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Writing Ruminations

Writing is such an internal process. Why not make those private ruminations public? This is how stories take shape and grow.

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Location: Happy Valley, Oregon, United States

I've been supporting myself as a writer for many years and am watching the changes in the publishing world with fascination. For me, sharing the craft, teaching, is as creatively satisfying as the writing process itself.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Wonder Net

Oh, I've got a book recommendation for you. Me, I'm the world's least tolerant reader...blame my writing. The moment I think 'I know what you're doing here, I see the wires...' I'm outa there. But I read Giraffe by J. M. Ledgard from cover to cover and I highly recommend it. A literary mainstream book based on real events in Czechoslovakia in 1975, Ledgard follows the slow unwinding of events through several point of view characters. Each character has his or her interaction with some part of those events, drawing slowly together at the climax. The narrative is excellent and some themes and turns of phrase...'the communist moment'...bind the various point of view perceptions into a very solid whole. It is a lovely example of several different 'takes' on the same events, and beautifully done. I recommend it.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Greetings from Ophiuchus

I always keep an eye out for 'things new' in the universe. Recently, I sold a story to Asimov's Magazine; Breeze from the Stars, that will be out sometime in the next year, I assume. And it features a strange effect on people who are born on the orbital platforms under the sign of 'Ophiuchus' a zodiac sign that was dropped from our zodiac a long time ago. A 'wind from the stars' is actually funneled down into our solar system from that direction, and I did some SFnal things with it. Sorry, you'll have to read the story to find out. :-) BUT...today, as I read the 'space news' what do I see? Voyager I is out there, in the direction of Ophiuchus, near the boundary of the 'heliosheath' the 'skin' around our solar system formed as the solar wind slows down. The magnetic turbulence of that sheath scatters a lot of cosmic radation that we don't want to experience down here. But lo, potholes exist in that sheath. And good old trustworthy Voyager I, our early Engerizer Bunny' is finding interesting anomalies out there. Such as cosmic radiation with no apparent source. And that breeze from the stars? Well, Voyager will be inside that heliosheath for another ten years or so...so stay tuned for further events.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

rhythms and seasons

It's wood season. How do I know? I just do. I woke up this moring and it was time to start getting the wood in. It's hot outside, sunny. The leaves are not turning. Jack Frost is not threatening. It's not Fall. But it's time to get wood in. The knowlege exists somewhere down in my gut and made me go get the sledge, the wedges, the splitting maul and the axe and head down to the pile of maple rounds that I have been ignoring all summer. They're the drying remains of the maple that came down last winter in a storm. On top of my barn. The one that almost got me and made me very aware that cutting up fallen trees when you live alone on rural acreage does indeed entail some real risks.

But it didn't get me and I spent the morning splitting the last of the rounds into nice woodstove fuel and whacking the last of my neighbor's apple prunings into neat kindling. Now it's time to start hauling the split and cut wood I've been amassing, stacking it neatly in my woodshed so that I can help myself to kindling and bed logs with equal ease all winter.

The land has seasons and whether you're a bear or a hummingbird or a substance farmer, you follow those seasons and their rhythms. Earlier is was all about weeding and planting. Now it's about stacking dry wood. As the days start to lengthen a bit next spring, it'll be all about clearing the debris from the winter, getting beds and trees ready for the next growing season. You don't need a calendar for that. You wake up one morning. And it's time. Just like my hummingbirds all vanish one day in the early summer, when the wildflowers bloom up above the treeline on the mountains. One day, they're just gone. Later on, they come back and hang around the feeder again.

It's breeding season. My sheep know this, although I AM going by the calendar and keeping the ram out until later, so I don't have to birth lambs in cold February rain.

We have had to give up seasons, mostly, other than the holiday markers. We mostly have to live by alarm clocks, calendars, desk jobs, and the seasons pass more or less unnoticed except for the inconveniences like the hot car after work and the nasty roads after the ice storm. It's too bad. We all have that internal calendar, we just don't use it much. I like it that one day and I just wake up know...it's time to clean the garden beds, it's time to plant, it's time to split wood, it's time to can tomatoes, it's time to start checking the barn for lambs...