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Archive for August, 2011

You are not alone. Though the essence of our words are eventually digested, we are almost inevitably misunderstood as individuals. Initially, it seems our words go into the vacuum of space, never to see the light of day. Many may say they support and comprehend us in the midst of our struggle, but we can’t help but notice the lingering distance during out darkest hour. While in the depths of our creativity, there is an unshakeable loneliness that grips our spirit. Sometimes it seems as though we are banished from the rest of the world when in fact we’re just ahead of the tide. Visionaries are often the first to arrive at the banquet of curiosity and innovation.

There’s a saying, “It’s lonely at the top.” The same can be said of those who pave a way to a new understanding, broader creativity and alternative possibilities. Sometimes, loneliness is a price that a pioneer must pay. Still, my fellow word warriors, stand strong. Know that although many will reject or simply ignore your message, there are people waiting and thirsting to receive your talent. Remember this during those days and nights of solitude, when your eyes are red-rimmed from weariness and/or tears. Yes, I understand that at times the journey may seem unfair and downright unbearable, but keep in mind that the preservation of your message will in part grant immortality to at least part of your character. Write for yourself, it will preserve the spirit of your story. Edit for your readers, so that they can understand your message. Most importantly, celebrate the fact that you are brave enough to venture into territory many others find too daunting to dare.

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Well, friend… I made my best attempt to find a suitable agent for my project, but alas that endeavor hasn’t panned out as I had hoped. Luckily, this fact doesn’t determine my success or failure. There are some things that fall beyond the control of agents and even authors. You see, it is you the reader who ultimately decides what you find worthy enough to warrant expending your time and hard-earned money to explore the adventures authors create. And in that, I know there’s still a chance for me. The very fact that you’re reading this right now is a testament to your choice.

You are a big part of the reason I stay up at ungodly hours to perfect the way I convey my imagination into words. It is hugely rewarding whenever a reader accepts my heartfelt invitation to share in my journey and hopefully take away something they will carry with them forever. My words are my greatest gifts and it is my hope, my dream to turn it into my legacy while sharing it with you. My greatest creation is yet to come and I want you to be among the first to experience the adventure for yourself. I want to hear directly from you, what you think of my work as opposed to what an agent predicts you will think. You are the captain of your own mind and together, I look forward to navigating the possibilities of success.

Please stay tuned for the latest news about my upcoming novel. As a special treat, I will be posting sample chapters in the near future so be sure to subscribe.

In light and love,
Shykia

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Growing up in the gray concrete jungle I was well-acquainted with the harshness of reality. The confines within the bullet-pierced windows became my fortress, reiterating the dangers of what was often an urban warzone. This bleak climate in some ways hindered my imagination until one day a splash of color streaked across the heavens, sparking my interest and creativity. The source was a knowledgeable gentleman on my TV screen. He, and a colorful butterfly, beckoned me to explore the world. They led me to realize that though my travel limitations were restricted on a physical level, mentally, there was no place I couldn’t go.

My sisters and I found our escape through books, something my mother greatly encouraged. Life as I knew it had broadened, allowing my imagination to flow freely. Before I knew it, I found myself floating jubilantly behind the butterfly, trying to keep up. As time progressed, I flew alongside it, then finally beyond it, coasting along the rainbow as I explored my literary abilities. The further I ventured into adolescence, the fewer trips I took as reality dominated my time. I was slowly but surely returning to the colorless world I once knew. The multi-hued bridge of my imagination seemed to fade as the undertow of circumstance pulled me down.

Entering the abyss of obligation, I lost myself in what others wanted. Imprisoned by a heartache  fortified by skewed perceptions, I desperately searched for a way to ease my pain. By now, I had already placed years of my life at the mercy of despair and refused to surrender a minute more. I dared to make my escape, not knowing what lie ahead. A few perilous wrong turns were made in the process and I nearly chose the wrong way out. Luckily, I made it out of the maze alive and met the man I’d later marry, a man who’d help me find my song and bring harmony back to my soul. Though I had broken free of my turbulent confinement, I sometimes relapsed into the mentality of the heartbroken prisoner I once was. My husband, Max, helped me to identify what was triggering these relapses and encouraged me to break free of yet another toxic environment. It was a difficult process, but I slowly but surely moved away from the things and people who were hindering my spirit.

No longer bound by obligation, I was elated, yet uncertain about the things to come. I found myself in a dark void as I considered the next step in my career, my future, my life. There was an eerie, yet peaceful calm as I was engulfed in silence. As my vision adjusted, I noticed billions of celestial miracles surrounding me. Each star represented a possibility, filling me with a hope I thought I had buried with my dreams long ago. But surely as the ship that was tearing through the diamond-encrusted black curtain, it was still there. I never could have imagined how much my life would be changed by the people who beamed me aboard. There I was, this lost stranger floating in space with the fragments of my discontent, about to be further changed by a group of people I had never met.

The noble golden-eyed stranger was among the individuals who reminded me of myself in some ways. In addition, through his adventures he taught me the power of perseverance and the importance of self-awareness and personal development. This led me to contemplate not only my core desires for my life, but the methods of how I’d achieve them. For the first time in years, I found myself connecting with my passion for writing again. It had become unfamiliar territory, but I was quickly getting reacquainted with not only my craft, but myself. Soon, my passion was burning so bright, the words began pouring out of me almost as quickly as they entered my mind. Through the port view of my clearing disposition I could see the brightening sky. As we landed I was met with my golden-eyed friend and a familiar looking explorer. Though the eyes of the latter were obscured, I immediately recognized him from my childhood years. He was the same man who had unleashed the colorful bridge of literacy through my television.

Leaving the vessel, my watery eyes were greeted with a spectacular display. Across the sky was the most vibrant rainbow I had ever seen. There was no end in sight and it represented limitless possibility. In the distance I could see the butterfly etched with the colors of my dream. It hadn’t died, but had transformed and traveled to another place and time. It soared into the sky and beckoned me to give chase once again. The vast new world before me had me intimidated at first, but with my newfound inspiration I decided to boldly go where I’ve never been. As I took flight, the colors of the rainbow streamed by as I gained speed. Soon, I’ll catch up to the butterfly and will go even higher, as I did when I was younger.

I credit Reading Rainbow, Star Trek: The Next Generation and my husband Max for connecting (and reconnecting) me with my passion for writing. I wrote the above story to illustrate the very real way in which the aforementioned, Brent Spiner and LeVar Burton inspired me to embrace and pursue that passion. I was initially apprehensive about posting it, but felt compelled to share the awesome way my life was deeply touched and how my hope was restored after a long period of darkness and confusion. Max, Brent, LeVar, if you’re reading this, thanks to each of you for awakening my spirit and for making such a huge difference in my life.

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Over the course of the past year or so I’ve experienced an increase of abhorrent behavior on the part of some of my neighbors. At first, this frustrated me beyond measure. Then I learned to cope. If you’re going through a similar situation, don’t feel powerless. There are options when it comes to dealing with a noisy environment and even working peacefully amidst the chaos.

Quiet please! (Photo credit: m_bartosch)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

If the noise level is serious or extreme, throttle politely talk to your neighbors
A perfect example would be when my former next door neighbors blasted rock, heavy metal and techno during all hours of the day, I’m talking ungodly hours like 12am, 2am or later. How loud was the music? It not only filled the public hallway, but it could be heard two floors down. On one occasion the superintendent tried knocking on their door so he could inspect their plumbing and he nearly had to kick the door down to get their attention. Sadly, I’m not exaggerating. I think I was the first to inform the noisy tenants of the inconvenience they were creating. I politely asked them to keep it down. It worked for about a day or two. Then it started up again:

BOOM-tsk… BOOM-tsk… BOOM-tsk… BOOM-tsk…

When a different neighbor addressed me about the issue (thinking I was the culprit), I decided that further action was needed. No, I’m not talking murder, though some nights the thought was tempting. Several neighbors on my floor came up with the idea to leave them a letter on behalf of the whole floor. In it, we civilly requested that they consider the other tenants (some with newborns), and keep the noise down. We also voiced our confidence and desire to resolve the manner respectfully, but that we’d alert the authorities if given no other choice. As an added bonus, I included the NYC Noise Ordinance and highlighted the section pertaining to loud music. We decided against throwing in a pair of headphones, figuring they should buy their own. Even so, the noise immediately stopped. Although I think I heard a collective sigh of relief from everyone else on the floor. Much to my shock, they moved out by the following week. We saw signs shortly thereafter that arose suspicion that they had been living there illegally, but that’s pure speculation.   

If the problem is more of a nuisance than a major issue and can’t be resolved, try not to sweat it
More recently one of my neighbors, who lives two doors down from me, has developed a habit of slamming his door whenever he enters and exits his apartment. The force reverberates through my walls and can be quite startling when it ruptures the dead quiet of the late evening hours. Now, at least a few others have begun to follow suit. I guess it’s a new trend, but I’ll pass. Anyway, I realize that though it’s annoying, there’s not much to be done other than politely ask them to mind their doors. I understand that sometimes it’s not possible to prevent door slamming when a person has their hands full once in a while, but this behavior is frequent. Anyway, I’ve learned to accept that:

  1. The soundproofing in the building is subpar and seemingly non-existent at times.
  2. Not everyone places the same value on manners. Sad, but I can’t change what should have been instilled in them during their upbringing.
  3. The frequency and duration of the noise created by the slamming is relatively short compared to the problem we used to have on the floor.
  4. Sometimes you have to choose your battles wisely and know when it’s a lost cause to complain.

Oddly enough, the most irritating, obnoxious people in your life sometimes lead you onto a path to personal growth. Had I not experienced the above issues I wouldn’t have met the wonderful people I encountered while seeking advice from my fellow writers on Twitter on how to better combat these distractions.

Headphones. Gotta love ’em. (Photo credit: Michal Marcol)

My online friends and fellow creatives mainly suggested what I had already done or was currently doing, namely drowning out the noise with my music via headphones. One of the people I met as a result of the whole ordeal is Lisette Brodey, a fellow author and an all-around great woman who would later set up an interview with her lead character, Molly Hacker.

My advice to you is that no matter how distracting your environment is or may seem, you ultimately have the power to determine how you react to it and how it shapes you as a person. Rather than remaining angry or upset, convert that negative energy into something useful and channel it into your craft. It takes practice, and it won’t always be easy, but you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll fuel your determination as you retake the helm of your inner-focus.

Have you experienced similar issues that have threatened to hinder your creative process? If so, what were they and what did you do to resolve it?

All photos courtesy of digitalphotos.net

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It’s not always pleasant, but it certainly keeps things interesting.

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