Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


The Wanderings of a Would-Be Polymath

I am excited to reveal my theme for the Blogging A to Z Challenge for April 2017.    It will be  “The Wanderings of a Would-Be Polymath.”

I can hear you now:  “Huh?”

A polymath is simply a person who has “learned much.”  Strictly speaking, a polymath is someone who is an expert in many areas.  I am most certainly NOT that– hence, the “would-be”.   Leonardo was a polymath; I am not a Leonardo.    I am more of a generalist, a person who strives to learn a little bit about a lot of things.  I have an inquisitive mind that is attracted to the marvelous complexity and variety of the world around me.   I used to hate it in school when the vocational counselors would ask me what I wanted to study in college or what career I wanted.    I would look at them with incredulity and think “Are you kidding me?   I can’t decide that now, if ever.   I don’t want to be stuck in a box!”

So my daily posts for the A to Z blogging challenge will be devoted to an exploration of those disparate issues, ideas, topics and disciplines that attract my attention on a daily basis — sort of like how ravens are attracted to shiny objects.

The first post of the challenge will appear April 1.


WordPress Daily Post Prompt:   I’ve labeled myself a wannabe polymath.










A Little Preview of April

Regular readers, you may have noticed that I have not posted much in the last couple of weeks or so.

I am writing, though.  Massive  amounts of it.

I am preparing for the Blogging A-Z Challenge which I will begin posting on April 1.   So far I have prepared material on how I would probably be executed for being a witch, the nature of “alternative facts”, Japanese-style poetry, chocolate, being a book junkie, chicken recipes, and a prehistoric woman named Helena.

Stay tuned.




A Little Advice on Writing and Reading about Writing

As I stated in my Sunday post, I have stopped working the creativity recovery program I had started two months ago.     I am sure this program and others like it work for a lot of people, but not for me.   I encourage those individuals to keep working at it.   As for me, I have another way.

The only thing that helps me to overcome a writing block is the physical act of writing.   I write something everyday.  Sometimes it is only in one of my journals.  Sometimes it is just posting silliness on my Facebook page.   Sometimes you get a blog post like this.

If you were to ask me my advice on writing, I would say:

1) Carry a journal and pen or an electronic device with a note-taking program with you AT ALL TIMES;
2) once a day in the journal or on the device, write one sentence that is an observation of something around you or in your life.  Just one sentence.  It can even be one word;
3) then try for a second sentence;
4) and then a third;
5) and keep writing sentences until no more come.
6) You will end up with at least one sentence a day.  Add them all up and you will have at least 365 sentences.   You will probably end up with a lot more.  It is exponential once you are on a roll.

Then, if you do feel the need of some wisdom from those more experienced (and who doesn’t?), study your favorite writers.  And if they have written books on writing, you have hit the jackpot.

Here is a list of my favorite books on writing.  I refer to them often.  Actually, most of the advice I give above are variations and paraphrases from some of these books.

Bird-by-Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life,  by Anne Lamott
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King
Zen in the Art of Writing, by Ray Bradbury
Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg
Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life, by Natalie Goldberg
Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words, by Susan Goldsmith Woolridge.

Now, get off-line and write.  🙂


Obligatory Disclaimer:  I did not receive any of these books from the publishers.  I bought ’em all and I like ’em all.  🙂




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Living in earthquake country, I have become accustomed to “earthquake swarms“.  These are typically small shakers, between 1 and 3 in magnitude.  They happen in a relatively short window of time, maybe three or four days, within a small geographic area.   They don’t do any damage, but if I feel them, one after another, I get a little tense.  When will these stop?  Do they forebode a bigger, more destructive quake.   There seems to be no rhyme or reason to them and that unpredictability leaves me unsettled.

Daily problems are much like earthquake swarms:  they are unexpected, frequent, do relatively little damage, eventually stop, and leave one nervous and tense and constantly on edge waiting for something worse to happen:  the car won’t start, the bank messed up a deposit, the toilet backs up, you are late to work, and your significant other is in a bad mood. And these little things pile up, making you wonder if something really big is going to happen. “What next?” is a frequent expression of mine.

Living in earthquake country, you must be prepared for the “Big One”.  You keep several liters of water in your closet, food for a few days in the pantry, batteries, radios, and a little cash on hand, and have a plan to connect with your loved ones ready to deploy.

You cannot really do that with life problems except learn to have a reserve of resiliency within you.  You will need it when the shaking stops.

Or when the big one comes.


ljg (c) 2017


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Standing Strong on my Own Two Feet: AW Check-in Week 8 (AKA Giving It Up)

underwood typewriterThis is my last check-in. I JUST CANNOT STAND THIS PROGRAM.

Not surprisingly, once again we have a chapter where the author entitles it as one way, makes a goal statement out of line with that title and then offers a discussion unrelated to either the title or the stated goals:  restoring Strength, managing time, surviving criticism?  Which is it?  Beats the heck out of me.

That being said, the bulk of the chapter has to do with the criticisms creatives receive that block the creative process.   I agree that one cruel, thoughtless statement about a creative work can absolutely destroy the confidence of a creative, but it is unrealistic to think that we will never have that happen to us so we best get used to pulling on our big-girl panties and dealing with it.

As much as I love getting positive affirmations of my work (please keep them coming), I don’t mind receiving criticism if it is warranted and kindly offered.   Such criticism usually makes me dig in my heels and do an “I’ll-show-you” re-write.  As a result I will usually end up producing a better work.   It doesn’t matter if the criticism comes from another creative friend or from a college instructor.  I’ll take the criticism, if it is fair, and do something with it.

In this chapter, the author shows quite a bit of disdain for academia in general and academic criticism in particular.  She writes that the “Ivory Power” has done more to cripple creatives than anything else.   I cannot hold with that view.  Yes, I had a few college professors who I thought were not being fair, but for the most part, I respected their knowledge and opinions.  For example, my usual process for writing college papers was to take a general idea, develop a tentative thesis, and research it.  If the research supported the statement, I would continue with it and write the paper; however, if the research proved my thesis wrong, then I would change it to fit the research.   However, one semester in my undergraduate program, a professor insisted that we turn in an outline first and it was against this outline that the paper was graded.   In other words, I could not change my thesis midstream; I had to stick with the outline.   As much as I wailed and moaned about him “quenching my creative process”,  I did thorough and proper research FIRST and then CAREFULLY crafted my thesis statement.   Not only did this make me a better researcher, I ended up with a superior paper that allowed me to get an A in the course.  Furthermore, this paper became the seed for my master’s level research paper I wrote a few years later.

So what does this have to do with my weekly AW check-in?   Not much.   Because of the incongruities of the chapter’s stated purpose and the author’s disdain for the environment that ultimately made me a better writer, I closed down and did not work the program much this week.   I only did a couple unenthusiastic sets of morning pages and at the time of this writing, no artist date.

The good news is that towards the end of the week, I had an unexpected second wind sweep in, and I came up with an idea for a series of blog posts to be written and posted in April.  Maybe the key for recovering MY sense of strength is to throw off advice that doesn’t work for me and make my own strong artistic stand.

My intention two months ago when I started this program was to overcome a block.  I think I have.   Could it have been from doing the required morning pages? Going on the artists dates?  Maybe.  I’ll give the program some credit for that. But I think it had more to do with my own resolve and  commitment to the process

And I can’t give any book or self-help maven any credit for that.


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Hesitating into Spring

Today is the first day of Lent. I do not usually observe this season in any external manner.  For me it is a time of inward reflection. There is something beneficial about taking a period of time to slow down, to hesitate, in our worldly routine to take an inward glance at ourselves. Some cultures and faith traditions do this in the Autumn, some in the Spring.

It is befitting, I think,  that Lent comes when it does, usually just before the Spring equinox, where winter takes one last inhalation, hesitates, and exhales itself into Spring.  Those who observe Lent take a similar deliberate inhalation before breathing into a season of renewal.




ljgloyd (c) 2017