Posted tagged ‘writing and blogging’

Being (or Not Being) a Photographer

October 27, 2015

slide ruleFor  years, I was an engineer that wanted to be a writer, which means … wishing I was a writer instead.  This in spite of the fact that one of thewriting pen skills my employers always valued was my ability to write about the complex systems we were developing. So, I bought books on writing.  I took classes and got a certificate in creative writing.  I published a short story.  I wrote an (unpublished) novel.  I started this and several other blogs.  But I didn’t become a writer in my own mind until I said, I am a writer.  I still sometimes feel that I have to say it’s my avocation, not my vocation.  Old habits die hard.

cameraI have a similar issue with being an artist and in particular with Being (or Not Being) a Photographer.  I have a nephew, Bryan, who has studied photography and posts beautiful pictures on Facebook, as well as on his website.  He is trying to make a go of it as a professional photographer.   He probably knows more about cameras, composition and things like depth of field than I will ever know.  I use a camera that makes most decisions for me and my work depends on eye for interesting scenes and what I believe is a natural sense of composition.  So, am I a photographer?  Am I a photographer if I say it’s an avocation?**

On Tuesdays, at least for the time being, I am since I post one of my photos.  This one was taken a the Piazza del Duomo in Pisa, Italy, home of the famous leaning tower.  Not being a traveler or a history buff, I expected the tower to stand alone in the middle of a large square, not be part of a magnificent cathedral and baptistery.    I snapped this shot of the cathedral and tower against the bright blue sky filled with cumulus clouds.  It is one of my favorite pictures from the trip.

pisa

** If you struggle with calling yourself an artist, there is no better place to address it than Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.

Up in the Air

October 17, 2015

AAThere was a time when I flew coast to coast almost every month, which made it a good thing that, for the most part, I enjoyed being Up in the Air.   Yes, it helped that with so many flights on Ameican Airlines came Aadvantage miles which allowed me to fly first class most of the time.  Some of the other airborne annoyances, like loud, inebriated businessmen or First Class chatterboxes were mitigated by my Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones and my favorite playlists in the mp3 player I always kept in my briefcase.  I’ve always liked the window seat because I find the world spread out beneath me, five miles or so down, awe inspiring.  I found I could get a lot of work … or reading … or writing done to the tune of my favorite music.  I’ve made some important decisions at 30,000 feet.  I’d look at people doing absolutely nothing for a six hour flight and wonder, How the heck can they do that?  The best in-flight song ever is, in my opinion, Derek and the Dominos’s Layla, by the way.  I’d love to know yours if you have one.  I suppose most people don’t have favorite in-air songs. (more…)

Where, Indeed?

October 10, 2015

hallwayThis week I received a (very) short email from my friend, Barry.  Older Eyes, he said, where have you gone?  I’ve been wondering that myself.  I’d gotten used to him hanging around in the hallways of my mind, looking out through my older eyes for interesting things to write about.  In a way, he is the best part of me, another way of saying something I’ve often said … I’m best on paper.  I don’t know if that means that writing makes me a better person or that my writing skills make me sound better than I am.   But I like myself better when he’s around, so perhaps the point is moot.  Moot.  What an odd word. No?  Say it over and over a few times.  Moot.  Moot. Moot.  See? (more…)

Bad Words

April 24, 2015

It is in keeping with the subject matter of this post … and my attitude towards it … that I warn readers that this post contains Bad Words and is also somewhat irreverent.   I’d blame my Inner Curmudgeon but this one’s on me.

bad wordsI am a word guy, that is to say, I love words.   I particularly enjoy the written word in the hands of a master.  I enjoy a finely crafted description but even more, I am a fan of dialog, the kind of gritty conversation that made the novels of Elmore Leonard so enjoyable.  When I was working on my Certificate in Creative Writing, I remember one of the text books noting that good fictional dialog isn’t realistic.  Paraphrasing, the text suggested that we listen to conversation when we were out among the peeps, noticing how disjointed and banal most conversation can be.  The trick, the text continued, is to craft dialog that sounds realistic, like the sort of thing your characters would say but that will hold the reader’s interest.  Not easy.   It should surprise no one that using so-called Bad Words is often part of that process.   A hardened criminal who says, Give me the fucking money or I’ll blow your Goddamned head off, sounds a lot more realistic than one who says, Well, shucks, would you please give me the freakin’ money, right?  So, imagine my mixed feelings when I discovered that there is an app for Android called Clean Reader that edits out Bad Words in e-books, replacing them with empty gray spaces.  Some author spent significant effort on that choice of words being censored. (more…)

Monday Smiles – 4/20/2015

April 20, 2015

ART FORThis post has been buzzing in my head for a week or so, and today, it is determined to get onto the page.  If this wasn’t a Monday, the post would be titled, Art for Art’s Sake, not a very original title.  But it works, even if I use it a way different from the meaning intended by the French philosopher, Victor Cousin, when he said L’art pour l’art.  He meant that art needs no justification, that it need serve no political, didactic, or other endI believe that for sure but it’s not what I’m smiling about on this warm Monday morning, when the skies are hazy with smoke from a wildfire several miles down the freeway.

I was raised by a rational Dad and an artistic Mom, and my Dad’s influence has dominated my professional career with my artistic side relegated to hobbies.  If that sounds dismissive, that is an echo of what I felt for much of my life.  I painted in oil and watercolors, drew in pencil and charcoal and pastels, but never considered myself an artist.  I loved writing and even earned a certificate in creative writing in my fifties.  A short story I wrote in one of my classes was published in a minor literary magazine and I actually completed a novel.  But I never felt like a writer.   My upbringing had taught me that you had to make a living at something to earn the title.  Older Eyes – Bud’s Blog was intended to talk about the experience of growing old(er), the positives and the negatives.  Yes, there are positives, like shedding the notion that to be a writer, I have to earn money or have thousands of readers.  Or that to be an artist, I need to sell my paintings.   The fact that I have posted 1702 posts here is adequate evidence that I am a writer, and while I love Likes and Comments, I write for writing’s sake. I post my photographs here and that makes me a photographer, and when I base a drawing on one of my photographs, I am indeed an artist.  I am happier when I create.

ART

If that sounds like much ado about nothing (another stolen title … I do steal from the best), think again.  It is one of the true gifts of having An Older Perspective.  And it makes me smile.  But you don’t have to wait until you are older to do it.

On a White Horse

March 12, 2015

white horse1During my big industry days, I unconsciously discovered something about my work style … I was very good at getting jobs done under pressure.  That made me popular with managers for saving projects in trouble and for writing proposals, which were always done under pressure.  It also allowed me to cruise even on jobs without time constraints, then make up for it at the end.  Gradually, that became my only work style … put it off then ride in On a While Horse and save the day.  In my forties and even my fifties, enduring the short term stress of the fast finish was worth the more leisurely approach the rest of the time.

Here it is, March, which always is a crazy month with taxes are coming up, both personal and for our company.  Our company also goes through a government inspection in March that requires a fair amount of preparation and is crucial to our business.   I am working two jobs that over the long haul average out to half time and so my natural inclination is to relax and let things go … The White Horse is waiting, right?  Except. I jump on its back and say, Hi-Ho Silvia, and she says, Really? then saunters off absentmindedly.  That’s when panic sets in.  I never used to panic but The White Horse used to gallop.  So, here I am, at my desk, working away, forcing myself to put in a half a day like I’m supposed to.  It’s not that the work isn’t interesting … it is.  But I’m seventy now and The White Horse is now an Old Gray Mare.  My Mom would have told you, She ain’t what she used to be, and neither am I.  I’m lucky to have work that I love, I know.  But it used to be more fun.  I’d rather blog.  Thanks for stopping by.

Shall We Call Them Goals?

January 1, 2015

image I have a friend who begins each New Year by making a list of goals then building up a Goal Board with pictures that help him visualize his goals.  He’s never told me whether he hangs the board in a conspicuous place in his house or not, but that would certainly assure that he’d remember them through the year. Maybe I’d do better on my resolutions if, instead of hiding my resolutions away on Bud’s Blog, I printed out this post to hang in my office. Maybe it’s a matter of terminology.   I found an article on the the Post-Crescent by Darlene Hengels that suggests Don’t make resolutions; set goals insteadShe says, I don’t like the term “making a resolution.” I prefer “setting goals.” They’re alike in meaning but “resolution” sounds ominous. You must do what you say you’ll do or you fail.  “Setting goals” means plans need to be made to keep moving forward. Your goal may not be achieved in a year, but that doesn’t mean you fail. As long as you continue to work toward your goal, you’ll be doing something positive.  Perhaps I’ve been setting goals all these years and calling them resolutions because I never feel like a failure at the end of the year, even when I give myself an F on one of last year’s resolutions.  Still, if only for the sake of tradition, here are my Resolutions for 2015:
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Back

June 25, 2014

GinninKittyJust short of two weeks ago, I posted Taking a Break and I haven’t posted a word since (well, unless you count Facebook, but seriously, who counts Facebook where 20 words is a long post).  That is the longest time I’ve gone without posting since 2009.   I was determined to remain on blogging vacation not until I felt I should post but until I wanted to post.  Should.  My Inner Rebel has always hated shoulds yet my Outer Sensibilities have always believed in doing what I should do.  Don’t you hate it when your insides don’t match your outsides?   So, how do I know I’m ready to begin again? This morning as I sat in our yard meditating, my mind kept drifting from the sweet meditation music and my mantra to the post I was writing in my head. (more…)

Taking a Break

June 12, 2014

sleeping catI started Older Eyes – Bud’s Blog early in 2009.  Since then I have posted 1552 posts, mostly five or six hundred words in length, although lately there have been more photo posts.  That’s no coincidence … I seem to be, as my mother used to say, running out of steam as a blogger.   Frequently these days, I go to bed without having drafted a post for the next day, sometimes because I don’t have an idea but other times because I just don’t feel like posting.  I am sometimes capable of turning an avocation, which is (in my opinion) meant fulfilling and fun to a vocation (fulfilling and work).   Sticking that Postaday badge in the corner of my Home Page seems to have been a mistake.  I take it a bit too seriously.  Don’t get me wrong … I am an advocate of posting regularly, not just when I feel like it.   Some of my favorite posts have turned up when I sat down with nothing to say and there is nothing quite as fulfilling having that happen.

Older Eyes – Bud’s Blog has more followers than ever and it gets enough traffic that if you Google Older Eyes, it will appear at the top of the page.  But views hover stubbornly in the 50-80 range and comments are rare.  I’ve said many times that I write for myself but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it’s disappointing to post something I really like and get no Likes or comments.  I know I have readers who are lurkers because occasionally in one of my meetings someone will mention something I said in a post and I do get a few comments on Facebook.  Lately I’ve noticed that my favorite bloggers on my short Blogs I Read list are posting sporadically or not at all.  One old blogging friend, Marjulo, last posted on her blog, Listen to the Sun Rise, that she had been diagnosed inoperable cancer.  I checked her blog regularly for any news but now it’s gone so it’s likely she’s no longer with us.  Sometimes, I feel like the last one at what used to be a party.  Yes, that’s ridiculous … there are millions of us out there.  In my current state of mind I just don’t have what it takes to hunt down a new blogging community.

So.  I’m taking down the Postaday Badge and I’m taking a break.  I may spend some time working on my legacy blog, A Dad’s Legacy.  Nobody reads that either but I’m hoping someday my kids … or my grandkids … will.  There’s a good chance I’ll be back but I don’t know when or how often.  After five years of this, there’s a good chance I’ll see something and think, That would make a good blog post … and eventually, I’ll have to write it.  Maybe I’ll change some things around here or move around here to somewhere else.  Who knows.  Thanks to those of you who’ve taken time to read and especially to those who’ve Liked or commented.  See you later, probably soon.

Just My Type

May 29, 2014
handwriting

ten reasons longhand is better from an earlier post

For almost twenty years, I have … on and off … started my day with a form of freeform journaling dubbed Morning Pages by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way.  In the early years, it was almost always on … for the last few, frequently off.   I have found it a useful way to slow down the maelstrom in my head and see what’s really going on in there, perhaps even consider what I’d like to have going on in there.  My day goes better when I take the time, yet now, when I have more time at my disposal, I find myself skipping Morning Pages.  There was a time that I took skipping MPs, as I call them, a sign that I was avoiding something and perhaps that’s true.  But I also have a frustrating aspect to my personality that I am sometimes inclined to neglect exactly those behaviors that benefit me the most.   I’ve noted here before that no single activity calms me more than meditation and yet it remains at most an occasional component of my life.   I’ve noticed that I’ve skipped Morning Pages more since I became a regular blogger.  I wonder if perhaps posting hasn’t replaced Morning Pages as my morning write.  I’ll say this … producing a post I like stops the maelstrom in my head and is creatively more fulfilling than Morning Pages but it is nowhere as useful in revealing the thoughts within that maelstrom, partly because some of those thoughts don’t belong in the public domain.   I suppose it’s a possibility that after twenty years, there are no new thoughts within the maelstrom which makes the hour or so it takes to do MPs just plain boring.  Nah. (more…)