my morning at the beach

I went to the beach at Lake Nokomis on my bicycle this morning at 9am.

They say it's going to reach 98 degrees in Minneapolis today.

The beach was glorious.

I wore my bikini and I swam.

I brought my Sunday New York Times from yesterday which I had not finished yet.

I laid on a beach blanket and I read my paper.

I had a jug of ice water with me.

I read an article about how young scientists in their twenties, worldwide, are working together to rid the oceans and the world of plastic waste.

I'm telling you, there's a beautiful life out there if you are willing to live it.

Glory to God in the highest.

I ride my bicycle

Yesterday I made my favorite bicycle trip in Minneapolis.

I start at Rob's house which is near the Minnehaha Falls.

I go past the falls and see the statue of Hiawatha with Pocahontas wading in the waters of the creek.

I ride the trail that goes along the creek past Lake Nokomis and then out to Lake Harriett.

It's about five miles each way to go all the way around Lake Harriett and then take the bike path back again to the falls and to Rob's house.

I'm not a spandex rider. I'm a cute bike with wicker baskets and wearing a sundress kind of rider.

I absolutely love to ride my bike.

I first started riding my bike around when I lived in Park Ridge which is a northern suburb of Chicago.

In like 1970 I started riding my bicycle all over my neighborhood, exploring.

I didn't ride fast then and I don't now. I rode slowly to look at the tree branches meeting in the middle above the streets.

I rode slowly to stop and pick up turtles or frogs and move them to safety.

Yesterday I stopped to congratulate many proud duck parents out with their ducklings waddling across the paths.

When I'm out on my bike I'm silent, I'm not using any fuel but my own, I'm not making any pollution, I'm not hurting anything or anyone.

And I'm Free!

The other thing to say about the ride yesterday is that I had my favorite destination from last year in mind when I set out.

Last year I stopped quite often at the Lake Harriett bandshell pavilion and bought myself some kind of treat.

Yesterday I was thrilled to see that they were open for the season and I bought myself a seared walleye sandwich and a glass of cava.

Cava and a walleye sandwich proved to be the best lunch in the world.

The sandwich is perfectly prepared: the walleye itself was beautiful, the dill tartar sauce they make themselves was divine, big slices of ripe tomato, crisp shredded lettuce.

You gotta go.

But I swear, getting in and out by car would wreck the whole thing.

In my humble opinion, driving around in cars sucks.

Don't get me wrong, I love my car, it's all paid for, it's a Jeep, and I love it.

But it's so delightful to literally breeze past all the cars lined up at the stoplights and just keep on riding!

Bicycles are freedom.

Well, okay, I don't know that a Chinese factory worker in the middle of a bicycle traffic jam on the way to work could agree with me.

But I can only work with what I've got.

Also, I have a memory of an old man up on Lake Vermilion, a guy who lived full time out on Birch Point when I was a young girl.

He must have been in his eighties when, one morning in mid summer, I happened to be out walking my family dog past his place.

I was maybe ten years old.

He was out in the middle of his driveway tinkering in front of his garage with an old bicycle.

The garage door was wide open and I could see that this guy had a lifetime of boat motors and everything else in that garage.

As my dog and I were walking past his property he saw me and waved.

Then he got up on that bicycle and started pedaling.

He was wobbly at first and I thought he might fall.

I stood and watched him.

He got going pretty smoothly and took the bike out onto the road.

He headed down in the direction we were going so I kept walking with the dog, watching the man on his bicycle.

He went for a while and then made a fairly smooth u turn and headed back, coming towards us.

When he got up close I could see his face, beaming with the biggest toothy old smile you can possibly imagine.

Just as he was passing me, this man I had never spoken to and didn't know at all shouted out, 

"I feel like I'm eighteen again!"

That's the spirit!

That's what a bicycle ride can do!

Roll on summer!

Back from Duluth

I'm back in Minneapolis from Duluth.

What did I learn?

I learned that if you keep chipping away at it it can get better.

In the past I have sometimes felt less than embraced by the Duluth music people...the ones who run the radio stations and the record store, the ones who run the venues and the concert halls.

Two days ago in Duluth Rob and I played in studio on KUMDFM radio at noon.

We then headed over to the wonderful Electric Fetus record store for an in store performance.

Later at night we played a set after the "Highway 61 Band" from Duluth at 10pm.

It was a big day musically speaking.

I felt like I came closer to having some meaningful relationships with the music people in Duluth, and with the live music revelers as well.

I always try to have this type of a model for any town. Arrive, play everywhere to promote the show during the day, then play the show at night.

I saw again that I have a lot of energy when I'm having a day like this because I'm so excited for the performances and for the chance to win people over.

I really enjoy trying to win people over.

I think that's one reason why I like to spend a lot of time alone, because winning people over does take a lot of energy.

Also, writing this daily blog is a way to be connected to others through my own lense, and through my own art, which is the way I enjoy connecting with the world the most.

Someone, maybe the Buddhists, say that there are three ways to pursue enlightenment.

One is to be of service to others.

Another is to worship and contemplate your God.

Another is to pursue a means of self-expression.

I am falling firmly into the self-expression approach, but in doing so I feel that I am able to be of service to others. I can be an inspiration, a voice, a mentor.

But also, in my own effort to summon the Holy Spirit for my own sake in my writings and performances, I am also worshipping at the altar of the Lord.

So, practice makes perfect and I continue to pursue the illusive excellence.

 

 

Editing a manuscript of literary fiction is not for cowards

 

Right now, and throughout this summer, I am traveling around the upper Midwest for shows from Duluth to Chicago and points in between.

When I'm not traveling I am continuing to work with other artists, helping them with their projects as a consultant.

When I'm not doing either of those things I'm working to edit my manuscript for my second novel.

 That's what this post is about, whittling down a too long fiction manuscript.

 What I'm finding is that just about any piece of writing can benefit from being shorter.

Haha! Sad but true.

I do not follow this line of reasoning with my blog posts however because these posts are intended to be my morning pages and are done stream of consciousness with only a one minute spell check and grammar type of edit process. The blog is for me, and hopefully for readers, to identify with the flow of an artist's life over time. This blog is meant to be taken as a gesture of comradery and trust between myself and those who are interested enough to partake.

None of the above applies to a work of literary fiction. 

The way I see it in literary fiction, you have to earn the reader's trust, and you earn it by not sending them off on wild goose chases.

I learned after the publishing of the first "Sidney" novel that a reader can interpret almost anything as a goose chase if that's the way they read.

I consider this to be a plot driven mentality, and for me personally, it has less of a place in literary fiction.

For me the good novel of artistic value is not like a mystery novel or an historical novel.

Literary fiction for me is a genre that embraces character analysis and philosophical themes that land somewhere beyond the plot of the story.

Morality can be played out through plot by a character getting what he deserves, and that is played out in the plot.

But there are subtle issues of the heart and the mind that do not play out so obviously.

The points that I am trying to make about "Sidney" in book two sort of hover above the storyline itself, like how her values are changing, and how she sees the lessons of the things that happen to her.

So, I am reading and rereading chapter after chapter, trying to hone the subtle themes so they are clear but not ruinously obvious for the reader. I don't want to wreck the vibe by stating it all so clearly that there is no art left at all.

As I strip away parts that I added to the manuscript originally, I notice that the things I'm taking out are like colors that make the whole painting muddy.

I took out a chance encounter with a girl from school that Sidney had because I realized that the reader was with me in that chapter and that I ran the risk of losing the reader off on a tangent of wondering if this new girl was going to become more important and have a bigger role in what was going to happen. No, she wasn't going to, she was just going to pop in and pop out. Well, that's the kind of thing I probably can't afford to risk with my readers right now at this point in my storytelling. I probably shouldn't make them meet a new character and start thinking about her, only to have her disappear and never be mentioned again.

For me, I would have enjoyed the luxury of having this other girl appear for a moment just to show the reader how Sidney is reacting to people she runs into from her old life. That is interesting because it could show how Sidney is changing.

It may be interesting, but it isn't worth the risk of bogging down the story and losing the reader, and making a boring second book, and getting bad reviews from people who read it, or worse yet, having it not get published at all because it isn't captivating enough.

Maybe someday I will be like Theodore Dreiser and publish long works like "Sister Carrie", but I seriously doubt it.

I may complain about editing but I probably want these cleaner smaller books.

I love to hold the first "Sidney" book in my hand when I talk about it from the stage. I am always gratified by the feeling of the slim yet substantial paperback book that has the beautiful cover of the guitar made of flowers, and I love knowing that a whole world of a young girl and her most difficult winter is completely intact inside these neat pages. 

I hope that this second book feels that same way for Sidney's college years.

Writing novels is hard work but it's very stimulating and it works your brain and your heart in new ways all the time.

Here's book one. You can buy it on amazon.com or order it from your local bookstore.

Many public libraries have copies now as well.

Or you can buy a signed copy from me at my next show.

Hopefully book two will be out soon.

Mister Dylan's birthday week

 

Tomorrow I head North with Rob to do several performances in Duluth.

Duluth is having a "Dylan Fest" to celebrate Mister Dylan's birthday.

I don't know whether they are extending a formal invitation or not, but either way, I don't think the great man will be joining us.

I wonder how he feels now.

He wakes up and swings his feet over the side of the bed like everyone else, I suppose.

But upon his first footstep of the day he is already Bob Dylan.

I hear that he's making whiskey these days. That's fun.

He's a fun guy I think.

I would like to meet him but only if he could somehow sit through my live performance and then he would have to say to someone, "You know, I like her. I want to meet her."

That's how it would have to go down.

I know his music, and I would want him to know mine. Then, if he liked my music, and he wanted to meet me, we could meet.

This may still someday happen.

Or it may never.

Either way, I'll be playing two or three of his songs and about ten of my own this Wednesday night at The Rex in Duluth, 10pm, in honor of him and his brilliant music.

This is his birthday week. I bet he's having fun where ever he is.

Happy Birthday Bob!

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