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6 Life Lessons From My Father – Happy Birthday

IMG_2250Throughout life you are bombarded with life lessons, most of them are garbage (to be kind). Ones you can always count on are those your family gives you. Yeah they require a bit of self interpreting sometimes, but they are always rooted in the best of intentions. Some of the most valuable lessons that have shaped me as a man are those from my father. In lue of his birthday, I thought I would share some:

1 – Be a Man.

Yeah it’s cliche, but not in the way you would think. I come from a long line of manly men. My grandfather would saw casts off in his bathtub to play hockey, run out and race cars, build everything with his bare hands. Even when it came to the “not so manly things,” they would be as manly as it gets. My grandfather cried a few times. Once when we bought him a giant BBQ, and always during the national anthem. That is being a true man, and my father passed this down to me first hand. He taught me to hunt, to never run away from my problems and face them head on, to always keep my word, to be loyal to family and friends. My father showed me that no matter how many physical things you do, being a man boils down to how you deal with everyday occurrences in life. Doing this with courage, honour, and discipline makes the man.

2 – No One Ever Broke From the Crowd Working For Someone Else.

No one ever became a millionaire by working for someone else. This is what my dad taught me. If you want to succeed and I mean really succeed, you must create something that is your own. It’s a huge risk, but if you work hard, have people you trust behind you, and are bred with a hint of intelligence and creativity you can succeed on your own. Even if you make a mediocre salary, working for yourself is always more rewarding than being a drone in someones army who has already mastered this skill.

3 – Love What You Do.

Again a total cliche but this is a fact few people realize. We have far too many doctors hating their career, which makes for far too many terrible doctors. The only way you can find a fulfilling life is if you love what you do. If you don’t how will you ever live with yourself when you’ve been in the same hole for 40 years? Even if you have a career you don’t love, do something you love as a hobby. A life without passions is not a life I wish on anyone.

4 – Blood Trumps All.

You would think this is the italian in me talking and partially it is. Yet one thing i have learned from my father is blood trumps all. No matter how many bridges you burn, if you love your family they will always have your back. My family is incredibly close and i think keeping them close was and still is a driver of my success. When I achieve, I do not do so for myself but to make my family proud. My dad showed me that your family is an extension of yourself, and without them you are not a whole.

5 – Get Outside.

Hunt, fish, hike, swim, camp. Get outside. I mean really get outside. Once in every persons life they should venture into the woods where you cannot hear a car, see a house, find a friend. Go out by yourself and get in touch with nature. My dad introduced me to this part of my hobby and it is one of the most rewarding I have. Being outside is like meditating. You hear nothing but yourself and you realize how loud the secluded world can become.

On top of this, everyone who chooses to eat meat should hunt once. It sounds barbaric to some but it really makes you realize the hidden world where your burger comes from. When you have to practice your skills in order take the life of an innocent animal, then skin it, prepare its meat, and eat it, you really gain a sense of oneness with the natural world. You also learn to appreciate that burger infinitely more.

6 – There Will Always Be More, But Seek It Till You Die.

You will never be the best there is, but never stop trying. The world is bigger than any man can handle, but never stop exploring. There is more to learn than our inefficient minds can compile, yet never stop compiling. These are some mantras my dad has taught me. I don’t deny the possibility of being the richest, or the smartest, or the best. Yet the probability is slim. The only way a great man is made, is when he accepts he will never achieve greatness, yet indefinitely pursues it.

Happy Birthday Dad,

Isaac Olajos

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5 Ways to Create a Better Character – The Non Obvious Way

IMG_2772One of the most difficult things in writing is building a character. Especially one that is able to encourage readers to experience every emotion you intended to evoke. Everyone will tell you the basics: Give them a personality, obsessions, vices, ideals, passions. Yet no one will really explain how to bring these traits seamlessly to life.

Here are 5 suggestions on how to unify all of the elements you put into a character seamlessly:

1-Base them upon someone you know… Lavishly:

The first step for those who cannot tie a character together is to create their essence. Base the character upon someone you know, or a combination of people… with some artistic liberty. Although this may seem easy, we have to remember that we are telling a story. Unless you are friends with the Dos Equis man, it is safe to say your companions are probably quite normal. A great character cannot be normal. Their flaws must be hidden, their obsessions must be exaggerated.

2-Create your ideal self:

   If you lack the observational skills, or social interactions to effectively base a character on people that you know; your best bet is to make the protagonist  yourself. Let me rephrase that: Make the protagonist your ideal self. Make sure your character does not react in the way that you normally would, but in the way that you wish you could. Embellish your morals, fears, and passions. Make them a constant fuel for your character and it will come to life.

3-Normal, yet divine:

You must maintain your characters equilibrium between reality and tale. It is important to spark the readers intrigue in the character, giving them aspects a normal human would not have. In this, it is also important to emphasize just how human the character is. Without this, the reader will not be able to connect on a personal level to your creation. Your character must be a celebrity: Human enough to connect with, yet far enough from reach to spark intrigue.

4-Contradict personality with actions:

This has to be my favourite tool. Though your characters personality must be vital, making the story and their actions contradict their traits leaves a spot of mystery for the reader to wonder. The best example of this is from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971). When Willy first appears from the factory limping with a cane, everyone goes silent. They are taken aback by the normality of this fabled man. His cane then gets stuck and he proceeds to fall, roll, then spring youthfully onto his feet to the applause of the crowd. Gene Wilder (Willy Wonka) refused to do the movie unless this scene was added. His reasoning? “Because from that point on, no one will know if I am lying or telling the truth.” This use of the characters actions is vital to keep the reader guessing, but remember not to overdue it, which will disconnect your reader.

5-Finally, allow the character to grow. For better or worse:

I know most people who write have an immoveable ideal of their character rooted in their imagination. It is important that we take this ideal and crush it. We do not go day to day thinking the same or acting the same, neither should your character. It is important for the events of the book to change the characters personality in little, yet significant ways. This could effect the readers view of them, how they deal with the climax of the plot, or even how they react towards other characters in the book. I know this is a somewhat obvious tip, but I see far too many people who ignore it because they have already created their never changing protagonist in their mind, and are stone set on their creation.

Happy arting,

Isaac Olajos

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A Note About My Writing – Isaac Olajos

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There are many types of writers out there, yet I still I find they can be lumped into two categories: Those who swear by theory and structure, and those who simply write. I have no problems with either, and both can be phenomenal or terrible depending on skill. I for one am one who just writes. I will not go out of my way to insert specific rhetorical devices, abide by certain structures or formats, and sometimes even grammar check (I like commas too much).

If someone reads my work and says, “hey, your structure is terrible”, all I can say is “how do you know, it’s ‘my’ structure.” On that note, any ways to improve my writing are welcomed as long as you take from it what I want you to take: the thoughts words inspire.

My goals for this blog are to provide a place for myself, and others to share their writing. As well as have a place and read what others create. Also, as I cannot stress enough, take something positive from the words on here.

I have always been an avid reader and writer. My first clue was when everyone my age was learning to read Dr. Suess’ “Hop on Pop” (which is a great children’s read) I was beginning the “Inkspell” series. I went on to write haikus about the beauty of nature and all of its adversaries in grade four while everyone else was writing about how batman smells.

On that note, you will find songs, formal essays (usually for school), narrative, short stories, poems, and eventually a book by myself. They are all original works, and the pictures attached to any of my publications are ones I have taken myself. Feel free to comment on anything, as well as paraphrase my work, because I would love to see the meaning people take from it.

Overall, I am not particularity crisp, but I have my moments. Enjoy what you read, and if you enjoy it enough, leave a mark! As I always say, if I can inspire just one person to create something of value to them, I have done what should be done.

Happy reading, happy writing.

Isaac Olajos

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