Wednesday, June 24, 2020

From Jo, with Love

I'm so happy to see you here.

Yep, there are writers out there. Welcome.


I’m assuming that you, like me, have grappled with this dilemma…

Oregon State Fair, Artist Jenny Armitage
Have you ever gone to an art fair and browsed through exquisite paintings, crafts, photographs, and some you would like to buy, but the price tag prohibits it? They deserve what they are charging, for I know chances are they spent hours on that painting, or sculpture.

Even if they did whip it out, they deserve energy in the form on money in exchange for the energy they put into their craft.

 My grapple is charging for my services.

I feel odd charging for something I have created, knowing how much art feeds the soul.

I’ve paid people, and I have taken a lot of free advice from people willing to give it.

Perhaps these comments ought to end up being my morning pages that Julia Cameron writes about in The Artists Way.

For those who do not know about Morning Pages, they are a way to write out the crap that’s cluttering one’s head, and it’s not for public consumption. With morning pages, you can gripe on the page and then throw it away. It’s a way to put a period at the end of a sentence. You know how thoughts can cycle through then turn around and bite you on the butt.

Morning pages are a way to write without fear of mistakes. It’s letting thoughts pour out through the fingers. Why write it? That way you can put a period at the end of a sentence and be done with it. Who wants to repeat themselves with a pen—you get writer’s cramps.

It’s the best therapy I can think of right now.


I need help turning my thinking around.

What if my art stinks? And who wants to buy it anyway? People are short of funds right now I don’t want to ask them to part with money better spent on survival. And regarding books, who reads these days, and why would they read mine?

Long ago I took a correspondence course from The Art Instruction Institute thinking I wanted to be an artist. Charles Schultz, Peanuts creator, you’ve heard of him, took that course before me, and that convinced me to sign up. Somewhere in the middle of the course when we were doing pen and ink drawings, I came upon the phrase “The Painter with a Pen,” and while the course is long-gone, and I’m not an illustrator, or a cartoonist, I like the idea of being a painter with a pen. For do not words draw upon a page, and with ink?

 Zig Zigler to the rescue!

“It’s the attitude, not the aptitude that determines your altitude,”

I know that half the world--more than half--spend their day doing soulless work. Thus, we ask ourselves, “Why am I different? What makes me think I can pop out of the morass and do what I want?”

Suffer with the world seems to be the mantra.

Well, are you not a child of God destined to do great things? We didn’t come here to be small. We came to live a grand life, and to live abundantly.

Are we someone who settles?

Let’s go for what we want and ask others to come along.

You know there are a few, bless their hearts, that do what they love, and love doing it. And they get paid for their services.

It doesn’t matter whether you like them or not, what matters is that they believe they deserve to be paid, and they do.

Motivational speakers are hot on that trail, and people flock to them for inspiration and advice. Their clients plunk down money on the line, and often running up their credit cards to do it.

The BELIEF is that these people can help them accomplish what their soul is desirous of. It’s a belief that they can live their dreams if only someone points the way. And if they do their money is well spent. But you know that all the motivation talk in the world doesn’t do a diddly squat, if they don’t let it in, and take action.

From old Zig’s wonderful drawl: “Some say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing. That’s why we do it daily.”

And so, I searched the web for his Attitude vs Aptitude quote and found one of Zig’s talks:

Recognize when you’re down.

Set a limit on it—know it is temporary, and set a get up and go day.

Wake up in the morning and say, “Today I’m going to give it my best shot.”

Do it with a smile.

Attitude, like the flu, is catching. Associate with positive people, avoid nay-sayers.

Measure your success, not against others, but with what you could have done.

Zig’s podcast segued into a commencement speech at the University of Pennsylvania given by Denzel Washington:

“You will fail at some part of your life.”

“You will suck sometimes. “

“Don’t quit.”

 “I never understood the concept of ‘have something to fall back on.’” said Washington. “Fall forward.”

Do you have the guts to fail? What are you going to do with our one glorious life?

After Washington failed two auditions in a theater in NY, he went onto many more failures. Thirty years after that first audition, he was back in that same theater performing Fences, for which he won an Emmy.

We find ourselves in an odd world condition. But we will get out of it. We will find our passion again.

Why wait?

We need it more now than ever.

Do it now.

Okay. After that motivation, I’m off and running. I wrote the first edition of my newsletter “Where Tigers Belch.”

A newsletter cometh.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

New Book Coming Soon

About my Book
I’m in the throes of frustration.
I’m scared.
I’m nervous.
I’m procrastinating.

I just wrote the above four sentences perfectly says my grammar checker “Give yourself a pat on the back.”

Well, that’s a first.

A post by Jaq D Hawkings didn’t help my anxiety when she spoke of uploading her book to KDP (Kindle publishing). She checked everything, thinking she had corrected all the typos, had all punctuation correct, and the manuscript formatted correctly only to find she left out the page numbers. And so it goes, back to the file, correct, repeat. And Hawkings is a seasoned writer.
We have a saying in our house that I must paint a room three times to get the color I want. Well, I don’t paint the entire room, but this extrapolates into writing.

The brain is a marvelous mechanism, but sometimes with writing, it can do you wrong. You make a mistake, and the brain fills in what it believes ought to be there. You go on your merry way. BUT THERE’S A MISTAKE. And someone will find it—but not you.

No matter how many times you’ve gone over, reread, proofread and edited a manuscript, there is always something that could use a tweak.

“When you finish a manuscript,” wrote somebody smarter than me, “go back to the beginning and rewrite it for then you will be a better writer.”

But I wonder how many times you can do that.

You see, I have worked (played with) this manuscript for over 40 years. I wrote, rewrote, changed the title about fifty times, then went back to the original one that motivated me in the first place.

Song of Africa, that’s it. And I’m going to publish it under jewell d, because I like the name.  It’s more lyrical than Joyce Davis.

Miss Sara Rose had a dream of riding a river in Africa.

In researching Africa in the San Diego Library, I stumbled upon Izak Dinesen’s book, Out of Africa. (Izak Dinesen is Karen Blixen’s nom d plume. It means, “to laugh.”) and from it I read Dinesen’s beautiful prose:

“If I know a song of Africa, of the Giraffe, and the African new moon lying on her back, of the ploughs in the fields, and the sweaty faces of the coffee-pickers, does Africa know a song of me?”

And fell in love.

This discovery happened long before the movie Out of Africa came out, and later after reading Dinesen’s short story Babette’s Feast, I waited eagerly for the movie and yesterday, googling it, I found that it won the Academy Award for The Best International Feature Film in 1988 (Denmark).  Last night I watched it again. If you love artists, watch this movie.  When the Nobel prize went to Hemingway instead of Dinesen, Hemingway said, “It should have gone to that beautiful writer.)

My publishing company didn’t want another book about Africa, although mine isn’t really, it sort-of is, really it’s about the people who love it. The setting focuses on Africa, but the story spans three continents, includes four love stories, a Peace-corp volunteer turned peanut farmer, a River-boat Captain, an illustrious boat named Rocinante, a mystery, a lost painting, a spiritual quest, and the search that connects the people.

It’s my book, my story, and I believe in it.

However, my anxiety is that I can’t get my manuscript perfect enough to show it to the world.

And in thinking of Indie publishing, and putting it on Amazon has me in a stew.

Will I ever get it together? Time will tell.

But I can’t wait another 40 years. And it takes two years to get a book published with a conventional publisher.

So, it’s Indie for me.

My story is about three women, how they connect, and the ramification of one person having a dream and acting on it. Miss Sara Rose, who began it all, Sara Andrews, her namesake, and Patrice DeShane, Miss Rose’s inherited granddaughter, the child of Africa.

“And please,” to quote, Katharine E. Hamilton, “Do not make the mistake of assuming an Indie Author's work does not measure up to a traditionally measured book. Don't give us the small head tilt and the stink eye... when honestly, sometimes the opposite is quite true. Janet Evanovich, Colleen Hoover, E.L. James, Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe... all started out as Self/Indie Authors ... Mark Twain started his own printing company to put his books out!” 

Song of Africa, soon to be a major motion picture.—in my dreams.

When J.R.R.Tolkien, released The Lord of the Rings, he said, “I have exposed my heart to be shot at.”

I'm about ready to set up my target.