Quotedium Update 31.11.vii.g

In other news (what??) I reopened my Etsy shop after someone contacted me through my email trying to find out how to buy notecards. What’s cool about that (besides the obvious) is that he found me through the information on the back of a card someone had sent him. It was the Sandhill Crane Walking among Willow Saplings. I ordered some for him and sent them along at a small financial loss for me. NOT the greatest business model but goodwill is worth a lot to a small business such as myself.

After I sold six more packs through Etsy, and I saw that a market exists, I looked into ordering more and realized (again) it’s not cost effective for me. I don’t know what their idea was raising prices as much as they have. I did more experimenting on printing at home, thinking, “People want these and the Crane Festival is coming up. I promised to donate some to Friends of the Refuge to sell at the festival. HFS, Batman. I have to do something.” So as one does when one can, I got better at it…

I experimented and got a very very nice product. Better than I was getting from the commercial printer, and now it’s possible for me to do custom orders — assortments and personalization and all that. It’s not like ink and paper don’t cost me anything, but it’s a far better deal for me AND customers. I print the ink drawings on textured card stock, and they look just like the drawings do in real life on the watercolor paper I used. The colored cards are printed on plain card stock, perfect.

I put more cards up on Etsy. Etsy is seriously flawed and annoying, but it’s simple for people to use. I have also decided to take custom orders through Facebook and here. That is an advertisement, I guess. My Etsy shop is linked below, but you can contact me through my Gravatar and order directly from me.


In other news, Bear and I headed out yesterday to see what’s going on in the Big Empty. Teddy and I went out Thursday, and Teddy has learned that he has a lot of freedom with the Halti. He also discovered how much fun it is to head into the deep snow and search for smells. Yesterday Bear found his little hunting efforts and checked to see what Teddy was after. The Refuge has filled the ponds and ditches because the waterbirds are on their way north — I saw and heard one Canada goose yesterday. It struck me as odd because you never see one goose. I thought about the single Sandhill Crane I saw last week, which was odd, too. I laughed to myself thinking maybe the birds have their own Natty Bumpo types in the flock who scout ahead for possibilities for the whole population.

There’s not much snow out there — we got more in town and Alamosa got even more (and record cold — -24 F/-31 C) but it has drifted into beautiful whipped cream shapes along the fences and reeds. Bear loves the deep snow.

Among other things I saw tracks where it seemed a fox had gotten dinner. Other tracks further on seemed at first to be elk tracks mostly because of their size and the location — a spot where the elk hang out, but now I think they’re Jack Rabbit tracks just because they’re missing features of elk tracks and they are really crazy. Jack Rabbits are BIG.

The featured photo is a filter from a well-used Bialetti.

Breaking ChapGPT

It’s a thing, I’ve learned, people try to stymy the chatbot. I thought I did it yesterday. At the advice of Colin, who writes one of my favorite blogs, Bon Repos Gites, I asked the bot to write some love letters. Then Colin suggested he’d asked it to write Valentines in particular forms — heavy metal song and public service announcement. I loved that idea so I asked it to write one in the style of 80 hardcore punk music. It “broke” three times. It couldn’t — or wouldn’t — write them. I was proud of myself, as, it seems, are all the people who “break” it. This morning I realized that the reason it “couldn’t” was because, to succeed at that task, it would have to violate some of its own rules against violence and obscenity. OH well.

What’s my fascination with punk? Maybe something similar to my fascination with ChatGPT et al. A lot of the society in which we live is built on lies and beliefs. Maybe we don’t examine them because, if we did, we’re afraid we’d break or reveal ourselves to ourselves for what we are. Possibly we don’t even know what we are. Popular music, politics, religious beliefs, magazines, the Internet, highways, cities — I would say everything humans create — all are mirrors. Whatever we do, we create images of ourselves, our desires, our culture. We can’t do anything else, and, if we could, it would be really weird. Punk is a mirror revealing our hypocrisy.

Punk — some punk not all (some Punk is just pop with an edge) — throws the ugly image up there in an often humorous way. Dark but truthful humor. It’s a break from saccharine love songs and all the rest of pop music. It has political beliefs, too, and over time became a fashion more than anything else and the fashion includes the Mohawk.

Back in the 80s was a — IMO — great cartoonist, Lynda Barry, and her cartoon parodying the parody that is punk is still one of my all time favorites.

My favorite 80s punk band is Dead Kennedys not only because someday I’ll be one, but because their songs are (IMO) funny. Their version of “Viva Las Vegas” is hilarious. Their political stance is in harmony with mine (“Nazi Punks Fuck Off”). Social commentary right on point (“Kill the Poor”). It’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, so I’m refraining from dropping a video in here. Just remember: ChatGPT wouldn’t write in that language.

In other news, be careful what you wish for. You might get a legit blizzard. Seriously. We are having the most formidable snow I’ve seen since I moved here 8+ years ago. It’s not particularly cold right now so the flakes are pretty big, but the wind is fierce and the snow is blowing like a MOFO. Tonight will be in the negative digits F and, obviously, C. Tomorrow the sun will be out again. I don’t think even Bear and I will venture out until tomorrow but maybe just me on my skis, though I hate to speak that outloud (is this outloud?). Great Sand Dunes National Park is closed because of the blizzard.

We Have Sand in the San Luis Valley, a LOT of Sand

I live near a LOT of sand and I don’t mean a sand lot, though it’s that, too. Great Sand Dunes National Park is really and truly sandy — and also very beautiful in a totally accessible way. It’s true that there isn’t a whole lot to DO there much of the year, and the mosquitoes are beyond counting in summer, there are hiking trails into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains where there are waterfalls and even a pass that settlers used in the olden days to cross the mountains, but the preeminent feature is sand and sandboards — similar to snowboards — have been invented to ride down the dunes when the climate is amenable. Looks like fun, but… There is also a very beautiful visitors’ center.

In spring when the snow melts in the Sangres and water comes charging down Medano Creek, it even turns into a beach. Sometimes, though, it can be a little cold, but if we have a good winter, the beach endures into June or even July!

Life’s a Beach

You can learn a LOT more about the Great Sand Dunes here

The coolest (literally) sand that’s not wet is at White Sands National Park in New Mexico. I was there as a little kid — 4 and 5 years old. It was wonderful, a magical land. The sand never gets hot because it’s white — gypsum — and it reflects the heat — unlike the sand at Great Sand Dunes which, in summer, is too hot to play on.

My brother and I at White Sands, 1957. The green car is ours, I think.

I’m fascinated by White Sands because of the fossilized footprints they’ve found of a little girl carrying her brother? Sister? You can read about them here.

A Walk with People!!??!!

Today (Tuesday) my friends wanted to go out to the Refuge with me for a walk. That almost never happens. Wow! No dogs, either. Just people…

This is truly THE quietest time of year out there. It’s the lull before the ponds are filled, the waterbirds return, and the people come to look at them. I love it, I love the silence and the solitude though a few hopeful crane tourists are already coming through to see if they get an early glimpse.

I pointed out muskrat nests and stuff and pretty soon my friends were each doing their things that they do. It struck me how we’ve been sharing outings — adventures — for 8 years and we know each other. It’s wonderful and we had a really good time. The beauty, the space, the silence all soothe people and before long they were standing there looking out at whatever it is we stand and look out at.

People walk differently than dogs, faster and with more consistency and this time of year my asthma is kind of a problem so I had some problems keeping up and the need to stop from time to time to control my breathing. I have a rescue inhaler but I don’t like to use it much. I will if I need rescue, but if I just need to stop it makes more sense just to stop. My friends are tolerant. The fact that I’m somewhat physically “less” doesn’t bother me any more. The way I see it it doesn’t matter; what matters is that I’m out there nearly every day in every kind of weather — even rain and Deer Flies, both of which I’m not crazy about. Thunderstorms are another thing. I’ve been known to retreat. Anyone would. It happens out there that even at my elevated stature of 5’1″ (154 cm) I might be the tallest thing around.

I felt very happy seeing that what I get at the Refuge, my friends were getting. After our walk I took them out to see “the tree” — a huge cottonwood we thought was dead but isn’t. I did a painting of it in 2020. Then I took them to see a new area the Refuge people have built up for the crane tours. Last year they planted sunflowers as a cover crop for the barley. It was beautiful and the dried sunflowers still stand over the barley which isn’t cut but is left for the cranes to fuel them on their long journey north.

A couple weeks ago I saw a beautiful white feather., but when I went back to pick it up, I didn’t find it. I thought the wind had caught it or? I found it today. It seems to be a tail feather from a Sandhill Crane though there are a couple of other less likely possibilities, one is a Snow Goose. They do pass through here from time to time, but not commonly.

Here’s a song by one of my favorite singers from the time I was a kid and even still. I got to hear him a couple of times live in San Diego. Frankie Laine lived in San Diego and sometimes he would perform in some not-particularly-fancy place like the Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park which is right under the flight path for planes landing at Lindbergh Field.

This song still gives me chills.

Bag It

Yesterday I was out cutting branches and baby elm trees out of the lilac hedge. It was a pretty good project for a warm February day and a lot easier than doing it in summer. I have a couple of elms in that hedge I need to hire someone to demolish, but the way I see it, the more of that I do the less I have to pay for. I’m cheap labor, not good, but definitely cheap. A lilac branch had extended into the alley, and I could imagine the silent curses (or not so silent) of my neighbors as they drove past. But the fewer irksome frustrations for those around me, the better my life is.

Norris Medina, who delivers stuff to my house in his UPS truck — and who single-handedly, basically, brought all the furniture from wherever to me when I moved here and didn’t have anything (we joked about it a lot back then) — and I were talking about how the world has changed since 2019. We both think that people are meaner. I hated to think of what that meant to HIM because he has to go to all kinds of houses every day. Later I thought about Tim, my sagacious plumber and our conversations about kindness. I put those two conversations together and realized that behind them both are experiences with mean people. And that they both comment? They must — as I do — find the meanness a change. Maybe it’s also a little strange that I have philosophical conversations with my plumber and UPS guy, but there it is.

In my Facebook memories this morning was a description of a day in 2019, just an ordinary day except that there was snow on the golf course, and I was skiing. The kids up the alley had just moved in, and I was just getting to know them. The little boy was in the yard waiting for Bear and me. We talked for a few minutes, Bear jumped up on the fence to get petted and was taller than the little boy. We made a date to say “Hi!” the next day.

That was it. Nothing strange or intense or challenging, just unremitting sweetness and snow. I keep wondering, “Is the change ME???” but when others talk to me about it I see it isn’t JUST me, though certainly I have changed. For me the change happened on January 6 2021 and the continuation of that event hasn’t helped at all. That day broke me.

Norris said it well the other day when he said, “Oh, yeah, politics. I vote and everything, and I know my vote counts, but none of them really represent me.” It’s true. The big issues in my part of the world include the plague of tumbleweeds at the cemetery and the successes of local high school students. There are more serious things, too. Drugs remain a problem (but I saw worse in San Diego) and poverty. The person who is alleged to represent us in Washington, DOESN’T represent us. I have only once heard her mention anything that directly relates to our lives but OH WELL.

We talked about the new law in Colorado that we have to pay for plastic bags at the stores. He was (as many around here are) outraged, and I just said, “Yeah, well, it’s a pain in the ass, but we’ll get used to it.”

“Why should we save the whales? We don’t have whales in Colorado.”

I answered that if he’d seen the trash on the beach as I have had he might feel differently. He made the connection from that to our outrageous landfill and an argument was made. We kept talking about the environment and he told me how incredibly careful and frugal his dad had been with everything. The upshot? We started out disagreeing and ended up agreeing. And to get there? I got to hear amazing stories about life in one of the San Luis Valley’s most remote and beautiful towns back when Norris was a kid (70s). He described a life that sounded like my mom’s in the 30’s. He’s from San Luis, the oldest town in Colorado, a place I’d have chosen to live if I’d seen it before I saw Monte Vista. It’s up against the Sangre de Cristo mountains, a smaller town than Monte Vista, very Hispanic and very beautiful. I loved his stories. My California stories and his San Luis Valley stories gave each of us more context for understanding not just each other, but the world.

“How do big families in California deal with their groceries?”

“Some people put boxes in the back of their car.”

“My daughter has a couple milk crates in her truck now.”

“Yeah. That’s what we did. We got used to it.”

As we talked, I thought about the first plastic grocery bag I ever saw. It was in 1982 in the People’s Republic of China. Our university had connections with a factory unit in a village that was making these bags. I thought they were strange. In China we went everywhere with String — oops, I see here they’re called NET bags — because that’s what we carried stuff in. Everyone did. I saw some pretty strange stuff going to and fro in net bags — even a kitten! And, of course, most markets were “wet markets,” which meant people might take home live animals to kill and eat for dinner. It’s amazing what a small net bag will hold, too. AND they can be stashed in the pocket of your jeans. Oh brave new world. All of Europe — well the two countries I know, anyway, people carry net bags. Some fancy ones, too. I’ve thought for a long time that it’s strange that the US hasn’t dumped plastic grocery bags altogether, but I’m as guilty as anyone of “Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death.” (title of my favorite Dead Kennedys album).

Kind of went off topic there, but it’s my blog and I guess I can do that if I want to. Anyway, the original point was that in our strange new world this kind of conversation — which, I think, is is an essential part of human life — seems to be a little more difficult to come by. I know I don’t wander around the neighborhood talking to my neighbors any more. We can’t regain our innocence; it’s gone. I don’t know… But like my plumber says, “If we can’t be nice to each other, what’s the point of living?” I’m going to keep trying…

Sedges in Snow

I don’t know exactly what goes into a painting. Whatever my “process” is, it’s as mysterious to me as to anyone else. I do know that since July, painting has been all but impossible for me. Covid brain is a real thing. I found it very difficult to hold an idea. It was as if parts of my brain just wouldn’t connect to other parts. I did do a painting in there somewhere, sunflowers with acrylic using a palette knife. I did that painting to try out the knife (I only have one) and to have something to hang in the show at the museum. I liked it a lot, and it seemed to prevision something changed in Martha the Painter. I wasn’t sure I could paint at all which is why I used the knife. I knew I didn’t know how to use a palette knife. It’s a simple painting of a common scene; nothing fancy but friendly and likable. I could also paint this in a very short time so there wasn’t the challenge of maintaining the image in my mind.

Last Summer acrylic on panel, painted October, 2022

What makes a painting, for the painter, anyway, might be more than the result. For me it is.

I love painting more than anything else I do. It’s just a wonderful thing to me, engrossing, intriguing. All of my paintings have been experiments because each one changes me and moves me to a different place along whatever might be my personal painting trajectory. I like that journey. Paint is part of it — just that, paint itself — and the image in my mind is another part. Doing the work is a pathway I’ve never traveled. I’m not sure I can explain this clearly because it’s not a word thing.

I think of the painters in the past, and I’m sure some of them must have loved painting. I think Turner must have. Kandinsky. Georgia O’Keefe definitely loved it. The jubilation in van Gogh’s work says to me he probably loved it, too. Back in the days when painting was a trade more than an ‘art’ those guys must have loved it, too, even though it meant a lot of hard work and the development of far more skills than painters today need to know.

I have an amazing book, On Divers Arts. That’s “diverse” not divers, but anyway. It’s by a guy, a priest, who’s writing under the name “Theophilus,” friend of God. His friendship with God is real. It’s not just that he is a priest, but also because of the way he regards all the material he works with. It would be a different blog post to go into that, so I won’t. But I share his feelings. Paint itself is a miracle.

Theophilus’ mission in writing the book was to pass down to the future all the things he knew about making art for a church and it’s practically everything — from pigments for the wall and manuscripts to the lead that holds stained glass in windows and the glass itself. It was written in the 13th century. I have found it very inspiring even though I don’t understand most of the technical instruction. The most inspiring part to me is the dedication where Theophilus explains to the person reading his instruction that the act of creating something is partaking in a little shred of the divine through physical gifts that have been passed to him through time. It feels that way to me.

For the past few days I’ve been really painting. It’s been the good stuff where I didn’t know where I was going and had to completely let go. All I had was a day week before last when Bear and I rushed out to the Refuge to catch the snow before it quit falling. We walked into a day unlike any I had ever seen. Bear and I wandered through a mystery.

Yesterday, when I finished this, I felt I’d painted that beautiful snowy afternoon.

FYI this is really just a painting of snow, fog and sedges. It’s not symbolic of anything. You’re welcome to see anything you want in the image, just don’t tell me 😀

It’s oil on acrylic primed linen canvas. The paint is Gamblin’s Flake White Replacement, a titanium based white designed to mimic lead white. Indian yellow, lapis ultramarine, and Gamblin Portland Gray. Gamblin is a paint company in Oregon. Most of their paint uses safflower oil rather than linseed oil because it doesn’t yellow over time but to make it true to the original paint, the flake white replacement uses linseed oil. The lapis ultramarine is from Daniel Smith. Indian yellow is very luminous, truly, and I chose it because there was no other color that day so the sedges seemed lit from the inside which, in a way, they were, holding summer’s sunlight in their persistent stems.

Close Encounter of the Fur Kind

I know the dogs hadn’t — between them — hatched a nefarious plot that would have gone against their self-interest. I know that but here I am this morning walking slowly through the house, waiting for the paracetamol (Tylenol) to kick in. For a few moments yesterday out at the Refuge I lay flat on my face, glasses thrown a short distance away, wondering how I was going to get up on the slick snowy road.

Luckily, I wasn’t alone but, on the other hand, if I’d been alone, I never would have fallen.

There was a moment when I regretted having socialized Bear so well to like people and Teddy? Never mind Mr. Throw Himself Through a Glass Door to see people — specifically the UPS man.

There is a couple we’ve run into a few times out there — Sharon and Tom — that we like very much. I’ve never had any challenges controlling the dogs in their company before, but yesterday? I think the problem was that they were preceded on the road by a car — and Teddy wants to chase all cars. And they were stuck at home for two days. So they were filled with piss and vinegar. In their eagerness to greet friends, Teddy leapt forward and pulled me down. It wouldn’t have happened at all if I’d been paying attention, but I wasn’t.

I let go of the leashes, asked our friends to hold the dogs, and Tom helped me up. OH well. And then, of course, the dogs returned to me as if “See, Martha! We found our friends!”

I’m not hurt, just a little banged up.

Once I was upright again, we had a great conversation. Last time we met I told them about the article I was writing about the Crane Festival. As we talked, I thought about how the are the ONLY people I ever run into when I’m out there walking. They are the only people who walk out there, too, except one of the people who lives there. I thought about that and about what we talk about. Invariably our conversations turn to what we have seen. Last time we met they had seen the elk herd — about 400 elk — and heard their feet hit the ground as they ran across the fields. Yesterday they asked about the article. I told them they were in it, but I hadn’t used their names. I said I felt weird — but what I felt was the immensity and silence of that place, and all the people who have witnessed it over the millennia, none of them are named. I might have my name on the article, but as a wanderer out there, I am nameless. I told them I wrote about how when we meet up we talk about what we’ve seen to, maybe, the only other people in the world who are out there with no agenda. I told them where they would find the magazine when it comes out.

So, for a while at leash (ha ha), I won’t be walking Bear and Teddy together. I’m also thinking that Teddy is going to get a head collar like that Bear wears. I used one with him when he first came to live with me, but he hated it. Now I’m wondering how much I care whether he hates it or not.

Quotedium Update 81.9.3i.x

The dogs and I have been out in the Big Empty enjoying the snow that’s on the ground. I learned today that most of Colorado is covered with snow and that the snow pack in the mountains is 134% of normal. That doesn’t mean it’s the end of the drought, but it’s a good sign. Snow is falling right now. Little flakes, gray sky, pure January aesthetic.

We went out Friday while the snow was falling. I didn’t know until I got out of town that it wasn’t just snow. Fog! Beautiful, adding to the silence and mystery. The snow was wet and on the warm side. The light was flat and the Refuge was beautiful in a way I hadn’t experienced before. It reminded me of the under-painting of the big crane painting and gave me the thought of actually painting THAT. There was no sign of life beyond the slow low flight of a Northern Harrier in front of me.

We walked our walk, the dogs each having its turn at the side off the road where the good stuff is. Bear’s and Teddy’s feet accumulated snow balls, but both of them are happy to have me pull them out. The featured photo is the end of that snowstorm.

Saturday I woke up to find the fog had lingered, leaving its beautiful mark on the tops of the trees, but dipping low enough to regale my lilac bush.

Yesterday we were out again. The sun was shining, and the walk was beautiful. Enough people had driven on the road that there were nice tracks for me. I don’t mind walking through the snow at all, but when Teddy is pulling one way and Bear the other it’s a little less fun. Not a lot less fun, just a little less fun. By yesterday, the snow had crystalized over night, so it didn’t stick to the dogs’ paws.

On our return, a truck stopped. Turned out it was some people I haven’t seen in four years! but like very much so we caught up, laughed, chuckled, and enjoyed the moment. It’s an interesting phenomenon how that place, as solitary as it is, often results in my having a great conversation with someone. I guess it’s kind of a funnel. Anyone who’s out there is probably someone I want to talk to and who wants to talk to me.

I’m hoping for four inches or a little more of snow. I will take the Langlauf skis to the Refuge — or the golf course — if that happens. The snow that’s there now will be a very nice base for fresh powder. It’s slightly packed and will have had the chance to crystalize a few times.

I have no projects hanging fire other than reading books for the contest. At the moment I’m between shipments. They come twice during the winter and the second shipment will come next month which is not that far away. I have electronic submissions to read right now.

and yet ANOTHER Snowy Walk with Bear

Very beautiful day yesterday. The snow fell off and on all day but only got as deep as my ankles. I shoveled the walks then sequestered Bear and headed to the Refuge.

The road was treacherous. I have consciously avoided winter roads since I moved here. It isn’t difficult since we have more sunny days than gray, and most winters have been dry. At first it felt a little sketchy. Bella is a jeep but she doesn’t have the best tires for snow/ice. I soon relaxed into the experience and enjoyed it.

It is a little strange to think that most of my winter driving experience was in Montana driving my aunts around the winter-slick roads in Billings in their cars. Front wheel drive and studded tires, but if the snow was deep? Everyone stayed home until the plows came out. As I drove, I felt strangely nostalgic for Billings’ winter roads and my bundled up aunts.

I always wondered WHY my aunts wanted me to drive. It had been DECADES since I’d driven on winter roads, but there I was. San Diego driver. I had learned to drive in those conditions so it wasn’t long before I was fine.

“You’re doing good, honey,” my Aunt Jo would say.

Before Bear and I left the Refuge yesterday, a very amazing snowplow came up the main road. It had a front blade, and pulled a heavy trailer that had another blade, this one pointing toward the side of the road. The plow system was immense and fun to watch. It gave us an easier ride home, though still slick.

Bear and I had, again, untrammeled snow and tracks — fox or coyote, but my money is on fox. The snow was soft and the tracks were a little filled. A male Northern Harrier passed low in front of me and then moved on.

Northern Harrier in the tree…

Bear had the time of her life investigating the mischief made by other animals since the last time we were there.

“Very interesting, Martha!”

The sky to the south was so dark that the shadows of the trees were on the “wrong” side. The storm came from the southwest. To the north the sky was bright with a band of clear turquoise on the horizon.

You can see the effects of the odd light in the photo below. I’m facing east. The sun was desperately trying to shine through dark clouds over my right shoulder. The tree’s shadows would — normally — point in the opposite direction. This can’t be painted. It’s a photo that needs words, a phenomenon maybe unique in my life.

In a place like the Refuge where there is nothing overtly dramatic to look at, a person who goes there often, like I do, is going to notice ambience and detail. It is really not the same place twice.

The day before yesterday I saw a beautiful, huge, pale tan feather. I wanted to pick it up, but as we were just starting out, I couldn’t. I planned to get it on the way back, but the wind and a couple passing cars had blown it away. I thought about that later. Moments of beauty are just like that feather or a harrier’s low, slow flight.

Lois Lane, Here…

Life as a world-renowned journalist will continue later this morning when I go interview another Crane Festival organizer and wildlife biologist. I hope this time I remember to take the questions with me. She’s a person I’ve met before — on the golf course on skis. I liked her.

Yesterday I worked on the article, integrating my last interview into the structure of stuff I already have. Some basic information has to go into that piece, but as I transcribed the interview I took last week I realized what my job is; it’s less about informing people as it is about exciting people.

What a cool job description! “Write a story that makes people excited to see Sandhill Cranes.”

When I was talking to my cousin on my birthday I learned that he’s written a book. It would be his second. As he talked about what he’s doing (getting editors, having it read, etc.) I thought but didn’t say, “Tom, there are no guarantees.” I did say, “Wonderful!” And somewhere in there I said, “The most important thing about writing is that you do it and enjoy it.” But really I can’t speak for anyone but me there. He could have heard that in a lot of ways — one as me trying to cushion him from disappointment, but, I was just speaking from my experience.

Sitting here with all these independently published books I feel differently about THAT than I might have felt 20 years ago. Independently published books are not (necessarily) “second class” or “not as good as,” not at all. Usually (in my experience) they are just different. The big difference is in audience, not the quality of the writing. IF these authors had sought “conventional” publication and had not found it, it would have been, in most cases, because the book they’d written would not have an audience. The publisher wouldn’t sell many of the books he’d paid to produce. That’s the major factor in the decision to take on a writer’s work. Logically so from a business perspective. The moment I understood that for myself, I knew what direction I would have to take. It’s a self-knowledge thing, I think.

Well, that said, and none of it new, I’d better get ready for my gig… Here’s Stephen King’s advice for wannabe writers. The only points I agree with unequivocally are #6, #8, #11, #14. For me the other points are matters of personal taste and style. Some people are quashed by a “daily writing goal,” for example. I have no idea where the word for today, “coddle,” was supposed to go in here; I had an idea when I started, but… OH well.