Thursday, January 22, 2015

Road Work Ahead

Yep, I'm revising. This is revision number I don't have a clue, but it is the one just after a writing pal did a good ole crit on it and just before I send it off to the writer/teacher who has agreed to help birth this big old baby. I figured out that I needed to do about 30 pages a day and I'm way ahead of my schedule, doing more like fifty pages a day. This is good because it means I will be able to stop and really work some of the bits that I have to. Right now I'm more or less just responding to what my pal wrote on the page - 'this needs more' 'this is redundant' 'this doesn't fit the character' sorts of things. But there are some bigger fixes she suggested and I'll be able to go in and work these very shortly. I want to have this all gone to my mentor in a week - less really as this time next week I'll be in Halifax and not working on any writing I don't think!

Here's the thing - I'm truly liking this part - I truly love revision. I don't know why I forget that. It is so delightful to go into something that is all there but needs some bits shined up or uncovered. I'm thinking of Stephen King's analogy - that we are like archaeologists - the story is there and we need to unearth it carefully. Well, it's on the laboratory table and I've got the fine brushes out, sweeping the last bits of sand away and seeing what I've got.

And you all?

Here's a photo of the crazy snow we got. This is our fence post after I've attempted walking in snow shoes to it. Too deep and fluffy for snow shoes. Yes. But never again so pristine. Please note level of snow to fence post. ha.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Snow Day!

Today is a snow day in North West River, Labrador and that says a lot. Isn't every day a snow day this time of year? Why yes, it is. But this is a day they've actually closed schools, govt. offices and so forth. I'm still working as a casual and filling in here and there (though it is starting to get busy) so this doesn't directly affect me. On the other hand, the college where my fella teaches is closed so it will be a different day. I decided that it was surely time for me to get caught up on my blogs. Write a little post about what the heck is going on with me so those who do check in from time to time (hello Margot, Jude and Tartlette!) will know I'm in fine fettle - just running a different game these days.

This photo was just taken out our front window - note the where the snow is up to on the fence!
My writing is fine if sporadic. I do have a wonderful writer and teacher who is willing to help me birth Bright Angel - I did get a really good crit back from my long lost friend and have changes to make from that and then I'll send it on to my mentor. I have almost two stories done for a collection I'm making. Yes, I'm biting the bullet and writing short stories (thanks to Frith and aforementioned mentor). I have one done done and one mostly done. It will be a collection of linked stories for a book but I'll be able to start sending them out soon (want two at least before I do).

I do have some poems out but not too many. We'll see what happens with them. And that's as big of an ambition as I want right now. I want to not think about all the other dangling projects - my two mysteries, my two other novels that languish in their metaphorical drawer.

It's like that in other areas of my life. I've picked up the knitting needles again but I haven't touched the rug hooking project or the quilt that is on the hoop. I'm not writing a letter a day like I did for a full year. I'm writing one once in awhile maybe if I feel like it.

I am doing my Buddhist practice and it is taking between one and three hours a day and that has a lot to do with shifting priorities. This is the perfect time and place to do significant meditation and contemplation practice - no better really - and before I start a full-time (temporary) job I thought I'd get going. I've managed to keep that practice going steady for nearly two months now - only missed one day in the midst of a terrible cold. If I can maintain even half that pace when I do start full-time that would be so great.

I'm also far more involved with the community here. Last year I hung back, knowing I eventually wanted to do something in the Innu community but not wanting to barge in like some foolish knight errant. Now I'm in. I'm seeing folks across the river (where the Innu reservation is) and finding out more and more about life there. It is very engaging, scary and well, good. Sometimes when I listen to the radio and hear stuff about the lives of people in Third World countries I want to scream. And I know I'm not alone. In North America we have lots of pockets of Third World that need help. What sort of help is the difficult question, but I'm pretty sure it isn't more studies.

one of Bella's pack came by to ask if she could come out and play...
I'm pretty sure my immersion into a different and complex society will bear fruit in my writing life - not sure how but I know it will. It is already seeping into my poetry.

So, sorry I've been otherwise absorbed - I will make no promises. I don't expect people to read this if I'm not getting around reading others but I did want to say that I'm alive and kicking.

this is three of them going down a driveway - they are now in the deep snow of the backyard right out the window from where I write!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

small steps to regaining discipline

What is the smallest thing I can do to regain my writing discipline in the spirit of Kaizen?

1. Report here three times a week - let us say Tues, Thursday and Friday - on what I'm doing.

2. Write for a half hour a day. (at least - of course can be more but at least)

3. Send stories and manuscripts out to those who have promised crits.

  • I sent out Bright Angel today to an old pal who sent me her manuscript too.

That's it. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Insecure Writers Support Group Meeting is now called to order

Okay, okay ... I know it is a heck of a time of day to start this thing but I worked all night last night - 8pm to 8am - my very first foray back into the land of the salaried in a very long time. I came home, ate breakfast and went to bed. I slept til 1:30 and got up to have another breakfast (when one's inner clock is frigged eat breakfast is my rule) and then sort of lay about trying to recover. I couldn't sleep all day because I have to sleep tonight as I'm working tomorrow in the daytime (8 to 8).

I'm a writer.
I have no doubt of that.
I'm also a mortgage holder, a grand-baby gift buyer, a consumer or art supplies and pasta, and a lover of new books. In short - I consume so I must labour. It is that simple.

I am a writer.
I have no doubt of that.
I'm also a dog walker, sunrise admirer, friend to many, and ardent supplicant to the world of knowledge.
In short - I am busy burning through my life, hoping not to leave a trace of my existence except a faint perfume on the air - l'air du go go.

I write.
Let's not doubt that.
I sent out a short story to a writing pal yesterday - she's getting back to me. My novel is about to go through its last mighty edit and be flung into the universe, I have poems simmering, poems cooked and poems on the grocery shelf.
In short -

I doubt.
Who would I be without my doubts? A self-confident ning-nong is my guess. An irritating popinjay. An over-exuberant puppy. In short - me but worse.

So now is the time, dear fellow pen wielders to grab the plot by the short curlies and OUCH - don't do that! Now is the time, as it always is and always will be - to write. Get thee to thy desks (or tables in fabulous little cafes if you must) and pour forth.

I'll be the one here tip tap tapping.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

It has been so long...

Sometimes I dream I have forgotten a child in my care, or to go see a friend. It is a terrible feeling when I remember in my dream. I never realized that it has been so long since I posted on this site! I have no ready excuses but perhaps a bit of a psychological explanation. I went away to a writing workshop at the end of October - the 20th. It is called Piper's Frith and is held in Newfoundland. We had a week at a fabulous resortish (more rustic than that implies) with a mentor, lots of time to write, and readings by participants and mentors every night. It was beyond all my hopes and they were very high. My mentor was a generous, smart and funny man; my fellow writers were kind, supportive and sharp - a fabulous package! Most importantly, for me, is that I remembered my voice. The workshop I took was on voice - that elusive important element of writing. I had thought I was going to work on a memoir of my last year that I had started. It was built on the bones of my poetry, blog posts (Sojourner in Labrador) and face book bits. It had, I think, a nice quiet contemplative voice. I was building up to say how walking on the beach and communing with the wild had changed me - and it was all true. But. But it wasn't my voice. It was some voice that maybe more sale-able than mine, mellifluous, of contemporary interest (woman at the crest of her last quarter life moves to the northern wilds etc... ) but it wasn't my voice. My voice is sharper, funnier, laced with generous lashings of both bitterness and wry notes. I think I am thoughtful and kind but not gentle ...  So, within hours of being there, I decided that I needed to work on Bright Angel, my YA novel. My mentor agreed. We'd chatted in our first group meeting (5 students and him) and also that night at dinner and couldn't see how I was the same person who wrote the material sent in ahead of time.

I think a year of being on my own, with lots of online and telephone love but no direct contact with other writers, had left me feeling bad about my voice. Who wanted the screech and caw of a crow when I could pretend to be a lark? But crow I am and crow I will be. Now I am back in the saddle - I'm working renewed on Bright Angel, sending out my poems (which have ever been in my voice) and feeling good about it all. My reading at the Frith went swell - my mentor saying "You kicked the arse out of the room!" and so I'm raring to go.

I also got a job! I haven't started yet - I do my first shadow shift tomorrow night and then my second on Wednesday. I'm a 'casual' so will be called in to work when needed but I'm fiercely looking forward to it. My year of lolly-gagging about is over but my habits of writing, drawing, photography and meditation are well-established. I will be working with youth and their families and will be happy to get that fresh perspective again.

I will try and show up more often here, now that I've remembered who I am...

Here is a painting I recently did.