Is it writers’ block??

NOT WRITING

I haven’t been writing on my two on-going books lately—just seem to have lost the energy to make them go.  This has happened before, and I always come out of it, but so far, nothing seems to interest me enough to sit down and write.  Ennui has been my companion for a couple months.

I assume that most authors hit a brick wall at times, and I also assume that this feeling will go away, but it’s frustrating.  When I’m in the throes of creating a book or story, it follows me around and bangs in my head until I can get to the computer and get it out.  When the muse returns, I find myself creating plot lines and characters in the shower, in bed, while driving.  It’s like living with someone who nags me all the time to write!  Write!  Write!

That nag is not there right now, but she will be back, exhorting me to tell my stories, to make a difference.  I look forward with a little trepidation to her presence in my head, pushing me to create, Right Now!

Probably other authors reading this can relate, maybe not, but that’s my story, or rather, my experience.  For now.

Thanks for listening.

Nan McKenzie, January 29, 2018.

Author of Bigfoot and Bigfoot Returns 

Advertisements

CUTTING CHRISTMAS TREES

By Author  Nan McKenzie, November 10, 2017

My dad, Ed McKenzie, was forever looking for a way to make money; it was always in short supply in our house.

He began to cut Christmas trees, beginning in early November, and my sisters and I would often go with him to help.  He would walk through the trees with an axe in hand, and with just a few blows, (sometimes only one) would cut down those he thought were the right ones.  We would come behind and pile the trees up, spearing our hands down through the biggest limbs at the end, then hauling six or eight or more at a time down a hill, or up a heavy rise, taking them to the big truck.

One time, my sister Sue started screaming and running, slapping at her shirt and pants.  A hornets’ nest had been jostled loose by all the action around it, and they were letting Sue know how unhappy they were about it.  She was stung several times, the hornets working their way into her clothes and hair.  Dad picked her up and ran to the truck, taking her coat and pants off on the way, hornets following the two of them.  He was able to get most of the little stinkers off her, but our day was done—she had to go to the doctor’s office in Whitefish, about thirty miles away.  Sue cried all the way there, never able to stand pain of any sort.

When we had enough to fill the back of the truck, Dad would climb in, and we girls would toss the trees to him.  He’d try to separate them to save time when we got to the tree yard.

We had a tree yard at our house, and after several days of cutting and hauling, the yard would begin to fill up.  He’d reload the trees on the truck, counting twos, fours, and so forth, meaning the length in feet of the tree, up to eights and tens.  They’d be taken to tree lots in town for sale, or hauled somewhere exotic, like Arizona or Texas, places where there were no Christmas trees to be had.  He’d either rent a lot at the edge of a town or sell them right out of the truck, making enough money to buy gas and food for the trip home.

I loved being in the woods with Dad, feeling the snow falling on my back, the stretch of muscles, marveling at how strong he was.  The smell of the trees would almost explode on us when we walked into our warm house, and we could smell them for days afterwards.

Sometimes, he’d let me burrow into the trees and ride in the back on the way home, so cold that I thought my life was over, but relishing the sense of accomplishment, knowing I could help my dad in a significant way.

For years, I became antsy in early November, thinking it was time to cut trees, but Dad was gone by then, snuffed out in a car accident in 1964.  I still miss the beautiful trees, scuffling through the leaves in the woods, pussyfooting over the tamarack needles.

Happy Holidays from the author of the Big Foot Series

http://tinyurl.com/BigFootSeries

Smoke!

 By Nan McKenzie

   When we were kids growing up on Whitefish Lake, there were no summer days filled with smoke.  There were no days so hot that you could feel your ears sweating.  There were bugs and snakes, huge thunderstorms, and infestations of tiny toads hopping to the water, thousands of them.  But no smoke.

   I think Montana is making up for lost opportunities now, filling our skies and homes and mouths and eyes with endless smoke from endless fires.  Today, though, a blessed rain is falling, bringing my lawn and trees back to life, clearing the smoke from the air, turning into snow up high.  I want to sit and read, wrapped in warm blankets and napping when it’s necessary, taking advantage of the phenomenon of rain, welcoming its presence after months of nothing. 

   The terrible fires have destroyed thousands of good Montana acres. Many people are living in fear of having their home destroyed, and many have already lost their homes.  Sad, sad. 

   But next week is the first day of autumn, so surely we’ll have more rain, and maybe even snow before long.  Some roads in Glacier Park and other places have closed because of snow and water running down the roads.  Conversely, it seems too early for winter, since we didn’t really have much of a summer.

   It’s a good day to work on editing another book, so I’ll get after that now and quit whining about bad weather. 

Nan McKenzie, September 18, 2017.

 

A FLYING LOVE AFFAIR

Just as I hate spiders, I love birds.  Big birds, little ones, noisy ones, quiet ones, most birds.  I love to see them flying, and envy their extreme athleticism, their amazing ability to navigate through the air, their dance in concert in the air.  How do they do that?

If we could reincarnate as an animal, I’d pick a bird.  Let’s see, a vulture, maybe not, considering their icky diet.  A fierce eagle, or hawk, yeah that might do, though still not the favorite diet.  Their death-defying dives are wonderful, though, the stuff of legends.  I really like robins, too, how they pair up and stay together, and their odd song is always recognizable.  The males declare their territory every morning and night, flitting from tree to tree to outline what they claim.

No chickens for a do-over—they usually don’t have a good ending. Turkeys, either, and domestic turkeys are just about the dumbest animal alive.  If you leave them outside in the rain, they’ll drown because they don’t know enough to hold their head down.

Finches are the racers, the remarkable speedy fliers who whiz so fast into the juniper tree in my yard that I can’t tell what they are.  This summer, one has been tearing into the tree, then it sits and calls out, maybe looking for a mate to join it?  Haven’t heard it lately, it must have gotten lucky.

Last year, I had an old birdhouse sitting on a pole stuck in the ground in front of my porch.  A cute pair of chickadees took up residence, with Momma cleaning house by hammering the floor, and Daddy keeping watch.  The next morning, the floor of the little house had been hammered in two, and the whole shebang had fallen onto the bushes below.  The chickadees were gone, probably traumatized.

Ravens and magpies are the sociable fliers, unless you’re a cat. They’ll sit on the roof above a cat and yell at it for hours, until the cat finally gives up trying to make one lunch and saunters off.  Their calls are different, the raven shouting all their communication so loud they can be heard almost a mile away.  The magpie has a scritchy voice, and they are just as good a scold as their cousins.  I think magpies know they are beautiful, prettier than the ravens, but smaller, and smart enough to stay away from the bigger guys.  Ravens, crows, magpies, can all do human talk if taught.  Imagine that, they can talk our language, and we can’t talk theirs.

The little water ouzel can walk on the bottom of a creek, snagging bugs from the rocks.  Montana creeks are mostly clear, and I love to watch as they bob along, able to withstand the fastest water.

A meadowlark has come to live near me this summer, and I whistle at it, copying its great song.  When I whistle, there is a pause, like the bird is thinking, ‘What the heck is that?’, then it replies, but with a much prettier riff than mine.  I’ve had conversations with meadowlarks since I was a girl and had taught myself to whistle.

And there’s a mourning dove, too, its sad call following as I go about my business.  I think it’s alone; usually there are two, mourning together in perfect harmony.   Sometimes, they make me cry.

My least favorite bird is the killdeer, they are constant in their noise and their irritating run in front of you, faking a hurt wing, trying to lead you away from their babies, even if the babies are hundreds of yards away.  They screech even at night, preferring the spot under my open window to declare themselves to the world, make their paranoia evident.  They sure are pretty, though.

Pheasants are pleasant.  (Sorry.)  They have a barnyard call, similar to a rooster, though wild and untamable.  I love to see them beside the road or in a field, their feathers shimmer with color, and they strut like the world is theirs.

The perfect sparrows zip through the air in the evening, ridding our world of mosquitoes, thanks.  I think they probably have a contest every night to see who can catch the most bugs.  They use mud and straw to build houses on the bottom of eaves or on cliffs, an engineering marvel.

Bluebirds, red-winged blackbirds, wrens, emus, ostriches, blue jays, ducks, geese, parrots, etc., etc.  If it has wings and flies, I’m all for it. Think of that,–they fly through the air with the greatest of ease, a medium not known for its support.  And don’t get me started on their side-to-side clown walks.  I’m pretty sure they know I’m laughing when I see one struggling along, rocking like a clown.

Nan McKenzie

 

BUTTERFLIES

How does a butterfly know it can fly, when it’s always been a creature that crawled upon the earth?  Is there pain, and fear, when it wakes from its metamorphosis, and fights its way out of the safe cocoon?

Is it afraid as it lies panting in the new sunshine, vulnerable to all larger life?  Why does it test its wings, pushing against the air?  How does it know to do that?  Who teaches it to fly, how can a tiny beast, once imprisoned, once only a crawler, nailed by gravity, begin to beat alien wings, lift itself into now only air, begin, (miracle!) to fly?

Is it afraid of the height?  What inner sense guides it to flutter to a friendly flower and there begin the first of a lovely communion of animal with plant?

Are we caterpillars?

Nan McKenzie, June 15, 2017