Thanksgiving and Week 31 of Julia Cameron

Nov 21, 2017 by

Thanksgiving and Week 31 of Julia Cameron

In that time I’ve not missed a single day of Morning Pages. I’ve had my mom and daughters tell me, when I’ve encouraged them to follow suit, that they can’t do something like that–write something daily where they must commit to writing three pages before doing anything else every day. Mom says it feels heavy handed.

I even had a doctor two weeks ago tell me that “it’s hardly traditional medical therapy.” He scoffed. He was asking what I was doing to improve my mental health while I’ve been recovering from my back surgeries, getting off ten-and-a-half-months of opioids and trying to put my life back together.

He can doubt it all he wants. I know what it’s done. It’s brought me closer to God. My Morning Pages have helped me focus on what’s most important. They have helped me understand what I have to be thankful for. And as my daughters and I celebrated our Thanksgiving early this past Sunday, I kept those things in mind.


Now what I’m thankful for in large part is my own business. There are some obvious things. My church family. The love of my God, my daughters, my dear dog–Maycee. My own family–parents, brothers, and sister. A handful of church friends who have become what Julia Cameron calls my reflecting mirrors. People who are positive and supportive. People who give me encouragement and who are supportive to me as an artist. Who help feed me with positive support and ideas. People who are safe to share ideas with and who won’t make fun of me because I made myself vulnerable. I am blessed to have these rare and few people in my life and to have take comfort in their kind words.

May art has thrived because of them.

I still struggle daily because of what has happened to me. It’s been 18 months now and I am still afflicted with pain. This past week a doctor told me that a secondary aspect that I was not aware of may not ever go away–a result of the opioids, one that I had before that has been compounded because of the opioids–migraine headaches. It’s Monday, Nov. 21. I have an entry in my phone from Nov. 21, 2016–a year ago today that notes being hardly able to do anything because of my headaches. A year later, the pain is not much better, in spite of a high dosage of a med called Trokendi. I’m functioning but their are side effects, and I have had my present numbing headache for seven days now. I’m not thankful for that, but I’m doing my best to manage.

Julia Cameron

I have come to enjoy the days when I do work in Walking in this World, the third book of the Julia Cameron self-improvement trilogy. My mentor, Suzanne Frank from SMU says she believes it is the best of the three books and I can see why she says that. There is so much that is good in this third book.

Used to be I would put on Facebook about the progress I’d made on writing in The Voodoo Hill Explorer Club. I’m not doing that anymore, and I know why now. It does drain energy from the progress of the book when it’s done. Tis far better to put that energy into the production of the work and safe it for when it’s done. So much so that I even hate to mention it here. So that’s it for now.

I keep a stack of books next to me for reference. They are great tools. Some of them I’m learning to memorize. And where would I be without my Smith-Corona Super-Sterling. Want to change how you write? Get a typewriter.

Time to get back to what I do. Writing.

I saw a post on the Internet today that has become more and more obvious to me. It says that the secret to being a good writer is 3 percent talent and 97 percent not being distracted by the Internet. Time to enforce the 97 percent….


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Oct 13, 2017 by


The 1960s Smith-Corona Super Sterling typewriter. My “new” writing tool of old.

I have a new writing tool this week. It’s probably almost as old as I am–a Smith-Corona Super Sterling typewriter. The same model my dad had when I was a kid. Same color, same everything.

Now why would a writer with three Mac computers and an iPad Pro with the cool keypad and Apple Pencil possibly need with a typewriter that’s nearly a half-century old you might ask?

The answer is simple: it’s slowing my writing down.


In either The Artist’s Way or Finding Water, the first of the two trilogy books by Julia Cameron, she writes about many of her writing friends getting typewriters. But she also encourages in the daily writing of Morning Pages that they be done by hand–not on a typewriter and certainly not  on a computer. Why? Because on a computer we don’t go deep enough in our thoughts, particularly with Morning Pages.

Guess what I’m finding in four days of having a Super Sterling on the desk next to my MacBook Pro?

I’m going a lot deeper in my writing on my novel than I ever have before when I slide paper onto the drum of the Smith-Corona and I begin to type.

Now maybe an argument can be made that I’d go even deeper if I were to write the book in hand, but I think there are limits to how far back I need to go with this experiment.


The reason I bought this respective model is, like I said, it’s the same one my dad had when I was young. From age 10 on, I also began using his typewriter to compose stories or whatever it was I was doing at the time to pursue a life-long dream to be a writer. I’d previously had a toy red plastic typewriter at that point in my life and it was time for an upgrade. Being able to use Dad’s mint green Smith-Corona put me on the big stage, or so it felt.

It still feels that way.

There is excitement in feeding a blank piece of paper into the drum of the machine, setting the paper so it is aligned straight, and then snapping it into place.

Writing with a typewriter is changing how I write. It’s allowing me to go DEEP.

I don’t have to worry too much about typos. This isn’t going to be seen by anyone but me, but what comes out is intimate. Already. The writings are far better. I’m finding I can put myself in the place of my character I’m writing about. My character is living in the same period as I was as a boy. In the same location. With the same typewriter. I’m getting back some of the play I had as a kid. I’m finding some of the innocence that was lost. And I’m dreaming of a simpler time. A happier time.

But I’m also able to find ways to turn the screws tight on my characters now. I’m enjoying this. And it’s all making more sense now. This is what I’ve been needing.

And with the help this week of Donald Maass, Heather Sellers, Jack Bickham, K.M. Weiland, and Julia Cameron, I’ve found a new gear for my writing.

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Novel Writing Tips: Let the Images do the Storytelling

Aug 29, 2017 by

Novel Writing Tips: Let the Images do the Storytelling

Julia Cameron has an exercise in one of her books where she asks you to list your favorite authors and then write something you feel they would tell you as writing advice if they were sitting at the coffee table with you. So far, I’ve come up with 16 and over the next few weeks, I’m going to share some of them.

I feel funny doing this, being an unpublished author. One dealt a setback Friday at that. But one determined to persevere regardless.

But as I’ve seen on YouTube, the Net is full of unpublished authors giving all kinds of advice about the publishing industry.

What I’m offering is a little different. Almost like telepathy. In someways I can hear each of these authors, and in some cases, multiple authors, whispering, saying, sometimes SCREAMING, their advice at me as I sit across the table taking copious notes.

Today’s advice:

“Keep the writing simple and let the images you compose do the storytelling.”

Keep the writing simple. A variation of KISS, but on the eve of the release of the movie Swallows and Amazons, this seems fitting.

Now you may ask how in the Devil can I ascribe this to Earnest Hemingway, Arthur Ransome and Zelda Fitzgerald.

Read most anything from Hemingway. It’s simple to read. Easy to understand. But draws you into complex thoughts because of what he says.

Read Swallows and Amazons. The words are pictures. All of them. Simple scenes. Ones that sail you away on an adventure.

Zelda writes like this, too. Her letters to Scott. They lift you away with the purest of love.

I can hear all of them telling me, not yelling, well Hem might yell, not in a whisper, but in simple terms,  Zelda might use a little Southern directness, but their point would all be the same.

Good creative writing is about putting images in the mind of a reader and letting them interpret for themselves the abundance of the details. This gives the reader a chance to escape and the ability to leave where they are and be transported to somewhere else, which is what they seek when they read fiction.

It’s not about barebones writing. I think I’ve learned that mistake. I’ve learned there is a balance there, too. Readers don’t want news writing, either. Not when they’re reading fiction. Just the facts ma’am worked in the papers, but it doesn’t work on the pages of a novel.


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The Opioid Crisis in America And How I Fought Back

Aug 28, 2017 by

The Opioid Crisis in America And How I Fought Back

There is an opioid crisis in America. Since June of 2016, I’ve been plagued by it. I was hurt after a visit to a chiropractor in Mesquite, Texas May 13, 2016. My primary care physician put me on hydrocodone in mid-June 2016 and I was on either it or Percocet, or Percocet with fentanyl patches, until late April 2017.

That stretch of time messed with my brain. A recent CT scan shows no physical damage to my brain, but until this past week, my sleep pattern was totally messed up. 

What fixed it?

The jury is still out, but it’s a combination of 100 MGs of Trokendi and 3600 MGs per day of Gabapentin. What I finally had to do was take 1:1:2 and 2 of 6– MGs of Gabapentin a day in order to not sleep 15 hours or more a day. And this past week I finally reached the sustained dose of Trokendi. It took four weeks to reach it having done seven days of 25, seven more of 50, and seven more of 75 Mgs, respectively.

Opioids Are Dangerous

Make no mistake about it, opioids are dangerous. I am one of the rare ones who find the way to get off them. There are scores of people one can read about who find themselves on heroin after using prescription opioids. Then there are those who run out of med and want more and do wild things like smash their hands with hammers so they need medical attention and more opioids to relieve the pain.

Dr. Britt Daniel of Medical City of Dallas

I went to see Dr. Britt Daniel earlier this month. He’s a neurologist and the one who put me on Trokendi and put me on the maximum legal amount of Gabapentin per day.

Within the first five minutes of talking to him, Dr. Daniel said I suffered from a condition he calls Medication Overuse Headache.

It’s the International Classification of Headache III. The old name for it was Rebound Headache. It is a syndrome related to overrating. Dr. Daniel’s paper says that 80-90 percent of new patients seen in specialty headache clinics have MOH.

MOH may come from overtreating with simple pain killers like caffeine, Tylenol or Advil, opioid narcotics, pain killers with barbiturates, or triptans. Patients typically rotate drugs and take many drugs at the same time that may cause MOH. After awhile, the pre-existing headache problem, which is usually migraine, becomes transformed from and intermittent to chronic headache problem. It is like what happens to the person who drinks coffee every day and then gets a headache when they don’t. They the brain becomes sensitizes to these drugs repeat dosing cause neurologist-inflamatorry chemicals to be released in the brain which keeps the headache going.

This is what has been happening with me the past couple of months.

I’ve been working to lose weight so I’ve been cutting all kinds of things from my diet. And I’ve cut the meds. So my body was going nuts trying to figure out where everything had gone at one time. And I spiraled downward with headaches galore.

Thanks to Dr. Daniel, I think, praise God, I’m finally on the right track.


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Finding Water

Aug 28, 2017 by

Finding Water

I’m in Week Seven of Julia Cameron’s book, Finding Water.

Julia Cameron’s Finding Water.

This makes 19-straight weeks of following in her teachings, coupled with an equally invigorating study of my NIV Bible. Today I’m on the last pages of a second $0.50 college rule Walmart notebook. In fact, Chandler, my daughter, about fell over last week when I showed her the two-foot high stack of them in my closet.  Every three weeks now, I fill a notebook with handwritten Morning Pages. It’s the best form of prayer and therapy I’ve encountered in almost 52 years.


Friday was a crummy day and if it weren’t for my growing faith in God–thanks to Julia Cameron’s teachings, my daily study, and the confidence I’ve been building because of my Morning Pages, my weekly artist’s dates, and daily walks, (ones that have been trimmed the past month for medical reasons and the oppressive Texas heat) I’d probably be on a balcony somewhere ready and willing to jump.

Transportation issues presented themselves. Issues with a video project popped up. Issues with my ex reared their ugly head. Another video and web project presented issues. And worst of all, the book project with SMU, the one I’ve worked so hard on since 2014, well, I was not one of the 14 selected to go to New York in November.

And That’s Okay

All off it. It’s okay. At some point, mechanics will figure out what’s wrong with my car. There are always difficulties when you shoot a video project. You work them one or two at a time. They get solved and then you fix the next two or three that come along until the project is complete. Website and video editing problems you deal with. You use your creativity and you fix.

The Writer’s Path at SMU

I am grateful for what I’ve learned through the Writer’s Path at SMU. I would not trade the experience for anything. It’s honed my writing. The past year and a half I’ve been wigged out on opioids.

I am happy for the 14 authors selected. Julia Cameron teaches us in Finding Water to celebrate the accomplishment of other artists. They worked hard. I’ve worked hard, too. And now I’m free to follow my own path.

That’s what I’m going to do on my book, too. I don’t have to worry the next few months how I’m going to pay for a trip to New York in November. Things are tight enough around here as they are. I can now get into the feel of my book now that the opioids are having less of an effect on my brain. I can query to my heart’s desire. My brain is in a different place than it was in late June and throughout July. God wanted it that way. You can read my post from last night to read just how. Again, this is okay. God has me on a different path to getting published.

Even the sermon Sunday spoke to this very topic. With God, nothing is impossible. He has a plan. There was a reason I got hurt. There was a reason it took so long for me to get back on my feet and off the pain meds. There was a reason for all the bad things that happened Friday. I believe that. And most of all, I am okay with it. All of it.

And that’s what puts me further ahead than many.



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Ólafur Arnalds’ Eulogy for Evolution 2017 1440 is musical symmetry

Aug 24, 2017 by

Ólafur Arnalds’ Eulogy for Evolution 2017 1440 is musical symmetry.


I am in Week Six of Julia Cameron’s Finding Water. Now 18 weeks into her writings, she professes somewhere along the way that we do not celebrate enough the work of other artists who are brave enough to be themselves. I must do that here with the work of Ólafur Arnalds and a piece called 1440.

The piece is sublime, intoxicating, and contrite, all in the course of it’s six-minute fifty-six-second life.

I breathe, I whisper, I cry, I dream, I remember, I pray, I hope, I long for what was and what still will be in this song’s life.

I know nothing of his intent in writing this piece, but the Piano Channel of Apple TV plays it once or twice daily of late and when I hear it, I stop what I’m doing and close my eyes and enter the world of the music.

This is what music is made for, to take us somewhere. To our own place. Not the one the composer designed, but to the place only we can share with God. And that’s what happens when I am enjoined with the sounds of this piece.

The song is available on iTunes.

Here’s one video interpretation. I’m not sure of the video’s point. I can’t determine the storyline but the work is good.

Regardless, a salute to Ólafur Arnalds for this fine song. It has a special place in my heart. Thank you.

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