So that means I’m about 80% of the way to my goal.

Another goal I’m pushing towards is 1,000 unique followers and listens on my podcast, The Writer’s Lens. So, if you’re of the creative type, you’re writing a book, finding your “voice”, exploring hobbies and passion projects, and interested in taking that journey with another person foolish enough to share his insights and failures, then it’s a good place to check out.

So enough of the shameless self promotion. And back to that writing thing. Till next time.

J.C.L.

 

 

Of Heroes and Ordinary Men

As of late, I’ve been reading a book called Ordinary Men. It’s a recount of German police battalion 101; a documentation of the men who served as part of Nazi Germany’s Order Police during the Second World War. The policemen, as cataloged by author Christopher Browning, are given an assignment on the morning of July 13, 1942 that would change their lives forever. And subsequently, the lives of every Jewish man, woman, and child living in the ghetto of Jozefow. Though only police officers, the battalion is handed down orders to “liquidate” the entire ghetto and thus, murder every single Jewish person – amounting somewhere in the thousands – that resided within. As you might suspect, the orders are carried out in full. But, not without consequence. In the days and years that follow, the members of Battalion 101 experience extreme regret, bitterness, and entanglement of their very souls. It’s a chilling read and a grim reminder of how quickly things can devolve into madness.

What’s more, the book chronicles how so many of these average police officers were given a choice: to carry out their orders or to simply “walk out.” The majority of them did not choose the latter. And though some did outright, a vast majority of officers participated. The details of which I will leave for those who wish to read the book themselves.

As a writer of fiction, I am in the business of creating stories. Stories that not only tickle the imagination, but project images and ideals of I would constitute as heroic. For without heroism, few protagonists are memorable.

And yet, when it comes to real life, the heroes we find in story are remarkably absent. Bullies surround a kid at school and no one intervenes. An employee knowingly removes money from the company bank account and those in the know turn a blind eye. If confronted with these situations ourselves, we’d all like to believe we’d rise to the occasion. That we’d mirror the heroes of our favorite fantasy or fiction and become the star of our circumstances. However, as I’m reading through Ordinary Men, it’s easy to see that we aren’t always as virtuous as we tend to think, nor are we as brave as we’d choose to believe. External forces – coupled by our own internal ones – drive us to self-preserve, to retain self-interest, and forego the sacrifice that might be necessary to simply do what is good and just.

But, what is good and just? Writers have been tackling what is right and what is wrong since the beginning of time. And the more specific and morally gripping the scenario, the cloudier our answer tends to become. Yet by continually engaging in stories that challenge our thinking on these matters, we continue to cultivate the best parts of ourselves: the traits most associated with what is admirable and what is desirable. And that’s worth writing about.

For more on that topic, check out my latest podcast We All Wish We Could Be The Hero.

Good. Evil. What’s The Difference To A Writer?

Good versus evil. It’s a common tale; one that’s recreated and retold over and over again: Luke vs. Vader. Aragorn vs. Sauron. Harry Potter vs. Voldemort, to name a few. As a youth, I was exposed – like so many others – to this age-old battle. Bedtime stories portrayed what it meant to be “good” and by contrast, what it meant to be “bad.”

Often, readers differentiate good from evil because the authors make it known to them. The most common form is the monomyth, as coined by writers like Joseph Campbell. It’s the idea that a hero – the protagonist – embarks on a journey, sparked by a call to action, to upend some injustice that has been done to him or others. The climax of the journey is a showdown between protagonist and antagonist; with the antagonist representing the opposite objective of the protagonist. And in most cases, it’s the villain whom the hero must upend.

Yet, not every battle between good and evil is so black and white. Popular stories like Game of Thrones present characters who one moment may seem virtuous but a few scenes later reveal their selfish intentions. Heroes and villains are thus, harder to pinpoint.

To go even further, Showtime’s television drama, Dexter, follows a serial killer who – ironically enough – only kills “bad guys.” Though murder would usually be considered wrong or evil, in this narrative, the prospect of killing villains is portrayed as good. Or at the very least, is meant to challenge the viewer as to what he or she would do if given the same situations as Dexter.

For more on this subject, be sure to check out my latest podcast episode. And be sure to subscribe to my channel, The Writer’s Lens!

2017, A Few Notes

Ah, yes. Reflection time. Every blogger / online commentator’s opportunity to throw together a good list of “me moments”. One last shameless self-plug before the new year rings in. And since I’m not beyond shameless self-promotion, I did want to talk about a few things. Some worthy of note for progression’s sake. Some not-so-much but certainly worth mentioning.

So, here goes:

Worthy of note: I started a podcast. I have a small background working in radio and looking back, I’m sad I didn’t pursue it way back when. The Writer’s Lens has opened a lot of healthy dialogue and a lot of doors too. Not to mention (but I will) I was able to start the podcast because of the generous gift of a microphone.

Worthy of note: I got connected with many other creatives. And I was able to support them via my podcast while keeping up with them throughout the year.

Not-so-great: I got really sick. I didn’t share this publicly, but I went through a strange time this year where I became ill for a really long time. In short, I was having stomach issues for a couple months and things got a little scary for a while. I don’t write this as a please-pity-me moment, but rather, acknowledging how much this put my 2017 plans on hold. When 2017 started, I was hoping to finish my second book, The Shadow of Mars, and simultaneously start a few other projects. But, all that changed right around the end of January. Creatively, I was brought to a standstill. I found my downtime filled with anxiety rather than freedom and it really took a toll on me. Thankfully, I got pain-free in summer and just in time too, as that’s when the gift of a microphone came my way (to do that whole podcasting thing).

Worthy of note: I grew bolder. Not just in my creative pursuits, but in my faith too. This year my faith was tested more than any other previous year. But instead of retreating into a safe space, I learned how to present myself in a manner that was both gracious and firm. By no means did I master the technique, but I know I made leaps and bounds in this area.

Not-so-great: Social media drained me. And I’m pretty sure it drained a lot of others too. Since I’m a self-published author and Internet surfer, I check in to social media daily. However, I didn’t do it as much as I used to (which is probably a good thing according to current studies on the topic). The angriest voices became dominant voices. Or the ones who were most controversial. Or the ones who were the most divisive. That being said, I found that dipping out – even when I didn’t plan on it – turned out to be a good decision. Every time.

Worthy of note: I got handier. This is not necessarily a creative endeavor, but I wanted to make note of it. Well, maybe it is. Let’s just say I can do more than change lightbulbs around the house now.

Worthy of note: Lastly – to keep this post relatively short – 2018 holds potential. For anyone, really. Hope is a powerful ally. It’s an ally we forget we have when things don’t go as planned. My faith in Christ is something I’ve had to learn to grow in as I’m such a cerebral guy. When I find out about something new – and it interests me – I dive in deep. I find as much information on the topic as I can. And I don’t rest until I come to some kind of conclusive end on the subject. One which I can stand on. Faith is not always as black and white as that and contrary to what some may think, this does not make it illogical or foolish. Rather, it builds a new awareness in us.

Here’s to 2018 and learning to grasp onto hope – even more than I did in 2017.