Friday, April 25, 2014 04:57

Archive for March, 2012

Life is a Spiral, Not a Straight Line

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

The myth of the young genius, the early blooming prodigy, the athlete peaking at 22, has us all in its grip.  But that is just a myth — a myth that deserves to be busted. Thanks to the efforts of some wonderfully inspiring bloggers, that dream killing belief that you have to succeed young or not at all is crumbling.

America’s love affair with youth destroys dreams every day, as people sadly put aside the computer, the paint brush, the guitar, convinced that they’re too old to do what they long to do.  But thanks to the magic of the Net, the message is emerging that none of that is true.

I’ve just helped in the writing of an eBook on memory and cognition — and I’ve learned some astonishing stuff that challenges those beliefs about youth and dreams. Did you know:

Certain kinds of memory functions don’t even develop until midlife? Intelligent memory — the ability to synthesize information from multiple sources, weigh alternatives and “think outside the box” can’t fully develop until enough complex neural pathways have been laid.

Learning new things actually makes the brain lay down those pathways.  Studies have shown that the brain structure of a 20 year old and a 70 year old are actually not substantially different.

Brain scans show that  people who engage in creative work have better blood flow to the brain, and more complex neural pathways that encourage multifaceted thinking and imagination.

I’ve become a fan of Later Bloomer and Write it Sideways, two blogs dedicated to proving that when it comes to creative flowering, youth ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Later Bloomers just featured a segment on the writer William Gay, whose gorgeous Southern Gothic voice didn’t get much recognition till he was in his fifties. There’s a video of Gay speaking about his work — a beautiful, grizzled man, talking with that calm centeredness that characterizes creative people speaking ab0ut what they do.

Gay, like many of us, led a life that can be characterized as “eclectic” and sometimes just plain rough.  But his writing was always a part of it, and when the time was right it took center stage.

Life isn’t really lived in a straight line. We move in spirals, like the shape of shells and galaxies, circling back again and again to the things that matter, the visions we long to manifest. At different points on that spiral, different pieces become real.  We never close doors to who we really are — and as the quantum physicists remind us, time is not at all what we think it is.

 

The Mighty Cyber Pen

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Whatever kind of writing you do, you have the power to create change. In fact, that’s the magic of creative work of all kinds — it draws back the veil, turns over rocks, shows people things they wouldn’t otherwise see.

“I Was Discriminated Against” is the title of blogger Ollin Morales’ post from March 26, 2012. Ollin has a very cool blog called Courage 2 Create, which chronicles his journey through writing his first novel. Along the way he offers a lot of good advice and information for writers of all kinds. Ollin also writes guest posts for lots of other blogs.

Except one.  Ollin was turned down for a guest spot by a blogger he calls “A” for one reason only: he’s gay. Not because of what he writes, or how well he writes, or any of a number of writing-relevant reasons. It’s because of who he is. Can’t believe that still happens in the world. But we writers can do a lot to change it.

I learned about Ollin’s experience through Carol Tice’s Make a Living Writing update, titled “How to Create World Peace With Your Blog,” in which she discusses the amazing power of the Internet to create community and promote positive change.

So I visited his blog, where he talks about what happened and encourages other writers to tackle the issue on their blogs. The outpouring of comments and suggestions on his blog shows yet again the power of the Internet — and the power of writers, who have a platform wider than any that has ever existed in the world to tell their stories, root out the bad stuff and showcase the good.

The Internet is a strange, busy place, full of the anger and hate of people who’ve never been able to speak out in a public forum before.  If you don’t believe that, just take a look at the Comments section for just about any news or lifestyle story on Yahoo.  But Carol’s post points out the opposite. Maybe we can’t completely create world peace. But we can wield the might of the Cyber Pen to expose the bad stuff and challenge people to see things in a different light. It’s one way to say “thanks” for the amazing gift of doing what we do. Part of the job, as it were.

Because of Ollin’s experience, I’m doing something I never thought I’d need to do on this site — I’m posting an anti-discrimination policy.  No one’s voice should be stifled just because of who they are.

Talk to me: How are you using your creative powers for good?