Writing Out Loud

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Trees...the sun and I...

For all who wonder what the purpose is of writing a book, I don’t have a ready answer, as the motivation is unique to each writer. A piece of writing can be the result of sudden inspiration, a message that absolutely must be shared, or a story that just won’t go away until it’s consigned to paper or word processing screen. Some writers become wildly successful, while others enjoy a modest sense of accomplishment. Then there are those who write simply because they have something to say that they think is important enough to share, and they don’t really care if they make a dime.

I’ve come to believe that what a person chooses to write about also says a lot about his or her reason for doing it. In my case, I write primarily about Nature. That takes the literary mantra “Write about what you know” to a whole new level, as I don’t just write about something I know a lot about but because it makes more sense to me than anything else does, especially now in these very troubled times, when NOTHING “out there” makes much sense. And when something makes that much sense and leaves no room for doubt, well, the words just flow.

That’s how it is with Nature and me: I get her and she gets me. And together, we make some pretty good music. In our world, there are no loud voices or disputes, and other than birds twittering, the wind blowing in the tops of pine trees, or the rustling of chipmunks chasing each other through the dry leaves, there is no sound at all. The benefit of that? I get to hear what my thoughts sound like, and what’s more, I hear whatever it is that Nature is trying to tell me. We have secrets, she and I, and from time to time, we share a few, and that is why I wrote this book.

It was time to let others in on it…





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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…


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The Smartest Kid Who Had Ever Lived

I can’t remember now just when I started reading books. In the blue-collar world that I grew up in, books weren’t a familiar sight. My father read the local newspaper, and my mother an occasional True Story magazine. Beyond that, an old used comic book or two might have wandered in past our threshold, and there was always the Sears catalog that was deposited with a loud thunk on our front porch each by paid deliverers. But that was it, until 1960 when the encyclopedia salesman came knocking on our back door.

Some of these guys (and yes, they were all men back then) could be pretty crafty. They knew that, with just a few exceptions, proper Franco-American families rarely opened their front doors to anyone unless it was a very special occasion. The accepted practice was always to use the back door, as that’s how you could be sure that whoever was knocking wasn’t a stranger. In our case, our kitchen window looked right out onto the back porch, which made it easy for us to see a visitor before he or she had even had a chance to knock.

Either this particular salesman was fast or my parents had been distracted and hadn’t seen him pass by the window. But there he was, sitting at our kitchen table giving us his spiel for all he was worth, and my father soaking it all up like a sponge. My poor dear father with his sixth-grade education and his job as a doffer in the mill couldn’t help but be impressed when the salesman asked me which animal carried its babies in a pouch and I automatically and very confidently blurted out “A kangaroo!” I then became, for those few instances and in Daddy’s eyes at least, The Smartest Kid Who Had Ever Lived.

Well, he bought the encyclopedia for a dollar a week, which was, in 1960 and for a man who worked at one of the least-paying jobs in the mill, a large investment. The deal had been made sweeter with the inclusion of a “free” white leather-bound Holy Bible that my mother came to cherish and which I still have to this day. Daddy drew the line, however, at the yearly supplements that would cost more money, and we cheered when the big box arrived to deposit the twelve hot-off-some-foreign-press sweet-smelling volumes of the Wonderland of Knowledge into our lives.

And that was when my reading career began in earnest, as I spent that entire summer reading that encyclopedia. I can’t remember now how far I got, but I seem to remember that I was in the C’s or thereabouts, which might have been the third volume. The only one I am sure of was the last one which I was destined never to add to my list of “Books I Have Read,” and which bore on the spine the acronym “Tie-Zwi Maps.” (The things we remember…)

I’m also no longer sure just when I first visited a public library, but I’m sure it was probably on a school trip. And then there were also the summer reading books, another financial burden for my family; but oh, how I looked forward to the smell of those brand new paperback books each June! Once I finally managed to get my hands on books that bore more than just a few letters on their spines, I was lost in a world not of my own making but of whoever managed to draw me into their seas of words.

I deduced not long into it that maybe I could write stories, too. But it was only after a few more detours and “roads not taken” that I would finally come to the realization that “hey, I can do this!”

So I did, and I still do, and I’m not done yet, not even close!