In the Wake of Vegas Tragedy, Reach Out with Love

Late last night there was another mass shooting in the United States. This time on the Las Vegas Strip. The Washington Post reports this morning that this is now “the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.” Over 50 are dead. More than 400 are injured. It’s tragic. It’s senseless. It needs to stop.

Often, in the wake of such tragedies, I want to know why it happened. What were the gunman’s motives? What would motivate such a heinous act? Over time, I have concluded that even when there is an explanation, there is never a justification. No motive could justify such a horrific act.

And when there is an explanation that sheds light on such a tragedy, at its root is always the same set of ingredients: anger, hatred, rage. Regardless of who acted and in what way to create such an event, whether the person acted alone or as part of a larger network of terror, the root cause is always anger, hatred, and rage.

So, then, we must combat these problems, and the best way to do that is to act out in love. We all must do what we can to honor and respect life, to empathize with and love one another, and to increase the amplitude of love, compassion, and kindness in our world.

There is only one true hope for humanity, and that is to work with all our might to come to a greater understanding about one another, to try harder to get along with each other, and be compassionate toward one another to such a degree that we could not possibly harm one another.

I said it on Friday in this blog and I will repeat it again today in the wake of this awful tragedy. We must act out with respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness. We must love one another.

So, this is my appeal to you, today. Do everything you can to fill this world with love. Pull your loved ones close. Reach out with kindness to a stranger. Help dissolve the anger that is fomenting in this world. Be the change you want to see in the world. We can make a difference. We will turn this tide. Love will win.

“RECK” – One Word to Save the World

We live in challenging times. Public discord is on the rise. Hate groups that used to lurk in the shadows are pushing their way into the mainstream. Political and ideological differences that have separated us for years are splitting us farther and farther apart. America, it appears, is beginning to unravel at the seams – and globally things don’t look much better. What can we as ordinary individuals do to make a difference? How do we turn this tide?

For nearly 20 years, I have been a student of compassion. I have even written about it before in this blog. I believe in the transformative power of compassion to improve lives and create a more loving and tolerant society. Over time, I’ve come to see that when combined with a few other key ingredients, it can be used to help create a more civil and just society. I believe that the way we treat one another matters. In both large and small ways, the way we view and interact with each other makes a difference in how our societies function and how the world moves.

In order to create a more civil society – one rooted in equality and valuing the life of every person – there are four vital ingredients. If everyone from the average citizen through heads of state would think of and interact with one another using these four important principles, we could reshape the world into one comprised of peace and mutual understanding.

These principles are:
Respect
Empathy
Compassion
Kindness

Each principle builds upon the previous one so that when taken in order they create a powerful force for good.

First, we need to start from a place of respect. We must commit ourselves to valuing the worth and dignity of each individual being. Mutual respect lays a foundation upon which we can build mutual understanding. Without respect, people’s voices cannot be heard. When we work to respect one another, we can achieve tolerance and even acceptance of one another.

Next, we must strive for empathy. By laboring to put ourselves in the shoes of “the other,” we can develop real connection that simply is not possible when we distance ourselves from one another. Empathy is the spark that ignites the flame of compassion.

This brings us to compassion. To live is to suffer. When we connect with the suffering that each of us experiences, it motivates us to want to relieve that suffering. And, when we feel deep compassion for each other’s suffering, it is not possible for us to want to hurt one another.

Finally, there is kindness. When we treat each other with mutual kindness great things are possible. In time, trust develops out of kindness as well as genuine care and concern.

When combined, these principles create a single word: RECK.

Applied universally, this one word could save the world.

Respect, Empathy, Compassion, Kindness.

Make them your mantra. Make them your prayer. Make them your practice.

You’ll be surprised how quickly they can change your life and the world around you.

The concept is simple. The practice is hard. The results make it all worthwhile.

Give it a try and report back. I welcome your feedback.

How Do We Fix a Broken World? The Answer is Simple but Not Easy

These are troubling times. Each week, it seems, and several times last week, there was news of another violent act with tragic consequences. Time and time again in conversations and on social media, I hear/see the same question repeated:

“How do we fix this?”

There is an answer. It is not complex, but it is hard and we would each need to choose it and then keep choosing it over and over again every minute of every day until we begin to chip away at the ugliness that seems to be gripping society.

It’s as simple as a single word: Compassion.

It might seem overly simplistic. Can one little word turn around a world hanging on the brink of chaos?

Yes. Compassion is not just a word; it is an action. It is a spark of inner transformation. And in world gripped by rage, vitriol, and violence, it is an act of revolution.

Compassion is the sensing of another’s suffering combined with an urge to relieve it. You have to grow your sense of compassion to the point that you want to cure the suffering of others so badly that you could not possibly cause another person suffering.

If we are ever going to stop seeing one another as “the other” then we need to begin to accept the suffering of one another as our own. You need to know deep down in your gut that when you hurt someone else you hurt yourself.

Where does compassion start? With empathy.

A society lacking empathy is destined to be ripped apart at the seams. Every little difference that divides us will tear at the fabric of our peace. We see that division and tearing happening now all round us. We sense it occurring as we distance ourselves from people who see the world differently than we do. This must change.

We must put ourselves into the place of others and try to imagine how we would feel in their position. The more we can see others as being like us, the greater empathy we will feel with them. The greater our empathy, the greater our compassion.

Can compassion stop a violent act? Yes.

It can prevent a person from ever becoming violent in the first place. We need to appeal to one another’s humanity. We need to give compassion openly and freely and be willing to receive it.

But it has to start from within. That’s the catch. We each need to choose compassion. Still, there are ways to help others feel compassion and be moved to choose it, and that is by seeing acts of compassion performed. The more compassionate acts we perform the more likely we are to evoke compassion in one another. Compassion breeds compassion.

So, my appeal to you is this:  Choose compassion.

Choose compassion and keep choosing it every day, in every way, in every situation you encounter. And with time, we will turn the tide. We can end the violence. We can change hearts and minds.

We can fix this broken world.

Please Be Nice to That Girl – She is Me

My twins are taking a summer class through the local school district designed to help ease their transition from kindergarten to first grade. Kids from various elementary schools around the district are participating in it. On their first day, I recognized one girl in their class as someone who attends the same elementary school as my kids, but was in a different kinder class last year.

See, I taught an empathy through art class at their school last year and this little girl – we’ll call her Jennifer – was a big fan of it. After I lead her class in the program, she would always say hi to me in the hall and even stopped me on the playground one time and asked me to push her on the swings. I complied happily; I like kids in general and I dig this kid in particular for a few reasons. First, she is kind, friendly, and greets everyone with a bright smile. Second, she has the coolest hearing aids I’ve ever seen.

My guess is that Jennifer was born hard-of-hearing and the hearing aids do what hearing aids do. She and her parents must figure that if she has to wear hearing aids then she might as well wear them with style. One is bright pink and the other is florescent green. On Jennifer, I would dare to say that they are downright cute.

On the first day of their summer class, Jennifer didn’t notice me. Yesterday, she did.

I was standing off to the side of the cafeteria, waiting for my kids to pick up their sack lunches when Jennifer suddenly bounded up to me and said, “Hi!” and flashed her usual cheerful smile. I said hi back, chatted with her for a moment and then noticed her dad holding her spot in the lunch line. I asked Jennifer if I could go over and meet him. She was delighted. I introduced myself and filled him in on how his daughter knows me.

About that time my kids came back with their food. I introduced them to Jennifer’s dad and asked if they knew Jennifer. I got the sense that my kids knew Jennifer was in their class, but hadn’t really interacted with her much before that moment. Based upon how Jennifer interacted with my kids I suddenly recognized a familiarity in Jennifer. She was very much like the child I had been. My kids and I said our goodbyes to the two of them and went on our way. I realized that my kids have a special opportunity this summer.

Last night at dinner, I shared a story with my kids. It went something like this…

Hey guys, I want to talk to you a little bit about that girl Jennifer from your class. You see, there’s something I’ve never told you about myself that I want to share with you now, and it might help you understand Jennifer a little bit better.

You see, I was born with a concave chest cavity. The middle of my chest – it was kind of pushed in, and doctors and my parents were worried that if something wasn’t done to correct it I wouldn’t grow right. So, when I was your age and starting out in school, I had to wear a big brace that went from my shoulders down to my waist. It made me stand up straight, pulled my shoulders back, and forced my chest out. Everyone noticed it and some people treated me differently because of it. People always asked me about it when they first met me. It made me really self-conscious. Do you know what self-conscious means? (Happily for them, they didn’t. My wife and I explained it.)

Anyway, another way to say it was to say that I was shy. I had a much easier time talking to adults than I did to kids. Kids sometimes seemed like they didn’t know how to treat me, or they seemed like they didn’t really want to be my friend because I was different. Now, I don’t know Jennifer all that well, but from what I’ve seen she reminds me a lot of me at that age. I noticed that she seems to have an easy time talking to me, but seems to have a little bit of a hard time talking to you.

I just want you to know that it would mean a lot to me, and it would probably mean a lot to her too, if you would try extra hard to be friendly with Jennifer. She seems a little shy, but she also seems nice and pretty much just like any other kid. See, I was just like any other kid except for my brace, and she’ just like any other kid except for her hearing aids. I had to wear my brace to help my chest and she wears her hearing aids to help her hear. With my brace on I stood just like anyone else and with her hearing aids on Jennifer probably hears a lot like you and me.

So, guys, what I’m trying to say to you is this… I hope you will make an effort to be friends with Jennifer, because I was like her and it meant a lot to me when kids made an effort to be friends with me. I’m still friends with a lot of the kids who befriended me when I was shy. So, when you see Jennifer, think of me, and try to be her friend.

I don’t know if my story has a happy ending. I can’t tell you if my twins will go on to be great friends with this young person who reminds me of me. But I can tell you this: Whether you’re five or fifty-five, being kind to someone who is different from you is always worthwhile. It might take little extra effort at first, but will pay you back in the form of a loyal friend.

Ticket Alert for JPL Open House 2016!

JPL Ticket
©JPL

UPDATE: 4/25/16 10AM – Many people are having trouble reserving tickets from the JPL Special Events page. Here’s a direct link to reserve tickets through JPL’s Eventbrite page for the event. People seem to be having better luck going there, directly. Good luck!

————————————————–

Attention fellow space enthusiasts! The 2016 JPL Open House is still a month and a half away, but if you want to attend this year’s event then you need to take action this Monday, April 25th! This year, in an effort to calm the calamity in and around JPL on the day of the Open House, they are requiring attendees to have a ticket. If you don’t have a ticket you won’t get in.

With this change in mind JPL has rebranded the event – now calling it “A Ticket to Explore JPL.” Note how they’ve punched-up the fact that you need a ticket. Very smart considering this massive change to the Open House’s structure. I guess that’s why they’re rocket scientists.

Tickets will become available this coming Monday, April 25th, at 9am Pacific Time on JPL’s Special Events page. Tickets are free, but limited – so my bet is they are going to go fast. I plan to be sitting at my computer with my finger hovering over the “Reserve Tickets” button at 8:59:59.

Oh, and there are a few catches. Each requestor is limited to five tickets AND you will be required to enter the name of each person for whom you are requesting a ticket. You will be required to choose both an attendance date (either June 4th or 5th) and an entry time. Each requestor is required to provide an email address. So, I’m guessing that the true limit will be five per email address and they’ll just hold you to your honor that you’re not requesting with multiple email addresses.

To help hold you to your honor, each person 18 or older will be required to show photo ID at the gate along with their ticket for admission. It seems like they are trying really hard to make this as fair as possible for everyone.

Well, that pretty much sums it up. Get your tickets early and prepare to enjoy another exciting – and hopefully less stressful – JPL Open House!

5 Reasons Disney Should Release a PG Version of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, In Theaters

Photo by Lucasfilm
Photo by Lucasfilm

Imagine my disappointment…

Everything was going along nicely.  When I was four, my parents took me to see the original Star Wars in the theater, igniting my lifelong fandom.  Next, I was lucky enough to marry a woman who is as big a Star Wars geek as I am, or geekier (I mean, how lucky am I, right?!).  Then, with great excitement, we introduced our five-year-old twins to Episodes IV, V and VI* this fall in anticipation of taking them to see Star Wars:  The Force Awakens.  And what happens next?!  The movie is released with a PG-13 rating.  As you would expect, my reaction was much like Luke’s upon learning that Darth Vader was his father… “Noooooooooooooooo-ooooooooooo-oooooooo!”

My wife and I were concerned about how much violence might be in the film for it to get pegged with a PG-13 rating.  So, we decided to do a date night on opening day and check it out before exposing the kids to it.  We loved the film, but agreed that it’s too violent for them.  We don’t even let them watch the evening news, yet – that shit’s scary.

So, I’ve decided to appeal directly to you, oh benevolent Disney Corporation to please release a version of The Force Awakens in theaters re-edited to garner a kid-friendly PG rating.  In case you’re hesitant, I’ve put way too much thought into this and come up with a five-point proposal as to why you should do it.  Here it goes…

  1. Ticket Sales

Oh sure, you might have broken all-time sales records on your opening day, but there’s no reason to let that stop you from opening up the film to a broader audience and selling even more tickets.  Think about it, my wife and I already went to see the film once and we will go again to see a PG version with our kids if you release it.  There are literally millions of other parents exactly like us.  Literally.  Millions.

  1. Toy Sales

OK, I admit that my son already has a LEGO Tie Fighter and will be getting an X-Wing for Christmas (shh… don’t tell).  But just think of how many more The Force Awakens toys he would be begging for if he could actually see the movie!  I’m sure he’s not alone.  Heck, my daughter isn’t as into Star Wars as my son, but she loves Leia and she’s bound to love Rey even more once she sees this movie.

  1. The PG Legacy

Until Episode III came along and changed the game, Star Wars had a storied legacy as being a PG franchise.  People were delighted by that fact.  Come on guys – bring the PG Star Wars legacy back to theaters.

  1. Because Disney

You’re The Walt Disney Company for goodness sake!  Seriously, the words “kid-friendly” and “Disney” are practically synonymous.  Do it for the children!

  1. You’re Going to Eventually Anyway

Someday, Star Wars:  The Force Awakens will appear on broadcast television, probably on ABC.  So, why not simply make the edited for TV version a couple years early and release it in 3D, Real D 3D and IMAX 3D?  You know you want to.

So, there it is… five compelling reasons why you should help all of us Star Wars Super Geek parents out and make a PG cut of the film now.  Let us buy our kids some overpriced popcorn and sodas and give them the experience we had long, long ago.

May The Force be with you.

 

 

*We didn’t show our kids the prequels.  Why bother?  Episode III is PG-13 and way too violent for them.  What’s the point in watching I and II without III?  Besides, they learned all the backstory they needed from IV, like their parents.

RUDOLPH, THE RED-NOSED REINDEER – His Story In His Own Words

This Nose So Bright
A Memoir
by Rudolph the “Red-Nosed” Reindeer

©ColumbiaRecords
©ColumbiaRecords
Hi there, I’m Rudolph the Reindeer.  You might not recognize my name without the words “red-nosed” included in it.  I suppose that’s fair.  Chances are most people are familiar with me from the Christmas song based upon my life.  I feel like it’s time I take a moment to shine a light (pun intended) on the real story and clear up any misconceptions the song might have caused.

I guess I should start by saying that I do actually like that classic tune.  Somewhere along the way people seemed to get the impression that I don’t care for it.  I mean, am I crazy about being defined solely by my red nose?  Not totally.  After all, who wants to be defined by a single trait, am I right?  I’m also a pretty decent hoofhockey player, but you don’t hear people singing any folksy tunes about that.  But hey, I’m proud of my nose and my journey so, yeah, I dig it.

The first part of the song, while painfully blunt, does a pretty good job of describing what I like to think of as my “radical facial nonconformity.”  Yes, my nose is very shiny, and I suppose if one feels compelled then one could even go so far as to say it glows.  The problem of course is that I had to endure many years of others pointing at my nose and saying, “Ha!  Ha!  Rudolph’s nose is so shiny it literally glows!”  Yeah, that left a few scars on my psyche.

My parents saw the potential for this kind of ridicule pretty much from the time I was born.  Although they worried about how others’ reactions to my nose might affect me, they completely accepted me as I was and loved me just like any other cloven-hooved animal would love a child.

Being on the cautious side, they got me checked over by a reindoctor to make sure it wasn’t a tumor.  Turns out, it’s simply an extremely rare congenital skin condition that can affect reindeer noses, known as Crubrum Nasum.  For better or worse, I happen to have been blessed with a particularly pronounced case of it.

To be completely honest, as a youngster I nearly got sick of my parents telling me about how my red nose made me “special,” and how “lucky” I was to be “unique.”  After a while I was like, “Okay, I get it!  I’m a special flower!  Alright already!”  But I knew they meant well.  Looking back, I’m not sure if they were trying to build me up to face the harsh cruelties of the world or if they were wise enough to know that what makes us different is often where our greatness lies.

While it’s true that reindeer laughed, only a few called me names.  The worst were Dasher and Dancer.  Those guys were always the biggest in the class and best at all the reindeer games.  You know, “The Cool Kids.”  They were relentless.  On top of the name calling, they once spread a rumor that if you stared directly at my nose you would go blind… it actually made some of my more gullible classmates afraid to look at me.

Even though they never let me join in any reindeer games, I wouldn’t say, “poor Rudolph.”  I found other ways to occupy myself.  For example, I spent many hours in the library learning about global weather patterns and memorizing Santa’s Christmas Eve delivery route.  I taught myself how to control my nose’s brightness, and with time and great concentration, even learned how to blast light directly out in front of me like a beacon.  It was like having a super power!  Well, except that I didn’t know what good it would do anyone.

The song sort-of glosses over my young adulthood.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I struggled to find my niche.  I think that’s a common experience when you’re first starting out in the world, no matter your unique qualities or species.  I guess my best advice is just to say enjoy the journey – try lots of things.  You never know when you might find that perfect fit or when it might find you.

And that’s how it happened for me…

“Then one foggy Christmas Eve” I found myself wandering around downtown Santa’s Village, not sure what I was going to do.  I was in quite a funk.  I’d just been let go from a job as a stage hand at The Ice Palace Theatre, because the elf who was Artistic Director complained you could see my nose shining off stage during the darkly lit scenes of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas.  Hey, I didn’t want to cover it up, I’ve got to breathe through this thing!

I pretty much had the streets to myself, because it was so foggy I guess most folks had a hard time seeing, which had never been an issue for me.  Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Santa himself appeared in front of me looking quite frazzled and said those now-immortal words I will never forget, “Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

I thought, “Oh my gosh!  This is it!”  All those years of study and hard work; it was as if I had been preparing for this moment without even realizing it.  Of course, I jumped for joy and said to Santa, “You bet!”  The elves practically had to hold me down as they hitched me to the front of Santa’s team!

Although the night was the foggiest on record, Santa managed to make all of his deliveries in record time.  Ha, and I don’t think Dasher and Dancer were too thrilled about staring at my hind end all night long!

Oh, and that bit about how all the reindeer loved me and they shouted out with glee… yeah, that really happened – on Christmas morning when we returned to the North Pole.  Except it wasn’t just the reindeer, it was also the elves, woodland creatures, Mrs. Claus, and The Big Man himself!  I’ll be honest – it felt good.  But I think what made it feel the best was that my Mom and Dad were there to see it.  All those years they’d spent reassuring me that everything would be okay; that my silly old nose wasn’t a curse, but a blessing…

So, there it is.  Listen to the people in your life who believe in you and tell you that you matter.  Trust those who tell you that you’re good enough and that if you work hard and believe in yourself things will work out in the end.  Because, you know what?

They’re right.

 

FROM THE AUTHOR, MATT VASKO:
I hope you enjoyed this retelling of Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer's story as told from his own perspective. While I like the song, I've always thought it portrayed Rudolph as somewhat of a victim. My goal was to give Rudolph the chance to take his story back and reframe it in a more positive way. Hopefully, it appeals to children and adults alike. I welcome your feedback. 
Merry Christmas!

The Getty Center: Artful Fun for the Whole Family

My wife and I first visited the Getty Center shortly after its grand opening in 1997, when we were dating.  Back then, you needed a timed ticket just to get in.  The Getty Center is still in demand, but happily you don’t need to get tickets in advance anymore.  Still, if you are going on the weekend you will want to anticipate large crowds and busy parking areas when you visit what has become a Los Angeles icon.

We took our four-year-old twins to the popular destination for the first time since they were babies in a stroller, this past Sunday.  Until now, I had not realized what a wonderful spot the museum complex is for families.  Check out the center’s website and you will see that they have some exciting ways for children to engage with the art.  More on that in a bit, but first, let’s get you there.

Parking for The Getty is located on Sepulveda Blvd, just off the 405 freeway.  The center is on the west side of the freeway.  So, the instinct is to want to enter the main parking lot by crossing under the freeway.  You can save yourself having to sit in a long line of cars if you ignore that instinct and instead park in the lot opposite the main entrance, on the east side of Sepulveda.  There was plenty of parking, no line to get into the lot, and you can still use the automated pay station in the main parking lot to pay the $15 parking fee (the price is the same for either lot).

You can either take a short tram ride up the hill or a 15 to 20 minute walk along a foot path.  Our kids were so excited about riding the tram that they didn’t seem to mind the 20 minute wait in line.  Once aboard, I recommend trying to grab seats on the west side of the tram so you and your kids can take in the majestic view of the Sepulveda pass as the tram winds its way along the hillside.

I suggest reading the Getty’s “Tips for Families” section of their website prior to your visit.  It’s packed with ideas about how the whole family can get the most enjoyment out of your time there and how your kids can get the most out of the art.  One thing they recommend and that worked well for us is to mix up activities and be flexible.  We switched back and forth between indoor art exhibits and outdoor activities like taking an invigorating walk through the gardens.

One not-to-be-missed attraction with kids is The Family Room.  Located by the East Pavilion in the museum courtyard, The Family Room brings the art to life for children in a tactile, exciting, and accessible way that is sure to engage active minds.  You might even consider making this your first stop, because it brings the art to life in a way that might help younger children gain a greater interest in the rest of the day’s agenda.

When you are at The Family Room I highly encourage you to pick up an Art Detective Card or two.  Our kids absolutely thrilled at solving the mysteries on the card.  It got them studying the details of each of the works while looking for the clues, and got them talking about the art and asking questions.  If you are sensitive to this kind of thing you might like to know that one of the clues references a nude painting.  So, there’s that.

When it was all said and done, my wife and I left feeling like we had just scratched the surface of all there is to do and see, and our kids left wanting more.  That seemed like the right way to leave things though, because I’m sure it’s someplace we will be returning to again and again.

A Message to Kids from a Father: If Your Parents Hurt You, They are Wrong

I usually keep this blog pretty light.  This week, I’m going taking an unusual turn to talk about a serious subject that has been on my mind a lot lately – child abuse.  Here’s the thing… I am the dad of four-year-old twins.  I love being a dad.  Right there next to picking the right life partner, it’s at the top of my list of best things that have ever happened to me.  I see stories on the news of child abuse and neglect, and it tears at my heart.  I could not imagine ever hurting my children.  To the contrary, I see my role as father as being their protector.  A big part of my job is to create a safe haven for them away from the cruelties of the world.  So, when I see, hear, and read about stories of child abuse on a weekly basis in the media, I can’t help but get angry, upset, and frustrated.  It is a parent’s job to protect their children.  Sometimes, the kids I hear about in these stories are old enough that they could have reported their parents’ abuse or reported it sooner, but didn’t.  The reasons for this are complicated, including the fact that they still love their parents, might be convinced that they did something to deserve how they are being treated, fear retaliation, or fear separation.

I have a message for any young person who might be reading this.  There is something that I want you to have crystal clear in your mind.  It is this:  If your parents are hurting you, they are wrong.  It doesn’t matter what you did.  It doesn’t even matter if you think you are a bad kid.  There is nothing you could do that should result in your parents causing you physical harm.  Do you understand?  It doesn’t matter if they call it discipline.  It doesn’t matter if they tell you that you “made them” do it.  They are wrong.  You don’t deserve to be hurt.  A parent should never slap, hit, kick, punch or otherwise harm a child.  Period.  End of story.

It might be scary to think about taking steps to remove yourself from an abusive parent or parents, but for the sake of your own safety, you need to take them.  Find a safe adult that you can report the abuse to.  Maybe it’s a teacher or school counselor, a neighbor or a friend’s parent.  You need to be brave and take the necessary steps to protect yourself from the abuse.  You don’t deserve to be treated the way you are being treated.  You deserve to be safe.

If you aren’t ready to tell someone you know about the abuse, but you would like to talk to someone, then you can contact the Childhelp hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). Their counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Good luck, and remember: No parent should hurt a child.

32 Awesome Quotes about Writing to Motivate and Inspire

I love the craft of writing.  It can be bliss and it can be hell, but it’s always enlivening.  I also love reading what other writers – both famous and less so – have to say about writing, because it reminds me that I am not in this alone and I’m certainly not the first one to experience any particular feeling about it.  Their thoughts can be particularly helpful refocusing me when I feel like I’m slogging through hell.  So, I sat down to make a list of some of my favorite quotes about writing.  Twenty-five seemed like about the right number of quotes to be impactful without trying to be an exhaustive list of perspectives offered on the subject.  I wanted this to be something I could come back to later when I was looking for motivation and inspiration, and hoped that others might dig it, too.  So, why are there 32?  Because I winnowed it down that far and couldn’t bear to part with any more of them.  So, here they are, 32 awesome quotes about writing to motivate and inspire.  Enjoy! 

“A word after a word after a word is power.” 
-Margaret Atwood

“Ideas are like rabbits.  You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” 
-John Steinbeck

“Understand that there is a difference between wanting to write and wanting to be a writer, and if you don’t do the first, you aren’t the second.” 
-Alexi Zentner

“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” 
-Isaac Asimov

“There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
-Ernest Hemingway

“Nothing matters but the writing.  There has been nothing else worthwhile… a stain upon the silence.”
-Samuel Beckett

“You fail only if you stop writing.”
-Ray Bradbury

“Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it’s the same thing.  What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.” 
-Natalie Goldberg

“Write what should not be forgotten.”
-Isabel Allende

“My ideas usually come not at my desk writing, but in the midst of living.” 
-Anais Nin

“A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:  1. What am I trying to say?  2. What words will express it?  3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?  4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?”
-George Orwell

“For me, writing a novel is like having a dream.  Writing a novel lets me intentionally dream while I’m still awake.  I can continue yesterday’s dream today, something you can’t normally do in everyday life.” 
-Haruki Murakami

“Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity.” 
-Hermann Hesse

“I learn as much by writing as by reading.” 
-Lord Acton

“To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music that words make.” 
-Truman Capote

“All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” 
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.”
-Gustave Flaubert

“Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” 
-Gloria Steinem

“For me, life is writing and I can do it anywhere.  It doesn’t matter where I am.  I listen.  I write.  I live.” 
-Maynard James Keenan

“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” 
-E.L. Doctorow

“Don’t worry about trying to please or impress; focus that energy instead on trying to be clear.”
-Ted Thompson

“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.” 
-Graham Greene

“Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are.  The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences.  In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul.” 
-Meg Rosoff

“He asked, ‘What makes a man a writer?’  ‘Well,’ I said, ‘it’s simple.  You either get it down on paper, or jump off a bridge.’” 
-Charles Bukowski

“Keep writing.  Try to do a little bit every day, even if the result looks like crap.  Getting from page four to page five is more important than spending three weeks getting page four perfect.” 
-Alan Dean Foster

“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story.  You never quite know where they’ll take you.” 
-Beatrix Potter

“The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” 
-Albert Camus

“I would like to be remembered as someone who did the best she could with the talent she had.” 
-J. K. Rowling

“Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters.”
-Neil Gaiman

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” 
-Ray Bradbury

“I do not wish to comment on the work; if it does not speak for itself, it is a failure.” 
-George Orwell

“Writers write.” 
-Jill McDonough

Do you have a favorite quote about writing that I didn’t include?  Add it in the comments.  Heck, if you’re feeling inspired, add your own unique perspective on the subject!  I’d love to know your thoughts.

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