For the Birds

“Owls have a peculiar knowing way, a strict sense of personal space, a connoisseur’s restful delight in their food, a certain repose, a remarkable capacity for necessary aggression.”

Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

When M read this to me recently, I thought, “What a great character sketch!”  The style and flow of this sentence (and believe me, the book is full of them) makes me involuntarily smile as I pick each phrase apart and apply it to a person.  I make plans for pouring this sentence (like a syrup) into my morning writing, infusing that delicious penchant for a chapter’s worth of information in such an adorable little package … and then realize I have gotten lost in its magic and am going to be late for work.

This is why reading, on a voracious level, is so important.  I have accepted (to some degree) that I will not be able to read everything I want before I die.  Even if I lived to be 110 years old, I would not be able to accomplish this feat.  But think about this.  Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds was published by Sasquatch Books in 2001 and won the 2002 Washington State Book Award, yet I would have missed it if M wasn’t a bird crazed darling who decided to read it.  Further, author Lyanda Lynn Haupt has apparently been a prodigious writer since then, receiving another award for a book called Crow Planet, and putting out a more recent delicacy – The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild last year.  I mean, with writing like this, I now feel obligated to add every one of her books to my reading list.

As a very analytical person, I have taken a step back from my fascination to write this piece and to ask you, “Am I overboard here?”  Sure – it’s just a sentence.  Maybe I could just read the one book and pat myself on the back as a writer, telling myself “Due diligence,” and all that.  “We must read as much as we write.”  This has never seemed like a chore.  It seemed like selection of reading material was like a builder planning and acquiring supplies … prioritizing those areas where the absolute best must be purchased, and compromising where less expensive materials will do to make sure the finished product is better than the last one.  “Trash in trash out,” must equate to “Artistry in artistry out,” I surmise.  It’s a sentence.  I ask you once more, “Am I overboard?”


Lost: Cape

It’s a bird’s eye view I get – on the drive to and from work. I hit play on my iPod and listen to the latest book I’m into; then maybe two or three minutes in, I’m off on a tangent. Could have been a word that tripped my trigger. Could have been a concept, like “calling a friend,” or “a tsunami in Malaysia,” and I’m outside the car window, traipsing through the tundra with light bulbs and peppermints.

I know all the twists and curves by now. I seem to leave the mechanical part of my body, muscle-memory activated, at the wheel when I go on these side trips. Sometimes I don’t know how I manage not to get a speeding ticket, or how I avoid hitting a cow standing in the road. But when I drift into the cockpit, the speedometer is always right at 50. I don’t have cruise control. My foot just knows by now, I guess.

A delicious word spoken by the narrator and I’m off on another errand of make-believe. I eventually got wise, and nowadays I cue my phone’s voice recorder before I pull out onto the road. I never remember it all the right way later. It’s a bird’s eye view I get, on those winding roads, into my storytelling superpower.

Now, if I could just find my damn cape.


You can really tell a lot about a blogger by the blogs they follow.  I’m still relatively new to blogging, but I read an interesting article the other day and learned a whole new way of looking at blogging.  Now, granted, I started posting because I wanted to be a writer.  (I only say that in past tense because I got sick of saying it and decided, for efficiency and the sake of my attitude, I just AM one.) Continue reading