Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Saturday Ruminations

February 20, 2016

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He continues to inspire people to make art out of the substance of their daily lives, rather than to seek out special ‘artistic’ subjects. He continues to inspire ordinary people to break out of the narrow confinements of lives they have beeen handed down.

Steve Turner, Jack Kerouac: Angelheaded Hipster

It seems unfair to awaken at 5:30 on a Saturday morning, but at least I used the time to finish reading the Jack Kerouac biography I just cited above, spend some time scribbling in my journal, then making a stab at sketching one of my favorite spots for flyfishing–the Brazos River below Possum Kingdom dam, where they release rainbow trout every winter. I took a photograph of my favorite Highway 16 bridge the last time I went there, and since I got totally skunked, catching zero trout, I thought I may as well attempt some sketches of that gorgeous environment.

Sketching brightens my disposition, and I needed that this morning. Reading details of the closing decade of Kerouac’s life always saddens me. He didn’t manage to publish On the Road until 1957 and then eleven years later he was dead. That final decade was tragic beyond words, as recognition for his literary work finally came while his spirits tanked. He lacked the disposition to savor being a public figure, and writing no longer brought him bliss.

I like the observation that Turner drew near the close of the biography, and I love the challenge of creativity just as much as I love people who respond to that challenge. Recently, I have felt pain as I have read one account after another of a famous creative spirit who could not continue to thrive creatively when the fame set in. Often it was because they were stripped of their environment of solitude that was necessary for creative exploits. Added to that was the pressure to sustain a particular style or signature that fed the public but no longer intrested the creator. That often proved a no-win situation. If they continued in the style, they were unhappy, feeling that they were doing hack work to satisfy the market. If they did indeed pursue new stylistic avenues, the public rejected it, wanting the familiar trademark stuff.

I have always savored the remark made by Robert Motherwell in an interview concerning the life choices of the Abstract Expressionist artists before their work was discovered: “If no one gave a damn about what we did, why not do whatever we wanted?” That is the kind of felicitious artful lifestyle that appeals to me–being able to do what pleases oneself without having to worry about the market. I have not expressed enough gratitude for my having a steady job throughout my adult life that supports what I do in the creative realm. I can succeed or I can fail at my art, but at least I can continue to earn a living and not have to ask anyone to support what I do.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

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Reading is not a Wasted Activity

January 2, 2016

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Mother indulgent. Said I have a queer mind and have read too much. Not true. Have read little and understood less.

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Decades ago, a relationship ended between a young lady and myself shortly after she announced to me that I read too much, and reading is boring.  I never once looked back with regret on that broken engagement. And I suppose that for as long as I live, I will hear someone express the sentiment that reading is a waste of time and energy.  I could not disagree more vehemently. It has been reasoned to me that I read because I am a teacher.  Not true.  I am a teacher because I read–that was the order in which my life events progressed.  I became a lover of ideas, books were a major source for those ideas, and teaching became a natural forum for me to express what I read.

Why do I read?  For a variety of reasons, all of them defensible.  But fundamentally, reading makes me think. Reading engages all of me. When I linger over lines from Shakespeare or James Joyce, I have to work at understanding, and when the meaning finally rises to the surface of my consciousness, amazing things begin to happen.  The new thought dredges up other coinciding memories from past experiences and ideas from other sources.  And slowly a new skyscraper of truth is erected.   My city of ideas has enlarged and my own being has enlarged. I am a transformed person, with renewed energy to live life and to create new possibilities. The process of reading is like no other–there is a depth of excavation, followed by the laying of a new foundation, followed by the construction of a new structure that is then added to an expanding city of thought–a philosophy still under development.

These events do not happen when I am scanning newspaper headlines, staring at a news broadcast, sitting in a room full of chattering people, or jumping from link to link on the Internet. They do not happen there.  They happen in the soft confines of my reading chair before the fire or in the corner of my study, at my writing desk.  Reading, for me, is always time and energy well-spent.

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Settling into My New Writing Sanctuary

November 23, 2015

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A Most Precious Gift–a New Writing Desk

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My Newly-Designated Writing Area

“Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there.  It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that you knew or had seen or had heard someone say. If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.

Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

The most frutstrating part of being ill the past couple of weeks was the inability to use my eyes for reading, writing or making art.  For months I had been toiling over a manusccript describing my experience painting and journaling on the Texas Laguna Madre last summer.  During the struggle I took Hemingway’s words to heart, refusing to succumb to writer’s block, and refusing to think my writing was garbage. As the manuscript grew and became more unmanageable, and as the school semester became more demanding with its unceasing deadlines, I pushed the manuscript into a drawer and decided to let the ideas “compost” awhile. Then I got sick!

Now I’m better, and a most wonderful gift was given to me that I shall always cherish–a rolltop desk. Designating a corner of my bedroom as my writing area, I’ve dedicated a part of every single day to sitting here and reworking the manuscript I began last June. I have always loved the writing process and now will seek a way to strike a balance between my writing and painting studios. I’m grateful that life is abundant enough to support both endeavors.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

A Literary Night

November 7, 2014
Writing on a Serene Friday Night

Writing on a Serene Friday Night

In the beginning was the word, the word

That from the solid bases of the light

Abstracted all the letters of the void;

And from the cloudy bases of the breath

The word flowed up, translating to the heart

First charactes of birth and death.

Dylan Thomas, “In the Beginning”

As the temperatures drop this Friday evening, I’m finding myself more in a literary mood than a painting one.  On the TV plays “Finding Forrester”–one of my favorite movies starring Sean Connery. The memorable quotes are endless as he discusses the writer’s craft:

You write your first draft with your heart; you rewrite with your head.  The first key to writing is writing.

I am taking him at his word.  The coffeepot is on.  Books are stacked next to me.  The journal is open.  Pencils are sharpened.  Soft music plays.  And I’m ready to let unbridled thought run its course tonight.  Throughout my life, I’ve spent many nights in this mode, only there was a sermon to compose, a lecture to write, or a lesson plan to develop.  What is nice about tonight is that I don’t report to my job until Monday morning–until then, I have no deadlines, no objectives.  I am free to think, to write, to compose what I feel.  I wonder now, why don’t I arrange to have more times like this?  My calendar should be under my command, not vice versa.  Maybe this is the turn, the beginning of a new direction.  I like the open-ended feel of this.

When you write, you lay out a line of words.  The line of words is a miner’s pick, a wood-carver’s gouge, a surgeon’s probe. You wield it, and it digs a path you follow.  Soon you find yourself deep in new territory.

Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Don Williams in the Kitchen

December 9, 2012

Breakfast in the Man Cave

The exhaustion from last night’s show sent me to bed by 11:00.  What a surprise to awaken in the predawn, doze and ponder awhile, then rise at 6:37 a.m. on a Sunday.  Though the morning temperature recorded 65 degrees, I knew that a cold front was promised later, so I decided to rise and wait for it.  I’m not sure why I put on the Don Williams Gold CD–I don’t consider myself a country & western devotee, but I was in the mood for it this morning.  Perhaps it was because of a song I listened to performed by my guitar buddy and long-time confidant Jim Farmer the other night.  I just wanted to hear the words again to “Good Ole Boys Like Me.”  As those words filled my kitchen, I went to work on coffee, fried potatoes & onions, sausages and biscuits (I’ve gotten on that kick recently).  The Don Williams song I replayed, again and again.  I couldn’t get enough of it.  I’ll probably put those words at the end of this post.

I took my breakfast into the garage, raised the door, and enjoyed the neighborhood quiet a little after 7:00.  My awakened mind was all over the map, but above all, I hung onto some words I read last night from Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast (during a lull in the art event).  This continues the idea from my last post:

When I was writing, it was necessary for me to read after I had written, to keep my mind from going on with the story I was working on.  If you kept thinking about it, you would lose the thing that you were writing before you could go on with it the next day. . . . afterwards, when you were empty, it was necessary to read in order not to think or worry about your work until you could do it again.  I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing; but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.

That was a timely oracle for me.  For years, I have had the practice of keeping several watercolors in progress at once, so I would never come to the end of one and have nothing left, and have to begin at the very beginning of a new piece.  Well, now I find myself in that spot I have successfully avoided for so long–no watercolors in progress.  What to do now?  Well, I read some more Hemingway, write in my journal, think, and eventually some kind of image will bubble to the surface charged with all the emotions that compel me once again to pick up the brush.

In the meantime, I have been playing with autumn leaves, and this morning, I took a few more stabs at them, not sure about what I was doing.  And I made another sketch of a vintage doorknob and locking plate attached to a damaged door.  Perhaps one of these will “take hold” and be ready for me to resume tomorrow after lunch.  We’ll see.

Well, here is yet another smoke signal, message in a bottle, or whatever you call these blog endeavors.  They have become my life blood, and I thank all of you who read them and respond.  I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Thanks for reading, and I close with those words from Don Williams that warmed my kitchen this morning:

When I was a kid Uncle Remus he put me to bed
With a picture of Stonewall Jackson above my head
Then daddy came in to kiss his little man
With gin on his breath and a Bible in his hand
He talked about honor and things I should know
Then he’d stagger a little as he went out the door

CHORUS:
I can still hear the soft Southern winds in the live oak trees
And those Williams boys they still mean a lot to me
Hank and Tennessee!
I guess we’re all gonna be what we’re gonna be
So what do you do with good ole boys like me

Nothing makes a sound in the night like the wind does
But you ain’t afraid if you’re washed in the blood like I was
The smell of cape jasmine thru the window screen
John R. and the Wolfman kept me company
By the light of the radio by my bed
With Thomas Wolfe whispering in my head

[CHORUS]

When I was in school I ran with the kid down the street
But I watched him burn himself up on bourbon and speed
But I was smarter than most and I could choose
Learned to talk like the man on the six o’clock news
When I was eighteen, Lord, I hit the road
But it really doesn’t matter how far I go

[CHORUS]

2011 in review, a summary of David Tripp’s wordpress blog

January 2, 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 31,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.