Somewhat Self-Indulgent

One of last month’s reviews on accused my story of being a “somewhat self-indulgent piece…”

I let a month go by to see if this review still rankled. It does. My feelings have festered. It seems that it’s time that I lanced this sucker and cleaned out the wound.

As I understand “somewhat self-indulgent” that means I ‘somewhat excessively’ indulged my own ‘appetites and desires.’ Or perhaps—according to the Oxford English Dictionary— my creative work is “lacking economy (careful use of words) and control (the power to restrain).”

Let’s skip what ‘somewhat excessively’ might mean for the moment. What would disturb anyone about such a characterization is that it’s just that—a characterization, bordering on psychoanalysis. If I need therapy, I’d prefer that it be from someone with credentials. I’m funny that way.

Now, if one were to do a better job of reviewing, one would review the piece and not resort to divining the writer’s motives for creating it.

Call the piece, “preachy,” “somewhat excessively laden with argot, bombast, buzzwords, cant, clichés, doublespeak, drivel, gibberish, and jargon,” or call it “heavy-handed,” and I’m fine with that. Review the story.

My reasons for writing the piece are that I believe this story needs to be told in a different way.

After all, as Kingsley Amis said, “If you can’t annoy somebody, there’s little point in writing.”

Let the healing begin.

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Writing about forestry II

We just got back from San Luis Obispo. I spoke at the student chapter of the Society of American Foresters (SAF) there. It may seem odd to drive my high-performance Swedish driving machine (with 180K on the odometer) fourteen hours, seven minutes, 800 miles (roundtrip), and spend $118.66 for gas (plus $ for food and lodging), to talk to twenty people for a total of twenty minutes. It is. They gave me pizza. And it was good.

Thanks to Nikki Gross of Cal Poly’s SAF for inviting me. Thanks to Dr. Doug Piirto for sending out an email to lots of folks letting them know about my talk. Thanks to many of those folks taking time out of their day and studying for midterms to listen. And thanks to Norm Pillsbury for shining on his office hours to see me. My life is richer for it.

We talked about writing. The Cal Poly students and professors I talked with are experts in forestry. They know their stuff. Their writing in the professional journals is important. Yet, we need to look outward. I hope one of them starts a blog about forestry.

We also talked about my novel The God of Trees

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Writing about forestry

On Wednesday, Mary, Peaches, and I will be zipping down to Cambria on the coast. It will be about six hours away. We have reservations for the Cambria Shores Inn, one of many inns in town that is pet-friendly. According to the front desk, they “not only allow dogs, they love them.” What’s not to love about a golden retriever like Peaches? Goldens may be the world’s sweetest breed.

The next day, I’ll be talking with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s student chapter of the Society of American Foresters. I picked May 24 way back last December. In prime procrastinator fashion, I thought that something akin to lightning would strike me between then and now and I’d be witty, amusing, and deep.

I think it’s a truism for everyone, except the current administration, to see him or her self as a fraud, at least sometimes. We got lucky and if we’re not careful, we’ll be exposed as the imposter that we know that we are. I graduated from Humboldt State University thirty-three years ago. Crap. What can I tell some college students, who know more about today’s forestry, about the business of forestry? Yes, I have been the assistant forest manager at Mountain Home State Forest (asst forest manager of a state forest has more gravitas than the local burger franchise, don’t you think?), coordinated the natural resource management training for the California Dept of Forestry and Fire Protection, and been the forest manager for Boggs Mountain State Forest. Still, that’s what I used to be. What can I impart about how to be relevant? How do I tell them how to have a vocation in forestry in the 21st century?

Time for a point of view shift. I’m going to talk about writing.

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