By Fred Owens
I mailed a check to the new editor. Then I will send her several manuscripts, short ones and long ones. She will read what I send her and then we will have a discussion as to their worth and ultimate destiny....... this could be fun..... One manuscript is a memoir of 30,000 words called the Falcon Journal. I wrote this in 2005 in two weeks at a campsite in Falcon State Park, located in Starr County, Texas, on the banks of the Rio Grande River.... My girlfriend Laurie read the Falcon Journal and said she liked it a lot........ Another manuscript is a novel of 41,000 words called Push the Bus which I wrote in 2007 but did not complete until last year. The novel takes place in the same campground where I wrote the Falcon Journal, so we have a connection -- a short novel and a short memoir, both set on the banks of the Rio Grande River in Texas.
Mabel, the old woman who lives across the street, likes to read every thing I send her. I print out a manuscript and walk across the street and give it to her and she reads it. She likes me, but she doesn't like me that much, so her opinion has a degree of detachment..... Well she liked Push the Bus quite a bit and she told me so two times. I had been concerned that she would be offended by the salty language. There is one character in the novel who is named Tucson and he cusses a blue streak from morning until night. You get used to it after a while.
Mabel grew up on a ranch on Montana and she said she had heard that kind of language before, so it was no account to her.
Talking with Stuart Welch, former owner of the Rexville Store near LaConner
Stuart Welch, my good friend, is an expert on everything. The words "I don't know" never pass his lips. If I ask him a question, he will have a ready answer and he is often right. We discussed the upcoming World Series. In a previous conversation, more than one month ago, Stuart stated that the World Series would be between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers. "Stuart, you were right about that!"
Stuart and I discussed the World Series because it is "normal." Normal is getting to be important because the world is getting very weird -- fires and hurricanes and the fury of potential wars. The weirdest thing of all is that man in the White House. You can say a lot of things about Donald Trump, but nobody thinks he's normal.
I miss normal. I need normal. I'm a Democrat but I wish Dwight Eisenhower was President. He wasn't the greatest President of all time, but he was normal and he had a good smile.
Some of the world is still normal, like the Santa Barbara Kiwanis Club. The Santa Barbara Kiwanis Club has been meeting every week for lunch since 1922. It used to be all men, now it's about half women. The club has evolved over the years, but it is quite normal. I belong to the club and all the members are more normal than me and I like that.
And my girlfriend Laurie is having new vinyl windows installed in her home. Six new windows and two sliding doors. Getting the whole house done. Using a local contractor. Installing new vinyl windows is a good thing and very normal.
So maybe the world isn't going crazy, although Ireland got struck by a hurricane and the woods are on fire in Santa Rosa in northern California....... Santa Barbara is safe so far, and has been spared the wildfires, but it is bad luck to even say that, so erase that thought.
You can drive only two miles from Laurie's house and see the charred black scars on the old palm trees where the Painted Cave wildfire leapt the freeway in the high winds and destroyed 427 buildings. That was in 1990, but you don't forget something like that.
And we are not lucky in Santa Barbara because the fire could strike anytime and everywhere you look it is dry and combustible.
Unfortunately, wild fires in October are normal, although many people would dispute that and declare a connection with increased drought as a result of climate change. I'm not getting into that discussion.
The World Series is normal.
The Santa Barbara Kiwanis Club is normal.
Wildfires in October in California are normal.
Donald Trump is not normal. Definitely not normal.
Blowing Hot and Cold
I'm blowing hot and cold on this manuscript. It's a memoir I wrote in 2005 called the Falcon Journal, because I wrote it at Falcon Dam on the Rio Grande River in South Texas. I had a winter camp site right on the banks of the river. I could see Mexico on the other side of the water. I could see the twinkling lights of the little village in Mexico.
I wrote about the birds, because South Texas is a big winter attraction for birdwatching folk. The tropical birds come this far north. The northern birds come this far south. There are more species of birds in South Texas than any other place in the country, and the birds congregate along the banks of the river.
I didn't even have binoculars or a guide book. I just liked camping there under the acacia tree. I left out crackers for the road runners.
I wrote the journal -- about my second grade teacher, Sister Virgina. I had a crush on her. I wrote about the Roman philosopher Marcus Aurelius. I wrote about my girl friend Gail Murphy and the trip we took to Mexico in 1970.
The journal is spare and strong and rooted in a place -- Falcon Dam -- that made me whole. That's why Laurie and Mabel liked reading it.
I said I was blowing hot and cold on this manuscript while I am reviewing it. I always feel that way. Why would anybody want to read it? I ask myself that question.
I prefer the living room
I sit on the couch in the living room with my laptop. I keep it plugged in because my battery is iffy. I set the laptop down on the coffee table when I need to stand up and do something.The coffee table was custom made by Laurie's grandfather, made from maple or ash -- she's not sure about that -- but it is a very sturdy coffee table and not cluttered with magazines and old fishing reels and ceramic what-nots. A very uncluttered coffee table, I would say. A very tranquil, un-busy coffee table.
I have imagined writing in a proper writer's study, with a desk and a lamp and a bookshelf lined with treasured volumes. A window to look out of, or an aquarium. A radio. An easy chair. A door that closes and shuts out the world so that I might focus on my writing.
But the truth is that I don't really like to work in a quiet, austere environment. I prefer the living room, which has a front door, so I can leave. I prefer the living room because my three housemates are coming and going and I might say hello and have a brief chat. I prefer the living room because it has the TV and the radio. And it's near the kitchen where there is food and coffee.
I like the sound of traffic, so I keep the front door open. I can hear the crows cawing this time of year, they are busy feeding on the pecan tree in the back yard.
In short I prefer working in a sea of distractions. I had ADD before it was cool. I have the attention span of a gnat in heat.
thank you for reading this,