I write daily. I must. Creators—painters, photographers, musicians, and writers too—are like athletes: to keep in the game, you must stay fit. In order to strengthen our plots and dig deep into our characters, authors have to stretch their minds.

We can't do this by sitting in front of a computer for five to eight hours (or more) a day.

For me, even a hour or two's worth of scenery allows me to rethink work in progress. And because I have the great blessing of being married to a writer, we do our best to take our breaks together.

When we do, we walk.

Martin and Josie Cascade Falls MV

We are very fortunate in that we live in a beautiful place: San Francisco, California. If you're not opposed to taking in a few hills when you come upon one (a great cardio workout) it truly is a very walkable town. They say San Francisco is seven miles long by seven miles wide. On a normal day, we'll walk four to five of those. On a day in which we really want to get out of our heads, we'll walk as many as ten miles.

During that time, we talk: sometimes about our three wonderful kids, but mostly about our plots.

If you're a writer and you have a critique partner, you know the drill: you've chosen someone who knows and appreciates your work, understands your characters, and with whom you feel comfortable enough to explain the plot hole you may have fallen into.

Maybe they'll come up with an insight that you somehow missed. Maybe not. But just hearing you explain the concern out loud, you'll work through it. You'll have some sort of “Eureka” moment. 

Even if you don't, you'll be in sunlight. You'll hear others' conversations as you pass them. Something in the sky will catch your eye. Or maybe it'll be something on the bay. Or a front door of a house you've never seen before. Or wisteria is in bloom, and you it stops you in your tracks.

By the way, if you write but have not yet found a critique partner—and for that matter, if you are just dipping a toe in the process—check out the writers' collective known as the 85K Writing Challenge. There, you'll be inspired and challenge to come up with a daily word count that may result in the book you know lives within you. It is the brainchild of Author Julie Valerie, whose debut novel, Holly Banks, Full of Angst, will be out Fall 2019.

If we have the time, sometime we cross the Golden Gate Bridge and take in one of the many hikes in the trails in and around the tiny gem-like towns of Marin County. One of our favorites is in Mill Valley, California. Many of the houses are built on the lanes that zig and zag through the foothills leading up to Mount Tamalpais—or, as the Miwoks (first people of the area) called it, “the sleeping lady.”  This time of year, especially after a rainy season, a few of the falls that in the area are at full strength. The most accessible, and perhaps the most beautiful waterfall in this town is called Cascade.

I want to share it with you.

If you click onto this video you'll enjoy a tiny moment of zen.

—Josie

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  JanisJoplin+Porsche

The trails around Marin County California's Mount Tam take you on wonderous journeys through vast groves of redwood trees, climbing higher and higher until panoramic views of San Francisco, its bay, and the turbulent Pacific Ocean beyond the Marin Headlands come into view.

One of these trails starts in Larkspur's Baltimore Canyon, on the estate where, in 1970, legendary rocker Janis Joplin lived before dying of a drug overdose at the age of twenty-seven, in some nondescript Los Angeles hotel room.

The wood nymphs cried that day.

Had she been at home instead, maybe they could have saved her.

A couple of years, ago, the subsequent owner of Joplin's creekside home sold off the half-acre portion that included an already-established trail head. Now hikers enjoy the trek up to Blithedale Ridge without tresspassing.

It is appreciated by all. Once again, Janis gives joy to the world.

Mike Lessin was just ten when he moved into the house after Joplin passed away. He remembers the walls at deep purple, and "trippy."

But of course.

He'd lived elsewhere on the street before his dad purchased the home, so he also remembers the parties that were held there, attended by  and Joplin's infamous psychdelically painted Porche.

Lessin remembers hearing about sightings of Doors' lead singer Jim Morrison, and rocker Kris Kristofferson, who wrote Joplin's posthumus hit "Me and Bobby McGee".

Kristofferson  has a home on the Hawaiian island of Maui, near Hana.

Some of Joplin's decor still exists in the house. Who would have the nerve to lose the redwood burl bar, or its custom woodwork? If you've visited Horizons Restaurant (formerly the Trident, back in that era) on the Sausalito waterfront, you'll recognize the style, since it was the same carpenter worked on both.

The later owners also held onto Joplin's pool table, and kept the sunken bath and shower, below a skylight that allows one to look up at the redwood trees doing a lazy wave overhead.

Good to see that her legacy lives on in yet another way.

*Photo: Janis and her psychedelic Porsche,
at one of my fave hangs: San Franciso's Palace of Fine Arts.

 

— Josie

   

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