Transformative Loops

I have found the key to happiness.

It’s not an original idea. You’ll find forms of it throughout various cultures, religions, philosophies and the sciences.

The more experience I gain in this lifetime, the more I notice everything moves in cycles. I started studying these cycles, and found the most interesting and useful ones sustain themselves. Here I’ve attempted to strip the most relevant two down to their simplest form. I call them the Positive Loop, and the Negative Loop.

The goal in life is to get into as many of the Positive Loops as you can, and away from the Negative ones. To do this you must first become aware of the various loop cycles you’re in, identify the negative ones, and make conscious effort against habits you’ve formed to break out of them.

I call this a Transformative Loop, one that actually breaks a Negative Loop and creates a Positive Loop in its place.

Once again, these are very simplified, much like representing an entire automobile engine by showing a single piston. By doing this, it makes it easier to see the solution. And, yes, the solution is simple, though identifying it may not be.

Now if this were a self-help book, I would spend 20 pages convincing you to read the book, three pages of introducing the idea, and the next 140 pages convincing you the idea works through endless sets of examples. My friends, I’m not going to put you through that. I want to share this with you because it can make your life better. By making your life better, it makes the lives of others close to you better, and so on.

If you already get the picture, you can stop reading right now. Go find examples of Positive and Negative loops in your life. Write them down. Study them. Figure out where you can break the Negative loops and turn them Positive.

Seriously, that is your mission. I want you to do this. It’s good for you, your friends, your family, and even for me. For everyone.

Writers on Writing

I’ve begin posting a series of videos on my MojoWriter.com website, featuring authors talking about writing (among other things). I’ll be posting a new video at least every other day for the next few weeks. For instance, here’s Kurt Vonnegut:

To see more, head over to MojoWriter.com.

May I Take Your Order, Please?

Something I wrote to get my head around a scene that I was working on in Eleven Days on Earth.

A waiter walked up to the table
Wearing a suit jacket that was far too small—
There was no way he could button it, and the
Sleeves came halfway up to his elbows
He sported a overlarge red bow tie
Black curly hair with oil in it, and
A large, obviously fake mustache
Which curled in waxed spirals at the ends.

“May I take your order, please?” he asked.

Before we could answer
A nude woman holding a pomegranate, with a
Bayoneted rifle slung over her shoulder
And flanked by two huge yellow and black tigers
Complained that she had been stung by a bee
And wanted her money back.

We sat for eleven minutes waiting
Then realized that ants were eating the silverware.

Virtual Interviews with Real People

This is the future, and I often hang out in virtual worlds. And in these virtual worlds I occasionally meet and become friends with real people, a lot of them authors. One of these authors interviewed me for his blog, which was fun, but even better he interviewed a very interesting and talented writer who’s book I’m reading right now: Jane Watson

A novel by Jane Watson
ISBN: 0 330 36361 1
Picador - Pan Macmillan
Australia

An excerpt from the interview: “Hindustan Contessa is a novel set in Australia and India which follows the journey of an Australian couple, as they travel in an Indian car to meet the husband’s Indian grandmother for the first time, in his family’s ancestral village. The novel’s title comes from a particular car once manufactured in India, the Hindustan Contessa, which the couple travels in,  and which seemed to me a fitting image of a dual culture. This car, once made by Hero motors of India, was an imitation of a modern Western style car with a dash of Indian style. It attempted, I felt, to have a foot in both cultures. I wanted it to symbolise the cultural identity crisis that the main characters face.”

Another major part of the story is about the couple being kidnapped and held for ransom in a cave up in the Indian hills — which is beautifully foreshadowed in the book’s introduction, a particularly visual and immediate telling of Persephone’s journey into the underworld.

You can read more about the story, its creation, and the creative process: An Interview with Jane Watson by Alexander M Zoltai.

While I have never met Alex or Jane, at least not in person, I get to hang out with them through the magic of virtual reality, interacting with them in a video-game-like environment that enables communication on a level that I still find astonishing. All physical boundaries dissolve. The people involved in these discussions are from all over the world, with very different backgrounds and viewpoints, but all having common interests. The only barrier that I really find is the one of time zones. The place where we meet and discuss is called Book Island, on a system called Second Life (the continued existence of which seems to be a surprise to a lot of people — when in fact Second Life is not only alive and well, but thriving).

You can find out more about Alexander M Zoltai, his book Notes From An Alien, and his attempts to influence world peace, at his blog. Also you can find our interview as well: Author Interview with Jerry J. Davis.

Plant Seeds and Starships

For anyone who wants to see a genuine miracle, pop open a plant seed.

The amazing thing about life is that it’s a form of matter that replicates itself. Each seed contains all the information and mechanics it needs to accomplish this.

And you can hold it in your hand. It’s a portable miracle. You can even eat them.

Seeds have always fascinated me, and they’re now serving as the basis of a novel manuscript I’m writing. One of the most important endeavors humanity must work on is to develop the technology to replicate a seed, and encode everything needed to grow a whole world inside it.

It is possible. It can be done. And it’s far more feasible than trying to send a starship full of living people (frozen or otherwise) on a journey lasting thousands of years.

Just send a seed. Send a lot of them – small, compact, self-controlled, self-replicating, self-healing, and able to last for millions of years. Scatter them across the galaxy. If any of them succeed, they will send more, and each one will build a whole world full of Earth life. They would be, literally, Earth’s own seeds.

I truly believe this is the only way Humanity is going to spread to the stars.

Here’s the very premature teaser that popped into my head for this current manuscript:

A million years in the future.

Ten different worlds.

Ten different people.

The same DNA.

Eleven Days on Earth

11 Days - BW CoverI’m happy to announce that the novel I’ve been working on for the past three years (or has it been longer than that?) is now finally released for the Amazon Kindle.

From Amazon.com’s Editorial Reviews:

Jon August is dead.

If that weren’t bad enough, the place he lands in the afterlife is one where souls prefer vodka, not beer. That’s a problem because Jon is a beer lover. Not just any beer, either. Good beer. Great beer. Because he knows that mankind’s civilization owes everything to beer. It’s the actual Holy Water.

Jon meets and falls under the spell of a mysterious goddess who helps him find his way back to the land of the living. Under the Bridge of Eternity, through the Sands of Time — to emerge not as a ghost, but a living mortal, one who can die again.

His mere presence upsets the balance of our world, and Jon finds himself a pawn in a power struggle between the modern gods — in particular, the feuding daughters of Time and Fate. One is acting as his guardian angel, while the other is trying to kill him. Jon must stay alive long enough to find the Holy Beer and, in the process, stop the power grab being made on our Universe — a struggle where not only is humanity’s fate hanging in the balance, but also the fate of our eternal souls.

Links:

How to Discover Your True Life’s Desires

It’s a very good thing to have dreams and aspirations. The problem is, which ones do you chase? Which ones do you lock in as a goal, and work toward? For some people this is a no-brainer, but for others — especially creative types who have a very large range of interests — choosing can be difficult. So difficult, in fact, that you end up making no choice at all.

Another pitfall is choosing to pursue something that, in the end, you lose interest in. The time in your life is finite, and it’s a shame to waste that time and energy chasing something that turns out to be a whim. That’s why it’s best to take some time up front, studying, to discover what it is you really want out of life, before you dedicate a lot more time working toward it.

It’s like that Talking Heads song Seen and Not Seen, where the guy spends years slowly changing the shape of his own face to an ideal, which — halfway through — he decides isn’t what he really wants.

Here’s what I did, and it worked for me. Maybe it will work for you as well.

Spend a couple weeks making a list of the things you really want out of life. Don’t be afraid to think big. What is it you really want?

Don’t worry about listing them in order, and if you think of something else later, you can add it in at any time.

My [highly edited] personal example:

  • See New Zealand
  • Get a pro camera
  • Write for a living
  • Become a gourmet chef
  • Paint pictures
  • Pursue photography
  • Own a Starbucks
  • Live in a beach house
  • Own a Bookstore
  • Learn computer programming
  • Learn database programming

Make sure you don’t lose this list. I kept mine on a Palm Pilot, because iPhones weren’t around yet and I carried my PDA with me everywhere. You can keep it on your computer, in the cloud, or in a paper notebook you know you won’t lose. It doesn’t matter where just as long as it’s accessible and safe.

Now, over the course of the next 6 months to a year (or even longer if you’d like), go down this list and rate your desire for each one on a scale from zero to ten, using decimals if you so choose. Do it at least once a month. When you’re done, you’ll have a list of numbers beside each:

  • See New Zealand – 8 / 3 / 5 / 9 / 9 / 6 / 7 / 7 / 8 / 10
  • Get a pro camera – 8 / 9 / 9 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 3 / 7 / 8 / 10
  • Write for a living – 7 / 9 / 8 / 9 / 7 / 6 / 9 / 10 / 9 / 10
  • Become a gourmet chef – 7 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 3 / 4 / 8 / 4 / 5 / 4
  • Paint pictures – 7 / 8 / 4 / 3 / 0 / 2 / 4 / 3 / 7 / 0
  • Pursue professional photography – 6 / 10 / 8 / 2 / 0 / 2 / 3
  • Own a Starbucks – 5 / 0 / 1 / 0 / 0
  • Live in a beach house – 9 / 8 / 10 / 8 / 9 / 8 / 7 / 8 / 10
  • Own a Bookstore – 4 / 0 / 3 / 0 / 2 / 2
  • Learn computer programming – 1 / 1 / 0 / 2 / 4 / 0 / 0
  • Learn database programming – 1 / 3 / 0 / 1 / 2 / 4 / 1 / 1

You can see immediately the goals I’ve consistently craved over time are things like a beach house and a really cool camera. One of the things obviously a whim was my desire to open a Starbucks of my very own.

Now, average each one up and sort them highest to lowest:

  • Write for a living – 8.5 Average
  • Live in a beach house – 8.4 Average
  • See New Zealand – 7.3 Average
  • Get a pro camera – 6.9 Average
  • Become a gourmet chef – 4.5 Average
  • Pursue professional photography – 4.5 Average
  • Paint pictures – 3.8 Average
  • Own a Bookstore – 2.0 Average
  • Learn database programming – 1.8 Average
  • Own a Starbucks – 1.2 Average
  • Learn computer programming – 1.1 Average

And there you go. You have a well researched list of what you want out of life. Concentrate on the top of the list, and forget about everything averaging below a six in your ratings.

I did this about eight years ago. I’m now writing for a living, I’ve saved up for and bought the camera, but I haven’t made it to New Zealand yet — though I have made it to Europe several times. And while I don’t live on the beach, I’ve found a beautiful place nestled right up against stream. So you see, once you’ve set your goals you know what to focus on and work toward — you can achieve them!

Now right in the middle of all this you may stumble into something else that fires your rockets. Add it in. Pursue it a bit. Study it as well. Times change, interests change … if I were to do this list now, it would look substantially different.

The most important thing is to make sure you enjoy life, and keep enjoying it. It could turn out that something on your list (that you’ve wanted for over a year) will suddenly drop off after you’ve started pursing it. Maybe something you pursued while you were making your list takes its place.

It’s okay. If you feel a passion for something, and the passion doesn’t fade, you may not even need to make a list or study your long term desires.

If that happens, then go for it!

If not, then at least you have a solid place to start. And everything you do, learn from it. If you can do that then nothing is wasted, and you’re living your life to its fullest.