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Posts Tagged ‘writing

I want to write. Am I doomed to be a barista?

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Check out my post at the University of Northwestern.

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Written by kirkistan

April 28, 2017 at 4:13 pm

Happily Ever After

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Escape the orbit of your status quo stories

AnaLouise Keating names “status quo stories” as a chief culprit in reinforcing the same old binary direction choices we fall into day after day. In her book Teaching Transformation (NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), she details the ways she helps students identify and reflect on all sorts of status quo stories—stories from racial identity to sexuality to our cherished pull-yourself-up-by-your- bootstraps, I-did-it-my-way tales. The stories we tell ourselves have a way of constructing the world we inhabit:

In various ways and to various degrees, we co-create the world we inhabit.

–AnaLouise Keating

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These very stories serve as guiding lights for much of our lives because they signal the direction we should take. But over time the stories can also serve as a sort of tomb, if they go unexamined. Part of that has to do with the custom nature of humanity: we’re not all the same (it turns out) and so we’re not all going in the same direction. And by the way, mass-marketing is heaving its last gasps. So there is good reason to stop and examine the stories that drive us.

Under a microscope, some stories hold up and even blossom with new suggestions that point in solid directions. Others of those stories start to smell like the dead mouse under the stove: rank and yukko. For myself, when I reread Luke’s account of what Jesus actually said, it is full of life (precisely because he points at death, strangely). And then I wonder how faith-stories in the United States have wandered so far into power-hungry, money-hungry, empire-building waters.

Many faith stories from the last several decades stink to high heaven.

Once you start to identify status quo stories, you see them all over the place. And that’s a good thing, because each needs to be examined and given a green light or a red light. As I prepare for teaching writing students, I am on the lookout for new stories that will help them craft a useful writing life full of daily meaning-making.

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Books are a uniquely portable magic

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Kirkistan: What gives with your slow and sporadic posts?

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Thanks for asking.

I’m thinking of my next book. It may be something related to the seven essential questions that shape our expectations about work and life. It may be something completely different. But I am consciously pulling back from daily posts so that I can invest a bit more time in these early stages of exploring what next. These explorations will likely look like blog posts.

Does that work for you?

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

October 14, 2015 at 9:57 am

Don’t Write.

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Really.

di Rosa Art Museum

di Rosa Art Museum

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Image Credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

August 27, 2015 at 9:46 am

Dilbert: Maybe try writing something.

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More Scott Adams: http://dilbert.com/strip/2015-08-11

Written by kirkistan

August 13, 2015 at 8:58 am

Posted in curiosities, Writing

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Recast Your Story

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Melt. Turn. Form. Repeat.

More and more of my work is recasting. Telling an old story in a new way: finding the locus of interest for today, for these people, living right now. These people who don’t care how the story used to be told—it meant nothing to them and seemed irrelevant if not invisible.

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My industrial-controls client wants a new way to talk about a neglected product. I write to find the words and the approach to make it interesting for today’s audience. My medical client wants to recast the backbone of their selling proposition with proper science and citations (versus just their own internal studies, which were not wrong, just limited). A consulting client wants to turn their expertise into a broader story that pulls in people outside the narrow audience with which they’ve been successful.

My process is to play with the story element. That’s why writing often seems like play or goofing off. It must be so: that’s where key discovery happens. Sort of like the process in my daily failures at Dumb Sketch Daily. I don’t know what’s right until I draw it wrong.

It occurs to me this recasting process is going on all over my life. Writing and faith and parenting and exercise are all changing before my eyes. A new story keeps getting told about each and it is important each story is told—telling and retelling the story helps me understand life. Maybe the retelling is all about making meaning.

What’s changing in your life and what story do you need to recast or retell? And who might benefit from that retelling?

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

July 29, 2015 at 9:47 am

Make mistakes as fast as possible

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And get yourself a steadfast interlocutor

As the crane slowly lowered the casket-laden truck into the hole, the widow leaned over and whispered “He loved that ’58 Chevy Suburban more than anything or anyone.” And then, quietly, “That should hold him.” [Excerpt from a short story in progress.]

As the crane slowly lowered the casket-laden truck into the hole, the widow leaned over and whispered “He loved that ’58 Chevy Suburban more than anything or anyone.” And then, quietly, “That should hold him.” [Excerpt from a short story in progress.]

Making mistakes is the point with Dumb Sketch Daily. And it is the point with writing every day. And it is the point with moving forward quickly with client work. Progress happens only as we make mistakes. And often we only realize it was a mistake—or at least somehow fallen short of our dream—when we present our rough sketch to someone else. That’s why it is important to have steadfast interlocutors in our lives. Those ongoing conversations with people we trust help us see what is what, which helps us see how to do something differently, which is what progress looks like. Teachers and professors and authors (and spouses!) can be great conversation partners as we stumble toward some goal.

I am learning to make mistakes in more media. Yesterday I commented on some quick sketches by an artist in Quebec, how simple they were and how definitive.

“It’s easy,” she said. “Just sketch the people you see on TV.”

“Not so easy,” I replied. “I do that as well, but my sketches turn out fussy and juvenile. And ugly. And sometimes I despair at how bad they remain.”

“Well, I do 12 sketches before I get the one I really like.”

I found that encouraging because she is quite accomplished. And of course we all know this is true. One need only think on Philip Glass or Hemingway to gain a bit of perspective.

The more time we commit to the thing, the more mistakes we make, the more we progress. But mistakes are part of the process. As far as I can tell, making mistakes in pursuit of our passion is the only way forward.

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Dumb Sketch: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

July 3, 2015 at 9:22 am

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