Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Meeting of the IWSG




Here we are! Gathered together for another meeting of the IWSG. ( go here and find others!) I hope everyone has their pen and notebooks ready. I'm at my wee desk in the laundry room. Yes, I am. I moved the huge honking ugly table out of our dining room lately because:

  1. I'm using my Galaxy pad thingy
  2. I'm working all the time
  3. It took up too much space
  4. I don't feel like a writer
There - can you feel more insecure than that? On the up side I still remember that Stephen King wrote quite a few stories and novels jammed into his laundry room so ...there!

My big insecurity this month? That I'll soon be getting my edit back from the writer who agreed to mentor me and I won't have time to absorb it and work on it. I guess I have to say that I've done the thing you shouldn't do when you want to be a full-time writer. It isn't that I took a job - we do have to eat and I'll never be Margaret Atwood - but that I took a job that I love and it's meaningful and absorbing. What if I call it a year of intensive research? Yes! 

I'm learning so much about the Innu and Inuit culture - the unbelievable hardships they continue to suffer at the hands of government and corporate greed as well as plain ignorance on the side of most even well-meaning white-folk. I'm learning about the hatefulness of our arrogance - how we think we know best when it comes to everything and ignore the rich culture of other peoples. So...

Also, I'm old. I really am. Sure I just got a bike and my adventurous heart is on fire most of the time but I simply can't do what I used to do. I can't do my day job and work all night on my passions. I must sleep. 

I promise to do the best I can and I also promise to quit wasting my time worrying about it. I'll be back to comment on my next process with Bright Angel but in the meantime I'll come and hang around you guys and cheer you on if you want it.

Now I have to pack my lunch and head out...





Friday, May 1, 2015

Will I go back to Normal after this year's A to Zed?

As Bruce Cockburn once sang "the trouble with normal is it always gets worse".  After a month of daily blogs will I go back to 'normal' or am I changed? I hope I'm changed by everything I undertake - writing, meditating, making pasta, the whole megillah. Do you know what the whole megillah even is? Let me tell you if you don't already know - 

Definition of MEGILLAH slang:  a long involved story or account megillah Origin of MEGILLAH Yiddish megile, from Hebrew mĕgillāh scroll, volume (used especially of the Book of Esther, read aloud at the Purim celebration)
Don't you love finding out what phrases you might have heard or used mean? For years (until about seven years ago) I thought the word 'megillah' referred to something Scottish.  You know like 'MacGillah' - some crazy tribe that told long-winded stories. Well, not so far off as it happens.

Back to the present: am I changed? Yes, thank Buddha, I am changed. I'm changed because I strengthened my resolve by once again finishing something I started and not griping about it. There are actually people who sign up for this and then gripe and whine and bitch and moan. Why? Beats me. It isn't exactly hard and really if you don't do it who will know? No one, I'm thinking. But you know...people move in mysterious ways. They roll in ways I didn't even know a person could roll and well...I don't care. If folks want to sign up for something and then not do it - well fine. It is a drag to go to about fifty sites in a row to find out they signed up and didn't even do ONE post out of the whole alphabet but hey! Maybe their cat died or they lost their job, and all sense of meaning. Maybe they really are much more important than you or I and have lots of responsibilities that we cannot even dream about. I really don't care.

And there are lots of sites I'm inherently uninterested in - I don't care much about cute cats, vampires, religious rants, vehicles, American politics, etc... But I found lots that I didn't even know I cared about until I visited. It happens, for instance, that I care deeply about certain people who go to certain places and write about them - why? Because I already liked them and because they wrote interesting posts about their life in a very different place - hello Karen from Coming Down the Mountain! I also went to a site that was full of crazy math stories. Who knew I'd love that? But I did - hello   Tamara Narayan, Author -my new pal! I visited lots in Africa with the charming and dear Shirley at Shirley Corder. She described her part of the world in wonderful words and pictures and visited lots here. I met a fellow Newfoundlander (well she's on the island and I'm on the mainland but hey you can't imagine how close that feels!) named Christine at Mombie and I'm just getting to know her - we have lots in common that I don't even think she knows including a murder mystery business. I reconnected with the amazing Susan Scott at her blog The Garden of Eden. Susan wrote about dreams for the A to Zed and wow she is a lovely writer!
Everyday I visited our fearless leader -Lee - at Tossing it Out and read about all sorts of ways to blog (I'm a 'slacker blogger' but I can live with that) and l also hung out at my dear pal, Margot Kinberg from Confessions of a Mystery Novelist.  She didn't do the A to Zed but she is one of the most consistent posters and commenters ever. Her and my friend Elisabeth Spann Craig over at Mystery Writing is Murder! The two of them would be the polar opposite of slacker bloggers like me but we manage to enjoy ezch other. And my friend, my entire crit group in one crazy package, the delectable deario The Watery Tart  ( at Confessions of a Watery Tart) thrilled us with her wild flights of alliterative allegories!

And that my friend is my idea of a perfect party - some old friends, some new friends and a lot of chat!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for Zenith



And so my friends, we have come to the end of yet another A to Zed. It has been a merry ride through the revision process - from the alpha to the omega and beyond. My last words for you is to please remember that revising is a two organ job. It takes both the brain and the heart to do a proper job. We have reached the summit of our climb and we can look back down the path which we have climbed and sigh a good sigh.

ze·nith  (zēnĭth)

n.1. The point on the celestial sphere that is directly above the observer.
2. The upper region of the sky.ze·nith  (zēnĭth)
 
n.
1. The point on the celestial sphere that is directly above the observer.
2. The upper region of the sky.
3. The highest point above the observer's horizon attained by a celestial body.
4. The point of culmination; the peak: the zenith of her career. See Synonyms at summit.


[Middle English senith, from Old French cenith, from Medieval Latin, from Arabic samt (ar-ra's), path (over the head), from Latin sēmita, path; see mei-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

Just to go through the whole megillah (see tomorrow's post for this definition) let me repeat:

When revising you gain Altitude by descending to see the Boys in the Basement, they are so Cool with their myriad of Details, helping you to Edit with Fortitude (and Grammar!). Help with your Idiosyncrasies can also be Juicy as you Kick-ass with the Lamé wearing Monkey Mind overly concerned with Numbers. Open to your Purpose, Query your Revision and Synopsis by Talking Out Loud. You will find it Uplifting as your Vigour and Words X-ray and shows the Yin & Yang of you at your Zenith!


Please drop by tomorrow to see what I have to say about this year's experience.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y is for Yin and Yang

As I stare out the window at work writing this (my break people!) I see the top edge of the motorboat peeking out above the snow banks. I've never seen it before. I started working here in October but not in this office until March - so my view has always been snow and more snow. Occasionally a pack of dogs will trot by and there is a wee squirrel I've been seeing quite a bit of - but no - mostly snow and tree tops - a bit of a mountain far off. But I know something! I know that soon - in the next couple of weeks or maybe even sooner - I will see Little Lake through the trees. If I stand up I can see it now - all frozen and white. It will be lovely to look out and see that body of water shining away.

And that is what I want to talk about today in your revision process. We've gone through so many stages and you may have noticed that it has been very little nuts and bolts - just small tips and reminders for the most part. But what we sometimes forget when we are beavering away is that there will be a day when the obstacles will have melted away and you will see your ms shining - whole and beautiful. Although, unlike my view, you and I will have to do something to get there. Metaphors must by their very nature break down at some point - otherwise they wouldn't stand for the thing - they'd be the thing!

In Chinese philosophyyin and yang (also, yin-yang or yin yang) describes how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.

Your manuscript from this point of view is already finished. It lies complete and shiny under the ice and snow. It is our delusion that it isn't there until we hit that final -30- (do people still do this or is it just me?) 
Believe that and work away to free it. 

And there is Little Lake from another view point!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X is for x-ray

X is for using your x-ray vision


Oh! Remember Superman and how he wouldn't use his x-ray vision for most of the things we would? Well now I want you to use yours. I know you have it  -  at least with your own manuscripts. I want you to remember to look below your words. Our words are like a skin on the body of the work. Like our own skin - our outer organ - it is often mistaken for the whole thing.

What? If my novel isn't words what is it?

It is what the words are protecting and transporting. And that my friend is emotion, insight, and intention. It has to be there or your words won't ring authentic. If we write at all we write to move others - to get them to understand what we understand, to feel what we feel, to see what we see.

When we think of our loved ones, our babies, our lovers, our friends, our family - do we think 'my oh my they have such lovely exteriors that I don't care if they are empty inside!' ? No - or not at least when we are over 14 years old (or reluctant adults holding on to a view of the world that isn't of interest to most of us).

If I feel my interest starting to flag, my eyes drooping, when I'm reading or listening to someone tell a story, I know there is a lie in there. It has ceased to be authentic. That is my x-ray vision at work. If I'm with a client (I'm a psychotherapist) I will jerk myself awake and say to the client 'hey what are you telling me? Something isn't right."  Nine times out of ten I am right. We locate the truth (usually hidden behind fear) and get it out. You must use your x-ray vision on your manuscript. When you feel bored or duped - stop and fix or at least mark it for a later fix (but if not now- when?)

So fire up your super powers of observation and x-ray your ms.  Here is Bella for no reason!