Notes from An Alien

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Tag Archives: Hermann Hesse

Something To Think About, Seriously, for Readers, Writers, and Publishers . . .

Thanks to Maria Popova at Brain Pickings, I offer today only one quote—one magnificent quote from Hermann Hesse’s Trees: Reflections and Poems that, if pondered over, could help any Reader, Writer, or Publisher attain some Peace in this Frenzied World:

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

“A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

“A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

“When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. . . . Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

“A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

“So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”

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Author Interview ~ Mary Pax

Since I’m an avowed SpaceCadet, I’m real happy Mary could stop by for an interview.  Let’s get it rolling :-)


Where are you from, Mary?

I originate from the east coast of the US, but have lived in the Pacific Northwest for about 10 years.

When did you begin writing and can you remember how it felt inside, back then?

I wrote my first story sometime in grade school. It was about a horse named Wesco. That’s all I remember about it. I always loved imagining. Still do.

Was there any certain date or time you remember when you began to either think of yourself as or call yourself a “writer”?

When I mailed my first query to an agent. I had no idea what I was doing. That was probably about 3 years ago. That novel has had many revisions since then. I must say he was very polite about the novice schlock I sent him.

Sign of a good agent, eh?

What are your hopes, or dreams, or goals for your writing?

I want to write novels. I have so many ideas/stories swimming in my head. I’d like to earn enough to afford a maid.

Oh, yes, the personal servant that can free up writing time :-)

Have you had any “formal” training in the art of writing?

I have a Bachelors of Science in Journalism and took a lot of literature, English, and humanities classes in undergrad. No formal creative writing though.

Still, that’s some impressive writing experience!

What do you feel has taught you the most about “how to write”?

Writing enough to discover my voice/style then networking with other writers. Getting involved in my local writer’s group [I’m their blog director], attending workshops and conferences, reading my work at open mics, networking on Blogger and Twitter, and acquiring several critique partners.

You’re doing all the right things, Mary, especially, “Writing enough to discover my voice/style…”

Who are your favorite writers and why are they favorites?

I love Margaret George and her historical biographies. I have a thing for history. Peter Mayle. His Provence books used to make me laugh out loud on the subway. Magic. Arthur C. Clarke was my first taste of sci-fi in grade school. He still awes me. He makes me think and I love a story that makes me think. Hermann Hesse. He makes me think, too. Bradbury, Vonnegut [who I met once – he bought cigarettes in the building where I worked] and Frank Herbert for their incredible imaginations and boldness. Jane Austen. Her stories are timeless. Thomas Hardy. He is so poetic and his words drip with so much emotion and nuance–the settings always matched the character’s mood. I’m not sure people get nuance much any more. Too many more to mention.


Where and/or how do you get your ideas for your writing?

I read Scientific American and I’m always on NASA. I read physics books. I work as a star guide at an observatory. The high desert and Oregon inspire a lot of stories. Things I see. Things that happen to me. Conversations with people. If something strikes me, I jot it down in an idea journal I keep. Eventually ideas from different places seem to go together. Sometimes the first line just comes to me, usually in the shower or when I’m about to fall asleep or making dinner. My father tells me his dreams. Those go in my idea journal, too.

Oh, my, your father’s dreams; fascinating

What’s your normal revision or editing routine?

I print out what I worked on that day. I usually leave it alone until after dinner. I read it and hand edit it. In the morning I input the changes and then pick up where I left off. I repeat until I feel happy. Then I’ll move on to the next chapter. Same with short stories.

Are you published?

I had a short story published locally, Beacons. I just had another short story accepted for publication, The Tumbas. I hope to add many more titles to this list soon.

Tell us about your blog: its purpose, how you go about deciding what to post, and what you want to do with it in the future?

I’m just my geeky self on the blog. I post about things which interest me and inspire me. Things I love. Space, sci-fi, writing, art, history, research, weird events, news, etc… If you keep writing your blog, eventually you’ll find things you enjoy writing about and develop a sort of routine. Fridays are usually about inspiration. I try to get something sciency or sci-fi-ish once a week. I talk about my writing journey.

A very interesting journey it is, too

Thanks for taking the time for our interview, Mary.
So, my dear readers, ask Mary a question in our comments :-)
M. Pax
The stars are the beginning … –“M. Pax Works”

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