Wednesday, December 26, 2012


waiting.  waiting takes energy, time, practice and confidence.  I am not very good at waiting. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

write shitty first drafts.

I have just started reading an inspiring book by Anna Lamott, entitled Bird by Bird, some instructions on writing and life.  It is genuine writing that often causes me to reread passages, because they just resonate so close. Here is her advice about first drafts:

She says, write the shitty first draft, no one has to read it and most authors, if not all, start by writing a shitty first draft.  She goes on to say, "Just get it all down on paper, because there may be something great in those six crazy pages that you would never have gotten to by more rational, grown-up means.  There may be something in the very last line of the very last paragraph on page six that you just love, that is so beautiful or wild that you now know what you're supposed to be writing about, more or less, or in what direction you might go--but there was no way to get this without first getting through the first five and a half pages."

How true is this about life?  It seem  sometimes we have to go through five and a half pages of craziness just to get to the last sentence of the sixth page and find something that is so beautiful and wild that it gives just enough clarity, inspiration and direction to try again, to keep going.  It seems sometimes we just have to write, start, experience - that shitty first draft.  Life really is a journey, a process, a series of starts and craziness.  And like Anna said - maybe, just maybe, in the six pages of craziness there will be a simple sentence, a moment, that makes the craziness all worth while or maybe it is in the process of creating the six pages of craziness where we find beauty itself.

All I know is we have to start somewhere and for most it seems that start is in the shitty first draft.  Anne says you have to start and then refine.  I find so much truth, promise and hope in a process that allows for unperfected starting and calls for, requires, refinement, growth and development.  Life is tricky - but it seems sometimes you just have to put it all out there and go through the craziness to find your own beauty, wildness and direction.  To find what "you would never have gotten to by more rational, grown-up means." This, this gives me hope.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

John Steinbeck.

I just got the most wonderful book in the mail "Steinbeck: A Life in Letters."  I really should not be reading it for I have a pile of work, homework and studying I should focus my attention on.  But - I am taking a break and indulging in the letters of Steinbeck.  I adore writing and receiving letters - there is just something so perfect about having to write your thoughts down on paper.  This is the first letter in this book and I find it just perfect - it feels cozy and comfortable.

Steinbeck is writing to a friend from Stanford University, he is 24, broke, working a survival job to pursue his passion, writing.  The book says he is a caretaker for a house that is snowed in eight months out of the year.

Dear Toby:

     Do you know, one of the things that made me come here, was, as you guessed, that I am frightfully afraid of being alone.  The fear of the dark is only part of it.  I wanted to break that fear in the middle, because I am afraid much of me existence is going to be more or less alone, and I might as well go into training for it.  It comes on me at night mostly, in little waves of panic, that constrict something in my stomach.  But don't you think it is good to fight these things?   Last night, some quite large animal came and sniffed under the door.  I presume it was a coyote, thought I do not know.  The moon had not come up, and when I ran outside there was nothing to be seen.  But the main thing was that I was frightened, even though I know it could be nothing but a coyote.  Don't tell anyone I am afraid.  I do not like to be suspected of being afraid.
     As soon as you can, get to work on the Little Lady [A Green Lady, a play Street was writing].  Keep your eye on cost of production, small and inexpensive scenes, few in the cast and lots of wise cracks, as racy as you think the populace will stand.  Always crowd the limit.  And also if you have time, try your hand on a melo drahmar, something wild, and mysterious and unexpected with characters turning out to be other people and some of them turing out to be nobody at all.
     And if you can find a small but complete dictionary lying about anywhere send it to me.  I have none, and apparently the Brighams [his employers] are so perfect in their mother tongue that they do not need one.
     I shall send you some mss pretty soon if you wish.  I have been working slowly but deliciously on one thing.  There is something so nice about being able to put down a sentence and then look over and then change it, sometimes taking half an hour over two lines.  And it is possible here because there seems to be no reason for rush.
   If, on going through Salinas, you have the time, you might look in on my folks and tell them there is little possibility of me either starving or freezing.  Be as honest as you can, but picture me in a land flowing with ham and eggs, and one wherein woolen underdrawers grow on the fir trees.  Tell them that I am living on the inside of a fiery furnace, or something.
     It's time for me to go to the post office now, I will cease without the usual candle-like spluttering. Write me when and as often as you get a chance.  I shall depend on the mail quite a lot.



I relate to Steinbeck's fear of being alone - but not wanting anyone to know his fear.  I love how he is "working slowly but deliciously on one thing."  I love the advise of " always crowd the limit."  I envy his "being able to put down a sentence and then look over and then change it, sometimes taking half an hour over two lines.  And it is possible here because there seems to be no reason for rush."

I love the personality that can be conveyed in a letter.  The way it allows me to peak into his personal life and not just read his crafted works, but glimpse his soul.  I think thats what we all really want - to not just hear someones crafted words, but to understand, to glimpse their unprotected soul.

Monday, December 3, 2012


I have realized my most enjoyable evening is good conversation about meaningful things - expanding, learning, sharing, gathering.  Currently I am sitting in the Patisserie and the table to the right of me is filled with a group of people I aspire to copy.  The kind man wears a hat and jokes with me about our last meeting.  They are in their late 40's, charmingly dress, sipping their coffee, kind brimming hearts and engaged in the art of conversation.  They converse about books, articles, plays, acting, politics, education and community.  They are intelligent, articulate, kind, artistic and inspiring.  No cell phones, texting, computers - just sharing, discussing and laughing.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

I'm excited for when my life consists of a little more "naughty nineties."  How great are these graphics?  

P.S.  I want this book and these graphics are from


I seem to like things neat and tidy - I mean unless it is my room or car, those are always a bit of a disaster.  But in life - my career, relationships, school - I like things neat and tidy.  I like to know what is expected, the outcome, the goal, it just all seems easier that way.  Lately I have been learning that somethings, no matter how hard I try, will never be tidy. Many things will just always be uncertain - until they are not.

I don't like uncertainty.  I don't like waking up in the morning and not knowing what to expect, what to feel, what to work towards - it ties me all up - makes me confused - makes me want to shut the door and run.  I obsess about the uncertainty, try to fix it, secure it, make it safe and certain.  I try to control the situation and protect myself, over analyze.  I function much better in terms of certainty, with clear cut rules, boundaries, expectations.  

But with everyday that passes I realize how unrealistic this thinking is - life is messy, uncertain and confusing.  So instead of shutting a door, running to something more certain, I have decided to let my heart just feel what it feels.  Life has this uncanny ability to work things out - maybe once I stop trying to fix, secure, make certain - things will fall into place just as they should be.  Maybe I just need a little thicker skin, a few more heaps of patience, and a whole lot more faith in the world that is so much bigger then me.

Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


"What you should not do, I think, is worry about the opinion of anyone beyond your friends. You shouldn't worry about prestige. Prestige is the opinion of the rest of the world.
. . . 

Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you'd like to like.

. . .

Prestige is just fossilized inspiration. If you do anything well enough, you'll make it prestigious. Plenty of things we now consider prestigious were anything but at first. Jazz comes to mind—though almost any established art form would do. So just do what you like, and let prestige take care of itself."
-Paul Graham via

"Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.”

-Anne Lamott

"Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.
Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates the strength of Resistance. Therefore, the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul.”
-Steven Pressfield

“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.”
-Ernest Hemingway