How can I become as wise and as focused as this old owl when I always seem so scattered?


I’m starting to feel quite overwhelmed. Actually, I think I feel more dislodged than overwhelmed. Getting involved with social media, so far, has been interesting and a lot of fun. But I’m not sure that’s who I am. I think I’m more the person I talked about in my last post, How I Ready Myself.

And the scary thing is that I could easily see myself getting addicted to surfing all those really interesting posts I’m finding. For sure I’d want to join most of the writing groups and most of the photography groups. And if they had photography groups exclusively dedicated to Nikon’s 50 mm f/1.2 lens, as Flickr does, I’d want to join them all.

But when would I write? When would I be able to spend time in that zone where my conscious mind and my unconscious mind overlap, that zone where I wait quietly for the little kid to bring me notes about my next novel?

I sure don’t want to fail that kid. And I definitely don’t want to fail myself.

I feel absolutely comfortable in that zone, absolutely at home? And that’s where I need to be.

Hence, the two big questions are, I suppose: Do I want to write? Or do I want to be a writer? Do I want to say Yes to the one thing? Or do I want to scamper after the many.

Right now I’m working really, really hard at being a writer. But as a result, I’m doing very little writing. And I’m not sure I like how that feels.

As well as working on my website, I now have accounts with Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Tumblr. And I’m considering Goodreads. Apparently, I’m supposed to have all these accounts, so I can let people know I have a novel they might enjoy reading.

And those accounts also help optimize my website for the search engines.

Earlier on, I talked about this being a journey from finishing my first novel to having it published. And I’m starting to wonder now if that kind of journey, for me, is a bad idea.

Originally, I had planned to put my novel on the Internet and simply give it away to anyone who happened to find it. And I intended to suggest that people who enjoyed reading it might consider making a contribution to a charity of their choice instead of sending me anything.

I don’t have a lot of money, but I don’t feel I need any more. I’m quite a bit like BJ, one of the characters in my novel, who’s just moved in with Charlie:

That evening, over a beer, he commented on how little she’d brought with her.

I’ve told you before, Charlie, I don’t like to own things. If I own things, I have to maintain them. And pretty soon it feels as if those things own me. They take my time and attention.

That’s why I’ve always rented furnished apartments.

I don’t know. I just feel freer without things, other than the tools I need for my job, of course. And that 50 mm lens you keep teasing me about.

I don’t have any jewelry or paintings, for example, so I don’t have to insure them. And I don’t have to worry about losing them or having them stolen.

And that’s freedom, Charlie. For me, at least. Not being tied to things.”

She paused and smiled at him. “Recognize it? Recognize my favorite Rhodes Scholar? Freedom? Not being afraid of losing things?

He smiled and nodded. Bang on. His old buddy, KK. And hers too? Weird.

She knew he knew, and she was pleased.

The things you own soon own you. I really believe that.

But maybe I should just keep working with social media until March 23. Then I can get back to writing. At that time, they tell me, maintaining my media accounts should only take a half hour or so each day if I have them set up properly. I think I could live with that.

But of late, I’ve been thinking more and more about people like Vivian Meyer and Emily Dickinson.

And in my next post I’d like to tell you why I’ve been doing that.


(© 2017 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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How I Ready Myself

Waiting in the zone.

Waiting in the overlap zone.


I mentioned in Post 3b, How I Suspect My Writing Takes Care of Itself, that I try to spend as much of my day as possible in that zone where my conscious mind and my unconscious mind overlap. That zone is where my most precious ideas come to me.

And those ideas often appear suddenly, when I’m on the treadmill, for example, or lifting weights, or out driving, or just sitting quietly and looking out at our trees moving in concert with the high winds that sometimes come to us from the mountains.

But I have to be ready for those ideas. That’s my job. I like to think of it this way:

A little kid comes running up out of my unconscious with a note for me. But he doesn’t see me, and he’s come as far as he dares.

Finally, he turns and goes back.

I was reading, perhaps, or visiting with someone, or listening to music, or working on my budget for the month. I was mostly in my conscious mind.

If I had been in the overlap zone, though, he could have given me that note.

But I failed him. And I failed myself.

Before I go any further, however, let me say really clearly that I’m describing what helps keep me ready to write. I am not suggesting what I do would work for anyone else. I only know that it works for me.

OK. Here’s how I try to stay in that magical zone. I base everything I do on two quotations, which I keep before me at all times. Nietzsche says it is absolutely essential, if you wish to lead a worthwhile life, that you fully commit to one thing and to one thing only. Not two. Just one.

And Tolstoy says exactly the same thing. In Anna Karenina, he has Constantine say that a worthwhile life consists in choosing only one of the innumerable possibilities that life offers and then committing, wholeheartedly, to that one choice.

Yes to the one. No to the many. Always. And for me that means no newspapers, no magazines, no radio, no television, no music, no vacations, and no leaving the house, if possible, other than Tuesdays when I head out somewhere to photograph – with the sound system in the car turned off.

Involvement with any of these distractions immediately rips me out of that overlap zone where I want to be and where I need to be. Because if I’m not there, waiting, I end up missing that little kid with all his notes.

So throughout the day I always have my fountain pen and my trusty red Moleskine right beside me, just in case. And when I’m out driving I have Voice Notes on my iPod cued up and ready to go, just in case.

I even have a waterproof notebook stuck to the wall of the shower, just in case.

“The readiness is all.”

I truly do believe my unconscious mind is most of who I am. And by far the most important part. And if I ever begin to disconnect from my unconscious mind, I believe I would begin that horrific slide into what Viktor Frankl calls the existential vacuum.

All of this readiness, this commitment to one thing and to one thing only, is especially crucial, of course, in the two hours between my getting out of bed in the morning and my sitting down to write. And also during my three to four hours of writing.

I’m very protective of that time. I would never consider opening my emails, or answering the phone, or responding to a knock at the door.

But my evenings are quite different. My wife and I have a wonderful Blue Ray DVD player, a humongous Samsung screen, wireless Sennheiser headphones, and a few shelves of classic movies. And in the evenings, when we’re not playing cribbage, we sometimes fire up one of those movies.

But even then, I still have my red Moleskine on the floor right beside me.


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What Might Happen If I Let Someone Edit My Novel?

Yoda and Nietzsche

Yoda’s explaining the Force to Nietzsche.

These are two of my favorite philosophers.


I could be quite wrong, but I suspect an editor’s job is to reshape a manuscript, so it becomes more marketable. It needs to appeal to as many readers as possible. The bottom line in the book industry is making money, and that’s fair. What else should a business’s bottom line be?

Quality aside for now, the most obvious problem with my novel is that it is 245,432 words long. The representative of one of the publishing houses, when he heard that, immediately said it needed to be cut in half. Maybe made into two books. And I’m sure he’s right. He knows the market. I don’t.

And I did admit in my second post that a novel that is almost seven hundred pages long, by an unknown writer, might not appeal to very many readers.

But here’s my concern. If some parts of my novel are, indeed, gifts to me from my unconscious mind, from a part of me that I’m learning to trust more and more, and if an editor’s conscious mind reshapes everything, what happens to those gifts?

What if my novel has some kind of underlying coherence? Is that coherence lost?

And if an editor does reshape my novel to match the 2017 market, what happens in 2018? Or 2019?

Over the years, many authors have insisted their novels be published as is. The market, of course, was kind to some of them, but not kind to others.

Many other authors have allowed all sorts of editing. And likewise, the market was kind to some of them, but not kind to others.

Right now, I’m thinking of the word crapshoot. I could be damned if I do, and damned if I do. (That’s not a typo.)

But this is all about outcomes, isn’t it? Outcomes that often seem whimsical and capricious. And I am not responsible for outcomes as I said earlier. Remember? I’m only responsible to be in my room totally focused on my writing, distraction free, for three to four hours every day of the year except Tuesdays.

I’m only responsible to create possibilities.

So, hire an editor? Or not? Those are, indeed, the big, big questions. And at this point I think I’m going to go with Horatio, “If your mind dislike anything, obey it.”

And my mind, at this point, dislikes what might happen if I let someone edit the gifts, which I believe have come to me from my unconscious.

Maybe, for now, I’ll just trust my unconscious. Yoda trusted The Force. Aristotle trusted the Divine Within. B.K.S Iyengar trusted pranayama. And look at how their unwavering trust paid off for them.

Bottom line: If unwavering trust worked for three of my heroes (I have a lot of heroes), maybe it’ll also work for me. It has in the past, so why not now?


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How I Suspect My Writing Takes Care of Itself

This Is a -31° C Sunrise

It’s good to be back indoors. It was -31° C this morning when I took this photo.


In my first post, Getting Started, I talked about the prohibitive cost, for me, of hiring an editor. But I have an even greater concern about editors than the cost.

My concern ties in with Chandler’s notion that writers only need to ready themselves, then wait, and the magic of writing will begin to happen on its own.

I think he may be saying what many, if not most, writers have been saying for centuries. Ideas come to them from somewhere. Creative writing, they say, is not primarily a conscious, lockstep process.

The ancient Greek and Roman writers, for example, believed their creativity came from divine spirits, which they called Daemons, or Geniuses, or Muses. Those guardian spirits guided them as they wrote. Sometimes they understood the spirits as an inner voice, sometimes as an outer voice, and sometime as both.

Today we realize the ancients were speaking metaphorically. They had no choice. They were trying to explain the inexplicable.

And writers ever since have been speaking metaphorically, as well. They still have no choice. They still don’t understand exactly where their ideas come from. But the ideas do come, nonetheless.

It is not surprising today when writers say their characters often create themselves, in part at least, and then often take on a life of their own. And when their characters do that, they can take their novel in directions the writers had not anticipated.

When that happens, they say their job is to stay out of the way, and to quietly and unobtrusively observe the interactions of their characters while writing everything down, almost as if they were taking dictation. Back to the Greeks and Romans, right?

And back to Chandler: That magic will happen, if you’re ready.

But how does that happen? Where do the ideas come from?

There are probably as many answers to those questions as there are writers. But I believe my ideas come from my unconscious. I also believe my unconscious is most of who I am. My conscious mind is only the proverbial tip, a very small tip, and it has no idea what the rest of me, down below the surface, is doing.

Nietzsche, my main hero, says that by far the greatest part of our spirit’s activity remains unconscious and unfelt. And the thinking that does rise to the conscious level is only the smallest part of that activity.

I agree. I don’t even think today’s social neuroscientists with their fMRIs could find me down there, although they might spot the odd footprint in the sand and maybe even a discarded apple core.

Many of the scientists I’ve been reading lately, who study how our minds work, no longer accept the Freudian or Jungian assertions that the unconscious contains the things we’ve forgotten, as well as all the bad things that have happened to us and all the things we’re afraid of that we’ve buried there.

Nor do they believe, as Freud and Jung did, that we can access that unconscious realm through some form of willing, or meditation, or therapy.

But they still do believe everything that happens at the conscious level has its roots in the unconscious.

I like all that. I also like the notion that there is no hard line separating the conscious from the unconscious. Instead, there’s a zone, sometimes larger, sometimes smaller, where the two overlap. And I believe my most precious ideas come to me only when I am in that zone.

In my next post, What Could Happen If I Let Someone Else Edit My Novel, I’m going to explain why I’m concerned about what might happen to those gifts from my unconscious if I hire a professional editor. And in Post 5b, How I Ready Myself, I’m going to share with you how I try to keep myself in that overlap zone for as much of my day as possible.


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I Think My Novel Will Have to Be an E-book

Red Rock Coulee

This is Red Rock Coulee, just west of Medicine Hat, AB.

These rocks are among the largest of their kind in the world, up to 2.5 meters across. They were formed by the prehistoric seas that repeatedly covered most of North America. And it’s iron oxide that causes their redness. 


The salesperson for one publisher said it would cost me $19,380 just for the editing, and another salesperson said a novel that length would have to sell for at least $34 as a hard copy. Moreover, he warned, if I added even one color photo, and I plan to add several, the price would at least quadruple.

But I like to photograph, and I would like to include photos of a few of the key scenes in my novel.

So if I try to publish in hard copy, I, an unpublished and unknown writer, would be asking readers to pay $136 for a novel. I don’t know about you, but Sisyphus and his humongous boulder immediately come to mind.

Red Rock Coulee

However, I can’t even imagine trying to push that boulder on the right downhill, let alone up.

But the good news is I’m not Sisyphus, and Zeus is not punishing me. Besides, I’m not responsible to get a rock of any size to the top of a hill or even to the bottom of one. That would be an outcome, and I am not responsible for outcomes.

I’m only responsible to create possibilities.

I can put out birdseed, but I’m not responsible for whether a Northern Flicker comes to my feeder. I can cast a dry fly next to some deadfall in a stream, but I’m not responsible for whether a brown trout takes it. I can buy a lottery ticket, but I’m not responsible for whether that ticket wins anything.

And I can write a novel and try to publish it, but I’m not responsible for whether anyone ever reads it.

“The readiness is all.”

Northern Flicker
A Northern Flicker about to wash up before it dines at my feeder.

When I first thought of writing, I came across a quotation by Raymond Chandler that was an absolute fit with my approach to things.

I say that because I always work on a large task for a certain period of time, usually thirty minutes, rather than working until I complete it or until I complete a significant portion of it.

When I was teaching, for example, I didn’t have to mark an entire set of papers – I just had to mark for thirty minutes. Then I could quit if I wanted. And today, I don’t have to vacuum the entire house – I just have to vacuum for thirty minutes. Then I can quit if I want. And today, I don’t have to – etc.

But usually, once I start it’s easy to keep going and even easy to add another thirty minutes, if I want. Or not. My choice.

It’s the same with writing, Chandler says. The key is to set aside a period of time each day, three to four hours perhaps, where you sequester yourself someplace that’s distraction free, then wait. This waiting is very, very important. You can’t check your emails or your calendar, or browse through magazines or your notebooks, or tidy up your closet. Your sole job is to wait, distraction free.

It’s that simple, he says. You either write, or you do nothing.

But I think that doing nothing invariably ends up being quite productive. Ideas and insights can’t stand a void. So when they spot one, they very quickly jump into it and try to fill it up.

My job at that point is to notice what they’re up to and help them.

And soon, if I stay out of their way, my characters begin writing my novel for me. That, folks, is when the magic truly happens.

But if I ever have a day when I can’t write, Chandler says I shouldn’t try to force it. A good novel is not a conscious, lock-step process.

I like what he says very much. If I put in my three hours, I’ve had a great day even if I didn’t write one good sentence. I don’t have to feel guilty about not getting any words on the page, and I don’t have to feel as if I’ve failed.

My goal was to make those three, distraction-free hours, and I did that.

Fortunately, however, most of my days truly are non-stop magic, where my characters do, indeed, write a few paragraphs for me.

And in my next post, I’d like to suggest how I think that magic happens.



To enlarge a single photo in a post, click on it. To zoom in for details, click on it a second time.


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Getting Started

The top of Bertha Falls

The photo above is the top of Lower Bertha Falls, which you pass on the way up to Bertha Lake. Bertha Lake is shown on my “About” page.


Last August, I finished my first novel. Since then, I’ve reread it twice. The first read-through took me three months. The second, a month. I finished the second read-through on 23 December 2016.

I’m going to come back to it for two more read-throughs starting on 23 March 2017. I hope the three-month hiatus will help me be a little more objective in my final editing.

Between now and then, I intend to learn as much as I can about self-publishing. My first step was to download a number of manuals about self-publishing. That downloading resulted, of course, in phone calls from the various companies who’d posted them. I haven’t read any yet, but I’ve sure learned lots from the people who phoned me.

The immediate problem, I’ve discovered, is that my novel, which is 245,432 words, is a way too long. The Writer’s Digest quite clearly states, I was told, that a first novel almost unequivocally must be between 80,000 and 110,000 words. You have to earn the right to go longer than that. One example they use is J.K. Rowling. She started out with two shorter novels, and only then did she dare to go longer.

The other problem is cost. If I paid for proofreading (1.5 cents per word) and copy editing (2.5 cents per word) and structural editing (3.9 cents per word), which one of the companies that contacted me charges, I’d be looking at 7.9 cents per word x 245,432 words = $19,380.13. But surely that can’t be. I must have a faulty calculator.

And even if I did pay that $19,380.13, all I’d have is an edited manuscript.


OK, so now what?


(© 2017 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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Post Index


Aphorisms – Two Hints 

If you’re using a computer or a smart phone, rather than scrolling all the way down the “Post Index” to get to them, simply click on “Aphorisms” under “Categories” on the right.

And second, it might be helpful to read the aphorisms in order staring with the comments about the Self on 2019 August 09.



In case you missed it, I’m going to repeat most of what I said on my “Welcome” page.

Some of you might have been wondering what’s going on. I have a cover, and I have a finished novel, and I’ve decided how I want to publish it. So what’s the holdup?

Well, I had the idea a few months back of creating a companion book on this website to augment The Parking Ticket, which I intend to publish as an e-book on Kindle Select.

Charlie Kristofferson, for example, one of my main characters, decides to hike all seventeen trails listed in the Hiking Map and Guide for the Waterton Lakes National Park, which is in the province of Alberta, Canada.

The Akamina Ridge ends up being one of his favorite hikes, even though it does involve some scrambling. It is 18.3 kilometers long and has an elevation gain of 975 meters, almost a kilometer. Straight up in places. But he soon learns that going up is far less painful than coming down.

However, the view from the top of the ridge is absolutely spectacular.

So I decided to include some photos of that view to help those who’ve never hiked in the mountains to visualize what Charlie saw.

And I did the same kind of thing with the scenes and events in thirty other chapters, as well.

But instead of adding all the photos of the scenes and events in those chapters to my novel, I’ve posted them here in a companion book. That way, I can share more photos than I’d be able to if I added them to the novel itself, and I can change them if I wish.

I’ve also included additional information about those scenes and events, which might be of interest to the reader, but which would likely disrupt the flow of the chapters if I’d included it there.

Each of the chapters in The Parking Ticket with photos and additional information in my companion book has a (P) beside the date in its title. For example:

PART I    CHAPTER 1 –  2018 (P)

The (P) indicates the option of going to the companion book for that particular chapter whenever it suits.

This approach, I hope, will enrich the reader’s experience.

And now that the companion book’s published, I’ll be able to upload The Parking Ticket as soon as I read it through one more time.

Meanwhile, I can get more serious about my next novel, which I’ve already started.

And one final thought: If you enjoy reading The Parking Ticket even a fraction as much as I enjoyed writing it, then I suspect you’re about to embark on a worthwhile journey.


In my Blog section, immediately following “Part XIII – Chapter 17 – 2018” on my “Post Index,” I’ve grouped a few of the photos I used in the thirty-two chapters of The Companion Book for The Parking Ticket into one post.

I’m assuming some of you might enjoy looking through them without having to read the commentaries.

If, of course, you are curious about one of the photos and would like to know more about it, you could go to its particular chapter in The Companion Book.


Again, in my Blog section, following “C. THE PHOTOS” on the “Post Index,” I have begun posting aphorisms. An aphorism is a single thought or observation that is stated in as few words as possible. A well-known example is Nietzsche’s, “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”

Each Friday, when I upload a new aphorism, I move the previous Friday’s to the end of the aphorisms in “My Previously-Posted Aphorisms.” This will keep them in chronological order, and at times they might even seem to grow out of the ones above.



To go to a specific post below, click on the title.




Part I  –  Chapter 1  –  2018

Part I  –  Chapter 2  –  1996

Part I  –  Chapter 3  –  2006

Part I  –  Chapter 4  –  2007

Part I  –  Chapter 5  –  2008

Part I  –  Chapter 7  –  2008


Part II  –  Chapter 5  –  2008

Part II  –  Chapter 11  –  1997


Part III  –  Chapter 11  –  1970s


Part IV  –  Chapter 5  –  2009

Part IV  –  Chapter 8  –  2009


Part V  –  Chapter 1  –  2009


Part VI  –  Chapter 1  –  2010

Part VI  –  Chapter 2  –  2010

Part VI  –  Chapter 7  –  2010

Part VI  –  Chapter 11  –  2010

Part VI  –  Chapter 12  –  2010

Part VI  –  Chapter 13  –  2010


Part VII  –  Chapter 1  –  2010

Part VII  –  Chapter 6  –  2010


Part VIII  –  Chapter 3  –  2010

Part VIII  –  Chapter 5  –  2010

Part VIII  –  Chapter 9  –  2010

Part VIII  –  Chapter 10  –  2010


Part IX  –  Chapter 1  –  2011

Part IX  –  Chapter 4  –  2011

Part IX  –  Chapter 8  –  2011

Part IX  –  Chapter 16  –  2011


Part X  –  Chapter 5  –  2010

Part X  –  Chapter 9  –  2010


Part XIII  –  Chapter 13  –  2008

Part XIII  –  Chapter 17  –  2018



Some Photos from The Companion Book for The Parking Ticket



(See below for C. THE PHOTOS.)

1b.) Getting Started

2b.) I Think My Novel Will Have to Be an E-book

3b.) How I Suspect My Writing Takes Care of Itself

4b.) What Might Happen If I Let Someone Edit My Novel?

5b.) How I Ready Myself

6b.) Overwhelmed?

7b.) Anybody Want a Free Novel?

8b.) I’ve Changed My Mind for Now about the Free Novel

9b.) Congress Sings the Swan Song of the United States of America

10b.) I’m Concerned about Infringing on Other People’s Copyrights

11b.) 13 – 26 – 3 – 9 – 1 + 3 = 4 – All of the above

12b.) I Want My Old Life Back

13b.) Being Rained Out Is OK

14b.) Charlie and Those Big Bighorn Rams

15b.) My Life and My World – Revised and Upgraded

16b.) Rindercella – Charlie’s Version




(See below for D. MY APHORISMS.)

(I almost always shoot fully manual. I use Live View – magnified at 10x, a loupe, manual focus, a circular polarizer, ISO 64, manual-focus lenses, and a tripod.)

1c.) Fog Shots

2c.) The Cowboy Trail

3c.) The Akamina Ridge

4c.) My Avatar and His Family

5c.) Firing Up My Birdbath

6c.) The Breakfast Club

7c.) Tick Season – Telephoto Time

8c.) A Hairassing Tail About Two Close Friends




This Friday’s Aphorism: 2020 September 25 – Christians 

My Previously-Posted Aphorisms