Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil


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Writing Challenge: What Place Creeps You Out?

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Roosevelt Island on the East River between Manhattan and Queens, NY.

What place on earth really creeps you out? Is it a building somewhere in your hometown? Is it a ruin you walked through years ago while on vacation that felt heavy with history and past demons?

Why not write about it? I did. Here it goes:

For me, it’s Roosevelt Island. The cigar shaped strip of land along the east river that straddles the upper east side of Manhattan and Queens. Fully inhabited, it’s a living, breathing little sleepy nook of NYC, carved off from the mainland.

Back in the black and white dusty days of old timey NYC, it was used to quarantine the contagious from the main land. A small pox hospital (now crumbling and empty) existed. And the Octogon Building, now a luxury condo complex, was the sight of a former insane asylum.

Yup! This place is really cool. And weird. And creepy despite it being inhabited and beloved (or despised, depending on who you talk to) by those who live there.

This long, two mile strip of land wasn’t wasted or left to the elements like the REALLY REALLY creepy North and South Brother Islands – two abandoned small land masses off the coast of The Bronx steeped in sad, depressing history. (More to come in my next post). Roosevelt was developed into a residential, park-like community with no nightlife, a few grocery stores and restaurants. It still houses a working, educational hospital; yet, people come here to buy high end condos and live a peaceful life away from the bustle  across the river.

There is only a Main Street cutting through the island, with an east and west drive. You can get to Roosevelt Island by Tram or by the F train. Cars are not plentiful, so there’s no traffic. The tram ride there is gorgeous, and the biking on the island is nice and easy due to cars being somewhat scarce.

For me, it’s incredibly creepy. Eerie. Strange. Like a New York City parallel universe where you’ve been drugged and thrown in a van only to wake up in the middle of the in-between. Someone online mentioned that it reminded them of the old video game ‘Myst’ – where you’ve been ship wrecked on an island that looks familiar, but it’s vacant and strange and surreal.

They even made a thriller with Jennifer Connolly called ‘Dark Water’ on the premises, using its isolated, dystopic, empty strangeness as part of the atmosphere.

So bizarre is this strip of island  – that only this week during New York’s Fashion Week, Kanye West, now a fashion maven, staged a fashion show to reveal his latest line of shoe wear. Girls clad in nothing but underwear and body stockings stood along the grassy area of the park, staged as living dolls around the makeshift runways. They stood there, like brooding statues in the heat, to which they succumbed, one by one in fainting spells. Meanwhile, animated models strutted and stumbled over shoes that fell apart on the catwalk.

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As each model wobbled and held on to audience members for dear life, the ruins of the small pox hospital loomed in the distance.

A modern day disaster contrasting an older one. A strange land perfect for such a strange performance.

Perfect for a weird place like Roosevelt Island.

Yet, the skyline views were, and are always —  spectacular.

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Photo by: Mabry Campbell – http://www.mabrycampbell.com

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Finding Faith

Screenshot 2016-08-27 13.00.20.png“There was a lot of faith involved in everything that we did. And the people around us had to share that faith or it wouldn’t have worked. Brian had to have faith in us. George Martin had to have faith in us. This is how it was for The Beatles. You had to have faith. We had to have faith in each other.” – Paul, from ‘The Beatles: Eight Days A Week’

Beatle Lessons.


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Indifference: The Creativity Killer

Rick Barrett

Photo by Rick Barrett

This is what giving up in the face of failure looks like…

There is nothing more discouraging for a writer or an artist of any form, to be ignored or have his or her work met with indifference.

Whatever you create, whether it’s a blog post, a novel, an article, a YouTube video, a film, a play or an album of music, if no one gives a shit to see or hear it — it’s worse than getting a bad review.

At least a bad review means it moved someone enough to hate it and have the energy to say something about it. In the end, a negative reaction to creative output is sign that you’ve moved someone – even if it means they had to hold their nose and shout how you sucked.

At least someone saw your work and it created a reaction.

What stinks about being a writer or creator of any kind, is keeping the faith when nobody gives a goddamn about your work. Writing is a pain in the ass, frankly. You have to sit and think and stay engaged with the process believing you’re going to possibly be met with a field of crickets and empty seats out there in your arena.

Indifference is the biggest creativity killer of all. Not bad reviews.

Being met by indifference from the very people you are writing for – stinks.

And then when you see indifference all around you, good old resistance rears its ugly head to tell say, “See? You’re not worth it. So stop writing and get back on Facebook and read about how a kitten in Austin learned how to bake bread.”

I’m not going to lie. I’m lost and floating out in a sea of indifference. I keep trying to make little steps toward progress on my coaching, reaching out to people to try and build something interesting, but I can’t even give away spots in my writing community for FREE.

Is this whining? Yeah – so what? I’m pissed, okay?

You know why? Because after self publishing a book of short stories, I’m met with indifference from people who are too polite to say it was milk toast boring crap so they are silent. If you have nothing good to say… Of course, it’s with the exception of a few who praised it.

Or…because when I tried to get promotional gigs at local bookstores, I was met with “We don’t do those kind of books.” It’s not fun being in debt when your act of being expansive and getting ‘uncomfortable’ by investing in a creative goal, flunked.

Indifference. And in turn, I offer indifference back.

So, I’m on here to say, I’m backing away from this for a while. I need a break from being a writing cheerleader because resistance has won in the face of indifference and I can’t put up this front anymore.  I need to recharge or find some kind of hope in the face of another failure to get me going again. But right now – I’m done.

Take this as your own personal incentive to write. Do not give up. Because I’ll be in the corner being jealous of your new novel and wondering what might have been.

Success is the difference between failing and quitting and failing and trying again. And the way I feel today, I may just let failure win.

But, I’ll probably be back tomorrow writing away anyway. Even though this post will also be met with indifference.

 

 

 

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Writers Wanted: A Call To Action

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Hello Writers of WordPress.

I’m in the midst of building a writing community and would like your help.

Would you like to participate in a beta group to help me test out a writing platform I’m working on? Being part of the team involves participating in workshops, writing challenges and motivational games in a closed, safe and non-judgemental online work space.

I’m bringing The Order of the Good Write to another level, and am looking for 15 – 20 writers who would like to help me test out this new writer’s platform. It’s Free — no charge.

All I ask is that you share your stories, work on gaining confidence and motivation in your writing while using the online tools so I can build the best platform around.  All I ask in payment is your feedback. I want to make this the best writer’s platform it can be.

It’s absolutely confidential, and no writing will be copied or shared outside the space.

Please email if you’re interested at drotmil@gmail.com and I will invite you into the online space.

Good writing to you all!

Debi

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Rising Above Negativity

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Light and love, people. Light and love.

Politics isn’t my thing. I’ve kept my words to myself. The crackling atmosphere has been filling up my head with so many emotions that I can’t even hash out blog postings and daily writings without stunted passages and small word counts. Politics always brings out the worse in people, but this year we’re seeing what lurks beneath the morals of various folks we thought we’ve known for years. We either stand in solidarity, or fall into the disarray of disagreement.

If there is a positive outcome to this acrimonious election year, it’s this: 2016 has brought in an era of shedding things that no longer serve us.

I believe in trying to stay in the light, and to find positivity in dark, challenging moments.

There are some who believe they have all the light and joy and right answers. They don’t need you darkening their life with beliefs they do not agree with. One personal comment will encourage them to blow up against your beliefs and throw verbal bombs your way, despite after you’ve kept quiet about their own offensive commentary. Funny how all that light and joy doesn’t not extend beyond their own house. (You can see, I’ve been in a tussle with someone lately.)

You can’t contain love within your own walls. You have to give a little out to the neighborhood, folks. Despite disagreements. No matter who you root for or whom you believe.

This shedding may also be a great opportunity to write your feelings, to devise a novel about love or friendships. The creative flow may be a waterfall of great stuff.

So, if you’re being bombarded by haters who hate your beliefs or show a side you’ve never seen before – just rise above it. Be strong in your ideas and moral values, and don’t ever treat a hater the way they treated you. Don’t engage. If you feel in your gut to break ties, only make that decision when you know it’s right.

Always be in the light.

Oh hey — and write it out!

 

 

 

 

 


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How A Rug Illustrates a Story

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Rug as seen at ABC Home, NYC

It hung there, among the colorful faded green and pink rugs. Like a shabby and dazzling bunch of beauties, these gorgeous items of woven thread formed the most intricate patterns of white, greys and blacks. It left me breathless. The finite layers of simple flower shapes, round, small and big. Dabs of pedal shadows that almost look like birds flowing through the delicate wiggly lines depicting an element of motion.

From afar, we see the dazzling story of visual artistry. It’s a tale by what we make of it. The chairs and sofa that would look so good against the color. The pop of black floorboard wood that makes the patterns come alive, contained in the room in which it lives. This rug’s design can tell a story with it’s patterns and cacophony of visuals combines into one big work of floor artistry. Indeed, in one’s home, it will absorb the human life on which it lives.

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Yet, if we zoom in on the details, we see a different emotion. Suddenly the story isn’t so obvious, the tales not so simple. From afar, each duplicate design is created by intricate fibers of color and handmade stitching pulls together to make one big beauty. But when we magnify an inch of the vast work before us, there is a depth we never see.

One can find a laughing family on the front yard enjoying a summer day. Yet, if we take one person aside and study him, much like the details of a rug, we’ll find depth, individuality and a whole other story.

Writing is much like this. You can’t have the overall picture unless you magnify the details of the human spirit.

Look closely at the details of life. Understand more than just what the overall picture is trying to tell you. Write about it.

And boy, would I LOVE to buy this rug!

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We Float

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Somewhere over the California Desert

It’s not often I get a window seat on a cross country flight. As someone who deals with anxiety, I’ll take an aisle seat every time, despite having to get up for bathroom bound passengers who are trapped three seats deep. Yet, this time, on a trip from LA to NYC and back, I was booked both ways in a bulkhead window seat, happily willing to help out in the unlikely event of an emergency. Extra leg room, easy access to getting up and not crawling over people – I was sitting pretty with my own personal view of the world below.

I was amazed at what I usually miss in an aisle seat on the edge of the row, my shoulders dodging wayward hips, as my back seat neighbor uses my headrest as a handle for getting up. My view is usually of the head in front of me, or the bathroom sign illuminated in either red/occupied or green/vacant.

At the window, where the light of day illuminated the textures of landmass and hills, I was transfixed by the planet below. I’ve often felt like I’ve never belonged down there, like I’m a soul in a body experiencing a human life outside a glass bubble and all of humanity is inside. Flying at an altitude of 34,000 feet made this feeling stronger than ever.

As we floated in this long metal vessel, the feeling of detachment was profound. Up in space, half way near the Kármán Line, our feet are on the cold steel floor of the aircraft. They are not on earth. And from way on high, we can see the beauty of the planet like a work of art.

There is so much texture to the land. The deserts I watched below were patterns of dunes and cut highways, ant colonies of human beings creating inlets for their own passage from one end of the space to another. Contrast of beige sand and shadows, muted greens and dots of inclines that may be vast to the human foot, yet little nothing from above.

The desert sands of California drifted into the Grand Canyon expanse of Arizona. Deep swaths of land cut and molded into sharp layers indicating millions of years of ocean water dissipating into nothing. You can see how the dying ocean cut long lines of water marks, decreasing into lower levels until a long winding thin river bed left the last dredges of briny water.

As the arid land of the western states stretched into dark greens cut with agriculture and shiny man made circles of water for cattle, I think of how little our angry lives are down below. We are an America made of two different factions, and we are living under civil unrest in so many ways.  There are people believing things out of fear and frustration. There are others angry over being sold a bad bill of goods. There is hatred and love. There is a sense of mourning for what we have become.

But the land was so beautiful below. We are all just souls living a human life, hovering over something bigger than us. From a plane, we see the big picture from great heights and only begin to understand how little we and our problems really are.

We should all have a window seat on the world.

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A Letter

 

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Dear Universe,

I’m not interested in expansive thinking today. Nor am I interested in self improvement right now. I’m barely in the mood to write this, but here I am  – writing.  It’s summer. It’s July. I currently live where the weather is summer all year round, making the summer months just another season and not the magical thing it can be if you suffer through winter’s brittle clutch first. Yet, I don’t care if I can’t enjoy it the way I used to – the way it used to be when I was a child and could do whatever the hell I wanted for two months.

Nope. For now, I want to go to the pool. I want to go to the water. I want to smell classic Coppertone suntan oil (yes…oil) and tan until the hairs on my forearm turn blonde like they use to when I was a little girl. Like they used to when I used to have hair on my forearms. (Where did they go?) I want to wake up in the morning and eat a bowl of cornflakes and watch television without guilt. I want to go to the library and find books I’d like to read for the summer. I’d like to watch the sun hit the walls of our living room and listen to the clock play Westminster chimes at the top of the hour. I want to watch repeats of Emergency after playing pretend with the neighborhood boys, wearing cut off jeans, tee-shirt and converse sneakers as the daylight dims and the Good Humor truck bells start jangling and come nearer and nearer as we each run home to quickly grab change.

I don’t want to think about the future today. I don’t want to hit my personal goal marks. I don’t want to try and write that Spec Script or even work on the book I’ve put aside for the past few months because my brain is void of ideas and concepts. I don’t want to beat myself up for not having a productive day today or maybe even tomorrow.  I don’t care about what my next turn will be and where I’m going or how little money I have when I want so much more.

I don’t care if I counted “I” over 30 times in this blog post, making “I, Me, Mine” seem so “I, Me…” narcissistic. I don’t care if nobody reads this. I don’t care if the Mets lose. I don’t care if ‘Rectify’ didn’t get nominated for an Emmy. I don’t care if nobody doesn’t care. I don’t care if that phone call didn’t come yet, or that email wasn’t sent yet. Or movers and address changes and New York and dog parks and Zipcars and trip to Bear Mountain with my California hound and how he will react to his first taste of snow. I don’t care now. I don’t care. Yet.

I’m letting it all go. I’m thinking of light and peace and the sky and the planets above. I’m thinking of summertime and autumn. I’m letting the feelings go. I’m letting all thoughts go.

Sincerely,

Moi. Letting go.

 


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For the Writer, Art is the Motivator

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Palm Trees. Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

(I wrote this post this morning on MarieForleo.com in reply to a discussion about the importance of art in our lives.  This comment felt like a blog post. I’d like to share it here. I hope you find some good in its message.)

Art is essential in allowing humanity to connect spiritually.

I use art to motivate my writing and the writing of others. Each facet of art, especially painting and sculpture (for me), can ignite a bevvy of stories for the world to see. It can inspires other and can change lives. It can shift a mind.

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Street Art/Berlin Wall. Wende Museum. Los Angeles.

Music is also a profound inspiration. Artists who write life affirming and soul searching lyrics have made me the writer I am today. They connect feelings into words. Music and art makes us feel less alone in this world.

I think the one piece of art that changed my life (other than music), was Georges Seurat’s painting “Sunday on the Island of Grande Jatte” and the musical play it inspired. James Lapine wrote the book for “Sunday in the Park with George” and Stephen Sondheim created the most glorious, heart wrenching, moving score to reflect the concept of how a painting can tell a story. How each visage, each person painted were really humans with beating hearts and broken lives painted in dabs of light. The way the painting comes to life with humanity and the love story woven in – showed me how art can be a powerful reflection of our lives. In fact, the entire show has specific lyrics that support this entire theme.

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‘Sunday in the Park with George’

 

Add the wonderful musical ‘Fun Home’ – which shows painful, universal themes in a beautiful, touching way – and we have continued proof that the arts tell the story of our lives.

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Cast of ‘Fun Home’. Photo by Christaan Felber. The New Yorker.

Don’t let anybody, or any negative voice in your head tell you otherwise. We need more art. We need creation.

As good ol’ Steve wrote in “Sunday…”

“Look at what you want,
Not at where you are,
Not at what you’ll be-
Look at all the things you’ve done for me
Opened up my eyes,
Taught me how to see,
Notice every tree…”

Just keep moving on. 🙂


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“Swim Til You Can’t See Land”

swim til you can't see land

Artwork by Rebecca Rebouche

David Bowie once said that the best place for a creative person to be is in the in-between. Floating between safety and peril, that lovely bouncing sense of nothing where your heart is in your throat, but your eyes are firmly set on the horizon. When you walk out in to the water’s edge until your feet barely touch the  ground. That’s the perfect place to be.

Sometimes being creative means to be brave. Being creative can mean producing word, art and performance. But it can also mean delving into a new depth of life. It can be about not letting fear get in your way. Bravery is breaking through convention and routine to build a scary road toward a life where you’re honoring your gift.

The best place to be is in the scary. Writing is scary. Creating a life you want rather the one you settle for conjures fear.

Isn’t it nice to know you can embrace fear?

Just embrace it. Let your failures be proof that you tried. Then get up and do it again.

And if you look around at your chaotic life where everything seems to be going wrong, don’t dwell on why. Understand how it happened. How the choices you made brought you here. Don’t dwell. Hash out the plans to get you out of it.

Remember, “The choice may have been mistaken, the choosing was not. You have to move on.”

Much like the glorious work of Rebecca Rebouche, whose delicate, surreal artwork (whose work you can find here), lends so much toward writing inspiration. Her work allows you to move away from the river’s edge until you feel the scary in-between.

 

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