Wednesday, October 4, 2017

October's meeting of the IWSG

It's another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group - we meet to well, support each other in our crazy desires to be part of the writing life. If you're interested go to the link above and sign up or at least have a boo - lots of great blogs to visit!

October....mmmmh.....fall colours, Thanksgiving*, beautiful light, hunkering down for the long Northern winter.

So let's go around and see how we can support each other. I'll check in first. My name is Jan and I'm a writer. This last month has been strange because I've been getting lots of rejections. That's because I sent out a whack of queries in June and they are coming home to roost (or rot!). Logically I am aware that I'm getting so many because of how many I sent out but it is bumming me out. Also, I'm trying to finish Crooked Knife and it is soooooo hard! So I feel kind of whiny and like a little kid. What I'd like to hear from you - my support peeps - is that this feeling will pass and I should just carry on - that it was brave of me to send so many queries out and of course it is unpleasant to be rejected over and over again. And that Crooked Knife will be shit-hot when it is done and I need to not give up on it either. Yah, like that.


In other news, next week I will read two poems at a poetry reading of a new friend. I'm the one that suggested since she was visiting this remote northern paradise she should read. Now I'm organizing it and will read two of my Labrador inspired poems. Looking forward to it.

And here is a photo I took last week at about 6 AM after watching Venus rise and seeing Northern Lights. This is our gate onto the beach. Heaven.

* - for the last time, Amuricans - Canucks have it earlier because our Harvest is earlier. Deal with it. And Thursdays have zero to do with our Thanksgiving. Neither does football. Turkeys, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce (only it will be redberry here) and all that sure, but football? No.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

What Me Worry - September meeting of the IWSG

It's another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group - we meet to well, support each other in our crazy desires to be part of the writing life. If you're interested go to the link above and sign up or at least have a boo - lots of great blogs to visit!

I love September - clean notebooks, unsullied track record with teachers. Sure it's been forty some years since I was in High School but the feeling prevails. I have lots of energy this September - this new hip I received five months ago has given me a terrific boost in every part of my life. This will be our last year living in Labrador and so I really want to make sure that I take part in everything that makes this place so special. For my writing it means two projects (at least) - one is the mystery I started a couple of years ago that is set here. I need to finish my first draft (got caught in the ending and need to muddle my way through) and the other is to finish a poetry project. Both of those are very tied to this land, these people, and so I need to pay attention!

So - I will set some goals - I now have every second Monday off so I have a bit more time free.

Crooked Knife - finish first draft by October 15th, final revision by January 15. Query package by February 15th!

Labrador Poems  - go over current collection and see how to edit and what is missing. Query package by January 30th.

Bright Angel - continue to send out query packages. Look at first chapter to see if it needs revising again!

Okay - that's it for me. I'm also manifesting which is an interesting process. I'll talk more about that later...

Now, back to work I go. It is a crisp September morning and I'm walking with our clients...

Friday, August 11, 2017

slow turning

"Slow Turning"

When I was a boy,
I thought it just came to ya'
But I never could tell what's mine
So it didn't matter anyway

My only pride and joy
Was this racket down here
Bangin' on an old guitar
And singin' what I had to say

I always thought our house was haunted
But nobody said boo to me
I never did get what I wanted
Now I get what I need

It's been a slow turnin'
From the inside out
A slow turnin'
But you come about

Slow learnin'
But you learn to sway
A slow turnin' baby
Not fade away

Now I'm in my car
I got the radio on
I'm yellin' at the kids in the back seat
'Cause they're bangin' like Charlie Watts

You think you've come so far
In this one horse town
Then she's laughin' that crazy laugh
'Cause you haven't left the parkin' lot

Time is short and here's the damn thing about it
You're gonna die, gonna die for sure
And you can learn to life with love or without it
But there ain't no cure

There's just a...


Do you know this song? Sometimes it slides into my mind..."time is short and here's the damn thing about it/You're gonna die, gonna die for sure"

I just found out that an old pal of mine died last month. Her husband didn't know where I was and because I'm off facebook and moved to Labrador - well he tried. I hadn't seen Cinda for a couple of years - our lives took different directions but I have to say her death really struck me. 

She died a mean long death too. I talked to her husband last night. They were married for nearly 51 years - some of that good, some not so good, but they stuck. Last I saw Cinda she was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Her hands were very bad and she was having a hard time continuing to live the way she was used to. Things got worse. She developed problems with her breathing - a complication of the RA - and had to be hospitalized a number of times. She would pass out and fractured many bones in her falls. Her eyesight was going and she didn't want any surgeries so even reading or watching television became too hard. She lost way too much weight and couldn't regain any strength. Her husband helped with everything and her children who lived nearby helped too. 

Through it all she was still Cinda. She still could cackle like a loon, and demand respect with a glance, and compel those around her to reckon with her force.

She told me a story of her first teaching job that is incredible and touching. I'm going to write it up, check the details with her husband and send it in to the Globe & Mail's Lives Lived column. It is the story of a young woman teaching the toughest class in the toughest school. It is about not giving up on anyone. Though she'd be the first to deny this - Cinda was a true Bodhisattva  - and I'd like to tell this powerful story.

People's lives mean something. Their stories shouldn't fade away like their bodies do. They should keep on being told as inspiration and hope for those coming behind.

Stay tuned.

Here's a painting I made that I know she would have appreciated -

Tina looked at the dirty dishes in the sink, the dust tumbleweeds rolling through
the house, and the bills piling up on the kitchen table. Sighing, she rolled up
her sleeves.   Then she came to her senses.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Insecure Writers Support Group meeting called to order

Here it is - another meeting of the  IWSGThe goal of this blog hop is to be able to express any writerly concerns and to support those of our tribe.   Alex Cavanaugh is our brilliant ninja leader.  To read posts from other members, click here

Okay! This has been a whirlwind of a month and now I'm an hour late getting this post out! I'm going to take this opportunity to look back and try to make sense of it.

I started back to my job on Monday after four and a half months off due to my hip replacement surgery.

I feel physically terrific-  danced for three hours at my nephew's wedding without any issues!

By June I felt sufficiently recovered enough to take on quite a few tasks and I had an incredibly productive month. Not all of this was to do with writing - I'm involved in a particular intense spiritual practice right now that I did daily for an hour and a half.  I drew daily and I made a collection of art dolls (about fourteen).  In the writing world I decided to focus on submitting and I set a goal of 15 submissions for the month of June. Many of these were queries regarding my novel - Bright Angel  - but some were poetry submissions to literary journals.

July was a different kettle of fish. I could have gone back to work but had a wedding to attend in Ontario and family and friends to see in Nova Scotia so I made the decision to go on an unpaid leave for the month. My focus was on socializing however, the fella and I were unpleasantly surprised to find our home in Nova Scotia had been damaged badly by tenants and so that part of the trip turned into a work-cation. Gah!

This will be our last year in Labrador so everything has a rather dream-like feeling as we dismantle the mandala we have built here.

I'm attempting to organize my work life to be less 9 to 5 and more one with one week very intense and one much lighter. If I'm able to get this happening my plan is to spend the light week working on my unfinished novel set here in Labrador. I would also like to do a series of essays on life here in the subarctic. I have two finished (and submitted to a national contest) and have ideas for many more.

Managing my recovery turned my attention to an old passion of mine - actually as I write this I realize TWO old passions. One is doll making, which I've developed into another way to spin a narrative, but the one I wanted to mention here is my passion for organizational skills.  I've begun to bullet journal and am finding it a terrific way to keep my discipline in all areas of my life. I'm also passionate about decluttering right now. Finding our home in Nova Scotia so messed up and going through the items we kept in storage there made me realize how easy it is to be run by "stuff".

We will be selling this house in Labrador next year and as it was the home of my fella's parents and co-owned by the siblings it will be a big dismantling.  Every teacup will have to be discussed!  I want this started now so we aren't crazily doing it while packing to leave.

I know this has been a discursive ramble and I'm sorry but the truth is that my crazy writing life is not separate from my crazy life.

How are you doing midsummer my friends? Here is a photo of a toy I found at our Nova Scotia home that might be a self-portrait.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Lessons learned - IWSG

Well here we are again! Gather around writing pals and let's swap stories of what we've learned on the writing trail. Well I've learned never to say outloud what me and my school marm little woman are going to do with the money I'll make when this here cattle drive is over (a little house in town with a picket fence - that's what!), because six minutes later the cattle will stampede and I'll be dead. Okay - wrong trail but still - that's hubris and it'll bite you in the britches if you get too big feelin' no matter what game a person is in. But I didn't learn that from writing - I learned it watching cowboy movies.

What I have learned is to persevere. I'm a writer and so I write. I may get to be an author someday but that will be a side-effect.  I will have lots of essays, poems, novels and plays written - so I will have fruition, but I'll only get to be published if I also submit, query and generally pitch my stuff (to others, not in the garbage).

This month while some of my pals BuNoWriMoed (wrote 50 thousand words)  I decided to focus on submitting.  I made fifteen submissions to contests, publishers and agents. Some of it was my novel, some poems and essays. I feel pretty stoked actually. In the fall I'll get back to finishing Crooked Knife, but right now this seemed the best use of my time.

So persevering is what I learned for both writing and publishing. Also for every goal - becoming healthy after a hip replacement,  following my spiritual practice,  working with troubled youth - wait! It isn't quite perseverance in the way you might think - it is deciding on a path and sticking to it despite the outcomes. I don't know that I'll get published or if I do it will be satisfying. I don't know that I'll reach enlightenment or help anyone in a meaningful way.  But those are my goals and I've had no indication that being on this path is a bad idea. I like the path in of itself. So I will persevere.

Carry on....