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I’m a photographer who writes to paraphrase Austin Kleon. Therefore, my blog combines posts on books (reading, writing, musing over), lots of photos (all taken by me, unless otherwise stated), culture and arts in general, some astronomy and space (I’m a Science-Fiction fan), and cats as cats rule the internet.


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Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day!

A red squirrel in the snow

January 21st is the International Squirrel Appreciation Day – what better excuse do you need to throw a party, especially if you live in the Northern hemisphere and long for summer and green pastures? Host a squirrel-themed get-together and have some fun in the middle of gloomy January. Or celebrate it by learning more about squirrels and putting out some nuts for them!

A red squirrel in the snow eating nuts

You may be mad at them for raiding the bird feeders, but they’re just small creatures trying to survive – as we all do. Instead of fortifying the feeders, create a squirrel feeding station someplace you can see from inside your house. Drag an armchair to the window and enjoy the show. In time, one timid squirrel will grow bolder, and soon, more bushy-tailed cuties will entertain you with their antics. 

You’ll have fun watching them chasing each other or running around to burry nuts and seeds, and in the meantime, nature will benefit as the many forgotten nuts will grow into trees. A win-win!

Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day!

Bonus: NASA engineer designed a squirrel-proof birdfeeder. Or so he thought.


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Happy New Year 2022!

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

Neil Gaiman

I wish you a very, very Happy New Year! May 2022 bring you and yours much joy and happiness!



What I’ve Learned This Year

You Are Here sign on yellow background, digital art by Mihaela Limberea
Digital artwork from my new “Inner Citadel” series

It’s that time of the year, so I’ve just completed my annual personal review. This is something I do every year, although in a slightly different form. I was thinking about publishing it here, but it felt too personal. I couldn’t. Maybe next year.

(I use this Year Compass form which is excellent; it supports multiple languages, and you can choose whether to complete it online (PDF) or print it and work on the hard copy. I recently found this one which seems good, too. I had already completed this year’s when I saw it, but I’m thinking of combining them next year, taking the best of both in one customized version.)

In the meantime, I thought it might be worth sharing some of the insights of this second annus horribilis. I think we all hoped that things would go back to some kind of normal this year, especially with vaccines available. But, unfortunately, it seems we were mistaken.

No matter, no matter; new year, new prospects, I always say, the ever optimist. So let’s get to it, shall we?

Top Three Things I’ve Learned This Year

  • I Need Meditation and Yoga to Feel Good.

This year, I struggled a lot with attention, or rather, the lack of it. Not being able to focus when working on a book (or doing anything, really) is stressful and anxiety-inducing. As I mentioned elsewhere, I had already reduced social media and news intake drastically but, obviously, not enough. So, I did an app audit and reduced the number of apps on my smartphone, deleting both the ones I seldom used and the attention stealers (you know which ones, don’t you?). I also took a time-out from social media (I’ve been sober for six months now!) and stopped reading the news. They have a way of trickling through anyway (especially the bad ones), and, fear not, I haven’t missed the news of the first woman to become Prime Minister in Sweden or the Omicron variant. I pruned blogs and newsletters as well, keeping a few core ones only (Austin KleonSeth GodinOliver BurkemanMason Currey, for instance). No TV except on Fridays and Saturdays.

And yet, I struggled. Then it dawned on me that I hadn’t meditated or done any yoga in some time. Like, in a long time. A very long time. So, I’ve just taken up mediation and yoga again, and I’m almost back on track! The wild monkey mind is not easy to tame, but I feel good about where I am at the moment.

If you haven’t meditated before, Pema Chödrön’s wonderful book Meditation: How to Meditate is an excellent place to start. It’s short and simple and beautifully written.

As for Yoga, Adriene Mishler has this wonderful YouTube channel called Yoga with Adriene, where you can pick and choose from a variety of yoga sessions, and they’re all free. If you don’t know where to start, she has a series of videos for beginners.

This is by far the most important lesson of the year. It’s incredible how these practices impact my mind (and body), something I tend to forget. I’ve now included yoga and meditation in my daily tracker to make sure I don’t fall off the wagon again.

Related

  • To Nap or Not to Nap? Naps Win. Of Course.

Partially related to the above. Whenever I could, I would nap after lunch since in high school (I’m not kidding). I don’t seem able to function optimally for a whole day without some rest. I don’t necessarily have to sleep, but I do need to lay on the bed for half an hour someplace dark and quiet. I did this at work, too, whenever I didn’t have any meetings or calls around lunch. I would eat a quick lunch then go and lay down for 30 minutes (the perks of working from home, long before Covid-19 taught the world how to). 

What did I do this year, knowing all this? In my search for efficiency, I started skipping my naps. More time for me and my book, yay! Only it became “nay”! The result was that I had more awake time, but I was too tired to do anything worthwhile (my house shines, though, there’s that). If naps were good enough for Churchill and Einstein, I guess they’re good enough for me, too. And I’m not alone to think that. I’m back to my post-lunch nap now, together with my cat, who seems to be the wiser of us. 

(By the way, I love that nap line from “The Darkest Hour” movie when Churchill is asked to meet the King at 4 pm, and he replies: “I nap at 4.” I was SO tempted to tell that to my boss sometimes when he wanted to have a meeting at 1 pm). There are so many great lines in that movie, brilliantly written by Anthony McCarten; here are a few more.)

  • Connecting with Friends in More Meaningful Ways

I think of myself as a person who values friendship and friends; in fact, being a good friend is one of my core values. I thought I was a good friend; I know I’ve tried. But how was I a good friend? 

If we take birthdays, I would always make sure to send a message to a friend on their birthday. Note I said “send a message” (as in DM), not send a card or make a phone call. We’re all busy, I was busy, and I thought my friend was busy too, so a short and quick message to congratulate her was an efficient way of dealing with that. 

But was that a good way of keeping in touch? Since many of my friends are scattered on four continents now, social media is the only way to keep track of what’s happening in their lives. I could see their updates and would occasionally comment on something, and then I’d, of course, send a DM on their birthday. Even at Christmas! I was a good friend, wasn’t I? Wasn’t I?

I thought about this and realized it was a superficial way of being a friend, more like a social obligation. So this year, I’ve started creating personalized birthday and holiday cards (now you know where that Freebies section came from) and writing e-mails with a few more lines than “Merry Christmas”! Handwritten letters would be much nicer, of course, but I need to be realistic. I feel that what’s important is writing more than a DM and more than once or twice a year. And making phone calls as we used to, despite the logistic challenges of different timezones.

Does this make me a good friend? I don’t know; you’d need to ask my friends. But I think I am a better friend at least.

As I’m planning 2022 now, I’ve added reminders in my calendar to reach out to friends every now and then, not only during holidays.

… and Three Tiny Thoughts

  • The more I write, the more inspired I am.
  • Perfectionism is a subtle form of arrogance.
  • Sometimes optimism is just wishful thinking (if not plain stupidity).

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The Best Books I Read in 2021

Close up of a woman reading a book. Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash.
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Look up the previous year’s list here.

Best Fiction Books

  • Rudyard Kipling, Kim (re-read). Kim, one of Kipling’s masterpieces, is the story of Kimball O’Hara, the orphaned son of an officer in the Irish Regiment who spends his childhood as a vagabond in Lahore. The book is a carefully organized, powerful evocation of place and of a young man’s quest for identity.

  • Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (re-read). The finest of all Conrad’s tales, Heart of Darkness is set in an atmosphere of mystery and menace, and tells of Marlow’s perilous journey up the Congo River to relieve his employer’s agent, the renowned and formidable Mr. Kurtz. What he sees on his journey, and his eventual encounter with Kurtz, horrify and perplex him, and call into question the very bases of civilization and human nature. Endlessly reinterpreted by critics and adapted for film, radio, and television, the story shows Conrad at his most intense and sophisticated. 

  • Robert Silverberg, Downward to the Earth. A SF classic from 1970. One man must make a journey across a once colonised alien planet. Abandoned by man when it was discovered that the species there were actually sentient, the planet is now a place of mystery. A mystery that obsesses the lone traveller Gundersen and takes him on a long trek to attempt to share the religious rebirthing of the aliens. A journey that offers redemption from guilt and sin. This is one of Robert Silverberg’s most intense novels and draws heavily on Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (and the reason I re-read Conrad’s story). It puts the reader at the heart of the experience and forces them to ask what they would do in the circumstances.

  • David Weber, Honor Harrington series starts with On Basilisk Station. Having made him look a fool, Honor Harrington has been exiled to Basilisk Station in disgrace and set up for ruin by a superior who hates her. Her demoralized crew blames her for their ship’s humiliating posting to an out-of-the-way picket station. The aborigines of the system’s only habitable planet are smoking homicide-inducing hallucinogens. Parliament isn’t sure it wants to keep the place; the major local industry is smuggling; the merchant cartels want her head; the star-conquering, so-called “Republic” of Haven is Up To Something; and Honor Harrington has a single, over-age light cruiser with an armament that doesn’t work to police the entire star system. But the people out to get her have made one mistake. They’ve made her mad. Another SF classic, a bit verbose sometimes but overall entertaining and well written.

  • Roger MacBride Allen, Caliban. Before his death in 1992, Isaac Asimov conceived the next step in robot evolution: Caliban; Roger MacBride Allen wrote the books. Caliban is the first in the trilogy (the others are Inferno and Utopia). In a universe protected by the Three Laws of Robotics, humans are safe. Robots are bound by law to care for and to obey them. But when an experiment with a new type of robot goes awry, Caliban is created. He is without guilt or conscience–and he has no knowledge of or compassion for humanity.

  • C. Robert Cargill, Day Zero. In this harrowing apocalyptic adventure C. Robert Cargill explores the fight for purpose and agency between humans and robots in a crumbling world. It was a day like any other. Except it was the last . . . It’s on this day that Pounce discovers that he is, in fact, disposable. Pounce, a styilsh “nannybot” fashioned in the shape of a plush anthropomorphic tiger, has just found a box in the attic. His box. The box he’d arrived in when he was purchased years earlier, and the box in which he’ll be discarded when his human charge, eight-year-old Ezra Reinhart, no longer needs a nanny. As Pounce ponders his suddenly uncertain future, the pieces are falling into place for a robot revolution that will eradicate humankind. Complement with A Sea of Rust set in the same world.

  • Peter Heller, The Dog Stars. A dystopian tale of global disaster, survival, and belief. Hig, bereaved and traumatised after global disaster, has three things to live for – his dog Jasper, his aggressive but helpful neighbour, and his Cessna aeroplane. He’s just about surviving, so long as he only takes his beloved plane for short journeys, and saves his remaining fuel. But, just once, he picks up a message from another pilot, and eventually the temptation to find out who else is still alive becomes irresistible. So he takes his plane over the horizon, knowing that he won’t have enough fuel to get back. What follows is scarier and more life-affirming than he could have imagined. Complement it with Emily St John Mandel, Station Eleven and Cormac McCarthy, The Road.

  • Stephen King, Mile 81. At Mile 81 on the Maine Turnpike is a boarded-up rest stop, a place where high school kids drink and get into the kind of trouble high school kids have always gotten into. It’s the place where Pete Simmons, armed only with the magnifying glass he got for his tenth birthday, finds a discarded bottle of vodka in the boarded up burger shack and drinks enough to pass out. Not much later, a mud-covered station wagon (which is strange because there hadn’t been any rain in New England for over a week) veers into the Mile 81 rest area, ignoring the sign that says “closed, no services.” The driver’s door opens but nobody gets out.  By the time Pete Simmons wakes up from his vodka nap, there are half a dozen cars at the Mile 81 rest stop. But two kids and a horse are the only living things left…unless you maybe count the wagon.

  • Dan Simmons, Summer of Night (book 1 in the Seasons of Horror series). A horror classic. It’s the summer of 1960 and in the small town of Elm Haven, Illinois, five twelve-year-old boys are forging the powerful bonds that a lifetime of change will not break. From sunset bike rides to shaded hiding places in the woods, the boys’ days are marked by all of the secrets and silences of an idyllic middle-childhood. But amid the sundrenched cornfields their loyalty will be pitilessly tested. When a long-silent bell peals in the middle of the night, the townsfolk know it marks the end of their carefree days. From the depths of the Old Central School, a hulking fortress tinged with the mahogany scent of coffins, an invisible evil is rising. Strange and horrifying events begin to overtake everyday life, spreading terror through the once idyllic town. Determined to exorcize this ancient plague, Mike, Duane, Dale, Harlen, and Kevin must wage a war of blood—against an arcane abomination who owns the night…

  • Dan Simmons, Children of the Night (book 2 in the Seasons of Horror series) In a desolate orphanage in post-Communist Romania, a desperately ill infant is given the wrong blood transfusion—and flourishes rather than dies. For immunologist Kate Neuman, the infant’s immune system may hold the key to cure cancer and AIDS. Kate adopts the baby and takes him home to the States. But baby Joshua holds a link to an ancient clan and their legendary leader—Vlad Tsepes, the original Dracula – whose agents kidnap the child. Against impossible odds and vicious enemies– both human and vampire – Kate and her ally, Father Mike O’Rourke, steal into Romania to get her baby back. Book 3 in the series, A Winter Haunting, isn’t as strong as the first two.

  • Dan Simmons, Carrion Comfort. 1) THE PAST… Caught behind the lines of Hitler’s Final Solution, Saul Laski is one of the multitudes destined to die in the notorious Chelmno extermination camp. Until he rises to meet his fate and finds himself face to face with an evil far older, and far greater, than the Nazi’s themselves… 2) THE PRESENT… Compelled by the encounter to survive at all costs, so begins a journey that for Saul will span decades and cross continents, plunging into the darkest corners of 20th century history to reveal a secret society of beings who may often exist behind the world’s most horrible and violent events. Saul’s quest is about to reach its elusive object, drawing hunter and hunted alike into a struggle that will plumb the depths of mankind’s attraction to violence, and determine the future of the world itself… Stephen King called Carrion Comfortone of the three greatest horror novels of the 20th century” and he is right.

  • Christopher Golden, Snowblind. Golden updates the ghost story for the modern age. The small New England town of Coventry had weathered a thousand blizzards . . . but never one like this. Icy figures danced in the wind and gazed through children’s windows with soul-chilling eyes. People wandered into the whiteout and were never seen again. Families were torn apart, and the town would never be the same. Now, as a new storm approaches twelve years later, the folks of Coventry are haunted by the memories of that dreadful blizzard and those who were lost in the snow. As old ghosts trickle back, this new storm will prove to be even more terrifying than the last. With richly textured characters, scarred and haunted by the ghosts of those they loved most, Snowblind is rooted deeply in classic storytelling. Christopher Golden has written a chilling masterpiece that is both his breakout book and a standout supernatural thriller.

  • Shane Carrow, End Times series (six books). Across Australia’s vast deserts and snowy mountains, from zombie-choked cities to Outback strongholds, End Times is 1500+ pages of epic zombie apocalypse adventure. New Year’s Day: midsummer in Australia. On the west coast, twin brothers Aaron and Matt King have graduated high school and are savouring their last few months of summer holidays before adulthood – while on the other side of the country, something has fallen from the sky, heralding the dawn of a new age. As a terrifying plague spreads across Australia and the world, Aaron and Matt find themselves beset by anarchy and violence, fleeing the city, scrambling to survive. As the months go by, the twins grow from desperate refugees into hardened survivors – yet all the while they are haunted by cryptic dreams and an inexplicable urge to travel east, towards the source of the cataclysm, to uncover the secret behind the rise of the undead.

  • Mira Grant, San Diego 2014. The prequell to The Newsflesh trilogy (another epic read). It was the summer of 2014, and the true horrors of the Rising were only just beginning to reveal themselves. Fans from all over the world gathered in San Diego, California for the annual comic book and media convention, planning to forget about the troubling rumors of new diseases and walking dead by immersing themselves in a familiar environment. Over the course of five grueling days and nights, it became clear that the news was very close to home . . . and that most of the people who picked up their badges would never make it out alive. Mira Grant is the open pseudonym of Seanan McGuire.
A cup of tea on a pile of books
Photo by waad salman3 on Unsplash

Best Non-Fiction Books

  • Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren, How to Read a Book. Originally published in 1940, this book is a rare phenomenon, a living classic that introduces and elucidates the various levels of reading and how to achieve them—from elementary reading, through systematic skimming and inspectional reading, to speed reading. Readers will learn when and how to “judge a book by its cover,” and also how to X-ray it, read critically, and extract the author’s message from the text. Also included is instruction in the different techniques that work best for reading particular genres, such as practical books, imaginative literature, plays, poetry, history, science and mathematics, philosophy and social science works.

  • Howard Gardner, The Discipled Mind. This brilliant theory of multiple intelligences reexamines the goals of education to support a more educated society for future generations. By exploring the theory of evolution, the music of Mozart, and the lessons of the Holocaust as a set of examples that illuminates the nature of truth, beauty, and morality, The Disciplined Mind envisions how younger generations will rise to the challenges of the future—while preserving the traditional goals of a “humane” education. Gardner’s ultimate goal is the creation of an educated generation that understands the physical, biological, and societal world in their own personal context as well as in a broader world view.
  • Gary Hoover, The Lifetime Learner’s Guide to Reading and Learning. Book lover Gary Hoover lives in a 33-room building, of which 32 contain his 57,000-book personal library. Few people have “consumed” or learned from and remembered as many books. In this book, Gary Hoover lays out his method for capturing important ideas contained in books in 30 minutes (or less) without speed-reading. The book contains a multitude of tips about how to learn efficiently, how to find and buy books, and an annotated list of 160 books for expanding your knowledge – from history and geography to entrepreneurship and architecture. The book concludes with an extensive section on how to think creatively and see things that others do not, and how to separate the wheat from the chaff and see the forest beyond the trees.

  • Ryan Holiday & Stephen Hanselman, Lives of the Stoics. For millennia, Stoicism has been the ancient philosophy that attracts those who seek greatness, from athletes to politicians and everyone in between. And no wonder: its embrace of self-mastery, virtue and indifference to that which we cannot control has much to offer those grappling with today’s chaotic world. But who were the Stoics? In this book, Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman offer a fresh approach to understanding Stoicism through the lives of the people who practiced it – from Cicero to Zeno, Cato to Seneca, Diogenes to Marcus Aurelius. Through short biographies of all the famous, and lesser-known, Stoics, this book will show what it means to live stoically, and reveal the lessons to be learned from their struggles and successes. The result is a treasure trove of insights for anyone in search of living a good life.

  • Massimo Pigliucci, How to Be A Stoic. A philosopher asks how ancient Stoicism can help us flourish today. Whenever we worry about what to eat, how to love, or simply how to be happy, we are worrying about how to lead a good life. No goal is more elusive. In How to Be a Stoic, philosopher Massimo Pigliucci offers Stoicism, the ancient philosophy that inspired the great emperor Marcus Aurelius, as the best way to attain it. Stoicism is a pragmatic philosophy that focuses our attention on what is possible and gives us perspective on what is unimportant. By understanding Stoicism, we can learn to answer crucial questions: Should we get married or divorced? How should we handle our money in a world nearly destroyed by a financial crisis? How can we survive great personal tragedy? Whoever we are, Stoicism has something for us–and How to Be a Stoic is the essential guide.

  • Donald Robertson, Stoicism and the Art of Happiness. The Stoics lived a long time ago, but they had some startling insights into the human condition-insights which endure to this day; and they created a body of thought with an extraordinary goal-to provide a rational, healthy way of living in harmony with the nature of the universe and in respect of our relationships with each other. In many ways a precursor to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Stoicism provides an armamentarium of strategies and techniques for developing psychological resilience, while celebrating all in life which is beautiful and important. By learning what Stoicism is, you can revolutionize your life and learn how to seize the day, live happily and be a better person. Robertson, a a cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist himself, shows how to use this ancient wisdom to make practical, positive changes in your life.

  • Sharon Lebell, The Art of Living. “Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can’t control that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible.” The Stoic philosopher Epictetus was born on the eastern edges of the Roman Empire in A.D. 55, but The Art of Living is still perfectly suited for any contemporary self-help or recovery program. To prove the point, this modern interpretation by Sharon Lebell casts the teachings in up-to-date language, with phrases like “power broker” and “casual sex” popping up intermittently. But the core is still the same: Epictetus keeps the focus on progress over perfection, on accomplishing what can be accomplished and abandoning unproductive worry over what cannot.

  • John E. Sarno, The Mindbody Prescription. Dr. Sarno reveals how many painful conditions-including most neck and back pain, migraine, repetitive stress injuries, whiplash, and tendonitises-are rooted in repressed emotions, and shows how they can be successfully treated without drugs, physical measures, or surgery. 

  • Studs Terkel, Working. Studs Terkel’s classic oral history Working is a compelling look at jobs and the people who do them. Consisting of over one hundred interviews with everyone from a gravedigger to a studio head, this book provides a “brilliant” and enduring portrait of people’s feelings about their working lives. Complement it with John Bowe, Gig, a wide-ranging survey of the American economy at the turn of the millennium.

  • Albert Schweitzer, Out of My Life and Thought. Even in our cynical age, the legendary story of jungle doctor Albert Schweitzer, self-sacrificingly devoted to the service of humanity, inspires. His classic autobiography, first published in 1933, speaks directly to modern readers in its searching appraisal of this “period of spiritual decline for mankind,” an age in which science, technology and power seem divorced from ethical standards. In earnest prose Schweitzer discusses his research into primitive Christianity and his search for the historical Jesus; his love of Bach, “poet and painter in sound”; his fancy for rebuilding old church organs. His philosophy, which he called “Reverence for Life,” blends mysticism and rationalism, with an impulse to release the “active ethic” he sees latent in Christianity. For Schweitzer, reverence for life was not a theory or a philosophy but a discovery—a recognition that the capacity to experience and act on a reverence for all life is a fundamental part of human nature, a characteristic that sets human beings apart from the rest of the natural world. Complement it with Reverence for Life. “Reverence for Life” was Schweitzer’s unifying term for a concept of ethics. He believed that such an ethic would reconcile the drives of altruism and egoism by requiring a respect for the lives of all other beings and by demanding the highest development of an individual’s resources.

  • Gitta Sereny, Albert Speer: His Battle With Truth. From 1942 Albert Speer was the second most powerful man in the Reich and Hitler’s right-hand man. Gitta Sereny, through twelve years of research and through many conversations with Speer, his friends and colleagues, reveals how Speer came to terms with his own acts and failures to act, his progress from moral extinction to moral self-education and the question of his real culpability in the Nazi crimes.

I’ve used the publishers’ book descriptions for all the books on the list this year.


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Merry Christmas!

Santa Claus standing next to a Christmas tree in a room decorated for Christmas.

It’s Christmas Eve. It’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be. 

Frank Cross 

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful day with family and friends!



Art is Warfare: A Status Report

Abstract photo in hues of blue by Mihaela Limberea.
Speed. © Mihaela Limberea 2021

Am I still writing a book? Sure I am. And I’ll tell you a secret: it’s good I’ve decided to document my journey publicly; it forces me to continue even when I’m tempted to give up, to be honest. I can’t think of a better way of staying the course as a writer. Only I wouldn’t give up, of course. Instead, I would write something different and much better, and finish the other book later. Oh, the lies we can tell ourselves!

Anyway, I managed to evade the siren calls of the new ideas and stay with The Book. (In an attempt to focus on the work, I’ve started now calling it The Book, using capital letters; any means are allowed to keep going!).

I’m now reading the last few research books and working on the lecture notes. I’m so fed up with reading books when my whole body screams to start writing. Hence, the lure and allure of the shiny new ideas. 

But I’m almost out of the tunnel, and I think I can see the light (unless it’s the train, as my old boss used to say). So I’ve allowed myself to start putting some meat on the preliminary outline. It almost feels like writing and keeps me happy, or, at least, calm, while I’m wrapping up the research.

So, not so much to report from the trenches, just soldiering on. I’m shooting for January 1st to start the actual writing. Art is warfare; Steven Pressfield was right.


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TMIS or The Too Many Ideas Syndrome

Remember when I was talking about my temptation to abandon my non-fiction book and start writing a different kind of book? Guess what? It happened again! No surprise there. It felt so good (it always does!), I almost started jotting down the first pages. Then reality set in, and I have, in fact, looked up that blog post just to remind myself that ideas are a dime a dozen

Most (non-writing) people think that writers need ideas for new books, but getting new ideas is seldom a problem. Quite the opposite, in fact. Enter TMIS, i.e., Too Many Ideas Syndrome. You have more ideas that you could possibly be working on. So beware: TMIS sounds like a luxury problem, but it can be paralyzing or make you jump from project to project, never finishing anything.

I have a pretty long list of things I’d like to write about, and – as you can see here – every now and then, I even convince myself that it may be worth abandoning whatever I was working on to pursue that shiny new thing.

However, this time I was ready and stayed the course. I followed my own advice (something I should do more often, I always think) and archived that shiny thing in the slush file. With a sigh and some heartache but I did it. If nothing else, I hope it’ll make me finish this book as soon as possible; then, I can start working on the new one. Win-win!


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Happy Halloween!

Dark Halloween photo of cemetery gates

Halloween shadows played upon the walls of the houses. In the sky the Halloween moon raced in and out of the clouds. The Halloween wind was blowing, not a blasting of wind but a right-sized swelling, falling, and gushing of wind. It was a lovely and exciting night, exactly the kind of night Halloween should be.

Eleanor Estes, The Witch Family

Eleanor Estes (1906-1988), American children’s author and a children’s librarian.


To read more quotes, click here.



All Things on Earth Point Home in Old October

Autumn leaves on stone stairs.

All things on earth point home in old October; sailors to sea, travellers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken.

Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938), American novelist.


To read more quotes, click here.



An Excuse Is Not an Exception

An abstract photo of ice and fire in hues of blue and orange. Photo by Mihaela Limberea
Fire and Ice  © Mihaela Limberea 2021

It’s so easy to think, “I’ll make an exception, I’m so tired/busy/stressed” when you skip a planned activity or something you wanted to do. You still mean to eat right, or exercise, or write at least 300 words every morning, of course. You just skip today. It’s OK. You’ll resume tomorrow. Not a biggie.

The thing is, this is not an exception. It’s an excuse. An excuse not to do something that makes you uncomfortable or anxious or that scares you—a reason to take the easy way out.

It’s an exception when you have to skip the gym to take your daughter to the emergency room with a sprained ankle. It’s an exception when you sit down to write your daily quota, and your computer eats your document and its backup. It’s an exception when it’s outside your control.

An excuse is not an exception; an exception is an emergency.


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