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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

My writing often starts out like this night's sky. While I'm kind of moonstruck, heading toward the light, the magical way to get there is light years away. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My writing often starts out like this night’s sky. While I’m kind of moonstruck, heading toward the light, the magical way to get there is light years away. — Photo by Pat Bean

“We are the only ones who can tell our stories because we are the only ones who have lived them.” – Susan Wittig Albert*

Words Whisper in my Ear – Or Scream in my Head

The first words I read this morning, as I sipped my cream-laced coffee after taking Pepper out for her first walk of the day, were:

“When you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a writer’s pick, a wood carver’s gouge, a surgeon’s probe. You wield it, and it digs a path you follow. Soon you find yourself deep in new territory. Is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject? You will know tomorrow, or this time next year.”     

       This is the first paragraph in Writing Life by Annie Dillard. Her words felt as if they had picked a line in my brain, as if she had read my mind before writing them. I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat down to write about one thing and ended up writing about something else entirely; then on editing and rewriting my words, I discover it’s the very first, often well-thought out, sentence that requires the deepest knife cut.

Then suddenly the light I was aiming for disappears in a splash of brilliant color, and my writing path is lit by a magical brain wave that lets me know what I'm really writing about. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Then suddenly the light I was aiming for disappears in a splash of brilliant color, and my writing path is lit by a magical brain wave that lets me know what I’m really writing about. — Photo by Pat Bean

My brain thinks differently when I write. And I love it when I discover a writer who can explain the phenomena so well.

My favorite writing quote of all time is:

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

What writer whispers in your ear, or screams in your head?

 

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: I am a member of Story Circle Network, which for the past five years has been a tremendous support to me in finding my own writing voice after 37 years of writing with the voice of a journalist. It’s a community of women who have taught me much and never failed to offer an encouraging word. In April, SCN is holding a Stories from the Heart Workshop in Austin, Texas, which is well worth today’s Bean Pat. Check out the details of the conference at: http://www.storycircle.org/Conference/  and if you decide to go, please look me up.

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Writing and Talking

“A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket.” — Charles Peguy

arches, 3 gossips

“We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less.” — Diogenes

Two Different Worlds for Me

Ann V. Klotz wrote an essay for the Brevity Blog that began with the sentence: “I write the way I speak.” It stopped me in my tracks and had me recalling what my newspaper colleagues often said to me. “It’s a good thing Pat Bean doesn’t write the way she speaks.”

I think it was partially because of my Texas accent, but I knew it was also true in other way a well. I actually don’t write the way I speak. My thoughts and verbal communication skills get tangled up when my tongue is moving. The truth is I started writing because I discovered it was the best way for me to communicate.

It is common for me to sit down in front of a blank page on my computer thinking I’m going to write one thing and my fingers actually type something else. While the words might actually be on the same subject I sat down to write about, they are often not what I thought I was going to say.

Writing clarifies my thoughts and pushes ideas much deeper and clearer into my head. I can’t imagine what my life would be without the written word. Perhaps that’s because things only seem real to me after I write about them, or more likely I only remember things as they were after they become words on a page.

So do you write like you talk, or are more like me? Do you know?

Bean Pat: Ann V. Klotz’ Brevity blog in case you’re interested. I find the process other writers employ fascinating. http://tinyurl.com/ozxkd9h  

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Palo Verde Trees

The trunk and branches of a Palo Verde at Sacaton Rest Area. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The trunk and branches of a Palo Verde at Sacaton Rest Area. — Photo by Pat Bean

“The more often we se the things around us — even the beautiful and wonderful things — the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds — even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less.” — Joseph B. Wirthin

In a Historical Setting

            My second stop of the day was at the Sacaton Rest Area at Mile Marker 183 on Interstate 10. I wasn’t tired, (Pepper and I were only about 75 miles from where we started our road trip) but I had discovered that Arizona Rest Stops are usually scenic and informational – and this one didn’t disappoint.

In remembrance of two Arizona police officers who died in the line of duty near Mile Marker 183 on Interstate  10. -- Photo y Pat Bean

In remembrance of two Arizona police officers who died in the line of duty near Mile Marker 183 on Interstate 10. — Photo y Pat Bean

A large bronze marker at the site informed me the rest area had been the site of the first Government Indian School for Pimas and Maricopas, as well as Pima villages that served as friendly resting places for travelers heading west during the Gold Rush. The site was also the birth place of Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian who was one of the flag-raising Marines at Iwo Jima.

I remembered seeing the 1949 movie, “Sands of Iwo Jima,” in which Hayes actually portrayed himself.  It was one of those unexpected memory recalls that left me wondering what other trivia was  hidden in my brain that might never be brought into the light without a jolt to shake it loose.

Continuing its tribute to heroes, the rest area also contained grave markers of two Arizona police officers, Mark Dryer and Johnny Garcia, who had died in the line of duty.

A nice place for a road trip stop. -- Photo by Pat Bean

A nice place for a road trip stop. — Photo by Pat Bean

After reading all the honorary plaques and informational posters, and pondering their meanings, I finally let myself simply enjoy the landscaped picnic area and the Sacaton Mountains that formed the rest area’s backdrop. What I liked best were the Palo Verde trees with their green trunks and branches.

The Palo Verde is Arizona’s State Tree. Numerous of these trees grow around my Tucson apartment, where they turn the landscape into yellow eye-candy when they blossom in early spring.  Then, depending on the desert’s dicey water situation, they drop some or even all their leaves to conserve moisture. Their green bark can do everything that leaves do, making these trees one of the most drought-tolerant in nature. Appropriately, their name in Spanish simply means green stick.

This second stop of my road trip, where Pepper and I took a short walk taking in the views, reminded me, yet once again, just how amazing Mother Nature is. Don’t you agree? To be continued …

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Extraordinary http://tinyurl.com/pzc6svh Beautiful photographs, meaningful words.

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Working Dreams

            “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucious

During my journalistic career, I wrote thousands of stories some of which I kept, like this one about the Utah Air National Guard encouraging women to join up For this assignment, I got to ride in a refueling tanker and watch over a crewman's shoulder as he refilled an F-16. And on the way back, we flew over the Grand Canyon. Did I mention how much I loved my job.

During my journalistic career, I wrote thousands of stories some of which I kept, like this one about the Utah Air National Guard encouraging women to join up For this assignment, I got to ride in a refueling tanker and watch over a crewman’s shoulder as he refilled an F-16. And on the way back, we flew over the Grand Canyon. Did I mention how much I loved my job.

My Latest Dream was No Fun

It is not uncommon for me to step back in time to my newspaper journalism days in my dreams. Most often I find myself chasing a story, overcoming obstacles to obtain all the facts, then rushing to get it written before deadline.

Sometimes I wake up before the story is complete, which annoys me. I even try to go back to sleep so I can finish the task. I took Confucious’ advice and did find a job I loved.

 

Other assignments that were special to me were the times I got to write about good people, like this one about Paul Rokich, who was known as the Johnny Appleseed of the Ouirrh Mountains.

Other assignments that were special to me were the times I got to write about good people, like this one about Paul Rokich, who was known as the Johnny Appleseed of the Ouirrh Mountains.

I also have working dreams when I find myself in a pickle of a mess, like not having a pen to write with or getting lost on the way to an assignment, or simply missing deadline. On the morning of these dreams it usually takes me a while to convince myself that the dream isn’t real and I’m not going to get yelled at by an editor.

Part of my 37 years as a journalist, however, I was also an editor, and the dreams I have along this vein involve me doing a better job of the task than I know I did when it wasn’t a dream. I had the heart of a reporter, and only the better pay near the end of my career prompted me to become a desk-bound editor.

But I even enjoy these dreams, because they teach me something about myself.

I didn’t, however, enjoy the dream I had last night. I found myself attending a political gathering, and despite all the talking going on, I couldn’t find something to write about. Every word coming out of the candidates’ mouths sounded childish, gibberish or involved unsubstantiated claims or even bullying of people because of their looks.

When I finally woke up, I was angry, and there was no doubt in my mind where this dream had come from. What made me even angrier is that I suspect I might be having more of these nightmares in the coming days.

Bean Pat: Interesting Literature http://tinyurl.com/od9sl64 If you like Lewis Carrol and Jabberwocky, you’ll like this blog.

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Keep on Keeping On

             “What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers.” Logan Pearsall Smith

Writing feels like a sliver of silver moon that sheds light on what the dark tries to hide. within the world and within ourselves. Things may still be hazy, but never again invisible. -- Photo by Pat Bean .

Writing feels like a sliver of silver moon that sheds light on what the dark tries to hide. within the world and within ourselves. Things may still be hazy, but never again invisible. — Photo by Pat Bean .

Doing That Writing Thing

            I write because to not write is to not breathe. I think I’m not alone in how I feel. .

“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.” This quote by Vita Sackville-West is my very favorite writing quote.

Why do you write, and what’s your favorite writing quote?

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I’m an Art Schizophrenic

This was a carefully done illustration of a gila woodpecker  I did to go with an Audubon birding blog.

This was a carefully drawn, then painted, illustration of a gila woodpecker I did to go with an Audubon birding blog.

“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” – E. L. Doctorow

This was a freehand col I did quickly, spending maybe 15 minutes on, and with no advance drawing.

This was a freehand watercolor I did quickly, spending maybe 15 minutes on, and with no advance drawing. I love it.

 

 

Not Sure If That’s Good or Bad

When I was a reporter, I learned to talk to everyone from the homeless guy on Ogden, Utah’s 25th Street to Congressman Jim Hansen in his Washington D.C. office. I loved my life because it was always different and never boring.

And this is a piece I agonized over for days because I had a bright idea of a fish in a bowl of flowers, and which in my opinion is a total flop.

And this is a piece I agonized over for days because I had a bright idea of a fish in a bowl of flowers, and which in my opinion is a total flop. I hate it.

But I eventually developed a voice as a journalist, not so much my own voice but as a style of writing in which I let readers see the world through my eyes. It was more difficult after I retired and began writing personal essays. I had to work to develop my own voice, and that took time. I finally decided that I write with an old broad’s voice, and I say that proudly, who is a wandering wonderer.

Lately I’ve become more active in art, particularly watercolors. This morning I looked at three recent pieces and realized, as far as technique and style, they had absolutely nothing in common. I keep experimenting hoping that I will discover an artistic voice, just as I have a writing voice.

Right now my artistic efforts are clearly schizophrenic. But then again maybe that’s my real art voice. What do you think?

Bean Pat: Paths of Color http://tinyurl.com/pyosgg3 Now this is an artist with a distinctive voice, and its one I love.

 

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Falling Down

A blast from the past: Me and Maggie hiking Mount Ogden's foothills.  -- Photo by Pat Bean.

A blast from the past: Me and Maggie hiking Mount Ogden’s foothills. — Photo by Pat Bean.

It is necessary for a man to go away by himself, to sit on a rock and ask, ‘Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?” Carl Sandburg

We Should All Do It More

            When I was learning to ski, I would sit down the second I felt out of control. But eventually I learned to stay in control and then I seldom ever fell down.

So what does my skiing instructor tell me? “You’re not falling down enough,” he said.

It was a strange comment, but I immediately understood what he meant. He was telling me that I was playing it too safe, and that this was keeping me from getting better.

The fear of falling, call it failure, is still a fault of mine. Looking back now, I realize that this fear held me back from moving forward many times over the years. I don’t know about you, but getting up seems to be the easy part for me. .

Bean Pat: Remembering http://tinyurl.com/p7byop4 I’ve had writer’s block the past couple of weeks, which is almost a first for me. This blog gave me a helpful push in the right direction.

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