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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Reasonable Doubt

On the often tedious and difficult task of writing, Oscar Wilde once quipped, "I was working on the proof...all morning and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again." 

As so often happens here on the BCB, the photos and video on this post will take readers one place, text another. Most of the time a good photograph needs no explanation, anyway. Musings, however, are another story.

Over a lifetime, we all ask questions like, "Should I give it a shot... should I go for it?" Inevitably, at some point later in time, comes a followup question, "What's the use in beating my head against the wall?" The "It" can be any number of things, from a struggling business venture, relationship, artistic endeavor... even starting a family; anything that requires a colossal amount of work, time, energy, and sacrifice. It seems like people can justify getting out of almost anything these days, including raising their own offspring.

Whatever the "it" is, "truth" is often not what you want to hear when seeking guidance. Always try to remember that good friends tell you what you want to hear, while real friends tell you what you need to know. In "Deep Truth," Gregg Braden tells us that "truth is empowering," and the "key" to empowerment is that, "the better we know ourselves, the clearer the choices in our lives become." (Thank you for that book, Caleb)

In the book, "Seven Steps on the Writers Path," by Nancy Pickard and Lynn Lott, "punches" are not pulled. Recall the lines from "A few Good Men," Cruise: "I want the truth!" Nickolson: "You can't handle the truth!" But it's "truth" that sets us free, right? Well, that depends on your definition of "free." Pickard and Lott: "As a writer...sometimes you will feel overjoyed and sometimes you will feel despair. Sometimes writing will feel so good that you'll fool yourself into thinking you've got it licked... happy forever. Enjoy it while it lasts." Even when confronted with the unlikely-to-the-point-of-rare success, with all the subsequent acclaim, most writers remain insecure, only as good as their last poem, post, article, or book. When doubt lurks in the shadows of midnight hours, take heart in Bertrand Russell's remark that, the "stupid" go off "cocksure," while the "intelligent are full of doubt."   

Writing on any level, even children's books, is just plain hard and scary work. When it's done correctly, proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation, it can be tedious and difficult. All that aside, and much worse, what if your "hard work" doesn't
 get read? What if it's not noticed or appreciated? Does that mean you are not a writer, after all? How many manuscripts make the "rounds," and end up collecting dust on a shelf? Such rejection. Lance Armstrong once said, "a boo is louder than a cheer," and I believe him. Gee, I can't imagine how he must feel now that his seven Tour De France medals have been stripped away. I would argue that it's similar for writers... that the indifference of "silence" is a dagger to the soul. And you wonder why bloggers need comments...   

"Some" suggest we employ gadgetry, that we should lower "expectations," thereby elevating the mundane to satisfactory levels. Balderdash. What is that but fooling and cheating ourselves out of life... the lessons of disappointment, the value of "hard work," the reaching for an occasional "postcard" to lift and reward desperate spirits? Lower expectations? Really? It smacks of Dr Spock-for-adults... in case we "can't handle the truth." That's how more than a few of us raised our children, reading and heeding Dr Spock... avoiding that harshest of all words, "No." How's that working' out for us? Mustn't stress the little darlings psyches, so let's lower expectations from "A's" to "C's." Let them have their "childhood." Hell, why stop there? Why not extend "childhood?" Let's give them a big fat allowance so they don't have to work. Let's let them sleep in when they come home at 2 in the morning. Let's delay the real world with free money, cars and playtime. Let's give them our own hard-won lifestyles until they are out of college and beyond, then help them purchase a four bedroom two story in the burbs as soon as they get married. Spoiled to death comes to mind.

Speaking as someone who is attempting to pry their way into the writing life through the back door... someone who chose to freeload in college with "soft" classes, avoiding math, science and english like disease... I have doubts that my "foundation" can support the lofty writing goals in my head. With all due respect, Mr Russell, if that makes me "intelligent" I'd rather be "stupid" and published. 

And just when I want to throw in the towel, like so many other times before, Pickard and Lott write nothing short of a soliloquy about the immense, mountain moving power of "desire."
Then, with the reader sitting tongue out and panting in the palm of their ink stained hands... they ask the fundamental un-spock-like question, "How bad do you want it?"


Today's photos of Susan's Really Big Mountain Bike Adventure are combined with video footage and posted for your enjoyment on YouTube. Click HERE, to watch in a larger HD format (be sure to select the HD format on once at YouTube). 

 Readers with limited gigs can choose a smaller on-site watching option by clicking on the top video in the right hand sidebar. Our bike ride was a loop up, over, and down, Hurricane Mesa/Smith Mesa, on a gorgeous, gorgeous day. I hope you enjoy it.
Peace Out.


  1. You have to want it Really Bad. And then work hard.

  2. Love your parenting musings today, and your writing ones as well. All those parenting things you mentioned are something I didn't struggle with too much, thankfully. I protected my children from unnecessary and emotionally damaging bullying by homeschooling them, but always set limits, gave responsibilities, and pushed them to be independent. Many found it surprising considering my urge to protect them from the bad environment at school, but I have always considered my job to turn them into good people and productive citizens. I am pleased with my results, and have not seen the "spoilers" come out as well in the end as we have. My kids have a social conscience and a good work ethic and are excited for their future which we are helping them supplement financially for now but which they are required to take financial responsibility for as well. The harder you work for something the more meaningful it is. I often wonder if we won the lottery and were able to travel anywhere we wanted in the world how soon would it lose its charm? If we didn't have to work so hard and wait so patiently for our travel experiences would they seem as special? If someone wants to leave me a big inheritance so I can put the theory to the test I guess I'll accept in the name of science.

    As for the writing...if you write, you're a writer. Though it does help if someone reads your efforts and appreciates them, I'll agree! Great topic today, Mark!

  3. Hey Mark...Re your fancy-low cost chair in "Goldy"..I've tried Targets' web site and there are a zillion chairs...Do you have the item # with you? Can you tell me what they call it so I am able to find it?
    Thanks, David

  4. O.K.,..I'm sitting here lookn' out the window...It's still raining-snowing as it has been for the last 4 yrs....Well weeks..Even the Quail, Jays, Wrens, Thrushes, Mtn Chickadees; and the Feral Kitty I've been feeding are hiding under the tree branches. They are sick of it, but..I have the internet..I am able to see pictures of some mtn bikers off on a great looking ride.....Wishing I was with you guys....Thanks for the "postcards"..

  5. I don't consider myself a serious writer, just a guy who at the end of each day likes to collect his thoughts in a blog. Same thing with my photos. I am comfortable at this level. For me, to think or push for more at this stage opens up a whole different ball game & I tired of that game a long time ago. 'Comments' are a different animal & I have mixed feelings about comments. I am waaaaaaay to sensitive for my own good. Despite countless favorable comments over my past few blogging years it only takes one negative comment to sink my boat every time. Wished it wasn't that way, but it is. That's the reality. Twice I cancelled my comment section & twice I brought it back. For some of us there is that undeniable desire to be constantly assured that what we are doing, is the right thing. I grew up under the extremely heavy hand of critisizm & I am still driven by that fear trying to do the right thing. Bothers me that I do not get as many comments as I once did, but I have to understand my writings have stepped on a lot of sensitive toes along the way. Also, I do not comment on as many blogs as I once did either & here in Blogland, that is the key. If one does not comment on a lot of blogs....one does not receive a lot of comments on their own blog. Silly, but it's the way it is. There are a lot of fine writers out here like yourself but unless they are jumping around all over the place leaving comments on their fellow Bloggers posts, they are quite often receiving very few comments themselves. I see many examples of this. I am not one for dropping meaningless generic comments on everybody's blog anymore. I did that for awhile in the beginning before I realized what I was doing. As soon as I backed off my commenting, my own incoming comments immediately dropped. Kind of a crazy thing isn't it. A desire to be accepted, but a refusal to play by the socially driven unwritten sappy Blogger rules. Just my opinion of course.....:))

  6. http://www.target.com/p/leather-recliner-and-ottoman-brown/-/A-13854877#prodSlot=medium_1_35

    for Upriverdave

  7. Writing, a fella could write a book about writing?

    I'm gonna have to disagree with Gaelyn here though. It doesn't take desire to be a writer. It takes pain.

    To NOT write is painful. For a writer there is this undeniable, irresistible pressure to put thoughts on "Paper" and publish.

    If he stuffs that pressure he'll choke. and the work itself is not hard. If you have to push you're doing it wrong. Generally you have to hold yourself back! ;)

    Hard Work is... when you have to do those things that return no fulfillment or reward.

    A writer will Write... whether anyone reads or not. It is something they MUST do. Like breathing.

    Comments; They used to bother me. Until I realized just what they are.

    Comments are a masons level. They show that you are laying your blocks up correctly.

    In writing, they demonstrate that you got the point across that you were trying to lay out... or you didn't.

    The off the wall, nasty, snide, Where'd-that-come-from comments that people always complain about?

    Well, a mason is laying up bricks. His level tells him the bricks are waaay out of line... but his experienced eye says they are straight... the conclusion? His Mason's LEVEL is broken and its guidance is useless. ;)

    with 'comments' you soon learn to 'read between the lines' and can discern the good and constructive "Levels" from the broken ones that you simply discard.

    Editing; I think too many sweat too long and too hard over things that are mostly meaningless at best and damaging at worst. The purpose of language is to communicate.

    If we're all going to say things in only the approved and rubber stamped, Arbitrary way... we should all simply quit writing and just read dictionaries.

    Punctuation, spelling, pronunciation, grammar.. who freaking cares?

    If you get your point across using your idiosyncratic personality that holds the readers attention long enough to get the point across... YOU SUCCEEDED and need no grammar police's stamp of approval.

    and the "GP's" who probably never published a non-criticizing word, or received several dozen comments sending thanks for saying things that gave a person the inspiration and emotional support to TRY...

    ...can suck wind!

  8. Susan here - Heh Heh Heh. I'm a great biker. NOT! I have to say that the video doesn't do justice to zooming down bumpy dirt roads at 30 mph. Mark, you must have a stabilizer on your camera or just good shocks on your bike. Oh wait! Maybe I need a new bike?

    And to answer a couple of questions so that you know I read...

    Lance, Dr. Russel, Pickard of Star Trek, BBc and Oscar Wilde. Do I win the prize?

  9. Honestly I feel those who are writers have it like a disease...you simply have to write, feel compelled to do so, despite whatever barriers are placed in the way. If you follow that route and keep at it, it will eventually lead you somewhere interesting. That I do believe.

    In the meantime lack of external validation can definitely be the biggest battle. And no-one wants to hear a "boo" :)


  10. Gaelyn,
    and some of us must work harder than most :))

    Pam and Wayne,
    Thank you...
    I was home schooled part of one year because my parents were wandering around the west in a 16 foot Shasta Travel Trailer looking for "Gods Will." Needless to say, I grew up with a strong sense of right and wrong in an extremely religious family, where almost everything was "wrong" (sin). :)) I lot of whippings... mom and dad didn't spare the "rod" back in those days. I learned by watching when they were missionaries on the Pima Indian Reservation that all people were equal in God's eyes and should be treated with dignity and respect. Mom always drank out of the "Colored" drinking fountains to protest the indignity of separation, subjection, and caste-like treatment. Perhaps that's why I felt empathized for kids that were different in some way... and became the anti-bully at school, standing up for and friending kids that got picked on. In that sense, public schools could be a real world prep course... but of course that was before drugs and guns were commonplace. Things are different now. Thanks for your comment.

    Up River Dave,
    Bobbie put the link for that chair above...
    and thanks for your BCB appreciation. I don't mean to rub all this sunshine and warmth in your face :))
    On second thought, yes I do :))

    Bayfield Al,
    I, too, am trying to grow "thicker skin." Especially where the BCB is concerned. I try to play "nice" most of the time, but somedays nice just seems boring, like when you get out of bed on the wrong side. I would make a terrible politician...

    I think most of the time, most people/bloggers "have a desire to be accepted." But sometimes, some of us just want to be "noticed." That can get you in trouble :((

    If one blogs every day like you do... or even every other day like I do... commenting (supporting) on numerous other bogs can eat too far into one's day. That defeats my purpose in life, which is to be outdoors, taking pleasure in the gifts of God... The Universe... Who or What ever came up with this Idea/experiment. In that respect, I really appreciate the time you and others take to comment.
    Loving your "Congress" life...
    Thank you!

    CowBoy Brian,
    First things first. I hope you didn't think I was in any way, shape or form peeing on you or your writing. It sounded like maybe you thought that, perhaps because of some of my personal thoughts on trying to raise my own writing bar.

    Look, CowBoy, I think you are gifted with CowBoy wit... and that you put it to paper as good as Baxter Black, and damn near as good as Mark Twain put Huck Finn and friends to book form. Twain's "style" demanded that he ignore convention, and so does yours. It would be pretty dry reading if you guys wrote any other way. It's your "hook," so to speak... sort of like my photos... it keeps people coming back that would otherwise yawn and move on. You don't need photos... nor does Boonie... tho I love it when you do add them.

    Secondly. You say you would choke if you didn't write. I understand that. But here is the question. Let's just pretend for a minute that Al Gore hadn't invented the Internet yet, and the self publishing world was still off in the future. Do you think you would be writing like you do... without anyone reading it... except for the occasional publisher who promptly sends a "rejection" notice? If the answer is yes, then you are indeed a real writer, in your heart, soul and the eyes of God.

    And "grammer?" it doesn't apply to you, you lucky dawg. :)

  11. Susan,
    You ARE a really good biker :))
    And now we'll do the same course backwards to prove it to the world.
    I'll give you a C on the test. You can do better :))

    You must believe "that." Desire and Faith... that's all it takes. It never hurts to click your heels together three times, either. I hearby "validate" your Wheeling It Blog... not that THAT means anything :))
    Thanks, Nina...

    Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!!! And remember, if you are reading this, you could be eating!

    Mark and Bobbie :)

  12. This is a great post, Mark, and great responses. As one who could never see myself blogging, it really opened my eyes to what it feels like to be on the other side. Al, I read your blog all the time and I love it. You display personal qualities which I greatly admire. As a person, you seem about the best a person can be, self-reflective, open, and genuinely affectionate toward mankind. But I've never posted on your blog. So, do remember that you will not always be able to sit under a tree that you have planted but nevertheless, your work made a difference.
    Mark, I also read your blog on occasion but have had mixed feelings in the past. Each to their own but for me the pictures are distracting. I know others love them and that is quite OK. I think any battle along these lines is trivial and not worth pursuing. These last few posts have been really grand though and I know I will seek out your blog more consistently in the future.

  13. George,
    Sitting here in Goldie's lounge, Zion's greatness out the window, a football game opposite the view, counting down the minutes to a big, festive Thanksgiving dinner at the RV Park (insert stomach growl here!), your kind words caught me off guard. So I give thanks... to you, and to all BCB readers, coast to coast, Canada to Mexico, and, now, amazingly, around the world. And yes, even you lurkers, yet to step out of the shadows. I have much to be thankful for, starting with my soulmate/hiking partner, Bobbie. I hope this "road trip" keeps on going. That a few of you tag along, makes it that much more meaningful and sheds a little "purpose" on my little lilliputian life.

    Your comments on Bayfield Al are spot on! Even tho we have yet to meet, I feel as if I know him, Kelly and Pheebs.

    And yes, George, all blog battles are trivial...
    Thanks for that reminder :),

  14. Mark...thanks :) And if the length and depth of your comments are anything to go by, your blog is inspiring THOUGHT and REFLECTION. I mean, just look at all these comments!! That is something not every blog can boast, so take heart in that. You're on the right track, wherever that is...

  15. I am blown away at how captivating your writing has become. I sincerely enjoyed this post! Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy "Deep Truth." Love -Caleb

  16. Nina,
    I've been on the "right track" before... only to find a train coming at me :)) Thanks... I appreciate the comment.

    Son Caleb,
    Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you have some time off from work to enjoy some downtime. I love you Big Guy, and thanks for your inspiring comment. Hope to see you at Christmas.

  17. Mark;

    Thank You! To be included in any list behind the likes of Baxter and Sam is High Honors!

    and Nah, no worries. "That" thought (that you were knockin' my efforts at word whittling) actually never made the short trip of crossing my mind! ;)

    Actually, my comment was triggered by a couple of things you said about "Questioning your foundation" to write.

    I was mostly wanting to offer my opinion in an effort to dispel the notion that some sort of approved foundation is required to be a "Successful" writer.

    It's my belief that the "Required foundation" is a combination of "Experience, Wit, Vision, Wisdom and personality"; well seasoned with a thick skin and the guts to throw yourself under the bus!

    As for that last question... I used to pen short lil' stories when I was a kid, but to chicken #@$# to let anyone read 'em.

    As I piled up the years, Rodeo and the Army toughened up my tender delicacies. I got to spinning yarns and other versions of story telling... (I see being a story teller as the true foundation of a "Writer".)

    To my great benefit, the "Net" opened up a huge and gaping door for me to jump through... But without it, I'm certain sure, somewhere, some way... I'd be bending somebody's ear with a yarn!

    Someday I hope to get good at it. ;)

  18. CowBoy Brian,
    I'd say, if it's putting food on your plate, you're good enough ;)


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