I Will Have Your Soul

I Will Have Your Soul

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Character Sketch: Entirely Made-Up Stories About an Entirely Real Man

Garage Sales

Photo credit: Mark Turnauckas

Last week I traveled to my Grandma’s house, an hour away from my own, in order to help her with a garage sale. For about four hours, I set my young muscles to the task of moving tables and lifting heavy boxes full of square-dancing clothes, random bits of mismatched jewelry, and old junk that had apparently once taken up space in her house but I had never seen. And that night, we put prices on memories.

The most abundant items at the sale were the John Deere collectibles: two old gas lamps, keychains, pins, pocket watches, wrist watches, a rain gauge, a thermometer, tractor figurines, pens, mugs, magnets, a pencil case, a teddy bear in a t-shirt, and a huge assortment of mint condition belt buckles. And after a significant amount of time had passed and no interest had yet been shown in the collection, a man stopped by who looked at nothing else.

I’d put him at about six foot three, a completely random estimate based on the fact that, for the vast majority of our interactions, I was always looking up. But from my vantage point, I had a clear view of all the outward traits which truly mattered. Despite his skinny frame, he carried a large amount of weight in his stomach, a protruding beer belly barely covered by a tattered striped shirt desperately seeking the top of his navy blue stretch shorts. A beat up baseball cap shadowed but didn’t hide his blotchy gray hair and haughty countenance as he bent over the neatly organized table of John Deere memorabilia.

And as I thought hopefully to myself that perhaps now we’d make some money off these things, the man pulls out a tiny magnifying glass, like a jeweler’s loupe, and attached it to his finger. One by one, he inspected the belt buckles, probably looking for dates or serial numbers or however else you tell something is worth money. Between inspections, he’d let me know how we’d put the pricing stickers in the wrong places and that the adhesive would ruin whatever surface it was we had put them on.

He was there for maybe an hour or more, taking a magnifying glass to our memories, and in that time I had constructed a good number of possible life stories for this odd man, his cheap clothing, and his obvious fascination with buckles.

He was a homeless man. The holes in the shoulders of his shirt were where moths had chewed through while he slept in the back of an abandoned truck behind a half-star restaurant. He’d found the jeweler’s glass in a dumpster somewhere and had taken to roaming around the city looking for garage sales to inspect things and pretend he knew more about them than he really did.

“I’m gonna make myself a nice pile of these right here,” he said, placing belt buckles on the corner of the table where I kept the money-box.

He’s an antique dealer. He travels around to garage sales and auctions and the like, wearing those dirty old clothes in order to fool people and get a cheaper price out of them. He’s not very smart though: the loupe is a bit of a giveaway.

No, he’s too bitter for that. He’s probably a —

“Can you go down to $3 on these? It’s not even John Deere. See here, this one’s K—–”

— man that divorced his wife. She probably took all he had, considering the state of his clothes. The beer belly is evidence of heartbreak and the cold exterior of a love gone sour. Definitely a former jeweler.

A child walked near him, lost in a handheld video game he’d found on a table nearby, and the man patted his back in an awkward attempt to be friendly. “Did’ya find somethin’ there, boy?”

A dad, for sure. One who was too caught up in his work and his collections to pay much attention to the kids his wife finally took after the divorce. He’s here to continue feeding his addiction by buying up our stuff.

His heart aches for a connection. Whatever his life was before, it’s empty now. And in a desperate attempt to fill it up, he moves restlessly from garage sale to garage sale buying trinkets and knick-knacks, hoping to somehow absorb the memories of the owners as he evaluates us and our worth through his little jeweler’s glass.

“So, what’s my total now?

But I guess it doesn’t really matter.

Quote #7

“When I face the desolate impossibility of writing five hundred pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One day’s work is all I can permit myself to contemplate.” — John Steinbeck

Treating Your Creative Problem with John Cleese, M.D.

Have you been feeling uncreative lately? Lethargic? Bogged down by work, social life, and remembering to feed your cat?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be suffering from moderate to severe writer’s block.

And yes, I’m a sufferer too.

But don’t worry, I may have found the solution.

John Cleese’s five steps to unleashing your creativity may just be the cure you’re looking for. But first, let’s discuss what it is.

In this presentation on the difficulties people face with creativity, actor/writer/creative specialist John Cleese claims that by simply following five simple steps people can break down the dreaded writer’s block and harness their existing creative abilities. He states that no one person is necessarily more creative than the other, but is perhaps better at getting in the right mindset for creativity to flourish. Here’s how you do it:

1) Space – To get into the “open mode” (the frame of mind where creativity lies), one must create a separate physical space for thinking, one which is closed off from outside pressures. If your thinking-space is in the middle of the living room, the same room in which your children are playing and the phone is ringing off the hook, you won’t be placing yourself in an environment conducive to creativity. One must create a separate and quiet space for thought.

2) Time – You must be in your quiet space for a certain amount of time, starting and ending at a particular time. Be sure to allot this time for pure, distraction-free thinking. As a recommendation, an hour and a half is generally a sufficient amount of time to allow racing thoughts to cease and to facilitate creativity.

3) Time – Altogether a different step, this time refers to time allotted to pondering an idea. Cleese found that the longer a person plays with an idea, the more original that idea becomes. If a person were to simply take the first idea that came to them, that idea might not be original at all. It is those who can survive the anxiety of not having yet solved the problem, those who have taken the time to expand upon and play with their ideas, who have the most original and creative thoughts.

4) Confidence – Always remember that there is no wrong answer. People who believe that their ideas are wrong or not good will lose confidence and be less likely to be creative. Ideas are stimulated by environments which are free of negativity. If swapping ideas with others, never feel that you have to be defensive about your ideas. Encouragement and playing with ideas is a better and more appropriate way of fostering original thoughts. You cannot make mistakes. There are none.

5) Humor – Don’t forget to have fun with it. There’s no need to get so “serious” about trying to force creative thoughts out. Laugh at your ideas. Laugh at other things. But always laugh. Humor is the quickest way to get into the open mode and its the easiest way to stay there.

Keeping these five steps in mind, allow your brain to play with your subject or topic. Don’t force anything. Original thoughts have the oddest way of popping up in random places if one allows oneself to think.

John Cleese as a civil servant in the halls of...

We’d never have this hilarious bit if someone didn’t sit down to think about it.

Which of these five steps do you struggle with most? Space? Time? Time? Confidence? Humor? And if you have other tips or “medication” for solving writer’s block and boosting creativity, let me know in the comments.

Let There Be Light

Let There Be Light

 

Quote #6

“If you’re reading this…Congratulations, you’re alive. If that’s not something to smile about, then I don’t know what is.” — Chad Sugg, Monsters Under Your Head

Blog Boost: Becky Says Things

I don’t know how many of you have noticed, but the word “life” is the first word in “LifeAccordinglee.” And one would assume that, with that kind of a name, the person who created this blog must have intended to, at least at some point, write about life. And because I am the proud owner of this lovely work-in-progress, I guess that would mean I should be writing about life.

And I suppose I do.

For the most part.

Starting out, I had indeed intended this blogĀ  to be more of a mishmash of my opinions on life and all the positive, negative, and hilarious things that come with it, but lately the blog has evolved by focusing more on regular life and the life of a writer (essentially, my own life). And although this evolution might not necessarily be a bad change (or a good one), it certainly has left behind the original purpose of the blog: writing about life’s…things.

Though I may have failed in this department, my next featured blogger has not. Becky writes about things.

Becky Says Things is one of my recent blogging finds. She’s quirky. She’s funny. She’s British. Not to mention, fantastically clever.

Basically, Becky says things about all sorts of things. Becky says things about the dentist. Becky says things about monstrous things about working in an office. Becky says things about failed exercise attempts.

Becky says things about things normal people constantly think about yet overlook when seeking inspiration for a story. This is why I’m saying these things about Becky.

I think she’s absolutely hysterical. She writes with a strong, personal voice that makes the stories feel like they’re being spoken to you by your close friend. Her concept is original: she uses a Stickman and various other drawings to illustrate and add further detail to her stories. She’s been FreshlyPressed, which is a huge accomplishment in itself, but I think her blog deserves even more recognition. That is why I’m saying things about Becky Says Things.

Please check out her blog, like a post, follow, fall in love. I don’t know how she doesn’t have a million followers by now, but she definitely deserves them. I only wish I could find the way to say so many clever things about so many…things.

Click the picture below to check it out!

blog boost3