Wednesday, July 1, 2020

oh canada

it is another  meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group - link here IWSG to find out more about  this very exclusive and posh club!

I'm ignoring this month's question as it addresses 'industry changes' which I do not want to even consider. Am I an old curmudgeon? Perhaps. Can a person who identifies with the female gender be a curmudgeon? I have no idea.

Today I want to address two things in light of what we writers might consider - our country and how we feel about it, and the world we live in and how it is doing. Can we fiddle while Rome burns? Yes, clearly, that is an option. But should we? I think not.

I am a proud Canuck and today is Canada Day. Normally, on this day, we might go canoeing out to Rogue's Roost and go for a swim, and have a picnic. We might, if we were very optimistic, drive into town, find a parking space four miles from the waterfront and wander down in huge crowds to not watch the fireworks which will have been cancelled due to fog. But, under these new times, instead we had old friends come over to our house - we shared books and conversations, drank home-made and bought wine, and ate delicious salads and pastries. It was wonderful and I didn't miss one other thing. And this morning my writing pal, Gwen, came over, and while we aren't quite back to writing together, we walked and drank coffee and talked writing. Yesterday I got my manuscript back from the editor I contracted - and girl, do I feel both excited and overwhelmed. I figure, if I really put my butt on the chair, I could get this final revision finished by mid-August - then a few weeks for a copy-edit (three friends are doing this) and then I'll be ready to pitch it by September. Gawd gawd gawd. I did not start today, but will tomorrow - today I just considered ways and means. I think I need another screen so I can have my edited ms up and work on the clean copy. Also, I need some sort of journal (yes, another one) to help with those things I have to remember to put back in or take out that aren't totally clear as of yet.

As to the state of the world - well, yikes! Even though my novel is but a lowly mystery, the themes are congruent with what is going on. It is about how hard it is to maintain hope when both government and corporate concerns are battering the community you are worried about. So there's that. It is a mystery about ecological threat, the colonizing of indigenous people, and youth at risk. So, not exactly a way to escape worldly concerns, either as a writer or a reader. is burning within me - I wrote it to attempt to heal some wounds and I hope others find it so as well, or at least a good read. But, no need to get ahead of myself.

For now I will consider small pleasures - hugging my best friend of over forty years, finding a novel to read that I can't wait to crack open, excellent potato salad, and a glorious array of blooms on the rhododendron. Oh and the Merlin chicks should fledge soon - cannot wait to see that!

Happy Canada Day!

Wednesday, June 3, 2020


Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the June 3 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia, J.Q. Rose, and Natalie Aguirre!

June 3 question - Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work?

If I told you one or two secrets then they would stop being secrets, no? Secrets are such an interesting topic. As a psychotherapist, I keep lots of secrets. I have learned to be very careful with what I share, and as years go by, I have less and less desire to raise myself up, by being the keeper of various dark secrets. In my writing process I find out what secrets I keep from myself. Yes, I do. Just like in my meditation practice. I find out what I am most passionate about - justice, for instance - youth, women, the environment, nature, education, and so on. In other words, the last thing I would want in my work is to withhold myself. My writing is where I reveal myself, not hide myself. And that is not to say that it is blatant. No, I prefer to subtly show my true self.

In my current writing, I am revealing that I am prone to despair about those issues I care most about. My protagonist in Crooked Knife is also prone to that despair, and it nearly keeps her from the heart of the mystery she is trying to solve. One of the main themes of CK is that, even when battling a losing battle, against forces too mammoth to contemplate without despair lodging somewhere in one's heart, a person, or community, can continue to stand for the vulnerable, continue to make small victories, chip away at the entrenched evil. We can fail and then fail better.

So that's one non-secret secret I've revealed.

Another? Peanut-butter is necessary for my well-being.

Oh, and making. Making is crucial.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Lucky lucky luck - or as I call it ' Pluck'

It's another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Go to the link to see who has posted this month or to sign up yourself!

The Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

This month the optional question is:  Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? Care to share?

Okay, let me elaborate - I have one ritual that I use in order to start writing. That ritual is to say to myself 

No one asked you to be a writer and there is only one activity that makes you one. Sit down and write.

Sure, sometimes it is tough to follow my own dictate, but I have found no magic formula for doing so. I wear whatever clothes I grabbed in the morning. Sometimes I have coffee with me, but it depends on what time of day I sat down to write. I don't drink coffee in the afternoon. I don't listen to music, because I'm one of those people who likes to listen to music when I listen to music. I don't understand background music. I never have. And I LOVE music. The other day I listened to a two and a half hour concert of Stephen Sondheim music (his 90th birthday tribute). I only listened and moaned and cried and laughed.

I don't have any specific writing amulets, though my writing room is full of tchotchkes ranging from little lead cows, to feathers, stones, bits of wood, a bed doll and various crooked knives and an ulu - but these are always here. Okay, okay...I did put the crooked knives on the window ledge so they would be particularly present, as the book I'm writing is called Crooked Knife, but truly that is not because I'm superstitious.

I am actually. Quite. But not about writing. The only voice I invoke is that of my father - who says 'bum glue' and 'pitter patter let's fly atter' and 'when the going gets tough, the tough get going.' Yes, he's been gone for nine years, but his voice carries.

Okay, now it is back to work I go. Only ten more days until this baby has to be delivered. Yikes!

Here is a very good luck rabbit that was on my front lawn this morning. He had four (FOUR!) lucky rabbit's feet.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Z is for Zephyr in the A to Z of revising

Sometimes we must let the cool breeze of a Zephyr wind blow over us  - we need to be refreshed in our Zealous journey to create a novel, we need to put aside our Zest for the word, Zip our mouths and understand that there is Zilch that we need to do. We need  to steal some much needed ZZZZZs - stand back from our manuscript and with a cool Zinger, tell ourselves that there is no need for us to become Zowerswopped!*  

* grumpy or ill-natured, from old English.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Y is for Yoked to the Story in the A to Z of revising

Yoked to the story - when we hear the word yoked, we usually hear it as a bad thing. It is to be enslaved, to be bound tight with a force you do not want. But sometimes we pick up the yoke and put its harness on our own shoulders. If I want to turn the mill to grind the flour and my poor mule has died, well then, I may freely choose to put the yoke's harness upon myself and do the work.

Sometimes, during the arduous process of revising, I want someone else to wear the yoke - but it is mine and it is best if I fully acknowledge that. No one needs my story - there are plenty of them out there - it was my choice to begin this venture and if I want others to be able to read this story (and I do) then I must yoke myself to it until it is finished. In this case, I surrender to its needs, not my own. How to make this story live? Not by abandoning it before it breathes.