Archive | January, 2019

Randomness from Mr. Observation

15 Jan

Maggie and I went out to the farm the other day, which is not news since we do that every single day to feed the chickens and collect eggs.

Just before we reached the main gate I looked off to my left and saw the coyote which has been killing our chickens of late.  He was standing in a hollow about one-hundred yards from us.  Maggie did not see him.  So I parked the truck on the farm, now maybe two-hundred yards from where the coyote had been seen, and Maggie and I got out of the truck.  Maggie sniffed the air once and took off running in the direction of the coyote.  Mind you, we could not see the coyote from where I parked the truck, but Maggie was aware enough of the scent, carried on a gentle breeze, and she was off and running.

It was an amazing moment, really.  Of course I am aware that animals have keen senses, but to actually see just how keen, firsthand, took my breath away.

Things like that happen all the time on the farm.

Did you know that chickens have independent eyes? One eye is constantly looking at the ground in search of food; the other eye is always looking for predators.  It’s pretty cool to watch if you find yourself on a farm someday.

There’s a llama out at the farm, and the two sheep that are at the farm instinctively stay close to the llama for protection. Two difference species which somehow understand their roles in a partnership.

Walk up to that llama and the first thing she will do is put her face directly in front of your face, and I’m talking two or three inches.  She is smelling you, determining whether you can be trusted, and one thing you can do, to build that trust, is to gently blow air in the llamas face.  I swear I’m not making this up. I’ve done it, and that llama will come to the fence line to greet me whenever I’m at the farm . . . because she trusts me, and I passed the greeting ritual with flying colors.

It’s all just fascinating to me!

There are also guinea hens on the farm, and peacocks, and when they sense a predator is nearby (usually the same coyote) they will join in on a chorus of high-pitched screeching to warn all, and as soon as that screeching commences Cleo, the farm dog who lives there, will come racing out of the home to chase off the coyote. Who needs ADT Security when you have guinea hens and peacocks?

Anyway, the point is this: there is a big old world out there which is fascinating if we allow ourselves to observe, and observation is a valuable tool for a writer.  Go take a nature walk and really observe what’s happening around you. Go walk downtown and really observe the people you see.  It’s all there for you, for free, and it is all fuel for the next short story or novel.

Next week I think we’ll talk about ground fog if you have no objections.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Rows and Flows of Angel Hair

8 Jan

I was listening to Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” the other day:

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and they snow on everyone
So so many things I would’ve done
But clouds got in my way

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Similes and metaphors . . . so very cool!  That, my friends, is beautiful writing.  You can call them lyrics, or you can call it poetry; whatever you call it, make sure you add the word “brilliant” to your description.

Here’s the thing about similes and metaphors: they have to be relatable and easily understood; if not they are simply clever writing which has very little value to the reader.  In truth, I’m not sure what Joni meant when she said “I really don’t know clouds at all,” but I also don’t really care.  The line “feather canyons everywhere” is so damned brilliant that it transcends the importance of understanding the final meaning, at least for me.  Comparing clouds to angel hair, or ice cream candles . . . man alive, that is just brilliant writing, and only a true Creative would see those things while looking at clouds.  You can’t really teach that kind of vision, and I don’t think Creatives really have to force the creative process.  It’s just how their minds work . . . how our minds work!

We are members of a very select group. We see things through decoder lenses, and those lenses are not available to everyone.

Enjoy them!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

The Power of Emotion

1 Jan

It’s been fifty years, this week, since my dad died in my arms.

Some dates .  . . some events . . . you never  forget.

We all have them.  Many times I’ve talked to people who remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when Kennedy was shot, or when the Challenger disintegrated, or when the Twin Towers were attacked.  We remember the finest details of those moments, even though we have a hard time remembering what we had for dinner three nights ago.

The power of emotion!

I remember the first kiss, the sweetness of it, one mystery unlocked.  I remember making love the first time, the frenetic, confusing energy of it, another mystery unlocked.  I remember several broken hearts, a love lost to a young death, tragedies and triumphs, slights and recognitions.  They were recorded in my memory banks, stored away, hermetically sealed in a Mason jar for safe-keeping, called upon from time to time, when story characters need a touch of humanity . . . and when I need a touch of humility.

I saw a “hanging tree” in New Iberia, Louisiana, and felt, at that time and at this time, sorrow for our  species, and I saw mangled limbs on veterans who paid the ultimate price for a government’s hubris.  I saw burned children in a hospital, and learned more about dignity from them than from anyone else in my lifetime.

Stored away . . . the power of emotion!

I’ve known addicts most of my adult life.  I’ve known hookers.  I’ve heard their stories and seen the pain on their faces, and that shit will stay with you forever, just as the testimony of the abused and discarded will brand your soul with the stench of truth.

The power of emotion!

I’ve shaken hands with Death and lived to tell of it.  I’ve comforted those who live in the aftermath of violence, and I’ve celebrated the seemingly mundane events of life with those who didn’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out.  I remember it all, and it all is reflected in my writing, in my voice, and in my style.

How could it not be?

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”