Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Just Because...

When I need a good laugh, or want to commiserate, or just want to read something interesting, these are the favourites that I turn to. Thought I would just pass this along in case you wanted to check them out and besides, everyone needs a little free publicity sometimes.

The Bloggess : If you want a good laugh, check her out. But beware, if you are easily offended by foul language, or sarcasm, or just don't know how to laugh, stay away.

So F*cking Fabulous I Piss Glitter : If anything can go wrong it will. But the good times are in there too.

Listen to the Voices : More for writers than the average blog reader but a great link for up and coming writers of all stages of mystery writing.

Such is Life : Dan is just a funny guy. And Charlie the Chicken on Saturdays, says it how it is.

To Make A Choice : Selfless acts should not go unnoticed.

Accidental Poet : Just too funny and sweet at the same time to pass up the read.

Elsewhere : Marcello is a great travel writer and has some great stories to tell.

There are so many more that I love so please forgive me if you weren't on this list. This also goes to show that you don't need to get a blog award to send out the good vibes.

Now that I've sent out the love...I'm gonna go write.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Greatest Gift You Can Give


Two posts in one day. I don't know if you can keep up with this. But, hey, I felt it was important to share some information but I need to provide a little backstory first and explain why this has caught my attention.

Many of you know that I'm working on a novel. Have been for the past year. It's been through some hiccups, but I've managed to overcome the obstacles and am now on a pretty straightforward path to completion. It will still take awhile, but at least it's on track. The theme that seems to have presented itself, made its way up off the page if you will, is that of blood. Blood in terms of life, in terms of ancestry. All elements of blood. Oh and sex. There's gotta be some sex right?

Without giving away too much, one of the characters is in end-stage renal failure. In normal lingo, kidney failure. So of course I have had to research kidney disease, how it happens, treatments, etc. After much research, I was saddened to discover just how many people are suffering from kidney disease and besides liver transplants, kidney transplants are the only transplants that can be given by a live donor.

Most live donations have been done by family members. But there are many cases where a family member may not be an appropriate match and there are not enough non-familial live donors out there. Don't worry, I am not asking you all to give up a kidney because that is a serious decision to be made and it can't be taken lightly. No that's not the point here.

The point is, a friend of mine. Someone that I lost touch with for awhile though I still followed her on Facebook, has actually made the decision to be a live kidney donor. Of course, it's still dependant on whether or not she passes all the tests. But to even consider such a thing, whether or not she is a suitable candidate, is amazing. She hates the word "selfless" but really it is. Nothing will ever top giving the gift of life to someone that you don't know.

So I am pointing you in her direction. Follow Lauren's story from the decision, through the testing and maybe through to the donation. To Make A Choice

You can never have too much support when making a difficult decision. Let's show her just how much we do care about what she's doing.

I feel like I’m on a merry-go-round. An invisible force is pushing and pushing. It’s going so fast and I’m dizzy enough to throw up.

Mini Me is driving me nuts. Those terrible twos really are terrible and she’s right in the middle of them with no sign of slowing down.

Yesterday went a little something like this…

ME: “Please don’t touch Christmas tree.”

HER: Continues to touch the Christmas tree.

ME: “Do you want a time out?”

HER: Shakes her head and moves away from the tree, only to do to the Christmas lights that hang and the wall and plug them in. Unplug them. Plug them in. Unplug them.

ME: “If you touch the lights again you’re going for a time out.”

HER: Smiles and touches the lights again.

ME: Put her in her time out spot. “Two minutes.”

HER: Cries, kicks, screams. But sits there.

ME: Sit and enjoy the two minutes of semi-quiet. Get her from her spot, explain why she’s there. She makes sounds like she’s talking back. We hug and kiss and off we go.

HER: Dumps out her toy box, turns it bottom side up so she can reach items on the top of her dresser.

ME: “Get down from there before you fall.”

HER: Sits on box with open container of bum cream in her lap. Smears it on her face, legs, arms.

ME: Go back to what I was doing. I can’t remember what I was doing.

HER: Pushes toy box into kitchen. Starts pulling stuff off the counter.

ME: “I asked you not to climb on that.”

HER: Smiles, laughs, grabs toy box and begins to run away with it.

ME: What was I doing?

HER: Rustle, rustle, scratch, scratch. Plunk.

ME: “Get out of the garbage can.”

HER: Hides under microwave shelf.

ME: Go back to whatever I was doing. I think it was laundry.

HER: Runs into her bedroom. Tries to climb the bookshelf which thankfully is strapped to the wall. She gets down, and starts to bring all her toys into the living room. Dances around, twirls, laughs, runs and kicks the ball. Pulls on stockings hung from the fireplace.

ME: Wants to laugh, wants to cry. I’m exhausted and I’ve only been up for an hour.

And the day continues mostly like this. More time outs, more blowing on my hot coffee and touching the cup when asked not to. Tipping the cup over so I have to wash the carpet. Climbing onto the kitchen table, pulling stuff out of the garbage can, opening the dishwasher, grabbing dishes and running and hiding with them. Opening the laptop, turning it off, turning it on, pulling shoes out of the closet. Refusing to eat what’s offered, taking off her clothes and diaper. Taking all the clothes out of her dresser, laughing and running away when I try to encourage her to help me clean it up.

Pulls it all out again.





Time outs.


Clean up toys.

Dumps toys out again.


Touching. Touching. Touching.

Won’t nap.


Screams. Kicks. Bites. Slaps. (This is her, not me. Just to clarify.)

And around and around we go.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

White Christmas…Embrace It!

Well it seems that this year we will have a white Christmas whether we want it or not. As the old snow was getting packed down and dirty, someone up above decided it was time for a fresh layer. It’s not really heavy but it is steady…and it’s wet.

I’ve heard there are benefits to snow. I just can’t quite think of them right now. I remember when I was a kid and the snow would fall, it was just a burst of giddiness and excitement. (Is that the same thing? Giddiness and excitement?) If it was a school day, it could mean that I didn’t have to go, like the time when I was six and it snowed nearly three feet overnight. In retrospect it may not have actually been three feet but it was a lot for a small little girl. Came up to my chest. Funny how are perspectives change over time. A house that we lived in that seemed so big at the time, practically a mansion, was really nothing more than a shack.

Snow angels, snowmen, snowball fights. And the sports associated with snow…skating, skiing, snow shoeing, tobogganing and snowmobiling. All great and fun, and you need snow.

But the roads…the slippery miserable roads…the accidents that come in the hundreds as soon as the snow hits. How is that good for anyone? You find yourself in the bitter cold, no vehicle or broke now that you have to pay for repairs…or worse…the loss of someone you love so close to the holidays. Wow…I feel a lot of negativity coming on. Better get off this train before it derails.

The goodness. It has nothing to do with snow. Christmas…we don’t need snow to have Christmas. It comes whether the white stuff falls or not. But…there is something really special about watching the snow fall on Christmas Eve and Day and you’re snuggled up in front of the fire with the people you love.

As much as I dislike the snow for all the reasons associated with driving in it…and the bitter cold that seems to come along with it…I find myself getting a little depressed when it looks like we won’t have a white Christmas. But I don’t have to fear this year….it’s already snowed…and it’s snowing more. It’s unlikely it will disappear before the big day.

Thank goodness….how can Santa land his sleigh if there is no snow?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Making the Best of a Chilly Situation

I am not a penguin. I was not made for these temperatures. It’s cold and I hate it. Give me a nice sunny Hawaiian beach any day. Just not this. Not the wind chills of -40, not the daytime high temperatures of -30. Just give me a nice warm cave so I can sleep until spring.

I’ve heard people say, just imagine a beach somewhere, the soft sand scratching your back or oozing through your toes. The sun beating down, the waves lapping against the shoreline, children laughing as the water splashes against their legs. Sand castles, or sand sculptures decorating the beach.

Can you see it? The warmth of summer combining with the warmth of family to become one gentle heat wave. It washes over your body, like a delicate veil, and you are left feeling…feeling like a hand grazed over you, like you are locked in a forever embrace with the love of your life.

The children play at the water’s edge. They scream and laugh, splash water at each other. One mother shouts, “don’t get so close to the water.” The child ignores her and plunges in deeper, sits in the moist sand just inches below the surface and lets the water wash over his legs, tickle his torso.

The sky is a brilliant blue, blue like denim, and there is not a tear in the thick threads. Just nothing but blue for as far as you can see. Denim blue meets navy blue at the horizon and it’s like you can see forever. To the edge of the earth.

The only breeze comes off the water, barely even disturbs the trees nearby. But you can feel it. Just when you think it might get too hot, there is a cool breath on your face, over the rest of your body and it’s just enough. Just enough to satisfy you, to convince you to stay just a few more minutes.

Watch the boats on the water. They are little dots, bouncing up and down, like when you roll over on a water bed. You can only imagine the soft shush, shush as it bobs up and down, water that laps up the side of the hull. The water cradles the boat like a newborn baby. Hugs it close, with the steady rhythmic beat of the tide.

But then you peer down the beach. A rock bluff appears to emerge from the water and upon on the pointed crags of rock that jut out from its sides, snow. And a thin glistening sheen of ice. On top of the bluff, a snowman appears to be smiling. Dark eyes peer down at the water, an icicle hangs from his carrot nose and a scarf is wrapped around his wide neck, flapping violently in the cold winter wind. His outstretched stick thin arms are raised as if in prayer, red socks hang from the end of the branches and wave like wind socks. Each tube filled with winter air, and you just want to turn away from the cold. With the wind at your back.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Aren’t the Birds Supposed to Fly South for the Winter?

Much to my surprise, even in Canadian climates such as ours, there are birds that don’t make the flight to warmer climates. Instead the endure the painful temperatures that even most of us can’t stand.

Today it’s a balmy –15 and is supposed to be dropping further. I don’t know the wind chill but it has to be somewhere in the –20’s. There is continuous blowing snow that has smoothed out the drifts in our yard.

Only moments ago I stepped outside for a minute and noticed a blue jay up in the tree. He was perched neatly on a branch tucked as close the trunk as possible. While I stood there wondering why he was still here, he plumped up his feathers and made himself into this little white ball, with only a bit of his blue and black cap sticking out. He reminded me of Julianne during her first winter.

We had this cute white snowsuit that we received as a gift. On one of the less chilly days I had taken her outside to experience snow for the first time. As she sat in the snow, (she was barely crawling at that point), she looked like a little marshmallow in the snow, only her pudgy little cheeks exposed. It was one of the cutest images I had ever caught of her and in that moment, she just looked warm. Much like this little bird.

I am not a bird person. It’s rare for me to find anything cute or attractive about a bird unless he is some magnificent rainbow of colours. Face it. Canadian birds are just not that interesting. (Sorry to all the bird lovers out there.) But this bird was beautiful. Like so many others, he made the best of a miserable situation. There was no place for him to find real shelter, so he did what he was instinctively designed to do. My instincts on this kind of day are to stay in doors. Under the covers of a nice warm bed or, if little child does not allow me to do just that, huddled beside the fireplace.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Want To Be A Bear...

Sub-arctic temperatures have now graced the Calgary region. Not that we should be all that surprised because after all, it is Calgary, but still, after the semblance of summer we received late in the season, this is not a welcome change. We have been spoiled and now like spoiled children we want to fight and kick away this dreadful weather.

I hate the cold.

I would really fare better if I had been a bear. These last few warm months I would have spent gathering and eating all the food I possibly could, then as soon as the good old weather channel announced the accumulative snow coming our way along with cold, cold, cold, I would have got up, stretched and said, "That's my cue..." And off I would go to my warm, fuzzy den not to be seen again until Balzac Billy said it was okay.

But I am not a bear. Nor will I ever be one. Unless I believed in reincarnation but then, that would open up a whole other can of worms.

Speaking of reincarnation. Does anyone REALLY know what happens to us after we die? I've been asking myself this question more and more since the onset of my new found gray hairs that are becoming too numerous to do a damn thing about. Colouring my hair would only hide the inevitable. Pulling them out would probably leave more bald patches than any woman should ever have to live with and face it, just too much darned work. So I have decided to leave them for now. But it does bring up questions of mortality.

I know, I know. I'm still young. Should have at least 40 good years left in me, if all goes well. But I can't get those thoughts of decrepitude out of my mind. Recently, I have watched my grandmother, now 85 years old, having trouble standing without assistance. And when she walks, oh good lord, a snail could outrun her. Is that what I have to look forward to? Because if it is, I don't want it. But my grandmother is okay with the idea of moving on. Says that my grandfather is waiting patiently for her, will be ready for her when she finally decides it's time to let go.

So what happens when the final breath finally leaves your body, all the organs that have kept you going for all these years, finally runs out of energy and decides it's time for them too, to rest.

Atheists believe nothing. That when you die you go into the earth and decompose with the worms. Other religions believe in the concept of heaven and hell, reincarnation, moon phases, earthly elements and so on. All these different beliefs designed to bring peace, faith, love, and happiness. It doesn't matter what you believe. Whatever faith helps get you through the day is great in my opinion. Whatever helps you to prepare for the next phase, thumbs up.

And now I don't know how this post has gotten away from me. From cold and snow to bears and the contemplation of aging and eventual death. It's one of those things that you just know is going to happen and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. I like to try and think of it as going to sleep and just not being aware of anything around you.

I don't think it's so much the thought of death, it's the thought of dying young. The thought of missing my children grow up and having children of their own. The thought of having to deal with the loss of my own husband. Because I am sure he will go before I will. And I saw the pain that my grandmother suffered when my grandfather passed away.

You know what? This is just too much and too deep for this miserably cold and snowy day. I think I will go grab another cup of coffee and watch Strawberry Shortcake with my daughter.

Friday, November 12, 2010

One of Many Milestones...

She began sleeping through the night at just over a month old. Soon thereafter she was holding her head up and learning to roll over. The combat crawl was her first choice of crawling then eventually crawled like normal babies. Then she stood holding on to the table for support until finally she took her first steps. This was all within the first year of life.

The second year brought such milestones as first words and climbing on anything and everything. Tantrums became a regular part of the day, stubborness, laughing, yelling, putting on her own clothes and of course taking them off.

This past week, she made the transition from crib to bed. This new found freedom has created a need for us to adjust our own schedules. No longer can my hubby go to bed early. He needs to make sure she is asleep before he can go there and I am forced to get up much earlier than I have become accustomed to over the past couple of years but we have made the adjustment because there is no other choice, although somewhat begrudgingly.

And today...

We put the crib away.

I thought I would be more emotional about the change. That it would cause me to sit back and reflect and be sad. And I have reflected. I guess that's what I'm doing now, in fact. But I was not emotional. I am not sad. I am proud. Proud of all the steps she has successfully taken over the past two years and excited (and somewhat terrified) at the thought of what is yet to come.

It doesn't have to be difficult. I've learned to take each day as they come and deal with all the little struggles that come my way.

Also, recently we have learned the value of the "timeout" and that they actually work. If only my parents had known about that method of discipline. I would have avoided many spankings with the leather belt, calloused hand or wooden spoon.

Media says we've become a more violent society but I think in many ways we have actually become a calmer society.

At least as far as parenting goes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In Remembrance...

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada and for the first time I did not take in any ceremony. Not in person, not televised. Not that I don't remember, because I do. I think about it all the time. Especially in the last year.
I don't know anyone that died in any war. No one in my family ever saw the frontlines. But I have married into a family that saw more of a war than anyone should. Was stuck right in the middle of a conflict, made to suffer like no one ever should. All the Dutch during the Second World War experienced more than they ever should have.

On our last trip to Holland I made it a point to visit a Canadian War Cemetary, and a deportation camp, to get a feel for the land and what it must have been like.

I learned of some experiences of my husband's grandfather during that time that gave me a better understanding of what it must have been like. And since I have been home I have been working diligently to complete a personal essay on just that experience for me. I want to be able to share it with my readers out there in bloggie land, but I can't do that for now due to the debate over it being considered previously published even if it's only posted online. So I must wait because there is another destination in mind for that particular piece.

So I have not forgotten. I have been busy remembering in my own way for the last few months. With each word I type, with all the research I do on that particular piece of writing, I have been faced with the truth ongoing. In many ways I think I will treat today as a day of rest. Although I know perfectly well, I will not forget about it. I will probably even work on that piece of writing today. But for now, I hope everyone else remembers. No matter where you live. No matter how close the truth is to you. Always remember that there have been and probably always will be soldiers that fight unselfishly for something much bigger than any of us.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Don’t Read? Don’t Write

Would you walk into an operating room without having taken any formal training? Or stand in a courtroom defending an innocent man, if you didn’t have any knowledge of law or proper courtroom etiquette? Just as in anything you want to do, you need training. You need to learn what works and what doesn’t work before you can step outside the box and stretch the rules.

A crucial component to becoming a successful writer is to read everything you can get your hands on. Read the types of stories you want to write. Examine the story and figure out what it is you like about it, what makes it work. Are the characters compelling? Does the plot sing? Is the end satisfying or leave you hanging? But there are people that believe they do not need to read, that the words that spill from their fingers or the end of their pen is perfect and publishable the way it is.

Several years ago I had a debate with a co-worker about the need to read in order to become a successful writer. He believed that a writer did not need to read to be able to write while I strongly believe a writer needs to possess a passion for the written word in order to have faith in his craft, a passion that usually stems from childhood. How can you claim to be a good writer if you don’t like to read or don’t have the time to read? If you never sat down and read a book in your life except for the prescribed reading list in that high school English class, how could you even develop a desire to write?

Granted, in theory, you don’t necessarily need to read to have that desire to write but what’s the point? Why would you spend long hours over a keyboard if you don’t appreciate the end result? Why do the research for an article on weapons of mass destruction if you wouldn’t read an article on the topic? Why become a lawyer if you hate lawyers and everything they stand for? Why become a doctor if you can’t stand the sight of blood or you’re germaphobic?

In order to become published and have your readers take you seriously, you need to establish your credibility as a writer. Take classes to perfect the craft. Learn new techniques on how to get your work from the hidden confines of your computer or notebook to a broader audience. There are no real rules on how to attract a publisher but when you’re attempting to break into a market as a new writer, you want to avoid common mistakes. Want to make your writing stand out from the rest. You can’t do this unless you already understand the basics of story arc, character and plot development, dialogue, tenses and especially point of view.

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. Since my father read to me as a child and I developed that love of words, I wanted to be able to string those words together and create stories of my own to entertain and instill emotion. And so I wrote. But I didn’t care if it was actually any good because no one was going to see it anyway.

About eight years ago I was on a roll. I wrote a 10,000 word short story and thought it was brilliant. The words that flowed from my fingers just couldn’t have come out any more perfect. I edited, I packaged it up and sent it off to a contest. I didn’t win. Meanwhile, I decided to bide my time and take some classes for the fun of it. If I learned something along the way, then great, if not, at least I had something to do.

A few years ago I went back to that story and was completely appalled at what I read. I was embarrassed to think that someone had actually read that piece of drivel. Every other paragraph I switched point of view. Tenses were all over the place and I really knew nothing about my characters. The plot was weak and the ending bordered on plain bizarre. Knowing what I know now, the only consolation is that the judges probably didn’t read past the first page so they didn’t see how bad it really was.

At some point a writer needs to trust in the knowledge of those that have been successful, those that know the business. Whether you write short stories, poems, creative non-fiction or have a desire to write a novel, read everything you can get your hands on to learn what works, take classes, join a critique group and then submit, submit and submit some more. You’re certain to be demoralized by rejection but keep going. To get published is as much about luck as it is about talent. Stick to what works until you’re comfortable with overstepping the boundaries.

Learn how to self edit. Use your spell check. Rewrite. Don’t be afraid of losing something in a rewrite. The words that spill onto the page the first time are not the words that the reader will see. The theme, the concept and the characters will be the same in most cases, but the words will become better. The story will become clearer. Stronger. More emotional. Re-read. Edit until that piece is the best that it can possibly be.

Few book publishers will take a second look at your work if you have not already established your credibility as a writer. (You wouldn’t hire a lawyer that didn’t have a good track record or go to a doctor with numerous malpractice suits against him.) And if you are fortunate enough to have written something that resonates with the editors, don’t be surprised when they ask you to rewrite some scenes, maybe even whole chapters. They may find a scene that doesn’t seem to serve a purpose and ask you to delete it.

I’ve heard writers express concerns about their stories not being their stories anymore if they have to rewrite it to please an editor. But you have to believe that the editor knows what they are talking about. And maybe you should re-evaluate why you write. Is it in the hopes of fame and fortune, or for the delight of seeing your name on the front of a book? If it’s the latter, self-publish. If the former, compromise, let go of your ego and do what the editor has asked of you. Believe that they have your best interests in mind, even if they don’t.

And through it all, read. Read everything. And if you don’t read, then don’t write.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Change is Good

We just spent a night in Invermere. My grandma had taken ill and was in the hospital so we made the 3 1/2 hour drive from Calgary to spend some time with her. We got a room with two queen beds and although we took the playpen for Julianne we decided to try and let her sleep in the big bed. And surprisingly enough, she actually fell asleep in it. With a little struggle mind you, but the struggle was less than when we tried to put her in the playpen. She was doing great until around 1am when she rolled out of bed onto the floor.

When we returned home we decided it was time to try and transition her from her crib to the big bed we have had set up for months. Though we gave her the choice of the crib or the big bed and she chose the big bed, the first night she got up again and again. She cried. She resisted. But we knew she could do it so we stayed strong. She ended up falling asleep on my lap and I placed her in the big bed and left her. And she slept all night.

Yesterday, I put her down for a nap in the big bed. She got up a few times but eventually did fall asleep.

Last night, we put her to bed in the big bed. No fuss. She only got up once. Slept straight through until 8 this morning.  I have to say it was much nicer having her in the crib where she couldn’t get out until I was ready to get her out. But I know we have to give her that freedom even if it means I don’t get to sleep like I’m used to.

Before I went to bed last night I checked on her. Stood over her bed watching her sleep and couldn’t believe what I saw. She is no longer a baby. She is growing and changing everyday and I’m really proud of the progress, but at the same time, the realization hit me that soon enough she is not going to need me anymore. First it’s sleeping independently, then  it’s potty training, then it’s pre-school, then kindergarten…

My child is so strong-willed.

But very open to change.

Both good traits that I am certain she got from me.

But a person has to be ready for the change in order to fully embrace the possibilities associated with it. And though she is adapting well, (as she should), I’m not so sure I’m ready for this change.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Are You A Writer?

For years I have had trouble referring to myself as a writer simply because without having something of significance published, I felt like a phoney. Recently however, that began to change. Talk to many people and some believe you're a writer if you write. If you're trying to get published, even if you haven't had anything accepted already, you're a writer because the difficult part really is getting something accepted by a legitimate publication but as long as you're trying, you're a writer.

But with all the convincing that took, I am finding myself a little annoyed with groups that seem to see it differently. Recently, an Alberta Writers Directory has been created. It lists all published writers living in Alberta. The only requirement to be considered a writer, is that you have something of book length published. Novel, collection of short stories, creative non-fiction, poetry collections. But it does not include anyone that has been published in literary journals, magazines or otherwise. So what? They aren't considered a writer. What if you've had numerous short stories published, all you like to do is write short stories, but have no desire to put toghether a collection of stories? You're not a writer?  I agree that you shouldn't be included if you've only had one or two items published but is it really fair to exclude those that don't have book length publications?

And then, I got an invitation to a grand opening event for a new local book store. They are having readings by various local authors throughout the evening. But...the only way to be included in this event is to be reading from, yet again, a book length publication.

Granted, there are events that focus on those writers that don't necessarily have book length manuscripts, that may not have been published as of yet but are trying. But still. It feels a little discouraging. Not saying that those that have worked hard on long manuscripts and been successful shouldn't have some formal recognition. Because of course they deserve it. It's a long process. Often debilitating, driving you to drink on more than one occasion. But when you're struggling to believe in yourself, to believe that you actually deserve the title or distinction but you haven't actually completed it, there are groups telling you that you in fact don't deserve it.

Probably just me taking too much to heart. And I do feel that I am writer even if I don't have as many credits as some of these other writers.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


How much is too much? How much is too little? Recently I've been working on a non-fiction piece, don't worry I'm still working on the novel too, and I've come to realize there is just not enough of "me" in the piece. It's a personal essay based on my last visit to Holland and I finally worked up a first draft, and then a second, even on to a third. But when I looked back and re-read it something was missing. It didn't have the raw emotion that I thought it needed. So I finally took it to a writer friend that I respect and had her take a look at it.

As it turns out, all the things that I thought it was missing, all things that I thought probably weren't necessary, were reinforced. I don't know why I do that. It's like I know the answer but I need someone to confirm my reservations before I move forward. But there comes the hard part.

How much of yourself do you really want to put into a particular piece of writing? With non-fiction its hard not to because the narrator is usually the writer. But I have the same problems when writing fiction. It falls flat because there isn't enough of me or not enough of a dominant narrator. A narrator that has quirks like everyone does, a narrator that has opinions about certain things even if it's something that's open to debate.
Then I think, maybe I don't know enough about the narrator. Which is fair in fiction. But when you're writing non-fiction, how do you not know enough of the narrator? Aren't you the only person that knows yourself better than anyone else?

It comes down to fear. How much of myself do I want to put out there? How much am I willing to put out there? For it to be good, I guess the answer is simple. Just enough to get your point across. Which brings me back to how much is too much and how much is too little. How do you know when you have just the right amount? Is there suppose to be some fancy trigger or alarm that goes off, like the timer on an oven, letting you know when it's done? Even then sometimes the oven is not right. All ovens are different. Just as all people are different.

I fear I am going in circles. Which leads me to believe, there is no definitive answer. You have to trust your instincts. Something I am pretty bad at doing. I would much rather follow a recipe, have it all spelled out for me. Exact cooking time, exact ingredients. But if the cooking time is wrong...jeez. What if you feel like you've overcooked it, even though to look at it, it still looks not quite finished? So you give it a little more time, and it's still doesn't look done but how could the recipe have been wrong? So you take it out...someone else tries it and says, it could have cooked just a little longer.

Viscious circle. But no one ever said writing was simple. And there is no recipe for success.

Friday, October 15, 2010


When I do things I usually do them to excess. Pick up a book and begin to read and before you know it, I've read 4 books in a week. Start to write with the plan to only write a page and I get sucked in to the world that I'm creating, not coming up for air until my fingers are sore or I am just too tired to think or do anymore, then I drag my creatively exhausted butt to bed and oh I sleep. Too well that to get up in the morning at a reasonable time is almost impossible but am forced to because there's a crying toddler in the other room that is stripped down to nothing, diaper on the floor, probably peed in the bed by that time and is tired of sitting in the puddle. I can get carried away in a conversation, emails or texts, Twitter and Facebook, working too hard and too long...but the problem lies in the initial getting going.


And it's not the energy required, at least not physical energy, because really, none of the things mentioned above require much physical exertion except to maybe reach over and grab the computer, or walk to the bedroom to grab that book I've been meaning to read for months.

I'm overwhelmed and it seems that when my brain is finally telling me enough is enough. It just wants to shut down and I have lost the energy to fight it. Too many deadlines approaching, too many people needing my immediate attention that I just can't do it. I've done tiny things, the things that take little thought and little time, because I just want to get it out of the way and get these people to leave me along for awhile. But there are big things coming up and now that I have shut down for a bit too long, I am having a hard time getting myself going again.

I've tried free fall writing to activate the right brain. I've tried looking at the deadlines I have coming up and deciding which I have to work on first and just how long I need to get them done. I've created spreadsheets and documents outlining how I will accomplish all of these tasks, to excess. I have found every other thing possible to do besides write. At least write anything that resembles a finished product.

So now what?

How do you get motivated?

Any tips or tricks?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Novels, Deadlines and other %&*#

I've heard about it, but never given it much thought. Probably more that I didn't realize you are actually suppose to register for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It works for me as NaNoWriMo is in November and it just so happens that my self-imposed deadline for finishing the first draft of my novel is the end of November. If you're a writer, need some motivation to finish (or start) that novel then check it out. Might work. Might not. If nothing else. It's fun. Oh and be my writing buddy. My only question now is whether I am going to focus on the novel I'm already working on, or maybe, just for this particular project, I will start something fresh and new that's been floating around in my imagination. Oh so many things to consider. But still a little time to toss it around. I guess I'll just see where I'm at by the end of this month.

As for other deadlines, I can't believe the pressure I put on myself. Several projects in the works and all have deadlines up until the end of the year. I will do it though.

I'm taking a new approach on the novel. After in-depth discussion in my novel class, and careful consideration afterward, I have decided to re-write what I already have from a different point of view. Different character point of view. I think this might work out the best in the long run and have already re-written quite a bit. So I really have my work cut out for me.

So I better get writing.

Friday, October 1, 2010

"The washroom's by the front door. Watch your step."

Recently I was revisiting those locked areas of my memory, you know the place where you tuck away all the embarrassing and humiliating things you do in your life, those memories that you more than likely never want to ever see the light of day again, for the sole purpose of a creative non-fiction project I'm working on. Most of these occurred when I was much younger, like elementary school younger. Anyway, as I was recalling all those horrendous memories, I came to this stunning realization. When you're humilated as a child you really feel like your life is over, but when you do something embarrassing as an adult, you're much more able to deal with it and even laugh it off.

Last weekend I took a fabulous travel writing weekend workshop with Marcello DiCintio at the Alexandra Writers' Centre. I've never considered myself to be a travel writer but I thought this particular course might help me with another project that I've been working on since June and in many ways it could fall into the category of travel writing simply because it has to do with a specific incident that happened when I was in Holland this summer. But mostly I've been envisioning it as a personal essay. That's not what this is all about though. Back to the stupidity that can be Robin on rare occasions.

On the first full day of the weekend we were given an exercise to walk around the community, visit a shop, schmooze with the shop owners or whichever sucker happened to be behind the counter at the time. Typically, the thought of interviewing anyone makes me nauseous and this day was no different, although I had a specific place in mind that would also be beneficial to my project. But, before we had to go do our actual exercise, a bunch of us went for lunch at a nearby pub. I've never been to this particular pub before, so after a very delicious BLT and Spinach Salad, I did what most people do. Especially after a glass of wine. I had to go to the bathroom.

Like I said, I had never been to this place before so I asked someone I was with where the washroom was.
"By the front door. Watch your step." Grabbed my purse and headed toward the front door. I walked to the lobby area and looked around. Right there in front of me was an open door and just inside the door a sink and a mirror. Looked like a bathroom. Above the door was a paper sign. Ladies. With an arrow pointing to the left. Inside the door to the left was another open door and there was a toilet. I was still a little confused but okay, that must be the bathroom.

I walk inside and shut the door but just before the door closed, on the other side of the room behind the other open door I happened to notice a urinal. Funny place for a urinal. So close to the ladies room. Essentially the same room, but still separated. So I'm sitting there and I hear someone outside the door, washing their hands and suddenly it's occuring to me that this could very well NOT be the ladies room. That I was sitting there peeing in the men's little room for when a urinal is just not enough.

Shit. Not literally. Damn. I finished what I was doing and waited until I hoped no one was outside the door. Hoping no one was in the room at all. I opened the door real slow as not to surprise anyone and I really had no intention of seeing any penis on that particular day unless it belonged to my husband. Thankfully, I was alone. Washed my hands and slipped out of the room. Only then did I notice the Mens sign on the open door. Why on earth would they leave the door open anyway?

Also thankfully no one that I was with entered the lobby until I was already standing there. But I do have a big mouth and have learned that it's okay to laugh at yourself and to let others laugh at you too so I told one of my friends. I still had no idea where the ladies bathroom was. We headed toward the front door and as soon as we rounded the corner, voila, right there by the door was the Ladies room.

Clearly marked.

Door closed.

And another sign with an arrow pointing to the tiny step in front of the door...Watch Your Step.

Word Vomit

I've rarely been asked the question of why I write but in the last week alone that question has been posed twice. And the first thing that popped into my head was simply, what else is there? But when I really took the time to think about it, saying that there was nothing else would be a lie. There's a lot of other things I could be doing instead of writing. Cooking, at one time I considered going to culinary school along with the other millions of things I considered doing in my life. I used to paint and draw but applying a pencil to paper and creating lines in just such a way as to create an image was not as fulfilling to me as applying words onto paper to create images that would evoke a different image for everyone. I could be happy just being a mom but then what would I have to really share with my children if I don't also have something that I'm passionate about?

But why do I write? From the time I could pick up a pencil and actually put letters together to form words, I was writing stories. It's been a part of me my entire life though there were long stints in which the passion was pushed aside. But how can something you're really passionate about ever be gone. Buried under the garbage of life, yes. But it's always there. Fermenting at the bottom, waiting patiently to see the light of day once again. And when all that garbage has been cleaned up and thrown away, oh the stories it has to tell.

Maybe that's part of it. I have something to say and the only way anyone will really listen is if I write it down. A few years ago I went to interview an author that I really admired, who I had learned a lot from. A virgin interviewer combined with my mild social phobia, I had no idea what kind of questions I should ask. Sure I'd prepared a list of questions but the interview went anything but smooth. In fact, by mid way through she was asking me questions about  my life. I shared with her things that had rarely been shared with anyone. But from the stories I told her, one comment stuck out more than anything. "You should really write this stuff down." As far as I was concerned my life was boring. Mattered no more than the grime on the bottom of my shoe. I left her house feeling confused and convinced that was not how an interview was supposed to go. It got written anyway, and much to my surprise, published.

Over the years that one comment always stuck with me. And after a lot of soul searching realized that maybe I did have some stories that needed to be told. Even if they never saw the light of day, there were things I needed to get down. The paper would be my therapist. Words that rose like bile in the back of my throat, soon became...vomit.

Word vomit.

Like when I was in 6th grade and almost puked on the girl sitting in front of me. Words spilled out onto the page in a mess of thoughts and ideas.

And so that is why I write. There's nothing else i would rather be doing. It's cathartic and fulfilling. And now that the vomit is all cleaned up and I have recovered, I have stories to tell.

Why do you write?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Where Does the Time Go?

I have to write at night when the house is quiet. Everyone else snug in their bed but me, awake and somewhat alert, sitting in front of the computer. It's usually around 9pm when I finally get myself into that right brain frame of mind and even if I'm not quite there yet, I start to write. Some days, I tell myself I have to get to bed at a reasonable time so I can be bright-eyed the following morning but more often than not, I don't.

I start to write, get so wrapped up in what I'm doing, that everything around me fades away and I am left fully submerged in the world that I am creating. Where does the time go?

Last night I really had no intention of writing even though I have multiple deadlines looming. But I sat down and started working on a completely different project. One that's been in the back of my mind for the last year but I just hadn't started. The idea was simply to get a rough outline down so that when I went back to it, I wouldn't have forgotten what I wanted to write. But as I created scene after scene, before I knew it I had almost 2500 words written and it was 1am.

I knew I had to go to bed but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I wanted to keep going. Fortunately the rational side of me won out, so I puttered off to bed but I laid in bed thinking about what I had been working on. Working and re-working in my head to the point that I almost got up again but thankfully sleep did finally come.

This is fairly normal when I'm in the groove but there are days when it takes all of my energy to even get a paragraph written. That's been me the last couple of weeks so last night I see as a kind of release and hopefully now I can keep going. Get something actually finished. Meet my self-imposed deadlines. Because before I know it, the month will have flown by.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Real" Swiss Chocolate at Your Fingertips

In the Globe and Mail yesterday I came across an article announcing a new website for Chocoholics. Emulated after the style of Facebook, chocolate lovers can sign up for this community and receive coupons, earn points and actually have REAL Swiss Chocolate delivered to your door.

I admit, I was curious. Who wouldn't be? It's chocolate.

The thought of that rich, creamy substance melting over my tongue, coating my mouth in a heavenly film and then...well just the idea of chocolate. All you want, at anytime. Mmmmm.

So the website is all in Swiss (is that actually the language they speak there? Not sure.) Regardless, it's in yet another language that I don't understand, but thanks to technology just click translate and voila, it's readable. Well, semi-readable. Those things never translate properly but it tries.

And what did I find? Well, it didn't seem to be all it was cracked up to be. A website for a small company near Zurich that sells chocolate. Okay. Perfect. We're on the right track. On this page there is a link to join up to My Swiss Chocolate Club. It really reminded me of signing up to be a preferred customer at your favourite clothing store. I didn't actually sign up, though was tempted, for research purposes only. Something about the fact that the website is in another language and poorly translated. Why sign up for something that even when translated, you may miss something of importance?  And they are trying to market to chocolate lovers around the world.

Anyway, it might be more clear if I actually looked at it. But I won't. So I am just telling you about it and you can check it out for yourself if you want.

Admittedly, it is an interesting concept. Something to entice addicts, yet again.

But not THIS chocoholic.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Whole Lotta Stuff...

Another rainy, indoor kinda day. I'm up early cause it's Sunday and I am always up early on Sunday whether I like it or not. One of these days maybe my husband will go and get his drivers license so I can actually sleep in. But, after three years that is seeming less and less likely. Like me winning the lottery or something. You can't win if you don't buy tickets, you can't get a drivers license unless you actually study for the learners test and actually get off butt and go to the registry. I honestly don't know how people can go through life without taking advantage of the privilage of driving a car. It was all I could think about when I was turning 16. To be 43 (on Monday) and not be able to drive is completely beyond my comprehension. But it's different in Europe. The things we find necessary are just not, over there. But, okay, whatever. I'm over it. In all honesty I don't really mind getting up to do that. It's only once a week plus when I stay up after dropping him off I feel like I get something accomplished during the day.

Onto other news. I have officially written over 30, 000 words of my novel. Over 100 pages. So approximately a third of the way there. Funny how we (or maybe just I) feel like I have to write 300 pages before I will deem it a complete novel, when in fact, it only needs to be as long as it needs to be. So if it's only 280 pages, who I am to say it's not done? And if it's 400 pages, it's not overdone. It's just as long as it needs to be. But a first draft is never the final draft and by the time I'm finished there could be more, or there could be less. No matter which way it goes, I am on the right track and that's all that matters. I have surpassed the pre-lost flash drive state so that's an accomplishment. Though I can't stop thinking I would be THAT much further had I not lost the flash drive. Had I actually been diligent and backed up in more than one place, this would totally not be an issue. But...I can't go back. What's done is done. And I think it's better this time around. Maybe if I hadn't lost it, I wouldn't be any further ahead. Maybe I would have stalled and had no idea where to go next. My characters hanging in a fictional limbo, waiting for my next direction, but never getting what they seek. Still plan on having this thing done by sometime in November. The rest, I will just play by ear.

Father-in-law arrived from Holland yesterday. Nice to see family, even if I understand little of what he says. But I am learning more so it doesn't feel as hard as it used to.

And what shall we do with our rainy day? Not a clue. That's the joy of rainy days. You can really do whatever you want. Stay in and nobody will think you're being lazy, go out and people will think you're brave. But for now, I am waiting for the little one to wake up and enjoying the quiet time all at once. Gonna try and get some writing done today since I haven't done much in the last couple. Time to catch up if I'm gonna be done by my self-provided deadline.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Too Many Chefs...

Know that saying, too many chefs spoil the broth? Or too many cooks or whatever the saying is. Well it's true on so many levels. There are definitely advantages to having a good support system while you're working on a project. But when you've invested so much time and energy in something and then the support you get back is only trying to make it their way...You get the picture.

I love my novel class. The others in the group are very strong writers and on most occasions offer incredibly valid feedback. What's working, what's not. But on occasion you get one or two that do not look at the big picture. Nitpicking over grammatical errors, things that don't seem logical to them because they wouldn't do it and apparently don't swing in circles with people that would. But what's good for one person, is not always good for another.

Take for example, in my novel, the opening chapter in fact, my main character comes home at 5am, she has not gone to bed (to sleep at least) and when she returns home finds her brother in her house. She confronts her brother and cracks open a bottle of wine. 5am, wine. Okay, not the norm per se, but what's to say that that particular character does not drink in the morning? There are other circumstances that lead her to be this way. Emotional and stressful issues. To me, not a far stretch. To most of the other group, reasonable too. But to one particular participant, this act bothered them, because they wouldn't do it so apparently no one did it.

In some of my younger days, I would go out to night clubs, would come home at obscene hours of the morning and often would continue to drink. Okay so I was young and thought I was having fun, and I most certainly wouldn't do that now. Hell, I don't think I even remember what the inside of a night club looks like. But now, yes, I would come home and go to sleep. But that does not mean someone else wouldn't.

How is that kind of feedback even constructive?

In other areas it's apparent that my main character is struggling with a situation she doesn't know how to deal with. In a flashback we see her as a pretty strong and somewhat aggressive person. But later, she is more withdrawn. That is what multi-layered refers to. So the question arises on how could she be one way and then another way later? D'uh. Wake up people. Even in everyday life, if you're a strong, out-going person, there are often circumstances that will cause you to withdraw. Maybe only temporarily until you find your footing but it would still happen. You won't know it until it happens and it will be out of character, but not unbelievable because you're living it. I know I touched on this before. And maybe I am completely off base but I don't feel that I am.

But then there is the structural feedback I have been getting. I have been struggling with the format, the points of view between chapters and who is an important character and who isn't. The feedback I got, made me realize that of course, my antagonist has to be an important part of the story but there is so much backstory that needs to come out about the antagonist but I couldn't find the right vehicle to do so. I tried something that I thought worked, I rethought it, changed it and then finally stumbled on something that did seem to be working. The back story is great story but as it turns out, the delivery vehicle may still not be working the way I thought. The feedback has been helpful but frustrating at the same time. Just when you think you have it figured out, you don't.

Regardless, I have made a commitment to not think about it for the time being. To just keep writing because otherwise I will stall. Then when the first draft is complete, I can start fresh.

Without all the extra spice and taste-testing.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

And It Just Keeps Getting Better...

Wish I knew where my head was at lately. Don't know if it's old age already beginning to creep in and show its ugly head (grey hairs are beginning to grow rampant) or the older I get the dumber I get. You may recall my fiasco back in July that led to my losing my flash drive and everything I had written in the past 10 years. Whatever fairy walked off with that little contraption has also confiscated my cell phone.

The day went something like this: Wake up too early for any normal human being, rush off to a meeting, come home completely overtired, go grocery shopping, come home and discover cell phone missing. Had it in the store I know that much. all the way back to the store, ask if anyone has turned it in and of course they haven't but am told to try back tomorrow. Retrace my steps throughout the store, ultimately finding nothing. Drive home. Phone and have the account suspended and arrange for potentially getting a new one.

Want to sleep.

Don't sleep.

Have a wonderful wine and cheese party to go to and even though I know I really should take a nap or something, I don't. Go out for a few hours. Have a few glasses of wine and some lovely cheeses. That should be a reasonably good way to the end the evening, but it gets better.

Come home, check email (since now that I don't have my cell phone actually have to go through all the junk mail) and decide I am pretty tired so should go to bed.

As I am heading off to bed, I happen to realize that my ankle is kind of sore. I have no recollection of actually hurting it. (Honestly I did not have very much to drink.) Didn't twist it. Didn't trip. Didn't kick anyone. But I'm tired t I crawl into bed and all is good.

Wake up this morning. My ankle is KILLING me. I want to cry everytime I move it even slightly. Try to get up, practically fall because I can't put any pressure on it. But I do manage to get dressed and drive hubby to work. By the time I get home, it hurts but at least I can walk on it not too bad. Feels almost like a tendon seized or something. I know I need to go to the doctor but the prospect of taking toddler into someplace where I know she will just run and run and I totally cannot chase her is not appealing.

Finally I play in my head who would be the least annoyed by me waking them up on a Sunday morning at 8am. It actually comes down to who is more likely to answer the phone. I call my bestest friend and she groggily agrees to come down and help me out.

So I sit in Urgent Care for way too long only to find that the doctor also has no clue what caused it. Thinks it's some kind of soft tissue damage but from what neither of us have a clue. It's not broken although it is a little bruised. There is only one thing the doctor and I can agree on. It fricking hurts. The Advil I had taken earlier has already worn off and it's throbbing. So he gives me some advice and somewhat reluctantly gives me a few Tylenol 3's and I hobble back to my car.

Go back to the store to see if my phone turned up and of course nothing. Buy some Extra Strength Tylenol to go with my Advil because I prefer not to take Tylenol 3 if I don't have to and the doc recommended a combination of Ibuprofen and Tylenol before the T3's.

It is now almost 9 in the evening. My ankle isn't too bad. Thanks to an ice pack and the Tylenol 3 that has finally kicked in.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

So, So Quiet

It's so quiet in the house tonight. Okay, so it's actually morning already but hey, that's what happens when you stay up late writing. If I was, in fact, writing.
But it's so quiet. Television is off, the only sound the soft hum of the computer fan, and the consistent tapping of my fingers on the keyboard. It has an almost musical feel to it. Tap, tap, ta tap, tap, tap. One careful letter after another. And all I'm doing is writing this post.
The fireplace is glowing, yes I said fireplace. The glorious high temp today, wait for it...8 degrees celcius. 8! Are you kidding me? It's only the beginning of September. The sun should be blazing down in all it's glory, frying eggs on sidewalks, turning skin a bright rosy red. The smell of sunscreen should fill the air, everywhere. Shirtless men, oh yes, shirtless men. Except for the man that lives across the hall. I swear he's a neanderthal and only comes out of his cave to wash his matter the temperature he appears in the hallway shirtless, every bit of his massive belly spilling out over the top of his pants. Man boobs. Gawd. Don't get me started on man boobs. But this guy, oh yeah, he is...let's say...less than desirable. Long greasy hair, doesn't shave for weeks on end. And...get this...he's lived in this building longer than me and never once...and I mean NEVER, has he opened the curtains in his basement apartment. Maybe he's a vampire. But are vampires supposed to be hot. Alluring. The object of our desires? I just can't imagine what his place smells like. No air, no light, just the accumulation of years of body odor and sweat, soaked into the carpets.

Okay, let's get off this topic. It makes my skin crawl just thinking about it. I seem to have strayed from my nice calm, gentle, post. The kind of post that's supposed to make you feel so relaxed, like wrapping yourself up in a nice cozy blanket.

It's late. Funny where the mind goes when there are no technological distractions.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I Think I Missed Summer...

Between sudden ghastly downpours and roaring thunder, this entire summer has pretty much been non-existent. August is usually a warm month here in Calgary. The one month where we get to enjoy what resembles summer but this year, has not been the case. Long weeks of rain, below average temperature, with a few scattered hat days. I miss the heat. There was only one day this year that we actually hit a temperature of over 30 degrees and that was only a week or so ago. The rest has been rainy, cloudy, thundery. Just plain miserable.

One thing I always loved about Calgary, regardless of the tendancy for temperatures to drop to unnatural temperatures well below zero, is the wide open skies, brilliant and blue. Summer is supposed to be filled with these but now I find myself feeling claustrophobic, like the clouds are going to consume me. Where are my sunny skies? The feeling of freedom. It looks as though I have to wait until winter. For -25 and lower before the skies will open up.

Is there a place in the world where the temperature is a steady 20-25 degrees? Because I really want to go there and live for the rest of my life.

On the bright side, when the weather is miserable, I have an excuse to stay inside and write.

Oh and to the latest follower that left me...I will miss you. So long. Adios. Au Revoir.

Here's to another rainy day!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

When I close my eyes I can see the finished product. My first complete novel in all it's glory. And I am motivated. For now anyway. My goal is to have it finished before the end of my novel class. Actually, I plan to have it finished by the end of November so that I can rest over Christmas and then look at it again with fresh eyes, in the New Year. Make all the changes that I think it needs and then send it off not a first reader. A good writer friend of mine in Toronto has agreed to read the draft and offer all his words of wisdom. There will probably be many readers before I finally feel it's ready to start sending out. But how many should there be?

It was recommended that a few people read the novel before I deem it done. These people should be writers and should not be family or close friends that aren't writers themselves. I have a few ideas of people I would like to have the honour of reading it and offering their feedback. Two of them are male. I think it's important to have someone of the opposite sex read the draft even though I think the book would be more appropriately marketed toward women. It's still important to get their feedback. They can probably offer something that women wouldn't. And I don't want to limit my potential readers.

So after I get feedback from said men, I do hope to pass a newly revised draft onto a few female writer friends for their input. And then...after probably several more changes until I feel it's ready, I can start sending it out to potential publishers.

I don't think I'm deluded. I realize there is still a long way to go. Probably a year, maybe more if I lose my focus by not being around my great support group. (My novel class.) But I have to face the fact that soon I will be on my own. That's what it's really all about isn't it? There won't always be classes to keep me going. I have to do it on my own. Just like everyone else. That alone is daunting. No one to bounce ideas off of that already know about the project. Reduced to bouncing ideas off a wall and more than likely not getting the feedback I desire.

But...that is still a ways down the road. No need to worry about it now.

In the meantime, I keep on writing.

Did manage to get a little further on the short story I'm working on too. And there are a couple of other projects that I need to get working on. Deadlines fast approaching and have barely started.

I should probably be working on only one thing at a time but it's not possible. If writers ever hope to see even a little return on all the hard work, gotta keep the ideas fresh and write whatever comes to mind.

Ok...time to stop stalling and go write a little more.

Monday, September 6, 2010

What's the Norm?

Recently, I came up with a great opening paragraph for a short story I have been working on. Last night, I was thinking about that paragraph and how it would relate in my novel. Both for character development and for curiosity in the reader.

But here lies my problem...I want to use both, though slightly changed and used in a different context, for the novel and the short story.

Maybe some other writers can shed some light on this for me.

On one hand, it's not plagiarism because it's my piece. But at the same time it seems lazy. And then there's the fact that as I was working on the short story, I could totally see it as a novel length piece at some point. And it would be totally retarded to use a similar opening for three different projects, two of which would be novels. There's a perfect example of unoriginality. Someone would notice.

But between short story and novel, would anyone really notice? And there's no guarantee that either would ever be published. On the flip side, what if they are both published. Is the short story far enough away from the novel that no one would notice. Or maybe they wouldn't make the connection.

I suppose I could change it more so it wasn't as recognizable.

What would you do?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hmmm...What More Do You Want?

Apparently when you don't blog consistently or you don't have anything interesting to say when you do, your followers leave, without even so much as a farewell, see ya later, it was nice while it lasted. Oh well. I know there are still other loyal followers out there that aren't actually registered, and to them I say thanks. And of course to all of you that are still following, have been for a long time, thank you, thank you, thank you. I know I have been going through some lags in posts and sometimes those posts are less than I would like them to be, but thanks for hanging in there.

I vow to be more creative from here on in. To try and post every day or at the very least, every other day. Truth be told though, I am deep into my novel these days, and as any writer can attest to, when you're submersed in the fictional world you are trying to create; laughing, crying and struggling along with your characters, sometimes it's hard to come up for air. And it's liberating to be thinking about nothing else but your current project. That shows that you are invested. Deeply engrossed in the task at hand and even more so, determined.

That's where I find myself these days. Determined.

You may recall a couple of months ago I thought all was lost. All the hard work and words I had invested, stored on a little piece of plastic, vanished. But I have seen the end and with that came the unwavering will to get there. For the last few weeks I have written and re-written much of what I managed to salvage. Some of it better than before, a lot of it not so much. But the point is, that I have written and continue to write. I have almost got myself back to where I was, carefully mulling through chapter after chapter, adding here, deleting there. I even created a list of all the scenes that I know still have to come. So I have a guide and generally know where I'm going. Just have to get there.

I have rethought structure, tried out a few different scenarios, and think I might have something that will work. But most of all, this direction that has suddenly become clearer than the sunniest, smog free day Calgary could ever hope to have, has me motivated beyond belief.

In my class last week we revisited our goals for the end of the course. Even through my little hiccup I realized I am determined to complete the first draft by the end of the class. But in order to do that, I must write. One word after another, some exquisite, some just completely lame. I am finally allowing myself to write crap. Because after all, that's usually what a first draft is. Just get it all on the page. Better to have too much than too little. In the second draft stage, it will be easier to take out the unnecessary than to add more, though I am sure I will be doing much of that too.

So, if I become distant, bear with me, because one thing always remains true; I will eventually return.

But for now...

I am writing a novel.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lilypie Second Birthday tickers

It started our bumpy but by late morning it was better. I thought children were naturally supposed to be happy on their birthdays. But I suppose that only starts to happen when they are actually aware of the significance of the day.

After a little frustration, I did manage to capture her perfect second birthday picture. Happy cheerful, even if only for a short time. As I write she is getting annoyed or should I say annoying.

In other news, I managed to write over 2000 words on a new story. Funny though, after giving it some thought, the whole thing is going to change. Everything except for the title. That is where the inspiration came from so that must remain the same.

Monday, August 16, 2010

So Itchy!

You ever have an itch that no matter how much you scratch it, it just won’t go away? You dig and dig until the skin is red and raw, maybe even draw blood, but no matter what, that itch remains, as strong as ever.

You try to concentrate on something else, but it’s always there. Nagging at you. Begging to be addressed. Like the little kid at the back of the class, arm raised and waving wildly, “Pick me, pick me.” But he answered all the other questions and now it’s time to give someone else a chance, but he is so persistent and can’t be ignored.

Itches are like cup sizes. From training bra to H or J or however high they go. You might have a desire to go get an ice cream cone or have a strong craving for chocolate that can’t be ignored. Maybe you have been borderline celibate for weeks, months, or heaven forbid you’re practically a born-again virgin, that you need to find some relief. Don’t think it matters much HOW you do it. Just as long as you do.

Maybe you have always wanted to travel to a particular place but haven’t had the chance to do it. But the thought is always there, that someday you’ll travel around the world, or hell, maybe only a province over. Whatever the desire, the need, just do it. But what if you travel to the next town, never having been out of your own little bubble, and discover the thrill is just so amazing, a natural high that now can never be ignored? Next you want to travel to another country, maybe even another continent. Heck, pretty soon you’re gonna want to go to the moon, or Mars.

For me, it’s writing. No matter how long I step away from the words, I always end up coming back to it. Not that I am trying to avoid it or anything, it’s just that thing in the back of your mind that when you’re doing something else, you always think you should be writing. I used to go years without writing a single short story, heck I would barely scribble out a sentence. But it itched and itched, and well, before I knew, it I was getting back to writing a novel.

I guess the point is, if there is something that you really want to do, that is gnawing at you and you just can’t shake it, then do something about it. If you want to travel, do it. If you want to go get an ice cream, do it. If you want to run a marathon or train for the IronMan, then do it.

That itch is not going to go away if you don’t scratch it just a little bit. And who knows. Maybe you don’t want it to.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sex and a Birthday Party

No, the two do not go together. It would make for a blog post that should probably be R rated at least. You know those options that you can add a warning on your blog that it could contain...ummmm...less than desirable content, so beware? Well this post is neither. It's merely me wanting to write about two topics and, well, I thought that title would be kinda catchy.

I suck at titles. (but that will be for a different blog post)

My little girl is turning two in just under two weeks. It's amazing to me to think that it was only two years ago that I was waddling around with this great big lump sticking out of my abdomen. And believe, being a plus size female, it was a BIG lump. And then when she was born she was a tiny little 6lb baby. And now at almost 2 she is just around the 27lb mark. Oh the memories.

But yeah, her birthday is coming up and I haven't the faintest idea on what to do for a two year old that essentially has no friends, per se. The bulk of the guests will be friends of family of ours. Grown ups! (And I use that in the loosest of terms)

So I want to plan a party for a toddler but the guests are adults. There is a slight possibility that there will be another infant at the party which will make it a little better but this one is only 3 months old. Not really much you need to please that one.

I can't wait until she goes to preschool and makes a few more friends. Then we get to the REAL birthday parties. The ones that will have me pulling my hair out and as soon as it's over I will collapse in the corner with a bottle of wine still in the brown paper bag. If I make it to the end of the party. But those are things I can't worry about right now. For now I have to focus on my little two year old.

Oh and did I mention I finally managed to put pigtails in her hair. I was so pleased. Believe me, it was not simply because her hair was kinda short. I've tried before, and knew I would be able to do it, if only she would sit still long enough and let me touch her hair. Yesterday we had success.

Now the next challenge is to get rid of that stinking soother. I heard someone mention the other day that their child at almost 4 still had a soother and the way they got her to give it up was by convincing her that if they planted them in the backyard they would grow lollipops.
I think it's cute, my husband thinks it's a great big lie and we shouldn't start doing that to her. After all there are enough lies we are going to tell her over the next few years. Santa Claus. Easter Bunny. Tooth Fairy. But really, what could a little lollipop fib do to her that would be negative?

Now for the sex part that I know you have all been patiently waiting for. Well it's not that interesting of a story except that I wrote my sex scene for my novel class but it's actually a sex scene. It is. And it isn't. It's not a sex scene in the nice sense. It's of the negative variety. Of the class that is frowned upon and people go to jail for. It was actually quite difficult to write. I suppose I should be thankful for that. If it was easy, well, what would that say about me? And it is an important aspect to the story as a whole but at the same time, it will probably not even end up in the novel. At least not to the degree that it has been written at this point. Hopefully, it's real enough.

And that's all I have to say about that. I should probably go do some more writing. The house is quieting down, I just have to pop the toddler into bed and then I can have some time to myself. Oh the gloriousness that is 8:00.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Why Do I Bother?

Why did we buy all these toys for our child? Or why didn’t  we just donate all the toy gifts so that other less fortunate children could have something of their own? Because apparently, garbage is the toy of choice these days.  Julianne will go into the garbage and pull out anything that makes noise to some degree or if it’s not something directly from the trash can it’s empty beer or pop boxes. Her father does nothing to stop it while I cringe and cry inside. Sure the boxes aren’t that big of a deal and the garbage isn’t the really messy garbage or the rotted garbage. It usually consists of containers or jars or paper. But to me, the point is that it is meant to be garbage, or recycled and it becomes a toy. Paper is the worst. Newspaper, sticky paper any kind of paper really. When she gets it into her hot little hands, that one full piece soon becomes a million little pieces and then get scattered all over the house and of course, if I am not around, they are left scattered all over the house. I can handle scattered toys but scattered paper just drives me crazy. I see it, I promptly clean it up, I try to tell the hubby it is ridiculous to let her play with paper and anything meant for the trash, but yet he lets it happen. Sure it makes her happy, keeps her quiet, but seriously, is that the message we want to leave our children? It’s ok to go dumpster diving and sift through garbage to find that next treasured item. Yes I have this dream for my daughter to be one of those ladies that either push a grocery cart, stopping to search through garbage cans for bottles and clothes. I want her to drive a nice car but go jumping in dumpsters for other people’s junk.

I know it’s probably not as big a deal as I make it out to be, but it really drives me nuts when the stuff that I put in the trash for a particular reason, suddenly reappears in the middle of the living room floor. Or worse, in Julianne’s toy box. Garbage is meant for the garbage and when it is put there, that is where it should remain. For good. The garbage can is NOT a toy box. Today it’s the empty blueberry container, all plastic and crinkly, tomorrow it’s…oh I don’t even want to venture a guess as to what it will be tomorrow.

Today I think I am finally going to sift through all the child’s toys and clear out what she doesn’t play with anymore. Maybe put it away for baby #2, whenever he/she happens to come along. If ever.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Few More Ramblings

Isn’t it funny? When you hear the word “ramblings” you think of people venting their frustrations about silly things going on in the community or the world. Well at least I do. But when I ramble it really is about nothing short of babbling. I used to be told I was a babbler. I would apparently talk about useless things and to some, I guess it seemed more like I only wanted to hear the sound of  my own voice. But I don’t think I do that. But maybe I do. Just not around people I meet for the first time. Around those people, I tend to try and pick and choose my words carefully. No one wants to sound like a retard in front of a stranger. Funny isn’t it. We will say just about anything, no matter how inane, around those that we love or know extremely well. And even when they give you that little sideways glance that says, “I can’t believe that just came out of your mouth,” you take is nothing less than love and adoration. Because no matter what you say, they aren’t going to go anywhere. Or so you would hope.


I totally have no idea where I am going with this. It just kinda came out. And now that it’s on the page I don’t feel like deleting it. Maybe it has a little bit to do with character. Character development in a story, I mean. When you’re trying to search for that other side of a person, how they are around people that they trust and how they are around strangers. We can be so contradictory in nature, and those little quirks are what make us who we are. But you do that in a novel or story and readers or peers start to question if that character would really behave that way. But why wouldn’t they? They’re human. Why can’t they react to one situation in one way but when faced with a similar situation but around different people, they react completely another way? Do your friends come up to you and question your character when you act differently to similar situations? I don’t think so.

And there I go again. More rambling. But I do think I make a valid point. Why do we have to defend our characters in the eyes of someone else? Why can’t they just believe that it is the way it is?  Don’t get me wrong, I do understand that some writers tend to go over the top and their characters maybe contradict themselves too much that you start to think, huh? But there are just some situations that you shouldn’t have to defend. For example, when I am around people that I don’t know very well I tend to not say much. It could be perceived as being shy, or rude or indifferent, or whatever. But on the other hand, when I am around people that I am comfortable with, I am a completely different person. I babble, I ramble, I say stupid things, and even occasionally say something funny. But the point is, I talk. I don’t just stand there. But I am the same person either way. I am me and no one questions that. No one says, what the hell, she wouldn’t be that way in that situation. Cause whose to say I wouldn’t. They know, they saw me, and that’s that.


Well whatever. I think I am going to go write now. Maybe I will come up with some great character development today that I didn’t think about. Oh and I still have to work on that sex scene.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Sitting in a chilly basement, the only sounds are the hum of the furnace and the occasional rattle of the old boiler. Actually that's more of an earthquake than anything else, but it's only  occasionally so I guess it's not as bad as it may seem.  All I can think about is how badly I want to go to sleep right at this very moment. My eyelids are starting to become heavy and you know that odd glazed, fuzzy feeling you get when you're really tired? Well that's where I'm at.  There is a nice couch that I could sink into and for sure be asleep in a matter of minutes, but, and this is a big but, I don't actually want to risk falling asleep here because what if I wake up in the middle of the night in this cold basement and there is no one around? Oy, I sound like a little kid afraid of the dark. But really, I don't want to fall asleep here. It's a basement. And who wants to sleep in a basement? No matter how old or tired you are? Well I suppose a homeless person would give his last bottle of vodka for a roof over his head, but...or maybe he wouldn't give up his booze. It's hard to say.

So what am I really doing here? Actually I am working and trying to get used to this new keyboard on this new Netbook I just got and let me tell you, this is not easy. The keys are smaller than I'm used to and the screen, well the screen isn't really all that bad. But the keys are actually starting to drive me a little crazy. Woo. You didn't see it but I just wrote a whole sentence without screwing up and having to backspace a million times. I know with time I will get used to this little thing but right now, it's new and it's different.

What I really should be doing right now is writing. But you are, you say? Yeah, that's true but after the loss of my manuscript I really should be doing that writing. I actually have to write a sex scene for my next class. Just one little scene. Because every good novel has some kind of sex scene doesn't it? Ok, I know there are some good ones out there that don't have any of that awkwardness but this one is actually necessary for my novel and although it is a sex scene, it's not a really nice sex scene but nevertheless, it has to be there so I get to write it. That particular scene is actually something that was already written in my draft that got lost in the streets somewhere. It was good then and I don't relish the idea of having to rewrite it but rewrite I must and so rewrite I will. But not today.

Well, as ramblings go, I guess this is a good one. It's much ado about nothing. Absolutely nothing. But I do get to say that I wrote something today.

Enjoy the chaos that is my mind.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Layers and Layers of...Over-Indulgence

I want to write. I don't want to write. I'm tired but I don't want to sleep. I'm hungry, oh and I actually want to eat, but will probably just drink instead. But then if I drink, I might actually write. It's such a vicious circle and it all leads back to one place. Write. And then when I am done writing, write some more. Or maybe sleep.

I have actually begun to rewrite my novel. I have included a lot of the pieces that I already had but have been painstakingly trying to recreate each chapter. One after another. Know what's been kind of interesting? The voice. The voice that is coming off the page has changed. It's like my main character has finally got something to say. She has mannerisms and subtleties that are far more involved than I am, and they are just screaming at me from the page. The words spill from my fingertips and I have no idea where they are coming from. It's not me. When I write the first drafts are always much more filled with description. Like an ice cream overload with tons of whipped cream and sprinkles. At some point, as delectable as it looks, it can become to much. (did I really have to explain that or would you have gotten the metaphor?) Oy. That's is my point. That's usually my problem. Too much of something and the reader goes, "Yeah, d'uh. I could have figured that out on my own." But this new draft is different. It's stock full of, wait for it...brace yourself...EMOTION and THOUGHTS! Who would have thought that my character actually had thoughts of her own? That she actually feels something in the messed up predicament that she THINKS she's in. And it's not all negative as in the pieces that I lost. It's not all oh, woe is me!

Things are not always as they seem. I guess that's kind of a theme in my novel too. When your life feels crappy and you're at the end of your ropes, there is always someone out there that has it much worse. And the reasons you think that people have for doing something, is not always as cut and dried. Afterall we are multi-layered people in real life.

I guess what is shocking me the most is that she is becoming a real person. With all those layers, those flaws, those misconceptions that we hold so dear and watch out anyone that tries to construe it as anything different.

All I can say is that maybe having lost a lot of the work that I already put in, isn't going to be such a bad thing afterall. Or maybe, instead of overindulging in the richness of that ice cream sundae, now I will weigh myself down with cheesecake.

But if it's cherry or strawberry, I might get away with it. :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

This Too Shall Pass

I've been a little non-existant these days. And for that I apologize. Life has been a bit of a whirlwind, full of happiness and frustration all at the same time. I guess in some ways I have lost a little bit of a desire to write. But don't worry. It's coming back.

It all started a couple of weeks ago. In my preparation to return my leased car and take the plunge into the world of purchasing a vehicle that has already depreciated in value, I lost something that was my life. My whole world saved on a little piece of plastic, vanished in an instant of confusion and hair-pulling frustration.

The day itself is not worth re-enacting but let's just say, nothing, and I mean nothing, went the way it should have the day that I was returning my car. Extra driving, carelessness, tiredness and shear frustration and anxiety caused that little contraption called a flash drive to fall from my pocket and be lost forever. I am still holding out hope that it's in the house somewhere. Hidden so well that I will never find it until the day we decide to move.

All of the writing I have ever done over the past 10 years, gone. Just like that. For most of you this would probably be no big deal because normal people would have had everything backed up somewhere else. So really it is my own fault that it wasn't backed up. But there is a reasoning behind that as well. In five years I have never lost that stick. Yes, it's been misplaced but it has always been recovered.  And I kept telling myself I needed to back it up but I just never got around to it. Again, totally  my fault. A few months ago my laptop contracted a virus so I had my reservations about having any of my writing or anything else of importance on the computer itself. My other flash drive was full of pictures that luckily was saved from when the computer got sick and of course I hadn't tranferred those to a CD yet so there was no room to back up the writing on that drive and I really didn't want it on my computer. Even though now, it really wouldn't have hurt to just to put in on the computer.

Invoices for the last couple of years are gone. And...probably the most painful, all of my novel that I have been so painstakingly working on for the last 7 months. I wanted to cry but I also knew it was my own fault for not being more diligent and proactive and I kept holding on to the hope that it would turn up. I tried to laugh at myself but it didn't make me feel any better.

On the positive side, I have been taking a novel class since January and everything that I had submitted over the past few months, thankfully was still saved onto some of my classmates computers. So I have gotten bits and pieces back. But a lot of it is bits and pieces that I have changed again and again over the past months. So not much is as it was. Meaning of course that I have the dreadful task ahead of me of re-creating everything. Maybe it's a good thing. Maybe it's the opportunity I needed to really get the novel the way it was supposed to be, but when I think about how much I have to re-write, I really just want to curl up in the closet and beat my head against the wall. Maybe add a few drinks to that too and I can slobber along with it. After all, isn't that writer do?

All I can really say is that once I get past this frustration and stop kicking myself for being so stupid and do re-write everything, it will be incredibly satisfying for that book to get published. Just knowing all that I had to go through to get it to that point. Might even be a good opening at my book launch.

On the most positive note of all, I am really enjoying the brand new Jeep Patriot. Depreciation and all.

Now I must write.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Through viewing blogs and the like, I came across this website, Wordle. I don't think there's really a point to any of it except for yet another way to waste time and it doesn't even waste a lot of that but in some ways, it's almost the ideal tool for writers.

I simply put in the link to my blog to see what it would come up with. But you can put in any words you want. What's interesting about this, is that it takes separate words that stand out from your input and randomizes them. Now if you're stuck and can't seem to find something to write, you can look at all these lovely jumbled words and just pick one. Maybe one that stands out above the rest. And start to free fall write. Who knows what may come out of it?

Otherwise, it's just another way to procrastinate. Use it to your benefit or not at all.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

All The Things I Love

Happiness is often hard to find. We trudge through the every day, doing the things we must, whether or not we really like to do them or not, because simply, we have to. We have to work in order to make money and survive and more often than not, we do not really love what we do, but we do it. We buy groceries and pay bills in order to eat and keep a roof over our heads, because we must. Unless you are the type of person that loves the outdoors so much that you choose to live there permanently, but I think those people are few and far between. We drive through rush hour traffic because we have to, unless you’re fortunate enough to live in a small rural town or village that almost no one has ever heard of.
We watch as our family and friends take ill, try to help where we can because these are people that we love, but with that kind of commitment comes stress and sadness. Maybe they aren’t ill, but every family comes with their own set of problems and being the loyal friend or brother or sister, we give all the support we can muster even if a little bit of your soul takes flight for better destinations.  In short, we do what we are obligated to do, even if it does not make us happy.
Often I have seen people that just don’t know how to be happy. See the negative in every situation because that’s what allows them to cope. But there is so much beauty in the world. Beauty that we tend to overlook, the stuff that brings a smile to your face and a little blush to your heart.
I thought that I would share some of the things that I love in my life in hopes of bringing a little happiness to someone else. Or just to show that I am not all business and boredom.
1) That light that fills a child’s eyes when they see or get something that they didn’t expect. Not long ago we were wandering through Superstore, on our usual route from the front door to the baby section to the toy section and eventually arriving at the groceries cause that’s what we were there for in the first place. On this particular occasion we were in the toy section. Hubby and daughter were a little ahead of me when I stopped to look at a sand bucket and shovel for daughter. They were on sale and they were big, just what she needed. I called hubby back and when he turned the grocery cart around to see what I was doing, the daughter’s eyes got so big when she saw what was in my hands. I had never seen her react this way to anything and it just brought me such joy to think that something so simple and inexpensive could bring her so much joy.
2) My husband. I could not ask for a better man to spend my life with. Dedicated to me and his little girl, his top priority is to make us happy. I often try to get him to go out on his own, have a little alone time, but he refuses, always saying he’s a ‘family man’ now. And he shows it each and every day.
3) Watching a child grow and learn. Everyday my child learns something new. From being an infant that could barely m0ve, to the first smile, to the first time she rolled over then began to combat crawl across the floor and eventually walk. Although there are many times I wish she was still not able to roll over. But now it’s the words she’s learning. Each and everyday she still discovers something new.
4) The smell after a rain. There is something special in the air after a rain. Whether it’s a delicate drizzle or a downpour, once it stops, the air smells new. The world cleansed, even if just for a moment.
5) The smell of freshly cut grass. This brings me back to my childhood. Trailing my dad as he cuts the lawn, tiny blades being cut off and flung away.
6) Sharing in the excitement of a friend or family member when something goes the way they wanted it to. There is nothing better than getting a phone call to share some exciting news. To laugh with that person and be as giddy as they are.
7) Watching my husband do housework. Yes. This really does bring me great pleasure. Whether he is working in the yard, vacuuming or carrying a basket of laundry to the washing machine. I get the warm fuzzies.
8) Spring. When everything is coming up fresh and new. The first signs that winter is almost over makes me very happy. Of course, in Calgary, the winters tend to be long and drawn out. Even if the calendar says it’s spring, the frigid temperatures remain for a while longer. But when the grass finally starts to turn to green, flowers begin to bloom, and the trees grow vibrant, the spirits rise. And remain high until of course winter comes again. And it always does.
9) Along with spring comes colour. Vibrant natural colour. The bright hues of purple, pink, green, red and blue replace the drab browns of dead grass and gravel on the road. Not just flowers, but butterflies and birds of all different shades. I love colours.
10) I love odd numbers. Not sure what’s up with that. Even numbers make me feel unbalanced. But give me an odd number and I am happy. I can have one of something, but I can’t have two because if I have two then I have to have three. There are of course exceptions to this rule. If we owned two cars I would not need to have three. Not cost effective and the third one would just be sitting around collecting dust.
And the list could go on. Forever I think and this would be the longest blog post in the history of blog posts.
What makes you happy? What things do you love?