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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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Mishaps are like knives, that either serve us or cut us, as we grasp them by the blade or the handle.” – James Russell Lowell

I well remember my day on Espanola Island with my new sea lion friends. 

A Journal Page from a Non-Wandering Wanderer

As I’m reading my journal from 2005, when I was more active as a wanderer, I came across an entry of a day I had forgotten. It came at the end of an 11-day trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, and while these days of wondrous sights are still etched in my brain, this last day slipped by without leaving much of an imprint.

Here is what I wrote about it in my journal the next day:

And I will never forget the blue-footed boobies. — Photo by Pat Bean

Yesterday was “interesting.” It took us from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to make a short flight from San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands to Quito, Ecuador. Our plane was hit by lighting, and when we finally landed, our luggage was placed on the top of the van that drove us to our hotel.

A sudden heavy rain drenched everything in my luggage, and that of the other passengers as well.  Luckily a pair of my clean underwear dried out overnight.

And what a night it was. About 1 a.m. the hotel shook and I was almost tossed out of bed. A 6.1 earthquake had hit near Quito. Then at 4 a.m., without much more sleep, I got up and got dressed for the early morning flight back to Houston.

As I said, and “interesting” day.

I can’t help but wonder if I might have had a bit more to say about that July 13, 2005, day I I wasn’t still enjoying my memories of the Galapagos Islands.

Bean Pat: https://cheerstotraveling.com/2018/03/28/add-westman-islands-to-iceland-itinerary/  More Islands to visit. And Heimeay, too, just to see the colorful puffin statue if for no other reason.

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 think we consider too much of the early bird, and not enough of the bad luck of the early worm.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt.

I hope you already have had breakfast when you view this photo of the first California condor born in captivity. — From my 1983 scrapbook memories.

A Historic First

I was regional editor at the Time-News in Twin Falls, Idaho, in 1983, when the first California condor was hatched in captivity from an egg taken from the wild. It was a Saturday night, and the Associated Press sent out a news release of the birth, along with color separations for a photo that could be used with the story. This was before digital capabilities and when color in a newspaper, except for the comics, was not an everyday occurrence.

A bit less bloody photo of a young California condor and a parent. — Wikimedia photo

I was in charge of putting out the Sunday front page, and since it was a slow news night, I decided to use the condor wire piece as the lead story above the fold. It wasn’t hard to convince myself of the story’s significance, as it included the information that there were then less than 30 of the birds known to exist in the world.

California condors are North America’s largest bird, having a wing span of almost five feet, and weighing up to 25 pounds. The near extinction of these birds in the 20th century was caused by hunting, lead poisoning, loss of habitat, and the prolific use of DDT before it was banned.  The pesticide caused the condor’s eggs to have soft shells, which then didn’t survive to hatching.

And this is what they grow up to look like. — Wikimedia photo

Anyway, I assigned the story to the front page, wrote a headline, and informed the press room that I wanted the condor chick photo to be in color, a task they weren’t too happy to fulfill. I knew getting the color separations coordinated exactly right was tricky, but I had fallen in love with that tiny ball of ugly fluff that was the newborn condor. He was so ugly he was beautiful – at least in my mind.

I should have listened to the pressmen.

The image that greeted Sunday morning Times-News readers was anything but pretty. The color plates had dumped out an image that looked like it had been soaked in witch’s blood. Even I was appalled. And readers sent a barrage of letters to the paper complaining that the photo had spoiled their Sunday morning breakfasts.

I had barely stepped inside the newsroom on Monday morning when I was told to report to the managing editor’s office, where I found a displeased boss. I defended my choice of story as being historic – and my use of the color photo as a bad mistake.

Thankfully I kept my job. But it was too late to stop the damage to my soul – I had fallen in love with the carrion scavenging condors, and their good-news, survival story, which I have been following ever since. We humans, who almost destroyed the condors, helped made it up to these birds.

As of 2012, there were 405 known condors; in 1987, there were only 27.  Today, more than 200 of these condors are once again flying free, mostly over Arizona, Utah, California and Mexico.

I was privileged to see two of them flying wild and free near the east entrance to Zion National Park in the 1990s.

Bean Pat: The way forward https://thewhyaboutthis.com/2018/02/18/the-way-forward/#like-26548 Yes, yes and yes!

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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“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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Hem and Haw

“I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”  —  Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

I hemmed and hawed about continuing on the trail when I saw this baby guarding it. Wisely I reversed my direction. — Photo by Pat Bean

Huh and Um

I have this idea list of blog topics. Every time something pops into my mind that intrigues me, I add it to the list, which by now is several pages long.

This morning, sitting in front of a blank page on my computer screen with a mind that seemed to have nothing to say, I got out the list. As I skimmed through it, I came to the words hem and haw. I had no idea where this idea came from. It must have been on my list a long time.

Not sure where it would lead me, but I decided to give it a shot.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, hem is an interjectional utterance like a slight half cough, used to attract attention, the same sound depicted by the interjection “ahem. The verb “to hem” dates to the 15th century. “Haw,” which dates back to the 1600s, is another case of a word imitating a sound, in this case “as an expression of hesitation.

The dictionary went on to note that today we are more likely to say “uh,” “huh,” or “um” when faced with a sudden decision, but the feeling is the same.

Briefly, that’s it, and now you know as much as I do about hemming and hawing, which evidently is what I was doing trying to come up with a blog topic.

Or perhaps you know more. If so, this writer who loves words and is always curious as a cat, would like to know, too.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Santa Clause and Bruce Springsteen This should put you in the mood for Christmas. It did me.  https://theimmortaljukebox.com/2017/12/13/christmas-alphabet-s-for/

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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