Purpose & Meaning

The stories I share in the three Meditations books are my mythology, and I am doing the best I can to ensure that they are worthy of inspiring others. If the things I write and speak about have touched or inspired you in some way, I hope you’ll help us put these books out in hardcover by joining our Kickstarter. We have six days left to make something extraordinary happen, and we need a lot of support to do it. Help push the cart here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1401678214/the-meditations-trilogy

The Meditations – Free Today Only!

I’m running a Kickstarter to publish hardcovers of the three books in my Meditations series: DRAWING OUT THE DRAGONS, THE BARBIZON DIARIES, and THE GRAND DESIGN. But I’m not asking anyone to take a chance by backing books they haven’t read. So today and today ONLY you can download the ebook versions of all three of Meditations books for FREE.

Follow these links:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00O3VTCII/
https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00O3VT5M6/
https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00O4CQWNE/

You don’t even need a Kindle to read them – just click on the “Read on any device” link beneath the cover thumbnail of any one of the books. That will allow you to download the Kindle reader application.

If you haven’t read them, now’s your chance. If you HAVE and any part of them resonate with you, please join us and back the project, then share these links with everyone you feel could benefit from reading them as well.

Some choices can make miracles and magic happen. Some choices can change your day. And some might even change your life.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1401678214/the-meditations-trilogy

All Awesome Things Are Possible

Nine days. We have nine days to make something extraordinary happen. It’s a big challenge, but it is ABSOLUTELY DOABLE. It can be done, but I need your help to build the momentum. If you know someone who would love these books, call them. Don’t wait. If you’d been waiting to make a pledge or to level up to one of the more exclusive rewards, now’s the time.

Many people have expressed a desire to have these books in hardcover, especially DRAWING OUT THE DRAGONS, and THIS is the opportunity. To those who are already backing it, thank you! To those still thinking on it, please don’t hesitate – throw your support into the project now, and share it with anyone else who could benefit from hearing the messages in these books. We have TEN DAYS to change the future. Please help me make it happen.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1401678214/the-meditations-trilogy

For fans of James A. Owen’s creative works

StarChild was my first great work in comics; the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica was my first great series in fantasy fiction. But the book called Drawing out the Dragons has been, I feel, the most meaningful thing I’ve ever written. It’s the first in a series of three books that I hope will help change your life, and how you choose to live it.

In its pages, I talk about all the choices I made as I learned what I needed to learn to write and illustrate the comics and stories that built my career; but I also talk about the things that I believe are most important in this life; about things I believe are true, and meaningful, and most worth sharing.

I tell stories drawn from my own life: examples about overcoming obstacles and adversity; stories about how making choices in your life is like drawing a Dragon; vignettes about how I came to do what it is that I love most in the world for my job. But most importantly, I tell each and every reader that they can make the same kinds of choices that I did – and that I believe in them.

Sometimes, being told that is the thing that we need most in our lives. And I think it’s the most important thing that I can say to anyone: I believe in you.

Since the Kickstarter campaign to publish the first version of Drawing out the Dragons took place, I’ve added to the stories and expanded on the original – and what was one book soon grew to become three: the definitive Author’s Edition of DRAWING OUT THE DRAGONS; the followup book THE BARBIZON DIARIES, and the great conclusion, THE GRAND DESIGN.

These books contain the most significant stories I have ever shared. Many thousands of people have seen my presentation Drawing out the Dragons, or have read the ebook, or one of the published versions of the print book; and a great many more have responded to quotes and essays I’ve posted online. The best of all of the speaking and writing I have done is found in these three books: The Meditations Trilogy. They have been available as ebooks, but now I want to publish them as hardcovers, and I’m asking for my readers to help me do it. Click on the link and read more about the Kickstarter project, and then help us make some awesome books.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1401678214/the-meditations-trilogy

As always, thank you – I am very, very grateful for your support.

James A. Owen and Team Dragon

Working Smarter Instead of Harder Equals Working Happier

“Parkinson’s Law – work expands to fill the time available for its completion – means that if you give yourself a week to complete a two hour task, then (psychologically speaking) the task will increase in complexity and become more daunting so as to fill that week. It may not even fill the extra time with more work, but just stress and tension about having to get it done. By assigning the right amount of time to a task, we gain back more time and the task will reduce in complexity to its natural state.

“I once read a response to Parkinson’s Law insinuating that if it were an accurate observation, one would be able to assign a time limit of one minute to a task and the task would become simple enough to complete within that minute. But Parkinson’s Law is exactly that – an observation, not some voodoo magic. It works because people give tasks longer than they really need, sometimes because they want some ‘leg room’ or buffer, but usually because they have an inflated idea of how long the task takes to complete. People don’t become fully aware of how quickly some tasks can be completed until they test this principle.

“Most employees who defy the unwritten rule of “work harder, not smarter” know that, despite the greater return on investment for the company, it’s not always appreciated. That’s related to the idea that the longer something takes to complete, the better quality it must inherently be.” – Joel Falconer

With regards to creative endeavors, especially writing and drawing, I think there’s a huge amount of value to be found in the observations above. There are a few maxims about creativity which I absolutely believe to be true: one is that good artists are versatile, and so are good writers. The specific content of the work – genre, subject matter, etc. – matters far less than the will to bring it into being, because what is important is understanding that the ability is ALREADY THERE. You simply have to use it, and it shouldn’t cause anxiety and stress to use something you already have.

So much time is lost not because of an inability to do the work, but because self-doubt allows you to hesitate, to justify slowness or delays or interruptions until circumstances are ready, or you find that right reference, or you’re in a better mood, or FedEx arrives with the art supply order with that one brush that you like.

People ask me how long it takes to do the illustrations in my Imaginarium Geographica novels, and I usually tell them each picture took one to three days to draw. Some took far longer – but more than HALF of the drawings in THE FIRST DRAGON, fifteen of them to be exact, took just EIGHT DAYS. Because a deadline I hadn’t realized was there suddenly showed up, and there was no time for delay, or any excuses, or anything except productivity, at the peak of my abilities. I had to be in Flow, or in what the Chinese call “Wu-wei” which literally translates as “no trying” or “no doing,” which is actually about doing optimally, unconsciously, efficiently, brilliantly, and to all outward appearances, effortlessly.

The result was that fifteen of the twenty-four illustrations in that book took less time to complete than three or four of the drawings that had far more time for me to work with, but with NO noticeable differences. With perhaps one or two exceptions, I myself couldn’t tell you which all of them were, and if I can’t tell, then there’s a huge truth contained in those illustrations: the ability was already there. I simply had to choose to use it.

I think Parkinson’s Law is correct, but if so, it’s because it is also largely a choice, made to work because we allow it to. And if that’s true, then I think it’s just as possible for the inverse to be true: that given the ability and the will, a way can be found to do quality work in far less time than you thought you needed, and with calm,unhurried contentment instead of anxiety and worry. Working smarter, not harder. Working with confidence, not fear. And simply DOING IT, because you believe and know you can, instead of spending all of your time trying to convince yourself and others that a visible struggle equals a visible effort equals a greater quality equals a greater value.

The value is in simply doing the work you have the desire to do as efficiently as you are able; the Flow, the Wu-wei, comes from knowing you have the ability to do it; and the happiness comes from being engaged in a process that is about doing what you love instead of being anxious about it.

This doesn’t mean that you can paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling in a week, or write Anna Karenina in a day – the lines are the lines and the words are the words and the work still has to be done (I wanted to do those fifteen drawings in SEVEN days, but it just wasn’t going to happen.) And not everyone’s skills are going to be up to their ambitions – yet. But you DO know the things you are already good at, and those are the things that you shouldn’t doubt or hesitate over. Some things are hard, and may take time to figure out. But some things aren’t. You get to decide. So set a goal, make your choice, and show the world something AMAZING. I believe in you. And I believe in me, too – so I’m going to get out of my own way and go get some awesome things done. I hope you all have a great weekend.

– James

Coloring Books For EVERYONE!

For those of you who may have missed out on the Kickstarter for the coloring book ALL THE COLORS OF MAGIC, you can now order them (and some other cool goodies) via our BackerKit page, which we’ll be using for fulfillment. The stretch goal Dragons inserts and digital downloads were exclusive to the Kickstarter backers, but you’ll still receive the main 22 illustrations in your coloring book. These are basically preorders, as we’ll be shipping copies to the Kickstarter backers first, but it’ll be the best way to make sure you can still get your hands on copies of your own!

Just go to the link to order your books: https://all-the-colors-of-magic-a-coloring-book-for-all-ag.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders/

The ALL THE COLORS OF MAGIC Announcement – Now With A Better Link!

I have something awesome that I wanted to share with all of you. My newest project: ALL THE COLORS OF MAGIC – A Coloring Book For All Ages.

I have filled this book with some of my readers’ favorite pictures from my series The Chronicles of The Imaginarium Geographica, including all seven covers, a selection of chapter illustrations from the novels, and featuring: Dragons, Badgers, a slightly-depressed six-armed Minotaur, Battle Goats, a Goblin Market, A Mechanical Owl, a Sphinx, more Dragons, and other Magical Creatures, all presented in beautiful removable pages that can be framed as they are, or colored and mounted in a place of honor on your refrigerator.

To paraphrase Maya Angelou, you may not always remember what a good magician said and did, but you’ll always remember what a great magician made you feel. I hope you’ll come help me bring some good magic into the world, and support and share this project with those who you think might love art, Dragons, coloring books, or who simply need to feel that magic is real, and can still be found. Just click the link below to have a look, and thank you again for all of your support!

Go here to view the Kickstarter for ALL THE COLORS OF MAGIC!

Your friend in moxie,

James

The Cover!

Announcing A New Project: ALL THE COLORS OF MAGIC!

I have something awesome that I wanted to share with all of you. My newest project: ALL THE COLORS OF MAGIC – A Coloring Book For All Ages.

I have filled this book with some of my readers’ favorite pictures from my series The Chronicles of The Imaginarium Geographica, including all seven covers, a selection of chapter illustrations from the novels, and featuring: Dragons, Badgers, a slightly-depressed six-armed Minotaur, Battle Goats, a Goblin Market, A Mechanical Owl, a Sphinx, more Dragons, and other Magical Creatures, all presented in beautiful removable pages that can be framed as they are, or colored and mounted in a place of honor on your refrigerator.

To paraphrase Maya Angelou, you may not always remember what a good magician said and did, but you’ll always remember what a great magician made you feel. I hope you’ll come help me bring some good magic into the world, and support and share this project with those who you think might love art, Dragons, coloring books, or who simply need to feel that magic is real, and can still be found. Just click the link below to have a look, and thank you again for all of your support!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1401678214/all-the-colors-of-magic-a-coloring-book-for-all-ag

Your friend in moxie,

James

I’ve Got You – And You’ve Got Me

Life is a constant process of moving forward into the future, one precious moment at a time; a process of growth, and learning, and change. And one of the most rewarding aspects of that process is being able to refine some of the lessons I’ve learned into clearer and clearer messages that become easier to share, and more fulfilling to try to live by.

The way I least expected to get more clarity about one of the most significant messages I believe in is through a sports metaphor. (Although, to be fair, it’s really more of a general health and wellness/exercise metaphor, but still.)

In weight training, spotting is the act of supporting another person during a specific exercise, in order to help them to lift or push whatever weight they are working with, and to complete whatever set or routine they are trying to complete, more safely than they would be able to do alone.

Proper spotting involves knowing when to simply watch, and when to step in and physically assist with a lift. This can be as little as simply placing their fingers underneath the bar – just being present, in the necessary moment – or as much as actually helping the person lift the weight back onto the rack, and all the while encouraging the person to push themselves harder, to the limits of their abilities.

The amount of the weight itself is not as important as developing the correct technique to lift it – and if the person lifting can’t do most of the work themselves, then they don’t need more help from the spotter; they need to step back to a lower weight and focus on technique. When the technique is better, they’ll be able to handle more weight — and make the spotter less necessary.

The point of it all is that the person lifting the weight is trying to become stronger on their own. The spotter isn’t there to compensate for poor technique, or to give the illusion of progress by carrying more of the weight than they should; they are simply there to watch, and to be there to help in case they are needed. No more, no less.

People on a path of growth and authenticity do not want to be saved – they only want to be spotted.

They don’t need to be rescued from a course that is making them stronger – they just need to learn how much weight they can safely handle, and how to develop the proper form and technique that will allow them to handle more. That’s how we learn. That’s how we grow.

Too much weight, and the learning and progress suffers; similarly, if they expect a spotter to carry more of the weight than they themselves can safely lift, then there will only be the illusion of progress. That isn’t good for the lifter or the spotter.

But when someone is doing their absolute best, and working their hardest to properly lift that weight, then having someone there watching them, encouraging them, and ready to step in to help if it’s needed gives them the will to press on, literally. Most times, that encouragement is all that’s needed, at any age.

If you ever taught a kid to ride a bike, and they were balancing on their own because your fingers were resting lightly on their back, you were spotting them. If you ever shaved your head or dyed your hair or hosted fundraisers to support someone fighting with cancer, you were spotting them. If you ever squeezed someone’s hand and whispered “I believe in you” as they were about to go to a job interview or deliver a lecture or perform in a play, you were spotting them. The level of help they needed isn’t as important as the fact that you were watching and willing to help – and made sure they knew it.

One of my favorite sayings is “I believe in you – and I will not let you fall” which in the context of my books and presentations makes sense in terms of the support I’ve been given, and the support I offer to others, but until now, I’ve never had a metaphor that could adequately get across what I really meant. Asking to be spotted doesn’t mean you want someone to do the work for you, and offering to spot someone else doesn’t mean that they aren’t capable of lifting the weight that will help them to learn and grow. It means that every so often, we all need each other; every so often, we need a touch, a kind word, and sometimes, more. And it means that we can be stronger, braver, bolder in our choices, because we know that someone who cares is watching.

We don’t need to be saved – we just need to be spotted. I believe in you. I will not let you fall. And I will never fail you in that way, ever again.

– James A. Owen