“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

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

“I Found Some Passion. Is It Yours?

You know how they say blogs ought to be 1,000 to 2,000 words?


 Stop playing to Google.

 Nobody ever said, “That article is too short. I’m not going to read it.”

 It’s time we expressed ourselves the way we want and stopped chasing numbers and the Mill Machine.

 A dear friend of mine, who sadly passed away too soon—but then how do we judge that, wrote a song titled, “Let’s Get Appropriate, Think of the Praise We’ll Get,”—Bill Fisher

While I was searching for a BS detector, I found this picture, and it struck me.

What’s your interpretation?

 I’m out of here.

 That’s it.

 You go for it.

 I love you,



Wednesday, October 20, 2021


 “Well Crap!”


“The job of promoting you lies with you, nobody else.”

--Jeff Herman


I’m terrible at promoting, or maybe just lazy. Writing is what I do. Selling? I don’t want to do it. (Even if I’m not charging.) It’s promoting the thing you hold dear.


I am grateful that you guys found me and are reading this blog. Actually, I don’t know how you found me, except that a damn writing blog sounds like a good idea. Maybe somebody has my back. 


If you are a writer, I congratulate you for putting your feelings on the line. I commend you for being willing to say what you want, when you want, in what manner you want. Maybe nobody will read it, but you did. You got it out. It’s your expression. Promoting is exposing your baby.


No wonder we writers don’t want to do it. 


It’s introducing your baby, when my response might be, “Yea, it’s a baby all right.”


Gosh, I thought she was beautiful.


Promoting, putting your work out there, telling people about it, advertising? Steven Pressfield would say I have RESISTANCE, sometimes called procrastination, which he writes about a lot.


It was fascinating, though, when he was in limbo, depressed, had no direction or inclination to have one, that the one thing that got it out of his slump was to write. After sitting down at the typewriter and writing, he went to the sink and happily washed the dishes.


He had broken through. 


Natalie Goldberg was one of the first people to say that writing was a healing endeavor. Now, it’s all over the place; journal to get your feeling out. Pressfield said that first writing was crap. But it was his crap, and it burst the damn of his resistance.


Some people write good stuff yet don’t like the process. I always wondered about that. I’ve been watching a cooking competition show out of Australia called '"My kitchen Rules," and the judges can tell when there is love on the plate. When the cooking team of two is stressed out, or squabbling in the kitchen, the judges say it shows on the plate. (They are under a time crunch, which adds to the pressure--create a gourmet meal, and do it fast.)


Wouldn’t a page written with love have the same effect?


What about writing that is unhappily squeezed out? Wouldn’t that show as well?


But then maybe the page finds its audience. You know, different strokes for different folks.


Oh, writing’s a business? I thought it was play.



Monday, October 4, 2021

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Maryanne Wolf, an expert on the science of reading, was worried—as perhaps you have worried—that she might be losing the knack for sustained, deep reading. 


She still buys books. "But more and more I read in them rather than being whisked away by them," she wrote.


Wolf told herself that it wasn't the style of her reading that had changed, only the amount of time she could set aside for it. 


So, she decided to set up an experiment on herself.


She decided to set a time every day to reread a novel she had loved as a young woman. It was Hermann Hesse's Magister Ludi. (Hesse received a Nobel Price in Literature in 1945.) It was precisely the sort of demanding text she once loved.


The experiment went yuck!


She hated the book. She hated the whole so-called experiment. She had to force herself to wrangle the novel's "unnecessarily difficult words and sentences whose snakelike constructions obfuscated, rather than illuminated, meaning for me." 


The book's narrative was intolerably slow. She said she had "changed in ways I would never have predicted. I now read on the surface and very quickly; in fact, I read too fast to comprehend deeper levels, which forced me constantly to go back and reread the same sentence over and over with increasing frustration." 


She had lost the "cognitive patience" that once sustained her in reading such books as Magister Ludi


She blamed the internet. 


Remember how English teachers admonished us to "develop our paragraphs?" Now, most all paragraphs need to be about two sentences long. In fact, large blocks of text soon lose their reader.


And now I read that the GPT-3 equipment they are installing in cell phone prompts will give our phones the quality everyone pretends to but does not actually want in a lover — the ability to finish your thoughts.

 Have you ever written a message where the damn messenger writer decides what your next word ought to be? For crying out loud, now it wants to write for us. 


The GPT-3, instead of predicting the next word in a sentence, as our messaging appts do, would produce several paragraphs in whatever style it intuited from your prompt. 


If you prompted it Once upon a time, it would produce a fairy tale. If you typed two lines in iambic pentameter, it would write a sonnet. If you wrote something vaguely literary like We gathered to see the ship and all its splendor, like pilgrims at an altar, it would continue in this vein: 


If you wrote a news headline, it would write an article on that topic, complete with fake facts, fake statistics, and fake quotes by fake sources, good enough that human readers could rarely guess that it was authored by a machine.


OMG, is this true?


But then I come upon this quote by Geralyn Broder Murray. He greatly anticipated the arrival of a new bookstore in her neighborhood: Good News!


 "And, for all the traumas bookstores have faced, they don't appear to be going anywhere, which to me means there is hope for everything and everyone."


Remember when bookstores started having coffee shops in their facility? 


I was in heaven.


I miss bookstores. Oh, we still have Barnes and Noble in town, for which I am grateful. However, when I read Geralyn Murray's thrill at having an independent bookstore move into her neighborhood, I was taken back to how I felt walking into a bookstore—all that adventure, all that knowledge, all ability to spin yarns. We used to have a wonderful Metaphysical bookstore in town that had a sign, "You want a book about what?"


"So, writes Murry, "the next time I feel the world crashing down around me," I know exactly where to seek refuge: through the doors of my very own neighborhood bookstore, where the beauty and promise we all have within us is waiting to be picked up, purchased, and brought home in the form of a book — reminding me that all is not lost. Far from it."--Geralyn Broder Murray Sep 22, 2021. 


We used to frequent Libraries when we were kids. (And remember Ray Bradbury said he educated himself by reading from one side of the library to the other. And then, look what a writer he became. And he reveled in it. "You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." ― Ray Bradbury)


But think of a bookstore and how thrilled you were with your new purchase. You couldn't wait to get into it. You would carry your book home, and it would be yours. And you wouldn't have to pay any Library late fees.


And then when the coffee shops arrived, well imagine, you could choose a book from the shelf, sit at a table and gently peruse the book—careful to keep it pristine, no coffee drips or anything.


In the days of bookstores, I would plunk down twenty-five bucks on a book and think nothing of it. Now I'm used to the $2.99 prices of Kindle, and even with my own book, The Frog's Song, I feel it's overpriced, but it is what the publisher demands. (Hey, they have to make money; otherwise, they will not stay in business. Which was the reason bookstores closed.)


I read on my Kindle. I order books online, but there is nothing like the thrill of walking into a bookstore where the air zings with the excitement. It's a feeling not present in a library.


Oh, I take that back—some libraries. I went into the Oregon State Library in Corvallis, Oregon, once to research the horse's brain and was overcome with their beautiful building--windows along one side, floor to ceiling, lots of light, a small food court, and a restroom. I could live there.


After reading Ms. Murray, I thought of the first book read to me by my mother, Anne of Green Gables. And in the second grade, there was a special reading time where we put our heads on our desks, and the Sister-nun read Heidi. That was the best time of being in the second grade. In the middle of the year, I had entered a Catholic School, a new kid, and was thrust into academia--was embarrassed when asked to read aloud and stammered over my words. And you had to stand beside your desk. Horrors.


Before that, what I remember from the first grade and half of the second was that we played, and I was a darling because I could draw. In Catholic School, I made a special friend, a non-Catholic who was there because her mother, a doctor, thought it was the best school. 


The point I'm getting to is this, those first books we read as children are etched into our soul. Perhaps they help form who we are. How I loved The Black Stallion series. I have read many books since, but none are as special as those first reads. 


See ya. I'm going to have a glass of wine and pick up my current novel. (I just completed: Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah. I loved it. A little girl, found by a field biologist, says she is from the stars.)


"You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them." --Ray Bradbury


Do you have any comments, feedback, gripes, or suggestions on improving my service? (Yeah, Joyce, open a Bookstore—in my dreams.)