Writing Out Loud

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Adopting Nature’s Pace


A friend of mine, Shawn Poland, who lives a couple of hours north of me in Maine’s western hills area, suggested I put together a video of my writing experiences, but I had no idea how to go about that. So when he offered to do the honors, I took him up on it, and below is the wonderful result of our remote collaboration.

While viewing the video is still difficult for me on some levels, I’m thrilled that, with Shawn’s talented technical help, I was able to commit to posterity a record of the years I spent living the woods, writing about nature, and taking those experiences with me to the present time. Viewing it takes me back to a happy time, and although I no longer live in either of those idyllic places, I can say that I’ve been there and done that. Now, I can revisit those experiences any time I want simply by clicking the Play arrow.

My hope is that others also take inspiration from those experiences, and, like Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose quote I rearranged for my own title, “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”


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Nothing Else


Yesterday, I took a short drive to a place I’ve only just recently rediscovered and where I sat on a bench beneath a great old maple tree. During the late spring and summer, this tree’s leaves are a bright vibrant green. But at this time of year–late October–they’re intensely yellow almost to the point of glowing when touched by the sun. And yesterday was just such a sunny day, so that tree was literally on fire.

I looked up through its branches from where I was sitting and found there were no words…none at all…that could adequately describe how that felt…to look straight up through a startlingly intense tangle of leaf and bough that was, ironically, in its last throes before the next strong wind or storm decimates it for another year. But that’s the thing…for just another year, not forever, unless someone comes along to cut that tree down, thus ending its life for all time. But in the place where it stands, protected, well-cared-for, and revered, I doubt that will be happening any time soon.

When I first got there, I was alone. And the only sounds I could hear were the wind in those dazzling yellow leaves above me and the calls of birds. Every few seconds, the wind increased and a few more leaves fell from the tree, some doing a small pirouette as they descended, others simply floating on the breeze in a to-and-fro motion. At that point, I heard voices in the distance and noticed two women walking toward where I was sitting.

As they passed, they never stopped chattering, and that, of course, spoiled the silence and serenity for a few moments until they moved far enough away so I couldn’t hear them anymore. It occurred to me how vastly perceptions of certain places and experiences can and do vary. There I was, needing no other sound other than that of the wind and birds, while they walked along talking nonstop. While I can’t be absolutely sure, of course, I suspect that they missed the true wonder of that place, lost as it was in the sound of their own voices.

I hope that, at some point in their lives, they and others like them, DO take a moment now and then to be still and listen to what Nature has to say, because she’s got plenty to talk about in that wordless way of hers that I love so much. Trees communicate, too, and yesterday, that maple I sat beneath was singing for all the world to hear…something along the lines of…”Let your gaze linger on me and you’ll know there is nothing else you need…”



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Mirror Image

I have the great good fortune to live in a quiet little place that overlooks a small pond located in southern Maine. From my window overlooking the water, I have watched the seasons unravel, birds and squirrels frolicking, and even a bald eagle once touching down on the snowfield that the pond is transformed into in winter, cocking its great proud white head to listen for fish bubbling just below the ice. Today, the water is still, calm, and smooth as glass, creating a perfect mirror image of the pines and denuded oak trees growing on the little island opposite this shoreline.

As I look out across it, I find yet another metaphor for the writing process in how the water creates an exact and perfect, albeit reversed and slightly distorted, image of what lives above it. Similarly, writing is a reflection of the author’s experiences. Still and smooth one day, rippled and abstract the next, and often the switch comes without warning as the creative winds start to blow all the words about, shaping and reshaping them over and over again until they ultimately come to rest in their final configuration.

But one truth is constant: it is always a reflection, as though the writer himself or herself were standing at the pond’s edge and looking down into the water. For the face staring back is not just a face but a record of all the writer has seen, experienced, and felt, and that is later transferred to paper or screen. In this way, all writing is not only reflection but the very act of reflecting itself.

What a nice thought…that of possessing one of the very qualities and abilities that water does. And how nice to think that we understand each other so well!

Get a glimpse of my reflections by visiting my Amazon page at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00JJ259DS

Thank you!

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The Gentle Approach

Since learning to read in the early grades, I’ve read hundreds of books, thousands of articles, and the backs of countless cereal boxes. I’ve often been asked what types of books I like, do I have a favorite author, a favorite genre? To all of which I’d have to reply, “None really, no, and no.” The closest I can come to accurately describing my reading tastes is that I know a good book when I’ve read one. For no one author, despite how “favorite” he or she is, produces gems all the time. And you don’t need a degree to know that there is a lot of really crappy writing out there, a sad fact that the Internet has not helped at all.

When I decided to try my own hand at writing fiction, I remembered the mantra that I’d heard all through my college years and that I read long after that in many how-to books and author’s memoirs: write what you know. And so that’s exactly what I did. I didn’t attempt to venture into territory that was foreign to me, and I could no more write a believable book set in China than I could about flying an airplane. I’ve never lived in China, nor have I ever flown an airplane, so I have no business writing about either one.

But I HAVE lived, and through that sometimes very painful process, I have picked up a few experiences along the way that I can write about in a spirit of complete authenticity and authority. And they are what I write about, or they are what filters through the sentences I craft around my fictional characters. And I am delighted each time I read the forward to a work by a classic author in which the fact emerges that part of the story deals metaphorically with the author’s own experiences. You see, there aren’t many books in which the author doesn’t appear through one or more characters. For it is impossible to write with any measure of reliability if one dos not put oneself smack dab into the action, because writing is a channeling of emotion, and emotion often proceeds from the reaction to a particular life event.

Along those lines, the books I’ve published on Amazon Kindle took their own instinctive paths through my own emotional experiences or through the maze of observations I’ve accumulated through the years. None of them are earth-shattering blockbuster types of stories that will keep you on the edge of your seat. They are, rather, journeys through the psyches of a handful of individuals whom I seem to have been following forever, their stories put away to be told at some future date, which just so happens to be now…