Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Author Archives: David Thomas Peacock

All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy

All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy

All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy

All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy

All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy

All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy

All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy

No Second Guessing

If you already know something’s good, why would you let outside forces change your mind?

Pull up your big boy pants.

No second guessing.

“Edit Until Your Eyes Bleed”

When I began learning how to edit (a process that’s ongoing), I came across this piece of advice that immediately burned itself into my brain. I think the full quote was “Edit until your eyes bleed, then edit some more.”

I’ve come to realize this is painfully good advice. I’ll edit a short story over and over and over again. Reading it out loud, questioning each word, sentence, and paragraph. Checking the flow, asking myself what parts need to come out, pruning adverbs and pronouns, trying to remove everything that’s unnecessary.

Then, when I am absolutely certain I’m done, I’ll send it out, hoping to get it published somewhere. Each time it’s rejected, I’ll go back and read it again, and sure enough, I’ll find more things that need to be changed. So I edit it again. And again. And again. Hoping I finally get it right.

Sometimes I’ll think, am I making this worse or better? But I figure if I spot something that might be improved, I’ll take the pruning shears to it once more. Am I getting better? Who the fuck knows?

I’m trying, though. I’m really trying hard.

ER Lessons (Part 1)

People die while doing the most innocent things. One minute they’re partying with their friends, the next minute they’re in the trauma room and we can’t get them back.

What’s the lesson? If you love someone make sure you tell them everyday.

And don’t take anything for granted.

Keeping On In the Face of Adversity

You didn’t really think it was going to be easy did you? Besides, what’s the real goal here?

If the goal is to grow, express myself, and write cool shit, then I’m succeeding. If the goal is for me to publish in literary journals, so far I’m failing. I would like for the things I write to be useful for someone else, and I think they could be. I’m just not yet sure how to make that happen.

See, whenever I get a rejection I try to send something else out right away. But this process is surprisingly time-consuming. I’ll always reach a point where I think, “Fuck this – I just want to get back to writing.

So I do.

You can (and should), constantly try to improve. But you can’t control how others will interpret what you’ve made. So if you feel compelled to do it, and the process is gratifying, what’s stopping you?

Nothing.

So damn the torpedoes and carry on. Failing means you’re on the right track, it forces you to become better, stronger, and more resilient.

Besides, I’m working on this great short story…

Tony Joe White (Part 2)

I get it, you’re probably thinking “What’s so special about Tony Joe White?

Well, for starters he wrote this timeless classic in 1967: “Rainy Night in Georgia.” At the time, he was 24 years old and had been playing in bars for years – always doing other people’s material. This version is just him singing while playing guitar and harmonica. I defy anyone to listen to this and not be moved.

Born poor in Louisiana, he had worked in the cotton fields and was making his living driving a truck. Where does this shit come from? He says “Rainy Night” and “Poke Salad Annie” were the first two songs he ever wrote.

On “Poke Salad” the Muscle Shoals rhythm section featuring the the great Jerry Carrigan on drums is just fucking magic. The drum pattern is virtually unchanged throughout the whole tune, yet the groove is so deep you can listen to it forever.

Some art just creates its own world and instantly transports you to this place that’s at once recognizable but foreign at the same time. You can actually smell it and feel your emotions change, like it’s hijacked your neurochemistry. Life’s always a little better on the other side.

It’s food for the soul.

Tony Joe White (Part 1)

On October 15, 2014, White appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman alongside the Foo Fighters to perform “Polk Salad Annie”. Pointing to White, Letterman told his TV audience, “Holy cow! … If I was this guy, you could all kiss my ass. And I mean that.”

Flow

You know – that state where you’re not over-thinking things? Where you’re just letting it happen?

That’s flow.

When you relax and just start letting go, being open to anything – there’s your flow state right there.

Not being afraid to fail, and not judging. Creating like a child, playfully. Doing whatever you want because there are no rules.

That’s when the good shit happens. Something’s flowing through you, whether it’s great or not is irrelevant.

This is the fun part. You’re fully alive and engaged. It doesn’t get any better than this. No one can take this feeling away from you unless you let them.

Don’t work for it – let it happen and enjoy the ride. This moment is all the reward you need.

It’s a Choice

Depending on your personality, you’ll tend to see life either through a negative or positive lens. One’s not necessarily better than the other, although you’re probably going to be more pleasant company if you fall into the latter camp.

But even if you fall into the “glass half empty” group (guilty as charged), you shouldn’t always assume the worst. Life can surprise you in ways both good and bad.

Be open to the possibility that something good could happen, especially if someone you respect thinks it’s imminent.

Enjoy the moment when someone believes in you.

BC & AC

I’ve got a feeling that the 21st century – or at least the first half – will be divided into the pre-COVID and post-COVID eras.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, will ever be the same as before. We’re now living in the new normal, for better or worse.

People will still laugh and good times will be had – but life as we knew it before this fucking pandemic is gone. It’s a new world now, and clearly a lot of people haven’t gotten the memo yet.

I get it – I miss the old days too. I’m not sure we’re going to see each other’s faces ever again – or at least not in my lifetime. Humans evolved to read each other’s faces – that alone will change how we relate to each other.

I could be wrong, but if you’re older and want to survive, this is your reality.

Fuck me.

This (Part 2)

“The last thing we should be doing is holding back on anything that might fucking give somebody some good vibes!”

– Kathleen Edwards

15 Years and Counting

According to the the latest statistics, the average lifespan for a male in the U.S. is 78.54 years.

WTF?!

Fifteen years doesn’t seem very long, but it certainly puts things in perspective.

Apparently things are wrapping up sooner than I expected.

I can’t say I won’t leave a mess, but I’ll at least try to close the door on my way out.

Blood Flow and Going to the Well (Part 2)

If you’re struggling because you feel stuck, you need new input. You’ve got to go to the well to feed your soul. You may not be aware of it, but you’re dying of thirst and you need water.

You’ve got to get inspired, and to do that you have to actively look for inspiration. The good news is, you don’t have to look far. Before COVID, I used to love going to the great NYC museums to get my mind blown – unfortunately, for the foreseeable future that option is closed.

But inspiration is everywhere – you’ve just got to open your mind and see it.

If you want to get out of this mess, you’re going to have to work for it.

Blood Flow and Going to the Well (Part 1)

Jeopardy question: How do you keep your mind stimulated?

Ok, there’s two parts to this – the physiological and the spiritual. The physiological part has to do with, essentially, blood flow. You keep your pump (the heart) strong, and it in turn nourishes the organs. With poor blood flow you get ischemia – tissue damage caused by poor perfusion. With no blood flow, you get an infarct – dead tissue. Miocardial infarct = heart attack. Cerebral infarct = stroke. Neither of these are reversable.

So how do you prevent this? Simple – stay active. Exercise and keep your heart strong so it can pump nutrients to your brain. Seems simple enough, no? The good news is that you can do this at any point in life and reap the benefits. The bad news is that if you let your body deteriorate too much, it’ll become more and more difficult maximize cerebral perfusion.

Why am I thinking about this? Because I’m in a bit of a rut and I want to break out. All the gyms closed down five months ago so I’m learning to exercise using my bodyweight as resistance. I’m still adjusting, but I’m nothing if not adaptable. Fortunately, I’ve spent my entire adult life exercising. So even though I’m not the most robust specimen, and I often feel like my body’s trying to kill me, I’m still in very good shape.

Part two is probably the most important thing for me to focus on to stimulate my mind – going to the well. More on that tomorrow.

Who’s On First

Ok, for whatever reason, I’ve recently become obsessed with Abbott and Costello’s classic bit from 1938, “Who’s on First.” There are quite a few versions out there, and God knows I’ve seen them all, but I think this is the best one.

From “The Actors Home,” whatever that is, circa 1953. They’d been doing this bit for over 15 years at this point, but it somehow seems as fresh as if they just worked it out.

Seriously, you should check out the a transcription of it – it’s really comic genius, and I don’t use that word lightly. If you’re so inclined, please join me in enjoying this moment once more. There’s a reason why it’s one of the most famous comedy routines of all time.

Listen if for no other reason than to be reminded that humans are capable of creating some pretty cool shit.

Wow

“Hope is an ennervating weakness that makes adjustment impossible.”

– John D. MacDonald