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Showing posts from 2013

Huxley Versus Chafee

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Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are dead. Aldous Huxley
Trust is built with consistency. Lincoln Chafee
It seems like Aldous and Lincoln have very different interpretations of consistency. Who is right? It would seem both ideas cannot exist at the same time and be right. What do you think? 
Think about it.


Thanks for reading.  Questions and comments are welcome.
DouglasHClark.com

Let's Focus a Bit...

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By Douglas Clark

Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives. ~Tony Robbins
A very big challenge for me has always been focus. True at heart, I am a day dreamer. There have been and are multiple scenarios and situations where I find myself being whisked away to a dreamland conjured up from my imagination. It's just fun to get lost in a world of my own creation. 
From a young age, if I were staring out the window of my parents’ car, watching the rain come down, stuck at the dentist’s office, bored at school, etc., I would always find myself creating fantastical narratives for me and my imaginary characters to explore. Now I never got in trouble in school or work for distractions, but I realized a long time ago that even though daydreaming and imaginations are great fodder for creating art, lack of focus can wash away all relevance those daydreams brought.
You see, focus keeps us in…

Need a place to publish your work?

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Douglas Clark
-Head writer, The Inspiration Engine

Every once in a while I find a cool website that really makes an impression. Recently I found one that I think will help budding young writers get their work out there. The website is called Every Writers Resource. It really has pretty much everything that you could ask for as a writer. There are articles, interviews, forums, writing courses, blogs, but my favorite part is the lists of literary magazines and book publishers. You can find valuable submission information and what to expect if you try to publish. I’ve used this valuable resource dozens of times during my attempts at getting published. Every Writers Resource has made it infinitely easier to find publications that fit my writing style. Granted, I haven’t been published by anyone yet, but half the battle is just finding the right publication to submit your work to.

If you are interested in publishing any of your work, give this website a try. I think you might find it a val…
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Douglas Clark
-Head writer, The Inspiration Engine

In an effort to expand the powers of motivation and creativity, the Inspiration Engine has expanded. Recently, the Engine provided a guest post to Studio 747. Check out all the great advice they have over there. I think you will find it very helpful. 

And if you want to give the Inspiration Engine's guest post a read, click here





Thanks for reading.

Questions and Comments are welcome. 

DouglasHClark.com

The Little Island That Could

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Douglas Clark
-Head writer, The Inspiration Engine

So the forces that keep our planet in a perpetual state of rebirth did it again. Off the coast of Japan, a new island was born yesterday. Granted, it’s atiny little thing, but the idea of land, reaching from below the ocean waves, cresting the water’s edge and  rising up toward the sky fascinates me. The concept is not new, one only needs to study the Hawaiian Islands to understand just how powerful island building can be. But for me, I like to get lost in the idea of the new island's growth. How big will it become? Will flora and fauna take hold and make it a lush paradise? Will it remain barren and lifeless because of continued volcanic activity? Will it get washed away from the relentless pounding waves against its tiny, fragile infant shores? I find myself wanting to visit that little speck of land, just to see it in person.
In reality, only time will tell what happens to this little island, but imagination brings a whole host…

Let's Be Positive

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by Douglas Clark

You don't develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.~Epicurus
When things are their hardest, you really need people around you that are of high quality. Positive, honest, and genuinely caring relationships make life so much easier. Forging relationships with even just one person that sees the positive and virtuous elements in life will lift your spirits and change your perspective on life, your outlook, and your demeanor. I count myself fortunate to know several positive, virtuous people. And to be honest, I’m glad they are in my life for the simple fact that they help me to see things clearly. It is especially true when life and the negativity that sometimes clings to it seem to attack you.
There’s an old saying that goes something like “you know your real friends when things go wrong”, and that’s really true. Those that stick around and help you out when you are feeling low…

NaNo Update

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By Douglas Clark

Hello everyone! I hope your week has gone well. Mine has been full of drama and excitement. I wish I could say all of it was contained in my novel, but alas real life must sometimes intrude on every writer's quest. I did however feel it necessary to give an update on my writing progress during the National Novel Writing Month Contest.

The contest started on November 1st and goes to November 30th. So here's a simple breakdown of how I've been doing.

November 1= 1672
November 2 = 0 (ouch, this really hurt me)
November 3 = 1420
November 4 = 1357
November 5 = 1440
November 6 = 905

Not even a week in and I've fallen almost two days behind. That is not insurmountable, but I need to be more diligent in getting to my quota each day. However, I've decided that I will not sacrifice quality for quantity. I look at this contest as an exercise to help build discipline and consistency, not just to spew word vomit on a page to reach a specific number. The way I see it, e…

Let's Write a Novel!

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By Douglas Clark

November 1 starts the National Novel writing month. Check it out here. I first heard about this when I was working on my master’s degree. I actually had a novel writing class where I had to write a 50,000 word novel by the end of the semester. The concept for that class was very similar to the National Novel Writing Month contest. After finishing my class, I promised myself at some point I would compete in the contest and see what would come of it.
Now I love writing obviously, but this contest is a challenge. According to the rules, you have 30 days to write 50,000 words. That averages out to 1,667 words a day. Doesn’t seem too daunting until you realize that’s EVERY day, no break, no rest or writing vacation; 1,667 words a day. The whole point of the exercise is to prove to yourself it can be done. I mean, you are allowed to make revisions, do rewrites, add, subtract, etc., but if you want to be counted as a winner on day 30, your word count must be 50,000 or higher…

Can We Do Without the Trouble and Toil?

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Sometimes I wonder what all this trouble and toil is for. I mean we all do it; trudge to work, struggle with responsibilities, stress over things that cause us grief. But why? Why do we do these things when we know they hold no value for us? I know that struggling against adversity and persevering through hardship builds character and prepares you for life’s ever harder challenges, but there does seem to be part of that struggle that produces nothing but negative. Take for example the problem people have with debt. I know there are a few people out there who are just pain irresponsible and don’t really care. However, I know a lot of people who are responsible, diligent, and reasonable when it comes to their money and they are still buried under a mountain of debt. Unfortunately, yours truly being one of them. Sometimes, it feels like an oppressive weight that just won’t go away, no matter what you do, and every effort you take to move forward and take a step ahead is just slammed with…

The 15 Minute Daydream

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By Douglas Clark
Okay, so finding 10-15 minutes out of my day to just daydream turned out to be a little harder than I thought. But then I realized, I go for a 2 mile run at least twice a week, so I’d do it then. Usually, I listen to my ipod while I run and just zone out. Most of the time I don’t really even pay attention to anything; it makes the run go by faster. This time however, I paid attention to my mind’s wandering. So, in no particular order here are the top five things I found myself being drawn to:
          1. Character development and further plot twists for a  novel I’m about to start           2. Oddly enough, bagels           3. Sex (yup, I’m a guy)           4. The condos being constructed near my apartment (I want one)           5. Possibly running a marathon, or a half marathon, or just starting with a 5k.
If there were others I didn’t pay enough attention to them for them to register in my memory. What’s funny is that when I started out, I thought allowing myself to day…

Let Your Mind Wander

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Douglas Clark
-Head writer, The Inspiration Engine

Do you daydream? How about just letting your mind wander to where ever it may go? I’ve often heard the old saying “you’re either a dreamer or a doer.” However, that seems rather restrictive doesn’t it? Daydreaming lets your brain explore possibilities that we all know pragmatism and reality would squash in a second. I find that some of my best ideas come to me when I just let go of all the mental baggage, all the stresses, all my cares and responsibilities and just simply think.
Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? But it’s not. So I’m going to pose a simple challenge. In the next few days, find time to carve out about 10 minutes of free, daydreaming time to just let your mind wander. Take note of what comes to mind, write them down even, and see what inspiration you can come up with. I’d say take about five minutes before hand to really relax and unwind first, just to make sure you’re still not pestering yourself about doing the dishes or f…

What Shapes Your Desire?

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Douglas Clark
-Head writer, The Inspiration Engine

“If you greatly desire something, have the guts to stake everything on obtaining it.”
-Brendan Francis

What is want? I’m not talking about the basic wants humans all need, like water, food, shelter, and companionship. I’m asking about the want for something not needed, but truly desired. Desire can be a funny thing. It can give you direction by helping you to discard the superfluous, keep you focused, determined and motivated. But desire can also hinder your life by making you close minded to new things, ridged in your attitude and perspective, and in the worst cases, lead to obsession. Once desire becomes an obsession, there’s a whole new world of problems to deal with.
There are things I have wanted for a long time. I’ve desired them. Specifically, being a published author for one, finding true love (as cliché as it sounds), a life of leisure, and a youthfulness throughout my days. Now I’d say on a certain level, all of those things ar…

Space, Voyager's Frontier

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By Douglas Clark
Unless you’ve been hiding under an asteroid lately, you probably read or heard that Voyager 1, the venerable space probe sent out by NASA in 1977, has ‘officially’ left the solar system. Now let me start off by saying I’m a space nut. I love Astronomy, mapping the stars, learning about the Universe and every strange and amazing thing in it. As a kid I watched TV shows like Star Trek, Buck Rodgers, Battlestar Galactica, and Lost in Space reruns enjoying every minute of it. Also, secretly wishing everything in those shows could happen or were possible. As I got older, I realized watching those shows expanded my imagination and creative horizons. They taught me that just because something isn’t possible today, doesn’t mean it can’t come true in the future. I always look to the future with a strong sense of wonder and hope. To me, the future represents a time where things are better, problems are solved, and knowledge is gained, accomplishments earned, and there’s some pr…

Let's Watch Some TV!

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By Douglas Clark

So, being a TV fanatic as I am, I'm always looking for the next great television show. Personally, Sci Fi is my favorite (and we're completely lacking in that regard right now), but I also have an interest in stories that focus on power, or lack of power, man's struggle against society, or vice versa. Lo and behold, I've found a couple. 

At the risk of sounding like a billboard, I'll give each show a plug. Not because I'm getting a kickback or anything, but because I think they are great shows. For me, each instills a sort of amazement. 

The first show is House of Cards. You might have heard of it. It's one of Netflix's first original productions, and I'd say they've created a masterpiece. It's based on a British original focusing on English politics, only restructured to fit the American political system. Besides the great casting, settings, writing, pacing, story lines, amazing and despicable characters, and intrigue, the in…

Change Is Unavoidable

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By Douglas Clark
Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change. Confucius
September! Now is the time when summer begins to wane and give way to the turning leaves of autumn. The warm and glowing sun relinquishes its hold on the day and ebbs toward early evenings and cool breezes. Begrudgingly, children marshal their courage and corral their exuberance and ready themselves for school. We all know it, some dread it. The fall is coming, it’s back to school and we all feel the pangs of change and transition.
How we deal with change can really direct our lives, toward the positive, or the negative. I have been told on many occasions that I can be somewhat negative. I would argue that I’m more of a realist than pessimist. I mean, statistics and averages exist for a reason. I don’t really see how it’s being negative to point out what usually happens in a given situation. Ah but see there’s the rub. Perhaps it’s not just being aware of the norms or averages, but being more aware of the posi…

Insert Idiom Here!

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Have you ever barked up the wrong tree only to add insult to injury? Perhaps you bit off more than you could chew and flew by the seat of your pants just to call it a day when the shit hit the fan. Have you ever busted someone’s chops when they spilled the beans about some secret? Of course, you might just hit the road when someone you cared about through thick and thin dropped a dime on you and you got all bent out of shape for having an Achilles’ heel.  
Does any of this make sense? Well, if you haven’t figured it out, the above paragraph is full of idioms. Idioms are a string of words that have a ‘figurative meaning’ which is separate from literal meaning. According to Wikipedia, there are over 25,000 idioms in the English language. Now, English idioms are comical, thought provoking, bizarre and down right befuddling if you don’t know the context around their meaning, but I’d bet you would find you use them much more than you realize. A few people I know remind me that I often emplo…

What's Your Involvement?

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by Douglas Clark
So I’ve been thinking. Is it too much to say that Humans have effected the Earth? Put aside the tinfoil hat, conspiracy theory nuts jobs, the dollar-hungry political pundits, the career-minded politicians, and the ignorant electorate for a moment and just think: Do human actions effect the Earth?
I was reading an article recently about Global Warming and the possibility of Human Extinction. I also just received the latest issue of National Geographic. In it was a story of rising seas and human involvement regarding climate change. I’ve been following this topic for quite some time. My personal belief is that Humans are altering the biosphere of this planet without understanding the long-term effects. Hell, if you don’t believe that pollution and global warming are happening, think about running your car inside the garage with the door closed. It gets pretty hot in there and the air is quite unbreatheable. 
Okay, that’s a simplification of the overall process but really…

What Happened on 30th Street!

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So last Sunday, almost the entire length of 30th Street (in San Diego) was closed down to automobile traffic to make way for pedestrians, bicyclists, roller skaters, skateboarders, joggers, etc. The city and other powers that be decided that opening up the local roads to citizens to walk and window shop would be a great way to promote local businesses and help people appreciate their city just a bit more. Having lived on 30th Street for over seven years, I can tell you, not only was it a pleasant change from all the bus, motorcycle, and car noises, but it also gave me a different perspective on my neighborhood. 

Usually, my street is bustling and humming with activity. It's a non-stop cavalcade of noise. Most of the time I can block it out. Other times, as with the really annoying straight pipe motorcycle guy that comes blasting through at 50 miles an hour, the cacophony is so disruptive, I simply must endure it until the ruckus passes. But on August 11th, blissful peace and quiet …

What Treasures Lie Buried Just Beneath the Surface?

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by Douglas Clark
I was reading an article about Mayan ruins in Guatemala where archaeologists are exploring the intricacies and wonders that lie within the pyramid walls. In these ruins a frieze was found carved in great detail. Apparently about 1400 years ago, Mayan artisans carved out their beliefs and cultural identity in the rock used to build their temples. If you know anything about Mayan civilization, their culture and identity died out almost a thousand years ago. Fascination took over as I read the article. Imagining those archaeologists uncovering the amazing artwork, which sat covered in jungle growth, unknown, untouched and undisturbed for centuries, amazed me. Think about it. The skill and dedication that went into crafting such wonderful work went unappreciated for so long. Empires rose and fell, cultures flourished and died, the lives of countless people marched on, and still not a soul knew of the amazing work, just out of sight. But it sat there and waited, just benea…

Pencils Down!

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by Douglas Clark

I have the answers to Friday's Weekend Fun #4 quiz.


So here we go:

#1. Picasso: Blue Nude


#2. Rembrandt: The Blinding of Samson


#3. Jackson Pollack: Mural 

I chose these completely at random, but partly because I like all of them in one way or another. To be honest, the Rembrandt is my favorite. When he wanted to, his detail cast between dark and light is phenomenal. What do you think?

Thanks for reading.

Questions and comments are welcome. 

DouglasHClark.com

Weekend Fun #4

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Okay, let's play a little game. Here are three paintings. Can you guess the name of the painting and the artist? 







I'll post the answers on Monday. Good luck. 

Thanks for reading. 
Questions and Comments are welcome.

DouglasHClark.com

Can You Feel the Inspiration?

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How often have you heard a song playing on the radio, watched a favorite movie, or been part of a conversation where the subject matter was so familiar, so woven into your memory that it transported you to a positive, pleasant, and comforting place in your mind? Do you find solace there? Do you feel waves of nostalgia and happiness wash over you? I do.

I'll give you a couple of examples to illustrate my point. While in college, my roommates and I (who are still good friends) would watch Braveheart and Independence Day repeatedly. I'd say almost everyday, one or the other movie was always on whenever any of us walked into our dorm room. It got to the point where we could all recite the dialogue ad nauseam. 

Obviously one of the most famous scenes in the movie Braveheart:

ID4- one of my favorite lines in the movie. 


Another example is the song Take On Me, by A-ha. Okay I'm aging myself here but this one is a classic. As MTV began to emerge as a musical powerhouse (long before th…

Extending the Short Story

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As you might remember from last week's Fun assignment, I said to double your short story word count. In my case, I had to go from 38 to 76 words. Here's what I did:
A dank mist hung in the air as I ran my hands along the cold stone walls. Unlatching the metal gate, I exited through a secret door. The secluded passage gave way to a clearing as gleaming sunlight burst into my eyes. Cascading colors of emerald, ruby, sapphire, and amber flooded my sight as I drank in the vision of a lush and fertile garden. Warmth drenched me as the chill of dank air evaporated away.

The evolution of this narrative shows that even though individual words can change the basics remain the same. I added words and also changed or eliminated others that didn't help advance the descriptive narrative. Changing parts that don't work or just sound wrong are part of the writing process. It may be painful at times, but rewarding and fulfilling other times. Don't be afraid to try. 
I'll be cont…