Writing Well

What does it take to write well? I’m certainly not the person to spout forth on this. Yes, it is my goal to write well, to be a wonderful storyteller, to captivate with words, yet I don’t feel even close to that summit.

But climbing towards this lofty goal, I’ve found some guides who’ve made the way easier. These are writers whose commitment to excellence inspires me to better myself. I study them. I listen to their words, their language, their stories. And, in the midst of such explorations, I question who I am, what is my unique voice, how can I take these lessons and build my own authentic way of writing?

Here are some of the writers who inspire me to writing excellence:

Robert McKee, “Story: Substance, Style and Structure” McKee is the dean of Hollywood screenwriting gurus. His book, “Story,” is the Bible for screen writers. Why do I put this book at the top of my list? Because I believe that writing is storytelling, the essence of communication through the ages. Hollywood has spent a century perfecting the art of storytelling and McKee is the master teacher of storytelling through the medium of screenwriting.

Hemingway’s Top Five Tips on Writing Well.” A short yet complete article from Copy Blogger on the principles that guided Hemingway in his writing process.

William Zinsser, “On Writing Well.” The essence of good writing, simple and complete, always an inspiration and practical reminder of the path I must take to achieve writing excellence.

The Hero’s Two Journeys,” a seminar with Michael Haig and Christopher Voegler, two of Hollywood’s most sought after screenwriting consultants. Their seminar explores the roots of symbolic storytelling and lays out specific structure necessary to develop compelling plots.

Carl Iglesias, “The Six Essential Habits of Highly Successful Screen Writers.” An article in which Iglesias lays out the basics of screen writing, a.k.a. storytelling, success.

Stephen King, “On Writing.” Part memoir, part master class on creative writing, this is King’s story of the perils and principles of great writing and he has the credentials to stand behind his words.

Tio Stib, “A Blind Writer’s Guide to Excellent Audio Books.”
My book reviews of great books I’ve listened to, including a wide variety of genres and a list of Pulitzer Prize winners. My believe is that if I want to be the best I must study the best. That’s it for now. Any suggestions on other places to explore for writing excellence are welcome.

Best wishes for your writing success!

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Start with Why?

Start With Why?

Have you spent much time with three year olds lately? I have, and one of the most interesting and often frustrating behaviors of these little beings is their continued use of the single word question:


“Why do I need to eat my vegetables?”

“Why do I need to use the toilet instead of dumping in my diapers?”

“Why are you so mad about the man talking on the television?:

“Why does it matter if I swallowed a quarter?”

Yes, such questions can be annoying, especially if they seemingly never end, but let’s look past our own small mindedness to a basic truth.

“Why?” is the first question of conscious being, arguably the most important one. Children, when they first become able to verbally communicate with adults, ask “why?” Most of the older folks they ask, soon get tired of the never ending prodding and soon simply answer, “just because”.

Cop out.

When do we turn the brain switches off and stop being conscious? When did this happen to you?  For me, it was when I entered kindergarten and suddenly found my self fearful of social disapproval. Yes, it was fear that shut me down. And now, years later, having traversed many of life’s mountains and fallen face first into my fears, I’m back to asking “why?” again.

Why am I writing this blog? Just what do I expect to get out of this? Sure, it would be nice, perhaps, to have a large following of folks who enjoyed my written ramblings about life, who possibly get a chuckle of my misadventures, who might even find some anecdote that paralleled their own journeys and felt compelled to ask their own questions. Yes, that would be comforting, but I don’t think that’s what matters most to me.  Rather, my heart says this writing, this public outlay of my thoughts and feelings is about claiming my own significance, my reason for being, just for me. This blog is me telling the Universe, “I’m here and I’m playing, doing whatever it takes, to fully realize and be me, all I can be for the betterment of life on planet earth.”

A bit heavy. Perhaps. But it rings true to my soul. Is there some humor in this. Certainly. My delusions of making a difference with my life are, of course, delusional.. But, then, aren’t all dreams delusional? That’s what makes them dreams. What’s even more crazy is that some people actually make their dreams happen, in spite of the seeming impossibilities.

So, why not me?


Back to my favorite question. Let’s hear it for three year olds.

For an interesting perspective on “Why?” check out Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why, on Amazon. For those who have an appetite for intellectual nourishment, this book is wonderful brain food.


Questions, thoughts, or if you’d simply like to connect, send me an email, tiostib@gmail.com

Yours to count on,

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Remedies For Reluctant Romantics

Winning at the Game of Love!
Romance For Dummies…

Tio Stib

Adapt, Migrate, or Don’t Be Happy

A wise friend of mine often reminds me of what his grandaddy said when facing tough circumstances.

“Boy, in life you’ve only got three choices in any dire situation. It’s the basic law of Nature. When facing any threat of impending doom, you can either adapt, migrate, or go extinct. Period.”

Seems like a rather simplistic pronouncement, but as I’ve studied how these words measured up against my own unending perils, I think old granddad summed it up quite well, although I’d modify his thought thus:

“In any perilous situation, man has three choices: adapt, migrate, or don’t be happy.”

How might this apply to man’s’ daily encounters with the arguably most dangerous of species, women? Consider the following example:

He is sitting in front of the television, beer and chips in hand, watching the championship football game. He’s been looking forward to this all week. She marches in, stands defiantly in front of the television and blurts, “The sun’s shining and you’ve promised to cut the grass for weeks. It’s time!”

Adapt, migrate, or don’t be happy.

Consider the options:

Adapt: You could negotiate, promise to cut the grass immediately after the game, never mind that it’s already 4 p.m., and darkness will engulf the yard at 6, not to mention this is a double header day. Or, you could offer to do the yard tomorrow, hoping she doesn’t remember that you’ve already promised to take the family to the Wonderland Theme Park. Yes, you can adapt by trying to negotiate. In this case you’re options are limited as this is the tactic you used the past two weeks in avoiding the task. Next-

Migrate. You could arrange for your buddy Harry to call and then tell your wife he urgently needs your help in fixing his broken hot water heater, you’ll be back as soon as possible. Of course, Harry’s hot water heater is fine, but now you and he can watch the games in the safety of his garage undisturbed by domestic trivia. The downside of this is that Your wife and his wife are also friends and it’s more than likely that they will talk and your wife will soon discover that she’s been scammed, reducing your options to the final

Or don’t be happy. Yes, it may come to this. After reviewing all your other options and their consequences, you may just have to get out and mow the yard or face the continued wrath of your wife. But, wait, perhaps there are other  possibilities. Let’s go back to adapt.

Man’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances has been the single most important means of his survival on planet Earth. What are other ways he can adapt to this crisis? He could call Billy, the teenage kid next door, and offer him $20 to cut the yard, plus a free beer on the side. For an extra $10 he could probably get Billy to wash the wife’s car too. Now, we’re talking bonus points in the Love Game, getting out of the hole and back on top of her graces, (see previous post on The Love Game). Yes, it’s always wise to consider all options for adapting to crisis situations.

Looking for more ideas for how to survive and win the Love Game? Check out my new book, Remedies for Reluctant Romantics, 100 Ways To Sweep Love Its Feet. It’s available on Amazon.


I’m in your corner.

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Tio Stib

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Look Mom, No Eyes!

It’s time to give thanks for the new things blindness lets me do. Here’s my gratitude list-

Now I don’t have to think twice about entering pie eating contests, closing my eyes and plunging my face into a mound of banana cream is a total delight.

On another food related note, I no longer worry about crying when I cut onions as keeping my eyes closed during this process is a piece of pie.

When riding with Mohammed, my favorite taxi driver, I no longer fear for my life as I slide across the Taxi’s back seat while he speeds around a corner, responding to my pleas for more caution with his favorite saying, “Not to worry, sahib. We are in the hands of Allah.”

People don’t snicker as much when I drool. This may or may not be true as my hearing is also failing.

I now can really say it was an accident when I walk into the women’s restroom.

I don’t feel at all badly when I purposefully trip over someone’s obnoxious little yipping dog.

I am no longer bored sitting all day in a small boat waiting for a fish to latch onto whatever I’m dragging behind as blindness has made me a master waiter.

The thought of speaking in front of a large live audience is no longer paralyzing. O.K., it’s not like anybody is asking me to do that, but I’ll be fearless when it happens.

I no longer pretend that people’s baby pictures are cute. Wrinkled hairless babies are ugly.

I am no longer concerned with seeing God in my life. It would be nice to have a
short conversation though.

Nobuddy bugz me abut spellin enymore. Thank Got!

I have no excuses for not living William Perky’s famous quote-
“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”

Yes, I’ve lots to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, especially the immense love my wife, family, and friends have given me during these difficult times of adjusting to a new blind reality.

My life has many blessings and I wish the same for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!
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Remedies For Reluctant Romantics

Winning at the Game of Love!
Romance For Dummies…

Gee, I Haven’t Been Suicidal for Months

It’s another in a long string of beautiful days. What’s more remarkable than the weather is my attitude Like the skies above me, I feel cloudless and sunny, much different than my state of mind ten months ago. That’s when I lost my sight.

I woke up one morning, a day like any other, and we went walking. As we went down the street, I noticed the world seemed to be blurry. I dismissed this as a temporary aberration, but when I backed the car into a wall because I didn’t see it, I knew there was a problem. My right eye was experiencing what had happened to my left eye some years before. I was losing my remaining vision, and there was nothing I could do about it. Doctors confirmed my diagnosis. I was going blind.

At first, I was in disbelief. This wasn’t really happening. I would go to bed at night, welcoming the darkness as it minimized the impact of my diminished sight. I would open my eyes each morning, expecting that my vision would be restored. When it became obvious this would never happened, I began sliding into depression.

I was suddenly aware that most of my daily activities were sight dependent and now, without sight, my ability to engage in these activities by myself disappeared. What had been a full and vibrant life was now a dark hole into which I fell deeper and deeper each day. I was in shock, which slowly deepened into depression. When I convinced my doubtful mind to get up in the morning or, more often later in the day, I would stumble around the bathroom,, fumbling for the shower, staring into a mirror I couldn’t see, and  groping around for clothes to wear. Eventually, I found my way to the studio and shut myself away from the world. With the lights off, I listened to music while my thoughts ran wild in the darkness.

At first, I thought about all the things I couldn’t do anymore, then all the dreams I’d had which now seemed impossible. I wasn’t angry at God or some unseen force for the dramatic change in my circumstances. It was more a matter of fact dialogue with myself, considering my new reality and culminating in one thought.

What the fuck?”

I couldn’t come up with a happy answer. Compared to the bliss of my previous years experiences, when my wife and I filled our life together with travels and delightful adventures, the possibilities now seemed non-existent. I became increasingly isolated, a condition accentuated by the fact I was then living in a foreign country where no one around me spoke English. I sank farther and farther into the quicksand of despair, and began thinking about suicide.

Believing my life would never be wonderful again, killing myself became the only thing I could think about. Fortunately, being blind limits one’s options for suicide as did my local circumstances.

I thought about jumping off a bridge. Two problems, there wasn’t a bridge high enough nearby to do more than break my leg and, even if a suitable structure existed, how did I get there? Walking wasn’t an option, as I could barely get around the house without hurting myself. Which brings up another point. I’m a pain wimp. The thought of doing something to myself that was going to hurt wasn’t happening. Then there was the mess factor. It didn’t seem right to end my existence in such a way as to leave a mess for others to clean up. This eliminated ideas such as blowing my head off or standing in front of a train.

What’s left? How about poison? Blindness kept me from surfing the internet for the poison de jour, Since I couldn’t read labels, fumbling down to the local store and picking up a bottle of something poisonous didn’t seem too logical either. Sure I could ask for help, but that didn’t feel right.

“Excuse me. sir, I’d like to kill myself and wonder if you have something poisonous off the shelf that would do the job.”

Sure, I could’ve done that, except I’d have to translate my request into Spanish. With my luck, I’d probably say something like:

“Pardon me, I’m having a problem with tapeworms, Do you have something that would kill them?”

Which would be interpreted as:

”Your dog has worms. Sorry, you need to see a veterinarian.”

No, killing myself was not going to be easy. Perhaps narcotics? No problem, I’d just make an appointment with a doctor and ask for sleeping pills. Sounds simple. But again, being in a foreign country derailed this plan. I didn’t know any doctors and it’s not like I could ask my wife to take me to the doctor so I could kill myself.  This is where my thoughts of suicide always ended up. My wife, whose love for me has been endless and unconditional. Her heart is the purest I’ve ever known. The thought of hurting her was more painful than the blind emptiness that I was struggling with.

Slowly, I began to drag my mind from darkness and open to new possibilities. I rediscovered ice cream and found simple pleasure in our daily walk to the small store where we humored our frozen fantasies. I began to pay attention to my other senses, noticing increased awareness of scents and hearing a new variety of sounds in my surroundings. I realized that since I could no longer read my To Do Lists, I now had nothing “To Do.”

Eventually, we returned to the States and I began receiving help with my disability, slowly discovering I could be functional again. No, I can’t pretend my life is wonderful again but, I now have hope I can make my new life meaningful in new ways. My loving wife, family and friends, are sources of constant encouragement. Once again, each new day is a blessing. And it’s been a long time since I’ve thought about suicide.

I end this post with a plea to anyone who may find themselves in the grips of depression, please reach out for help.Sadly, I’ve had friends who didn’t do this and ended their lives. While I respect personal choices, I know from experience, that depression narrows our ability to see our personal realities clearly. Again, please ask for help. Call friends, family, hotlines or write me at tiostib@gmail.com. There is someone out there who cares and will listen to your story.

I believe every life is precious, especially yours.


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Remedies For Reluctant Romantics

Winning at the Game of Love!
Romance For Dummies…

Paddling a Submarine vs. Living An Authentic Life

Paddling a Submarine vs. Living an Authentic Life 

Last night I dreamed I was paddling a canoe up a lake in the middle of the night. It was calm, I felt peaceful, yet there was one concern. The canoe was underwater. I was trying to paddle a submarine.

I’ve spent years listening to my dreams, paying attention to patterns, weighing the femotions of dreams vs. my life at the moment. I believe deeper forces speak to me in that unconscious world, forces that can guide me to deeper truths. And so, I am wondering about last night’s dream, trying to paddle a submarine.

Now I know there are many ways to interpret dreams, but ultimately, I tend to accept that my dreams are about me. Over the years, I’ve noticed that when I’m honest about how I feel in my dreams, they have given me clues to parts of me I needed to pay attention to.

Trying to paddle a submarine. I feel this dream was about my need to live an authentic life. Paddling the canoe was me moving forward in life. My goal was to get to the end of the lake, to a state of inner peace, but I was struggling because I was keeping my emotions below the surface. If I would allow my feelings to express themselves above the water, I would have less resistance to life and my journey would be immensely easier.

I need to live an authentic life.

I need to be genuine, original, true and trustworthy, and not be in fear of what the world may think of me for my many moments of fear and smallness.

Brene’ Brown recently gave a TED talk, “Listening to Shame,” in which she explores the challenges of authenticity. Brown believes authenticity is a process, a series of choices we make in our lives, choices made each day, in each moment, to be real…or not. (See  http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/15/opinion/brown-authentic-self/index.html?hpt=op_bn2).

Authenticity means to be honest, to be vulnerable, to take risks. Authenticity is built one day, one choice, at a time. It is a process of continually stepping out of my comfort zone and engaging the world from a place of worthiness vs. shame.

Authenticity is a daily journey into the wilderness of being fully alive.

What’s the greater risk I ask myself? Living life based on what other people think, or being vibrantly alive based on how I feel, what I believe, and who I am?

This blog, Travels with Tio, is my journey, my choice, to be all of me alive. It is one way I will raise myself from paddling a submarine, to paddling a canoe, to perhaps even flying.

What does authenticity mean to you? How does it affect your life?

Please share your feelings on being the authentic “you”.

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Remedies For Reluctant Romantics

Winning at the Game of Love!
Romance For Dummies…