Tag Archives: Thoughts

Who Am I

Identity

“We know what we are, but not what we may be.”
              – William Shakespeare


I ran across this blog post of mine from a defunct blog, written in January of 2013. Although more than four years have passed, the post is still valid. Some points of it were sad then, and are sad still. I was in a relationship then, and that is the major element of change in my life. I miss the relationship, though I no longer miss the individual. I also miss a certain autonomy. I am in some ways more independent now, since I am not in a day-to-day live-in relationship with a partner. Perhaps less so because I now live back in my childhood home with my father.

My health is worse by far. I am in much more pain, and my sleep has become even worse. My focus and concentration are poor, and like then, I am not writing much these days. As far as appealing the judgment on Disability, I was decline and have not yet reapplied. I now have documented medical records of my situation now that I didn’t have back then, including physical and mental issues (such as PTSD and depression). Now all I need to do is overcome my fear of reapplying and the feelings of shame that the last round gave me.

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Toy Soldiers

ThisHuman'sHeartThis Human’s Heart is a blog series where I share my thoughts and insights which may not reflect on my writing endeavors.

Image: Heart-Shaped Rock by speedyfearless on DeviantArt.com

On Being Defensive

“All defensiveness and emotional tumult is a fear response because of your need for acceptance and ruthless control of the territory of your safe fantasy world.”

– Bryant McGill, Simple Reminders: Inspiration for Living Your Best Life


A very dear friend, once she’d gotten to know me, described my resistance to change as having meticulously lined up a defense of toy soldiers, surrounding me to combat threats from all angles — perceived threats, that is. Usually, these threats came in the form of quite sensible advice given to me by my friends.
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This Human’s Heart: Gratitude

ThisHuman'sHeart

This Human’s Heart is a blog series where I share my thoughts and insights which may not reflect on my writing endeavors.

Image: Heart-Shaped Rock by speedyfearless on DeviantArt.com

Gratitude

As you know, I’ve been trying to keep positive about life. I think my efforts are working.

The other day, I had a revelation of sorts. Right now, I am at one of the lowest points in my life that I’ve ever been. My health keeps me from working. I am completely broke, don’t have a car, live with my father, am single again with no prospects and few chances (due to all my circumstances). I am lonely and depressed, and there is little I can do to alleviate it, and almost nothing I can do to escape. Methods of escape usually cost money. Dating costs money. Being social usually costs money. And here I am, on food stamps, broke as hell, and you know what? I am very grateful for the things I DO have.

I have a roof over my head. I have a computer with which to be productive (and escape). I have talent and the wherewithal to be my creative self. I’ve been writing up a storm for months now (even when I was distracted by a pretty girl online). I keep up with my meds and my insulin (mostly), and I am doing my utmost to better my situation.

So all in all, other than the loneliness and depression (both of which I manage), I’m pretty happy. That is a first in my life. Being LOW but not feeling defeated.

The one thing I did not mention above is you. I am most blessed for having wonderful friends, and a great group of fans out there. I’ve gotten emails and instant messages from many of you with words of encouragement and support. I even received a letter in the mail this week from a very good friend. He sent me a check, just to help me out a bit. I feel like I have a sponsor. That was so cool.

So THANK YOU, my friends. THANK YOU for helping me remember that I am not alone, no matter how lonely things get. I hope to hear from you all very soon. Please feel free to email me, or write me, or message me on FB or SL or wherever. I am blessed, and I hope your holiday is blessed as well.

“Sometimes life knocks you on your ass… get up, get up, get up!!! Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.”

      ―  Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and    

                            Being Free 

All images and content copyright © 2011-2014 ~ Mark Adam Thomas

This Human’s Heart: Tilting at Windmills

ThisHuman'sHeart

This Human’s Heart is a blog series where I share my thoughts and insights which may not reflect on my writing endeavors.

Image: Heart-Shaped Rock by speedyfearless on DeviantArt.com

Tilting at Windmills

I’ve done some soul searching this month (more than usual), in part due to my new long-distance relationship. I’m trying to improve my communication skills, and in order to overcome some personal obstacles, self-examination was in order.  I am sharing this with you in part because I know some of you care about me, and what is going on in my life. But another part is for me. I am making certain commitments, and doing it publicly. This is a measure of accountability for myself, and I hope you all understand. Please feel free leave a comment below, or email me privately. Thanks.

QuixoteJust then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from that plain. And no so
oner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, “Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless.”

“What giants?” asked Sancho Panza.

“Those you see over there,” replied his master, “with their long arms. Some of them have arms well nigh two leagues in length.”

“Take care, sir,” cried Sancho. “Those over there are not giants but windmills. Those things that seem to be their arms are sails which, when they are whirled around by the wind, turn the millstone.”

—Part 1, Chapter VIII. Of the valourous Don Quixote’s success in the dreadful and never before imagined Adventure of the Windmills, with other events worthy of happy record.

     As you may have deduced, I am on a quest. I’ve been on this crusade for a number of years. To my mind, my quest is a noble, romantic and chivalrous endeavor, not unlike that of Cervantes’ Don Quixote. According to Professor Ilan Stavans, “One must live life in a genuine way, passionately, in spite of what other people think. That is the central tenet of “Don Quixote.””

    But like that old and deluded Spanish hidalgo, my ideals often exceed my reach. Throughout my life, I’ve constructed my own giants out of would-be windmills—outdated belief systems that were created to protect a younger, more innocent Mark. And over the years I have clung to those ideas and beliefs, regarding them as hard truths when, in fact, they are as imaginary as Don Quixote’s giants. I’ve been a victim to them. Thank goodness I have a patient and loving woman in my life to act as my Sancho Panza, as it were, standing by my side and helping me to see my worth and my truths despite my stubborn tenacity to cling to my stubborn giants.

   Thankfully, along the course of my personal journey to better myself, I’ve already uncovered many things about myself regarding my mental and emotional make-up, and I’ve even implemented new ways of becoming a better person. Among the changes, I am learning to shed some of those old beliefs and live my life with hope in my heart, to dare to walk with confidence in fervent pursuit of my passions and goals, and to be my most genuine self.

  Dragged imageAnd as part of this journey, I’ve been digging deeper, and my soul-excavations have unearthed many long-buried remains of my emotional defenses. Okay, perhaps I’ve known about this stuff for years and have refused to deal with it—or have acknowledged it, and thought I’d dealt with it in the past. Hmm… zombie windmill giants? Lifelong habits I’d denied to recognize again and again, back to claw at me?

     The fact is, I have been stuck. I’m still stuck. And I will continue to be stuck.

     But that is okay. Just like in the Twelve Steps in Alcoholics Anonymous, admitting you have a problem is the first step to overcoming it. See, I’ve fallen into many patterns in my life, systems that might have worked once but which don’t serve me now. In fact, they get in my way more than they are helpful, as I’ve discovered while working on my new relationship.

   Among them are:

  • I have some long-held, deep-seated fears: Of success. Of failure. Of rejection. Many of my self-image concepts, actions and reactions are borne from these basic fears and core beliefs about my worth, and myself in general.
  • I tenaciously hold onto these limiting beliefs which keeps me stuck.
  • I confuse commitments with interests. In many ways, what I thought were commitments to myself were in reality only things of interest for me. The difference is: an interest is pursued only when it is convenient. A commitment followed through, no matter what it takes to make the goal a reality (as long as it’s ethical and moral).
  • I’ve been using excuses and beliefs to allow myself to feel I am a victim, and to rationalize all the reasons I can’t do the things I want and to be the person I desire to be (or have the things I crave in life).
  • I defend my excuses to the point of annoyance. A dear friend called this “lining up my soldiers,” where I would easily (almost casually) list off all the reasons I was unable to do a certain thing, defending my choices and excuses like they were a shield wall protecting my sanity, or honor, or whatever. “Yes, you are right, but…” has become a far too frequent phrase in my life. Yes, I should write more, but I haven’t been sleeping well. Yes, I need to watch my blood sugar, but it is hard when I am not resting well and have no regular sleep cycle (this gem of an excuse is my win-all go-to justification for many of my failures).
  • I can argue a good case against pretty much any action, and talk myself out of anything. I’ve been in the habit of avoiding playing big and being fabulous. Damn, being smart isn’t useful here. I need to stop playing the blame game.
  • One of my worst habits has been to reject myself before others could do so. If I don’t ask the girl out, she can’t turn me down. If I don’t submit my story, they can’t tell me it sucks. You get the idea. But the worst habit I’ve fallen into is to verbally (or mentally) abuse myself. I call myself stupid, so other’s won’t. I refer to myself as a loser, to take the wind out of an opponent’s sails. This behavior is not only damaging to myself, but it undermines my relationships with others. And in truth, I AM a great guy, with a brilliant mind and I have talent in many areas. I just have a hard time admitting it. I was raised that pride and hubris are bad. But in reality, it is how one shows the pride that matters. I would never put other’s down because I was proud of my accomplishments. I would never lord it over someone. It is all a matter of balance. And respect.

“Rationalization is a process of not perceiving reality, but of attempting to make reality fit one’s emotions.”

           ― Ayn Rand, Philosophy: Who Needs It? 

All images and content copyright © 2011-2014 ~ Mark Adam Thomas

This Human’s Heart: Self-Doubt and Optimism

ThisHuman'sHeart

This Human’s Heart is a blog series where I share my thoughts and insights which may not reflect on my writing endeavors.

Image: Heart-Shaped Rock by speedyfearless on DeviantArt.com

Self-Doubt and Optimism

     As you may know, many writers suffer from a neurotic lack of self-confidence. I am one such writer. Now that my book can actually be read by others, it can also be critiqued (the whole reason behind beta readers). But, it may also be judged, lampooned, ridiculed, and/or discredited. And worse, I as its author have the opportunity to dive into a pit of self-derision and worry that my work won’t stand for itself, that it is awful at best and wouldn’t be worth using as so much electronic toilet paper (although one of my readers printed out the manuscript, claiming he is a Luddite). So I guess he could use it for TP, if it were that bad.

     I know I beat myself up worse than is really neccessary to maintain an air of humility, but between my bouts with depression and anxiety, it can be easy to fall back into that pit. And the fact that I have written very little in the 20 or so days since I sent the MS out does not add to my confidence. I have proven to myself time and again that I am happiest when writing regularly. But I have allowed myself to become distracted by a number of other projects, one of which is a new long-distance relationship. And of course, no matter how lovely and fun my new friend is, I am still neglecting my daily writing, hence beating myself up, hence less inspired to write. The fact that I doubt my work will ever produce an income is also foremost on my list of stressors. I need to break this starving artist lifestyle I have, and being an unemployed writer isn’t the most attractive part of my life, and doesn’t exactly paint me as a fantastic catch. But I digress.

     The point is this: I can certainly fret over all of my limitations, flaws and worries. If I look, I can clearly see proof positive all my failures and foibles. Close scrutiny will show that I am seriously lacking in a wide number of areas. But I can also choose to focus on the positive areas of my life. Not that I am ignoring all those insufficiencies, but rather spending my limited energies on realizing what is GOOD about me, and what is GOOD about my life.

     We all have flaws. We all have made mistakes in our past, some huge and terrible. But giving those things center stage only serves to reinforce them, to shine the spotlight on the imperfections and weak spots. Better to give my mind over to recognizing my strenghts and my accomplishments. If there is something in my life that needs changing, better to focus on implementing the change and looking forward to reaping the rewards of my efforts rather than flogging  my psyche, endlessly berating myself for having the bad luck, poor decision-making skills or whatnot. I’ve recognized how fruitless it is to beat myself up, and that my own defense mechanisms have, since childhood, been to beat myself up first—in front of those I fear will judge me poorly or harshly. That bad logic told me that if I beat myself up, and made an honest show of it, that others wouldn’t have the heart to do it themselves. Yeah… that works.

     I’ve done a fair job of positive thinking with many aspects of my life, yet it is a constant struggle. I know I am not alone. And no matter how bad I think my life might be, I meet plenty of folks who have it much worse. Much by miles. I am grateful for so much in my life, and the fact that I have had the persistence to finish this novel, and start right up planning the next one, gives me a warm confidence that I rarely feel. I don’t think it is mere coincidence that the week I finished my novel and sent it out, that I met a lovely woman in Second Life who was attracted to me. My confidence and positive feelings made me more attractive, and more successful. Proof positive that optimism works wonders, and that I have the choice under which light to examine myself.

    I recently read an article on Optimism and the Power of Positive Thinking, which I have linked here. This helped me put things into better perspective. The following are positive characteristics that optomists share (and I hope to adopt these principles into my daily life):

  • They think about, reflect on, and emphasize the good things in life.
  • They are grateful and thankful for all their blessings.
  • They don’t complain when something bad happens.
  • They feel that nothing can hold them back from achieving success and reaching their goals.
  • They believe in abundance.
  • They are confident that the world offers plenty of opportunities for everyone to succeed.

Thank you all for your interest in my writing, and also in me as a writer and a person. I love that I have a following, and I know many of you truly care about my well being. So many of you have told me that you’d get in line to buy my book, and that makes me very happy. I know that my style of writing isn’t for everyone, but I hope you will enjoy it when you finally get a chance to read it.

“Life is like a prism. What you see depends on how you turn the glass.”

           ― Jonathan Kellerman 

All images and content copyright © 2011-2014 ~ Mark Adam Thomas

I Write Like…

#writing #amwriting

I found this interesting…

Thanks to a Facebook friend, I found a page where you can plug in some text from your novel, and it will tell you which famous author your writing style most resembles. I decided to give it a try. I grabbed some text from my latest, pulp horror novel, copied it and pasted it into the box, and pressed the ANALYZE button. It spat out the result of Agatha Christie. I think I may have read one of her mysteries when I was in high school. Certainly Ms. Christie’s works had little to no influence on my writing… or did it?

I write like
Agatha Christie

I Write Like. Analyze your writing!

Intrigued, I decided to test this program further. I went and grabbed some text from the novel prior to my latest work, a fantasy piece set in an Arabian Nights setting. The result for that text was Anne Rice. I don’t ever recall reading her work, although I did watch that vampire movie. <chuckles>

 

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Giving Up Writing For Lent?

Hi Friends.

Lenten40Days-269x300Is it MARCH already? I can’t really believe that the world has spun so fast and that time has gone by so… quickly. Mardi Gras has come and gone, and the Lenten season is upon us. More about those later…

February was a relatively good month, even if I didn’t live up to my intention of writing every day. But despite losing the first half month to that persistent chest cold, I did manage to write 17,000 words for the month. I am a spider’s web away from finishing ACT II. This makes me happy. I might have wrapped up February behind my personal goal of 20,000 words and writing every day, but 17K is nothing to cough at! (pun intended)

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Just a little update

Hi Friends.

Wanted to let you know that I performed a little revision on Chapter Four. I added a tasty tidbit about the adversary that I had intended for a later chapter but realized I needed to slip it into Creed’s account of his dreamwalking. Enjoy.

Also, look for Chapter Five within the next few days.

~Mark

All images and content copyright © 2011-2014 ~ Mark Adam Thomas


Coming Up For Air – An Update

Hi Friends.

Good news and bad news (well, not really bad news, just not so good news).

The good news is that I am feeling much better and I have come a long ways to catching up on my word count. The bad news is that I am not yet caught up, like I had planned. If I continue at the pace of the last few days, I should catch up by Monday or Tuesday.

Thursday is a dead writing day, turkeys and friends and all. That leaves me Friday and Saturday to zoom ahead and win NaNoWriMo (50K words). The other not good news is that even though I am past the 30,000 word count, I am not yet half-way through the plot of my story. Instead of being 60,000 words as planned, it looks like it will be closer to 90,000. Gulp. This means that I probably won’t finish the first draft until mid to late December.

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Swimming Upstream

Hi Friends.

As you may know, I have been under the weather this last week. It is not serious, just sinus headaches and chest congestion/coughing. As a result, I have not been sleeping, and concentrating on my novel has been difficult.

Consequently, my word count for NaNoWriMo is sadly, pathetically behind. I am currently at 12,000 words, where I should be at 25,000.

No. I am not giving up on NaNo. No way, no how.

But what this means is that I need to focus on speed-writing so I can catch up. Posting chapters here, out of necessity, makes for much slower writing. I am a lot more mindful of my choices. My inner editor keeps hammering at my brain to fix things, knowing that an audience will be reading it (and soon). And, I absolutely must give the chapter at least a cursory edit before posting it. All these things slow me down.

The biggest anchor to my word count speed, however, is research. In order to send this stuff out here, I need to do some preliminary fact-checking, looking up appropriate setting info, and spending time with the lingo, and word choices (i.e. my thesaurus).

During a typical NaNo November, I cast aside all these precautions and simply write, knowing that I will catch all the errors, fix the crud, and look stuff up – during the editing process. That is December’s work.

I type away, inner editor safely boxed up (duct tape works well), and when I hit a snag, I just make a comment or note in the work, and speed on. My manuscripts are rife with little yellow boxes surrounding words or phrases that need work or research.

Yes, you guessed it. Because I need to focus on my word count, because I need to catch up, I can’t afford the time it takes to polish (limited though it may be) the chapters for publication here on my blog.

I am going to speed through, type furiously, and pump out my 50K words before November 30th. If, and only if, I get significantly ahead of my daily word count, will I consider posting more chapters. But on the upside, December is editing month… half a month is not so long to wait and see what happens to Creed and Nika.

I have the whole work plotted, and I know all the twists and turns. I just have to get it into my computer.

Also, because I lost a week of writing (so far – I am still not over this gunk), I have cancelled all my regular DJ shows in Second Life, until December. I’ll kick this cold, and I will catch up.

I care abut my writing. It matters to me. It matters that it is enjoyable. So I don’t want to send out work that I am not completely ready to release.

Thanks for understanding, and please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Mark Adam Thomas

All images and content copyright © 2011-2014 ~ Mark Adam Thomas