Archive | November, 2017

Do You Believe In Magic?

28 Nov

No talent there . . . or is there?

I don’t remember much about Thanksgiving when I was a child.  Odd, I think, but memories are so random for us all, so maybe not so odd.  By the time I was ten, death had whittled down our extended family, so it was not a huge event with great multitudes of people after that.

I do remember mom cooking most of the day.  I remember me eating dough not used for pie crusts. And I remember me and some friends always finding time for a touch-football game down at the park, no matter the weather.

Oddly, when I have relapsed in my sobriety, it has always been Thanksgiving.  I’m not sure why, but it is something I’m aware of, so I’m extra vigilant this time of year.

And that’s about it!  Christmas holds many more memories for me as the years accumulate.  Christmas was always a grand affair, what seemed to be a two-week, non-stop barrage of activities and traditions.  I find great comfort in traditions, and now Bev and I are making our own traditions, together and with combined families, and that is all well and good and as it should be.

The little kid in me surfaces at Christmastime.  It’s really the only time of the year when I see that little rascal, and it’s nice to say hello again to him and have him remind me of the magic inherent in certain situations in our lives.  And I think we all need that touch of magic, that feeling of suspended reality when for one day, or perhaps several days, the worries and stress disappear and we can just enjoy friends, and family, and not be burdened by the weight of life.

So that’s my plan in December this year . . . to simply allow the magic to return.  As I approach seventy, I am very much aware that the window for magic is shrinking, so I suspect that each Christmas, from this point onward, will be more precious than the one previous.

And that is something to look forward to, for sure!

That’s how I view writing, by the way . . . magic!  We all, all seven billion of us, work from basically the same alphabet, the same number of words available, but only a true writer can take those meager tools and produce magic.

I hope you remember that the next time you sit down to write . . . you are a magician and what you do is special!  A side note: I recently received an email from a complete stranger telling me how much an article I wrote about alcoholism helped them in dealing with their alcoholic spouse.

Magic!

Important!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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Passing It On

21 Nov

childhood homeOne of my freelance writing customers here in Olympia is a garden center.  Three times each week I do a blog posting for them, and this past week I made mention of the kids’ section of the store where there are gardening tools for children, and how those items would make great Christmas gifts.

I love that section of the store because I love what it stands for: parents sharing with their children the love of gardening.  I look at that section and I imagine a mother out in the garden with her five-year old, telling the small child that soil is a living thing, and how, from that soil, other living things will grow, and how it is all the grand circle of life, cue the Lion King music.

And many of those young children will grow up loving gardening and urban farming because that love was passed down from their parents.

I love that stuff!  I seriously get misty-eyed when I think about it.

And then I think of Sam and Delores Conrad, next-door neighbors of mine when I was a five-year old, them both being in their nineties at that time, and them taking the time to tell me stories of their trip out west in a wagon, back in the 1860’s, and how those stories came alive for me, the wonders of storytelling, man, the passing of history down from generation to generation, just as it has always been done since the first walker on this earth told his son, or daughter, tales of brave Ulysses, and lost souls crossing the River Styx.

And I felt then what I feel now, a sense of pride, to be a part of the storytelling tradition.  It’s a small thing, really, in the grand scheme of things, this storytelling gig, when you think about world events, it really doesn’t match up with the Emancipation Proclamation or the Bill of Rights . . .

Or does it?

Just random musings from an old man.

If you are so inclined, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Hugs, thanks, and love to you all!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Geography and History Go Hand in Hand

14 Nov

I recently had the pleasure to read an article by a writing friend of mine, Ann Carr . . . the shortened title was “A Sense Of Place, A Sense Of History,” and it was brilliant.  I don’t say that about too many articles I read, but this one deserves it . . . brilliant!

In it Ann suggests that writers stand in a place and study the surroundings. Study the geography and try to imagine how that geography shaped the history of that particular place.  It is an exercise I have done myself, here in my city of Olympia.  It is a fascinating exercise, to see things as those centuries ago saw things, and to imagine the decision-making process which shaped that area.

Read the article if you get the chance, and try the exercise where you are.

In Olympia, it is the geography which made the city, and in particular it is one small river, the Deschutes, which spearheaded the homesteading movement.  The Deschutes empties into the lower end of the Puget Sound, the inland sea here in western Washington.  In 1848 settlers arrived here, having heard stories about a swift-running river emptying into a deep waterway.  They arrived and immediately built lumber mills, and to ship that finished lumber they started a shipping line.  Other families arrived shortly after that, and Olympia became, at that time, the most influential city in what is now Washington State.

Later, that same river became the impetus for a brewing company to be formed, Olympia Beer, “It’s the Water” their logo, and that company became one of the leading employers in the area for decades.

One river, untamed, flowing with possibilities.

Go outside . . . look around at your surroundings . . . what do you see?

You just might be surprised!

Kneel down!  Scoop up a handful of dirt.  The dirt in my hand is actually rich soil, and similar soil, accompanied with a long growing season, are the reasons people flocked to the Oregon Territory starting in 1843.  The promise of a better life resides in that soil, rich alluvial soil, silt, sand, and clay, with generous amounts of organic matter, all promising abundant crops for Midwest farmers wishing for free land and an easier life . . .

Do you see it?

Do you feel it?

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

In Search of Talent

7 Nov

No talent there . . . or is there?

I was thinking about the people I’ve known over the years, family and close friends, those kinds of people, and what talents they had.

Websters defines the word “talent” as:  a special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude, and a talented person as one who has an innate, special ability at something.

Sheez, when I look at that definition, I have to admit I didn’t really know anyone who was “talented.”  LOL . . . Certainly no one in my family could be described as talented.  None of my close friends were talented.  Heck, it could be argued, with some success, that I wasn’t talented, and if I was I certainly kept it hidden pretty darned well.

And yet today, without any formal training, I’m a pretty good writer, and several of my close friends are now described as talented in various fields of endeavor.

I can speak about me with a great degree of certainty.  I can speak for my close friends with a fair degree of certainty.  What I have noticed about me, and about my friends, is that my/their talent was hard-earned.  We/they worked their asses off to hone whatever “abilities” they had, and through hard work, determination, and a stubbornness which borders on obsessive, we have found some semblance of talent.  Maybe it was always there, but without that hard work and determination, there was no way it was going to show up.

Just some random thoughts as I prepare to work on my latest novel.  I don’t know about this talent thing.  I don’t know how much is innate and how much is earned.  But I do know it’s a shame when it is wasted.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”