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Music and Bootstraps

(and a new outlook)

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to get out of my head. New songs help. As we all know, the year has wreaked havoc and has us punching ourselves in the head from the inside as we wrassle with fight or flight. Anyone? Maybe it’s just me.

Fortunately, I’ve been having great creative sessions with one of my dear friends. I’m sharing project details on The Writing Record, so check it out! So much creative progress has occurred in recent weeks, that our skype calls have become a temporary escape from the anxiety of our new normal. Our world on fire. A pandemic of real cost and consequence for half the country, and a farce labeled as such by the other half. Our orange president speaking in tongues and soaking with incoherence those of us in the front row. Uncertain times, for sure. Fatalistic? Most definitely. That’s my primary setting.

Nonetheless, world aflame and all that shit, I am now left with a clarity of joy and purpose I had forgotten about. I remembered what it was like to get out of my head. I’ve been working with my friend Dane on a mini-musical that we hope to finish by the end of September. One song a week. Four songs. Incidental music and a small helping of dialogue to strengthen the through-line, and then voila! We will have something new. But already, collaborating has led me to this obvious revelation: Bootstrapping your way through life is fun and all, but have you ever bootstrapped your way through life without boots? Boots aren’t for me. My feet sweat at the thought of helping myself, I suppose. What’s better than finding hope and drive and dignity at the bottom of your worn boots? Helping your friends find their boots, and reaching out in case they need a hand with their straps.

Is that so goddamn hard to ask?

I ask this of myself first. Because why should I chastise anyone without confronting my own bootstrapped feet? (not to mention, I have boots for days at home)…

I just don’t want to keep thinking about bootstraps and giving my neighbors the finger when I can lend the whole hand. Few working class people are having a grand old time right now. These feelings of panic and distress are only escalated by our collective scarcity mindset. Speaking for myself, I find I have a scarcity mindset that at times permeates into my emotions as well. I feel as if I don’t have enough to give. But what can we do when scarcity is the only song we were ever taught? It was the only song we learned, because it doesn’t have many notes and it’s easy to remember by ear. We sing it to anyone who will listen, and its melody is simple and contagious and so everyone picks it up and continues to propagate it. What the fuck are we doing? The wealthiest nation in the world is an orchestra and it loves to play Mary Had a Little Lamb. I’d like to hear that orchestra at its full potential someday.

And as I try to grapple, once again, time and again, with the magnitude of the issues we face as a country, and the fact I feel helpless in the slung heaps of injustice and hurt and sickness of our American everyday, I must remind myself I am not the orchestra, but the stray clarinet player doing the best he can. Indeed, I have my part to play, but so do the rest of us.

So this is where the clarity of joy and purpose found me. I felt it guiding me to a better place, emotionally. I felt the hurt and heartbreak leave my body for a brief time. I forgot about the fires, and the injustices, and the goddamned pandemic, and the horsemen’s additional bag of pending plagues. Thanks to a friend who took the time to reach out and offer a temporary diversion, I put my panic attacks on hold and stepped into a familiar pool of light: One of hope and possibility. Sweet wounded Jesus and the heavens above, we all need that right now. Hope and possibility.

I’m not a doctor or a health services professional. I’m not a fireman or a nurse. I can’t kill the fires with my bare hands and I sure as hell can’t step into an emergency room and clobber COVID with roundhouse kicks. I’m barely an essential worker. But what I can do, is bring hope and levity to the people I care about. I miss my Mother and Father, my sisters too. I miss my friends, and the times when we made each other laugh in person. I miss so many things and I know you do too. I’m not in a position of power; I can’t fight the pandemic with executive orders or legislation. I’m just a guy who writes and records. But no matter what my jaded self tells me, I know there’s new songs out there for us to play. I’m pretty sure you can find one too. All ears on deck.

…I think I found mine. I think it’s true. And if I play this hopeful part on the clarinet just right, maybe the bassoons and oboes will join in, enticing the woodwinds, and then the brass and the strings and even the fella who dings the triangle is welcome to join in. Maybe it’ll just be me and my friends, but at least we won’t be bootstrapping on our own.

All I wanted to say is I am feeling better, optimistic, and bearing a lighter emotional tone. So I will be consolidating a few things in the coming weeks on idlewy.blog, and prepare for a new chapter of collaboration by sharing this blog and this space with my creative allies to make great shit, and to promote joy. Let’s see what sticks.

Much love,

j

WR Status Report 9.25.20 (Video Test)

So it’s been ages since I’ve been in front of the camera, and since I plan to do some video work for the YouTube Channel and upcoming collaborations, I said to myself: what the hell? Let’s overcome these on-camera jitters and record something for the blog to see if I can get some practice. I gotta tell you, it’s way more bizarre to stare into that lens than I recalled…

So this time around I’m refining my schpiel about the Write/Rec Lab and share some collaboration plans for the weekend, as well as rambling about the mission statement: To rebuild my creative community, and lift my collaborators so we can create content and material that is bigger than any one of us!

I just grabbed my GH4 and strapped the Rode VideoMic on and started recording. One good thing about this exercise is that I have missed hitting that REC button and am reconsidering my initial desire to sell and downsize on video gear. We shall see!

Oh, and if you clicked this on accident and don’t know what the hell is happening, check out the Write/Rec Lab section for more info: https://idlewy.blog/writerec/

Ugh, here we go! Maybe I’ll feel more comfortable in the next one!

The Writing Record Podcast 9.20.20 – Vindication Episode: Children’s Book Progress, Mini-Musical Almost Complete, Short Film Shot!

Hey friends!

Please forgive the allergy voice, I am working on getting that taken care of. I just had such a great week and weekend that I couldn’t wait to record my thoughts on it. I feel the wheels are in motion and I have been vindicated. Here’s a few things I was reminded of while I worked on my collaborations this week:

  • Step out of your own shadow. Get out of your head. Self-doubt is the creativity killer. Kill it with sun: Be vulnerable out in the open.
  • You don’t have to be a magnet to keep people engaged in your project. Let the project be the magnet.
  • Be of service. Give to your collaborators. Facilitate their excellence.

https://idlewy.blog/writerec/

The Writing Record Podcast 8.25.20 – Solving the Hyphenate problem, Get right about your North Star

I love it when this podcast becomes a confessional. It has helped me sort a few things over the last couple of months, and hopefully, it will help you as you ask yourself similar questions! For those of you in the TLDL (Too Long, Didn’t Listen) Crowd, here’s my two cents:

  • You’re a better hyphenate artist if you have ONE medium that guides your work. This is your North Star. I dabble in everything, but it’s taken me this long to realize all I have done, informs my writing. Therefore my writing is priority number one. This means I have to stop committing to shit that doesn’t move the writing forward. I can still create in other mediums and forms, but I have found that I work best when I bring the lessons from other artistic endeavors into my writing.
  • It takes time to find your North Star. Go easy on yourself. I just found it after being a wedding and event videographer for seven years.

Say hi @ https://twitter.com/idlewy

Much love,

j

Our Kid’s Asleep Podcast #43 – What We Do in the Shadows, TLC, Acting in The Laundromat (feat. Brenda Zamora)

Hello all!

We are joined by Brenda Zamora, actor and sister, to talk about:

  • What We Do in the Shadows, the movie and TV series adaptation.
  • TLC, The Learning Channel and our varied opinions on their popular reality shows.
  • and lastly, we talk about Brenda’s experience behind the scenes of The Laundromat, her first role in a feature film!

Join us on this very special episode and don’t forget to subscribe and review the show!

Check out Brenda’s IG for the latest projects and updates! @brendazzamora!

SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

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The Writing Record Podcast 8.17.20 – Reach Out, Start Small

Hello all!

Some off the cuff thoughts about my week off and how it helps to just calibrate what’s important in life and art.

  • Creative Community is essential for success. Find your cheerleaders and champion them too.
  • Start small. I’m putting this idea to the test.

Much love,

j

How do you stay creative with a day-job? Give me a holler on Twitter at @idlewy

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dictation leads to surprises

Dictation software is an incredibly powerful tool. It’s one of those pieces of technology that reminds me of how many advances we have at our fingertips to document and create. I was on a call recently, speaking Spanish over the phone, and forgot to turn off my dictation software. I had google docs open and as I walked away from the desk, the program transcribed my Spanish conversation into the word document as English. The result is the following poem. Nothing I said on the phone was actually mentioned in the poem, and it’s as if the computer tried to do its best to create a picture. I am baffled by the computer’s misguided and incredible reinterpretation of the sound of my voice. It’s a wonderful opportunity to let go and see things differently. I have decided I am going to try to create more of this type of work soon. It’s a complete reinvention and I love the unexpected turns it takes. Google Docs has a built in dictation software, so anyone can try! Have you tried collaborating with a dictation software? What were your results?

Much love,

j

Hey Ahmad is J,

thus my DNA is still

yet they could as he

and nobody has started a loneliness on the lot

similar because in the assembly will

and Don says and owns a look at alums

as a reality on this

but I get we made the illness

but again is a business as a Mona

see it the same as if no one else made no mistakes

in the by the proxy

must a Mona bougainvillea started

I see Mejia okay but I will take on this delay

will gamely begin as they

I know that was

yet a little cement

your problem okay million

Ahmad will think of the Libyan all 

yeah you that the opulent data

estate note that you have a new quarterly

simpler okay

is the interest of the aesthete

they gave God for five or many

cryptic on the photos

okay, a million, is Daniel’s,

Grandma’s,

and lungs is not as they develop

multimedia in newness

okay

Adios

we had the right

Creative Drive Podcast #37 – White Out by Mark Anthony Smith

Mark Anthony Smith was born in Hull. His writings have appeared in Musicians for Homeless and Be their voice, Spelk and Truly U. His latest work, Hearts of the Matter, is available on Amazon.

Visit Mark on Facebook and Twitter for updates on his latest work. Thank you for your sharing your work with us, Mark!

If you’d like to hear your short works of poetry, flash fiction, and dramatic writing on the podcast, submit your short work today!

Don’t be idle, make art! Much love,

j

More Creative Drive Episodes below!

CD38 – My Dear Ellie by Aisha Urooj (novel excerpt) Creative Drive

Hello all! Today we feature a novel excerpt from Aisha Urooj’s My Dear Ellie! Check it out! Aisha Urooj lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and graduated with her Bachelors from University College, University of Toronto. She grew up loving classic books and getting lost in the intriguing characters and compelling stories. She writes mostly as a hobby along with painting and photography. She hopes that those that read her book will enjoy it as much as she did writing it. She is currently working on her second novel tentatively titled “Eleanor’s Travels”, chronicling Ellie’s travels around the world, an extraordinary gift from Ellie’s parents on her twenty-first birthday. Where to find her online! http://www.goodreads.com/aishaurooj http://aishauroojbooks.wordpress.com https://www.amazon.com/dp/B083JJK8TY Thanks for sharing your work with us, Aisha! Produced by J. Alejandro @jwriterec https://idlewy.blog/writerec/ Much love, j
  1. CD38 – My Dear Ellie by Aisha Urooj (novel excerpt)
  2. CD37 – White Out by Mark Anthony Smith
  3. CD36 – Smoothing Out the Wrinkles by Samatha Terrell
  4. CD35 Part 2 – Bob Dylan by Troy Jackson
  5. CD35 – Brother Martin / My Adidas by Troy Jackson

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Rest Week

As an essential worker, I’ve been working in a complicated and stressful work environment for five months. It’s been incredibly rewarding to try to help people in difficult situations, but like the entire country, I am exhausted. I am tremendously grateful that I am still employed during this unsettling time. But I got a week off to breathe and spend time with my family. I’ll be looking over what I’ve done this year and what will be coming.

  • Fired up my old Nook eReader and holy shit, it still works! I loaded up some books I’ll be reading this year and next, including Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, and some Vonnegut and Bradbury for good measure. The best way to fall in love with writing again is to fall in love with reading.
  • I ordered two novels I have been meaning to read ever since I saw their film adaptations: Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon, and Sideways, by Rex Pickett. From the moment I saw the film versions of these stories, I absolutely fell in love with them. And now I am excited to look at the source material and explore what makes these stories so intriguing to me.
  • Since the beginning of the year, I have been working with my friends at A Better Beauty Business setup their podcast and other multimedia content. While their endeavors are specifically about starting and maintaining a beauty business, it’s been such an incredible experience learning from Jess and Heidi about the pursuit of clear goals. I am learning to assess my goals in life and how to reach them. We’ll be working on more content soon!
  • Bought the first batch of camping supplies, we’re hoping to start out family camping adventures soon! Just a disclaimer: we are indoor people. We don’t do this outdoor thing, but we are about to change that! During this pandemic, it is essential we find self-care wherever we can get it. Camping may be that beautiful opportunity for us, so we’ll see what happens!

May this be a week of joy and peace for you. And creativity too!

Much love,

j