Read this or Danyo will steal your thoughts and use them against you.

On Saturday morning, I walked down to 310 Coffee. I purchased an almond milk latte and some zucchini bread. Before I began to write, I took a picture of the latte. The barista did a great job, and I admired the craftsmanship of his latte art.


About fifteen minutes later, I spilled the latte on my journal. Instead of getting angry, I took a picture of the spilled latte. At that moment, the spilled latte gave me peace of mind.

The spilled latte didn’t ruin my day, it didn’t destroy my novel. It was just a small snafu. I got up, went over, and picked up a napkin, wiped up the spilled latte, turned the page, and continued to write.

Life is imperfect, My writing isn’t perfect. Let’s just keep writing and enjoy it. I was having a great deal of anxiety about the writing process I am following for my book.

Help for me seems to come from a book that I am currently reading.  The book Essentialism The disciplined pursuit of less, calmed me down.

The author of the paper used a similar process when he wrote his book, he starts with a few tweets. A blog post, then a book comes out of it. During my reading, I also learned that Pixar has a similar process. For their movies, they never start with a script. They begin with storyboards, then assemble the storyboards, try out combinations with audiences, to see what sticks, and a finished film grows out of it. Cool. Now I feel better about my process.


 “ Geeze Steve, can we get on with the writing”? Danyo said. “ This is your fourth week, you have anxiety, you aren’t comfortable with publishing your writing, no one cares” I smiled to myself. “ Danyo glad you are here with us today.” I had made the decision to write myself into the story after doing a series of interviews with my characters during November. I wanted to have some of my characters act as my partner during the writing process. It became clear to me that two figures stood out to me for this role, and this week I am going to allow Danyo to participate.

 “ I am your favorite, and you know it, “ Danyo smirked as he said this. I gave him a nod in my reply. “ I enjoy writing your character, I am not sure you are my favorite,” I explained to him. I thought to myself, I do have fun writing Danyos parts. Danyo interrupted my thinking-   “ Tell them what inspired you this week” . He was forcing me to reveal how he came up in my musing this past week. “ Ok, I saw that Billie Eilish won a ton of grammy’s, so I started watching her videos, and her song The Bad Guy made me think of you, Danyo. His next words were filled with criminal joy “ Steven, you kept watching the videos over and over and kept thinking, “ this is what I want Danyo to look like.” Danyo smiled at me. It was an adorable smile. Villainous yet cute at the same time. Is something wrong with me? I shouldn’t be drawn to the most sinister character in my story. Danyo was right I hate to admit it, but yes, I watched Bad Guy and her song Bury a friend. As I watched my mind filled with scenes about  Danyo. So yes, this is your week. “So tell us what to expect.” I handed the reigns over to him.

  Thank you, hand me the mike. “First, Steve, no more of this introspective navel-gazing,”! Danyo was getting warmed up. “You write. You post. That is your job. No more battling with anxiety crap. Suck it up.” I enjoyed Danyo and his blistering criticism of my inner musings. I needed a good jolt back to reality He continued ” I have a good mind to go back up to the top of the page and delete all the spilled coffee garbage, yes you aren’t perfect, no one is perfect. WE GET IT! You committed to 30 posts. This is number four. NO MORE.” Do this each week go into google drive, pick an excerpt, put it in Grammarly then post it. The world doesn’t need another person lecturing us on overcoming their anxiety about writing. Seriously there are zero stakes. You hit publish, it posts, a few people read it. The earth keeps spinning on its axis. The Democrats keep trying to find a nominee and Trump keeps tweeting. American Idol still comes on, and for some reason, you will continue to hate-watch The Real Housewives of Whatever City happens to be on. ” What’s wrong Steven? Don’t like me putting your business in the street? Go back to The Art of Possibility and read Rule number 6. LIGHTEN UP! What I enjoyed about Danyo, is that he wasn’t a safe place, speak your truth, and find your comfort zone. He told the truth, and I changed. Maybe that is why I am so fond of him.

 Got it, Danyo, you are correct. No more Naval Gazing. 

Good, Danyo said, “Ok this week I am introducing you to Travis. He is making a mess of his life, and I am the cause of it, and later you will see how I use Travis to trap DJ.  D.J is talking on the phone with Travis. This is the beginning of our soap opera.

” Steven, for some reason, you are calling this A Spiritual Science Fiction Soap Opera Musical.”   You are mixing genres like some people mix liquor, and you know they always tell you not to mix alcohol. “ Danyo, you are correct. Some drinks will make you puke, for example, four horsemen. Which has Tequila, Jagermeister, 151 Rum, and Rumple Mintz. I am not doing that type of mixing. My mixing is pleasant. Think of this as an excellent malibu rum, tropical drink with some splashes of vodka. It will look pretty and taste week. “ Whatever you say, you are the artist,” Danyo said “ Ok here we go, meet Travis. ” Below is where the story begins if you are wondering, I just can’t seem to think of a better transition other than read below.


Travis called me on his birthday to tell me about Kayla. I was finishing my morning routine. I had a meeting that morning with some paper-pushers. They were complaining about expense reports, and people who were violating policy by gambling in other dimensions. The paper pushers they infuriated DJ. They sat in cushy offices criticizing reports, while he was jumping universes and risking life limb while keeping the galaxy from imploding.

Who cares if in that process someone made a few dollars on the side?  Travis was pouring out his soul to DJ, He said that he had feelings for her that he couldn’t explain. When she walked by, he would wave to her, and she would wave back. Soon he would find excuses to go by her classroom and check on her. Travis was an award-winning school Principal. He worked for Aston Preparatory Academy. The families paid 30,000 a year for an education that would gain them an admission ticket into the one percent. The parents included the Desher family, who owned a Priemer Leauge Soccer Team. Two award-winning academy actors.

Scores of athletes, and people who could literally buy you if slavery were legal. Travis wasn’t intimidated by them at all. He knew how to work with wealthy families, he could keep them in their places. Travis did this by being both velvet and steel at all times. He knew when to be a lamb and when to be a snake. That bible verse was his theme. Be shrewd as a snake and as innocent as a dove. I had to admit. I was a bit jealous. 

 Back to Travis.  He told me that Kayla’s eyes captured his mind, and his heart. He couldn’t stop thinking about her when he got home each night. He would lie in bed at night and imagine that he and Kayla were married. They would have a family together.  

I was filling my Keurig with water as I listened to Travis. I wanted it to end. He was nuts. Travis also was a childhood friend, and I had always listened to him and was around to hear about his dysfunction in relationships. I loved him as a brother, but also resented him. He had a six-figure job! He would certainly lose it if he dated a subordinate. Along with that, he would lose his wife. How in the world would he afford two families when he was out of work because he had an affair? People really should think about the consequences of their actions first. It’s pretty simple. Cheat on your wife, your life becomes a mess not peaceful.


Travis went on and on. He told me that he would drive to work, and imagine him and Kayla walking to the Farmer’s Market, strolling their babies, drinking coffee, and buying croissants. I just listened to him that morning. This was straight looney-tunes. Travis had been bewitched.

I had to get off the phone when one of my direct reports came in and asked if smoking a joint with Jimmy Hendrix at Woodstock was a violation of company policy. Lovely. I am sure the paper-pushers had got wind of that. UGH!  I told Travis I had to go. 


 The call shook me up that morning. Travis was my childhood friend. We had played football together, went to movies in the summer together, drove cross country on a whim. Now he was calling me telling me about Kayla. A woman he was now in love with?

 You would think that I would be happy for Travis. I wasn’t happy at all. Kayla was 23. Travis 46. So what? Older men are attracted to younger women all the time.  Travis was married. He had been married to Laura for 21 years. They had two kids, 13 and 11.

Am I overreacting? They were just emotions, right? Feelings aren’t wrong? I reasoned with myself that Travis would never cheat on Laura. Not with a 23-year-old. Not with a teacher at his own school. Travis would always tell us about the consequences of divorces and how they wreaked havoc on children. They were the perfect couple, Laura ran her own business. They wrote eloquent posts to each other on birthdays and anniversaries on Facebook and Instagram. I still remember seeing their holiday posts. They had matching pajamas. The pj’s had penguins on them, and the family was drinking mugs filled with hot chocolate. Happy Holidays from the Craig family. Travis, Laura, Tracy, TJ, and Nibbles. Nibbles was the family dog. A cute Alaskan Huskie. How did this happen? Travis stopped following the Mike Pence rule of never being alone with a woman. That had to be it.

  I put it out of my head. Travis was just going through a phase. At least that is what I hoped. I poured the creamer into my mug, and then two packets of Splenda. Then I pour the coffee in. This was the routine I had each morning for my coffee. As I stirred I heard a strange voice in my head begin to talk.

“ Or maybe it isn’t a phase” If Travis were to leave Laura for Kayla, then you would be free to move in and comfort her through the breakup” DJ’s thoughts were immoral, but tempting, he had always had feelings for Laura, he had met her first in college, but he got lost in the friend zone. He took a sip of coffee. Then he leaned back against the wall. He heard the voice again ” You would never disrespect Laura, you would treat her like a princess.” Just do it, go back to college, make a few changes, and see how things would’ve turned out.” The voices faded away. DJ shook his head, it was tempting but risky, the paper-pushers frowned on Multiverse workers who dabbled in their own pasts. This was only allowed at retirement, and you had to fill out three forms and obtain four signatures just to even visit your past. These types of thoughts would get him written up for insubordination if someone knew he was thinking them. For a moment he didn’t care. He felt a warm feeling in his heart at the thought of going back and restarting with Laura. It would end his career, but maybe it was time to end it.


“ So Danyo, can you tell us a little bit about how your powers work,” I said. Danyo sat up on the edge of his chair, a chair in an office he made in my head. Looking a bit like Billie Eilish. Dressed in all black. “ Well, Steven, I harvest your indecisive thoughts, and then I build a version of you in the multiverse acting out those thoughts, sometimes those thoughts are your dreams and goals. Others could be your regrets. Everyone has them. Even you. For example what if you stayed in the music hall and practiced on Friday nights instead of running an underground drinking establishment out of your apartment? It’s tempting, isn’t it? The stories we tell always have happier endings in our heads, but do they? Or will they?  They always come with a cost and consequences. DJ has given me a lot to work with over the years with his thoughts of Laura and Travis, we will soon see what he picks. Enough of them for now. Danyo was focused on more pressing matters.

“Steven, make sure the readers watch the video Bad Guy. What do you think looks best on me?” Danyo is giving the readers a call to action. ” The black outfit Billie is wearing around:57 second mark of the video or the red outfit at the 1:06 mark?” Danyo was torn between two looks.  Let us know in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Read this or Danyo will steal your thoughts and use them against you.

  1. Ah, Steven, I’m really enjoying reading parts of your book and the way you are mashing it all together into these posts. I imagine for some it would be hard to follow, but it’s perfect for my all over the place thinking style. Ha ha.
    I think the way you have written yourself in to this piece is great and the way Danyo chastises you for including all of the anxiety stuff at the beginning of the post (by the way, pleased to hear you’re feeling better about your process!).
    What I also find interesting is how you intertwine some of your IRL experiences and stuff around bureaucracy etc that make it so relatable. If I had to sum it up, it’s just really fun to read because it’s unique and there’s no idea of what is coming next.
    Oh, and to answer the question, I’d say the black one. But then again, what about the yellow one at 2.10ish? I can see Danyo in that too!

  2. Hey Steve,

    Danyo’s powers are fascinating! Imagine the alternate stories people can live out. Wow.

    I’m a fan of the black. That video by Billie is odd. I didn’t watch past the 1:00. It’s great to see how you’re applying Essentialism. I love the anecdote about the coffee and the picture at the end. Great way to make the whole piece full circle.

    What’s it like for you to have the conversation with Danyo? What have you learned about yourself? This was a fun read.

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