The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"I Hate Myself"

Dear lord, I heard this very recently from an accomplished, brilliant colleague who has achieved more success than most writers dream of. But despite having health, success, and a loving family..the internal feeling of self-disgust has crippled critical aspects of his life.

And I guess I want to deal with this. I've had students speak of this in so many ways. Today, I'll just touch on the physical, but I want to go more deeply into the way this cripples our lives.

Self-hatred dealing with body image, rape and abuse, and other issues can result in obesity, self-destructive drug or alcohol use, and pushing the physical body until it collapses. Storing negative emotions in the body so that you don't have to feel them. Engaging in risky, demeaning sexual activity and simply not holding yourself as precious.

The discipline necessary to eat well, exercise regularly, and rest thoroughly come directly from a sense of loving yourself--that you are WORTH the discipline.

A good basic measure is: if you were your own most beloved child, would you engage in this behavior? What would you tell your own son or daughter to do in regard to smoking, drinking, drugging, eating, exercise, sex, rest, and so many other questions. Do YOU live according to your own values? How much more would you have to love yourself to have the discipline, the joy, the sheer bliss in living? The commitment to dance through life rather than slog?

How much difference would loving yourself, deeply, truly and without reservation make to you?

From whom, or where, in life did you get the impression that you were less worthy of love than any other human being?

You are an adult now. It is up to YOU to give yourself the love you need to thrive. Start today with the simple commitment: I will love myself. I will learn to heal the wounds, and heal them. To embrace my true self, and live every day as if I have a contribution of beauty and joy to give the world.

Until, in other words, you can look at yourself in the mirror and say: "I love myself!" and mean it. And know that that self-love raises the value of the gift of love you give to others.

The first step is love. We're going to walk that path for a while.


(p.s.--and yes. I love myself. And like myself. For all my flaws and failings, all the ways I know I still have to grow...the little kid inside me is THRILLED with the adult I have become. I tickle the hell out of me. If I wasn't me, I'd want to be my friend. But I do not, and never have, thought I was any better than anyone else. The trick is that that gives me permission to believe that there is no one any better than me. So there!)

Monday, February 27, 2012

"Give every man more in `use value` than you take in `cash value.` Then, you are adding to the world with every transaction."
W. Wattles

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Terminator of love

The Terminator of love

Arnold Schwarzenegger, whatever one may

think of his politics, movies, or personal

life, had a formula he believed was

responsible for his success:

1) Have clearer goalsthan anyone else.

2) Believe in yourself more than anyone else

3) Work harder than anyone else.

Considering that he was massively

successful in film, sports, real estate,

publishing, and politics it would

seem reasonable to extract the positive

aspects of his philosophy and... then

examine what may have gone wrong.

All evidence suggests that Arnold is

not only a physical marvel but

simply insanely sexual, and that that

behavior may be in conflict with his

conservative religious and political

beliefs. Remember what we said

yesterday, that if your goals, beliefs,

values and emotional anchors are

not aligned, you will damage yourself?

Well, as you release more power into

your life (increasing energy and

motivation), and simultaneously

release your brakes (increasing clarity

and supportive beliefs) it is like

souping-up a car engine. The faster

the car the more likely it is to drive

only on a carefully maintained track,

or an empty salt flat. As you pick up

"speed" in your life, you have to get

your "speed bumps" out of the way.

What if Arnold had kept that sexual

energy safely locked into his relationship

with Maria? Or if they had had formal

agreements about its use in their lives?

Or even if he had been sensible

enough to use proper contraception?

Or not to engage sexually with

household staff (a no brainer!)

Or how about...simply being honest?

The exact same energy that motivates

us can destroy us. On an instinctive

level we understand this, and many

men and women avoid expressing

their beauty and power, literally

avoid pursuing their dreams for

fear they will somehow bring pain

into their lives. Our goal has

to be to help you increase your

power in a manner that SERVES

your life rather than damaging it.

1) Can you envision what you want in life?

See it, taste it, "touch" it, and hear it?

2) Rewrite your goals daily, a ritual

that helps to remind you why you

must take continuous action to reach your


3) Be certain that that increase in fitness,

success, wealth, knowledge and pleasure

serves both you, your relationships, and

the community around you.

4) Make your primary relationship

your most powerful "mastermind"

partnership. Remember: love isn't

two people looking at each other. It

is two people looking in the same direction.


(p.s.--the fear of success is as powerful

as the fear of failure! You'll need to

whip both to access your true power

and potential!)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Take Responsibility

In the new screenplay, I'm taking some time to look at all the most basic aspects of my system for writing and living, what I call "Lifewriting."

And that requires a cross-referencing of my two favorite models of human reality: the "Hero's Journey" and the yogic Chakras

The first step along the HJ is to "Take Responsibility."

Emotions: In my life right now, I live in Atlanta instead of Los Angeles because I have taken responsibility for the life and welfare of my son. Period. I have no options, no way out, no excuses. My boy is mine. In the screenplay, the main character has to face death, accept the limitations of physical skill, and his fear of being vulnerable to others.

Career: I have multiple opportunities and projects on my desk. Three novels, a couple of short stories, a screenplay, a partnership to create a new self-improvement program, and the creation of an entire new business. It is challenging and nervous-making, but it is mine, or no one's at all.

In the screenplay, my character must deal with the fact that Hollywood-style glory and acclaim may not be his, and to find deep satisfaction in smaller more intimate victories.

Body--I am the bottom line for my physical health. Every bite of food that goes in my mouth, every joint mobility drill, yoga session and Metcon death-march, every night's sleep and recovery is my responsibility. And as I can't get younger, what I have to do is get just a little smarter every day about how I push myself, and how I help my body adjust to the new demands. I am an object in motion, and I will stay in motion, until there is nothing left to move.

In the screenplay, physical movement is critical: exercising, teaching, fight scenes, etc. I have to be certain that each has a different emotional content, so that they don't get boring and repetitive. My character is one hell of an athlete to begin with, so there isn't much arc there. However, he learns to combine his emotional, intellectual and spiritual aspects with his physical...and that has to be choreographed and designed to communicate through purely visual images. No small feat.

Finances--I have to take responsibility for not only doubling my current income, but then protecting the money when it comes in. This pushes my self-image massively. Heck, I wanna be a kid, not an adult! Ah well...if my son is to be safe, I have to make these changes. If I am to have the freedom and pleasure I demand, I have to make these changes.

See how I take these things and "fold" them into each other so that they are interconnected? It is building a support structure so that I can draw a line in the sand, demanding that I move forward, and forward again. If I have to back up and go around, under or over an obstacle...fine.

In the screenplay, money is viewed as a vehicle or tool but not a goal, really. The process of earning money is interlocked with family and community, not glory. I have to clarify this: what does money mean to my lead? Do his beliefs change over the course of the film? How and why and how do I show it visually?

So much to do.

Find a way, or make one. But first, give yourself no room for dishonest and dishonorable retreat.

Take responsibility!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"I thought I'd have more time..." one of the most common things said on the deathbed. Make every day count. Every day.

LION'S BLOOD back in print!

The "ebook" of my novel LION'S BLOOD

just went up on Amazon, and I'm thrilled.

Amazon was considered the antiChrist when it first came in, driving bookstores out of existence. But frankly, the fact that my backlist is available through used books put a big smile on my face. And now eBooks? Nothing I ever write will ever go out of print again. There is also an aspect of being your own publishing company--my partners Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and


I was on the road over the weekend, driving from Atlanta to Tallehasse for my wife's mother's funeral. Didn't take my computer with me (although I did take the iPad!) but took my screenplay in printed form. Then, in quiet moments in the hotel room, I could dive in and simply read it over. Not "trying" to write dialogue, but slipping it in if it fit. Just adding notes, and then entering the notes into my Final Draft when I get home automatically expands the script by a few pages...and the last time I checked the first draft is now 31 page long. Not bad for an "effortless" process.

The most important thing is identifying the driving philosophy. In the case of my project (sorry I'm being artfully vague, but that's unavoidable until I'm further along in the process. Sorry, but in Hollywood, ideas really do get stolen.) The core question is: Is every man an island, standing alone? Or are we each a link in a chain, our lives only gaining meaning when we acknowledge our ancestors and prepare our descendants for adulthood?

Those two points of view: living for self versus living for community, can form a nice duality. IF, (and it is by no means certain) I use them, then what happens is that every scene becomes an argument for or against one of these points of view. Generally, this happens during the rewrite process--write your first draft with white heat, then slow down and labor over the polishes.

For instance: in the first scene, a small boy stands at a crossroads in 1940 rural Mississippi. The visual cues are deliberate:

1) A crossroads. Literally a "turning point" in his life.

2) on one side of the road are white farmers. On the other, black farmers. The film deals partially with this cultural/ethnic divide, and we get a visual symbol of this.

3) He is alone, until his grandfather picks him up...and takes him to a farm where he will meet other boys cared for by his grandparents. (moving from "every man stands alone" to "link in a chain" with visual imagery.

I'll be going through the screenplay, looking for ways to play with these images without bringing them to the audience's conscious attention. Explore the philosophy by contrasting it with its opposite, allowing thesis and antithesis to "battle it out", with one philosophy winning in one scene...and then the other winning in the next...back and forth and back and forth, allowing the energy to grow and flare until the viewer is on the edge of his seat, wondering which will win. THAT is how the job is done.

More tomorrow...


"I thought I'd have more time..."

I spent last weekend in Tallahassee Florida, laying my wife's wonderful mother to rest. Funerals are always sad, but hundreds of people turned out, the Mayor spoke, there was an ROTC honor guard, a police escort, and media coverage from CNN to the BBC. Wow. I was reminded one more time how a single person's life can touch so many.

Remember that your day will come too. And you can either fear that moment, be vacantly resigned to it, or actually use that inevitability to drive you.

1) What do you want people to remember about you? Say about you at your funeral?

2) What of your dreams remain unfinished? From the perspective of your death bed, what would be a life well lived?

3) Considering that you must die at the end of life, no material accomplishments are unreasonable to strive toward. What have you never dared to ask for?

4) On her deathbed, Mom said (as so many do): "I thought I'd have more time." If you only had one more year of life, what would you spend it doing?

5) What is the greatest change you wish to make in the world?

6) What can you do TODAY that you've been putting off?


Wow! Just launched a new product yesterday, the beginning of something very different. I'm not going to talk about this much right here and now, because this page is "family friendly." But the new project has to do with the most controversial chapter of "Think And Grow Rich"--"The Mystery of Sex Transmutation." I've brought in a dear friend, sexual surrogate and sex energy master Mukee Okan, and we're doing something ONLY for adults interested in

1) Better Sex and

2) More money and

3) The forgotten connection between them.

Seriously...I'm not talking about it here, so if you're interested just go to and sign up. Of course it's free!

Friday, February 17, 2012

What we need ain't what we want

Writing the Screenplay

Back to the new screenplay. Heck, I have no idea what will happen with it, I have a major Hollywood producer begging to see it, and right now it has be excited, and I follow the "juice", always.

I can say that the script deals with a man who wants to be a champion, and instead must learn to be a leader. The "gap" there is between what he WANTS (to be a champion) and what he NEEDS (to be a leader). The most important things I can do then is to set up the conflict as clearly as possible, from the very beginning.

Film is a visual medium. That means that you have to turn off the dialogue, and design a series of visual images that carry the meaning even if it were a silent movie. The character is weighed down by resentments, fear, abandonment issues, and more, all of which lead to him being a lone wolf who measures his worth only in terms of group acclaim and external reward.

His journey will be from admiring the external rewards his grandfather (a role model) received in life, to grasping the deep emotional motivations that drove the accomplishments--he must learn to see the "invisible world" of the mature, internally motivated adult, rather than being trapped in the "ooh! It's shiny!" world of childlike instant/external gratification.

Because this started as a biography, some of the emotional lines are messy--life is like that. But following my own advice in the LIFEWRITING YEAR LONG, I've "rounded" the story to draw out the emotional themes, and then created characters and situations that allow me to explore them.

In this draft, I'm starting in 1947 rural Mississippi, where my lead character is exposed to lessons about community, courage, contribution, and love...but misses them, and instead believes he should extract lessons of hate, selfishness and the essential "aloneness" of human existence.

Nice arc: from child to man. Champion to coach. "Every man stands alone" to "we're all links in a chain." I can see that, and feel it. The basic images tell the beginning of his story, and the later scenes build on it. I started with a 10-page outline, and now have 31 pages of rough proto-script.

And right now, it's feeling very good indeed.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stick with what you know

I don't know everything about this movie project, but I know certain things: characters, events, thematic aspects, rhythms, moral quandaries...stuff like that. Locations. Eras. Social structures.

If there are a million things I don't know about the movie, and only a hundred things I'm sure of, then I'll keep re-examining those hundred things. Every time I look at the story a different way, I see something a little different. So I just go over and over and over it. Here are some ways I've broken it down:

1) Index cards. A physical stack of cards, one scene per card, wrapped with a rubber band and carried with me everywhere.

2) Index card programs. An Ipad app, and the "Index Card" view of Final Draft.

3) Outline in an offline word processor. Using MS Word.

4) Outline in an online "cloud" based word processor, easy to access through multiple devices: desktop, laptop, Ipad, Iphone. and Google Docs.

5) Giant sheets of graph paper, creating a visual "map" of the story.

6) Screenwriting software. Final Draft. Working on my computer with FD is terrific, moving back and forth between script and Index card views (in my mind, they screwed up FD a little. Use to be able to "click" through from the index card to script views. Can't do that any longer, and it's a bad choice.

7) Printed script. Just printed it out for the first time yesterday. Only thirty-one pages right now. I will read it through twice, making notes about characters, scenes, sequences. Looking at the structure, and trying to feel if that structure is a match for the events and thematics. I'm not worrying about dialogue right now...just events, and character needs.

Moving the story back and forth between these modes, and continuing research, produces about five pages of work a day (I juggle other projects). And enough to keep me busy, and happy.

more later...


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Rise of the Machines

O.K. Yesterday we were looking at fears from a successful guy who wants to publish a novel, and is worried about that "10,000 hour" barrier to mastery. Some more points:

1) You have to be "in the zone" to access your highest skills. Keeping one eye on where you're going, rather than where you are, automatically takes you out of flow. Your attention should be on setting up a daily process, what I call a "machine", that will take you to your level of excellence. Then, merely be certain your "machine" runs perfectly every day, and you will be doing everything it is possible to do to max out your skills.

2) Here is a general example of what I call a "machine" in the arena of writing:

a) Write 1000 words a day.

b) Read 10,000 words a day.

c) Write a story a week, or every other week.

d) Finish what you write

e) Put it in the mail (submit it for publication)

f) Keep it in the mail. When it comes back, send it right back out. Keep records.

In my own life, I set a goal of 100 stories finished and circulating. I promised myself I would not doubt my ability to publish until I had all 100. I made it to about 22 before I started selling, and stopped counting.


The above program can easily be designed to require about an hour a day. 30 minutes of reading, thirty minutes of writing. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I create rough draft, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday I polish the previous day's work.

This pattern can be adapted to other disciplines and goals--but the point is to create a daily ritual which, if executed properly, will take you to your goal. Set it up so that your goal is within your capacity to finish with style. Write one page, read ten pages, etc.

The idea is simple: concentrate on what there is to be done TODAY. Don't worry about yesterday's failures or tomorrow's problems. Fulfill TODAY'S tasks perfectly, and do the same tomorrow, and tomorrow. It is impossible to succeed every day, and fail at life.


Monday, February 13, 2012

"Act NOW. There is never any
time but NOW. There never
WILL be any time but NOW...
you cannot act where you are not."--

Why be average?

I've been asked to respond to a thoughtful blog post on the "Write on the River" site. They're flying me to Washington in May to lecture on writing suspense and SF, and I guess they wanted a little preview of whatever I'll be offering.

The blog post was, specifically, a newbie writer thinking about all of the obstacles to "making it", given that it requires, on average, 10,000 hours of practice to become expert in anything. By "Steve's" reckoning, that would place him in his 70's or even 80's.

Let's explore his assumptions (which are excellent, but not written in stone.)

The first is that it requires 10,000 hours of practice to gain mastery in a given subject. This is true, and I love the quantification. Cuts through the B.S. Not willing to put in that kind of time? Get out of the way and leave room for those of us who are.

But, that said...if you're willing, it is possible to slice thousands of hours off that average. In fact, your intent should be to NOT BE AVERAGE. Right? The term "average" has nothing to do with individuals. You might never make it. Or, you might hit it "out of the park" your first time at back. It takes the average person four years to earn a black belt in the average martial art. Took me seventeen years. But then, the average person earns a heck of a lot less than I life evens out.

Let's look at things Steve can do to speed up his process, relate these things to writing (generally) , my current screenplay project (specifically) and then life excellence across the board.

1) He wants to write a novel, but has never published. WRONG. Start with short stories. The learning curve is HUGELY faster with short stories, and you still learn everything you need to write books. I've heard every excuse, believe me. If you're already working on a book, then split your time 50-50% between the two forms. Part of the psychology here can be applied to any other task. When confronted by a vast task, break it down into smaller precursive tasks that can be finished in a week, or better still, a single day.

2) Look for skills you already possess, and transfer them to the new area. Write about what you know rather than immersing yourself in new research. Do you have discipline? Time management skills? Insight into human psychology? Do people say you're funny? Sexy? Have you watched a parent die? Raised a child? Created a business? Learned to ride a bicycle? Can you enter "flow" state easily? Whatever your current life, if you can find the arenas in which you already have talent, you can "cluster" them to increase your association and excitement, and hence your focus. You'll be thinking about your project all the time. And that cuts hours off your total. In my screen project I'm combining my love of martial arts, 60's-70's era Los Angeles, personal development, human adulthood, and tribalism into a cocktail that is keeping me up nights!

3) Model the behaviors of experts. Find at least three people who are good at your chosen discipline. Use the Neuro-Linguistic Programming approach of examining their

a) belief systems (what to they feel about the subject?)

b) mental syntax (how and in what order do they think about the subject?)

c) use of physiology (what physical actions do they take connected with the subject? Note posture, muscle tension, facial expressions and breathing patterns).

4) Concentrate on the process rather than the product. If you want to beat the 10k threshold, stop watching the clock. Stop caring whether or not you get there. Concentrate on "the thing itself"--the day to day process of writing. Or performing any other skill. Your focus has to be on THIS MOMENT of your writing, not some future goal. The reward must be the total immersion in the flow of work, not on what someone else might think of what you have done.

I have to work a little every single day on my script, and not look at the end product--who might see it, buy it, whatever. I must get my satisfaction NOW, not later. Tomorrow is promised to no one. It must be fun, and satisfying, and uplifting, and intense TODAY.

"Act NOW. There is never any time but NOW. And there never WILL be any time but cannot act where you are not. YOu cannot act where you have been. And you cannot act where you are going to be. Do not worry about whether yesterday's work was well done. Do not worry about whether tomorrow's work will be excellent or foul. Take care of NOW, this moment, this single day...and the rest will come to you.


Thursday, February 09, 2012

The more who get rich on the competitive plane, the worse for others. The more who get rich on the creative plane, the better for others.

At the end of life, all we keep is what we've given away. I'm keeping everything.

Remember: "Rocky" lost

Thank you for all of the beautiful words of support. I am isolated here in Atlanta. But in another sense, I speak with thousands of my dearest friends, around the world, every day. And it makes all the difference in the world.

Back to the work. Work, when embraced by the heart, is salvation.


My work is writing. My bliss is teaching. Sometimes, they align, and that is when magic happens. I have a wonderful opportunity with this script, based on my early experiences in the martial arts, and the best man I've ever known. What a blessing it would be to me, my family, and the community of warriors who taught me to be a man, if I could bring this story to the screen. For every reason--career, family, and gratitude to those who healed my heart, I have to bring every skill I have to this task. To write it with all my heart. If it succeeds...great. If I do my best, but it never makes it to the least I did my very best. Which, in the final analysis, is all any of us can ever do.

Where to start? Well, I have to combine the lessons in the LIFEWRITING YEAR LONG program to find a way to write that melds with my life. And I have to remember the teaching of Joseph Campbell's HERO'S JOURNEY, or my own 101 PROGRAM, to get back in touch with that delicate balance we must maintain to not "merely" survive...but to grow and evolve.

In other words, I must begin in the same place where my characters must begin. There are the tasks that take us through life: dressing, eating, working, etc. That is the external--what others see. But to empower those actions, we must find a way to give meaning to each and every one of them. To have each of them be an expression of the core questions in life: who am I? What is true?

What is the theme of my work?

There is a wonderful moment in the movie "Rocky" where Rocky realizes that he cannot beat the world champion, Apollo Creed. That film rises above the level of a "sports" movie to being existential, and classic, with the following realization:

He can change the definition of success. It doesn't have to be beating the unbeatable man. It can be "merely" staying on his feet for fifteen rounds, something no one else has ever done with the champ.

At that moment, changing the locus of attention from the outer world ("winning" in the mind of the judges) to the inner world (surviving with honor) Rocky becomes not a fighter, but something more...a symbol for what we all feel. We cannot "win" every battle. In fact, we are destined to "lose" the greatest one we will ever face--if "winning" or "Losing" is defined by medals and trophies and public acclaim.

But in the end, if we have lived up to our own principles, if we have fulfilled our own dreams...we are winners, no matter what anyone else thinks. If the entire world cheers for the other man, but one person, one worthy heart, has opened to us--as Adrian's did to Rocky--then we have won the only victory worth a damn. We have won our lives, our greatest victory, by giving away our egos.

Let the world think what it will. We know. Deep inside, we always know.


I have to find a moral core that connects every action, every line of dialog. Just as we must all find a spiritual core to connect the pitifully short stream of days that make up this dream called life.

Find that, and no matter what others may think or do...

I win.


Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Moving On


Yesterday was intense. My wife’s mother, Patricia Stevens Due, passed away after an extended and courageous battle with cancer. All prayers and good thoughts gratefully accepted.
What can we learn from the tragedies in our lives?
Countless words have been written on this subject, but I thought to add a few of my own...

1) Tell the people you love that you love them. Every day. Don’t kid yourself: one of these “I love yous” will be the very last. Make them count.

2) Take better care of yourself. Stop pretending your body won’t fall apart if you don’t care for it. It is so sad to see people suddenly “surprised” to learn that fifty years of neglecting their bodies has created a pit so deep they can’t climb out.

3) Dance every day. Life has pain, and sorrow, and regret. But also joy, and passion, and promise. We must allow ourselves to experience both. Never miss a chance to be happy.

4) Imagine yourself on your death bed. What are the stories you wish you had told? The things you wish you had done? The person you wish you had become? The skills you wish you had acquired? Whatever they are, GO FOR IT!
How does this relates to my life, today?
1) I start my day, as always, helping my son learn to control his mind and body. I am specifically giving him the gifts I wish I had learned from my own father. I’ve compiled most of the core techniques driving my life in the 101 Program.

2) I will pamper my wife, and make sure there is no stone unturned in helping her deal with the grief of loss, as well as the relief that her mother is beyond pain.

3) I will work diligently on my body. Yoga today. Move closer to the core of my existence, through the avenue of the flesh.

4) I will work on my business. Crafting the safety net that protects my family and secures my future.

5) I will work on my art. Today, I’m back on the script project (I’ll be exploring that with you again tomorrow, writers!) I need to clarify the “meaning” of the entire work, the core philosophy that will be expressed, the thesis and antithesis that will be at war throughout the whole. That requires intense thought, and as we all know, thought is something we work pretty hard to avoid.

Am I avoiding it by writing this? Oops! Let me get to work.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

It's never too late

Parents, please be careful with your children. They only get one childhood, and damage that occurs therein lasts a lifetime. I recently spoke with a client who has had a confused personal history: broken relationships, distorted body image, an inability to meditate, career chaos that is confusing (given her brilliance), an oddly infantalized parental relationship, and other things that have troubled me for some time.

And just recently, during an intense session, several things clicked into place: she was prematurely sexual (horrifically young), was never able to tell her mother about it, and the guilt and shame, the resentment at not being protected in combination with a fear that, were the truth known it would deny maternal love, has lead to a lifetime of pain, lies, and finally last week the admission: "I hate myself."

Oh, God. Where to begin? If you don't start with love for yourself, you will spend your entire existence trying to get that love from outside yourself. If you must lie to others to protect some "dirty" secret, you lose the capacity to know what is true, and what is false. The map you navigate is distorted by your need to justify, and you swing from grandiose feelings of entitlement to deep and horrific despair.

I suspect that many of the religious organizations that offer healing change the names of their adherents to create a new identity--that it is possible to do such damage to ourselves that there is almost no way to heal it while clinging to the old. I don't know. I know that damage that takes place on the sexual level is secondary ONLY to damage that involves mortality itself. The scars go so insanely deep. Fifteen years ago I dealt with an incident that involved sexual and emotional issues in my own life. The incident lasted only a couple of months, but it took almost a year of meditation to shovel out the shit in my mental basement. Someone who is damaged in childhood, who doesn’t become fully aware of it until adulthood might have DECADES of emotional filth to wade through to get to purity. Few have the patience to shovel for so long. Most wall the damage off (explaining a lot of emotion-based obesity) and pretend it isn’t there. Stay in denial, until the pain and poison builds to the point that their bodies break down, almost as if they’re playing a game: “can I avoid dealing with this altogether? Can I arrange to die physically before I have to deal with the fact that I am a twisted, evil thing?”

Of course they are not, and never were, twisted evil things. They were beautiful children who should have been protected and guided and told every day that they were as precious as the stars. No one should have to spend a life shoveling shit out of their emotional basements, or denying they live atop a cesspool, until they die from the vermin crawling up to bite them. And their dreams. And their children.

Parents, shelter your children. And remember always that your most important child sleeps still within your own heart. And needs, more than roses need rain, to know that you love her. Or him. No matter what.

It’s never too late to have a sheltered childhood.

Monday, February 06, 2012

"We can render unto God no greater service than making the most of the life he has given us"--Wallace Wattles

Ooops! A new door just opened...

Wow. I have to adjust my plans. I said last week that MIT had asked me to write a short story for their anthology. A high honor, and one I fully intended to explore and enjoy. I was all set to plunge into it this week...

But then, on Friday I got an IM from one of my favorite producer/directors, currently producing a major film from one of the best and most successful directors in the world. I had submitted a 10-page outline for a film based on my early martial arts experiences with one of the finest men--and martial artists--I've ever known--Sabir Muhammad, AKA "Steve Sanders."

And this producer-director, whom I've worked with in the past, said he wants my movie to be his next project.


That...changes a huge amount. I have to back up, look at everything I'm doing, and re-focus my energy: I have a script to write.

While I won't discuss the particulars of the script too closely, it behooves me to document this entire process, in case the miracle happens and it makes its way all the way through the development and production process to release. If that happens, I want you, my fans, friends, and students, to have a trail of bread crumbs to show you how to accomplish a similar massive success.

Because...let me tell you, selling a script to Hollywood when you live in Atlanta is HUGE. So I'm going to take the pieces of this and break it down for you, day by day, and also extract the lessons for you to apply to yourself, whether you are a writer, or a student of Think And Grow Rich, or a Diamond Hour fan.


1) While living in Atlanta due to family emergency, I work every day to maintain emotional balance and optimism. It HURTS being out here, at times. So far away from everything I know and love. But here I am. I will never get this time back, so I have to find a way to enjoy it, and make it valuable.

2) So I dug into my101 PROGRAM, reminding myself of the forty years of study that went into creating the successes in my life. I became newly aware that I have to differentiate between the REAL damage to my life, and the ego damage. My ego shell definitely "cracked"--this situation (my wife had a desperate need to be near her mother, who is terminally afflicted with cancer) has no resemblance to the life I envisioned for myself. I'm a California guy. I'm not a Southern boy, in any way, shape or form. This is not my home. And yet...I love my wife, and my family, and her choice was, while painful, not dishonorable. I have a 100% commitment to be my son's father, and only a slightly lower commitment to be Tananarive's husband. That clarity of purpose closes doors. This is my life. The ego pain is irrelevant. I chose this path. That being the case...what are my choices.

3) I also dug into the LIFEWRITING YEAR LONG to remind myself of what I've learned about writing in the 30+ years of my career. And it didn't fail me. Never has.

I realized that I can't write for television from outside California (despite the mythology of telecommuting, people who can successfully write from a distance are as rare as comets). But, after much analysis of options...I realized that I could indeed write scripts, and assuming that I have representation, my chances of selling them aren't THAT much diminished by being 2000 miles away.

Armed with those understandings, I began to plot and plan...

More soon!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Diamond Hour today!
1:00 PM Pacific (4:00 PM East)
(724) 444-7444
Goal setting and actualization

Friday, February 03, 2012

Every Day A Victory

Everything that I'm talking about has to do with becoming an awake, aware adult human being. That's it. Learning to raise and control your energy (the Chakras), gaining a sense of the "arc" of human life (the Hero's Journey), learning to produce health and wealth to "ground" your life (Maslow's Hierarchy), creating human bonds (the Soulmate Process)...all of these things are simply to examine the same phenomenon of growth, from a hundred different directions.

While my ultimate intent is to guide people to that "autonomous awakened adult" position, it is critical to nurture the roots of the tree if you would enjoy the fruit. That means TAKE CARE OF YOUR BASICS.

Body, mind, relationship, and finances. Put 20% of your attention in three of them, and 30% in the weakest arena. Hold back 10% of your attention for "putting out fires", rotating between areas to see what needs the most help.

But that should you nurture it? Well...remember the Five Minute Miracle, the basis of all of this? Taking 5 sixty-second "breathing breaks" during every day, one every three hours? Well here are three suggestions:

1) While breathing slowly and deeply, assume a sense of purpose and power.

2) Visualize your long-term goal. What the healing of your weakest area will bring to you. See and feel the joy and satisfaction of ultimate accomplishment.

3) Visualize your current DAILY goal. What is it that you must accomplish today, as a stepping stone to your ultimate goal? See yourself CRUSHING it. Accomplishing it with style and grace, passion and purpose. Feel how today's action is a glorious step toward that ultimate goal.

Be sure that your daily goals are scaled down small enough that you can actually accomplish them. NEVER go to bed without having taken at least one step toward your ultimate goal. Never. Ever.

Make every day a victory.


Visualization is a critical skill in any accomplishment. I've searched out a terrific, step-by-step approach:

Thursday, February 02, 2012

The final piece of the "Healing Emotions" tapestry: Teaching Others

Balancing Roles

It has just been announced that DC Comics is planning a prequel to "The Watchmen", for my money the finest comic books ever written, a 12-part series that opened my eyes about the potential of the medium. There has been an outcry against the company from those who believe that the original artist's wishes are being disrespected. My sense is that Alan Moore sold the rights to the characters, it has been an entire generation (twenty-five years) since he wrote the original work, and that hey, I'd really like to see more adventures of these characters.

On my Facebook page, a controversy flared about the separation of business and art, some saying that a person can't be both an artist and a businessperson. I've simply known too many people--personally or historically, who have juggled both to believe that in the slightest.

An imprecise but useful analogy would be to compare the two states to the "child" and "adult" selves. The child is in touch with her feelings, knows what she wants, often feels like the center of the universe (balanced with moments when she feels totally powerless and meaningless.) That child has all food and shelter provided, and has never made a connection between action and results, or understood the nature and purpose of money. The adult self is more calculating, has had to make hard and painful decisions, often has cut off emotional flow in exchange for producing indirect results. The child does because it feels good in the moment, the adult "does" because of future benefits, or in reaction to past experience.

The child, alone, cannot survive. The adult, alone, is pretty much a zombie, moving through a grey existence without the "juice" of life. In truth, these two polarities overlap, but I hope you see the point that the two must cooperated to create a rounded human being.

Many artists live in that first category--they care about their feelings, their work, their writing or dancing or painting, and pretend not to care about money. Nonetheless, they rail against the immoral and barbaric editors/agents/publishing industry/etc.

The joke, which few of them ever get, is that if they start their own publishing firms or film companies, if they hire other artists, in time those artists will have the same complaints about them that they originally had about others.

The reverse, of course, is that the editors, agents, publishers and so forth who complain about "childish" artists and actors, if they themselves produce personal expression, will transform into the same self-centered emotional beings if they aren't very careful indeed.

I suspect that this war between polarities explains much of the dissatisfaction with politicians, bosses, spouses, genders, and much else--we are assuming corruption or dysfunction when what we really have is a lack of understanding of the roles each side is playing in the matter.

We must be both artists and businesspeople. To balance between them is the only way to both find deep self-expression AND control the rewards we receive from our labor. If we cannot connect with the artist, we must hire artists to entertain us. If we cannot connect with the business-person, we must hire, or be in the employ, of those who WILL assume that position. That works fine. But if we aren't aware of the "war" between male and female, child and adult, artist and businessman, politician and citizenry, it becomes easy to mistake the role for the individual, and forget that we ourselves agreed to participate in the dance.

Only one who grasps that dichotomy can step back and determine when an opposite number is actually corrupt, or merely fulfilling their role in the drama.

Balance, again, is key.


Wednesday, February 01, 2012

New video. Healing Emotions #9: Don't let victories defeat you!

What's Your "What If?"?

So yesterday I spoke with the gentleman at MIT who wants me to write a story for their anthology. Now, this demands a number of different things, but the values of storytelling are controlled not only by such elements as theme and poetics, but also genre. The science fiction genre is a sub-set of fantasy, in that the core aspects must not only have an internal consistency, but also be congruent with the laws of physics. Or...those rules must be broken only consciously, sparingly, and with full awareness that the reader knows what you've done...and is suspending their disbelief in the hope that you will take them on a great and wondrous journey.

While there are many different definitions of the field of "science fiction" (or "speculative fiction" or whatever), I personally like to concentrate on the above definition, and Robert Heinlein's admonition that SF writers are asking one of three questions:

1) "What If?" (for instance: what if atomic energy caused grasshoppers to grow to the size of buses? The basic premise of many cheesy, enjoyable creature features.)

2) "If only..." (for instance: what if a man could slip into the past and prevent the Kennedy assassination? The basic premise of Stephen King's novel "11/22/63"

3) "If this goes on" (for instance: what if human population continues to expand in a Malthusian fashion? The basic premise of "Soylant Green" and other ecological disaster tales)

There are other ways of looking at the field. The important thing is that you must have your own theory, consciously or unconsciously pursued, and enough of your potential audience must agree that they recognize the tropes and tricks, and can relax and enjoy the show.


Diamond Hour Saturday

Diamond Hour first February show!

Saturday, Feb 4, 2012 1:00 PM Pacific Standard time (4:00 PM Eastern)

Connect via phone or VoIP (Skype, etc.)

(724) 444-7444
I'm thinking of doing a show on Goal Setting and prosperity, but am open to requests...