Three Weeks into the Dream..

Well, this is me three weeks in. Twenty-four years have passed since I last actively tried to learn something and become a productive member of society. Not that I haven’t been one all this time, but I will be the first to admit I have spent all this time living well below my potential. Then again, I think the same could be said for many of us. Whether it’s from living in fear of failure if we try and fall short or just simply circumstances put us in positions we can’t seem to fight our way out of, it is the rare human being who actually gets to become the person they thought they’d be as a kid. Sometimes it’s just easier to let expectations slide and give in to staying as you are.

Thing is. I couldn’t be that person anymore. Not that I didn’t like myself, because for the most part I did. I just didn’t like the things he/me were willing to accept. I once had dreams, and over the years I let most of those dreams die. I let art sink into the shadows. Lately, I’ve let my writing follow the same path. It took these three weeks being back in school to show me why.

I had no purpose in my life. I won’t say I had no reason to get up in the morning, but it was close. I had no reason to be the best I could be. Call it a midlife crisis if you want, but now, I know I need a reason to go forth and be me. Yeah, that sounds about right, but it’s true. Age doesn’t dull the need to strive to be a better person, a better you. If anything the older we get, the more we need to find purpose. Without it, we stall and can’t move forward. We can’t become the best us possible.

And, don’t think that ever happens. Humanity is an evolution unto ourselves. We evolve as a race, and we evolve individually. When we stop seeking knowledge we stop being. We simply exist without the ability to live or to drive to new heights. That in no way means it’s an easy process, or doesn’t come with a certain amount of fear. Trust me it does.

Over the past three weeks, I’ve questioned this decision more than once. It’s hard to accept you don’t know as much as you thought you did. Worse still it’s hard to think there are some things out there that can beat you mentally. Again, trust me there is, and those things have kicked my butt. Being stubborn and having some amazing family and friends, I refuse to give up. Might be better to say my support group refuses to let me quit. I’ve heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child. In this new day, let me add this, it takes an internet community to keep a middle aged man on the right track.

It is humbling to realize that you can’t do it all yourself. You can’t even get twenty-five percent done without someone or several someones hanging around to never let you forget you’re a little bit better than you give yourself credit for being. On the other side of that, you need someone to let you know you’re not as smart as you think you are either. That one there should be the number one thing every person needs in their live. It is so easy to become full of your own potential that you forget you haven’t got there yet.  Looking back over my life, I can point to several parts of my timeline where I should have had that person in my life. Sadly, I have even more instances where I did, and was too full of myself to listen to their sage advice. I probably still have that problem. Before I end this paragraph let me say this, someone reminding you that you don’t know everything isn’t the same as someone telling you that you don’t know squat. Never let someone tell you that you can’t do something you want because you’re not good enough. You are! So let you dictate your worth and never allow someone else put a price tag on how much you affect the course human events.

I’m sure there’s more in me to say about myself, but I’m not in the mood. Honestly, no one should be forced to listen to that crap. I don’t believe half of myself in any case. Why should you?

I do ask you to allow me to paint an example for you. In my life I’ve been a success, a failure, a son, a father, a boy and a man. I’ve been alone, and I’ve had the love of my life. Now, at the age of forty-seven, I have an old dream made new. I’m going to be a teacher someday. It isn’t the maybe that I kept talking about to convince myself I could do it if I ever got time. No, it’s the time now, and I will do it. I might screw up, but I will never be able to say I didn’t at least try.

So when you think you’re too old to try something, remember old J. Morgan. He was stupid enough to try and hopefully will be crazy enough to succeed. I kinda like the sound of that.

Until next time, Happy Reading!

  1. Morgan
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Dad’s are Muses? Who knew?

Dad’s are there to inspire.

Read that again. I want to make sure it sinks in good and deep. I’m not saying it to be funny or to give myself an elevated position as a dad myself. I am simply stating a simple and undeniable fact. Before anyone tries to dispute me, give me a chance to make my case. Even by not being there, a father inspires his children by his actions. Whether death has ripped him from their lives or he’s just an asshat who has no business being anyone’s father, he has inspired his children to become the adults they will eventually grow into being. That’s for good and bad, people. So any guys out there, pay close attention to what I typed. If you believe you’re a better influence by not being in your children’s life, you just taught them that men have no other responsibility than being a piece-of-crap sperm donor.

Okay, my soapbox is done, because that isn’t what this blog is about. I just happened to hit a sour note and felt like saying something that so obviously needed to be said — even though it should NEVER HAVE TO BE said. Sadly for our society, it does.

If that isn’t what this blog is about, what is?

It’s about my dad, the greatest man I know. When I say a dad is there to inspire, I speak from experience. My dad gave his four sons and now his daughter the inspiration of being a role model each of us have aspired to become to our children and now for some of us our grandchildren. The first and foremost thing he taught us is that loving your kids supersedes everything else short of loving God in your life. It’s that love that defines every single memory I have of my father. I include those from today. My dad loves me, and it is the one thing I’ve never felt the need to question.  His every action reflects his love for all his children and grandchildren. Out of all the things I’ve learned by osmosis from being in his shadow, loving my family, and extended family is the greatest thing I’ve taken from him. Sometimes, that love isn’t easy.  Sometimes it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but it’s always the greatest thing I’ll ever do.

My dad taught me that anything worth having is worth working to hold. This ranges from earthly things to education. You name it. You have to work to get it. As a kid I saw my dad leave before daylight only to drag in way after the sun came down to put a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs. He’d do this seven days a week for months at a time. One of my earliest memories is coming downstairs and sitting in his lap so we could watch Bugs Bunny together on one rare Saturday he was off. That taught me that memories are big extravagant things. They’re moments captured in time, and it’s up to us to hold them inside us for all time.

Like I said to start this, dads are there to inspire us. He should be our first hero. Before Superman, Batman, or Luke Skywalker, our dads should be the standard all those other guys must strive to be. My Dad might not be able to leap a building in a single bound, but growing up I sure thought he could. That’s how it should be. I wish all kids had a dad like mine.

Maybe not exactly like mine, but the perfect dad for them. My dad taught me more than how to work for what I want, and how to pray to God for those things working won’t get. That’s a dad’s job. All kids are born with the best and worst of two parents. I’m sure I have a lot of his habits that irritate me. It’s  probably why they irritate me. But, I also have the best parts of him. The parts he showed me while sitting on his lap, or working beside me on my old PoS car. Over the years my dad gradually became my best friend. The man I turn to for all the answers, even when he doesn’t have them. Again, that’s how it should be. I pray my daughter sees enough of him inside me to have learned some of the lessons I imparted without meaning to. Some of those influences aren’t that great, but thankfully some are. When I see her with my grandson, I know she learned the valuable ones. The same ones I learned from my dad. Love your kids totally and with every fiber of your being, even when they are behaving like shits.

Just to tie all this into writing and literature, which as a writer I think I should do at some point. When I look back on my childhood, I always see me and Dad reading together. He, more than anyone, gave me a love for reading that encompassed everything from the Old West to the pulp heroes like Conan, and John Carter of Mars to books about World War II. I even remember him writing on his own book, so writing isn’t just something that popped up out of nowhere. It comes to me naturally.

On this Father’s Day, I want to thank my dad for making me not only the man I am today but the person I am still becoming. I want to thank him for the butt whuppings I deserved, and those he slipped in just because. Believe me, I deserved more than I got. I want to thank him for the shootouts at the Old West corrals and for the stars I flew to in my mind. While I’m there, for the wild jungles and swinging through the trees. Most of all, I want to thank him for the love he never stops showing and for teaching me that showing love doesn’t make you less of a man. It makes you a man worthy to be called a Dad.

 

Til next week, Happy Father’s Day to all you dads. Be an inspiration to not only your children but to all the kids who see you as an example of what a man should be.

Happy Reading!

Believe! Writers’ Commandment #1

Last week we talked about ‘So, you wanna be a writer?’. This week, I thought it only a natural progression to say, ‘So, I’m a writer?’, which should be closely followed by, ‘What the fudge now?’. That’s a question I tend to ask myself more times than I care to admit to myself or anyone. At times writing is the easiest thing in the world to do. I mean, the imagination just flows out of you and paints the video across the page. Then there’s the other times. The times when your brain, imagination, and the ends of your fingers are at World War III with each other. That’s when a ‘writer’ is most likely to become a ‘reader’. Before we get too far into this blog, I’m going to spell out my intent.

So, you wanna be a writer? Never give up on you!
A good many people have asked me, ‘What is the most important thing you need to have to be a writer?’. What I wrote up there is it. Huh? Confidence in yourself. Do I need to spell it out for you? Apparently I do, or I think I need to spell it out. Either way, here goes.

 

I’m going to start out clichéd but that doesn’t make it any less true. If anything, it gives total validation to my statement. If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else? Can you answer that? Does your answer begin with the word Yes? If you said yes to those last two without using the word but anywhere in the answer, I think you’re well on your way to becoming a writer. It’s up to you to become an author. We discussed that last week, so let’s not get sidetracked. That’s what Facebook is for.

It is so easy to listen to friends tell you how great you are. It’s even easier when experts tell you you’re great. Thing is, if you don’t believe it– right there in your heart–when those same people become indifferent or just stop talking all you have is that doubting voice in your heart telling you how you weren’t that good to begin with. Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. When you hit that point, you’re not an author, writer or reader. You’re someone who’s not sure who exactly they are. At this point you can do the easy thing and just give up, and tell people years later about how for a little while you were a writer but grew out of it. Yeah, you can do that and forever live with that dull ache of all the imaginary worlds that will never be told. The heroes and heroines inside you will never go forth and become role models for whoever reads their stories. How easy does that sound? Knowing you have lives inside you that will never be lived all because you believed in things but never yourself.

OR!

You can struggle to find that part inside you that unlocks the imagination “YOU” are forcing down to some deep pit. Because you are the only one who stands between you and becoming the writer you always dreamed of being. Believe in yourself. Believe that all the awesome you wish you had DOES reside within your heart. Let it out and become a vision for others either through your writing or by telling this similar story about how hard it was to write but you didn’t give in. You believed in yourself and let others do the same. Become a hero or heroine to someone who thinks they’re all alone in these feelings. They’re not. At times we all feel unworthy or empty inside. Sometimes that might even be the case, but you shouldn’t let that voice dictate your life or your dreams.
I’m going to say something right now that might sound crazy but I’m going to say it anyway. I believe in you. I have never met you and most likely I never will, in person at least, but I believe that you hold inside you the ability to make others live lives in worlds only you can create. I believe you can spark the wonder of true love, knights going forth to battle, wizards waging wars against evil untold, spaceships flying into the void of space and coming back with races we’ve never even considered possible, and most importantly I believe you can do whatever you want.

Why?

Because I have friends who believed enough in me to never let me give up. Every time I wanted to walk away or hide, they were there telling me to trust in myself. I know I said up there only you can believe in yourself. That’s true, but you shouldn’t stop listening to the people who love you while you search inside yourself for your own confidence. Just accept yourself first then walk out among the masses and say here is my story. Come along for the ride and let’s see what’s over that next hill.

Take that ride.

Me? I’m still going on my own journey. Maybe, sometime soon we’ll meet again and tell our stories over the campfires of our dreams. Until then, Happy Reading, and never stop believing in yourself.

Jmo

Rediscovery

This past week has been a bit of normal except for an upper respiratory infection that has kept me on sicky poo lock down. Not really. Being an adult, sick is just a state of mind that doesn’t prevent things like work and yard work. Though I have avoided the crap out of yard work with the exception of taking the trash cans to the road on garbage day. Still, being sick puts a damper on the creative juices to the point I’ve managed to avoid writing almost all together. But, is that necessarily a bad thing? During the heat of the not writing moment, I would have screamed a resounding yes.
Toward the end of this cold–hope it is at least–I have different thoughts on the subject. Sick is a chance to take a mental slow down and rest. Personally for me, I only tend to get sick when I’ve been pushing myself and haven’t given my body the rest it needs. Quite honestly, I don’t give my body or spirit a lot of things they need. Then again, does any of us really? Don’t bother to answer. We all know the answer, so let’s not bother to lie to one another.
I’m writing. Not as much or as fast as I would like, but I am putting word to page. At the moment, I think that’s the important thing. The whole process of freeing the story from the locked recesses of your mind, I mean. Once upon a time, it was the easiest thing in the world for me to do. I could just as easily watch my books unfold in my head and let them wash out onto the screen. Age and medication has made the process a bit more complicated but I am in no way ready to fold my notebook in half and toss it in the back of the closet.
I know of late my missives have had a maudlin flavor, and for that I refuse to apologize. I am documenting my crawl from the darkness. To deny how I truly feel would be to deny this path. I am not hiding who I am or my emotional descent into whatever. I want someone to read this and say, I’ve been there and totally get it. I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time. Not totally me, but close enough I can see myself when I look into the mirror. You’re welcome to take a gander. Whether or not you appreciate the experiences etched in my face and soul is entirely up to you. I am not asking for sympathy or pity with these blogs. I’m asking you to look at yourself and make certain the things I write about aren’t glaring back in your mirror. It’s too easy to miss that something is wrong. Too easy to write it off as just another bad day, or that everyone has these moods every once in a while. Because, before you know it that one bad day is a crappy month and rapidly becoming a year eating at your last nerve. I’ve been there and it isn’t a very pretty place to call home.
The thing is we need to fall on our knees. We need to lose our way and get stuck up against walls. If everything came easy, there would be no struggle, no reason to strive to become better than we are. This is our moment of discovery. Maybe, rediscovery is the better way of looking at the situation. I’ll fully admit before this wall, I’d pretty much run out of juice. Nearly 25 stories and I had become stagnant and bored. The problem wasn’t that I couldn’t see the end of the story. No the probable WAS I could see the entirety of what was to come. There were no secrets left to uncover. There was no mystery. Nearly, a year and a half later I’m still in that pocket of finding me, but I’m getting closer to finding out who I am with 47 years under my belt.
As the words once again begin to flow, I’m excited at what’s coming out. I feel matured in what I have to say. Not a hundred percent grown-up, but not all boy either. I never want to grow out of who I was on the journey to becoming the refined me, burned bright in the fires of tribulation I’m going through. No, growing up should be an ongoing extension of you. You should never have to sacrifice parts of yourself in the becoming. If you do, you aren’t being honest to yourself, your craft, or to anyone you meet.
So I’m going to sign off here because this honesty is a bit unsettling. As an author I like to deal in fiction laced with honesty. Total truth is a tad too much for me to put out there, but then again, in the heart of fiction there is only truth to be laid bare. It is up to the reader to find you among the lies we call fiction. So I invite you to see me among the masks and tell me if you can see my journey or do I still have a lot more growing up left to do?
Good night my friends, and as always Happy Reading,
Jmo.

Saying Goodbye for Now…

Sometime back around 1981 — at least that date sounds familiar. Anyway, I fell in love. Not with a woman though I’m sure a girl did occupy my thoughts, because quite frankly, I still go weak in the knees at the sight of blue plaid skirts and white button up shirts. It’s a Catholic thing, so don’t try to understand it. Back to what I was saying. I fell in love.

Fell in love with a voice. Yes, it’s possible, so don’t even try to fight  with me over this. Riding home from school, our bus had a radio that pumped out the local station Rock 102. The song that blared sent all the teenagers into fits of Karaoke, way before we knew what that was. The song was Little Red Corvette and I was hooked. That day started a forty year love affair that will probably follow me to my grave.

I can’t really say why the song captured me the way it did. Maybe it was the sexual rebellion the song sparked within me. It could have been the music itself speaking to me on a primal level, or the melodic lyrics that said so many things my brain hadn’t yet fully understood. Whatever the case, Prince Rodgers Nelson became my musical Jedi Master that day. By the time Purple Rain came out at the movies, I’d picked up his back stock of albums and had already conceived several plans to sneak into this R rated slice of heaven. I am pretty certain back then the only reason I clung to my Prince love was his glorification of sex and the dropping of the F Bomb. Teenagers. Go figure?

Then again to be perfectly honest, I had already developed a deep and abiding love for Rhythm and Blues from my parents. Dad loved old school rock in the form of Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Big Joe Turner, not to mention Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson. Mom was all 70s funk. Earth Wind and Fire, Ohio Players and the Commodores. Man, I can’t even begin to name all the musical influences I had growing up. It’s no small wonder that when I began to mature in my musical tastes I’d develop strong and definite opinions of my choices.

Looking back I can honestly say Prince was more of a rebellious streak for me. Prince taught me many things on my road to being who I am. Creatively he taught me to take chances. He showed me the value of never accepting good enough and to always push whatever envelope I found myself fitting into. At the time I probably didn’t see him as a mentor. I just saw him as the soundtrack to my life. Purple Rain defined my 80s. Diamond and Pearls my 90s. Musicology my 2000s. I’m still trying to nail down which album is summing up my 20tweens but I’m sure it’ll come to me sooner or later. The point is, Prince is the godfather of my painting and writing for so many reasons he should get a co-writing credit on my books.

But, I don’t think I can stop with just letting him take the blame for my imagination running wild. It would so belittle the impact he had on my growth as a human being. I always find it strange that people assume something about a person based on their color and geographic location. It never occurred to me to hate someone based on either of those things. Being a douchebag gets you on the list automatically. Prince helped cement my view on accepting others based solely on who they are. I have met many people over the years and adopted them fully into my heart. When I see them, I don’t see color. I don’t see religion or lack of the topic. I don’t even see political affiliation or sexual orientation. I see a person who completes my life in some mysterious way that I can’t explain nor see a need to even try. They are, and the fact that they are makes me happy. Not sure that sole credit for the belief rests with Prince, but I’m giving him partial credit. The rest I’m giving to Jesus for giving me a heart open to loving without condition.

This past week and a half has given me a lot to think about. That is often the way when you lose someone close to you. I know I have never met Prince except in my dreams, but he has been a real part of my life nonetheless. Losing him so suddenly like this has left an empty spot I struggle to fill. Not with another person, but with the memories of his music and the times in my life he was with me through the songs he wrote. I think along the way we are given people who influence us whether they know the impact they have on us or not. These people help shape the people we ultimately become. If you think about it that way, maybe the old adage is true. Live the values you speak, because your life is a roadmap for others to follow. I for one don’t want to be the one paving the road to hell for someone else. I have enough trouble keeping myself off that road without worrying about anyone else’s path.

So, as I say goodbye to Prince, I want to express rather inadequately the thanks I wish I could have given him personally in life. Since sadly that option is no longer open to me, I will live my life as he had. A living example of using the talents God gave me to their fullest and giving the world an example worthy of the man who showed me that Purple Rain is not just a song, it’s an ideal to live by.

I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted to one time to see you laughing
I only wanted to see you
Laughing in the purple rain

Jmo wishing you all

Happy Reading and a life full of that laughter.prince

A Moment to Ponder

I try to spread myself around a bit. By that I mean, I do more than simply write Romance and the occasional Young Adult. When the mood hits me, I’ve been known to write a poem or twenty.  What do I write about? Same thing I attempt to compose in my books. Emotions. Except in my poetry I don’t hide behind characters. Poetry is all about revealing your inner self, even if it is only to yourself. I think it’s also about revealing how you view your personal relationship with the world around you. in short, poetry is all about discovering yourself. As a result, of all this self discovery, I normally only share my poems with a few select group of friends.

Again, why? Maybe, it’s because I’m afraid of showing the world who I truly am. That fear limits you as an artist in some ways. A lot of ways. So today I’m throwing open my inner self to you my friends. Hope you walk away with something that might give you something to think about and maybe a voice to explain how your own heart searches to find purpose in this strange world we call home.

Sad is the times of our life,

as childhood wanes

into the light of aged musings

Give me the youth I remember,

the soft delight of shadows

across a brilliant sky

I feel the harsh sun at my back,

the gray morning of forever at my feet.

Should I bequeath myself to the inevitable?

And continue the journey,

or sit upon this throne of sorrow,

passing the memories of what should have been

across the tips of my fingers.

a childhood game remembered too late.

My head hung low

I question the fate allotted to me,

Damning the choices that brought me

To the impasse I have given to myself

in hollowness of my arrogance.

Alone I stand at the precipice,

A crossroads of decision.

With a shrunken smile I follow

the path most traveled.

Feel free to kiss the feet of the fool

Who thought everything

was but a handful of ambition away.

Too late realizing

age brings wisdom to those few

who survive the tribulation

they create in the wake of

their passing through life,

yet it does little

to change the outcome.

Life is the hand

we deal to ourselves.

 

 

A Beautiful Disaster

Life is a beautiful disaster. Not sure who said that, but its freaking true. Life paints a painful picture on the best of days, and Greek tragedies on the normal days of the week. So what’s so beautiful about it?

The story of the human spirit that is told in the living of it.

Please examine that statement of fact. If you don’t agree with what I just said, this blog isn’t for you. Thanks for stopping by and checking things out. I promise I don’t hold your moving on against you. People disagree and that is again part of the beauty of the life we live. Let me get on with this before I lose track of what I intended to write.

Any great life is not about happily ever after. There is no happily ever after. There is happily for now. That’s all any of us get. Moments of happy surrounded by tribulation and pain. Those moments might equal seconds or linger on for weeks at a time, but happy is not a constant. Happy is a fragile state of mind. Enjoy it while you can. The story of your life is just like the stories most of us like to read. A rough road to travel ending in a brief but satisfying explosion of happy.

The job of a good writer is to turn that real life journey into a fictional story close enough to the truth to be believable, but fictional enough that people can enjoy reading it. If a person grabs a fictional book, nine times out of ten it’s to escape reality not to be reminded of it. I say writer because writers work for a living. Authors seem to just go on talk shows and cash checks. Not saying all people called authors are authors. Some are some of the hardest workings writers you’ll ever meet. For now, I’m just a writer whose brain isn’t working as hard as it should.

Why?

Because I’m busy getting my ass kicked by that beautiful disaster called life. Call me insane but I think that’s the fun part. And, the part that most people enjoy reading. I know I do. The struggle to overcome those things that we all must battle to move forward to the next hurdle in becoming who we are meant to be. Everyone has heard the saying write what you know. I say this. Knowing something isn’t necessarily the same as having lived it. I know about childbirth but I haven’t lived through it, except you know as a baby. Pretty sure that doesn’t count. If I wrote a scene about it, my take on the subject would be slightly plastic because I have no physical reference to draw from. Doesn’t mean I can’t tell it convincingly, but it won’t have the heart of something told with my own life experiences to back it up. Being a drunken fool riding on top of a car I can pull off like a champ. So writing what we know is only half the battle when it comes to being a writer.

Breathing life into it, takes more than skill or talent. It takes a combination of skill, talent, and experience. Something else adds into the mix, and it’s something most people who aspire to writers don’t have. The balls to lay their souls bare for all to read. Well, enough of our souls to entice readers into achieving an emotional connection with the characters within our books.

All the books I’ve fallen in love with over the years have had that connection. I strive to achieve the same level of love in my books. I want the people who read my books to walk away breathless with anticipation for the next scene. That’s where life experiences come into play. Sure, my books are about Vampires, Werewolves and things decidedly not real life. The heart of my books is about being true to who I am. That truth is in my characters and the story of their lives. The story I lay out is for my friends, because readers sounds so impersonal, to enjoy.

Is it necessarily my life?

No, but parts of it belong to me and I share it with you like I do in this blog. Full of love and the trust that in some way it brings you splashes of love and joy. That is how I mean them to be. My letter is to you all because you are not just readers, or friends. You are the family of my heart.

 

Until next week,

Happy Reading!

Jmo