What Do They Know

A long time ago I received advice about writing. “Be Specific” and “The Power of Detail” were two of the chapter titles in Natalie Goldberg’s book Writing Down the Bones. These were two of the many bits of advice given in the book. It seems to be very popular. They just released a deck of cards to go along with the book.

My only problem with those bits of advice were the examples she gave with them. “I am in Costa’s Chocolate Shop in Owatonna, Minnesota.” The what, where? The name and the place are meaningless to most people. This was made worse when she referred to a newsstand/coffee shop in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was living in Albuquergue at the time, the late 1980’s. I could buzz up the road and see the place for myself. I did and it was unlike anything I had imaged. As a result, I put the book on the shelf and did not use it.

Too bad. There is a lot of good bits of advice in there.

On a better side of my experience with the book is that I am conscious of what I put in to whatever I write. Which leads to my questions about Pho.

Results, people from the midwest have no experience with it. People west of the Sierras or the Cascades have heard of it. And perhaps tasted it. There is one respondent, “america eats the world” indicated he knows of Pho from time in Vietnam. He could be anywhere. Having said that, those things, I know what I have heard is a way too small a sample of people to know anything. How do I include Pho in something I write and expect it to be relevant to people?

This is a problem with being specific in writing. Ms. Goldberg talked about learning the names of plants. But the readers, most of whom grew up in cities, what do they know of plants?

I am puzzeling today.

— MichaelRpdx :: h3k

Anniversary Dinner

Hobbs is wearing Jams
45th and Clay
I have a lot of feelings

Medusa was declined. These were our dinner dishes.
OH! A plate of Jolene tots! And a champange of honey.

We ordered too much, two dishes would be fine for us.
But now we have days of food to feast on.

Oh num, num, we have many days of food. Of delight.

MichaelRpdx :: h3k


Eating and Reading

Everyone, if you type or read: This is for you. I am getting some information about people and their eating, in other words, I am curious about them. If you can help, please answer these questions:

Do you know what Pho is? (beyond having heard of it)

Is Pho available in your area?

Have you had Pho?

What kind of area do you live in? (city, smallish town, east, west)

Please answer here in comments, in a One Typed Page, or email me, michael@jamhome.us

I will gather up the answers and include them in my One Typed Page on Monday. You will be able to read the responses on Tuesday. Part of the motivation for asking this is we have a lot of Pho here in Portland. I do not want to assume that other people have Pho available. So, I am asking to find out.

 #      #      #

I am rereading Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson. I have forgotten it. I am (am?) sure that I will eventually find parts of the book that I remember. But for now, it is like reading a book, a very fine book, for the first time. I am having the same experience with On A Winters Night A Traveler, Italo Calvino, and the first pages are very vaguely familiar. But for the most part, it is like reading a new book.

Have I forgotten so much? From a stroke? This can be a great time. I know of lots of great books. If I have forgotten them as well as these two, well I have a lot of reading to do. Without any worries about wasting time on shitty or just mediocre stuff.

Then again, I have already read a bunch of mediocre stuff. Thankfully nothing recommend here fell into that category.

— MichaelRpdx :: h3k

Writing for Yourself

A lot, a whole big bunch, of it, of writing, is talking to yourself. Well, saying “talking to yourself” does not carry the meaning I have so hang on while I explain. You have a journal. That is talking to yourself, but decide that there is something special. You would like to give it attention so you start a second journal. This second one is more focused than what your general interest, your journal to hold all about anything. I have a few of these. Here are a few examples.

Remember Robert Rodriguez? Director of “El Mariachi”, “From Dusk to Dawn”, “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”, the “Spy Kids” trilogy (or four?) all of them great movies. But he also did some YouTube things. 10 Minutes of <fill in the blank>, like how to direct a movie, and of great importance, Cooking. Breakfast burritos, Texas-style BBQed meat, and more. He suggested that you make a menu of what you have made and like a lot. Then serve up to your friends. I do this with a book of Cooked. Food I have cooked and can cook for others. Nothing goes into the book unless I have cooked it. It is growing fat enough for me to organize it, print it out, and bind a book.

No surprise, my Morning Pages, now in Number 25. Look up Julia Cameron for inspiration on it. In a similar vein is my Sketch Journals, all inspired by Lynda Barry. There is a lot more to a sketch journal than drawings. It is an everything journal.

A few days ago I mentioned, well I spent an entire day on, a Commonplace Book. Mine is growing with a table of contents taken from the Bullet Journal work.

Keeping chords and strum patterns and all other things that can be written is a Uke book for all things Ukulele. It is a pretty thin book for now. But all of my books were thin at one point.

When we travel again travel journals will come into play.

You type one page daily, you should consider keeping one of those or a journal that fits your interest. Whatever you write down will be far greater memories than your brain. And, of course, there are these that your write for here. Punch holes in them put them in a three-ring binder. Or soon enough, two or more binders. It is a great way to keep them. You will be happy you did in the future.

— MichaelRpdx :: h3k

PS Where do you get ribbons? I need some new ones. Prefer to have the two-color like I have on this one.

Keep Going

People do things to see if they can do it. Like marathoners, who run 26 and a bit of miles. Or bicyclists who ride 100 miles, a century. That seems like a lot to some people. To others it is a nice warm-up for their 400, 600, or 1200 kilometers There is an event where they run four miles (or something like that. it is not a tough distance the first time) at the top of the hour. And then another run of the same course. And it continues with a new start at the top of the hour until there is only one finisher. There is no stopping for eating or sleeping. You get to do that if you finisher your four (or whatever it is) miles and have time left in the hour. This is not restricted to physical things (Oh, wait, I forgot to mention the Ironman triathlete, my apology to any of you who have done one of them) anyway, it is not a physical event. I once joined a 365 Photo event. A photo every day for a year. How did I miss taking a photo on a day? I did in the midst of it all. But, like many, I did stay with it until my 365 photos were taken. You may recall my 1,000 consecutive days of Duolingo language learning. (I am still at that one) and there are lots of 30, or 31, or 28-day challenges based on months. Like Inktober right now. 30 days of cycling in April or September or both. I am not aware of the challenge of typewriting in days or words or pages. Are you?

Last weekend the subject of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) came up. Could you do that on a typewriter? How many words would you get credit for per page? It turns out that they do permit it, typing your novel. I am digging into getting the details of how it is counted and how much credit you get per page. If you would rather, of course, you can convert it to text and submit that. Though it seems like a pain. This is something like my nephew who is participating in NaNoWriMo by handwriting his novel. Writing out 1,667 words a day — transferring that to another format. Ow.

I di also look up how they validate the word count. There are hundreds of thousands of people participating. They have some metrics for determining the count. It is not like typing for speed where every five characters counts. It was supposed that they use something like the Unix utility “wc” to do their counting. That software breaks words by whitespace. Which means A J Person counts for three words, and Li Wu counts for two. While Suzanne Goodperson-HappyMarriage also counts for two words. Care with name selection sounds like it will be important.

Advice for beginners includes what to do if this seems like too much for you. Recommendations included writing a story a week, 25,000 words for the month (a half-NaNoWriMo), or just going for it and finding out how much you can write. Which sounds good to me. Just do not quit.

— MichaelRpdx :: h3k

T-Shirts of Memories

Today woke up with an idea about how to write and what to write about. So much for that. That needs to wait until at least tomorrow. Yes, at least tomorrow. So today has another thing to write about. Now if lL can just pull that out of my mind and get it on paper.

Linda in D.C. – Now those are watches! Ah, those are good things to look at and wonderful to see. Thank you for restoring, a bit, faith in humanity.
Robert in Davis – hang on and bunker down and someday FedEx will, like mine, eventually deliver. Mine eventually did last Sunday. It is like spring, sooner or later its promise must be kept. It is beautiful when it comes.

Poll: How many of you remember what GENIE was? Answer coming up later.

“Don’t eat at Emelio’s”, that was a saying we had for people who did like spaghetti and beer. Just do not get it at Emelio’s place. I bought a t-shirt from there. In 1990 +/— 2 years, probably – not +. I wore that t-shirt today. It still fits. Admission: there were years when I could not have worn that shirt. I was way too fat (obese really) for that. But I can now. Every Tuesday and Thursday I wear a t-shirt from a different part of my life. Some of them have come close enough to be the same event, but different years. But still, the shirts are from different events or years. The 2000 Oregon Star Party, an EFF fundraiser, a Pizzamas fundraising shirt, an Oregon Country Fair staff shirt, a mountain turtle shirt, a (what I thought was) SF-Oregon Raid shirt, (but what I think now was just a Blackbird bicycle delivery service thing), (just add twenty or so years and your grip on memories and facts get loose), Emelio’s shirt was the most recent one. It gives us something to talk about as I do the treadmill and whatever he comes up with for my strength exercises. It is Pulmonary Rehab, which is similar to Cardiac Rehab and it is a lot like going to a gym. The largest difference is medically trained staff and my blood pressure and pulse are monitored all the time. So to give us something to talk about I wear a different shirt all the time every session.

Remembered GENIE yet? General Electric Network Information Exchange. Or something like that. It was a pre-internet place for nerds to nerd out and Emelio’s was a hangout for writers. I met a guy named Goehner, first name forgotten, who lived in Portland and he was one of my initial friends here in town. Ah memories, so many that drift in and out of your mind.

— MichaelRpdx :: h3k

Oh Wait, Make It Seven

Over the last three days, I have dived into Anthony Madrid’s essay (?) about the topic. One Typed Page on the idea itself and then two days going a little deeper into the types of books you can and should write. I have a seventh book, kinda sorta, for you to add to your list.

But first, Daniel in Ottowa, thank you for the recommendation of Sarah Andersen’s book, FANGS. (Who knew how many Fangs titled things there are at the library, a lot of them) but there was one available for putting on hold. So I have. Mike in Virginia, who took off on writing without knowing where he was going (a fine tradition in that method, by the way) until he found himself written into a corner. Have you read If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler? It would be a good book for someone in your position. Plenty of ways to get oneself out of a corner there in that book. Warning: I love that book and look for opportunities to recommend it.

So the other thing you can and should write is a “commonplace book” which is a scrapbook of ideas and other ephemera that you collect. Wikipedia has a wonderful article on it. As does Ryan Holliday whose commonplace book is a collection of 4×6″ index cards with ideas, quotes, references written on them. Holliday, for you unfamiliar with him, has written dozen-plus books From Trust Me, I’m Lying, through Courage is Calling the last one being on the subject of Stoicism. Most of his books are about Stoicism. Another example is the (were the?) cookbooks gathered up by women before they were allowed to be educated. The booklets contained more than recipe things that they need to know passed along. As I assert and will remind you again, this is not for publication, this is for you. So how this collection of things you find interesting or useful or whatever is gathered up is for you to decide.

You can find a number of examples of commonplace books via Google. In both articles and images. Enjoy finding out about this tradition that goes back (at least) as far as Marcus Aurelius’ what is now published as Meditations. A couple of thousand years of yes, there must be something to it.

— MichaelRpdx :: h3k

PS Tomorrow, a new subject and a different typewriter.

The Other Three Books to Write

Yesterday I wrote about three of the reasons that you can and should write about. A book about yourself, a book about others, and a book about your favorite writings. Onward to the other books to be written.

Anthony Madrid called the next one a Dictionary of Received Ideas. And he then dives into a dictionary of words not in the sense of definitions of words as needed to look up. Instead, well it can be anything. Consider Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary hone to things like “TRUTHFUL, adj., Dumb and illiterate.” Of course, it is the meaning you assign to things. Like memories, for instance, summer is the time when it is fully bright when I get up. As opposed to winter then it is dark all the time. But if something grabs your attention, jot it down, include it here. There is so much more to words than whatever they put into a dictionary. Especially to you. Make this one about words.

Now for my favorite, a Book Of Lists. The example given is The Pillow Book, by Sei Shonagon. Like my list of “Randoneur events in which I did not finish last”, or “Summer Themes” or favorite foods, celebrity crushes, or Scars (I have 15, I cannot be a criminal), or Frisson Songs (the ones that cause your hair to stand up). Well, there are more things you can list. It is my favorite thing to write about and so I do.

A Book to Burn, Li Zhi. He wrote it with the idea of including all of the ideas that were not palatable and got people riled up. It was titled such that if you were caught with a copy you would be executed. He was caught with this book of ideas so inflammatory that he was sentenced to death. He committed suicide in prison before they could do so. We all need a place to say what we must not. Write it and burn it.

If you do not have anything to write about (like I have felt many times before) you can outline or do a bit of one of these books. A place to start.

— MichaelRpdx

Three Books You Can and Should Write

Samuel Pepys kept an exact record of everything he did, or said, or heard, or saw, or ate, or hoped, or stepped in. Yes, I mean everything. He did not think about it. He just did it. Everything without reservation or comment or anything. This is probably due to the fact that he felt, he really believed, that no one, not a soul, would ever read it. So he wrote it all. Everything. Now he did live in interesting times and he knew some famous people but he wrote it all down.

You do not need to do that. Consider the distance between his tell-all and what the normal, make them look good, normal telling of someone’s tales. You can fall somewhere between the two. Give it a whirl.

And remember, this is a book for yourself. So put in as much as you can.

John Aubrey, on the other hand, took a similar approach but for other people. He just kept notes about the people he knew. But how well do you know people? That adage about writing about something in order to know it, that applies to people, and there is nobody to say you are wrong.

So write it up. Leave notes to yourself about the things that you are not sure of or in the lives of other people you can make it up. But trying to write about people you know is a good start.

Remember this is a book for yourself. You can and should write it.

(Francis Turner) Palgrave’s Golden Treasury was is a shortish anthology of British lyric poetry. This was personal choices and something that drew critics. (They had plenty of room to criticize it, the book has been updated) But that is not the point. Put together a booklet of the best writing you can find. (Tangled up in Blue, anyone?) Gather them together for your pleasures. This is your booklet and you can put what you want into it. There is no reason to have some compilation of other people’s “Best of … ” Choices. Make your own.

For yourself, remember it is for you to write.

This dips into the first three of the six books you can and should write. If you are at all curious about the three books listed here, you can find them at Project Gutenberg. All are available in a variety of formats. (Kindle, EPUB for other readers, an HTML version, and plain text.)

My favorite book I can and have actually started writing will come tomorrow. Give it some thought and perhaps type in something to get started on it.

— MichaelRpdx :: h3k

No Spoilers! NO! NO!

Spoilers in normal times are bad enough. You know what is going to happen. This is not supposed to know what is happening. That is the point of a surprise. In dramas, it really plays up to the emotional surprises you feel. With a spoiler the effect evaporates and what the writer worked so hard to create is gone. For this series, it is something special.

SQUID GAME is what I am referring to now. If someone tries to tell you about it, ask them to not. If there is an article in a paper, a magazine, something on the web, do not watch or read it. We were very lucky and saw it as a surprise. A South Korean, Netflix series. There was a bit of a trailer enough to get us to watch it. And we did and it was binged right away.

I would describe it, except I do not want to spoil it for you. You have the option of dubbed in a variety of languages and closed captioning for a similar amount. If you have heard of it, and considering the number of places I have seen it mentioned, well watch it. Well worth the time.

But without any spoilers. We are going to watch it again. Yes, that is one hell of a spoiler, having seen it already. This time through we get to see all the things, the items dropped into it by the writer, and see what hints were there that we missed.

I am looking forward to talking about SQUID GAME, and the rest of the children’s games in it. But only with people that have seen it.

— MichaelRpdx :: h3k