Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Another meeting of the IWSG already?


Yes it is! Wow - February flew! If you don't know what this group does go here and join up! We meet on the first Wednesday of every month and that is today.

Here is the merely suggested question for this month:

March 1 Question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Why yes, I have! I'm not sure what you would call a really old story - and I'm sure you mean one of my own really old stories but how old do you think I am? Okay. I am really old. For a dog. For a human I'm middling old. But I seriously digress.

I pulled out a short story that I knew had more in it because the readers of a contest told me (like they always do) that my short stories are more like novel intros. So I took that story and turned it into a novel. The story was about a mother who only incidentally to the plot had two children. I turned it into a novel which is mainly about the youngest daughter and the mother's step-aunt. I think the reason that I did this, because normally I'd rather just have a brand-new idea for a novel, is that the name of the youngest daughter was Pinky and she just insisted on being heard. Now that story is  (many many ) years later completely utterly finished and in the hands of a few publishers ! Ta da! So I think it worked out. I have a few (okay - four) novels that could use a good going over. I'm not sure I'm up to it as I'm now on to another novel but, we'll see. I think each story teaches me something whether it sees the light of day or not.

Another way that I looked at this question was to consider whether I've ever used an ancient story as the inspiration for something I'm working on. I can't remember any that have worked out but I am inspired by revisiting ancient fairytales, myths and so on. I'm totally impressed with what writers have done with the Archie comics in the television show 'Riverdale'. How they turned this lighthearted account of teen life in the fifties into a gothic story in a contemporary world is truly fascinating. Jughead remains my fave character!

This last month I didn't really work on my new novel though. I worked on two essays for a big non-fiction contest here in Canada. It was really great stretching my muscles in a relatively new way and as the word limit was 1800 quite a shorter way too. I'm very interested in the essay format and tried something poetic with one of my submissions. Hope I do well, but if I don't I still have two essays that I'm proud of. I've been reading lots of essay books. Here are some I'm currently reading  -View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman; The Wave in the Mind by Ursula K. Le Guin; and Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit. 

And that brings me to my final thought for this month's meeting - reading good writers talking about their writing or the state of the world or feminism or anything in that line - well, it keeps the negativity at bay. So, writing companions, when I get down on my own output, I increase my input!

How do the rest of you manage, especially during these long pre-spring days? Truthfully, we don't have spring here - it will be frozen over until June. But I have spring fever still and a desire to get everything in order. I'm having my new hip surgery at the end of this month so I really want things tickety boo. I also took myself off social media (yes - that one which is not a dear face or a good book) which is giving me oodles more time. Which I spend writing, cleaning, drawing, cleaning, organizing and cleaning. Ha!

Here is a drawing I made of my dear home under a huge rainbow. 




Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Insecure Writer's Support Group Meeting is in session.




 IWSG

IWSG - please go to this link to read other posts by writers or to join the group!

Good morning everyone!  How are you?  Here is a photo of the Point Amour lighthouse, the tallest in Atlantic Canada.  It is on the south coast of Labrador and the fella and I saw it a couple of years ago when we took that route home.


And why a pic of a lighthouse? Well, a lighthouse is one of emblems of the IWSG.  You might be sailing along very nicely, thank you, enjoying a calm sea and making great time on your voyage to publication, or to finish your third draft. Fine. But what if you find yourself in troubled waters? (Hey, I lived in Chester, NS - I can do the sailing metaphor for reams of virtual paper.)  

Perhaps you are headed directly into uncharted waters. You might crash on the rocks that surround Bay d'Espoir (really - Bay Despair - on the northern coast of Newfoundland). But wait! You see the light glimmering through the fog and waves. You hear the deep baritone of its foghorn. The lighthouse helps guide you through treacherous waters.

How does the group act as a lighthouse?

Well, it is made up of many people who have different abilities on the writing front. Some of them are published authors, some are just starting out and many are in-between.  ALL OF THEM are willing to extend a hand, point a way out of whatever fix you've found yourself in,and mostly to just listen, nod, and tell you to keep sailing. 

I'm feeling very hopeful right now. No - not about the state of the world, but writing for me even helps that - but about my writing practice. I'm taking two days off this week so I can spend four days working on my current project. In the weird way that I work I guess I'm on both a second or third draft and figuring out the ending. Yes! I have to go back and back and keep approaching the ending until it becomes clear to me. This is a mystery so that is kind of important! I have all the components - now I must put them down in a narrative that holds the conclusion. Fun!  I know if I get stuck and down on myself that I have a community that has my back and that is gold!

So - I wish everyone sunny skies and calm waters - but if you hit a squall let me know. I'll be there - shining my little light.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Might have to change the title of this blog...

I`m still Jan Morrison but the `this crazy writing life`might need an edit. I might need to just say `this crazy life` or  `this crazy drawing, watching, protesting, anything-but-writing life`.

On the positive side, if I`m outing myself in this way it does mean I can make a fresh start at this year. The Buddhist New Year isn`t until the end of February so that could be it - but no, think I`ll fly at it a bit earlier.

Maybe I`ll remember my old Kaizen approach. That is the discipline where one makes incremental changes instead of huge ones, in the hopes of your amygdala not acting up (I call it the Gorilla). The Gorilla doesn`t like changes of any kind. So I will make my changes small. I will tell the fella that I want to move my desktop computer downstairs because stairs are hard for me now and will be really hard after hip surgery. Then I will promise myself to work for half an hour on the new novel. That`s it. Just half an hour - no number limits. Nope. One half hour.

Yep. That`s what I`m going to do.

Thanks - youse guys always help me the most. Here`s a drawing I did in my one drawing a day klass.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Post flu, post Trump, post post

Wowza! I usually save that word for things that really knock me off my feet beauty-wise. But I now offer it to the flu spirit. Wowza - you knocked me down and kept me down for three weeks. You kept me from celebrating my birthday, the birthday of Bodhisattva Jesus, the Gregorian New Year and a few other things I don't remember. I am the only person I know who came back from holidays having lost twelve pounds. And that wasn't from nausea or any of that nastiness - just no appetite. No appetite for any food - not even my go-to sick food (bowl of rice with butter, salt and pepper) or even ginger-ale. No appetite for anything - not for reading or watching or sleeping. Nada. No appetite for life at all. This flu, which seemed to be mainly a cold and cough, came with a terrible malaise. I have a very new and strong respect for those who suffer from depression. I don't know how folks make it day to day - because one has no energy to change, or belief that one can.

On the up side, I'm loving feeling good. Well, feeling good within the limits of this hip pain. That I know will end. Just get me that new Barbi-doll hip and I'll be back roaming the woods and shore. But truly? If I was told that I either had to have the hip pain for the rest of my life or bouts of depression, I'd take the hip pain (as long as I could have my current medication that is).  I have buckets of energy and just a true appreciation for feeling good enough, that is making each day easier. We have a new gang at work (I work at a residential treatment centre) and I can't wait to get to know them. I am excited for my days at the school on the reservation (Wednesdays) and am also glad for small accomplishments - I cleaned the fridge on Saturday!!

In my writing life I have little to report except feelings of optimism. I'm still waiting to hear back from some folks on Bright Angel and have another set of query packages to go out. I really want to get Crooked Knife finished and polished and ready to go. I have a hunch about that book and I want to check out if I'm right. I also want to compile a manuscript of poetry and photos I've done since I've been in Labrador and see if I can someone to look at that - or self-publish it.

I continue to do a digital painting with writing daily on fb and not sure if I need to do anything about that or just enjoy the discipline.  here's one from a few weeks back. I find that my art has gotten darker since the election. Like Princess Leia said "take your broken heart and make art". It is healing and others seem to get something too.


The river, the ice, the skates - sure, she had them, but the desire to skate away had flown.
 Maybe skating in slow delicious circles was her way now.


So that's me for right now. Feeling better, trying to stay on the up, creating and healing. Howzaboutyou?




Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Maybe just a tad insecure



Yes, it is another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group!  I'm ignoring the prompt today as I truly can't think of a piece of writers' advice that I wish I hadn't read and truly if I wished I hadn't read it why would I pass it on to you?

Instead, I am going to tell you, and remind myself, of the best piece of writer advice I ever heard. It was from my daddio and it was "sit down and write!" Yep - he made it simple - a little dab of bum glue and a fella or gal would be set. Forget about everything else, or better yet, like a holistic farmer, turn all of it beneath your plow. Feeling stuck? Write about that. Bored with your story - make that ennui a plot point.  Furious at all those rejection lettters? Writing well is the best revenge.

It is the start of a nice fresh unbesmirched year. I've begun a new drawing course which has me making at least one drawing a day. I'm back on my cushion meditating. Today I will spend an hour with my most recent ms.

How about you?