Sunday, November 27, 2011

Without Knowing

Hi, folks. Today is sort of momentous for me. This is post 500 for Seize the day! I love this journey.

I think one of the great joys of writing is that in some deep way beyond the mechanics and craft is something indefinable beyond the knowing. My books always seem bigger than me. So much bigger. I'm just the poor sap showing up and trying to carve out of the rock mass of words a new shape. Maybe a weaver analogy works better. I find myself picking up the threads of emotions, relationships, and wisdom and weaving them together to find wholly unexpected patterns.

I don't have words to explain it but as I write the same energy that is revealed by the perfect execution of a double cabriole jump by a ballet dancer or the punch in my soul when I turned the corner to gaze on Monet's Waterlilies at the MOMA in New York -- a painting no photo can seem to capture -- the subtance of these feelings sneak onto my pages. As I carve my words, I feel memories of the moment I glanced up at the night sky to have my breath taken away by a rare fireball meteor or the day I came out of the post office to find super perigee moon rising. The feeling of those unexpected encounters fuel my pages with something indefinable and something beyond the words.

I sometimes write notes in my margins at the surprise the words bring to me. I hope that you open to more -- beyond the words, beyond the page. I hope that you move beyond what can be known and let the unknowable settle into your work. Take the time to make something for the ages, take the risk. Seize the day.

Here is this week's doodle. I did this a couple of winters ago. I call it Washington at Dawn. And yes the indefinable spark was in this view.

I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled poets to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean. Socrates

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Help! Need Chocolate Cream Pie recipe and some writing tips

Hello, friends. Another week has raced past. We are rolling toward Thanksgiving here in the States at amazing speed. I am working on a feast but I could use a really good recipe for Chocolate Cream Pie. So if you have one, post it here.

To my NANOWRIMO folks -- keep it up! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. You can do this!

I discussed with a friend this week the bonding that comes with sharing a recipe. I have a few that go way back. The cornbread my grandmother made, the kolaches from aunt's friend, my mom's sauteed green beans -- I think you can say a lot with food. I noticed that lots of writers just skip over the food in their stories, ignoring the bonding potential. I often write a scene with two characters making pancakes or sandwiches or something. It helps me explore surprising character connections. I don't always keep the scene in the work, but I do write it. Break some bread and see where it leads.

Thanks for dropping by. See you next week. Seize the day.\

Don't laugh at me. Here's another tip I use to make it real. I make covers of the books that I dream to publishing some day. Here is the cover of one the books I'm dreaming to see in print; my doodle this week is my dream cover of Fractals.

Writing is like walking in a deserted street. Out of the dust in the street you make a mud pie. John le Carre

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Hi, folks, I'm off speaking at the SCBWI Brazos Valley Conference today. I think the big lesson for me this week is accepting myself, warts and all. I long for things. I long to see far off places that I've only read about in books. I long to write books that children in those far off places will love. I long for my life to make a difference in this world. I long for so many things there is no way to put it all into words. The clock keeps ticking.

I've been told by many that as you get older this longing will lessen. I have not found that to be true. I comfort myself that I am in good company in this world of longing -- think about how many longed to go to the moon and never got the chance. A little birdie gave me some good advice the other day, to just accept that I long for things. I think this is echoed in the old folk song Mr. Rabbit -- "Every little thing is going to shine, shine, every little thing is going to shine.

Be yourself and seize the day! Back next week with more stuff.

I did this doodle when I was 18 or 19. I've been longing since I can remember. Here is "Ship at Sea."

This is the quote.
A book is good company. It is full of conversation without loquacity. It comes to your longing with full instruction, but pursues you never. Henry Ward Beecher

Saturday, November 05, 2011


Welcome, welcome, I hope that you are taking time for your art this week. If things haven't been going the way you want or worse your house of cards was kicked over, you must rise up. Overcome. And what if you stumbled, or what if you fell, you must forgive yourself if you have come up short in any area. You must because your work is valuable.

Dear artists and writers, you must plant regardless. If you push a seed into the earth, something is bound to come up. No special super skills needed. This simple process of sowing and reaping governs art. What comes up is surprising, unexpected, and the yields are greater than you can imagine and sweeter than your dreams. There are reasons to turn up the earth. There are reasons to plant the seeds.

And these reasons are not always easy to see. Seeds go into the ground tiny, hard, and insignificant. Then comes the water and rain and up springs so much life. I have this full memory of being in a corn field and picking corn as a young teen. I was somewhere near DeRidder, Louisiana.

The corn stalks were twelve feet high and were covered with ears. The rows stretched out so far I couldn't see the ends. I dropped each fat ear into a woven bushel basket. Wind made the stalks rustle like voices. The world had turned to corn.

Each ear was over a foot long and was as big around as my arm. I hauled that basket down that row. I pulled back the silky tassels of one ear. And slipped my finger tips across the golden kernels. I understood the power of a kernel.

My seeds are stories. You may paint, or sculpt, or weave, whatever. These seeds of art, transfer and multiply the truth. We plant them, and they grow into surprising verdant patches that at can take over entire fields and reshape the land.

Do that this week. Give it your all.

This week's doodle is Self-'ll.

This week's quote should strike a chord.

A light wind swept over the corn, and all nature laughed in the sunshine.
Anne Bronte