Tag Archive 'writing'

Aug 05 2017

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A Philosophy Tempered by Wildness

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Two weeks after leaving the woods, I am still processing what I thought and experienced while sojourned briefly at Pillsbury Lake. Most of this process is subconscious, though occasionally I think back to a particular moment during that retreat when something significant took place, or some important insight arose.

Early into my fourth day alone, while I was leaning against the shelter wall and writing in my journal, a butterfly landed on my leg. I had been writing down some heavy-duty thoughts concerning God, man and nature. The butterfly came to render its opinion – as if what I was writing had better match up to the reality of wildness. That’s how it struck me at that time, anyhow. How well did I do? It’s still too early to tell.

Earlier this week, a phrase came to me in the middle of the night: philosophy tempered by wildness. That pretty much sums up what my recent Adirondack retreat was all about. There is an indoor, utterly civilized way of looking at the world and another way that makes more sense in the wild. During my retreat, I opted for the latter.

There’s a book somewhere in all this, I’m sure. The trick is to let things ferment a bit, then to start writing while the memories are still fresh. The urge to start writing comes to me during my day-to-day affairs. Suddenly I feel distracted, as if some powerful insight is about to wash over me. Then it passes. Yeah, I’ll be hard at work on this book soon.

This time around, my number one critic will be that butterfly. Whatever I write has to win its approval. I’ll rely heavily on my field journal, of course, because that is a record of my outdoor thoughts at the time. But it’s still going to be tricky. There is a tendency to make ones wild thoughts make more sense than they should. On this journey, reason can only take me so far.

 

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Feb 24 2016

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The Swirl of Natural Order

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gastropod2Well, I’m back to the old scribble, scribble, revising the pantheism manuscript after nearly a year away from it. Feels good to be writing again. I must admit, though, that this is a tough subject – as challenging as cosmology and closely related to that. If I were smart, I’d stick to writing hiking narratives. But no, I have to get philosophical every once in a while. What can I say in my defense? When it comes to writing, I follow my passion.

Some of you might recall that I went to Fisk Quarry a year and a half ago to check out the fossils there. It’s amazing that we can read in stone the history of this planet going back hundreds of millions of years. It’s also amazing that the swirl of a gastropod’s shell is so much like the swirl of hurricanes and galaxies. Those swirls suggest natural order reaching across time and space. “All is not chaos,” they seem to say, which strikes me as a deeply religious notion – one that I embrace wholeheartedly. Hence the book now in progress.

A tough subject, indeed. Natural order suggests that nature exists beyond our conception of it. Nature with a capital “N” that is, which is nothing less than God-talk. When it comes to rational discourse, no subject is tougher than that.

Incredibly, I am writing natural theology. It’s hard to say what exactly has brought me to this point. I came away from the Alaskan wilderness with pantheistic inclinations, I suppose. Before that I could have passed for an existentialist.

It’ll be another year before I finish this book, and another year after that before it’s published. But I thought it important for those of you who have been following my wanderings and wonderings to know what I’m up to these days. Yeah, I’m in the deep end of the pool now. Good thing I know how to swim.

 

 

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Nov 24 2015

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WTB 30 Years

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WTB 30 YearsWith Thanksgiving almost here, I figure now’s a good time to reflect upon the past and give thanks for all the good fortune that has come my way. Having Judy in my life is at the top of the list, certainly, closely followed by family and friends. Having a new business is also on the list, along with good health, a home, and access to the woods. Then there’s my dog Matika of course. But that’s not all. There’s also my literary work.

I’ve been so busy with online bookselling this year that I’ve completely ignored an important milestone: My small press, Wood Thrush Books, is now 30 years old.  I started it in 1985 with the self-publication of a chapbook of poetry, Shadows Dancing. I’ve published over 40 chapbooks and paperbacks since then – mostly self-publications but also anthologies, works by other writers like Walt Franklin, Rob Faivre and Michael Jewell, and the Writers of the 19th Century series to boot. So today I’m giving thanks for the ability to have done that, and for all the readers who have made that possible.

What is a small press without people like you supporting it? Some of you have done so for many years, for decades. What good are all my written words without readers? Some of you have almost as many of my books on your shelves as I do. And for that I am grateful. Your checks have kept WTB going. Your words of encouragement have kept me writing and publishing even though I’ve been close to quitting many times. So I count you, dear readers, among my blessings. Thank you. Thank you very much!

 

 

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