Month: April 2023

The Kraken

  1. Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale
  2. From Blossoms
  3. Wild Geese
  4. The Peace of Wild Things
  5. My Gift to You
  6. Departing Spring
  7. The Skylark
  8. What a Strange Thing!
  9. Although The Wind …
  10. The Old Pond
  11. Spring Is Like A Perhaps Hand
  12. Hast thou 2 loaves of bread …
  13. Youth and Age
  14. A Postcard From the Volcano
  15. The Kraken
  16. He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
  17. There Is a Solitude of Space
  18. Because I Could Not Stop for Death
  19. Mad Song
  20. Answer July
  21. Success Is Counted Sweetest
  22. Hope Is the Thing with Feathers
  23. The Bluebird
  24. A Vision of the End
  25. The Crying of Water
  26. A Rose Has Thorns As Well As Honey
  27. Winter
  28. The Dark Cavalier
  29. There is no Life or Death
  30. Sheep in Winter
  31. To a Snowflake
  32. Sextain
  33. A Crocodile
  34. Sea Fever
  35. The Giant Cactus of Arizona
  36. The Coming of Night
  37. Going to the Picnic
  38. Moon Tonight
  39. A Southern Night
  40. Greenness
  41. Twilight
  42. On the Wing
  43. In Summer
  44. Before Parting Scheduled for 23rd July 2024
Kraken, abstract photo

Below the thunders of the upper deep;
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides: above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumbered and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages and will lie
Battening upon huge sea-worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

Alfred Tennyson (1809–1892) is often considered the leading poet of the Victorian era in England.


To read more poems, click here.



It’s an Earth Song

Close up of dew on pine needles

It’s an earth song,—
And I’ve been waiting long for an earth song. 
It’s a spring song,—
And I’ve been waiting long for a spring song. 
    Strong as the shoots of a new plant 
    Strong as the bursting of new buds
    Strong as the coming of the first child from its mother’s womb. 
It’s an earth song, 
A body song, 
A spring song, 
I have been waiting long for this spring song
Langston Hughes (190267)


Happy Earth Day! There are small things we can do in our everyday life to make life on Earth better. It all starts with the small steps we take at home every day, for example, planting pollinator-friendly flowers and shrubs, planting a tree, using native plants, or stopping using chemicals in the garden. So let’s make Earth Day every day!


Related Posts


If you liked this post, share it on your preferred social network or forward it to a friend.



It Is an Illusion That Photos Are Made With the Camera

Close up of a dark forest in black and white

It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head.

Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908 – 2004) was a French photographer considered a master of candid street photography.


To read more quotes, click here. To read more on photography, click here.



A Postcard From the Volcano

  1. Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale
  2. From Blossoms
  3. Wild Geese
  4. The Peace of Wild Things
  5. My Gift to You
  6. Departing Spring
  7. The Skylark
  8. What a Strange Thing!
  9. Although The Wind …
  10. The Old Pond
  11. Spring Is Like A Perhaps Hand
  12. Hast thou 2 loaves of bread …
  13. Youth and Age
  14. A Postcard From the Volcano
  15. The Kraken
  16. He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
  17. There Is a Solitude of Space
  18. Because I Could Not Stop for Death
  19. Mad Song
  20. Answer July
  21. Success Is Counted Sweetest
  22. Hope Is the Thing with Feathers
  23. The Bluebird
  24. A Vision of the End
  25. The Crying of Water
  26. A Rose Has Thorns As Well As Honey
  27. Winter
  28. The Dark Cavalier
  29. There is no Life or Death
  30. Sheep in Winter
  31. To a Snowflake
  32. Sextain
  33. A Crocodile
  34. Sea Fever
  35. The Giant Cactus of Arizona
  36. The Coming of Night
  37. Going to the Picnic
  38. Moon Tonight
  39. A Southern Night
  40. Greenness
  41. Twilight
  42. On the Wing
  43. In Summer
  44. Before Parting Scheduled for 23rd July 2024

Children picking up our bones

Will never know that these were once

As quick as foxes on the hill;

And that in autumn, when the grapes

Made sharp air sharper by their smell

These had a being, breathing frost;

And least will guess that with our bones

We left much more, left what still is

The look of things, left what we felt

At what we saw. The spring clouds blow

Above the shuttered mansion house,

Beyond our gate and the windy sky

Cries out a literate despair.

We knew for long the mansion’s look

And what we said of it became

A part of what it is … Children,

Still weaving budded aureoles,

Will speak our speech and never know,

Will say of the mansion that it seems

As if he that lived there left behind

A spirit storming in blank walls,

A dirty house in a gutted world,

A tatter of shadows peaked to white,

Smeared with the gold of the opulent sun.

Wallace Stevens (1879 – 1955) was an American modernist poet and an extraordinary stylist.


To read more poems, click here.



We Must Not Be Defeated

Statue of St. Francis of Assisi by Frances Rich at Millesgården

There is, I hope, a thesis in my work: we may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated. That sounds goody-two-shoes, I know, but I believe that a diamond is the result of extreme pressure and time. Less time is crystal. Less than that is coal. Less than that is fossilized leaves. Less than that it’s just plain dirt. In all my work, in the movies I write, the lyrics, the poetry, the prose, the essays, I am saying that we may encounter many defeats—maybe it’s imperative that we encounter the defeats—but we are much stronger than we appear to be and maybe much better than we allow ourselves to be.

Maya Angelou (1928–2014), was an American poet, storyteller, and autobiographer.


To read more quotes, click here.



Youth and Age

  1. Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale
  2. From Blossoms
  3. Wild Geese
  4. The Peace of Wild Things
  5. My Gift to You
  6. Departing Spring
  7. The Skylark
  8. What a Strange Thing!
  9. Although The Wind …
  10. The Old Pond
  11. Spring Is Like A Perhaps Hand
  12. Hast thou 2 loaves of bread …
  13. Youth and Age
  14. A Postcard From the Volcano
  15. The Kraken
  16. He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
  17. There Is a Solitude of Space
  18. Because I Could Not Stop for Death
  19. Mad Song
  20. Answer July
  21. Success Is Counted Sweetest
  22. Hope Is the Thing with Feathers
  23. The Bluebird
  24. A Vision of the End
  25. The Crying of Water
  26. A Rose Has Thorns As Well As Honey
  27. Winter
  28. The Dark Cavalier
  29. There is no Life or Death
  30. Sheep in Winter
  31. To a Snowflake
  32. Sextain
  33. A Crocodile
  34. Sea Fever
  35. The Giant Cactus of Arizona
  36. The Coming of Night
  37. Going to the Picnic
  38. Moon Tonight
  39. A Southern Night
  40. Greenness
  41. Twilight
  42. On the Wing
  43. In Summer
  44. Before Parting Scheduled for 23rd July 2024
The statue of St. Francis of Assisi by Frances Rich at Millesgården, Lidingö, Sweden.
St. Francis of Assisi by Frances Rich at Millesgården, Lidingö, Sweden.

In my youth the heart of dawn was in my heart, and the songs of April were in my ears. 

But my soul was sad unto death, and I knew not why. Even unto this day I know not why I was sad. 

But now, though I am with eventide, my heart is still veiling dawn, 

And though I am with autumn, my ears still echo the songs of spring. 

But my sadness has turned into awe, and I stand in the presence of life and life’s daily miracles. 

The difference between my youth which was my spring, and these forty years, and they are my autumn, is the very difference that exists between flower and fruit. 

A flower is forever swayed with the wind and knows not why and wherefore. 

But the fruit overladen with them honey of summer, knows that it is one of life’s home-comings, as a poet when his song is sung knows sweet content, 

Though life has been bitter upon his lips. 

In my youth I longed for the unknown, and for the unknown I am still longing. 

But in the days of my youth longing embraced necessity that knows naught of patience. 

Today I long not less, but my longing is friendly with patience, and even waiting. 

And I know that all this desire that moves within me is one of those laws that turns universes around one another in quiet ecstasy, in swift passion which your eyes deem stillness, and your mind a mystery. 

And in my youth I loved beauty and abhorred ugliness, for beauty was to me a world separated from all other worlds. 

But now that the gracious years have lifted the veil of picking-and-choosing from over my eyes, I know that all I have deemed ugly in what I see and hear, is but a blinder upon my eyes, and wool in my ears; 

And that our senses, like our neighbors, hate what they do not understand.  

And in my youth I loved the fragrance of flowers and their color.  

Now I know that their thorns are their innocent protection, and if it were not for that innocence they would disappear forevermore. 

And in my youth, of all seasons I hated winter, for I said in my aloneness, “Winter is a thief who robs the earth of her sun-woven garment, and suffers her to stand naked in the wind.”  

But now I know that in winter there is re-birth and renewal, and that the wind tears the old raiment to cloak her with a new raiment woven by the spring.  

And in my youth I would gaze upon the sun of the day and the stars of the night, saying in my secret, “How small am I, and how small a circle my dream makes.” 

But today when I stand before the sun or the stars I cry, “The sun is close to me, and the stars are upon me;” for all the distances of my youth have turned into the nearness of age;  

And the great aloneness which knows not what is far and what is near, nor what is small nor great, has turned into a vision that weighs not nor does it measure.  

In my youth I was but the slave of the high tide and the ebb tide of the sea, and the prisoner of half moons and full moons.  

Today I stand at this shore and I rise not nor do I go down.  

Even my roots once every twenty-eight days would seek the heart of the earth. 

And on the twenty-ninth day they would rise toward the throne of the sky.  

And on that very day the rivers in my veins would stop for a moment, and then would run again to the sea.  

Yes, in my youth I was a thing, sad and yielding, and all the seasons played with me and laughed in their hearts. 

And life took a fancy to me and kissed my young lips, and slapped my cheeks.  

Today I play with the seasons. And I steal a kiss from life’s lips ere she kisses my lips.  

And I even hold her hands playfully that she may not strike my cheek.  

In my youth I was sad indeed, and all things seemed dark and distant.  

Today, all is radiant and near, and for this I would live my youth and the pain of my youth, again and yet again.

Khalil Gibran (1883–1931) was a Lebanese-American artist, philosophical essayist, poet, and novelist.


To read more poems, click here.



How To Kill Your Darlings

Close up of a red squirrel
A squirrel photo I couldn’t delete.

I take hundreds, if not thousands, of photos but keep only a handful. The selection is an exercise of self-restraint. Photos of flowers or other static subjects are easier to delete but wildlife? It’s not easy. You cannot predict whether the animals or birds would come, and if they come, what they’d do. Getting good quality and interesting photos of wildlife is challenging. So, when I finally get some images, I find it hard to delete them. (Besides, squirrels are so cute that it’s almost impossible to delete any photos!).

But this is nothing compared to deleting something I have written.

Kill your darlings.” Of course, I’ve read about it* and wholly agreed with it, especially in other writers’ works. But, oh, so hard to do in one’s own text! I loved a short story I had waved at the beginning of the chapter I was working on, and it broke my heart to delete it. But it had to be done; it was good, but it had no place in that chapter. But there’s a Band-Aid for your bruised little scribbler’s soul: create a Slush File.

A Slush File?

What’s a slush file, you ask. This is where the killed darlings go, or all seducing ideas unrelated to your current work. Don’t have the heart to delete a clever paragraph? Remove it from the text and save it in a separate document. See, you can still eat your cake and have it! Your text will thank you, and you’d still have your fabulous fragment. You may even use it another day; have a glance at your slush file a few chapters later, and you may save yourself some typing. Who knows?

Or: got a great idea for a different project? Write it down quickly and return to the project you were working on. Once you’ve finished it, visit the slush file, and pick a new project. The idea is not to go chasing new shiny things but to stay focused on whatever you were working on at the time. Get rid of that thought quickly, good as it was, and go back to work.

Close up of a red squirrel eating
Look at that mischievous look! I couldn’t delete the photo, could I?

Keep It Simple

My slush file is very straightforward: a folder called Slush (duh!) in the Scrivener document I’m currently working on, and a simple bullet point list in Apple’s Notes app for ideas and new projects, points grouped by project. Something like this:

  • End of the world story, a prepper & his cousin.
    • “Prepper John” has a so-called shack middle of nowhere, in fact, a well-stored bunker. Remote island?
    • Cousin (she), a journalist, meets him at the shack for an interview on prepping.
    • Zombies.

I keep the Notes app easily accessible on my phone’s home screen. I don’t need to search for it or open folders and files. As soon as I get one of those tempting ideas, I just write it down quickly in Notes and resume whatever I was doing at the time. 

Once I’m done with the project, I transfer the remaining Slush text fragments to a Word document called Slush. Obviously.


* About killing your darlings. The saying has been attributed to many authors, from Oscar Wilde, Eudora Welty, and William Faulkner to G.K. Chesterton, Chekhov, and Stephen King. 

King leads this attribution game nowadays, very likely due to this sentence from his excellent book On Writing: “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.

Most scholars point to British writer Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch.“If you here require a practical rule of me, I will present you with this: ‘Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—whole-heartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.’”, he wrote in his book On the Art of Writing.


Related Posts


If you liked this post, share it on your preferred social network or forward it to a friend.


Happy Easter!

A red squirrel in the grass together with a chick on a red egg and the text Happy Easter!

Nobody Cares If You Don’t Write

A vintage typewriter on a wooden table
Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

I weight train twice a week, Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings. As I was lacing my shoes this morning, about to leave the gym, an old lady on her way in remarked, “Are you done already?” in a tone of surprise. It was 8:15 am. The gym opens at 7:30 am, and I was there on the dot. “All done! I’m here as soon as the gym opens and get it over with.”, I replied cheerfully. Not because I have this iron willpower or am the poster girl of self-discipline. In fact, I’m the exact opposite. But I’ve learned the hard way that I lose as soon as I start debating whether to train or not. So you see, one way of manifesting my creativity is coming up with better and better excuses for why I couldn’t train that day.

To cut a long story short, I found that the best way to deal with my penchant for making up excuses was to just do it. Just do it. Schedule the time in my calendar, have the gym clothes and the bag ready by the door, then be out of the house in minutes once the alarm clock rings. Not questioning the form of the day, not debating pros and cons, not making up an excuse. Just do it.

The crazy thing is that I love it once I’m at the gym! 45 minutes fly by, and I head home, feeling relaxed and not a little virtuous. It’s just the beginning that is hard, getting over the initial resistance.

Very similar to writing, I mused as I was heading home after another training session, gone from reluctance to exhilaration in minutes. I love having written. But starting to write? Pure hell.

A vintage typewriter, a notebook, a clock on a wooden desk
Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

Be Your Own Boss

You have to be your own slave master and be willing to hold the whip yourself if you want to write. Nobody is going to do that for you. Unlike a job where you have a manager to push you, writing demands to be your own boss. Nobody will set your deadlines and goals, monitor your progress, or demand status reports. You’re on your own.

If your dream is to write and you don’t write, nothing happens. Apart from the soul-wrenching fact you haven’t written, that is. And guess what? If you don’t hold yourself accountable and push yourself, if you don’t force yourself to stick to your routines and do the work, if you don’t write, in other words – nobody will care. NOBODY WILL CARE. It’s your dream, not other people’s. At best, they might feel sorry for you if you failed to produce the science-fiction novel of your dreams that you talked so much about. But that’s it, a few fleeting seconds and “I’m sorry it didn’t work, mate!”. Then they move on with their lives, leaving you with your unfinished novel and the bitter taste of failure in your mouth.

How do you move the needle? How do you push through that initial resistance, that apparently insurmountable mountain blocking your path? How do you start writing even when you don’t want to?

Writing with a fountain pen
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The Power of Self-Discipline

Self-discipline is what takes you from dreaming to fulfilling your dream. Self-discipline is doing what you must do to reach your goals, even when you don’t want to. Especially when you don’t want to do it. Have you noticed how tempting house cleaning, for instance, is when you have to do something you don’t want to do? Arranging your drawers is suddenly a delight, not a chore. Sorting your books by color seems the best use of your time. Your mind, the traitor, gets creative and comes up with lots of other things you could do instead of writing.

And this is your chance when those treacherous ideas start to form. Nip them in the bud immediately. Don’t let that thought be fully formed or that idea take root in your mind because you’ve lost if they do. Push back directly. No is a powerful word; use it!

“No, I can’t wash the windows now; it’s my writing time.”
” No, I can’t arrange my socks now; it’s my writing time.”
“No! No distractions! It’s my writing time.”

Don’t negotiate or allow any discussions. Instead, decide that you’ll follow your plan for that day and do what you had planned to do, which was to write. Just do it. As simple as that. I didn’t say it was easy.

Coffee mug and notebook on a low table in front of a fireplace
Photo by Rafael Leão on Unsplash

Make It Easier to Get Started

Can you make it easier?

Well, as a matter of fact, I can.

I prepare for writing as I prepare for my training, making it quick and easy to get started. This means setting the alarm in the evening, laying out the breakfast things in the kitchen, and making my workspace ready for a new writing session at the end of a writing session.

Workspace readiness is different for different people, as it should be. For my part, it involves tidying up my desk, removing coffee cups and cat hairs (if you have pets, you know what I mean), putting back papers and pens in their holders, and refilling the water bottle.

(Yes, the water won’t be super fresh the next morning, but you have no idea how treacherous filling a bottle can be! This is how it goes: I’ll walk to my desk, fully intending to write, then realize that I need water. I go to the kitchen and start filling the bottle, gazing through the window all the while. Then a deer runs past, or a squirrel jumps on the low stone wall or the sparrow hawk flies by. My curiosity picked, I leave the bottle on the counter and stand by the window to see what would happen next. That doe is usually not alone; her two fawns must be following shortly. That red squirrel is so cute; I can watch her shenanigans all day. Would the sparrow hawk just fly by or go for one of the small birds in the bushes? And so it goes, the monkey mind jumping from one thought to another. Half an hour has gone by before I’m back at my desk. Hence, I fill the bottle the night before. One source of distraction eliminated.)

When I sit at my desk in the morning, it’s a pleasure to see a well-organized workplace with everything I need in its place (including the water bottle). It’s easy then just to sit down and start working.

Getting started is still daunting, but I’ve found that stopping for the day when things go well works wonders. This way, I can start right away next time as I know exactly what to do. I don’t lose any time staring into space, paralyzed by the blank page. The start is already there, and the only thing I need to do is continue where I left it the day before. And once I’ve started, it’s easy to keep going.

A slice of cake
Photo by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash

And Maybe a Carrot?

I also like to use carrots, small rewards I give myself if I follow the plan. A small piece of chocolate, watching squirrels, going for a walk, creating a composite squirrel photo, or maybe buying a new book on a tough day. (You have no idea how many bad days I have!). Anything pleasurable, anything that I can look forward to, a carrot dangling in front of me to take me through the challenging moments, a motivator helping me stay focused when I’m struggling.

Besides, there’s a bonus: positive reinforcement. Every time I reward myself for having written, I teach that monkey brain that writing is a pleasurable thing, something I enjoy. Writing is joy, not anxiety. That will make associating writing with positive feelings rather than apprehension easier. In time, it becomes a habit. Wake up, have breakfast, sit down, and write. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat some more. Don’t overthink it; just do it. Wonderful things will happen to those who wait write every day, inspired or not.

Vintage fountain pen on a piece of written paper
Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Conclusion

Self-discipline is essential when it comes to writing. It is the ability to stay focused and committed to your goals, even when it’s hard. Remember the three things: make it easy to get started, say no and just do it, and reward yourself along the way.

You can’t change the past but you can still shape your future. So become your own boss and coach. Make choices today that will make your future better. If you sit down and write every day, even for a few minutes, in time, you’ll have a significant amount of writing done. A page a day means 365 pages at the end of the year and a lot of practice learning the craft.

In the long term, the reward of self-discipline is fulfillment. The opposite is regret. Nobody but you will care if your dream quietly dies on the way.

The pain of self-discipline will never be as great as the pain of regret.


Related Posts


If you liked this post, share it on your preferred social network or forward it to a friend.


Hast thou 2 loaves of bread …

  1. Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale
  2. From Blossoms
  3. Wild Geese
  4. The Peace of Wild Things
  5. My Gift to You
  6. Departing Spring
  7. The Skylark
  8. What a Strange Thing!
  9. Although The Wind …
  10. The Old Pond
  11. Spring Is Like A Perhaps Hand
  12. Hast thou 2 loaves of bread …
  13. Youth and Age
  14. A Postcard From the Volcano
  15. The Kraken
  16. He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
  17. There Is a Solitude of Space
  18. Because I Could Not Stop for Death
  19. Mad Song
  20. Answer July
  21. Success Is Counted Sweetest
  22. Hope Is the Thing with Feathers
  23. The Bluebird
  24. A Vision of the End
  25. The Crying of Water
  26. A Rose Has Thorns As Well As Honey
  27. Winter
  28. The Dark Cavalier
  29. There is no Life or Death
  30. Sheep in Winter
  31. To a Snowflake
  32. Sextain
  33. A Crocodile
  34. Sea Fever
  35. The Giant Cactus of Arizona
  36. The Coming of Night
  37. Going to the Picnic
  38. Moon Tonight
  39. A Southern Night
  40. Greenness
  41. Twilight
  42. On the Wing
  43. In Summer
  44. Before Parting Scheduled for 23rd July 2024
Statue by Carl Milles

Hast thou 2 loaves of bread
Sell one + with the dole
Buy straightaway some hyacinths
To feed thy soul.

Ezra Pound (1885 –1972) was one of the most influential but also most difficult poets of the 20th century.

If you think this doesn’t look like like your typical Ezra Pound poem, you’re right. It’s not. Or not really. It seems that Pound reworked an old poem by James Terry White, called “Not By Bread Alone” (1907).

If thou of fortune be bereft,
And in thy store there be but left
Two loaves—sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.

James Terry White

You can read the whole story here. Which version do you like best? I’m partial to Pound’s version myself.


To read more poems, click here.