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            “Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” – Mark Twain

A peaceful evening at the pond. — Art by Pat Bean

Good Writing is Rewriting

It took me eight years and five complete rewrites before Travels with Maggie was ready to be published, and at the end, I found it hard to let go because I worried about mistakes. But I finally did, and when that 75,000-word book went up on Amazon, I immediately started my next book, which is about my late-blooming birding adventures. I didn’t start seeing all the amazing birds around us until I was 60. This new passion bit into my soul at the perfect time, as my body was beginning to tell me it should take up a less strenuous hobby than backpacking and white-water rafting.

Tri-colored heron along the Texas Gulf Coast’s Blue Water Highway between Surfside and Galveston. — Photo by Pat Bean

I’m tentatively titled my new book in progress, Bird Droppings, although one writer friend has suggested the connotation might turn readers off. I thought it might intrigue them. It’s a collection of short essays and anecdotes and my idea is that the title fit these scenarios perfectly. “Just something to think about,” my supportive friend said. “Titles can make or break books.”

What do you think? I would really like to know if you share mine or my friend’s viewpoint.

Meanwhile, when I was 10,000 words into the book, I lost my focus, and for the next few weeks I always had an excuse when it was time to add more words to it. If you’re a writer and haven’t yet faced this setback, please tell me how you avoided it.

Anyway, I finally decided to simply start at the beginning and edit what I had written. Mostly, I decided it wasn’t good.  I had forgotten to leave out the boring parts. That is author Leonard Elmore’s advice to writers.

So, I’m rewriting, because that’s what dozens of quite successful authors say writing is all about. It’s working.  Writing has become exciting and fun once again, and the book is going forward – but this time my focus is more on making each word count, then on the number of words written each day.

Travels with Maggie, meanwhile, has earned good rankings on Amazon from 12 reviewers. Yes, I’m bragging.  If you’ve read the book, perhaps you would like to add a review. If you belong to Kindle Unlimited, you can even download the book for free. Someone said you need at least 89 reviews to get noticed.

Sigh!

I guess Bird Droppings and Travels with Maggie both still have a long way to go.

Bean Pat: My beautiful things  https://mybeautfulthings.com/2018/04/04/scarf-maya-angelou-and-martin-luther-king/ Scarf,, Maya Angelou and Martin Luther King.

Pat Bean: is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com.

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I sketched this scene while visiting Zion National Park in Utah, one of my favorite places.

      “It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.” — Vita Sackville-West

Pen or Computer? Or Both?

My normal early morning routine is to get up, brush my teeth, put moisturizer on my face, dress (or simply put a coat over my pajamas) and walk my canine companion Pepper. Back in my apartment, I sit down with a cup of cream-laced coffee, write at least two pages in my journal, and read the NY Times digital version.

An old Remington typewriter, similar to the one I used to write my first mystery novel draft, which languishes somewhere in my writing files.

The journal writing ritual, I finally learned, clears my head and makes my days more productive. I begin by writing about my walk, the weather, anything significant from the day before, and perhaps my dreams, if they’re still rolling around in my head. This usually takes up a page in my journal. If writer’s block sets in, I start perusing the newspaper, letting the day’s headlines bring into focus my own thoughts on the issues,

This morning, as I was writing, I noted that I let each of the next words roll around in my brain before I scrawled my pen’s bold black ink across the page. When using the computer my thoughts often seem to be more connected to my fingers than my brain. I’m not conscious about what I’m going to write, I just do it.

This effortless means of writing means my fingers tap out thoughts that I didn’t know were in my head.  I’m usually pleased with the outcome. It’s as if my fingers subconsciously know what my brain hasn’t yet acknowledged.

Why do the writing tools affect me so differently, I asked myself this morning, posing the question in ink in my journal? The answer that popped into my brain was that I took the time to think before using my pen because I wanted to keep my journal neat and didn’t want to have to black out a word, or two.

On a computer, if my fingers get ahead of my brain, I can simply delete the wrong words with no fuss or bother – unlike in my early years of writing using a typewriter.

Occasionally, I miss that old Remington. There was a calming satisfaction that came with the act of yanking a sheet of paper out of the typewriter, crumbling it up into a ball, and tossing it into a wastebasket.

It was an action that refreshed the brain, usually for the better.

Bean Pat: Six Word Saturday https://lingeringvisions.wordpress.com/2018/02/17/  The shoe was actually a boot. My favorite piece was the top hat, until the Scottie dog was added to the monopoly pieces in the 1950s. And today I have a Scottie dog, well at least half of her. The other half might be a schnauzer.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book she calls Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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“What is the feeling when you’re driving away from people, and they recede on the plain till you see their flecks dispersing?  It’s the too huge world vaulting us, and its good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” – Jack Kerouac, author of “On the Road.”

Maggie in her favorite spot on the over the cab bed in my RV. She had an attitude, as you can see from this photo. This photo was taken near the end of our journeys when my canine companion was almost 15 years old. — Photo by Pat Bean

 

Five-Star Reading

In July I wrote a blog about putting the finishing touches on my book, Travels with Maggie, and mentioned how hard it was going to be to let “my baby” go out for the world to read. But I knew if I kept thinking that it was not perfect, it would never get published.

So, I finally let it go.

It’s now been up on Amazon for a couple of months, and even has garnered a few five-star reviews. But this morning I remembered that July post when I shared the back of the book blurb and list of contents and asked my blog followers if they would read this book.

I know some of those who responded have, but not all. So, I decided to use my blog to blatantly promote my book a second time.

Maggie didn’t like it when a passenger took her co-pilot seat, but when I stepped out of the RV she always got in the driver’s seat. The above photo was taken near the beginning of our journeys when Maggie was not yet seven years old. — Photo by Pat Bean.

Travels with Maggie is a book about one woman’s fulfillment of a dream that began when she was 10 years old. It chronicles a 7,000-mile RV journey, mostly on backroads, through 23 states and Canada. The odyssey begins in May of 2006 from a daughter’s home in Arkansas, and ends in time for Thanksgiving at another daughter’s home in Texas.

I think my writing voice brings a much-needed feminine voice to the world of such travel writer greats as John Steinbeck, William Least Heat Moon, Paul Theroux, Bill Bryson and Charles Kuralt. It’s a book about chasing birds across American, and a book about my relationship with Maggie, my on-the-road companion for eight years.

Never an early riser, like me, Maggie preferred to sleep in until about 10 a.m. – Photo by Pat Bean

And this is the table of contents: How it all Began … Letting Go of the World’s Worries … What Queen Wilhelmina Missed … Yes, Virginia, There is a Silver Lining … Two More Oklahoma Parks – And a Lifer …  Childhood Memories, A Kindred Soul and Marlin Perkins    Heart of the Ozarks …  Roy Rogers, A Tragic Past and an Ouch … A Scenic Riverway, a German Town, and a Margarita Night … Saint Louis: Chihuly, a Birdcage, an Arch and Beer … In the Footsteps of Mark Twain … Meandering Through Illinois Where Kickapoos Once Roamed… The Prophet – And Howling with Tristan … Hotter than Hell in Indiana …  Highway 12, Cade Lake, The Brick Dick and Henry Ford … Celebrating a Summer Halloween … Traveling Beside Lake Erie … Niagara Falls and New In-Laws …The Adirondacks … Ticonderoga, Norman Rockwell and Rainy Vermont … The Stone Man … Good-Bye White Mountains, Hello Maine …  A Week on Desert Island … Strong Women and Paul Bunyan … It’s a Log … Or a Moose …  Scarborough Marsh, Bad Vibes and Boston … Help! My RV’s Lost at the Airport … An Embarrassing Moment and a Hug from a Granddaughter … Hawk Mountain and the Big Apple … Sitting out a Storm in a Wal-Mart Parking Lot … Lost and Found in Philadelphia …  All Dressed up for Pony Watching … Crossing Chesapeake Bay and a Sick Dog … Dismal Swamp, Roanoke Rapids and Simple Things …  The Carolinas – Books, Tobacco and Art …  Georgia on my Mind …  Alabama: Home of the Bible Belt and a Boll Weevil Monument … Mississippi Bird Encounters and a Historic Trail … Know When to Hold ‘Em and Know When to Fold ‘Em… Memories of a Dear Friend …   Epilogue.

So, would you please buy and read this book? And if you’ve read it, would you please write a review.

Bean Pat: Bo’s Café Life:

https://boscafelife.wordpress.com/2018/01/23/bos-cafe-life-flashback-25/

A daily cartoon about writing.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now upon Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

 

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“I won’t lock my doors or bar them either. If any of the old coots in the pictures out in the hall want to come out of their frames for a friendly chat.” — Bess Truman

Not Ducky at All

While that’s an interesting description Bess Truman has about coots, whom I’m assuming include our founding fathers, I’m referring to the one that flies, The American coot.

Coot with its unlikely looking offspring.

I frequently see coots when I’m out birding wetland and lake areas.  They’re so easily recognizable that I don’t spend as much time observing them as I might. They’re clunky looking birds whose feathers range from slate-gray to black. While they look kind of like ducks, coots belong to the rail family.

One of the times, when I did take the time to study them more closely, was when I saw a pair of the coots share some food with three small floating companions. The fluffy chicks, looking nothing like their parents, had bald scarlet heads and wore wiry looking orange necklaces.

According to David Attenborough, in his book The Life of Birds, the American coot tends to feed the chick first that has the most brilliant red head, which may be why a third of the coots that hatch die from starvation.

Since I only saw three chicks, and a coot mom can lay nine or more eggs, I suspected this natural selection had already taken place.

Meanwhile, during my observations of the coots, I came a little too close to the one nearest the shore. It took off like a World War II fighter plane after it had taken a few hits in the engine, giving me a view of its over-sized lobed feet, which were a neon lemon-lime in color.

There really is a lot to enjoy about these birds, I decided. You just have to give a coot.

Bean Pat: A Writer’s Path https://tinyurl.com/yd5hzned  I used to have a sign over my desk at work that read: “Just because I’m not writing doesn’t mean I’m not writing.,” which may be why I dig this blog.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book. tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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The sparrow that is twittering on the edge of my balcony is calling up to me this moment a world of memories that reach over half my lifetime, and a world of hope that stretches farther than any flight of sparrows.” — Donald G. Mitchell

White-crowned sparrow. — Wikimedia photo

Among the Mourning Doves

My daughter T.C’s home in Marana, just 13 miles from my Catalina Foothills apartment in Tucson, is a birder’s paradise. So, when I visit, I usually take my binoculars and try to find a little time to sit on her backyard patio and bird watch.

On my last visit, after seeing a phainopepla sitting on a tall saguaro, I focused on the flock of mourning doves beneath a seed feeder. While looking at the doves, I spotted several white-crowned sparrows. They are distinct birds, especially the adults whose crisp white crowns are set off by two black stripes.

Osprey … Wikimedia photo

I might not have noticed the sparrows if it hadn’t been for the larger doves, which reminded me of the time, 2001 in Utah, when I identified a white crown for the first time. I was taking one of my normal weekend drives along a backroad when I got sight of an osprey high on a utility pole. By then I had been braking for birds for two years, so I pulled over to the side for a better look.

The osprey, however, was skittish and flew off. My disappointment was erased, however, when I saw the white crowns in a bush beneath the pole. The ones I watched on that Sunday morning stayed in sight for about 10 minutes, whistling a sharp tune and flitting among several large bushes before they bounded out of sight.

I got back in my car to drive on, then saw the osprey back up on the pole. I guess it decided I was no threat.

Bean Pat: Things you might not have known. I did know this, because I saw one in Africa.  https://janalinesworldjourney.com/2018/01/05/things-you-probably-never-knew-about-dassies-rock-hyrax/?wref=pil

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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“Be grateful for luck. Pay the thunder no mind – listen to the birds. And don’t hate nobody.” – Eubie Blake.

Male Anna’s Hummingbird. — Wikimedia photo

Portent of the Birding Year Ahead  

For the first four years (2000-2003) after I became a passionate birdwatcher, the first bird of the year was always a house sparrow. That’s probably because I had a generational family of them living and raising chicks in the thick cedar bush right outside my bedroom window.

Female Anna’s Hummingbird. — Wikimedia photo

The first bird of the year, at least for a birder, is considered a portent of the year to come, which is why Noah Strycker, author of Birding without Borders, which is about his search to see 5000 birds in one year, found himself sitting in a hot tub on the deck of a ship in the Antarctic at midnight waiting for Jan. 1, 2015 to arrive. He was hoping it would be his year of the penguin.

It should have happened, but it didn’t. Nary a bird was in sight as he scanned the horizon in the midnight sun. The water soon got cold, and Noah went in, dressed, and took up his watch at the back of the ship. At 3 a.m., he finally spotted the first bird of his journey. It was a cape petrel.

While it wasn’t a penguin, “it was perfect,” Noah wrote. “Petrels, in their infinite grace, are thought to be named for Saint Peter and his habit of walking on water. With a blessing like that, the Year of the Petrel was off to an auspicious start,” he said.

In my fifth year of birding, I was on Guam, and was pretty sure this year my first bird wasn’t going to be a sparrow. And I right. But it wasn’t until about 3 p.m. in the afternoon, that I finally got my first bird of the year. Guam, I had discovered, was almost bereft of birds because of the, non-native, nasty, ugly brown tree snake that raided the island’s bird nests.

My first bird of 2004 turned out to be a yellow bittern.

            This year, my first bird of the year was an Anna’s Hummingbird, which came to the nectar feeder on my living room balcony, where I watched for it’s arrival while drinking my cream-laced coffee.

As an animal totem, the hummingbird symbolizes joy, playfulness and adaptability. I’m looking forward now to my Hummingbird Year.

Bean Pat: See Mike’s first bird of the year. https://naturehasnoboss.com/2018/01/01/everyday-blessings/

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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“Every journey is personal. Every journey is spiritual. You can’t compare them, can’t replace, can’t repeat. You can bring back the memories but they only bring tears to your eyes.” — Diana Ambarsari

While I’ll never accomplish such a feat as walking the entire distance of the Nile River, I have had adventures, like going on Safari to Kenya and Tanzania. Above, me at the Amboseli Airport in Kenya. — Photo by Kim Perrin.

Found at the Library

I talk often about my wanderlust being fueled by such travel writers as Tim Cahill, William Least Heat Moon, Osa Johnson, Charles Kuralt, John Steinbeck, Freya Stark and Paul

Theroux. I felt as if I were following in their footsteps when my book, Travels with Maggie, was finally published.

Now, a book I checked out at the library has given me a new idol, Levison Wood, a British Army officer and explorer who is best known for his walking expeditions in Africa, Asia and Central America. But I had never heard of him until I picked up his book, Walking the Nile, from the travel section of my small branch library.

I was only a few pages into the book before I added Wood to my travel writer hero list. The start of his adventure, in December of 2013, at the tiny spring which is acknowledged as one of the sources of the Nile so long sought by 19th century explorers, hooked me.

Wrote Levison, about why he walked the 4,250-mile length of the Nile, “…I wanted to follow in a great tradition, to achieve something unusual and inspire in others the thirst to do the same. Much of my motivation was selfish, of course – to go on the greatest adventure of my life, to see what people can only dream about, and test myself to the limits. But ultimately, it came down to one thing. The Nile was there, and I wanted to walk it.”

Levison inspired me. While my body is no longer up to long expeditions or strenuous adventures, surely there are still small ones in my future, like walking the 10-mile path beside the Rillito River (It’s really only a river when it rains hard) here in Tucson. As an old broad, I’ve come to the conclusion that what counts is not the distance, or the speed, but that you just keep moving.

Meanwhile, I’m thankful for books, such as Wood’s Walking the Nile, which with just a little bit of imagination, can take me and my wanderlust anywhere in the world we want to go.

Bean Pat: Oh, the places we’ll see … http://tinyurl.com/y8aels9d Maine’s orange sunsets. I liked this because it took me back to my visit to Maine.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

 

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