Sunday, October 28, 2012

Profile: Joe Serio

Get The Nerve To Succeed.  That's the mantra of leadership guru Joe Serio, founder of Joe Serio Enterprises.  Apparently, Joe has plenty of nerve because his success speaks for itself.  He's a Ph.D., an accomplished author, a talented musician, and an inspiring motivational speaker. 

Fear keeps many of us from realizing our full potential, but Joe has learned to conquer his and translate that victory into a string of impressive accomplishments.  Now he's focused on helping others to "get the nerve."

Joe's website,, is a terrific place to learn about his achievements and his approach to conquering fear in more detail.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Profile: Catherine Pedersen

Catherine Pedersen is another young, multi-talented creative force destined to leave an indelible mark upon the artistic landscape.  A phenomenally adept writer and editor, she appears to have equally compelling talent as a photographer.  Much like Jennifer O'Connor, she also has demonstrated unique ability to fuse those endeavors together.  Some of her past work has been catalogued on her website and I encourage you to explore her work more fully.

Admittedly, my exposure to Catherine's talents has been limited, but has managed profound effect nonetheless.  Our experiences overlapped a few years ago quite by chance in an online writing forum focused on critique.  Without fail, she was always able to spot "trouble spots," but more importantly, was able to suggest specific "fixes" that were truly extraordinary.  Her ability to edit/revise (and vastly improve) particulars without altering original intent or passion was consistently exceptional.  A rare gift indeed, I'd liken her ability to a premier gifted athlete with corresponding natural and inate aptitude.  In fact, if you revisit Better Self, you'll notice she shares writing credit on that selection.  Her editing suggestions were instrumental to correcting the flow of the tail end, where the meter had severely gone astray.

Though she is currently preoccupied with pursuing goals in other areas, I am thrilled to be able to rely on her as a vital resource and hope she'll eventually be inspired to share some of her own work here as well.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Analysis: Translating the Passion

I don’t consider myself a writer.  I’m just a guy that likes to write. Specifically, I like to write poetry.  Or more aptly, song lyrics.  I’m most influenced by other songwriters, who I consider to be today’s real poets.  Among those influences are people like The Beatles, Ronnie James Dio of Rainbow, Adam Duritz of Counting Crows, Dave Matthews, Rik Emmett of Triumph, and Chris Cornell.
A well-written lyric can be extremely powerful.  Cleverly compact and expertly crafted, a lyric properly done is the distillation of something infinitely more complex to a keen glimpse of insight. The satisfaction derived from occasionally being fortunate enough to be the distiller is something hard to describe, but if you’re really lucky, the final product makes a tangible impact on someone else too.
So why write?  What makes you want to write?  My answer has always been ‘Because I like it.’  When I was younger, I always found my inspiration in angst, heartache, or just about anything that made me feel bad.  As I’ve gotten older and found happiness, my inspiration comes from spiritual issues or love.  For me, writing has always been cathartic.
How do you get ideas?  In my experience, ideas come in the middle of the night as I’m trying to fall asleep.  Long, quiet car trips produce the same effect, causing my mind to flood with stuff. Phrases I see or hear are especially key for me.  Just a few words combined a certain way can set off an uncontrollable avalanche in my head, which can cause a problem if you’re not prepared.  I have scrawled entire inspirations on minute scraps of paper, matchbooks, napkins, you name it, in attempts to capture and remember my thoughts.  I used to carry a pen with me at all times in case an idea struck unexpectedly but today’s Smartphone technology has solved that dilemma for me.  I also have one of those tiny digital recorders.  Anyone ever see the movie Night Shift with Michael Keaton?  The Elusive Idea.  The best ones will sometimes sneak up on you.  Be ready.
Of course, my writing effort is not confined solely to poetry.  While poetry just flows out of me whenever it likes, my other writings require much more deliberate effort.  To that end, I follow a few guidelines: 
  • Write what you know.
  • Write vividly.  That’s the best way to capture the passion.
  • Outlines are critical.
  • Character development is crucial.
  • Imagery / Symbolism gives writing texture.  Sometimes this takes care of itself if you have a rich enough reserve to draw from.  So when you’re required to read Moby Dick, you’re well served to actually read it. Think about the imagery you’re familiar with; when you create an image that is the same across people’s minds…you know you’ve done it right.  But think about when you create images that are different across minds…that can be very special too.  It can be paradoxical. That’s personally appealing to me and an aspect I strive for consistently.  If there is one single reason why I write, this is probably it.
  • Revise.  I constantly revise my traditional writing, but take care not to revise the passion right out.  It’s that concern that often hinders me from revising my poems.  Small changes in poetry can often alter the intent so I usually do very little editing, instead opting to completely start over and create something else entirely.
  • Copyright.  Although you always own the copyright on things you create, I encourage people to obtain legal copyright on anything they think is worthy before floating it out in cyberspace. It’s not costly to accomplish.
As I’ve mentioned previously in my Introduction Interruption post, I don’t usually offer much commentary on my poems unless I’m asked.  I recently came across some previous exchanges I’ve had regarding works I’ve posted and will be adding some of that content in the Comments section of those posts.  I encourage you to go back and review those and engage me with any Comments of your own.  Anything stand out? Anything confuse you?  Can you offer constructive advice on how to fix trouble spots I couldn’t fix myself?  My style is often purposely obscure…imagery is everything to me…and I love learning that I’ve achieved the goal of creating different images across minds or been the lucky distiller of a tangible impact.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday Night Death

Livin’ in a van down by the river
Cocaine in my veins – alcohol in my liver
Caffeine and amphetamines get me by
But you’re laughing so hard it makes you cry

Ain’t got Jack Squat after the show
Just echoes of laughter from the front row
Everyone’s laughing – got to keep up the pace
Can’t look in the mirror ‘cause I’m a disgrace

Funny as hell, but goin’ there fast
Gotta get help or I’m not gonna last
These permanent shakes make me shiver
And I don’t like livin’ in a van down by the river

Live from New York
It’s a Saturday Night Death
Laughin’ one moment
Dead in the next
Live from New York, it’s a Saturday Night Death

I’ll do anything when I’m in the spotlight
‘Cause Live from New York…It’s Saturday Night!
Applause is off the meter when I start my dance
High as a kite – I’m in a trance

Do whatever it takes so my star doesn’t fade
Grim Reaper’s got my number, I’ve got a Spade
Finally buried myself in a hotel in Chicago
Might as well have been in my van down by the river

© 2006 O’Connor Bros. All rights reserved.
© 2012 Michael O'Connor. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Guest Post: Glenn Ghiazza - untitled poem #1

six 'til midnight, burn to sleep
but bells to toll before I rest
this night, a signal note, that harks
of walls to breach and scale the keep

a path, ink dark, fraught with dread
a mist my vision sees so clear
that shape and shadow, indistinct,
can give no clue what lies ahead

the hearth behind, it calls to me
a siren song of memories warmth
to turn back now, solace a gift,
familiar sounds and windless lee

ignoring instincts, still unsure
upon a path unease to tread
with failure lurking every step
the dawn a notion, vague, obscure

and so this journey, ending veiled
regression not an option here
stagnation kills the verdant soul
so weep for those tried and failed

but slowly foot finds traction fast
and shadow offers smirking clues
oppression feeling soon in flight
as options stumble by so vast

the denouement a vagary still
the heart finds promise near at hand
endeavor worth the toil, I think
anticipation soon to thrill

© 2012 Glenn Ghiazza

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Guest Post: Glenn Ghiazza - Making Time vs. Finding Time to Be Creative

This is the first of what I hope will be many guest posts for my good friend Michael O’Connor’s new creative project. 

So, I have these creative impulses that I feel need to be expressed in some way… but, well, you know, I’m so busy, work is crazy, the kids practices and games never seem to stop and then there is all that housework and shopping and errands that need to be run, etc, etc, etc, and well, I’ll find time one of these days to shoot those photos I’ve wanted to take, or flesh out that short story or poem that has been swimming around in my head for weeks now and get it down on paper, or figure out the notes and chords for that music I keep hearing in the back of my brain, or maybe I’ll put some watercolors on canvas and paint that scene I constantly see in my mind.  Sound familiar?

The fact of life is there just aren’t enough hours in the day, are there?  ClichĂ©, sure, but oh, so true.  And that’s a dilemma, at least for those of us with grand ambitions of doing creative things.  Why?  Because the creative act takes time.  Depending on how you choose to express yourself it can be a real grind to translate that vision in your head into something tangible you can share with others.  The idea that a flash of inspiration leads to a feverish burst of activity and voilĂ , creative perfection - well, it just doesn’t work that way most of the time (unless you are the reincarnation of Amadeus Mozart).

So how do you find time to be creative with all the other demands on your time?  The simple answer is - you don’t!  Meaning you don’t FIND the time, you MAKE the time.  Big difference there.    Making the time means making creativity a priority in your life.  It means giving up some other leisurely (and maybe not so productive) pursuits to spend some time really expressing yourself.  If you’ve got any creative impulses at all, this should be a priority.  If you’ve got anything to say or share with the world, eventually you’ll find that not doing so is simply not an option if you want to lead a fulfilling life.  For any creative act is really about sharing a part of yourself and the more you share with others, the more you get back and the richer your life becomes. 

Now, I’m not an expert on this.  In fact this is a concept I have struggled with my whole life.  It’s only lately I’ve come to the realization that if I don’t start making creativity a priority, if I don’t start MAKING time for my creative pursuits, that I will end up with too many things left unsaid and undone and unshared when it’s all over.  Our time here is short, and some of us take a little while longer to realize this than others.  If you’ve already figured that out, well, good for you!  You’re already two steps ahead of the game.  Personally, I feel like I’m two steps behind at this point. 

So, I’ve finally identified what needs to be done, even if it only took me half a century… almost.  I’ve finally come to accept that I am not immortal and if I don’t get off my ass and make the time to start shooting and writing and everything else I want to do, I’ll be on my deathbed some day wishing I had. 

So now what?  How do I actually go about MAKING time to do these things?  I’m still figuring that out but I’ve got some ideas.  My main creative pursuit these days is photography.  As of right now, I haven’t taken a picture in weeks.  Why?  The rational side of my brain says I’ve been too busy.  But that irrational, crazy side of my brain is telling me that’s all bullshit and just an excuse.  Which is right?  I’m thinking I need to start listening to that crazy side of the brain.  Okay, the ‘I’m busy’ excuse is bullshit.  Let’s plan a little.  I shoot a lot of scenic photography.  There is this thing called the ‘Golden Hour’.  It’s right around sunrise or sunset.  The sun is low on the horizon and filtered through the atmosphere more so you get those golden glows and soft, warm light.  I can’t always guarantee I can be available to shoot at sunset time.  But you know what?  I’m not at work when the sun rises.  No excuse not to be out there shooting when the sun comes up, is there?  Except for the fact that I have never been a morning person.  I am the antithesis of a morning person.  I don’t hit my stride until we are in the PM hours and I have at least about 60 - 80 ounces of coffee in me.  So now it comes down to a choice.  Is that extra hour or two of sleep worth more than making some really cool photographs?  In the past it may have been, but I don’t think so any more.  Time to set the alarm and get my ass out of bed. 

That is just one example but it can apply to anything.  Want to write?  Get up early or stay up late.  “There’s plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead”.   Heard that one before?  Maybe it’s true.  Will your ass be dragging for a bit?  Probably.  Will you care when you’ve got a poem or story to publish, something you can share?  Probably not.  I think you’ll be glad you did.

Bottom line - if you are on this website and reading this blog you are creative in some way.  If you aren’t already making the time to be creative then start now - make the time!  No excuses.  Time is short, even if you don’t realize it yet.  As for me, I’ve got to get up early, there are photos to shoot.

EDITOR'S NOTE:  Glenn Ghiazza is the founder and creative spark behind Saxophotography

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Profile: Glenn Ghiazza

Glenn Ghiazza is my longtime friend, and founder of Saxophotography.  From the philosophy tab on his website,
“Photography is a passion.  My passion.  It’s about creativity and inspiration.  It’s about trying to see the world in a different light.  At a different angle.  With a different point of view.  Looking for the small details that make up the big picture.  Capturing a moment in time.  It’s about creating something you can share – like cooking a good meal or writing a beautiful piece of music – and bringing a little bit of joy and wonder to all who share in the experience.”

Glenn’s a unique, multi-talented guy.  I’ve known him for more than 20 years, and still he’s an enigma.  That “different angle” he refers to is an angle all his own that he created.  Like his own words suggest, he’s passionate.  But he’s also passionate about the details, no matter what he’s doing, which I think is what makes him exceptionally interesting. 
As Twilight Blue becomes better established, I’m hopeful we’ll be able to spotlight more of his creative work.  For now, please check out Saxophotography’s website to appreciate his newest creative endeavor, time-lapse photography.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Profile: Jennifer O'Connor

A young talented writer has recently emerged on the public scene. College of Saint Rose freshman, Jennifer O’Connor has been blogging for The Times Union newspaper in Albany, NY for the past year.  The majority of that blogging occurred on the High School blog but she has since moved on to write for the This Is College!? blog.  Her most recent post is Behemoths Will Fall.
Jen has a natural writing style that’s quite easy to read and enjoy. Her sense of humor is evident in most of her posts and it’s clear she doesn’t take herself too seriously. Some of her past posts among our favorites include Flipping the Bird, Chamelio Estivez, and Sanity Extraction. None of these fail to elicit amusement and all demonstrate Jen’s knack for clever, light-hearted writing.  But Jen is equally capable of getting serious as evidenced in her posts about the damage caused by Hurricane Irene or the important contributions of the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. All of Jen’s blogging is expertly complimented by her photography and video skills.   
I’ve had the distinct pleasure and privileged opportunity to have been exposed to her other creative gifts as well. Jen is a fine sculptor and burgeoning musician.  It is my high hope that we’ll eventually be able to provide a forum for her work in those fields.  For now, I believe she is truly a writer and artist worth keeping an eye on. I encourage you to check out her work.

Author Jennifer O'Connor's This Is College!? blog posts
Author Jennifer O'Connor's High School blog posts

Friday, August 31, 2012