I Have to Write Outdoors

Are squirrels using acorns to say thanks to Rossmoor woman?

Some of my readers are surprised to learn that I’ve written all my Bell Mountain novels outdoors, with pen and legal pad. Is it really that unusual? Why do I do this?

I guess it started because we had to give up smoking in the house, and smoking a cigar helps me to concentrate on my writing. But I still write all my non-fiction indoors, without smoking. It’s only the novels that now have to be written outdoors. I just can’t write fiction indoors anymore.

My novels are fantasy novels. That means I have to invent a world, invent characters to live in it, and somehow get the reader to imagine what I imagine: to get these people and places to seem real to the reader. But that can’t happen until first I make the fantasy seem real to me. Please note that I said “seem.” We try to stay sane around here.

Anyway, this is not an easy trick to pull off. It requires intense concentration. And I find that the outdoors itself helps me with that. It helps a lot. Squirrels, sky, grass, trees, birds (and I have even been blessed with visits from a deer, and a fox)–these are all God’s handiwork, they are all what’s real. Certainly a lot realer than one blasted robo-call after another, which is what I’d get if I stayed indoors. But there’s something about the sheer reality of the world I live in, God’s world, which somehow assists me in my work of fantasy. It’s very hard to explain how, but it’s worked for 13 books so far, going on 14.

I love it when a squirrel scurries up practically to my shoe and looks up at me, as if he’s trying to figure out what I’m doing. And once a monarch butterfly landed on my knee. Ah! I can’t go to Lintum Forest, but these tiny little aspects of it, as it were, can come to me.

I think most writers would tell you that inspiration’s where you find it; and I find mine outdoors.

Gotta get out before I can get in, so to speak.

How Big Things Grow Small, Etc.

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Have you noticed? As you get older, a lot of big things get small, and small things get big.

Years, for instance. The more years you live, the smaller they get. When I was nine or ten years old, a year was an eternity. But this year, 2019, whizzed by so fast, I almost missed it.

Mr. Bruno, across the street, went spear-fishing once and brought home two enormous striped bass. They looked enormous to me! But now I realize they couldn’t have been that big, because they both fit in the kitchen sink.

It seemed a small thing, an everyday thing, to me that my father was able to keep everything around our home in good repair. Like, he just did it, no big deal. But now that I’m older than he was at the time, I can’t imagine how he did it! How did he ever manage to do all that work around the house, and still do everything else he did?

We had a lot of family Christmas get-togethers in Grandpa’s living room. When I was a boy, it seemed a very big room. Now I can’t believe we ever fit so many people into it.

The street we lived on: I was there the other day, and it seemed way too short for all those houses. I am sure it used to be much longer. That’s how I remember it.

Shoveling snow off the sidewalk: that was a little job, wasn’t it? But it isn’t anymore. Now it’s a big job.

What would it be like, if things stayed the same size for as long as we knew them?

I’ve heard there’s a place in Lintum Forest like that, but I haven’t found it yet.

It’s Tanystropheus Time Again

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Do you really want to read about the first “same-sex romance” on some reality TV show? Do you think I want to write about it?

It’s Tanystropheus time!

When the nooze is just too disgusting to bother with, it’s time to imagine going for a swim or playing Parchesi with one of those impossibly long-necked reptiles of a bygone age. They’re back in Lintum Forest now, if you can find the way.

Speaking of which, I think I’d better head out there myself. We have another doctor visit this afternoon, two or three hours of my work day lost… So please take the opportunity, dear readers, to browse around the blog archives for all sorts of cool stuff.

It’s Tanystropheus Time!

All right, I give up on the nooze today, I totally give up. I’m old enough to remember when serious people used to run for president, but now it’s a freak show. I know it’s part of my job to cover nooze, but I’m sick of writing about these people. Bob Knight has a column on townhall.com today about questions he’d ask them if he were moderating one of their debates. I would ask, in addition to those, the following:

“What are you doing out of your straitjacket?”

“How many times a day do you sing ‘Imagine’?”

“What terrible thing happened to you in your childhood, to make you turn out like this?”

And so enough’s enough. And that means… well, what time is it, boys and girls? What time is it?

It’s Tanystropheus time!

I’m so happy I finally found one of these in an unexplored, uninhabited region of Lintum Forest. I don’t bother with the evolution fairy tales: this animal was just plain cool. Nothing like it before or since. It makes its debut in the story I’m currently writing, The Wind From Heaven–which, I say, is galloping like mad to some destination yet unknown to me. I can hardly wait to see what happens next.

More Progress

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I went to the bike shop this morning and got my tire replaced, then settled down to write.

The Wind From Heaven is galloping along, and I won’t find out where we’re going till we get there. Ice Age hyenas on the rampage, mysterious strangers from an unknown continent, frantic efforts to make peace before another war can start, a venture into a legendary region of Lintum Forest where no one dares to go, savage barbarians in search of a heathen god–no wonder I’m tired at the end of the day.

But it’s better than writing up the nooze. And if I’m not too beat after supper, I can unwind with a bike ride.

How Much Can I Write Before It Rains?

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If this blog seems a bit light on nooze today, it’s because I have to use the time to work on Bell Mountain No. 13, The Wind From Heaven–a wind which is blowing my characters this way and that, some of them to places that they never knew existed.

With a dozen chapters written so far, I have no idea where the story is going to take me: I just hang on for dear life and hope I’m still hanging on when it gets there. I ask the Lord every day to give me the story that He wants me to tell, and do my best to tell it. Good thing I’ve got really sharp editors to back me up!

We have thunderstorms in our afternoon forecast, so I’d better get out there as soon as I can. There’s an unexplored sector of Lintum Forest waiting for me, a crazy man who’s gotten a nation of barbarians to think he’s a god, and a fleet of ships turning up from no one knows where… among other things.

Eeee-yah, I’m Tired!

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See that picture? It’s an accurate representation of how I feel just now–flat-out flattened.

Blog posts, grocery shopping, research for gigantic Chalcedon article on censorship, more blog posts, Newswithviews column… If you’re thinking this is easy, think again.

I’d give you another news post, but my head has gone completely empty. The other day I discovered a new region of Lintum Forest that even Helki has never visited. I would love to get down to writing about it, but there’s all this other stuff that has to be cleared away first.

However, not to be defeated, I offer my readers the opportunity to create their own nooze posts. Just use the space reserved for comments. It’ll relax me to know I don’t have to write them myself.

Mr. Nature: An Improbable Critter

Image result for images of tanystropheus

Jambo! Mr. Nature here; and today our safari takes us to an unexplored corner of Lintum Forest, by way of the Triassic Period. It will feature in Bell Mountain No. 13, The Wind From Heaven, which I’m writing now.

Behold Tanystropheus, with its improbably long neck. This fossil was so weird, that when its first pieces were discovered, the scientist thought it might be wing bones from a pterodactyl. But eventually enough pieces were found to yield the reconstruction pictured above.

How did this animal live? There’s nothing even close to it around today, no living creature to compare it to. Did it squat on the shore and use its long neck as a kind of fishing pole? There aren’t enough bones in the neck to make it very flexible. So the answer is, we just don’t know.

Our Lord is a highly versatile Creator!

 

A Present for ‘Bell Mountain’ Readers

Finally! A Chalicotherium video that I can post for you.

This is one of the “knuckle bears” seen by Jack and Ellayne at the edge of Lintum Forest. Us Mr. Nature types know them as Chalicotheres. Their fossils are found in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. As large animals go, they were very successful.

The big, sharp claws are for pulling down tree-branches so they can eat the leaves.

If I ever see one of these on my bike ride, lumbering off the golf course into the woods, I will know the world is changing.

And you just know I won’t have a camera handy.

P.S.–Last night I dreamed I went to Mars, the Martian civilization was just about identical to our own, and so I went to the movies. And there, as I stood in line at the concession stand, I spied some boxes of “Bell Mountain Candy,” with the books’ cover art decorating the boxes.

I enjoyed that!

New Critters in Obann

I’ve always been intrigued by this prehistoric animal from South America, Macrauchenia. In addition to having a sort of elephant’s trunk, it got around not on hooves, but on these odd, stubby little toes. Scientists have been trying to classify this animal ever since it was first discovered in the 19th century. They still can’t do it.

Herds of these have begun to move up through the plains of South Obann, followed by savage tribes and even more savage predators. This is one of those things that used to overthrow civilizations: a barbarian invasion, a whole nation on the move.

Gee, now why does that sound so familiar?

Where will the horde stop–if it stops at all? Suddenly it seems like a really good idea to hole up in Lintum Forest.

The tale will be told (I hope) in His Mercy Endureth Forever. Meanwhile I get to hang around with Macrauchenia. Think of them as funny-looking llamas who don’t spit at you.