#29 Vital Spiral


The whole universe is based on rhythms. Everything happens in circles, in spirals.
John Hartford

I used to wish that life were more linear and straightforward. I wanted to sail from one experience to another that was better, never retracing steps.

Then I learned that – according to the American Heritage Dictionary – a spiral is: A curve on a plane that winds around a fixed center point at a continuously increasing or decreasing distance from the point.

What a thought: Life with a fixed center around which we circle, sometimes near and sometimes far. A fixed center that is a life’s core and anchor.

Next Week
Last of the Summer Circles series & Special Offer.



Writing Valued


We must accept life for what it actually is – a challenge to our quality without which we should never know of what stuff we are made, or grow to our full stature.
Robert Louis Stevenson

I am both surprised by Robert Louis Stevenson’s discussion of and strong opinions about compensation and its relevance to what a writer creates. Although written over twelve decades ago, I am refreshed by his insistence that a love of the craft come first.

Through this series that revisits 19th century authors, BriteLites invites discussion of topics that remain important to WordSmiths.

Excerpt 2 from Robert Louis Stevenson’s essay, “The Morality of The Profession of Letters,” first published in the Fortnightly Review, in 1881

Part Two

The Morality of The Profession of Letters

The other day an author was complimented on a piece of work, good in itself and exceptionally good for him, and replied, in terms of unworthy of a commercial traveler, that as the book was not briskly selling he did not give a copper farthing for its merit.
It must not be supposed that the person to whom this answer was addressed received it as a profession of faith; he knew, on the other hand, that it was only a whiff of irritation; just as we know, when a respectable writer talks of literature as a way of life, like shoemaking, but not so useful, that he is only debating one aspect of a question, and is still clearly conscious of a dozen others more important in themselves and more central to the matter in hand.
But while those who treat literature in this penny-wise and virtue-foolish spirit are themselves truly in possession of a better light, it does not follow that the treatment is decent or improving, whether for themselves or others.
To treat all subjects in the highest, the most honorable, and the pluckiest spirit, consistent with the fact, is the first duty of a writer. If he be well paid, as I am glad to hear he is, this duty becomes the more urgent, the neglect of it the more disgraceful.

COMMENTS WELCOMED on $$ as first reason for writing.

Next week – R. L. Stevenson Part Three: Attitude is everything. As Stevenson wrote, It is to be hoped that a numerous and enterprising generation of writers will follow and surpass the present one.

Worth A Look:  1920 Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

#28 Invited Memories


A circle is the reflection of eternity. It has no beginning and it has no end
– and if you put several circles over each other, then you get a spiral.
Maynard James Keenan

At dusk, children filled Madeira Street with games of tag, races and baseball when I was in fifth grade. Afternoons were for porches where we drank Kool-Aid and ate baloney and chipped ham sandwiches slathered with mayonnaise and sweet pickles. Where we played hangman, Sorry and checkers, the game of circles trying to survive and cross squares. And when a checker reached the far end of the board, it was “crowned.” Another circle was placed on top, granting the right to travel as far as it wanted in a single move. Years later, remembering the song of the ice cream truck and sparkling shaved ice with rainbow syrups, children’s voices calling through the smoky cuddle of summer twilight and the smell of lacquered cardboard and wooden checkers, I think: How nice that we can invite happy memories to re-visit.

Support Write For Life,
an important and beautiful documentary about the power of writing poetry and fiction, memoir and essay to uplift and transform lives.


Inspiring 2-minute video about zebra attacked by lion


Money as Motivation & Steel (video)


Welcome to BriteLites – Inspiration & Information for WordSmiths.

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.
– Robert Louis Stevenson

I have loved writing stories since I copied curlicues from a holiday table cloth.  Years later, I understood that the reason my father sat me down and taught his three-year-old to  write was because the pretty patterns spelled, “Merry Christmas,”  “Happy Holidays” and maybe even, “Jingle Bells.”

While writing has been a bit hit-and-miss for me as I’ve weighed whether a living could be made from the  fancies that my imagination brews, two experiences influenced me:

First, an article published in – of all places – Industry Week Magazine,  in which manufacturers were told that literature would improve personnel relations and productivity.

Second, bios that showed top selling  authors who owned huge estates, professional sports teams, private airplanes and – in the spirit of Andrew Carnegie and the libraries he underwrote – financed little league baseball fields.

In reading this first in a series of excerpts from Robert Louis Stevenson’s essay, consider how finance affects your work.

Through this series that revisits 19th century authors, BriteLites invites discussion of topics that remain important to WordSmiths.

Excerpt 1 from Robert Louis Stevenson’s essay, “The Morality of The Profession of Letters,” first published in the Fortnightly Review, in 1881

Part One

The profession of letters has been lately debated in the public prints; and it has been debated, to put the matter mildly, from a point of view that was calculated to surprise high-minded men, and bring a general contempt on books and reading.  Some time ago, in particular, a lively, pleasant, popular writer (Mr. James Payn) devoted an essay, lively and pleasant like himself, to a very encouraging view of the profession.  We may be glad that his experience is so cheering, and we may hope that all others, who  deserve it, shall be as handsomely  rewarded; but do  not think we need be at all glad to have this question, so important to the public and ourselves, debated solely on the ground of money.

The salary in any business under heaven is not the only, nor indeed the first, question.  That you should continue to exist is a matter for your own consideration; but that your business should be first honest, and second useful, are points in which honour and morality are concerned.  If the writer to whom I refer succeeds in persuading a number of young persons to adopt this way of life with an eye set singly on the livelihood, we must expect them in their works to follow profit only, and we must expect in consequence, if he will pardon me the epithets, a slovenly, base, untrue, and empty literature.  Of that writer himself I am not speaking: he is diligent, clean, and pleasing; we all owe him periods of entertainment, and he has achieved an amiable popularity which he has adequately deserved.

But the truth I, he does not, or did not when he first embraced it, regard his profession from this purely mercenary side.  He went into it, I shall  venture to say, if not with any noble design, at least in the ardour of a first love; and he enjoyed its practice long before he paused to calculate the wage.

COMMENTS WELCOMED on $$ as first reason for writing.

Next week –  R. L. Stevenson Part Two:  Where do wages (royalties or advances) belong when, as Stevenson wrote, To treat all subjects in the highest, the most honourable, and the pluckiest spirit, consistent with the fact, is the first duty of the writer.


Steel – from rocks to stainless rims in 6 minutes.

Making Steel

#27 The Circler Circles & The Great Choice (video)


Think of the wonderful circles in which our whole being moves and from which we cannot escape no matter how we try. The circler circles in these circles.
E. T. A. Hoffman

In Dr. Cherie Carter Scott’s book The Rules for Being Human, Guide # 4 states: A Lesson Is Repeated Until Learned.

I admit that, after reaching a certain age, I spot patterns. Sometimes, the lover who wasn’t quite right (or even awful) shows up wearing a different body but with the same modus operandi. Sometimes, I re-encounter – in different guises – situations that offer second, third and fifth chances to make more ethical, humane, courageous, integral or honest choices. Like a comet circling a star, my orbit does return me to the same messes (okay, growth opportunities). Sooner or later, I’ll improve, no matter how scary … I hope.

Worth A Look

WordWitty encourages a love of language and is especially for Educators, Wordsmiths & Word Gamers.  Herbert Bayer said, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” WordWitty adds: The broader our vocabularies, the bigger our worlds, the vaster our communicating tools and Scrabble scores.

This week’s (Scrabble) Witty Word: ROOD

  1. crucifix: a crucifix, especially one mounted at the entrance to the choir or chancel of a church
  2. quarter of acre: a unit of area equal to 0.1 hectare0.25 acre

“Nood” led to JUBE – noun Architecture . 1. a screen with an upper platform, separating the choir of a church from the nave and often supporting a rood.

And “Jube” led to: JUBILUS  (BIJLSUU Scrabble Alphagram w 50 pt bonus)-  in Roman Catholic music) a rejoicing, melodic group of tones to which is chanted the last “a” of the second and third alleluias, often following the gradual of the Mass.

Visit my blog of inspiration & information for WordSmiths

The Art of Fiction & Why Things Exist (video)


I was force-fed Henry James in required courses. And I never liked James until reading his thoughts that follow. (The man can’t help that he wrote a century ago when styles were stodgier.)

I smile big-time at the thought that – as wordsmiths – we should be concerned with how we write AFTER the manuscript is created. Do we let the form dictate story structure or do we allow our imaginations to roam free, unfettered by rules?

What would Mr. James think of the evolution of the novel since his 1884 advice?
Through this series that revisits 19th century authors, BriteLites invites discussion of topics that remain important to WordSmiths.

An excerpt from “The Art of Fiction” by Henry James

A novel is in its broadest definition a personal, a direct impression of life: that, to begin with, constitutes its value, which is greater or less according to the intensity of the impression. But there will be no intensity at all, and therefore no value, unless there is freedom to feel and say. The tracing of a line to be followed, a tone to be taken, of a form to be filled out, is a limitation of that freedom and suppression of the very thing that we are most curious about.

The form, it seems to me, is to be appreciated after the fact: then the author’s choice has been made, his standard has been indicated; then we can follow lines and directions and compare tones and resemblances. Then in a word, we can enjoy one of the most charming of pleasures, we can estimate quality, we can apply the test of execution. The execution belongs to the author alone; it is what is most personal to him, and we measure him by that.

The advantage, the luxury, as well as the torment and responsibility of the novelist, is that there is no limit to what he may attempt as an executant – no limit to his possible experiments, efforts, discoveries, successes. Here it is especially that he works, step by step, like his brother of the brush, of whom we may always say that he has painted his picture in a manner best known to himself.

His manner is his secret, not necessarily a jealous one. He cannot disclose it as a general thing if he would; he would be at a loss to teach it to others. I say this with a due recollection of having insisted on the community of method of the artist who paints a picture and the artist who writes a novel. The painter IS able to teach the rudiments of his practice, and it is possible from the study of good work (granted the aptitude), both to learn how to paint and to learn how to write. Yet it remains true, without injury to the rapprochement, that the literary artist would be obliged to say to his pupil much more than the other, “Ah, well, you must do it as you can!”

Worth A Look

In this fresh Charlie Rose interview, the conversation with Jim Holt includes:

  • Why there is something rather than nothing, and
  • Might our messy, mediocre universe have been designed by an incompetent hacker in another universe.


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Art for Healing & High Achievement