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I feel like the past nine days have been like a storm on the horizon keeping me holed up inside of myself.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

I feel like the past nine days have been  a storm on the horizon that has kept me holed up inside of myself. — Photo by Pat Bean

So Many Questions, Only One Answer

            My goal for this year was to post three times a week. Mostly I met it, and even sometimes exceeded it. But it’s been nine days since I posted on this blog. Nine unproductive days in which I have done nothing that gave me a sense of achievement.

It feels good to have weathered that storm, and to once again be on the path I chose for myself. While I've thought about other paths, they aren't the ones that sustain me. -- Photo by Pat Bean

It feels good to have weathered that storm, and to once again be on the path I chose for myself. While I’ve thought about other paths, they aren’t the ones that sustain me. — Photo by Pat Bean

Now I’m asking myself why I keep on keeping on. Why do I continue to struggle to get my book, “Travels with Maggie,” published? Why do I continue to send out my travel articles and other essays to markets when I get more rejections than acceptances? Why do feel I must write every day?

I think about giving it all up, simply living this third trimester of my life lazing about. I would have to be quite frugal, but I’ve done that all my life. I long ago realized money is nice to have, but has nothing to do with happiness.

The truth is, my past nine days of lazing about morphed the happy person I’ve always been into someone I suddenly didn’t know, or particularly like.

Now, however, as I ponder these questions in the way I do best – with my fingers on my computer in front of a blank page – I find myself smiling. It feels amazing and wonderful to once again be the person I have come to know and love.

I guess that’s my answer to why I keep on keeping on.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: To Girls of all Age http://tinyurl.com/ld44qas I love this message. It touched my soul.

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            “Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.” — Cicero, 106-43 BC

Maggie, sadly, has left this world. I couldn't, however, have had a better companion to explore this country with than this spoiled brat -- and I say that lovingly, and all who knew her would agree with the description. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Maggie, sadly, has left this world. I couldn’t, however, have had a better companion to explore this country with than this spoiled brat — and I say that lovingly, and all who knew her would agree with the description. — Photo by Pat Bean

Step by Step

I laughed out loud when I read the above quote, which started off a recent Blood Red Pencil blog http://tinyurl.com/m33au3r  that I often read because it usually has a lot of good advice about writing.

Gypsy Lee, Me and Maggie's home for eight years. Pepper was my companion for the final year of my living on the road life style. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Gypsy Lee, Me and Maggie’s home for eight years. Pepper was my companion for the final year of my living on the road life style. — Photo by Pat Bean

Today’s was especially meaningful, as I have completed my book, “Travels with Maggie,” and now want to self-publish it. I’ve not been doing anything toward this goal for the past six weeks, sort of like that person who is just one class short of earning a college degree, but then drops out of school.

Come to think of it, I have two other books I’ve written that went no farther than a first draft. “Travels with Maggie,” however, has now had three rewrites, and I feel good about the content

So I’m going to take the advice given in the Blood-Red Pencil blog to do one thing every day toward getting my book published and marketed. Actually this is a pretty good goal for any project.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: The Wanderlust Gene http://tinyurl.com/nx9qv3m  If you love trees, you’ll love this blog.

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“No one knows what causes an outer landscape to become an inner one.” – Margaret Atwood

The drive between Dallas and Austin is filled with roadside bluebonnets right now. Get out and go see them. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The drive between Dallas and Austin is filled with roadside bluebonnets right now. Get out and go see them. — Photo by Pat Bean

Catch ‘em While You Can

I drove from Dallas to Austin this past Thursday to attend the Story Circle Network’s Stories from the Heart memoir conference. The bluebonnets alongside the road on my I-35 and toll road 130 route were magnificent.

 

Up close and personal with Texas' state flower.

Up close and personal with Texas’ state flower.

On Sunday, after a fantastic few days of association with like-minded writer women, I made the return trip — and the bluebonnets were even more abundant and just as magnificent.

How could anyone not like bluebonnets?

They were named bluebonnets because someone thought they looked like the bonnets worn by pioneer women.

Texas’ singing cowboy “Pappy” O’Daniel, who became governor of the state when I was 2 years old, sang: “you may be on the plains or the mountains or down where the sea breezes blow, but bluebonnets are one of the prime factors that make the state the most beautiful land that we know.”

The Indian paintbrush blossoms along side Texas highways aren't too shabby either. --  Photo by Pat Bean

The Indian paintbrush blossoms along side Texas highways aren’t too shabby either. — Photo by Pat Bean

Did you catch that Texas pride there? I have to admit it’s something I share.

If you were a native Texan, like me, and saw the fields of bluebonnets I’ve seen this past week, you would understand. .

This is a really good year for bluebonnets, which require special conditions of rain, sun and cold, to bloom at their best. But the fields of blue are short-lived.

So if you can, catch them soon.

The Wondering-Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering-Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Not Yet There http://tinyurl.com/k243py5 This is one of my favorite bloggers, and this month Red Jim is writing poetry daily because it’s National Poetry Month.

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Taking a Break

             “The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off.” — Abe Lemons  

Bring it on world. I'm ready for you again.--Photo by T.C. Ornelas

Bring it on world. I’m ready for you again.–Photo by T.C. Ornelas

Or Not

I was the oldest, and had three brothers whom I often became the caretaker for.  I married quite young and soon had five kids to take care of. When the oldest was 11 and the youngest was two, I went to work full time as a journalist and added that to taking care of five kids.

But I will never be so busy that I forget to smell the flowers, or in this case, admire the ones created in glass by Dale Chihuly. == Photo by Pat Bean

But I will never be so busy that I forget to smell the flowers, or in this case, admire the ones created in glass by Dale Chihuly. == Photo by Pat Bean

It felt like I was on vacation when they all left home, and I only had a 50-hour-per-week job that I loved — and actually spent 24 hours a day thinking and dreaming about in my head.

In 2004, I retired, sold my home, bought a small RV, and spent the next nine years living in it and traveling this country, which pretty much kept both my body and mind occupied full time.

Last year I nested in Tucson, and began a schedule that included daily writing on a book, a job writing a travel blog for American Profile magazine three times a week, and a dog-walking business in my apartment complex for working pet owners.

At about the same time I finished the book, the magazine was bought out by a conglomerate and I lost my blogging job, leaving me with only my dog-walking gig, which I started to make sure this old broad gets plenty of daily exercise..

While I have dozens of writing projects in my head, and really could use the money they might generate, I’ve taken a break this past week, with the exception of daily walking Pepper and two other dogs.

I’ve read and read some more, watched all the Star Trek movies on Netflix, spent a whole day playing Settlers with a friend, ate too much, slept in and generally did nothing I considered worthwhile, not even writing this blog.

It was nice – for a while. But I realized, as I lay awake in bed last night, retirement is not for me. I’m ready to get back to the grindstone. It really is what makes me happy.

The Wondering-Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering-Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: Giggle of the Week http://tinyurl.com/k98m8g9 I’m still laughing.

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“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” – Vivian Greene

You may never find that pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, but that shouldn't keep you from looking. -- Photo by Pat Bean

You may never find that pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, but that shouldn’t keep you from looking. — Photo by Pat Bean

Stepping into the Unknown

            I’m not a person who likes to give advice. I’ve made too many bad decisions in my own life to think I can mentor anyone else, particularly someone whose end goals may be 180 degrees from my own.

This refrigerator magnet is how I want to be remembered.

This refrigerator magnet is how I want to be remembered.

But the ages have taught me that if you want something in life, you should go for it. And then, if you don’t get it, you should celebrate yourself for having the guts to have gone for it.

Some things we want, like my fulfilling my dream of travel by selling my home, buying an RV and driving that first mile, only depended on me having the guts to do it.

Other things, like my dream of finding an agent and a publisher for my book, “Travels with Maggie,” depend on others – and it may never happen.  So right now, I’m celebrating each rejection slip as a triumph. I’m taking that first step toward my goal – and even if I never achieve it, I’ll know it wasn’t because I didn’t try.  

The Wondering Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: Not Yet There http://tinyurl.com/m8clwct My morning coffee and my journal and list of things to do for the day are the way I start my days.  And so this poem and photo spoke to me.

 

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“I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.” – Richard Wright

            “It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by.  How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?  For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone.  That is where the writer scores over his fellows:  he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.” — Vita Sackville-West

This is the view of the Catalina Mountains from my third-floor bedroom balcony. The sliver of rock between the two larger humps is called finger rock. I've adopted it as a finger pointing at me, asking: "So have you met your writing goal today."  -- Photo by Pat Bean

This is the view of the Catalina Mountains from my third-floor bedroom balcony. The sliver of rock between the two larger humps is called finger rock. I’ve adopted it as a finger pointing at me, asking: “So have you met your writing goal today?” — Photo by Pat Bean

Is it Good Enough?

            I’ve been a writer for half a century, although I didn’t call myself one for many years. It seems to be a failing with writers. Many of us think that unless we’ve written a best-selling book, we’re just a piddler of words.

I recently met such a person, a retired history professor who read a chapter of his book in progress. He started it by saying “I’m not a writer.” But he was. His words were richer and more readable than those of many a published author. I later told him he was a writer, and should call himself just that

The place where I spend many hours a week. Sometimes I simply open the shutters and gaze out the windows, wondering. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The place where I spend many hours a week. Sometimes I simply open the shutters and gaze out the windows, wondering. — Photo by Pat Bean

Yet, even as I accept that my book, “Travels with Maggie”  — which  is undergoing a final editing — contains some of my best work,  this Monday morning I found  myself asking: “Is it good enough” – good enough to throw out to the public and risk it not being good enough?

Perhaps I’m still thinking about the words contained in a blog I read this past week: “The fine line between creativity and crap.”

Why do writers have such a hard time admitting they are writers when asked their occupations?  What’s the proper usage of passed and past? Do I write my book in first or third person? Will what I write offend a loved one? What will someone think if they read my journals and learn my true feelings? Why can’t I find an agent for my book, is it not good enough?

The questions are endless, and writers seem to have too many of them rattling around in their heads, like a poisonous snake coiled and ready to kill their ability to write. Some call it writer’s block.

I’m learning to call it simply wondering.

The Wondering Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: Lime Bird Writers http://tinyurl.com/nv7mrs6  One of the writing blogs I follow regularly. This day’s  blog offers some market opportunities.

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“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” — Kurt Vonnegut.

Writing Advice

My writing companion, Pepper. She lays on my bare feet when I'm sitting at my computer. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My writing companion, Pepper. She lays on my bare feet when I’m sitting at my computer. — Photo by Pat Bean

I just read an article that said it is better to write tired than not write, especially when working on a major project.  The author, I would give credit except I deleted the article and couldn’t find it again, said, if you don’t, then you often have to start at the beginning again.

That’s exactly where I am with my book, Travels with Maggie. I’ve left it untouched way too long, and I’ve got to at least read it again from the beginning.

I also know that writing tired sometimes even turns into really good writing because the brain lets go some of its control. But even if I have to rewrite the next day, the continuity hasn’t been lost.

Now all I need to do is take this advice.

Recent doodling by me. I make a connection between it and Vonnegut's quote.

Recent doodling by me. I make a connection between it and Vonnegut’s quote.

The truth is I’ve been doing plenty of writing, the past couple of months. Just not on Travels with Maggie. And I’m at the point that I need to finish it, because I can’t move on to all the other ideas bouncing around in my head until I do.

So what’s stopping me?

I keep trying, so far unsuccessfully, to figure it all out.

Bean’s Pat: I’m giving it to myself today.  One of the writing projects I have been working on faithfully is the blog I do for American Profile magazine called Discovering America. I’d love it if you would check it out at: http://blogs.americanprofile.com/author/patbean/

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