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November 27, 2013: Taking Risks

This morning I have been drawing cartoons to go with dispatches. I have not drawn any cartoons in some time, except in the pages of the phone book. I don’t know what brings about a cartooning creative spark, but yesterday and today, boom, boom, boom, three cartoons immediately came to mind. Two are good, one is so-so.

As I worked on them, I got to thinking that if I had a real job, like being a Walmart Greeter, that these cartoons would not have come to be. Sad to say, but most real jobs suppress creativity. And the ones that encourage it don’t pay squat. Imagine, me being paid to write dispatches, draw cartoons, and take photos. This is probably not going to happen in this lifetime.

The other night I finished my proposal, entitled Material Matters: Fieldnotes of a Homesteader/Writer. The last few hours of working on it were difficult. I most

definitely was not in the writerly zone. Over dinner, Pete, dear Pete, suggested that in my final chapter I include an interchapter on the subject of risk taking. I sort of acknowledged that it was a good idea, but I did not act upon this. This was because it was his idea and because my brain really did feel like mush.

As I was working on the cartoons, I conceded that Pete was absolutely right. Material Matters may not be about sustainability, but instead about risk-taking, both as a homesteader and as a writer. Homesteading – we took on a huge project when we moved here. Writing – I take on huge projects all the time. Outcome is uncertain. This is what happens when one works in a more inductive fashion. Presumably, those who work/think in a more inductive fashion come up with their best work when they’re older.

The production of good writing involves taking risks, particularly if it is first person, I-centered, narrative writing. This is because it really is an expression of the innermost self. You never know what is going to materialize, and what the reaction to it might be.

Writing and posting dispatches is an extremely risky venture. I toss ideas out there, well knowing that people might not read them, or worse yet, stop reading midway through. I also write things about life here that at times should go unsaid.

But writing dispatches is good for me in that it makes me more prolific. I have to like what I write. I have a deadline every 24 hours that I have to adhere to. If I fall behind, I’m screwed. It’s a pain in the ass, having to write five of the damn things, especially when I have so little time. I also don’t have the time to revise what I write to death, which is something I do with most everything else that I write. I have to work with what comes to mind.

It would be disingenuous for me to say that I toss stuff out there because I don’t. I first write each dispatch out by hand on a piece of blindingly white 8½” x 11” piece of paper. Then I type what I have written into the computer. I change things as I go along. Sometimes, but not often, I’ll take a single idea and work off of it. Typing things into the computer slows me down some and gets me to thinking about what it is that I’m attempting to get at.

It must be an ideas day. I am now thinking that I’d like to take the pages of a draft, and do a series of cartoons on them, and then frame them. Then exhibit them somewhere. This is actually well within the realm of possibility.

Next: 247: 11/28/13: Attitude of Gratitude, Again