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

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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.

 

 

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!

“Our memories aren’t perfect.” – Brent McLaughlin, writer

In my latest interview, I posed a question to my friend, Brent McLaughlin, what it was like to journal on a regular basis. Aside from giving our thoughts a place to rest, Brent summed up his experience like so: it’s a means to look into where I’ve been; where I’ve come from. Because as he put it, “our memories aren’t perfect.”

I couldn’t have agreed more with that statement.

I’ve never been good at keeping a journal. I make time for reading in the morning. I make time for writing the next chapter of my book. But, when it comes to decompressing my thoughts in a journal form, I just don’t do it. And as of late, I wish I did.

Rushing from one thing to the next in life can make us feel like hamsters on a wheel. Most of us are good at setting goals. We look at our resources. We set our parameters – and we go for it. Yet we don’t always know how or what brought us there once we make it (if we even do). I believe if we took more time to reflect on what it was that got us through, we might appreciate our accomplishments more. We may slow down more. We may even enjoy our lives more.

Because, again, our memories aren’t always perfect. And we need those little reminders as often as we can get them.

“How old are veterans anyway? I wanted to change that perspective.” – Dr. Robert Snyder, author of “What is a Veteran, Anyway?”

Veterans’ Day has come and passed. Yet, I am reminded of a great conversation I had with a veteran – and author – who was kind enough to let me interview him. On both fronts: being an author and being a veteran.

Dr. Robert Snyder is a professor, author, and former Iraqi war veteran whom I had the pleasure of meeting at a book signing back in October. He was covered from head to toe in military garb, and when I asked what he’d written a book about, I was (somewhat) surprised to find that he’d penned a children’s book. Its title was What is a Veteran, Anyway? And after some conversation, I asked him to appear in an interview for my podcast, The Writer’s Lens. When he agreed, we were able to dig deeper into the inspiration behind his book.

Turns out, Dr. Snyder had a vision for teaching young people about war veterans – a concept I found as intriguing as his rationale for doing it (and I’ll paraphrase): “When you think about a war veteran, you may visualize someone well into his or her’s later years. But, not all veterans are like that.”

In addition to that, Dr. Snyder hopes to educate others on what a family may experience when one’s parent is overseas. I can say I’ve never had that experience as neither of my parents served in the military. But, I have had the experience of family (my eldest brother) and friends / acquaintances being in active duty. The strain of these circumstances can be relationship-threatening both abroad and back on home soil. Dr. Snyder tackles these bigger concepts in picturesque form that isn’t too gritty and isn’t too “child-like” either. His work has earned him the distinction of being the 2017 winner of the Notable Social Studies Trade Book award for young people and a rather rigorous tour schedule (see his photos from recent events here). 

To see my full interview with Dr. Snyder, you can hop on to YouTube. Or, if you’d rather audio over my smiling face, you can find the audio-only version on iTunes or going here.

You can also find Dr. Snyder on Facebook and Instagram.