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Archive for the ‘The Write Words’ Category

            “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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Art by Pat Bean

“Writing means sharing. It’s part of the human condition to want to share things – thoughts, ideas, opinions.” – Paulo Coelho

About My Foibles

            I have a tendency, when given advice, to immediately utter: “Nope, not for me.” It’s a phrase that usually annoys my friend Jean, who often sits with me on my balcony in the evening for a Happy Hour – and is always free with her advice and suggestions.

Jean, who calls me a stubborn old broad, is a year or so younger than my youngest daughter, and last night she said I was the teacher she needed to get through the daily chaos of being a teacher.

“The unteachable teacher mentoring a teacher,” I said, and laughed, a bit embarrassed a bit by her kind words. Then we both laughed.

“It’s good to be able to laugh at our foibles,” she said.

And it was.

The next morning, I wrote about the incident and the comradely laughter in my journal, which got me thinking about how long it took me to accept that I was not ever going to be perfect, and longer still to accept that not being perfect was not only acceptable, but preferable.

Daily writing in my journal helped me come to that conclusion. Writing, which I originally took up as a way to express myself, has also helped me discover myself, a treasure that is as golden as having a good friend who laughs at my foibles.

Bean Pat: Trent’s World https://trentsworldblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/17/if-we-were-having-coffee-on-the-17th-of-march-2018/?wref=pil Just an ordinary morning, like most of us have, written by a blogger I just started following.

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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“In my later years, I have looked in the mirror each day and found a happy person staring back. Occasionally I wonder why I can be so happy. The answer is that every day of my life I’ve worked only for myself and for the joy that comes from writing and creating. The image in my mirror is not optimistic, but the result of optimal behavior.” — Ray Bradbury

The Yellow Flower — Art by Pat Bean

A Little Yellow Flower

I was 25, with five children that ranged in age from a few months to nine years old. Yes, the math is correct. It was just a few days before I turned 17 when my first child was born. It was all legitimate, as I had dropped out of high school and gotten married when I was barely 16. This wasn’t a rare occurrence back in the 1950s.

My life up to this point was one of changing diapers, cleaning house, cooking meals, catering to a demanding husband and going to church. I wasn’t exactly unhappy — that wasn’t in my nature and still isn’t – but I did do a lot of crying and a lot of escaping from daily life in my mind.

That all changed on a day that was a mother’s nightmare. My oldest son had taught his younger brothers how to climb the backyard fence. One of his younger brothers had gotten into the sugar bowl and traipsed the sweet granules all over the house … and that was just the beginning of the children’s shenanigans.

I was close to despair when my middle son, Lewis, presented me with an almost stemless yellow flower, which he had picked from the neighbor’s flowerbed, and which I was sure to hear about. But the sweet smile on his face, and the love that shone in his eyes for me, his mother, made everything I had gone through that day pale in comparison.

I had wanted each of my children, and I loved each of them, even if sometimes they were almost too much for me to handle.  At that day’s end, when all five of the rascally darlings were finally down for the night, I fell into my bed and was asleep almost before my head hit the pillow.

But at 2 a.m., I was wide awake and couldn’t go back to sleep. I was impelled to get up, find some paper and a pen. I needed to capture that moment in which I had been presented that yellow flower. I wrote a crude poem about the incident before I was able to go back to bed and fall asleep.

That poem was the first thing I had ever written, except for a school assignment or letters. It changed my entire life. I suddenly knew my future was to be a writer. And I made it happen, beginning with a 37-year newspaper journalism career in which I wrote almost every day.  I’ve been writing, in one form or another, now for over half a century. I suspect the day I stop writing will be the day I die, because not writing is like not breathing to my soul.

Bean Pat: Barbets https://adityasbirdingblog.com/2018/03/01/the-colorful-world-of-barbets-4-blue-throated-barbet-great-barbet/?wref=pil This one’s for the bird lovers.

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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Here's what my old manual Remmington looked like. Someone on e-Bay wants $299 for its memories. Mine are worth a whole lot more, but I don't need to spend $299 to recall them.

 Mark Twain, according to Wikipedia, claims that he was the first important writer to present a publisher with a typewriten manuscript. It was the 1886 manuscript for “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” Historian Darryl Rehr challenged the claim, claiming it was Twain’s “Life on the Mississippi” written in 1883, that was the first.

Once Upon A Time

I taught myself to type on an old Remington manual typewriter. I then got a job as a Western Union typist – I typed up telegraphs from people who called on the phone to send one. My biggest thrill was the day Tennessee Ernie Ford was on the other end of the line.

A familar happening when I typed on my old manual Remington

My typing speed went from 45 words a minute to 120 words a minute. But the job only lasted a few months before I quit to become barefoot and pregnant for what seemed like an eternity.

It was in the middle of my seven consecutive years of changing diapers that I decided I wanted to be a writer. For the next few years I banged out terrible fictional prose and dookie poetry on that old Remington. That’s how you began to be a writer.

Then I stuck into the back door of a small newspaper as a darkroom flunky, and over the next four years worked my way up to being the paper’s star reporter. I thought of myself as a cross between Lois Lane and Brenda Starr.

Eleven years later, when I was a reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, I typed up my first story on a computer. I hated it – for all of two weeks.

At home, however, I was still typing away on that old Remington. But as the computers at work got better and better, I finally gave up my Remington for a home computer. I don’t question that the writing was easier and faster, but to this day, I still miss my old Remington.

Remember changing out typewriter ribbons, and making carbon copies. I suspect only those of us with more years behind us than ahead have such memories.

There was something extremely gratifying about manually slamming the carriage back at the end of each sentence. Then there was the ability to yank a piece of paper, containing nothing but meaningless dookie, out of the machine. The ritual then was to crumple it into a ball and toss the wad into a nearby waste basket.On especially bad writing days, the basket would be overflowing and the area around it a jungle of paper balls.

One simple does not get the same physical release of frustration from merely using a finger to hit the delete button.

The truth is however, that I don’t want to go back. Couldn’t even if I wanted, but it sure is nice to have memories. And that old Remington typewriter, which eventually was donated to a charity thrift store, created lots of them.

Too bad I didn’t keep it. I think I paid $7.50 for it at a garage sale in the early 1960s. I noted today that one similiar to it, if not the exact model, was listed for a $299 minimum bid on e-Bay.

Bean’s Pat: Wistfully Wandering http://tinyurl.com/836mqtu Ditto what she said. A blog for those with wanderlust in their souls. Be sure and check out her first 25 reasons, too.

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 “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

The Write Word

Watching a sunrise is my idea of a good ritual to start any day. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Completing the rewrite of my book, “Travels With Maggie.” was high on my list of New Year’s Resolutions, yet I procrastinated doing it for the entire month of January.

February has been better because I finally turned on the light bulb in my brain and then took some advice from a famous dancer.

It dawned on me that the way I got through NANO (writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days) was by making it the No. 1 activity of my days, which have always been filled with many eggs to crack and enjoy. So, I decided “Travels With Maggie” would be my No. 1 priority.

Any sunset is the perfect time for the ritual of counting the day's blessings. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Then I started reading Twyla Tharp’s book “The Creative Habit,” in which she talks about the importance of ritual as a way to make sure she went to the gym daily so as to keep her body in shape for dancing. It’s the same, I thought, for writers. We must exercise our writing fingers and minds daily for the most benefits.

Twyla’s ritual was the taxi cab ride she took to the gym. She knew that once she got to the gym, she would both exercise and enjoy it.

“Some people might say,” Twyla wrote, “that simply stumbling out of bed and getting into a taxicab hardly rates the honorific ritual that anyone can perform. I disagree. First steps are hard; it’s no one’s idea of fun to wake up in the dark every day and haul one’s tired body to the gym … but the quasi–religious power I attach to this ritual keeps me from rolling over and going back to sleep.”

After reading that, I decided I needed my own ritual. I made it the simple one of  setting my alarm clock to signal the end of the writing time I had promised myself.

Believe it or not it worked yesterday when I woke up in the mood to do anything but write.  Just set the alarm clock, I told myself. And I did. And I wrote.

Bean’s Pat: Writing Though Life http://tinyurl.com/7r4wmez This is a great blog for anyone writing a memoir, keeping a journal or even just blogging regularly.

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“I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.” – Richard Wright

The Write Words

While I want my words to stand out like the red leaves on the tree I can see outside my RV window, too often I feel they read like one of the tiny green ones hiding in the background. It's call writer's angst. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Angst and doubt about one’s ability are part of a writer’s world, at least the ones I know. We worry that the words we put out to the world aren’t good enough. And unlike the carpenter who can redo the lopsided chair he built before anyone sits on it, we writers can’t take back our words once we’ve sent them out into the world.

This past week I wrote about Custer State Park, but in a photo caption written during a brain fart, I called it Custard State Park. I later corrected the error but not until after it had been sent out to over a 100 readers.

That kind of thing is just the tip of the iceberg, however. Self-doubt begins to seep into our psyches because we can’t write as well as Isabelle Allende or Maya Angelou; and our words fall short of a Pulitzer or an Agatha.

So why do we still do it?

I don’t know about other writers, but I suspect their reasons are the same as mine: Writing is as much a part of me as breathing; I simply can’t not write.

But some days the self-flagellation is more demanding than others in questioning if what we write is good enough.

An award that brightened my writing day.

I’ve been in that state lately, which made this morning’s recognition by a fellow writer, who gave me a “One Lovely Blog Award,” so meaningful. My writing spirit was warmly hugged by the compliment that accompanied the honor: “I cannot get over this woman and the beauty and peace she brings into my life through her photos and her posts,” http://tinyurl.com/6og645n 4amWriter wrote.

Knowing that perhaps I’ve touched one life has erased my writer’s angst – for today only of course.

As a way of passing along the award to other writers, beginning today, I’m going to put a post script to my daily blogs naming my choice for blog of the day. To make it fun, I’ll call it Bean’s Pat. I’ll award it to the blogger who either makes me laugh, cry, remember, think or be awed by beauty or nature.

Perhaps you’ll want to nominate some blogs you think deserve the honor. I’ll read them as I drink my morning two cups of cream-laced coffee.

Bean’s Pat: The Fairy Tale Asylum: So Many Names Hanging in the Dark …  http://tinyurl.com/7kfnz7q This emotional blog reminded me of my brother, Richard, who was the best of us four siblings. He died at the age of 35 of AIDS.

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