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....

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

IWSG - quit? Hell no!

Here we are again - a loyal band of word warriors - or is that worriers? The question, very tentatively suggested is have you ever considered quitting the writing game. My answer is unequivocally no. It has quit me on occasion but I have never considered quitting it.  But I'm only 65 and I started late - I was seven or eight. So who knows?

Sure, I haven't hit pay dirt with this writing racket but I never found true love until I was fifty (our loveversary is on St. Jean Baptiste Day thus month). I'm a late bloomer.

I will take a moment to remind myself and my readers (hi Margot!) that I've had several plays hit the stage; I've had poetry both published and awarded; I ran a successful and wildly fun mystery entertainment biz for over 25 years with my two best friends, and I won an essay contest (national) when I was in grade 7!

Seriously - I can't imagine stopping writing. I have a friend who did. She, like me, had a good profession, but loved to write. She wrote and had published a great book of short stories. Then she poured her heart into a novel that had a story that was similar in its idea to one that got published to great acclaim just as she was finishing hers. She burnt it and quit writing.  It was one of those things that still gets discussed in hushed and amazed tones by writers back home.  Another possible reason for this calamity may have been that her closest friend was published and published and published.  That can get old if you let it.

I did have an epiphany this month I'd like to share. I got a rejection from a publisher last week. What was abnormal about this was my reaction - I felt completely okay. When I was talking to another writer pal I mentioned this and realized that my equanimity was due to feeling very happy with both my manuscript and my query package. When I got the rejection I merely shrugged and thought 'that's the way the cookie crumbles'.

I'm not writing much these days though. I'm two months out with my bionic hip and sitting at my desk is still too tough for any length of time. I do plan on getting 15 packages out in the month of June. Some will be for Bright Angel and some will be for some poems, a couple of short stories and a few essays. Also, a friend and I are writing a mystery to be performed at a local museum. Lots of fun!

And I continue to hand sew a series of dolls with elaborate back-stories .

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Insecure? Hell yes.

It is time for another meeting of the IWSG. We meet the first Wednesday of every month to share, console, celebrate and commiserate the successes, fabulous failures, and struggles on this writing path. 

Today the question on the table is 'What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?" Now that's a great question - I'm flipping through my memory banks.   For almost 30 years, two friends and myself ran a murder mystery company. We researched many ways to kill someone, as well as all sorts of clubs or interests that would draw a group to a resort. What we discovered was that no matter how bizarre of a notion we dreamed up, we would find real life examples of it. This was pre-google too. Cross-country skiers for Christ - yep. Sonic healing - check.  
One of my faves though was based on our most frequented resort Oak Island Inn. The mysteries surrounding the suposed treasure buried there are far beyond anything we could fabulate but we did an excellent job with a plot that involved a female viagra factory that used the island's mysterious past to cover up their bizarre doings. I do believe the story behind Wonder Woman was also part of the plot and the secret bunker that had been co-designed by President Roosevelt  and our Canadian leader, Prime Minister King. I'm quite fuzzy on that one though. 

I love doing research for novels. I like inventing businesses,  and conspiracies and then researching to see if it might be possible. Right now I'm using my rage at our provincial government and corporate greed to write a murder mystery set on the reserve where I work. Because of the nature of the location in Labrador it will not be possible to disguise the place or the doings that frame the story, so I best do my research well.  I always remember that the facts in novels are servants to the fiction, and not the other way round.

Right now researching would be a good way to use my time. I'm home recovering from a total hip replacement and cannot sit at my computer.  I can use my tablet for short pieces like this and I could certainly research some info I need on the Lower Churchill Project. 

LATE BREAKING NEWS : Last evening my fella said to me that he'd  build me a little bed table and I could use his laptop to write on in the day. He'll work on it today in his spare time at work. He teaches home building at the community college.  We probably won't set it up with my files until the weekend but YAY! I have about three or more weeks of recovery before going back to work do this would be a true Buddhasend.