Painting a Picture

23 Jun

I’m not artistic!   Not in the way of picking up a paintbrush and doing a portrait or still-life, that sort of artistic; I might have some bones with word artistry, but no way with painting or sculpting.

But lately I have noticed that I am more aware of my surroundings, like my “artist’s eye” has suddenly been enhanced.

My wife and I, and our two dogs, were out walking along the Chehalis Western Trail the other day.  It’s a walking/biking path along an old train track route, and it stretches for many, many miles.  The Olympia leg of the trail is about six miles long, but then it continues past the Olympia City limits and moves through countryside all the way to the city of Tenino about, gosh, maybe twenty miles away.

Anyway, it’s a wonderful thing they have done, the county planners, paving this trail, a safe place for walkers and bikers.

So we were on it the other day, a good day for walking, cool but dry, and we were surrounded by nature, and I was noticing that the “greenery” was actually comprised of many shades of green.  They call our state the Evergreen State, referring to all of the evergreen firs and pines we have, but I think that does Mother Nature a disservice.  Green is an inadequate word, you know.

The dictionary tells us that synonyms for green include: grownleafylushluxuriantovergrownverdant . . .

But even that doesn’t paint an adequate picture. How about different shades of green, which would include jade and mint and aquamarine and emerald and pine and teal and . . .

So I was overwhelmed by the majesty of it all, and my inability to accurately capture a simple forest setting in words.  And yet that’s my job as a writer, to find the perfect words which capture the perfect settings which surround us daily.

It is a sacred quest we are on!

COACHING

Working with other writers as a coach has helped me to appreciate writing on a higher level.  Many of my students just want to tell the story. They are in a hurry to just get the facts down, the bare-bones “outline,” if you will, of a story that has been rattling around in their brain for a long, long time.  Most of the work I do, as a writing coach, is to help my students to “flesh out” the details of the story, to help them to set scenes and paint a picture with words . . . and . . . to interject the emotional component to their writings.

It is a job I love, teaching, a job I take seriously.

Writing?  Not a job at all.  Writing is a passion, one I also take seriously.

Go forth and create!  Paint a picture with words and dazzle the world with it.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

It’s A Thing, You Know!

2 Jun

IT’S A THING, YOU KNOW

So I’m out walking one of our two dogs, Toby, aka Mister Mellow, and he’s on a long leash, minding his own business, sniffing grass, sniffing dog poop, that sort of thing, and I note a woman approaching us.  She is on the same sidewalk, so I guide Toby over into the street.

A mental picture if you will: I’m in the street, Toby on leash, Toby moves slightly over towards the woman, to check her out, new sniffing to be done, and as we pass each other I estimate Toby is about three feet from the woman, wagging his tail, quite happy to make a new friend.

And I hear these words:  “Your dog really isn’t practicing social distancing. He’s supposed to be six feet from humans.  Social distancing is a thing, you know.”

I don’t have the time to relate to you all the things I thought about saying. I do remember thinking this woman is lucky I’m not forty years younger, because my younger self was not nearly as forgiving and calm.

What did I say to her?  “Courtesy and paranoia are things too, you know.  Have a great day!”

Toby, he was pretty much unaffected by it all.

I was amused.

REFLECTIONS

There are seven-point five billion people on this planet.  I was thinking about this the other day.  Every single one of those seven-point-five billion is living life right now. They are facing problems. They are having successes. They are laughing and crying and pondering and fretting. They are living a life which, to them, is pretty damned important. They are tucked into their own little universe, trying to traverse a bigger universe.  They are products of their lineage. Their DNA is wired in such a way as to make them unique among their species and yet quite similar.

It’s amazing we all don’t go to war daily when you think about it.  It’s really amazing to me we get along with anyone.

That woman I met? She obviously had an agenda. She was worried.  She was worried to the point of being a bit “over the top,” a bit paranoid, if you will, and she allowed that paranoia to cloud her thinking.

I’ve been there and done that.

The seventy-one year old Bill sees things a bit differently than the thirty-one year old Bill, and thank the gods for that small favor. I have mellowed considerably over the years. I like to think I’ve grown a bit wiser during that same span. I now have a muffler I can use to prevent my “instant thoughts” from escaping my lips, and that’s a good thing for all around me.

So I felt a bit bad for even saying what I said to her.

But I also felt justified and pleased.

We humans are complicated, you know!

Writers of the world, poets of the world, this is what we do.  We observe. We ponder. We reflect.  And we try our best to capture this thing called life with our words.

A NEW FRIEND

I started following this young woman’s blog the other day. She is fifteen years old and she writes about philosophical questions and dilemmas.  At fifteen I could barely spell “philosophical,” let alone ponder any philosophy.  It gives me hope, reading her thoughts.  Her name is Saania Sparkle . . . you can find her on Facebook if you’re interested, and that should lead you to her blog.

Wishing you all a brilliant day of capturing life with your words.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

The Sun and the Moon

26 May

I see sunshine and beautiful colors

COMPLETE RANDOMNESS

The sun no longer smiles upon me,

The moon, cold and uncaring.

Two lines which popped into my head at six a.m. four days ago.

I have no idea where they came from or what inspired them, but there they are, staring at me from my online page, with nowhere to go.

I’m not a poet, so chances are they will go nowhere at all, but that’s how my muse works. I call her Hope, my muse. Why? Because why not!  It’s as good a name as any; better than many.  Anyway, that’s how Hope works. She will toss random words and lines into my brain. Some I catch, like a lazy flyball on a summer’s day, the outfield grass soft underfoot, a gentle breeze, the ball settling softly into the web of my mitt, and some scream beyond my glove, exit velocity one-oh-nine off the bat, rising as it approaches me, well-beyond my reach, over the wall, a grand slam homer for some other writer.

And so it is for many of us who write, the uncertainty and wonder and randomness of it all.

I love it!

A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME

The things is, and I don’t know why, but I look at those two lines and I absolutely guarantee I could write five-thousand words about them in a short story.  But a poem?  That’s not happening!  It’s just not the way my writer’s brain works.

It’s been interesting working with other writers in my coaching duties.  We all have different perspectives. We all seem to have a specific slant to our writings. We can look at exactly the same thing and see fifty different things, and transform those things into prose or poetry or soapbox rants, meandering our way through a half-million words, piecing together, sorting through, finding just the right one, discarding many, like a pile of Legos becomes a structure or a weapon or – or – or

And God help me, I love it all!

RANDOM THOUGHT WHILE WATCHING THE VOICE

I was thinking about it all, this writing journey, while watching American television viewers pick the wrong finalists on The Voice.  Don’t get me wrong, Micah seems like a really nice kid, but one of the Top Five? Really?

But I was thinking, there is probably a miniscule chance, at best, that my writing will ever “go viral,” as they like to say these social media days.  Most likely my writings will go the way of the dinosaur.  There will be evidence that it existed, but it will be fairly difficult to see proof of that fact, none of my books on bookshelves, none in libraries, and none on any of the bestseller lists. And my articles? Floating around the web, they will be, forever bits of information, available to anyone who manages the correct search query on Google, but few will actually be read ten years from now.

And yet I write, just like those singers on The Voice who were rejected, and just like the street musicians and street artists and any other creatives out there who follow a voice no one else hears, and follow it because they must, for writing feeds my soul, and writing brings me enjoyment and satisfaction and quiets the inner demons who would have me follow a much-more dangerous path

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT

The sun no longer smiles upon me, and yet it does, those words not applicable in my real life, not now, not for thirteen years, not as long as I continue to write and continue to love.

Just random thoughts on this May afternoon, a quick summation of the creative process for yours truly.

Does anyone remember The Walker Brothers from the 60’s music scene? “The Sun Ain’t Going To Shine Anymore?”  Randomness!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

 

Background Noise

12 May

Background noise drives me bonkers.  Blither, blather, blah, blah, squeaks and talking heads and horns and kids playing, all diminish my concentration and render me useless.  As a writer, I need quiet. I need to be sequestered in a sound-proof booth until the writing is done.

My step-daughter recently bought me a coffee mug which has these words printed on it: “Fu*# Off! I’m writing!” That pretty much says it all about me and writing.

What’s weird about all of this is during my years as a teacher, background noise didn’t bother me at all.  Thirty kids in a classroom didn’t faze me one iota.  The chaos of a playground during recess was music to my ears.  But that was then and this is now, and I’m absolutely no fan of background disruptions.

And we seem to be bombarded by it more now than at any other time, or so me thinks.  Televised media and social media and increased traffic and congestion and, and, and, and, I long for peace and quiet more now than at any other time in my life.

Just shut the hell up!

And most of it is doom and gloom, and that sure as hell doesn’t help, a barrage of warnings and complaints and arguments and demands and my God, people of the world, could you just take a deep breath and let a wave of tranquility have its moment on the planet?

My folks didn’t complain.  I can remember that clearly. They did not have it easy, not by a long shot. They worked for every damned thing they had; they faced hardships; they had some serious reservations about politicians and lawyers and corporate heads; but they did not complain.

“You make your own way in life, Bill. Don’t expect help.  Complainers are people who are looking for sympathy, plain and simple, and in this household you’ll find sympathy between shit and syphilis in the dictionary.  Find a way to get it done and then do it.”

God bless my parents!  They were old school all the way, and there was nothing particularly wrong with old school in theory.  An independent spirit and a philosophy of hard work and determination will get you through some pretty tough times. So I was taught and so I believe.

But the problem with all-inclusive philosophies is they are destined to fail.  One size does not fit all. There are people in this country who are incapable of getting it done on their own, for a variety of reasons, literally millions of people who cannot get by without assistance, and that’s the rub with my parents’ philosophy of isolation and independence.

Just random thoughts as one day flies by, welcoming another, and I ponder my day under eighty-degree skies.

I hope you have a good one and, as always, I’m grateful for your visit and friendship.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Remembering You

23 Apr

The statistics just keep on pouring from the radio and television.

Allan Finder . . .

498 dead in New York City last night,  move on, a couple hundred in Detroit, Memphis had a bad night, look out, Boston, the numbers are rising, can’t get that damned curve to flow downward yet, but hope springs eternal.

Lorena Borjas . . .

And I hate to admit this but hey, someone has to, I am so accustomed to all of the death statistics that they barely register with me now. It’s like background music in a dentist’s office, you know.  I hear the sound but the actual tune is nebulous at best.

Bob Glanzer . . .

The thing is, and it’s something I’m trying to absorb today, is that each statistic is someone’s brother, someone’s wife, someone’s aunt or uncle or father or mother or child.  Each statistic is a loved one to someone, you know, and I think it’s crucial that we remember that fact.  I don’t ever want to reach the point where those statistics mean absolutely nothing to me.

Janice Rodman . . .

I think back to the Vietnam War, and how television really brought the realities of war to us all.  While eating our Swanson TV dinners, on our folding tv trays, we could turn on the news and watch as body bags were unloaded from transport planes, and witness,  up close and personal, the anguish on the faces of soldiers, thousand yard stare intact, as they grabbed a smoke on some numbered hill in the middle of some country none of us had heard of ten years prior and  God almighty, the pain we saw on those faces, and the burning corpses and amputees and rivers flowing red after the airstrikes.

Ron Hill . . .

And they built memorials for those soldiers, black granite walls for all to see, for all to remember, and hopefully for all to learn from,  but . . .

Time has a way of muting the memories, now doesn’t it, and I wonder if, when this is all over, we’ll go back to the way it was, or will we wake up, snap to attention, and let this lesson sink into our gray matter, change the way we go about our lives, and appreciate the sweet wonder of life itself.

And will the dead be remembered, those sons and daughters, wives and husbands, fathers and mothers, will there be memorials for them, the victims of a faceless enemy, one who crept into the night and filled so many with dread and nightmares . . .

Wishing you all good health and happiness

Love,

bill

We Can Do This!

9 Apr

We can do this lock-down thing!

Repeat after me: WE CAN DO THIS!

Let me tell you a story about my dad.

On January 22, 1944, Dad and 36,000 other Allied soldiers landed on the beach at Anzio, Italy.  Their landing was unopposed and basically undetected by the German forces.

Anzio Beach was reclaimed marsh land, and it was surrounded on three sides by hills.

The plan from High Command called for a swift landing, an even swifter establishment of a beachhead, and then an advance on Rome.  Somehow, though, the orders from High Command were either misunderstood or ignored by General Lucas, commander of the landing forces.  Lucas felt it important to fortify the hastily-constructed beachhead, so valuable time was spent doing that in anticipation of a counterattack.

That valuable time gave the Germans time to occupy the surrounding hills and begin dropping shells down upon the Allied forces, who were trapped on that beach for over a month.  For thirty days the Allied soldiers lived in trenches and hoped that the next shell did not have their name on it. Day and night the German big guns fired down onto that beach, and day and night the casualties mounted and hell on earth visited those soldiers in my dad’s corps.

Mind you, my dad enlisted in the Army because fighting in a war was a guaranteed paycheck, something my dad hadn’t seen in nine years because of The Great Depression.

We can do this lock-down thing!

Of course this pandemic is unsettling and difficult, but it sure isn’t like having explosive shells falling out of the sky.

WE CAN DO THIS!

Be safe, my friends!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Sister Hope

31 Mar

More naps these days

I’m tired of talking about COVID-19.  I don’t even like that name.  Whoever thought of it lacked imagination in my humble opinion.  Lol

How about a writing exercise?  You don’t have to do a thing.  I’m just going to play with words and see what happens.  It’s kind of nice to have all this extra time to hone my craft.

Should I go dark or upbeat? Let’s see what happens!

Uncensored and unedited, here we go . . .

A WRITING EXERCISE

I figured I had seen pretty much all there was to see on these mean streets.

I was wrong!

Nighttime arrives early on these streets, not so much an act of nature as a shadowing of evil.  Humanity changes when the light ebbs and the obsidian darkness blankets us all in West Oakland.

They call me Professor, a reference to a former life, a life derailed by black tar and a weakness of the soul.

Walk with me any night and you will see a new species shuffling among the detritus and waste of the forgotten.  Mules and pimps, snorters and sniffers, AB’s and ballers, gang bangers and peckerwoods, flying the colors, ridin’ the rails, strapped and ranked, all leading to tear drops and ten toes down in the Wild, Wild West of Peralta Street.

You want it, you got the cash, you can buy it, simple as that, my friend, angel dust to fallen angels, and a twenty will get you both when there’s a downturn to the market, a market run by the 98 Crew, the 500 Locos, and a dozen other affiliates looking to cash in on the two-headed cash cow, drugs and sex, as old a story as time itself, and lead flies often, bodies tumble in the gutter, rats feast, and the cops continue a hands-off policy for self-preservation.

In the middle of it all, one night, July 8th, so damned hot that night, stood Sister Hope, swear to God that’s what she called herself, right there on the street corner, wearing a flowing white dress, as pure as the snow sold in dime bags ten feet from where she stood, Sister Hope, smiling at all who passed her, greeting them with “Blessings and peace to you all,” and the locals giving her space, thinking maybe the crazies could be transmitted by breathing her air.

Late twenties, early thirties, golden hair flowing over her shoulders, an unblemished face, maybe five-four, one-ten at most, intimidating in her vulnerability, you know, none of the soldiers knowing what to make of her, and not willing to be the first to find out.  One, two, three, four nights in a row she appeared,  origin unknown, same corner, the whores standing aside, making room for her, and “Blessings and peace to you all” coming forth to all, a smile which could melt butter, bringing light to the darkness, and I’ll be damned, man, but for four nights the drive-bys ended, the rapes ended,  the muggings and beatings and degradation ended, and it was like a new universe, you know, like we were all beamed down into, what do the mystics call it, Nirvana, yes, some state of inner peace, strangest damned thing I’ve ever seen.  It was on the news, check it out if you don’t believe my chatter, four nights, four days, all quiet on the west side, cops totally baffled, not sure what to make of it.

On the fifth day, Sister Hope was gone.

 

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Hope you enjoyed it!  Remember, if you need a writing coach, I’m available.

Be safe and happy!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Making Lemonade From Lemons

24 Mar

I hate lemons!

I love lemonade!

It’s weird, I know, but I never claimed to be a “normal” guy.

I hate tomatoes but love tomato soup.

I could go on and on, but I really do have to get to the point.

More naps these days

I’m not a panic kind of guy.  It’s all about upbringing.  My dad simply looked at obstacles as challenges and nothing more.  Landing at Anzio and being pinned down by German guns for a couple months?  A challenge!  Broken back in a car accident?  A challenge! No education beyond 10th Grade and in need of a job?  A challenge!  He simply would not allow his only son to shrink in the face of adversity, not after all he faced in his life.

We are definitely facing adversity right now, aren’t we?

I hate pandemics!

I love a challenge!

If my dad was alive today, he would face COVID-19 the same way he faced every other challenge in his life:  Head-on, bring it on, always move forward and never let the bastards know you are concerned.

I laugh as I write that, but it’s the truth, it’s how I was raised, and it is how I’ll get through this pandemic stuff.

I cleaned the garage last week.  I worked in the garden this past weekend.  I have increased my writing since the pandemic occurred and, interestingly, my freelance writing business has increased.  My to-do list around the house is longer than my arm and I now have no external excuses to keep me from tackling it.

And, of course, I have four books which need to be written!

Instant attraction

Meanwhile, Bev is home, laid-off for six weeks, and she is working on herself.  She’s working on time-management and a healthier lifestyle in an attempt to lessen her natural stress levels and also to reduce her asthma problems.  She stays busy!

We are being productive!  We are not hiding under the covers hoping the Big Bad Wolf will go away.  There are things to do, things which can be done while practicing social-distancing, and we are doing them.

“The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.”

Helen Keller

 

Lemonade from lemons!

I am not delusional nor am I hiding from reality.  I just see no reason to panic.  We were not created to live in fear. We were created to fly with the angels and, by God, that’s what I’m trying to do.

I wish you all good health and happiness.

If you are in need of a writing coach, email me at holland1145@yahoo.com.  I charge $50 per month, no minimums, and if I can’t help you with your particular problem I’ll let you know.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Random Acts of Kindness

18 Mar

Our home in the 60’s

A letter out of the blue, which I already shared on Facebook:

Bill — I know this is totally out of the blue, and I have no clue whether or not you’d even remember me, but I was that little kid a block up from you on North 18th…the one who was obsessed with baseball and moved away from the neighborhood when my dad went back into the Service in 1966 during the Vietnam days. While only 11 when we moved, your kindness and patience with me has remained a positive memory for all these years. It seems you would always be kind and play catch with me even though you were older and your skills were far beyond mine. I thank you for being such a positive role model during those early days. One never realizes the impact they have on someone else as life goes by, but we don’t live forever. So I wanted you to know you and your mom and dad are remembered fondly. Hope this finds you well. Warmest regards – Mike

I was touched, to say the least.  We are talking fifty-four years ago, the last time I saw little Mikey Todd, one block west of our home, a constant presence in those days, his baseball glove attached to the handle bars of his bike, knocking on our front door, “hey, Bill, could you come out and play some catch,” and more often than not I would, me being six years his senior but always willing to play baseball.

You just never know, do you?  An act of kindness; a warm gesture to someone in need of attention; it all matters, my friends, and that’s my message on this Tuesday – it all matters!

I’ve lived a long time, and I’ve known many people, and it’s a bit overwhelming and yet gratifying to know that I made a difference in the lives of some of those people.  And the thing is, we all do this. We have all done it.  We will all do it in the future.   We all make a difference in the lives of others.

In a time when it seems every single news story is negative, I think it is vital to keep in mind that humans, at their best, are incredibly loving and caring people.

I know all of you are!

Just a random thought for today.  Stay safe and healthy today and beyond.  Now I have a yard to work in and spring cleaning to do.  This social distancing thing is a piece of cake for an old recluse like me.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Characters We Remember

10 Mar

So Bev and I were watching our latest sinful pleasure last night, Poldark, and we got into conversation about what makes a show a great show.

Certainly the writing plays a big part in it.  Without great scripts I’m afraid any movie or tv series is not long for this world.

And the other thing we mentioned is the fact that we have to become invested in the characters.  If I can’t relate to the characters in some way, I lose interest very quickly.  I was reminded of the show Madmen, which aired for seven seasons a few years back.  I don’t think there was a single character in that show I would like as a real human being, but I found them all fascinating and so I watched that show religiously.

I try to remember that when I write a short story or a novel.  My characters don’t necessarily have to be believable, but they do have to be interesting and captivating.  Their personalities must demand your attention or I have not done my job as a writer.  In my Shadow series, the main characters are not people you would want over for a cup of tea, but damn I’d love to meet Striker.  LOL

Just something to think about!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”