“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

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Thirty Thousand? Blogging?


Dear Writer,

This morning I was knocked off my perch by a blogger who said they made $30,000 a month blogging.

Thirty thousand?

Gee-sh, I pay to blog. What am I doing?

You don’t advertise, you silly galoot.

You don’t know about SEO.

Well, I know what it means, Search Engine Optimization. How people find you. I’m not so dense that I don’t know if people don’t find you, they won’t read what you have to offer. Simple as that.

For a price, this blogger will tell me how to do it. Ah, that’s how she makes her money—courses.


Okay, here’s where I run into a wall. If I had printed out her ad/information/sales pitch, it would have been about three feet long. Every time I get involved in one of those long spiels, I get mad. I don’t have the time to spend reading all that. Just tell me.


However, there is a rule in car selling, condo selling, and copy writing that the longer you can keep a person reading or listening, the more likely you will wear down their resolve and they purchase what you are offering.


But, we’re busy. We have books write, books to read, places to go, experiences to have. Life’s waiting.


Therefore,  I won’t dwell on my irks but will list what one great writer offered to tell a great story.


Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Tenets of Storytelling – Brain Pickings


1.     Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2.     Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

3.     Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

4.     Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.

5.     Start as close to the end as possible.

6.     Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them-in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

7.     Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

8.     Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.


Carry on, do good work,


Sunday, August 15, 2021

Don't Worry by Peaches

By chance or Celestial guidance, I visited dogblogbypeaches.blogspot.com this morning and felt uplifted. I had not visited it for some time. However, I found that some people had been reading it. I don’t know how they found it. Peaches thanks those lovely people, and I thank them as well.


When I saw, “Don’t worry,” I decided to read it, and to offer it here.  And Peaches in heaven is patiently waiting for me to write her words.


I apologize Peaches. What do you have to say now? We’ll see…


Here is the one blog post, more can be found on dogblogbypeaches.blogspot.com


I, Peaches, Party Poodle for Peace, am a happy dog. Don’t worry about the future. Future will take care of itself. Many people don’t know how to be happy, don’t roll in grass, don’t know how to dig for moles and come to house with nose stacked with dirt. Don’t know how to give high-pitched happy bark in greeting, or how to give low bark than tells owner, “Check this out.”

Worry? I don’t worry—waste of time. Well, I did worry when I accompanied Bear to the Vet.  Couldn't help it! I thought I would have to go see the doctor, maybe be left there, but didn’t. Whew!

Can’t nap and worry.  Can’t chase lizards and worry. Worry takes away joy. I live for joy.

I have a job that makes me happy. I look after my people and the house. I go for rides and walks with family. I keep lizards away from the door. I keep Obi Kitty away from my food dish too—cats are so sneaky. 


P.S. Mom has a blog posts coming up on Tuesday, August 17, 2021. I tell her she needs to chase more lizards.


An aside from Mom:

Little Peaches has Addison’s Disease which is not a disease, but a condition. It means her adrenal glands are not working properly.

Peaches lives with her chronic health condition. We take care of her, we give her medication, she maintains. She goes about her life in a positive way. If she feels poorly, we give her more subcutaneous fluid. She makes a contribution to life. I love her, she loves me, and she pontificates on her blog…https://dogblogbypeaches.com


Tuesday, August 10, 2021

What Makes Life Worth Living?

I lie in bed thinking. And then I thought that this mass in my head is doing it. And then I thought, what a magnificent thing, that all those neurons, synapses and whatever, like electrical wires are coursing through the mass that resides inside my skill. Such a strange mass it is, a lump that if you didn’t know what it was and found it in your yard you would think you ought to buy it.


Of course, it belongs in the skull, not in the yard. We carry a powerhouse atop out shoulders, yet we spend most of the day whining, and throwing chemicals at the powerhouse spurring it to work better, run faster, be smarter, get with the program, make us happy.


I’m not a spring chicken, and I suppose that brings with it a certain amount of urgency to get things done. I read once that if you want to know about death ask a 70-year-old, they’ve been looking at it across the street for a decade.”


I say, yep, look at it, then get on with life—that’s what you’re here for.


What is my purpose? What is my dream? What is my passion? How can I be of service? How can I feed my soul good things when I hear so much bad stuff? How can I combat negativity?


Questions of the ages, yet one lone soul had the audacity to stand up and say, “Our purpose is to live in joy.”


Do you believe that?


This morning I heard Oprah quote Maya Angelo. “I come as one, I stand as ten thousand.”


For Oprah, it was her people behind her, the ones that had price tags attached should they ever be sold. They were listed in a slave ledger, Donna, $900, Lydia $800, an 11-year-old girl $500. She will not let herself forget where she came from.


I grew up thinking that war was just the worst thing that could ever happen. I heard about Hitler, and I saw the pictures of skeleton people with skin stretched over their bones, people from barracks, emaciated, so when I hear someone say, “Let’s kick their butts,” or happy that we “Bombed them back to the stone age,” my heart aches. I carry those remembrances.


Oprah daily sees a painting that has prominence on her living room wall. It’s of a slave mother standing on the sale’s block holding her daughter’s hand.


Should we remember or forget? Is this remembrance a constant damper on our joy? Tell people to be kind to each other, love each other. Must we flagellate ourselves with something we didn’t do and can’t erase from the past? Aim for thoughts that feel better. Raise someone up when they are down, but first take care of yourself. That isn’t selfish. If you are limping along a dangerous trail, straight down on one side, wall on the other, shale slipping, do you want another limping person beside you, or do you want someone strong, someone who takes your hand and says, “It’s okay, I’ve got you.”


Be that person.


Yes, when we walk into a room, we carry those 10,000 people with us. But could it be that those people, instead of being slaves and victims, are warriors?  They are our mothers and fathers. They are the ones who escaped tyranny. They are the ones who immigrated to this country to make a better life. They were the pioneers that crossed the prairies to build a home. They were the suffragettes who fought for women’s right to vote. They are the ones who formed unions to give workers a living wage. They were our grandparents who farmed and fed a nation. They were the ones who wrote a Constitution to ensure that democracy shall prevail. They fought for gay rights, birth control, a woman’s reproductive right to choose, and the end to child labor. And they are still out there building wells in Africa, trying to stop selling and enslaving women for sex, believing that not one person on the earth should starve, and that people should not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the strength of their character.


See how long that list is? We don’t have baggage we have the spark of life in us.


President Truman placed a sign on his desk as a daily reminder: “The buck stops here.”


I suggest in response to the rabble “out there,” that we adopt that attitude.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Mindset Shift


Dear writer,


I'm leaning on you today.


Readers, you're welcome too.  


Everybody writes, like everybody walks (you know there are some exceptions). You love it or hate it. You rush to write or avoid it as though you are about to sit next to that person at the dinner table who will tell you her life story—the bad parts—then tell you again. 


I've been reading a lot this past week. Steven King says, "If you don't have time to read, you don't have time to write." So it's a balancing act. Should I be reading or writing?


Right now, I'm enjoying reading more than writing. The authors are better. I feel inept. I have a book in mind, but I fear the process. I know the time involved. I know how hard it is to get a publisher. I know how few will read it. 


I'm turning to you guys asking, "Do you ever feel this way?"


For years I wrote for fun. I wrote because it was my self-expression. I wrote for nothing in return. I figured I was honing my craft.


I believed it was a creative outlet and that everyone ought to have one.


I believed that morning pages were a way to pour out the crap (that nobody would see) and allow the good to come out. I thought that if more people wrote their "Morning pages," putting a period at the end of their whine, uh I mean sentence, it would quiet the mind and let the good stuff through.


I believed writing was a therapeutic endeavor.


I loved it.


What happened?


I was expecting to receive some reward, I wanted my writing to pay. Instead, I'm feeling the pressure.


This morning I was reminded once again of Anne Lamott's writing advice, "Write Shitty First Drafts."


"Everybody has them."


Well, that takes the pressure off.


Hemingway said, "Write drunk. Edit sober." You don't have to get drunk; you get the idea. Write with abandon, then pull in the reins, and clean it up. 


I began this blog yesterday. Today, I followed Steven Pressfield's advice. He referred to the Lady of Fashion, Coco Chanel's advice on fashion. "On your way out the door," she said, "look in the mirror. Then take one thing off."


Steven Pressfield says Chanel's advice applies to writers. Pressfield, once a screenwriter, said his mentor's advice was to take 10% out of his script, then take 10 off that.


Soon I'll be down to zero.


However, I'm going for that shitty first draft and a piece of writing advice that arrived in my mailbox this morning: "Save editing for the end."



"Writing and editing are two separate processes,” wrote Shawn & R.J. from Book Marketing Tools, "so guard them fiercely! When you start editing during your writing process, everything grinds to a halt. Stay mindful, keep the processes separate, and you'll see your mindset shift."


Carry on, dear one,




Over a decade ago in the foothills of the Himalayas, before much about mindset unfolded, Brad Stulberg asked a Nepali Sherpa named Indra about the prayer flags that were all over. “It’s simple,” he told me. “When you are feeling a strong emotion, you plant a flag. Since the beginning of time, my culture believes the wind will spread that energy and the universe will receive it.”


Drink water--see https://www.wishonwhitehorses.com 


And visit Jo's Store,  https://jos-storebooksandcoffee.com