More questions. More help. Introducing Mastering Table Topics Second Edition.

The joy of primary sources

Amiga World Magazine and floppy diskIf you’ve done research, you’re familiar with primary sources. Reading first-hand accounts, viewing artifacts, and visiting the places you write about can help you bring a story to life.

As I cleaned out our garage recently, I came across some of my old Amiga stuff. One was an issue of Amiga World magazine that published a review I wrote in 1988. I also found some of my old data disks, including one we used to plan our wedding.

The find had some practical benefits. The magazine ads answered a question I had about the price of 3.5-inch floppy disks. (You can buy a 64-GB USB drive for less than the price of a box of 10 floppy disks, and this is without adjusting for inflation.) It also jogged my memory, reminding me of programs I used and things I had forgotten.

The greatest benefit was the emotions it stirred.

Being able to pick up and touch artifacts from 30 years ago reconnected me to the Amiga. I found myself immersed again in a world I was a part of. Recapturing those emotions and memories can help me recreate them in my novel.

The joy of primary sources is how they make you part of the story. You live in it and instead of just writing about it.

Getting out of your own way

I started going to the gym for the first time in years. I go in the morning before work. Some adjustments needed to be made. I gave up on recording the late night talk shows and watching them the next morning. And there are the public showers, something I haven’t used since high school. I’m still not fully comfortable walking around naked with other adult men, but the sight no longer jars me. (Being nearsighted helps.)

One thing I’ve had to struggle with is the negative self-talk that fills my head. I know others struggle with this too. Here are some of the ways I’m working through my negative self-talk.

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The story behind the tweet

My tweet didn’t break the Internet, but it may have left a scratch. Like any tweet, there’s more to be said than what fits in 280 characters. There’s a history behind it, and it goes back to the late 1970s when I was the same age as today’s Stoneman Douglas students. This was when the so-called Moral Majority got its start. And back then, I knew there was something wrong with it.

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Moving forward

One more thing to say about anger (or frustration or worry). At some point, you’ll decide to move forward. You’ll seek to overcome powerlessness by finding areas where you have power.

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You have the right to be angry

Lewis Black's character in Inside OutI got into a discussion on Twitter about the value of social media. It included the issue of anger.

We feel uncomfortable about anger. It makes us feel out of control. It causes us to say and do things we regret. It can also be addictive. We can find ourselves trapped in a cycle of outrage.

But we cannot deny our anger, and repressing it can make things worse. You have every right to be angry. Here are the reasons why.

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