“Artists are people who are not at all interested in the facts—only in the truth. You get the facts from outside. The truth you get from inside.” --Ursula K. LeGuin

Monday, July 27, 2020

What Do You Wonder About?

I’m stealing this as my manifesto:

Step One: Wonder about something.

Step Two: Invite others to wonder with me.

Stolen from Auston Kleon’s book, Steal Like an Artist, 10 things nobody told you about being creative.

That man is brilliant.

I came across his small book, free yesterday on Amazon Prime, and I read it before lunch.

Steal like an artist, cover

“You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself,” he wrote.

I slapped my head and declared, “Thank you, God,”

(Thank you Auston Kleon. I don’t know if God had anything to do with that statement.)

I know I have bounced all over the place with subjects—metaphysics, the spiritual path, life blog, travel, writing about writing, writing about blogging, chickens, animals, horses, home life, family, story, Hawaii, Oregon, and California, I’ll even throw in sea life if that strikes me. And then I hear the voice of the blogging gurus who say to find your niche and stick with it.

I scream, “WHAT’S MY NICHE!”

Kleon says, ”You can cut off a couple of passions and only focus on one, but after awhile, you’ll start to feel phantom limb pain.”

I love this man.

“Do not leave your longings unattended.”

Right on.

Yesterday I began the day deciding that I would write something about writing for I saw that I have a few readers on my blog “The Best Damn Writer Blogger on the Block.” (Fair to say, I’m the only one writing one, maybe I should check my city block to see if there are any other bloggers writing about writing.) http://www.thebestdamnwritersblog.com

I don’t know how those readers found me, for nine chances out of ten I can’t find it myself. (Maybe it’s the damn in the title, or my firewall, something.)  However, if someone shows up, I am happy to offer them something.

Except that yesterday I had nothing to say.

Blogs are supposed to add something of value. So, where did that leave me?

With Zilch. Nada.

Kleon to the rescue, “If you try to devour the history of your discipline all at once, you’ll choke.”

Okay, back to the beginning of the day. I figured Hemingway was a good place to start. However, Hemingway was reluctant to talk of writing for he felt that saying too much might inhabit his muse.

And although Hemingway was known for his adventurous spirit, first and foremost he was a writer. He might have been reluctant to talk of writing, but over the years at different times, to different people, in varied parts of the world, he commented about it in letters and stories.

Along came Larry W. Phillips who ferreted out Hemingway’s comments regarding writing and placed them in a book called Ernest Hemingway on Writing.

Hemingway on writing brightened


“All good books are alike,” wrote Hemingway, “in that they are truer than if they had really happened, and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterward all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was.” –By-Line Earnest Hemingway pg 184.

This quote explains why my eyes cross when I hear people say, “I only read non-fiction.” As though fiction is frivolous and they are into “serious” learning.

Quite the opposite is true. Good fiction writers can hit you with a truth when you don’t even know you’ve been hit.

Two secrets from Hemingway:

“The secret is that it is poetry written into prose and that is the hardest thing to do.” –From Mary Hemingway

“Then there is the other secret. There isn’t any symbolysm (misspelled). The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy, and the fish is a fish. The shark are all sharks no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people say is shit. What goes beyond is what you see beyond when you know.” Hemingway to Bernard Berenson, 1952

I beg to differ. The Old Man and the Sea says a lot about Hemingway—symbolism or not.

Hemingway left a lot unsaid. He wrote simply, quite against the flowery prose of his day. His style was considered the iceberg effect, that is much was beneath the surface.

Okay, back to Steal Like an Artist:

“We’re talking about practice, not plagiarism. Plagiarism is trying to pass someone’s else’s work off as your own. Copying is about reverse engineering. It’s like a mechanic taking apart a car to see how it works.”

If you steal from one author its plagiarism, but if you copy from many, it’s reverse engineering, Gary Panter says, If you rip off a hundred people will say, “You’re so original.”

One is copying.

One hundred is research.

I believe the following (from Kleon) applies not only to artists but to anyone starting a business:

You will need:

  • Curiosity
  • Kindness
  • Stamina
  • A willingness to look stupid.

Barbara Kingsolver in her last tip of five on writing said, “If you are young and a smoker, you should quit.”

I qualify as a writer. I don’t smoke and I’m not young.


Friday, July 17, 2020

How to Start a Blog

 I tasted my first avocado after I was grown, married, and had graduated from college.    

When I encountered a sugar-cube size of avocado in a salad, I thought I have bitten into a raw fish. But when I discovered guacamole, the avocado world opened her doors and played celestial music.  

Now we wrap raw fish and avocado in a pillow of rice tie it up with seaweed and call it a delicacy.  

See how times change.  

When I began reading Natalie Goldberg’s book Writing Down the Bones (The 30th year edition), she told of tasting her first avocado in the 1960s, and with that, she gave us permission to write of such things.   

This was before blogging became a national phenomenon.  

To become a writer, you write. You put pen to page and begin and keep on keeping on.   

If writing about avocados will do it for you, write about avocados.  

You can write for fun, as self-examination, to journal, as a way to access the subconscious, or you can believe as Natalie Goldberg says, “Writing will take you where you want to go.  

I believed Goldberg those 30 years ago, and I’m still writing.  

Seth Godin, premier daily blogger, says everybody ought to blog, and it appears that 600 million people are. Last week I read someone’s post where they named the 5-best books on writing, and that set me off and running.  

I had read his five best books. But wait—my favorites weren’t there. So, I added five more. They are the ones that will set your pants on fire.  

Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones—has been the most sought-after book on writing, Goldberg was one of the first writing instructors to tell her students that writing is a therapeutic endeavor.  

Look where it got her.  

I lost my copy of Goldberg’s book in Temecula, California, but after being reminded of the best books on writing, I want to read Writing Down the Bones again, so I bought the 30th year edition.  

My desire here is to do more than tell you how to start a blog. It’s to encourage you to write.   

But first, #How to Start a Blog.  

Bloggers try to get to the point. Sometimes we ramble about what’s going on around the farm, or house, or area. (A life-blog.) We do try, however, to give people what they want. If you don’t know what people want, lay out a smorgasbord—they’ll choose.  

Blogging in a Sunflower seed shell:  

Get a Host  

A domain  

A template   

A Nitche

A brand  

A media presence.  

Now, write content.  

What to Write:  





Whatever floats your boat.  

So, here are the basics in Three Easy Steps  

One: Choose a Host.  

A host is the property where you build your blog. They carry your mortgage.  

You’ve heard of Go Daddy, and there are many others. Look up the best host providers, and they will give you a list.   

Blogger.com, is simple, can be free, or you can purchase your own domain, that is your dot com without their name attached. I also use Site Ground. Blue Host is great in that it blends seamlessly with Word Press templates.  

You’ve heard of Go Daddy, and there are many others. Look up the best host providers, and they will give you a list.  

Two: Choose a Domain Name:  

Your host will either give you access to a domain selector, or you can buy your own. It ‘’s easier to go with the one provided on your host.  

Your domain is the https://www.yourname.com, or dot net, or dot many others. Dot com is the most used.  

Your first choice may not be available—remember your name is one-of-a-kind—no one else can have it.   

Keep trying.   

Some hosts offer free domains with the purchase of their templates. If you go for free, they will have their name in the .com line. A domain isn’t expensive, about $12.00.  

I’ve made a lot of mistakes. For example, the blogger gurus say not to put numbers in your domain name—I’ve done that. They say not to use hyphens—I’ve done that too.   

There’s a lot of trial and error in this. Now I see why people want a directive.  

Three: Chose a Template:  

The template is your floor plan. That’s where you see your content, pictures, and the layout of your blog. If you don’t like the one you’ve started with, you can change without losing your content. Whatever floats your boat.  

Initially, I had trouble with the templates. I didn’t know the commands. I didn’t know how to set up the first page, how to make pages, or use widgets. The templates frustrated the heck out of me. It takes time. Keep at it. You’ll figure it out.  

Some sites will say your pictures are too large, so you must go back and reduce them. Some will refuse to put spaces where you want, All the templates I have found have qualities I like and some I don’t like. And most templates have limitations and quirks—one of mine writes in italics, and I haven’t found how to turn that off yet.  

It’s the price we non-tech-folk pay for some savvy someone to set up coding. But look at the opportunities they give us.  

Begin with a simple free blog. I began on Blogger, and continue that one because I simply can’t part with it and have a readership I don’t want to lose. That’s https://www.wishonwhitehorses.com.  

I think to learn while doing works the best. If someone told you how to use WordPress in one setting, your brain would explode.  

Just google Blogger, or WordPress or Weebly, or Go Daddy or BlueHost. There are many that I haven’t tried. But once found, they will direct you.   

Four: Write Content

Oh, yes, that’s what it’s about.

Good luck with blogging. Tell me how it’s working for you. If you have suggestions, please share.  

Thanks for reading,   


Here are the best books on writing.   

1.On Writing by Steven King  

A shoo-in for someone with that name and body of work  

2. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr & CB White.  

Remember from freshman English? “Omit needless words. Omit needless words.”  

3. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield  

Overcoming resistance—could be called procrastination. And you find ways you didn’t know you were procrastinating, but when you get moving, you will also notice a lightness of spirit will envelop you, even if your writing sucks.  

4. Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury  

Zen didn’t seem quite right for Bradbury, but hey, his enthusiasm for writing will set your pants on fire.  

5. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleoh.  

Not, don’t plagiarize. However, everybody gets inspiration from somewhere. Take it from the best and make it your own.  

6. Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg  

7. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont.   

Love that girl.  

8. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.  

Many quotes, much practical and spiritual advice.  

9. Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t, by Steven Pressfield.  

“Your sh*t is your self-centered, ego-driven, unrefined demands for attention.” –Steven Pressfield  

And it is more, “Believe in yourself when no one else on the planet shares that belief.  

10. BrainStorm by Don Hahn. “Unleashing Your Creative Self”  

Written by a Disney Imagineer. This is not strictly about writing but to encourage creativity.  

I love it.  

Now, dear writer, go out and kick some ass.