Valuing the Writing Process

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St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writin...

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Writing is one of the most rewarding, aggravating, amazing endeavors one can undertake.  Because writing anything of significant length and writing it well requires time, it requires physical stamina and mental fortitude that those who don’t write cannot understand.  I’m not belittling anybody who does not write, nor those activities which others do for a living.  I appreciate the variety in life, and writing makes me appreciate more the value of human beings, and helps me to see where change in our world might be a great thing.  I’m trying to make the point that the difficulty, the complexity, the sheer aggravation and joy that comes from writing, because it is a solitary activity, cannot be understood by those who don’t write seriously.  And  I don’t necessarily consider this a gift of the gods, or of one God; in fact, sometimes it feels like a curse.  Writing is generally considered a craft.  We are all endowed with the gift of language and the ability to communicate; however, for most, this doesn’t equate with a desire to write, much less to write well.  I do believe anybody can write well if they learn to respect the language that is innate in humans, as important in many ways as the air we breathe and the water we drink.  The creative process of writing well is a physical and mental nightmare.  I have written, by hand or on one computer or other, for many years, and taken a seed and transformed it into a tree.  Maybe not a tree suitable to withstand a great storm, or even for a small child to play in.  That is where revision comes into play.  Revision is like playing chess with a master with your hands tied behind your back and blinders on; you have to rely on the amazing parts of your brain to guide the process.  The logical part of your brain tempered by the emotional part. You have to be sometimes impartial, sometimes completely engrossed, and sometimes cut throat, to revise. I have started hundreds of writing projects, small and large, from poetry to short (and short short) fiction to novels, and many are sitting on a computer (some in folders or boxes) somewhere waiting for inspiration to strike so that I can return to revise them. I don’t hold out a lot of hope that I will return to them. So I start more projects, and sometimes life happens and I don’t write much for awhile. But I have a real job and I don’t pretend that I will ever write the great American novel. I don’t know that I care if I do. I enjoy the writing process, like a significant other, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. And then I will be published…posthumously.

Grief as Protection

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Grieving, I suspect, is a much more complex process than we will ever know.  In retrospect, I can comment on one aspect of it or another, and were I to make a note of other aspects experienced by others, I might begin to paint a more complete picture of it in my mind.  One thing I noticed, and recounted to others, after my father died, now more than 15 years ago, is how my perception of things slipped often into surreal moments.  I can recall many things now, but there are many more things that I only have a fuzzy recollection of, as if I were in a cocoon.  I think it is simplistic to just believe that because you are grieving that you will brush aside, or repress, that which is difficult to deal with.  And perhaps in traumatic cases, there is some good measure of this happening.  And I think it is equally simplistic, to believe that the chemistry involved in grieving is the sole protection from the pain involved.  As I continue to move forward in life, I will always respect that as human beings, we believe in a great deal.  It is that acknowledgement which I use to color my writing process, which color my word choice.  That said, I acknowledge that there are many that do not believe in a supreme being.  There are so many things for which science can offer an explanation.  The grieving process included.  But how can something as universal as grief, for which we all experience things outside of the normal physical realm be explained away by simple processes.  There are, I believe, supernatural forces at work protecting us from grief.  I think anybody who has lost a loved one knows, upon examination, that this is so.

Running, Lazy, Love-to-Eat Fool

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I’m 43 years old, I’m healthier and happier than I have been than at any other time in my life, but I still have work to do in my effort to make my life simpler. OK, so maybe I’m a little Monk-ish, without really the germophobia. But I’m trying to lose about twenty more pounds, and they are the most challenging twenty pounds of my life. For various reasons. After I became seriously out of shape (approximately forty pounds overweight), I started eating better and running.  I pretty quickly lost about thirty pounds, over about the next couple of years, I put about ten of it back on.  I know part of the weight is a change from fat to muscle.  But I’m also a little lazy.  I still do work out about 4-5 days a week, but it takes every effort to get myself to do it.  My Monk-ish traits often get me out of the door.  If I get my bag ready the night before, then I cannot tell myself no.  Once at the gym, I try to convince myself that I don’t feel well enough to run what I am scheduled to run that day.  Usually the endorphins fix that problem.  So I end up running my quota most weeks.  Life happens sometimes, and so I don’t always.  The problem I guess I ultimately have is that I love to eat.  And often I am not as discriminating as I should be.  Sometimes I’m just plain tired, and I will eat the quickest, easiest thing possible, if not the healthiest.  So I’m determined to get the chaos out of my daily consumption.  I don’t consider myself a control freak, per se.  I don’t try to control other people.  But I have to have some control over my life.  So I feel I need to have a little more control over my eating habits.  Wish me luck.

Lamenting the End of Summer

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In Flagstaff, you can count on distinct seasons.  Sure, we have only had about a handful of substantial snowfall winters in about the past score of years.  But usually it is still fairly cold.  I guess you kind of can’t help it, since the sun is only out and about for so long each day.  Spring doesn’t so much come in each year with warmer temperatures as it does with all the wind.  When the earth starts tilting more quickly on its way toward the solstice, I guess that is its consequence.  But the crocus and daffodil and tulips reappear, along with the crabapple and cherry blossoms.  Even though the last frost is in mid June, we have a decent growing season, if you want it to be; if you plan a little.  First frost averages right around the autumnal equinox.  It used to be that almost without fail, turning the page on the calendar to October really signalled fall.  Now that’s usually a bit later as well.  Global Warming, perhaps.  Or not.  I don’t make the planet spin, nor do I regulate its chemistry in its totality.  I’m just here as an observer; and hopefully an inspiration to some.  As the seasons here in Flagstaff inspire me.  I know it’s a little early for summer to end, but I’m lamenting its end because summer signals the shift in wind patterns which brings in the “Monsoon.”  August is typically the wettest month on average, and we do some years continue to receive rain into September, but since we are at August 19th, our rainy season is quite possibly about to finish.  And then there is usually a little indian summer before fall returns.  But when fall returns, I will be happy for it to arrive, and then sad to see it end.  But that’s life.  I think I appreciate more all that is good during those moments when I am sad, and remember what is important and inspirational.

You Are My Friend

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Technology has allowed us to keep in touch with people as never before.  Family are now only a few keystrokes away on Facebook and other social networking sites.  Cell phones allow us to have conversations with our loved ones at virtually any moment.  Remember when you needed a longer cord on your landline just to have a little privacy or to allow you multitask while having a conversation?  But has the globalization really made us closer?  Has it made us appreciate those loved ones any more?  I think in some cases it has.  It depends on your approach to your technological self.  But I think while it has made us more socially available and perhaps even more socially approachable, it has spread us out so thin that we can have thousands of friends and not really any at all.  Not I.  I am acquainted with many people, some of which I may even remember a name after many years of not seeing each other, but my circle of friends is small.  Frankly, I just don’t have all the time in the world to have hundreds of friends.  I barely feel I can manage to keep my house clean, and cook, and sleep, and work.  A dictionary definition of friend is a person whom you know well and regard with affection and trust.  There have never been more than a handful of people that fit that definition for me.  I think that’s true for everybody.  I fear technology is making it so that more and more people have fewer and fewer people who fit that definition.  This saddens me.  I wish to start at least one person to look at their relationships with the purpose of making each and every one fruitful, and thus inspiring others by example.

Vote ’em All Out

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I decided awhile back that I would vote for the challenger in all elections until the political machine is changed. How dare any politician tell me that they are different in anyway significant from the incumbent. Somewhere in there mind, they may believe it, but when they show up in Washington, and are bought by billionaire interests, then it is obvious their heart is in a different place. A friend of mine just sent me an article in my email from a reporter from an Orlando newspaper. Here is a link to that article, entitled, THE 545 PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL OF AMERICA’S WOES

Banana Ice Cream

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I don’t own an ice cream machine. I just don’t eat ice cream much. But I had several ripe bananas that I didn’t want to wait to ripen more for banana bread. I decided to buy some good vanilla ice cream and add the mashed bananas and refreeze, stirring periodically to get a smoother consistency. It worked really well, and the ice cream tasted very much like banana ice cream. It was well worth the little bit of effort to get to the right taste. I’m thinking of trying this method with other add-ins. Give it a try. Unless you eat a lot of ice cream, an ice cream machine is just one more appliance to take up space, and that you have to move if you move. And you can never get that kind of ice cream you want when you are having just that particular craving.

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