Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”

— Rainer Maria Rilke

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Photo by Lê Tân on Unsplash

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Ugh, Tuesday

My brain is just about broken. This quote from one of my favorite fun authors fits right in:

“ Generally speaking, if you fiddle with something, it will break. Don’t.”

― Jasper Fforde, Shades of Grey

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I might have fiddled a little bit. Photo by Beth Rufener on Unsplash

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You know those days when hoped-for sun never arrives and the design project that should have taken half an hour takes three and the pears you thought would be perfect in a fruit torte are rock hard and the bananas you need today aren’t anywhere near ripe, even after you bake them in a 300F oven for an hour?

It’s that kind of day.

So, ok, not great. But then I came up with not one but two solutions to the design issue and turned the pears into slow-cooked lemon, cinnamon and cardamom pear butter and made blueberry Grand Marnier tortes and I can work around the banana problem, I probably didn’t need the extra sugar anyway.

And you know what? It’s fine if the sun doesn’t come out today.

I’m shining on the inside.

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Photo by Johnny Briggs on Unsplash

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The good news is that there is a lot of up and coming fiction addressing issues of climate, change, and the environment. (The bad news is that we need it.)

Grist/Fix: Solutions Lab has a new climate fiction issue out, with discussions about the role of fiction in fixing reality and a dozen new stories from their “Imagine 2200: Climate Fiction for Future Ancestors” short story contest to get us started.

The Climate Fiction Issue: How fiction can change our reality | Fix

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I vote for this as one of the feel-good stories of the year. Because what’s happier than real-life hobbits?

‘What is this if not magic?’ The Italian man living as a hobbit

“I decided that I wanted to live my hobbit life to the fullest… I wanted people to enter my mind, my fantasy. Many make fun of us. Some think I am trying to escape from reality. Far from it. I am living my dream, my adventure.”

— Nicolas Gentile, hobbit

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Good for you, Italian hobbit man, good for you.

Photo by Andres Iga on Unsplash

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I recently finished a book that should have checked all my boxes, but in the end… didn’t. The characters started off interesting but came down with a case of the stupids and never fully recovered.* The characters also spent most of their time floating around like bobbers on an unbaited line. When they eventually found their purpose it was too late, and the book finished before actually ending.

When a story is like that I find my mind stays twisted up in it, fidgeting with its edges, trying to work out how it should have fit together rather than how it did. Like a jumbled Rubik’s Cube made of words. A stream flowing in the wrong direction. Or an itch I can’t scratch.

Sometimes that itch gets to the point where I find I have to Do Something about it.

Once upon a time I read a British coming-of-age novel called I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. I remember it as charming and it mostly worked for me, at least until the end. I finished the book and thought, “Nope, I’m afraid that won’t do.” And as an exercise for the annoyed problem-solver at the back of my mind, I rewrote the final chapters.

I moved a stack of Jim Butcher books yesterday and happened upon that new ending. It now sits on my bookshelf next to the original book. 

I bound everything in gold-stamped cover stock and ribbon that year.

Sometimes what you need is to step back and think, “This little piece of the world could be better.” And then work to make it so.

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Photo by Thom Milkovic on Unsplash

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* This is, of course, just my opinion. At some point you may read the same book and think, “That was the most brilliant and lyrical story ever.” That’s cool too.

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Today: Doing

“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”

― Carl Gustav Jung

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“Never envy someone who is better than you. It will stop you from looking at how they do it.”

— Gianpiero Petriglieri

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Original Photo by Jim Tegman on Unsplash

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This is my (non-day job related) To Do List Action Matrix (sounds very official, amirite?)

Ooh, I feel the actiony energies bubbling up already. Wait, how is it lunchtime already?

Not the complete list, you understand, but a selection of the items I am most likely to tackle in the next few days.

He he. Let’s see how far I get, shall we?

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Photo by Omer Salom on Unsplash

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A storm rolled through last night.

I’ve always loved good thunder and lightning, but this was next level. As I listened to the rumbles like drums and watched bolts of energy streak through the sky, I thought a bit about Mother Nature, and how we often seem to be playing catch-up.

When it’s wet, find a nice cave for shelter. If it’s cold, master fire. If it floods, head for high ground until the water recedes.

I’m oversimplifying, of course, but our instincts, and now our infrastructure and our policies, often seem static or reactive. Particularly in times of great change.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get ahead of the curve?

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Take pollinators, for example. (You knew I’d get to that at some point, didn’t you?)

In the US and Canada, my home turf, communities are full of bylaws governing what you can and can’t do with property in the communal sphere. It’s your land, but you probably aren’t allowed to grow a towering oak directly under a power line or leave rusting car parts by the sidewalk as a tetanus reservoir for children and dogs. 

That’s all seems reasonable, and on the side of the greater good. But what about redefining “good” to include not just aesthetically pleasing symbols of European aristocracy in a bygone era (aka close-cropped grass lawns), but also what we all need for a healthy and successful future?

Take this gentleman as an example:

Kansas City Man’s Plea For Native Flower Justice Unites Gardeners Around The World

He did what scientists and ecologists around the world are encouraging, and turned his yard into a pollinator paradise. My hat is off to him. But the city reacted by telling him to cut it down because it violated city code. I would argue that this is because they are operating on an outdated definition of what’s “good.”

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recent survey asked teens how they felt about the job their elders are doing on climate, and the results were both predictable and cause for a bit of reflection. The kids are deeply disappointed, and they have reason. The good news is that many members of “Generation Greta” aren’t waiting around.

That’s not to say that nothing has changed. Solar panels, electric vehicles, wind turbines, the push for accountability down the supply chain, all good things. Even so, many of our current policies remain stuck in the past. We’re on the right path but we’re not going fast enough. And not everyone is moving in the same direction.

It’s time for the sort of thinking at which writers and creatives (and teenagers) excel: new ideas, new approaches, and a reimagining of what we can do now, even in the face of current challenges.

Even if it’s something as small as what grows in your front yard.

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As I sat there last night in my cave, rain and thunder all around, I realized that our definitions aren’t all that will matter in the end.

And that it’s always smart to stay on Mother Nature’s good side.

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Photo by Dave Hoefler on Unsplash

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