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.

There’s a place for both, hey, for all my touting of fiction, I have a non-fiction book coming out May 19, 2019.

And lest I get too excited about this opportunity, today I got slapped on the side of the face, for I received three, not one, not two, but THREE rejection letters. I had figured if it takes two years for a book to come out I better get cracking.

Back to the drawing board.

And write whatever’s itching to come out.

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.


I Went to the Woods and Lost 20 Years

big treeSunday husband and I went to the woods, and I lost 20 years.

The big trees did it. The forest. The old growth. My pain-free knee. All contributed to my youthing process.

I read somewhere that old growth trees have over the years accumulated silica into their trunks. And when we are surrounded by that silica, it contributes to our well-being. Notice the difference sometime if you have an opportunity to experience the big trees. T

Husband dear and I drove out east of Eugene, Oregon along the McKenzie River. Yep, I know I talked of that area before when we made the same drive during the summer. Now though, we wanted to see the area during its golden-leaf time before deciduous tree hibernation when the forest throws the gray cloak of winter over its sleeping trees.

This trip also gave us a brunch for the soul, a stop at the Obsidian Grill at McKenzie Bridge. I’m raving again. That sandwich was just as good the second and third time as the first. I love the Obsidian chicken sandwich—happy organic chickens they say, artisan bun smeared with what appeared to be Cajun spices, a poblano pepper, bacon, they didn’t scrimp on the lettuce tomato or onion, and whatever their secret sauce is adds a vast amount of juice that takes a dozen napkins to sop up. It’s great. I had enough bacon and chicken to share with Sweet Pea.

The forest walk reminded me of something Dolores LaChapelle, author of Earth Wisdom wrote: “Patanjali, Buddha, Moses, and Jesus did not go to workshops or seminars or even churches. They went directly to nature; sat under a Bodhi tree or on top of a mountain or in a cave. We’ve been living off the residual remains of their inspiration for thousands of years, but this has almost run out. It is time to return to the source of this inspiration—the earth itself.”

Mine was just a little walk in the woods, A Hors d’oeuvre, a taste of the wilderness, but then we came home, and I had a Deja-Vu.

In Hawaii, we had no refrigerator.

Not again!

Our present fridge was on the fritz. It worked, but husband dear said we must defrost the refrigerator and the freezer for a water leakage had caused ice to build up behind the back panel.

In Hawaii, we used an ice chest for months. To celebrate getting a loan on the house we bought a refrigerator. It remained up-plugged though, for we didn’t have enough solar power to run it.

Instead of using electricity, we used ice. Used to be people got a block of ice from an iceman who carried that massive chunk of frozen water on his shoulder, dumped it into your icebox, and that ice kept your food cold for a week or until the ice man came again.

The Deja Vu came when I loaded some items in an ice chest. My choice, for I didn’t want to be running to the refrigerator in the Way-back every few minutes.

We do have an extra refrigerator, thanks to our California experience where we rented a house without one, bought one and hauled it to Oregon with us. Now we have two, well three, another in the Way-back that we inherited. The trouble is it doesn’t get cold but is beautiful, so it’s a possibility someday.

I figured the Universe was making up for denying us refrigerators for a time.

A thousand years ago a Zen Master wrote this poem:
Magical power,
marvelous action!
Chopping wood,
carrying water…”

On the road to enlightenment (ahem, I’m not claiming anything), one must still do the minutia of life, chop wood and carry water. The editors of NEW AGE JOURNAL wrote a book with that title: Chop Wood, Carry Water, and their take is a bit different from what I initially thought it meant.

Not only must we chop wood and carry water, meaning take care of business, but our spiritual journey can be because of it.

We do not need to spend our lives sitting piously on a mountain, our life, our journey, comes from the living of it.

I failed my spiritual test as I carried frozen food to the Way-back refrigerator. With all my grunting and grumbling and throwing a few expletives, the Universe would not have given me a gold star.

But then maybe She doesn’t care. It was my choice. I could accomplish a task with a glad heart or have a fit.

A screaming fit still gets the job done!

But it’s not so great on our nervous system.

Oh well, I’ll get another chance when I haul all those frozen items back into the house and put our in-house refrigerator back together again.

P..S. This is super cool: