What You Put Into The World Is What You Receive

My blog post A Positive End To A Shitty Week initiated several conversations in my house as well as online. One conversation happened via text message and went something like this:

“I love that blog post. I am on a mission to find JOY. Your picture grabbed me. So glad you listed to your gut and went. Love the JOY. That word is so powerful. Not so simple actually”.

This was just one of the conversations and it sparked so many thoughts.

My wife Jessica is fond of saying

“What you put out into the world is what you receive.”

This conversation happens frequently when I “Road Rage” while driving from point to point. When I am in a hurry or just frustrated with traffic, my raging doesn’t have any real effect. It simply makes me rage event more. If I put out rage, I get rage in return, the rage fuels itself. I contrast this with when Jess and I head out for leisurely “drives in the country. ” These drives have no real destination or schedule and I find my self at peace when on these trips. Road rage be gone! I have been using this technique when driving now. I try and drive with peace, calm and understanding. This makes my these trips more pleasant and calm for everyone involved.

There are more experiences that come to mind when thinking about what vibes I put out in the world. When I started as editor in chief of Code Magazine I tended to write my editorials with a good dose of snark. That was until my good friend and publisher Markus Egger IM’d me and made a recommendation that my editorials should take a more positive tone vs the snarky ones I was cranking out. I took this to heart and have written some 100+ editorials since, all the while trying to put positive energy into the world. What I have now is a legacy of positive material that is in the world permanently. Which leads me to another story that has stuck with me.

My friend Scott Hanselman has been blogging for 20+ years and one particular post has stuck with me: Don’t Give Bile A Permalink This post fits perfectly with my theme for this post and has some very valuable points of discussion. The blog post is lengthy and worth a read, but it’s the headline that stuck out the most. When writing (or posting online) do you want to leave a mark of negativity in the world (bile) or leave a positive mark? I am in the later category. I can say without reservation that Scott definitely walks his talk! If you read his posts, watch his videos or see him speak, you can see that he exerts positive energy into the world. His is an example to live by and a beautiful legacy

Now let’s contrast this with some of the other energies being put out into the world. There is an entire industry built around spreading rage into the world. This industry is 24-7-365 and is relentless in turning rage and anger into cash and clicks. I have good friends on social media that I must mute/ignore because their entire being is spreading rage and frustration via with memes, reposts and retweets. These items do nothing to move conversations forward or add positive energy into the world. These people are pissed for the sake of being pissed this is something that choose NOT to participate in. I choose to be positive.  They have a choice too. Heck maybe they will read this and will reflect on what they put out into the world. One can only hope!

The last few weeks have been a time of reflection and introspection for me. I was feeling burned out and miserable and decided I needed to make some changes. One of these changes was to restart my dedication to doing Morning Pages . For one reason of another I stopped doing this regularly and this had a negative impact on my mentality. Not doing this was affecting my: work, life, and creativity. A few weeks back I began anew and the positivity that it brought for so long returned. One of the most positive affects was that it got me writing again which is something I greatly enjoy and sorely missed.

There are other behaviors I am reincorporating as well. One is to refocus on my health. I try and get a 1-3 mile walk in daily. Getting out of the house is good for my mental state even if its only for a short duration. I am always surprised at that. It works so I’ll keep on that 🙂

I am also focusing more of my energy on writing, both professionally and personally. I have been a writer for most of my life and when I am not writing I feel like a bit lost. I have lot to say in case you haven’t guessed. So I have been writing more and more. I have been blogging, writing articles, working on screenplays, and have just started on another book. This is not to toot my own horn but to illustrate how pursuing your own interests can bring joy to your own soul as well as others. Hopefully like this blog post.

I hope this post find you well as we wrap up 2022 and that maybe it brings you a small amount of joy. Or better yet that it brings you joy that you can share with the world. We can all use more!

The Decline and Fall of the Theatrical Experience

The theatrical movie going experience as we know it is dead, and my theatrical movie going behavior is helping to seal its fate. I am a 100% died in the wool movie lover and personally enjoy watching movies in theatres. The problem is that I don’t go to the movies nearly as much as I used to, and I cannot see this changing any time in the foreseeable future. Let me tell you why…

Today I have a basic internal calculus I use to determine whether I see a movie in a theater vs waiting to see it on a streaming platform. The first part of this calculus begins with the question:” Is this a movie that is best enjoyed on the big screen?”  I guess what I really mean is: “Is this a SPECTACLE movie?” Examples of movies that fit this bill, and that I watched in theatres in 2022, are: Top Gun: Maverick, Bullet Train, Black Panther: Wakanda and finally in a few days the new Avatar sequel. In my mind each these films represent the type of spectacle films that I will show up for.

The second criteria in my theatrical vs streaming calculus resides in this question: “How long am I going to need to wait before I can watch this film at home?” For The Fablemans the answer is clear. Not too long!  The Fablemans was released “wide” theatrically few short weeks ago and is available to stream at home NOW, albeit with a $20.00 rental fee.  What I also know is in around 30 days this film will show up on one of my paid services for “free” and that is the most likely time I will view it.  Let me say this… If you told me that I wouldn’t rush to see a new STEVEN SPIELBERG film opening weekend I would tell you that you were crazy, plain, and simple. 

It is the second part of my calculus that is contributing to the decline of movie attendance for “smaller” films. You see the entertainment industry has TRAINED its consumers to be more particular about what types of films they go out to see. Do you really want to spend north of $50.00 to see a film (popcorn and soda included in this price) or do you simply want and watch this with a (much cheaper) bag of microwave popcorn and a can of pop. We all know with certainty that the wait to see films the comfort of your home is not very long so why drag your ass out to see a film? Honestly this makes me sad, but this is the reality we live under.

I would like to mention a little ray of hope. There are some “smaller” films that I will go out of my way to see as I don’t want to wait to see them at home. This generally the result of “buzz” surrounding a film 

Two of films come to mind. The first is called The Menu. I heard a TON of word of mouth about this one, and I left work early to catch it before it left the theatres. The second film is one I wanted to catch in a theatre but was unable to see. This film? Glass Onion. I 100% would have caught this in a theatre but Netflix only released it in theaters for ONE WEEK ONLY! The word of mouth was awesome, but my schedule was not, so I guess streaming it is for that one. 

I really wish this situation was different as I really love seeing films in theatres and will continue to do so albeit at a lower rate than I did in the past. As for the theatres themselves?  Who knows… Their business has been severely disrupted, and they are in sore need of a pivot of some type. Lets see what the future brings… The movie business has gone through multiple disruptions and it will be interesting to see what comes out on the other side of this

Adventures in Writing Part 2: The Amateur Years

My last post Adventured in Writing Part 1 talked about my experiences as a fledgling writer and how I published my 1st article. That experience was truly life affirming. Unfortunately, that was my 1st and last D&D related article. But this did happen:

Met Gary Gygax at a conference in Evansville, Indiana.

Not too long after the D&D article was published, my family moved to Bend Oregon where I registered at Central Oregon Community College. When I built my schedule, I took as many classes as possible that related to writing and publishing. Here’s my schedule (Yes, I have a lot of this crap in my binders)

I had every plan on becoming a full-time writer. As a matter of fact, one of my first papers for writing comp was called “Tales of a freelance writer”. Check out the red typewriter ink on this baby:

Term Paper For The Win!

During my tenure at C.O.C.C. I kept the dream of writing alive and the college newspaper became my outlet. I wrote few profiles of a couple of my instructors. Presented for your enjoyment: my profiles of Art Sanchez and Gene Taylor

Profile of Art Sanchez

One item I would like to note is that these two professors were in the Business Software track at the community college. I had changed my focus from becoming a writer to becoming a computer programmer. If you look at my schedule, you’ll see that in the 2nd and following semesters I took more and more technology programs. After a little more than 2 years I had succeeded in becoming a programmer. But what happened to my writing? Honestly my writing took a back seat to my coding. I had traded one passion for another.

After spending a few years as a programmer for a local vacation resort I set out for the big city: SEATTLE! After a brief stint working at CSC (Computer Sciences Corp), I went to work for a company called The Juiceman. You remember the Juiceman:

You know you’ve made it as a company when Jim Carry mocks your founder 😊 At the Juiceman I worked on a kick ass team where we toiled building innovative order entry, fulfillment and payment processing systems. For the time this was large scale application capable of supporting literally hundreds of users (LOL)

Our company was exploding at the seams and our team was in a race to keep up with the growth. One night we were deploying our software and things went horribly wrong. A conversion application we had written was seriously flawed and we had to roll back our deployment. This recovery was done with a partial backup I had miraculously created. It was not a planned backup, it was a lucky backup. After a very LONG night another LONG day after we managed to recover.

After some sorely needed rest we took time analyze what went wrong. I took copious notes. These notes rekindled something that had gone dormant: my desire to be a writer. “This could be a cool article” I thought to myself. But where to publish this article. In the next post I’ll talk about getting published professionally.

Adventures in Writing Part 1

A good friend of mine C. Robert Cargill  is a screen writer who spends a lot of his time on Twitter (@massawrym) mentoring writers. The biggest themes in his mentoring include: being disciplined and never giving up. I wanted to share my story to help emphasize theme of never giving up.

My story begins in the early 80’s. In the early 80’s I, like many other writers, discovered the game Dungeons & Dragon. I was a player and eventually became a dungeon master. As the mid 80’s rolled around I got deeper into the game and eventually started to go to D&D conventions that occurred throughout the Los Angeles area. Along with attending D&D conventions I felt the urge to write about the game I truly loved. I had a goal: I wanted to be published in either Dragon (the O.G. of D&D magazines) or Dungeon (a new magazine dedicated to short one adventures).

My first submission was an adventure for the new magazine called Dungeon: 

Here you can see my 1st submission being SOUNDLY REJECTED…

Being the ever diligent adventurer (writer) I didn’t give up. I started work almost immediately on my next article. This one would be for Dragon Magazine and had the title “Before First Level”. This one took a long time and I was proud of the work. When I was done I printed it on the good old dot-matrix printer in computer science class (APPLE IIe and submitted it to Dragon Magazine c/o TSR Hobbies.

It took forever to get a response. Oh no, it was another rejection…. But WAIT! This time the rejection letter had a NOTE. Check it out…

Yup I received praise from the Editor in Chief…. The one and only Roger Moore (no not James Bond) He said I had talent. WOW this was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. I persevered. While I waited to hear from Dragon Magazine, I became a member of the RPGA (Role Playing Gamers Association). The RPGA had a newsletter called Polyhedron.  Oh boy yet another place I could possibly get published….

I soon went to work putting together a submission for Polyhedron. My 1st article for Poly was called “Solutions to the Monty Haul” campaign.

I soon received a letter from Jean Rabe the editor in chief of Polyhedron. She rejected the article:

She also suggested I flesh out one of the threads in the article… I chose an idea related to taxes. I called it “The Role of Taxes” This one was put together on a typewriter and submitted to Polyhedron. Sometime later I received a note from Jean… CONGRATULATIONS we will be printing your article in a future issue of Polyhedron.

My 1st (non-professional) article was published in Issue #38 of Polyhedron. Here’s the table of contents with a shot of the cover and the text of the printed article..

This publication occurred in 1987 and it took me nearly 5 more years before I got paid to write. Now I didn’t stop writing I just had stuff like college take over a bit. In my next part I’ll talk about college and how I became a professional writer.