Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Okay writers,  grab your favorite hot or cold beverage from the kitchen, take your seats in my parlour - watch out for the dog bones - ignore the dust bunnies and lets get to talking insecurity. Or security. Either way is fine with me.
Yes, it is another meeting of the IWSG - where writers of all stripes (and dots) gather to buoy each other up before heading back to the trenches, the utter chaotic warfare that writing is. Wait a minute! I do not think that. Nobody put a gun to my head or told me if I didn't enlist (at the age of seven) I would be an utter coward and disgrace to my country and people. Why do we want to make everything so dark and dramatic? Isn't real life enough like that? Okay...sorry. I know better than to start that conversation so early in the meeting.

Here is the March question - Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?

I will give you my honest answer. I am such a Pantser as opposed to a Plotter that I have no idea when I start out if the voice I'm channeling is the hero or the villain. I don't even know what the story is or if it needs heroes and villains. Couldn't it just be a story where time and circumstance are the villains and heroes are those who manage to trudge through yet another day without harming anyone? I can tell you that whoever is the main character thinks they are the hero regardless of facts. Don't we all? I can barely even remember my siblings growing up and we were very close in age. Are. We aren't dead yet. Though come to think of it there is one I haven't heard from in awhile.

The work in progress is a veritable festival of folks who think they are heroes when mainly they ain't. They aren't totally awful - though there are a few as it is a mystery - but even the main character is as flawed as you might find in any police force. Come to think of it I don't think I've made her nearly wicked enough. I should go back at it.

I remember when I was a young actor and a director/teacher told me that if I wanted to play comedy I had to play it straight and if I was after real drama I should play it for laughs. Think that might be true in this regard as well. Worth thinking about...

How about you? Do you struggle with heroes, anti-heroes, villains and, er, anti-villains?

Wednesday, February 6, 2019


It is the monthly meeting of the Insecure Writers' Support Group. This group, which I've been a member of for as long as I can remember, is a group of writers devoted to sharing triumphs and failures, and to celebrating the 'pitter-patter-let's-fly-atter' nature of the intrepid writer. We meet monthly (first Wednesday of every month) to offer support, encouragement, and timely tips - or to share our fears and neurosis in an open and nurturing environment. I missed January and was beside myself for doing so. No, actually I wasn't. I really think there should be a week between the 31st of December and the start of the new year. A week of WTF do you mean we've entered a new year? I don't even have the tinsel out of my hair (it was a party filled time)! But, in the proper IWSG fashion, I got up, dusted off my knees and got back on the horse. 

The (optional) question this month is "Besides writing what other creative outlets do you have?" How extremely timely this is. I have a gazillion creative projects always on the go. I am a photographer, I draw and paint, I make dolls and occasionally quilts or hooked rugs. I sometimes get a hankering to make a little scene in a box, or knit a scarf that might wrap the neighborhood in wild colours. My dancing is sporadic but joyful and my singing is constant but always without an audience (except for the grade twos who always encouraged me - bless them). I love to cook and reinvent recipes. I have done ikebana once or twice. I act and clown. I used to sculpt and I sometimes long to do that again - but it is so ridiculously dependent on space and materials that I tried carving avocado pits last year. Not one of my finer moments but it was great to give it a whirl. I've done papier-mâché and felting. I embroider but only for love. I've made tiny worlds in a teacup, pine-needle sachets, small books, painted porcelain, and tiny shrines. 

Here are the things I come back to again and again - writing and drawing. I will have long and good spurts of doll-making as well but the episodes of it might happen decades apart. 

In the last few years I've kept up my writing and have finished a collection of poems, two novels ready to be published, about four others in various stages and a memoir. I've also written a few murder mysteries to be performed for an evening entertainment and half of a full new play. I've filled up endless sketchbooks and have thousands of photos. 

Lately, and why this question is so timely, I've been considering that I put more energy into my art than into my writing. I know there are very good reasons for this. It is hard to continue to create novels that are tricky to sell. My art is for me - I share it on social media but I do not give a care what others think of it. It is all for the doing, which I find a blissful state. Sometimes writing is like that - I'd say it pretty much is with my poetry - but not with the novels. Why? Because I've wanted to write BOOKS since I was eight. That's it - plain and simple. My darn ego has been entranced for fifty-nine years - massaged and contorted by pretty much me and a couple of other folks (my grade two teacher has a lot to answer for and I do not remember her name). 

This year I decided I would draw a tree a day. I thought that would be a great project and so far it is. I figure by Christmas this year I'll be a helluva tree drawer (or painter - the medium isn't such a big deal in this). It has consumed a huge chunk of my creative side. Everyday I sit down to draw or paint a tree or trees that I am either resting my actual eyes upon or from a photo that I have taken. I post them on Instagram and make no comments whatsoever about them. Having a year to do it means I don't fuss over each one - I do my best but I think of them as a work in progress - part of a master plan.  I'll put a couple of my drawings in here for your pleasure. (I hope)

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Together Again

It is the weekly meeting of the IWSG (the insecure writers' support group) and here I am - still writing, still insecure, still hopeful, still needy! If you are any of these things do go to the link above and join up - it is a lovely group!

Today, the optional question is "what five things might we find in your writing spot?" or something close to that. 

1. My computer - for I do not write with a quill pen on paper that scrolls. When I was in grade nine I took typing as I planned on being a writer. I got 50 as my mark. Why? Because I would only learn to type, not to set margins and acquire proper formatting for business letters. I planned on only writing with the thing. I loved it. I love a keyboard. I love how my fingers can fly nearly as fast as my mind. I loved the first electric typewriter I ever used and then I remember an exquisite joy when I first laid my fingers on the keyboard of a Selectric Typewriter (born in 1961 - ten years younger than myself). Oh my gawd that was heaven with its lovely quickly revolving ball of type. It is no surprise that the masthead of this blog is a typewriter - from a photo I took of a machine in the ancestral home of Elizabeth Bishop (fabulous poet) in Great Village, NS.

2. A white mug with CHAP printed on its side - full of pens and pencils and scissors and nailfiles and bits and pieces. It was given to me by my gestalt teacher, Rod McLean, who had been a chaplin in the forces. I adored that crazy, difficult and brilliant Cape Bretoner and it wouldn't be my desk without that mug.

3. A binder for the novel I'm trying to sell. In the binder are sheets on which I record where and when I send the manuscript and the responses I get. I know it might be better to have something on the computer but I like it in hard copy. I do forget even so and send it to some agency that I sent it to four years ago but hey - no one seems to notice. I also have a set of stapled sheets for the poetry I send out.

4. A constant flow of papers that I need to deal with. For instance, I have a letter that was typed out by a fella to my mother in hopes of getting a date with her. The paper has the heading of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company and is actually a file or claim form (form 102) and was sent to her on April 12th, 1938. She would've been 21 years old. I have it out because, since we came back from Labrador, I've been sorting treasures and junk. This is a treasure, as is my letter from writer Pamela Frankau which I've already discussed in this blog. 

5. A bookcase full of writing books. No matter where I write there are books that I need handy - Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, Brewar's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, Francine Prose's The Artful Edit and about fifty more. It includes inspirational writing and references that always come in handy, even in the age of google. Google is sort of like fast food - it will perhaps suffice to fill me up but I would like a more nutritious meal. I have Cirlot's dictionary of symbols and the Concise Medical Dictionary  and so on. 

I have a room of my own to write in, but that is not always the case. It is also my shrine room, so also has my dharma books and my shrine plus paraphernalia. The walls are orange and there is a shelf that is part of the wall that goes around two sides of the room that holds paintings and sculptures and dolls and vases holding feathers and so on... I love having my own room. Oh, and I do not draw or paint here but do that upstairs in the dining room.

How about you? Where do you create? What do you need at hand? 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Yes, it is that time again! So grab your coffee and let's sit around the woodstove and swap stories about the good ole writing life. Another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group is called to disorder!

The optional question for today is "How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?"

I started writing seriously in grade two when my teacher at Osgoode Elementary praised me for an essay I wrote about a trip our family took to Magnetic Hill in New Brunswick. I thought 'whoa Nelly, here's my schtick!'

Truthfully I do not get the question. I think creativity is our natural life force manifesting. It is not developed so much as discovered and then explored. Some of us find the land of creativity exciting and some are terrified by its raw terrain. Some of us range freely over the territory, exploring every nook and cranny - ever waterfall and river of how to express ourselves and what we perceive.  Some of us only venture a little ways into the wild finding a bit of creativity that is fulfilling if not so adventurous.  Some of go deep and some go broad. Some of us explorers lose our way and discover new lands, some lose our minds on the trip. Some of us find ourselves. Writing is still my favorite path, but I have wandered far in the fields of visual art, textile art, theatre, clowning, cooking, and the arts of persuasion.

But I'm only in my sixties so I know there's more places to go!

On other news it is the 7th day of NaNoWriMo and I'm in the game. I'm being a rebel (highly encouraged in nano land) by spending half my word count on a new YA and half on the submission process for Bright Angel and my chapbook Red Rover.  I count an hour of submitting as a thousand words.

Here is a painting from my Tara series.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Writing day ....

Gwen is here and we're writing. I'm warming up by doing a couple of blog posts. One is one my new blog - Sojourner in Nova Scotia - I wanted to change one of my old ones to the new one but couldn't do it as this one - Jan Morrison, this crazy writing life  and Living the Complicated Simple Life are both managed by an account I no longer have so I cannot change any of the design - I am only a contributor and the REAL Jan Morrison won't let me in. Ha!

Today I'm going into my memoir project. I may try and mine some of it for articles to flog. I'm not sure. I like some of the writing I did around my work on the reserve school and there may be places to put that. I may just continue to refine the manuscript - it is a hot and holy mess of words right now - nearly 100,000 and truly lots of it is just moaning and carrying on in an unnecessary fashion. So lots to do - need to, as my Daddio would say, 'pitter patter fly atter'.

Settling back into life in Nova Scotia is taking me much longer than I anticipated. I guess my emotional muscles are like my body ones - not so flexible anymore. I am also wishing that I had a somewhat regular job (three days a week would be swell) but not sure how to go about that just yet.

All in good time my wise inner voice says. Like I have lots of time says my wise-ass inner voice!

Here's a photo taken recently ... we went down to Milton to visit with my fella's ex and her husband for Thanksgiving.