The Best I Could Is No Longer The Best I Can

May this always be true: The best I could do is no longer the best I can do.

If this is true, it means improvement is happening. And that’s what we want, isn’t it? Growth?

I’m not the same writer I was five years ago. Honestly, that’s a very good thing.  When I was starting out as a newly published independent author, I made mistakes. A lot of mistakes. I’m still prone to mistakes today, but, boy, things were kind of rough back in the day, which makes me feel very appreciative of all those positive reviews these strangers left on what was not my best work.

There’s a reason I’m rambling on about writing growth. I have been meaning to start re-promoting one of my favorite novels, which I published in 2014 – The Reach of the Banyan Tree.  It was my third and longest novel at the time – a multi-generational, historical romance novel mixed with war, adventure, and contemporary intrigue. I’ve always loved the story behind this novel. It covered all my old stomping grounds from my ten years living in Vietnam.

Finally, I was ready to start re-promoting it, but something happened. I started reading through the beginning of this novel and, honestly, I cringed. No, I didn’t really write like that back then, did I?

I read more and sighed deeply with one simple realization: I did not want to promote this book if it’s going to make readers think that that’s the way I currently write. I didn’t want to give that impression because there were many problems with the way my prose flowed in 2013. So I had a decision to make: keep as is and no longer promote it or do a complete re-edit and revision.

Yep, what you know what I chose.  Over the last two weeks I did a thorough read and re-edit – getting rid of all those narrative issues and those needlessly wordy sentences. Oh, and those adverbs. There was more, but you get the picture.

Once the ebook was reformatted, then came the paperback. I came to realize that I didn’t even know what a drop-cap was back in 2013 when I was putting this together. So you know what I had done? I used some sort of anchored text box to make drop caps at the beginning of each chapter. They looked terrible.

The final re-edit isn’t perfect. I didn’t have unlimited time, but I’m much happier with the result, and I am now happy to start re-promoting it.

This whole process gives me hope that the best of my writing is yet to come. It’s exciting for me to see what’s brewing in the mind which will one day be a whole host of new stories. Let’s hope they are crisper than ever before.

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A Lot of Learning on the Horizon

The school where I teach drama is on the verge of having a brand-new, state-of-the-art auditorium. I like to call it a theatre, myself.

It’s completely outfitted with Source 4 LED lights which are awesome and so incredibly versatile. It’s got a ETC Element lighting console and a complete professional Bose sound system coming next week. It’s got 10 rigging bars with high capacity motors and a powered curtain. It’s going to be a sweet facility and it will be my domain day in and day out. I can’t wait!

But what hit me, yesterday, as I was being trained on the ETC Element, is that I have a TON of learning to do, and I have to learn fast because the very first show in our theatre is opening on April 24. Now that I know I’ll have the auditorium, it changes everything about the show. Ahhh!

Where to begin? Scrims. I need to make some scrims. Gobos. I need some gobos!

Oh yeah, I need to learn the equipment.

And lighting plan? How’s this? My first rough draft.

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Don’t try and decipher it. I can barely understand it, but it’s my first real lighting plan, so that’s exciting!

In the past, I’ve had the privilege of working with professional technicians trained in lighting for theatre. Not any more. I gotta learn, and some of the AV guys at the school gotta learn. Lighting for drama is a BEAST, and we have to tame it!

Anxiety level: high!

Excitement level: even higher!

Here’s a mock-up of the poster for my April show. I can’t wait. No, yes, I can because I have so much work to do until I get there. But it will be a fun ride.

Time to replan the backdrop for the show. Anyone going to be in Jeddah in April?

Stories poster2

New Year’s Resolutions Get a Bad Rap

New Year’s resolutions get a bad rap.

That’s probably because they have the life span of a gnat. Usually.

It takes a tremendous amount of will-power and discipline to stick with something beyond a “honeymoon” two-week period following the excitement of the holidays.

Some of you can feel the stares from your spouse already. Or the whispers. Looks like she’s fallen off the wagon early this year, he might say to himself when he sees you down a whole cheesecake on January 6. In your defense, it did have fruit on top, so that’s something.

But just because a good habit is stopped doesn’t mean it was a bad idea in the first place. Far from it. Good habits are always good ideas. A list of personal improvements or goals is an excellent way to take inventory of your life.

The point all of us making resolutions have to remember is this: don’t let the cheesecake on January 6 define us.

The great thing about being human is that everyday starts out with the sun rising. The past is exactly that. We have a new opportunity to start anew and do all those things that we didn’t do yesterday. A New Year’s resolution is all about staying positive, being optimistic that despite yesterday’s failure, today is the day I’m going to lick it! (I don’t mean the cheesecake.)

So perhaps instead of having New Year’s resolutions, we need to have daily resolutions. What am I going to do today to improve my quality of life? What am I going to do today to be a positive influence on those around me? What am I going to do today to get one step closer to kicking that bad habit of mine that’s been bugging me?

Go ahead and make those resolutions. Push forward and encourage others to do the same. Don’t bash them or give them the “I told you so” when they fail to fulfill their commitment. If we can do these simple steps, I think we will help everyone’s lives to be a little bit better.