Friday, June 8, 2012

Unusual things found in books

I do quite a bit of reading, which means I buy a lot of books -- new books and used books, hardcover and paperbacks. (eBooks too, but they don't apply to this post.) When I come across them, I also pick up books for a couple of neighbors who don't drive and therefore don't have access to treasure hunts.

On weekend I scour garage sales, thrift shops and used bookstores to satisfy my passion. I always find something interesting; sometimes I find more than words on a page.

People leave the oddest things behind as (I assume) bookmarks. I've found ordinary items such as dollar bills, bits of paper towels, paper clips, stuff like that. Sometimes, though, what's left behind is more personal and unusual.

Today, for example, I picked up a book titled You were Born for This by Bruce Wilkinson. This find looked unread and seemed the perfect choice for a neighbor who is quite a bit more religious than I. (She has a collection of Marianne Williamson works so I thought this would be a nice addition to her library.)

I almost always flip through a book before I buy it but today I was in a hurry (I had frozen food in the car.) so I bought it for its appearance.

When I got home, I riffled through the pages and noticed a piece of folded paper near the middle. It was a little tattered where a seal had been impressed, but the identity was perfectly clear.

A certified abstract of marriage for the groom and bride, married in September, 1998 in Clark County, Nevada.

Now, what should I do about this? Toss it? Frame it? Try to find the owner?

Better still (or in addition to whatever I decide to do) I suddenly found myself plotting a novel based on the find.

Hmmm. Maybe I should read Wilkinson's book -- it's about everyday miracles.
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Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Artist's Way -- Masochism

Last week I picked up a copy of Julia Cameron's 1992 book, The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.

I read this book when it first came out but never followed any of the author's advice ... or at least I don't think I followed any of the author's advice. (I'll know more about that subject as I read it again.)

As I read, a particular passage hit home.

Judging your early artistic efforts is artist abuse. This happens in any number of ways: beginning work is measured against the masterworks of other artists; beginning work is exposed to premature criticism, shown to overly critical friends. In short, the fledgling artist behaves with well-practiced masochism. Masochism is an art form long ago mastered, perfected during the years of self-reproach; this habit is the self-hating bludgeon with which a shadow artist can beat himself right back into the shadows.
 Since I've been having a problem with the ending of my almost-finished manuscript, I realize what the author mentions here is part of the dilemma. As I begin to wrap up all the loose ends, I start to think about my first two eBooks and begin to doubt their value. I think: "I know they don't measure up to the work of more successful writers." I start to chastise myself for even trying to write this kind of stuff. 

I am, in Cameron's words, a masochist.

I don't think I'm unique.Am I? Do you go suffer artistic masochism? Do any of today's top-selling authors go through artistic masochism?

Guess I'll be reading the entire book again, this time with more attention to detail.
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Friday, June 1, 2012

My blogging mantra

When I first decided not to force myself to blog like a maniac I wasn't sure how much time would pass between posts. It didn't matter then and it doesn't matter now.

When I debuted this project I found myself clinging to the blogger's mantra: Post daily; post often. It was fun -- to start -- but as soon as it started to feel like a real job. You know, that nine-to-five drag we all experience.

Little Fella
I had to rethink the entire idea behind blogging -- my blogging in particular.. It occurred to me that this isn't about producing copy; it's about expressing thoughts, ideas, opinions, and information. It's also about putting things into perspective, not. the need to get every thought, idea, opinion or tidbit of information onto the web quickly.

Intermittent posting attests to a busy life. There's writing, hiking, reading, attending to social networking, emailing, eating out, visiting friends (in person or by phone), walking the dog, mowing the lawn, paying bills, shopping, and myriad other daily events (including trying to buy a house).

Intermittent posting also attests to an evaluation of what's being said. For example, I'm sure the world doesn't care that I have a new (unwelcome) roommate, a mouse I've dubbed Little Fella. (Okay, that might be a tweet, just for fun.) (Note to self: If it looked like Mickey, we'd have another store altogether.) So, why bother?

So, when blogging fits into the schedule, when there's something that meets my criteria ...
when the muse hits, I'll post.  
That's my blogging mantra. 

PS: In case you're looking for a humane way to catch a mouse, check out this unique approach.