If the world is full of stories, how does yours connect?
A couple weeks ago I had the privilege of reading Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven and this week I am finally capturing my thoughts on the book – have you read it? If so leave a comment and let me know what you think, I’d love to discuss.
Now, as promised, a book review …
This is an older book, having been published in 2003 after the success of Mitch Albom’s Tuesday’s With Morrie, but in light of the sequel that is currently slated for release in October this seemed like the perfect start to a series of book reviews.
“The End” is the opening chapter to Albom’s story about Eddie, an amusement park maintenance worker and the five people he meets in heaven after his death. Don’t worry, if you haven’t read the novel yet his death isn’t a spoiler, the opening of the novel let’s the secret out right away. Through a series of chapters that follows Eddie’s life – specifically his birthdays – the character is swung through a series of memories a la It’s a Wonderful Life and the people that he had an impact on or who impacted his life in a meaningful way, even if he didn’t know it at the time.
Eddie strikes the reader as a typical grumpy old man that might be found in any story that spotlights this particular style of character – and as is typical of the character he has a rough exterior that belies the warm teddy bear underneath. This is not original, it’s been done many times in many different ways. What sets this story apart from the others like it is the cast of characters that share the spotlight with the protagonist for their sections and the reader is able to see them as both a supporting character and as the hero of their own story. This unique perspective could be applied to life; while we are the hero of our own story we can see how we may be the bit player in someone else’s story through Eddie’s experiences.
Is this the best novel that anyone will ever read? Most likely not, but Albom does something spectacular. He makes you feel for an old man who maybe wasn’t the greatest and maybe wasn’t the worst – he walked the line of mediocrity and regret and even through all of that it becomes possible to care deeply as if his pain is personal, as if perhaps his story is tied into your own.
“And in that line now was a whiskered old man, with a linen cap and a crooked nose, who waited in a place called the Stardust Band Shell to share his part of the secret of heaven: that each affects the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.”
Podcast Episode 2 is out – check it out here!
Next – Last week we shot a YouTube video to tie to my blog page here, and it has been a long week of editing and hard work to make it ready to share. I have to admit I was really nervous about how it would turn out, and thanks to the magic of editing (Thank you CJ!!!!) it has certainly turned out much better than I could have hoped. Let me know what you think – Enjoy!
This week it’s all about recording … I spent a large part of my day recording videos and podcasts and next week you’re in for a treat, a very special video that I’ll have up on YouTube and a full podcast. Of course fingers crossed that I manage to get the editing to cooperate, if editing is not my friend the video will certainly be humorous so it’s worth checking out either way. In the meantime, this week, you get just my voice in a very practice podcast – because it’s important to understand that nothing works right the first time (unless you are magical in which case I want to know all your secrets – teach me!! PLEASE!).
Here’s my very first podcast – thoughts, ideas, comments are welcome – we can all improve and constructive criticism is an important first step – Thanks!!
This week I’ve been thinking all about how utilizing professional networks helps with building brands and careers. This is not something I have spent much time thinking about – at least not with regards to my dream of writing or my love of books. I have used things like LinkedIn to help me with my professional network with my current full time job in computers, and now I am seeing how I can use this same resource on my path to being a writer.
LinkedIn offers a plethora of groups and organizations that you can follow to learn and understand trends in different fields – this is insanely helpful with understanding what an editor might be looking for (this is specific to me, but you may find yourself wanting to know what is needed for a dental hygienist career … to each their own). If you happen to find writing as interesting as I do, here are some pages I found this week and placed a request to join:
- Writer’s Digest I found by doing a search for a writing magazine I regularly read – Writer’s Digest and was pleasantly surprised to find that they do indeed have a group page on LinkedIn. This magazine and the professional group focus on inspiring and educating writers in everything from how to get published to how to overcome the stress of being a professional writer.
- Professionals of the Creative felt like a good resource from users in the creative sphere as it seeks to bring together personnel of a creative mindset from writing and theater to marketing and science and everything in between. Because this page also mentions educators I felt that it would be a good resource in both my writing and my teaching.
- Magazine Editors Network is a place for editors to share fears or concerns, to network and get career advice from other professionals. This group seemed like a good place to be able to see first hand what other people in positions like what I might want to consider are going through and gain insight from their experiences.
- Freelance Writers Group is for both writers and organizations that hire and work with freelance writers. The idea behind this group is to help encourage people to write a wide range of material that includes both technical and non-technical materials.
Using LinkedIn is just one way to build a professional network, and in addition to using LinkedIn I have started using the new app Shapr. While Shapr has the feel of a dating app it allows people to connect professionally and gives users the ability to link both social and professional media sites to the profile page. It’s still new and I haven’t quite worked all the kinks out – I’ll have to get back to you on just how helpful it really is.
There comes a point where technology dives forward beyond where we are – please note I say this as a person who has been part of the technology age my entire life and yet still carries a fountain pen and leather bound notebook for inspiration – but once the technology surpasses us we have to decide, keep up or fall behind? This week I’d like to take a look at the world of vlogging – video blogging – and how that not only ties into my world of reading and writing, but actually manages to continue to inspire the creativity of the written word.
In researching vlogging I discovered the site Vimeo which is essentially YouTube but for the creative market. I am oversimplifying – to be more precise, Vimeo is like YouTube in the sense that it uses similar technology to host video sharing and Vimeo even has the capability of sharing videos to the better known video sharing giant. A primary difference between the two is that Vimeo has different user account tiers ranging from free basic accounts to premier accounts that have monthly fees required. The elevated accounts have additional capabilities that enable the best features – special social media sharing and storage capabilities – but the basic account works very similar to some of YouTube’s more basic features as well.
I discovered a vlogger in Vimeo’s search log that I felt resonated with me – a lot of her videos that are currently posted are for an event called Universe in Verse. Since I find myself drawn to the written word this has a special pull for me. The poster – Maria Popova – is also the editor of the page Brainpickings.org and her joy of poetry and authors comes through in her videos where she focuses on these areas and has the added assistance of some well known media personalities help her promote books and poetry. The first video I came across was Brandon Stanton (the guy who is responsible for the amazingly inspiring Humans of New York photos) reading a poem from John Updike. These inspiring and uplifting words are being read by people who also inspire and uplift and Maria is showcasing this on her channel.
Another video – really the video that led me to Maria – “7 Things I Learned in 7 Years of Reading, Writing, and Living” comes from an essay that Maria wrote that talks about the importance of seven things and while this was not specifically in reference to writing, it is in line with my own desire to focus on things that are more important than money and approval of others, and I am glad that this video led me to find an incredibly inspiring person. I look forward to seeing what else she puts out there as well as what I can learn from her.
I have been hesitant about blogging but wanting to dive in for some time now and while there are some sites out there that I have found inspiration helping to move me forward, my class was the final shove to push me out of my comfort zone, a shove to try something new. The result from that shove is this blog. When I consider what it is about the blogs I follow I realize that I admire their personal resolve, their desire to build something from their blog either to help others or their intensity that comes through in their posts.
Susan Hyatt https://shyatt.com/blog/
I discovered Susan through another blog I have been following for a few years, and her posts always leave me looking for ways I can do more with my own goals. Her primary focus on her blogs are ways to see things in a new light, whether it is business tips, marketing plans, or just ways to take on a new attitude. As a certified life coach, she has the credentials to know what she is talking about, but her words make me feel less like she is telling her readers what we are doing wrong and more like she is saying “yep, been there, done that”. You just feel comfortable reading her words and trusting them.
Paul Jarvis https://pjrvs.com/about/
Paul is a writer, blogger, podcaster – he gets computers, and building web pages. This is someone I follow who I happened on accidentally, not really looking for someone who gets computers – but instead I found someone who talks about life, business, perspective and makes me look forward to his posts each week that he calls the Sunday Dispatch. His newsletter shows up as both a weekly podcast and later as an article on his web page, the words in this newsletter talk about how to build a better business, and sometimes there is very little about business in his weekly share – but I always gain a better perspective, and this makes following his posts well worthwhile.
Alexandra Franzen http://www.alexandrafranzen.com/about/
I have been following Alex the longest, and I look forward to her posts with an eagerness I didn’t realize was possible for a weekly email. When I read her posts, I gain an optimism I didn’t realize I was avoiding. She shares an enthusiasm for life and positivity that never feels forced and always helps me gain a perspective that I can do anything if I work at it hard enough. Her posts are focused on helping writers, or anyone really, that maybe needs to gain a new perspective. As a writer, and a writing coach, her words help people to understand that sometimes starting small is a big step, and that’s ok.
Sarah is both witty and reliably realistic – she does website reviews for ways to help you make a better page and talks about getting better with money and breaking bad habits. While this all sounds like an odd combination she does it pretty well and doesn’t beat around the bush about any topic she chooses to broach with her readers. Sarah offers e-courses in some of the more consistent topics – most often money and happiness – and although I have not (at least not yet) signed up for any of her courses, I appreciate what she has to say in her regular posts and look forward to the insight she provides that helps me look at the idea that maybe I don’t need to be a millionaire to realize success, I just have to take the steps on my own path.
I have also found a few Peer Blogs that have helped inspire me recently, seeing how we are all reacting to the same assignments and our different approaches to it.
Balance, Darling https://balancedarling.wordpress.com/ Kim lets us know how it is still important to understand that we all need balance, and she speaks to this in such a conversational tone that makes it comforting to read and understand that we all need to make it make sense.
Babbling Brooke https://babblingbrook808122773.wordpress.com/ Brooke’s posts help to remind me that we’re all busy, and sometimes we struggle, but we’re also learning and figuring things out and it’s exciting to see where we all will go.
Blogging Beginner https://myjessica33.wordpress.com/ Jessica is up front about her journey and helps to outline the steps that we all need to go on and reading her posts helps to show we are all finding the same struggles.
The different pages here help me to realize that I personally appreciate an honest, up front approach to life, and the many different things we are all faced with as we struggle to figure it all out. Sometimes we get it, and sometimes we need a gentle reminder that we aren’t going it alone – I like to know that while their words can help me, maybe my words can help too.
It has been a hectic couple of weeks already on this whirlwind ride of understanding what my goals are, and what I am looking for from my blog. Let’s just say you can’t expect to put pen to paper, er… hands to keyboard, and run with it. I’ve considered myself a writer for going on two decades, and I have to say this is the first time the written word has stumped me – some would say the spoken word as well, but luckily that doesn’t apply here.
I am slowly understanding what I am looking for moving forward and what I am hoping to share with all of you. As I think about this it is currently snowing outside, and the first thing that comes to mind is curling up in bed with a good book. Since it is Sunday night and already getting late I will not give in because I know I will tell myself “just one more chapter” until I finish the book and Monday mornings not only arrive faster than any other morning, they are also the busiest. I think instead I will promise myself cracking the spine on the next chapter tomorrow if I can wrap everything up early enough and plan for next week to have an overview pulled together of the book both from my perspective as a reader and a writer.
Feel free to mention a book in the comments you’d like an overview of – I’m always looking for new things to read, and I’d love to start a discussion with you all.
Thanks for joining me! This blog is starting out as a journey to help me understand blogging, branding, and what these things can do for me – and you! I can’t wait to see where this journey takes us, but I want to try to remember that it’s not the destination that is important – it’s the journey.
Traveling tends to magnify all human emotions. — Peter Hoeg