18 April 2014

Journey To The Emerald City

By: Jon Katz

Journey To New York      I had a wonderful one-day trip to the Emerald City yesterday, New York was awash in sunshine, teeming Easter and Spring Break crowds, traffic jams. My train was late, I was dashing around all day. I had some surprisingly wonderful meetings about my next book – I was shocked at how creative, connecting and affirming they were. I will definitely be writing more books, I feel my writing life is being reborn. There is wonderful enthusiasm for my "Talking To Animals" project, I told the editors I met with that every once in awhile, there is a landmark book that helps us understand the true nature of animals and challenges us to think about the animals in the world and our relationship with them.

I think of Henry Beston's "The Outermost House," Elizabeth Marshall's "The Hidden Life of Dogs," and Temple Grandin's "In Translation." I told the editors I want "Talking Animals" to be the next one, the wiser and more mystical understanding of animals that Beston called for, the book that as yet, remains unwritten. I am happy to see the great enthusiasm for it, I am on fire to get to work on it. I confess to being discouraged in the past year or about my ability to remain a viable writer in the modern world, I have no doubts now that I will be. Publishing has changed, but at it's sore, much of it's spirit and energy remains.

"This could be a good book, a wonderful book," one editor told me. Everyone is talking about the carriage horses, is fascinated by them, wants to hear about them. I think I will include some of that writing in my book.

I had dinner with my daughter Emma, I think it was the first time we were alone in a long time, she has an exciting new job she is going to, I am proud of her. I spent an hour or so wandering in Central Park grabbing some photos of the horses, I am going back to New York next week for some more meetings. I am grateful for the creative life, once again, I journeyed to the Emerald City to find myself and give rebirth to my work, I think it is beginning to happen. Thanks for coming along.

Back home, Red and I went to work in the pasture this morning, Ma was balky, tried to stare Red down. Didn't work.

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17 April 2014

Off To The Emerald City

By: Jon Katz
Off To The Emerald City

Off To The Emerald City

I'm off to the Emerald City today to seek my fortune, I could not count how many times I have set out for New York to make my way. My first job was as a copy on the New York Times, I returned to work at a national magazine, back again to produce the CBS Morning News, back again 100 times after I fled office life and became a writer. So many lunches, meetings, editing sessions, bus and train rides into the city trying to crack the Apple.

In some ways I did, in some ways I didn't. Back again, later in life, to give rebirth to my book life, to meet with a publisher, to find a new home for my work. This is the wonder and glory of life, I thank the need and opportunity for renewal, the challenge to look inside of myself and find the daring and faith and heart to create new things.

This is what it means to have a creative life, you are never there, always en route. I love it, I suppose, I have always known that, I am eager to get on the train for the beautiful ride down the Hudson and think about my book idea, grateful Maria will ride to the train with me and then be there tonight to pick me up. Joy beyond imagination. Talk to you later. The blog will be quiet today.

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16 April 2014

Lenore At Rest: Writing Dog

By: Jon Katz
Lenore At Rest

Lenore At Rest

Lenore loves it when I write, she hops up onto her couch – she has her own private couch in my study, no human or dog ever uses it – and goes to sleep. If I get up or turn around, her tail starts to whirl and thump. She knows how to play, roll in mud, eat and rest. And love, she is the Hound Of Love.

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Storm Windows

By: Jon Katz
Storm Windows

Storm Windows

There was a lot of banging, hammering, drilling outside of my study window all day, Jay Bridge is working his way around the house to put storm windows on the downstairs windows. This is bad news for the giant moths and mosquitoes and flies that have been storming their way through our porous small wooden screens for two years now.

Jay Bridge is a quiet man, but he does like to sing and whistle, it was melodic compared to the banging outside of my window. I asked Jay if he thought John Updike had to put with this when he wrote Run, Rabbit, Run, and Jay just laughed at me and kept on whistling. He is a quiet man and a conscientious worker.

My wife is a pagan, she sheds shoes, socks and jackets half the year, she has already thrown every window in the house open, there will be plenty of fresh air in the house until November after Jay gets done. Bad news for the moths, good news for us.

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To New York: Answering The Call To Life

By: Jon Katz
Deciding Not To Be Over

Deciding Not To Be Over

I'm going to New York City Thursday to do something I've been doing for three decades – pitching book ideas to a publisher. Last week I decided to leave my long-time publisher and set out into the Emerald City to find another publisher who will buy my books and publish them. It was very tempting to stay there, it was very necessary to go. It was frightening and exhilarating, something I knew I had to do several years ago.

I have no idea what the marketplace will make of me, who might want me to write about them. Five years ago, when the recession hit and publishing as I knew it ceased to exist, my agent at the time suggested that I might be over. Mid-list writers, she said, especially older ones who didn't have 20 more books to write, were not selling well any longer, publishers were cutting back. Perhaps I might go and get a puppy and write about it. Books like that, she said, were selling, the editors would love a book like that, she could definitely sell a cut puppy  book.

She was shocked at my response, I said it was a surprising and offensive thing for me to hear. For one thing, I said, puppies ought not be bought so somebody can write a book about them. It's not a good reason to get one. For another, I don't want to write a cute puppy book. I suspect I would be moving on soon enough. It's not their fault, it's mine, I have just not ever been able to jump in the river and flow with the current.

I decided then that I was not ready to be over, I poured my heart and soul into my books and into my photos and my life with animals and my blog. bedlamfarm.com is getting four million views a year now, my photographs are shared all over the place, I am cruising towards 20,000 likes on Facebook.

I am going to New York to discover the next chapter in my writing life, to see if there is an editor and a publisher who wants to get married. You never know. One or two seem excited about me, I have a new agent who likes and respects what I do.  I was stung  by what my agent said five years, I sometimes do wake up in the night and wonder if I am over. But that is just middle-of-the-night craziness, it does not last, fear is just a space to cross, a geography to nowhere.

I always seem to end up in New York when I seek to give rebirth to life, it has always seen the city of promise for me, the Emerald City.

I am still not ready to be over.

I choose to remain relevant.

I am just learning how to be creative.

I have important books to write.

People exploit animals all of the time for their own purposes, and I don't wish to do it, but the carriage horses have been good for me, they are angels come to refresh my creative spirit, make sure the creative spark is shining brightly inside of me. They remind me how much I love what I do, how precious it is to be a writer, to search for the truth, it is the only thing I have ever wanted to do.

The horses have shown me that my creative spirit, the spiritual force by which all human accomplishment – my writing – will be attained and accounted for. Like my donkey Simon, I hear from the call to life, I intend to answer it.

The Hebrews and the Iroquois called it Orenda, it is magic force, it is my song. Tomorrow I will take it to New York and see what I see about my life as a writer. The horses, like all the other animals I have know, teach me acceptance.

I choose to not be over. I am just beginning.

 

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