Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Feng Shui Bagua Map

Happy New Year!

Yes, folks, it’s that time of year again – Chinese Lunar New Year. The post title, gung hay fat choy, is Cantonese (Mandarin: Gong xi fat cai) for “congratulations on prospering in money.” It is a popular saying you’ll hear frequently during Chinese New Year. Unlike Americans, this Chinese congratulatory greeting is not based on something already achieved but instead is a wish or hope that you will achieve what you desire, hence the congratulations in the phrase. It’s a blessing of good fortune and prosperity (it’s not always money, as many Chinese believed that enough food to eat also represented abundance in one’s life). So for the first blog of this new year of 2020, I want to revisit a post I wrote back in ’17 on making sure the energies of good fortune, abundance, and prosperity will flow not only through your life but through your writing, including  your desk/office.

Remember, Qi must flow positively for prosperity to appear.

I wrote:

“As a writer, it’s important to set the tone of one’s working space; how well you organize and arrange your home office (or wherever you write) is vital to the writing process and outcome. By making a few adjustments (some more so than others, depending on your needs), you may get to experience the shifts in energy flow that can occur relatively quickly (I’m talking within a week).”

I’m also starting 2020 in a new living space where my bedroom (and desk, since I now share a house) is in the Water/Wood bagua areas (NE/E). While my best direction for success is south (that whole wall is closet), I have to place my desk facing west (my worst direction for health or success. Ugh.). So I’ve laid out my work area as best as I can according to feng shui principles: clean, uncluttered desk top, Fire element in upper left hand corner of desk (for success and getting my name out there), a ceramic turtle in Water element. The desk is solid wood with metal trim and sturdy; this makes for a good professional place to write. 

5 Feng Shui Tips for Your Writing Space

The following tips are from http://www.fengshuiforreallife.com, by Carol Olmstead. She is a certified Feng Shui practitioner and has a successful practice, books, and website. 

This is important: “If you work from home, the first Feng Shui consideration is which room or area of your home to use. If at all possible, avoid locating your office in the kitchen, where it could symbolically interfere your health, or in the bedroom, which could interfere with your love and relationships.” Carol Olmstead, http://www.fengshuiforreallife.com.

“Here are five quick fixes you can make in your workspace to give your office a Feng Shui makeover. 
Problem #1: Your desk is in the wrong location.
Quick Fix: The most auspicious location for a desk is positioned diagonally across from the door. The worst place is with your back to the door. When you sit with your back to the entrance of a room you can’t see what’s going on behind you, making you vulnerable to being “caught off guard” by your competitors, clients, or colleagues.

Things literally and figuratively go on “behind your back.” If you can’t relocate your desk, hang a mirror in front of you or place a reflective object on your desk so you can see behind you.

Problem #2: Your desk is the wrong size.
Quick Fix: A desk that is too small for the work to be done makes you feel that your ambitions and aspirations are restricted. On the other hand, a desk that is too large makes you feel that you are not up to the challenge of the work. Choose the appropriate size work surface for the job you have to do. And make sure you have enough room to spread out, create, and expand in your career.

Problem #3: There are sharp corners pointed at you.
Quick Fix: In Feng Shui, the edges of walls pointing at you are called “poison arrows.” These sharp edges send harsh energy toward you, making you feel uncomfortable, threatened, or insecure. The best way to cure or fix this problem is to place something between you and the sharp edge to block its negative energy. Good things to use include furniture, a healthy plant, soft fabric draped over the edge of the wall, or molding. 

Problem #4: You are surrounded by overhead fluorescent lights.
Quick Fix: Fluorescent lights represent the Metal Element that can be too hard and cutting when it comes at you from overhead. Plus this kind of lighting can cause headaches, eyestrain, and a whole lot of stress. Whenever you can, turn off overhead fluorescent lights and take advantage of natural daylight, or use desk and floor lamps. If you can’t turn off overhead fluorescents, try to have them replaced with full spectrum light bulbs. These simulate daylight and make you feel more comfortable.

Problem #5: Your office is cluttered.
Quick Fix: In Feng Shui, clutter represents postponed decisions and the inability to move forward. When you have so many files and piles of papers that can’t even see your desktop, it’s hard to concentrate on your work. Clear as much as you can off your desk, then use colorful folders and wicker baskets to contain the rest of your paperwork. Here is one way to jump start your office clutter clearing — Set a timer for 10 minutes, take a large plastic bag, and thrown 27 thing into the bag – things you don’t use, don’t want, and don’t need in your office. You’ll be amazed as how much more space you have opened up in your office to allow new opportunities for success to reach you.”

Resource: http://fengshuiforreallife.com/Detailed/222.html

Here’s to a prosperous, abundant 2020 for all!

Writer, Thinker, Dreamer-in-Residence

dreamer pic

Source: Google Images/dribbble.com/Rebecca Williams

Dreamer-in-Residence

I’m in one of those reflective moods (again). Every now and then, the modern world gets to me (read: incessant noise) and I must remove myself from the droning, deafening sounds of our modern, so-called civilized society. I crave quietude and solitude so I can hear myself think. And see the stars in the night sky – I found Polaris tonight, twinkling a dull blue in a misty indigo sky.

In these reflective moments, as I meandered the “mean streets” of Midtown Sacramento (and quieter as I strolled in a direction opposite the interstate that cuts it in half), words visited then filled out my thoughts, such as: what are words but one’s daydreams put on paper?

As fellow writers, surely you can identify.

Thinker

I once again find myself craving something different, to move (read: run screaming) away from the status quo (who decided this was so great to begin with?) to find my place, my unique place, in this writing/creative world, a place which belongs only to me (and I to it). It’s a desire to grab that brass ring, the one that’s been just beyond my reach for as long as I can remember. It’s a signal to me that my life is out of balance and I’m still working on how to put it right. Writing helps.

Does this make sense to you? I ask you, how can I/we freely write/create when held in place by burdensome responsibilities so much of the time? Held by the chokehold of corporate America – the dangling of the corporate carrot (climbing the “ladder of success” only to find out someone’s removed the top rungs), learning how to lie with a smile on your face, learning that people are expendable, replaceable (so much for being unique and valued) … the corporate mantras memorized, recited, regurgitated … leading to feeling institutionalized.

How do I/we break free?

My guess is, to write, as a writer must.

Writer

How many of you dream of the freedom that comes with being a writer/thinker/dreamer-in-residence? I’ve had to redefine the word freedom multiple times, as it can have different meanings in different stages of one’s life. That stream of thought brought me to this:

IF

If we dream, we must write.

If we write, we must imagine.

If we imagine, we must create.

If we create, we must give a bit

of the best of ourselves to the world.

Dream. Write. Imagine.

Create.

We must not forget; it’s who we are, not just what we do. We can’t deny it, avoid it, or squirrel it away for a rainy day. We must go out there, into the world, with pen (or computer) in hand and blaze our own trails.

Institutions be damned.

The Devil’s in the Details

writing a book_jerryjenkins

Source: Google Images/ jerryjenkins.com

Finally, Back At It

I’ve finally gotten back to working on my unfinished novel, a second book in what might turn out to be a series, since I carried my protagonists from Rescue on White Thunder over to my current in-the-works adventure. But I noticed something is missing in some of the chapters – the descriptive details, especially in the surroundings, locations, and buildings in various scenes. I didn’t leave them out completely; I just didn’t build much detail into multiple scenes, which I noticed during recent edits. I fondly remember picturing then describing in detail such scenes in my first published work so I’m not sure where or why I strayed. The following is from a scene I set up where I visit to a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and my impression of his office:

“He led me from the reception area to a room decorated with antique Asian décor; the scent of sandalwood swirled about the room. In the far right corner sat two camelback chairs upholstered in a bold, China red silk fabric embossed with gold Chinese characters. A simple wooden table placed between them held little clutter: a metallic miniature desk lamp, a small red statue of Buddha, and a jade green Chinese teacup containing several pens. On the opposite wall stood a handsomely carved mahogany bookcase crammed with textbooks and other academic works. Some of the books were at least three inches thick and I wondered if he’d read their contents. Most likely. Okay, I’m impressed, I thought. The area rug covering the polished wood floor was noticeably Persian; its earthy tones complemented the bolder colors of the furniture. Placed on top of that striking rug, in the center, was the treatment table. Light in the room glowed softly from a torchier lamp in the corner behind one of the chairs.” (Excerpted from A Bump in the Road, 2007, Lulu Press, Inc.)

You can picture the office decor and layout, right? 

Those Devilish Details

In the current book I’m reading, The Romanov Prophecy by Steve Berry, all of his scenes are written so vividly I feel I’m there, even though I’ve never been to any part of Russia. This is central to a story’s success – the settings, the backdrops, where characters interact, where antagonists meet up with protagonists, where protagonists escape antagonists, where locations change or merge, etc. Cityscapes, landscapes, seascapes, weather patterns, popular locales – these hold up the story as it moves characters through the plot. Somewhere along the way, I seem to have forgotten that, focused too much on the plot itself and not the intricate details of where events are taking place.

What can make those all-important details a bit difficult is unfamiliarity with certain subject matter, say, architecture or aviation. Some research is necessary to learn the lingo and how to describe them in such a way that every reader can clearly picture where your characters are, what they’re doing, etc.

This is a small example of an architectural description from Steve Berry’s The Romanov Prophecy:

“The Russian consulate was located on a trendy street west of the financial district, not far from Chinatown and the opulence of Nob Hill. The consulate, a red-brown sandstone two-story with an end turret, sat on the corner of a busy intersection. Balconies lined with richly scrolled metal balustrades adorned the upper floor. The roof was trimmed in a cast-iron cresting.”

Even though I’ve been to San Francisco only once, I can picture exactly what this building looks like and I might even be able to find it just because of the detailed description (especially since I looked up the words turret and balustrade and realized I’d seen them before but didn’t know what they were called). This is one of many descriptive paragraphs in the book. I can picture exactly where the characters are, what the weather is at the moment, what they’re wearing, driving, etc., all while watching the plot unfold.

Detail Detail Detail

Attention to detail is the hallmark of a good writer. Noticing this absence is part of my learning process and I fill in the spaces when I edit chapters. It’s a work in progress … in many ways.

My advice? Don’t be afraid to under- or over-describe a place, person, or action; you can always go back and add/remove the adjectives or adverbs. Just make sure the finished product is vivid enough for readers to ‘see’ where the story goes.

The devil is in the details but those details make a successful novel!