Author Silas House blogs about writing, the writing life, books, movies, nature, religion, politics, and other things that generally concern conscious people. House is the author of the bestselling books Clay's Quilt, A Parchment of Leaves, The Coal Tattoo, Something's Rising, Eli the Good, and Same Sun Here. HIs novel Southernmost will be published in June 2018. Find out more about him and his writing at www.silas-house.com
Discover Something New Everyday: The Challenge
This is a story I've told many times before:
Writer James Still, the author of classics like River of Earth and The Wolfpen Poems, was in his early 90s when I, a boy in my mid-twenties who didn't know anything about anything, asked him a naive and earnest question: "How can I become a better writer?" Mr. Still thought about it for a long time, then looked just past me with his haunting eyes. "Discover something new everyday," he said.
I've made a conscious effort to try and do that ever since, and it's an exercise that has changed my life.
So, with that in mind, I'm going to try my best to post a new discovering here everyday for the next month. If I'm able to do it, I might try for another month, and another. I'm not always near a computer so if that's the case then I might miss a day or two. I'm not going to devote myself to it so much that it kills my own writing day, and I'm not going to let it take over my life a la Julie and Julia. But I am going to try my best to post a new discovery every day, and I hope that you will join me in doing the same. Even if you can't post a comment to my blog saying what you've discovered then you can do it for yourself. In a notebook, a journal, a wipe-off board, in your head.
The main thing is to discover, so that's what we're setting out to do.
There are two places in
Southeastern Kentucky I think of as my true homes:the small community of Lily, in the foothills of Laurel
County, and, fifty miles east, Rockhouse Creek, in the lush mountains of Leslie
County.I will focus on Rockhouse
here, mainly because it is the dark, lovely topography of my collective memory,
but also because it is the epitome of Central Appalachia, the kind of place
that journalists-who-don’t-know-what-they’re-talking-about always zoom in on
with their statistics and opinions. In fact, Rockhouse is located just a few
miles from the communities that were recently the focus of a piece called
“What’s The Matter With Eastern Kentucky?” by Annie Lowrey in The New York Times that referred to Appalachia and the Deep South
as “the smudge of the country.” Well,
I am that smudge.My people are
that smudge.My homeland is that
smudge. And we are much, much more than that.In fact, we would fight for that smudge.Many of us have.Many of us have lain down to be
The March I was a year old, it rained for two weeks in the South. My mother tells me that she could never get my diapers dry because she couldn't hang them out on the clothesline (we didn't have a dryer, of course) and even when she hung them all over the house, our tiny little trailer was too damp for them to dry.
"Everything we had in the world was in that little trailer," my mother told me last night. At the time of the flood my father had been back from Vietnam about five years and worked as a mechanic in a local gas station. My mother was a part-time assembler at the refrigerator factory in the next town over. They worked all the time. I have very few memories of them being still. Our trailer sat snugly between the rise of the L&N railroad track and the normally placid waters of the Little Laurel River, which was now becoming swollen and violent. In other words, there was no chance we'd make it through fourteen days of continuous rain. They watch…
When I think of summer songs, I think of songs that would be good for a day out on the lake, or a long bike ride, or while enjoying my own back yard. Songs of summer tend to be more upbeat, lighter fare. So the larger culture's "Songs of Summer" tend to be more on the mindless, pop side...not that there's anything wrong with that. But I like something I can tap my foot to that also has a lot going on between the lines of the song and in the production as well. I couldn't resist throwing in a couple of ballads that I'm loving right now. I wanted to pick songs that have only come out recently, too. So below are the videos of my picks for this year's Songs of Summer, in no particular order. Or you can just go straight to my Spotify and listen to them there.