A lot of writers give the advice that watching TV is bad for authors. I do think authors should read as much as they can. I happen to love TV and some how I find time for both. Plus not all TV is brain rot. While some programs stick to the same old tropes, I think there are also lots of shows that break the mold.
This is one reason why I think advice that tells writers to NOT partake in an activity central to people's lives is BAD ADVICE. Yep, I called it bad advice in all caps. TV evolves, changes with the times. Not watching TV is like purposefully removing ones self from important cultural elements. Plus, watching TV will teach you how to be a better writer.
Behind every show is a writer or a team of writers. For me, In Plain Sight is inspiration. I love the life lessons at the end. The stories maybe fiction, but the emotional truth is real enough. The script writers have probably pulled from their life experiences or those of people they know. It's fiction but there's a transference of knowledge. Ultimately, I think this is both what compels people to tell and listen to stories. I think its why everybody thinks about writing a book. The drive to share and receive information is instinctual.
Think of this way. If I walked up to you on the street-- a complete stranger-- and started telling you my life story, you'd think I was a nut. Hell, I'd think I was a nut. And when someone does it to me-- this happens to me a lot. I must send out some kind of vibe-- it's awkward. I want to be nice. But I don't want to know how you got crabs. Really.
I don't, however, feel the same awkwardness toward reading about how you got crabs. I mean, if the voice is there, I'll go pretty much where ever the writer takes me. The difference between a book and a person is I can pick it up or put it down at will.
On a side note, you can get crabs from a dirty hotel room. Someone must leave them there, but the can live in bedding until they find a new host or the sheets are washed. Whichever comes first. When this stranger told me this, I thought she was flubbing the truth but I looked it up out of curiosity. I wish I hadn't. I already had a certain fear of bringing home bedbugs.
Some women have a fetish for shoes. Some for hats. I have a fetish for trying software. If I've learned one thing, it's that companies have all kinds of tricks to sell software that sucks.
Buy it now! And you can try it for 30 days with a money guarantee. This is like going to look at a car. The owner of said car makes you a deal. You can try after you buy it. If you're not happy then, they'll give you your money back. They'll even have a good reason like "insurance."
Because I suffer for typo-syndrome, I actually bought White Smoke and the sinker that came with it. (Hangs head in shame.) The program came with a virus, pop up ads to upgrade to the newest version, and a program that used all my system resources. I requested a refund a mere 8 hours later and three days later, and five days later. Promises to refund by x date which came and passed. I paid via Pay Pal so I did get my refund, but not with out some work on my part.
The moral of the story is, don't buy a car without test driving it and don't buy software you can't test drive either.
7 day trial! Whoowhooo!
This is like buying a horse. You arrive, the owner shows you how nice the horse walks on a lead, how well he ties. You're very excited. You can't wait to try this horse.
"I don't have a saddle," the owner says.
"You want me to ride bareback?" You ask.
"It's up to you."
Unless, you're a fairly good at riding bareback, you can't put a horse through all his paces. With seven day trials there are usually key features missing, ones standard in similar programs. The developers aren't giving you the standard 30 day trial for a reason. For the average person, seven days is just enough time to like a program enough to buy it, but not put it through it's paces.
We're number one, rah, rah, rah! (We have adds everywhere, too!)
This is like Best of Show at a dog show. If a hundred dogs enter, the title is meaningful. However, when there are only five entrants or the judge was paid or the judge is your mother, it is meaningless.
What inspired this diatribe?
I recently downloaded Microsoft Office 2010 trial. I already the 2007 version. I was just curious about new features. My first impression was, bah, there's not much new. I won't upgrade. WRONG! There are lots of new features I love and old features I just discovered what they're for. So, yes, before my 60 day trial is over I'm going to fork over the dough to upgrade. Note the 60 day trial.
Scrivener is also indispensable to my writing life and comes with a 30 days trial.
But there's also a note writers should take away from this, especially those who self-publish. Don't use schemes, ploys, or lies to get people to buy your work. If your writing is strong, you don't need your mother's five star review. You don't have to connive for people to like your work.
Have you ever spent your entire life dreaming of something, only to wake up one day and realize you don't want it any more?
It started with a question I asked myself while I was walking the track behind City Hall. Americans will probably draw of images of a track at their high school or maybe a city park. This one isn't that large, more suited to walking than running. But it's nice with a lovely bunch of trees and birds. I will often go walking there before work. I'll do this until they start piping in the classical music.
I happen to love classical music. I even play the cello, but sometimes it feels like you can't escape the busyness. Sometimes I just want nothing. On days like that, I wrap my headphones around my MP3 player and stick it my pocket. Sometimes I'll carry a tenis ball, bouncing it as I walk. I think all the time -- ideas, ideas. And sometimes I get so much up inside my head I can't stand it. I need stillness.
Out of this stillness came the question. It just popped into my head. What am I going to do now? I stopped dead in my tracks, forcing an 아줌마 (adjuma) to power walk around me. Adjuma's are Koran women of a certain age. In Korean society they are all powerful. I've seen many an adjuma walk across the middle of a four lane road, halting traffic as though that's the way it should be. Adjumas hustle about, elbows cocked and loaded, ready to nail you in the side if, heaven forbid, you get in their way. A 할머니 (grandmother) sitting on a bench gasped at my impropriety.
And to make matters worse, I didn't even ask myself the right question. It should have been, "What comes next?"
I made a bid decision this spring. I decided to stay in Korea for another year. I decided to stay because I love my job. I decided to stay because I've sold just enough stories to think I might have a chance at going somewhere with my writing. I decided to stay because deep down I don't know if I really want to come back to America. For a short time sure, but in the long run? I don't know. I would like to meet someone and start a family. But I don't I want the part about living in one place for the rest of my life. My job-- it started out as a job and now looks to be my career-- gives me the opportunity to work in any number of countries.
Here's the other thing. I am by no means rich. Back home my paycheck would amount to 18,000 a year. Not a lot of money. Yet, I've been able to travel the world, I have a nice savings account even by American standards and I put about two grand away in pension a year.
The Korean pension scheme is very different. You pay in about 6% of your income a year. But it's only really 3% because your employer must pay the other half. When you retire you get a lump sum plus interest. When I finally do leave Korea, it'll be like retiring. I'll get a refund for what I paid in. A good fried of mine gasped when I told her about how much that would be She's worked the same job for 30 years. Her pension is little more than double mine. The difference is, it only took me four years to earn it.
I love my country. I do. Sometimes, I want nothing more than to go home. The problem is, America is so damned expensive. I wouldn't have believed this when I was living stateside. But I know it, now.
I'm evolving. My future plans are evolving. This is a lot harder than it sounds. I have to let go of things I thought I wanted. Things that I thought I came to Korea to get. I've had a plan since I was about sixteen years old. Things got in the way. I overcame them. Now, when nothing stands in my way, I find the plan is what I want anymore.
Do you have a similar story? Please share it. In the notes or email me.
My depression started an Saturday. Know the exact day is unusual. Depression has a way of creeping up on you. This time it did not creep. It kicked me in the gut.
Insomnia is a beast. But, I've been slowly getting a rien on it. So, on Saturday, I returned home around 9 pm all set to get some sleep. Since, I haven't had a bedtime schedual in what feels like ages, last week was almost a turning point. That is, I had gone to bed and managed to fall asleep before midnight, four out of seven days. Saturday would have made my fith.
And because of the sleep, there were just a lot good things. The first was waking up and NOT feeling like shit warmed over.n And because I didn't feel like shit, I went for walks before work. I ate healthy, too. The world had changed from rote, gray "God help me get through this day," to positively bursting with possibility. And most importantly, I was also starting to get tired at ten PM. When my insomnia hits, I don't get tired, I get wired. So, feeling tired at an appropriate time was like winning the lottery. It meant, that maybe it might take me an hour to fall asleep, but that I would fall. Around all this was the upstairs neighbors whom I was doing my damdest to ignore.
I've had a bit of bad luck when it comes to upstairs neighbors here in Korea. I refer to this apartment with no affection as the APARTMENT FROM HELL. It was actually a nice appartment, much bigger than where I live now. But the couple above me made noise all day long. I asked the landlord to talk to them, which he did, and the tenants got louder. I asked again and the upstairs neighbors grew vindictive.
This kick started my insomnia. The year I spent in that appartment was a sleepless one. I couldn't sleep after work (4pm) because of the neighbors. Forget 9pm. Forget 3am. They fought non-stop. The kind of fighting where people get thrown into the wall. And even when they were quiet, I was so wired... well, it was just a terrible year.
This started the insomnia and it did not abate when I changed appartments. I averaged two hours a night plus, sometimes I didn't sleep for days. Nothing makes you miserable by ending three days of no sleep with a measly two hour nap. Rinse. Repeat. It was like I just got so used to being awake, that I couldn't reset.
And that brings me back to Saturday. I live in an efficiancy appartment called an officetel. It's one room, but comfy. The people above me moved out and I thought a family with children had moved in. I didn't want to make trouble for them-- an entire family in one room is no joke. I've experienced it firsthand with my mother. I suppose this is the primary reason, I refrained from saying something about the "kids" for six weeks. Then Saturday came and went. Around 4:30 in the morning the "kids" had not stopped playing and I coudnl't take it anymore. I went up and knocked. It wasn't a family. It was a twenty-something girl and two boys.
In Korean culture, kids don't leave home until they get married. That is, the twenty-something single man or woman, making their own way, is as rare as the Dodo bird. And girls never live with boys. So beign without an adult, to surprivise them, they were litterally behaving like children. That included running in and out of their appartment, slamming doors, and wrestling.
They said they were sorry but did not stop. So, I went upstairs and this time, when they said, "We're sorry," I said, "If you're sorry, you'll stop."
They did stop around the time the sun came up. Of course, first thing Monday, I complained-- the manager was not at all surprised. I think he had fielded many complaints about them. The problem is, the ground I had fought so hard to make with my insomnia went poof.
If you have ever tried to change a habit, you know how hard it can be.
M.R. Jordan is a writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. Lives in South Korea with her two cats, Bear and Geumbi.
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Gold in English)... then (above) and now (below).