Wednesday Walks

I’m going to try to blog weekly, after a Wednesday Walk, and will post pictures here….

The benefits of walking are well documented – low impact, almost anyone can do it anywhere with just a pair of shoes, it’s free, extends your life – all benefits worthy of picking up the habit. But many writers and thinkers find walking is an important part of their creative life, too. I find a daily walk clears my head, helps me process things percolating in my subconscious, and feels like an accomplishment, even if not much else has gotten crossed off the to-do list.

Here’s my current favorite walk, taken this Wednesday. It’s a 3.6 mile trek to, from, and around Spring Lake. Right now it’s just what I need. The colors change depending on the time of day. There’s shade for hot days, and sun for chilly days. There are hills and flat sections. There are ducks and geese and squirrels to watch, as well as walkers, runners, and stand-up-paddlers. I find the notes section on my phone is filled with ideas, small and large, that come from these walks. There’s something about the circular nature of the walk – the slow getting to the lake through pale grasses and oak trees, the trail around the lake dodging toddlers feeding ducks and anglers casting for fish, then the long and good trudge back with tired legs. While I can’t do the walk every day, I find the days I do fill me with just what my day needs – “forest bathing” seems like just the right term.

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(Framed view from a favorite bench)

While some days I need to listen to a podcast or an audio book, other days I’m content to listen to the sounds around me. Some days I pass many a slower walker, while other I’m content to stroll and sit on a new bench for a different view.

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(Same view, but with the white cross made of rocks visible on the hill. The cross is fading with time and as the grasses take it over. For 31 years, a combat veteran had permission from the landowners to hike the hill, spray the weeds, and place the white-painted rocks in the shape of an enormous cross. however, when he died at age 96, the landowners would not grant the same access to a 15 year-old boy who wanted the job. It’s slowly reverting back to nature. Story here.)

The view you see here is from this bench.

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I don’t know who Jim Dunwoody is or was, but I thank him for this place with the perfectly framed view.

Another favorite place to stop is this lovely bench under an willow tree. Once, my teen son was injured and couldn’t make the rest of the walk, so left him there to sit for awhile. I always think of him when I pass.

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Where’s your favorite walking place?

Business Cards, Bibliophiles, Bigfoot and… ZZ Top?

I recently needed to make up some new business cards for the SCBWI LA conference. If I was going to the trouble of printing them up, I wanted something unique, something that represented me. But I didn’t have much time, and didn’t want to pay for a custom logo or anything. I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me that all the templates on Zazzle and Moo just fell flat, but still, come on, guys! Typewriters and moving pens? That’s the best you can do? (Sorry if that’s what’s on your business card – I’m sure it’s just fine!)

So I went in search of something more personal. I looked at all the images I had created for my first writing project, Centennium, awaiting revision while I work on my current project, but they were all just too… bad. (Drawing just ain’t my thing, as you’ll soon see below.)

Inspired by one of my critique partners who created her own thank you cards from her childhood birthday party photos, I looked at old writing I did as a kid, and had a good giggle or two, but, well, who puts their first grade essay on Bigfoot on their business card?

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Note the date (OK, outing myself here): June 9, 1976. I was seven. Check out what Bigfoot is saying: “She’s got legs! Wo-wo”. Sorry, what? I’m assuming Bigfoot’s talking about me. What did he expect I’d have, flippers? And weirder still, ZZ Top’s “She’s Got Legs” didn’t come out until 1983…. Hmmmm. I started thinking I had a copyright case. As you can see, this business card thing had me way off track, Googling ZZ Top lyrics and copyright law.

The only thing left to do was to stare off into space, which is what I do when I’m stuck with the writing. And there, strategically placed into that staring-off-space was my “inspiration shelf”, a collection of things from my childhood, and random bits of whimsy. And there, front and center, was an image I’d bought in a bookstore in Rome last spring.

I’ve always loved books, and especially old books. My grandfather was a bibliophile and used book dealer. Thinking of him still reminds me of the smell of old books and Coffee Nips. Visits with him always involved side trips to the used bookstores (even when we were just supposed to be going for milk). I spent many an afternoon leafing through books, searching for treasures. My first project, Centennium, is all about the love of books, the magic of stories, and very special grandfather. In Centennium, the multi-generational publishing family has one special edition of each of the ninety-nine published Beckett Books illuminated by hand. So last spring, when I stumbled into an antiquarian bookstore in Rome, and they had this stack of “initial caps” – the first letter of a chapter that’s larger and often stylized – I had to have one. And now I have one from Paris, too.

So that was it. An image for my business card. It represents my writer identity perfectly: it’s old (hey!), shows a reverence for books, and has a bit of whimsy and mystery. (I really do wonder what these Romans are burning, and what book this came from.) But the most important thing was, I was done! Now I just have to hope they arrive before I leave for the conference….

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(And as my little gift to you, if you’re of a certain age, I bet you have the tune to “She’s Got Legs” running through your head, and images of long legs and beards. You’re welcome.)

My Favorite Writerly Resources

I’ll continue to add to this list of resources, and find it a permanent home on the site:

Workshops and Conferences

SCBWI Summer Conference

Regional conferences –  San Francisco North and East Bay

Big Sur Writing Workshop, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

Better Books Marin

 

Blogs

R.L. LaFevers, For Writers

KidLit.com – Mary Kole

Nathan Bransford

 

Podcasts

Inside the New York Times Book Review

New Yorker Fiction

The Guardian Children’s Books

The Narrative Breakdown – Cheryl Klein and James Monohan

 

Software

Scrivener

Freedom

 

Websites

SCBWI

Publisher’s Marketplace

SCFWA Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions – Patricia C. Wrede

 

Books

The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron

Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maas

Reading Like a Writer, by Francine Prose

The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, by Christopher Vogler

 

Videos

Martha Alderson’s 27-step plot tutorial on plot and structure

 

For Fun and Inspiration

On Writing, by Stephen King

Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott

Laini Taylor’s Blog

Pinterest

 

Favorite Local Bookstores

Copperfield’s Books

Book Passage