As I sit here writing, I can see the leaves—that have already changed color—falling in a cascade of hues, from brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows. It makes me think about the upcoming months.
Not everyone experiences the changes in the same way. I suppose that, in a way, I’m lucky. I get to see four distinct seasons, each with its own charms and annoyances. There is something about a cool fall day, with the sun providing a wave of warmth, once the wind dies down, that makes you feel that the year is winding to a close. Fall weather feels like fall weather. That is, even though the sun is over the same latitude as it is in spring, it seems just a little bit cooler. Probably because we have gotten used to the warm/hot summer temperatures. In the fall, temperatures that force us to don long sleeves are the same temperatures in the spring that make us stand in the snow with shorts and a t-shirt.
If you live in the higher latitudes, you get those wonderful long days of summer, when the sun stays up late and outdoor activities seem to just keep going. Ever go golfing at 9 PM? It’s pretty sweet. Going to bed is often a challenge since the lingering twilight can mess with your internal clock. Whether you are a night owl or a morning person, those twelve-plus hours of daylight are going to make you happy.
Spring always has that sense of renewal or rebirth, as it awakens from its hibernation. Humanity seems to creep slowly out of its shelters, pallid faces soaking up the sun’s rays. There is nothing like seeing the new leaves and flowers bringing color back to the world. My one annoyance about spring? Pick up your dog’s poop, people! I even see it in its little bags, tucked into snowbanks. Oh, and the slush.
I have written several poems on the environment, so here is a poem from my book, Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures:
The first snow covers up the grime
The dirt fights through a bit at a time
A battle of earth and sky
Who will win and who will die?
Spring washes the battleground
Rain washes the warrior found
Summer pushes up the green
Blanketing evidential sights unseen
Fall sheds the season’s growth
Leaving skeletons, nature’s ghosts
What about winter, you ask? Well, ask me to write about it in January…
One of my favorite radio shows is Under the Influence by Terry O'Reilly. It is on CBC radio, which is Canada’s version of NPR in the USA. As with most shows these days, you can get it on a podcast. What makes it my favorite? I always learn something interesting about the advertising business.
When trying to decide on how I was going to brand myself, I had to think about how I want to be remembered.
The title of my book, Lines by Leon, is a reference to the many lines that I have created. Lines of poetry, plotlines in a story, lines in a pencil sketch, and lines of music. The alliteration was a bonus. It was because of that that I choose it for my domain name. I was able to use it for my Twitter account, but not for my Instagram. Why not? It was taken – by a talented artist who had posted a few sketches 3 or 4 years ago, and nothing since. I messaged him (twice), asking if I could use it, since obviously he was not, but I received no response. I was primarily going to use it for my comic, The Miniscules, so I used @theminiscules, but decided later to keep the brand name consistent over all platforms. My only option was: lines_by_leon. Not the end of the world, but I dislike wasting underscores.
My logo, taken from my book cover, is from the sketch that I did called Hopes, Dreams, and Wishes:
It represents how elements in our lives may seem out of our control. Often, it may seem that they are at the mercy of the winds but chasing them sure is fun. The original was quite faint on the first scan:
So, I darkened it up with Photoshop:
I then moved some of the bubbles around to create a longer illustration for my bookmark:
I printed a bunch to give away in my books and for promotional use. I decided to get the original illustration printed in cardstock for framing. I have them for sale on my website.
It still makes me smile when I look at it.
So when you think of Leon Stevens, think of a dreamer still searching for the one bubble that can be caught (and as an amazing writer!).
Taking the pulse of the nation. Identifying trends. Collecting statistics. Surveys have been around for centuries (Really? Sure, why not…). The first survey that I took was a mail-in from inside of a chocolate bar wrapper. I think that I received a free chocobar for that. Whoo-hoo!
Wait a minute. That’s not right. The first one I took came across my desk in elementary school. As I unfolded the note, the question was revealed to me in flowing cursive (with a little heart above the i):
Do you like me? Yes / No
Survey says: Yes. Margin for error, 50%, nine times out of ten.
Next came the chocolate bar survey.
I am always (usually) polite to telemarketers. They are doing their job, and it’s not to annoy you. Some are very good, not allowing any spaces or pauses in their script for me to interject, “Sorry, I am not interested and don’t want to waste your time.” Once I get my 2 cents in, I am justified to up my aggravation level. All they have to say is, “Thank you for your time,” and I am happy. But if they insist on continuing, I will tell them that I’m hanging up – my courtesy to them.
I started adding surveys to some of my blog posts. Of course, I had to make them humorous. Then I decided to make a slightly longer survey for my newsletter subscribers to find out a bit of where they had heard of me. I use a few different promotional sites, so I wanted to know where my money is best spent. Of course, I had to make it humorous. Stop by if you nave a few minutes to waste.
Lines by Leon: The Survey
Without surveys, we wind up with products like New Coke. Without surveys, I may write a romance novel. Without surveys, we:
The ultimate survey is an election, where the result has immediate consequences. So, make sure you have decided on the product that gives you the least discomfort – the one that you can live with for four years.
I’ll leave you with one last survey:
Do you like me? Yes / No
I want to thank you for taking part in my writing journey. Writers write to share their ideas, visions, and emotions, and I hope that you find my weekly rambles entertaining. I write in a lot of different styles, which may or may not be the best way to keep a readership.
I think about it this way: My writing is like a box of...(I'll stop there to avoid copyright infringement). But it is. You know the one, that assorted box that you get at Christmas, the one with the candy map. You always go after your favorites, but sometimes you take a little nibble of the one with the chocolate squiggle. Maybe you discover that you like it, or perhaps it makes you glad you didn't buy a whole box of strawberry creams. Aren't caramels supposed to be soft?
What was the first thing that I wrote that wasn't part of a school assignment? Probably a song lyric, but I always scrapped it because I was never happy with the result. When I decided to pursue classical guitar studies, I began to compose, letting the music provide the emotion instead of words. I wrote many pieces, some I wrote down, still others I forgot. I recorded some, but it never came out polished. I make too many mistakes, I can never play as close to perfection as I want, I get nervous performing in front of people or a microphone, so it takes a lot of takes to get something that I am OK with. The first piece that I wrote is called Riviera Galliard, which is an homage to the Renaissance composer, John Dowland. I hope that I can record it and share it with you. There is my incentive.
I wrote a few others in the same style before turning to acoustic guitar after hearing the Canadian guitarist Don Ross. Unfortunately, most of those pieces have been lost. Either I can’t find the scores that I wrote down, or my memory decided that I didn’t need to know those anymore. I can still dig up little snippets, but it is like reading a corner ripped out of a book.
Fast forward to my poetic journey. I ventured back into lyric writing to make sense of a difficult situation. The poems followed as some of the unused ideas became short poetic pieces. Most of my poetry is short and not too complicated. As one reader put it: “Lines by Leon is an eclectic mix of poetry and thoughtful, personal reflection. The ideas are straightforward with an understandable simplicity. “ I wanted people to reflect on the poems and seek connections without having to try to interpret deep philosophical meanings or search for underlying cryptic messages.
During my poetic journey, I started to sketch images that came to me. Some of these images evoked ideas that became my short, short stories, one or two paragraphs that tell part of a story and leaves the rest to your imagination. Some of my stories became longer, but still without conclusion, similar to waking from a dream and lying in bed thinking--what the…?
Enter science fiction: My forever favorite. If you have read my blog post, Returning to Roots (and I hope that you have), you will know that my father introduced me to this genre. We would watch science fiction T.V. shows, and he would read me stories. It was only natural that I would turn to this topic as my writing developed. I was able to cross my styles when I wrote a series of post-apocalyptic poems that are featured in my next book, The Knot at the End of the Rope.
I also want to keep a sense of humor in my writing. Some of my poems and stories will hopefully make you chuckle or smile. My blogs and newsletters give me a chance to poke fun at things, be cynical at current events, and showcase my odd sense of humor.
Some writers stick to the same formula, and their readers stick with them, which is perfectly understandable. A successful author wrote that to be successful, you have to write what your audience wants. I do want to entertain readers, but I’m not trying to make everybody happy. I’m trying to make myself happy, by hopefully providing material that can be enjoyed by others.
If you are here for my poetry, fear not, I continue to write and still have pages to revise. It took me three years to get to my first book, and I promise that it won’t take another three for the next. For my sci-fi fans, I am proud to share my short stories, which could not have happened if it wasn’t for my father. Let’s all gather to share to love of the written word—no matter the style.