Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Insecure? Who me?

There's a lot going on today. First and foremost it is Canada Day. Yay Canada! We stand on guard for thee. Do we? Maybe not so much. Right now a fair number of Canadians aren't feeling so proud. We aren't proud of our government's stand on the environment, and how our aboriginal people have been treated and indeed, continue to be treated. We aren't proud of the lack of support for our veterans, or the cavalier attitude of big government and big business in regards to the responsibility to those less empowered. On the other hand, we are still allowed to express such disappointment and not be thrown into jail. That's big. We still love our national parks and our desire for peace. We still desire our government to actively reflect who we are as a people and I haven't given up all hope that we will get there. I think it is in our grasp. So Happy Birthday Canada, with all your warts and all.

Secondly, a play I wrote with some friends is opening tonight in Chester, Nova Scotia at the Playhouse and I'll get to see it. Malcolm Callaway and I wrote the libretto back in the nineties, while Dawn Harwood-Jones and Jim Henman wrote the music. It's called Death, the Musical - karaoke at the Afterlife Bar & Grill.  We call it Death for short. We put it on at the Playhouse in 98 and then the following year it made it to the mainstage of the Neptune Theatre in Halifax. That was one of the highlights of my life for sure. So now, sixteen years later, it is back in Chester. I look forward to seeing it and will happily stand and take a bow when my friends and all shout out 'authors! authors!'

Thirdly, it is a meeting of the Insecure Writer/s Support Group once again. Hit it to find more of us!

I have to admit - I don't feel that insecure today. Last night I met with my insecure human's support group or The Babes as we like to call us. I'm in Nova Scotia for a short visit and meeting with them as often as possible has been my mandate. We had such a fabulous get together and one of the things we did is do a go around with these two questions - "What did you want to have accomplished by now and you think will not happen in this lifetime?" and "What seems like it might still be in your grasp?"  That brought up conversation that was wonderful, searing, heart-breaking, funny, and all that one can hope for in good company with friends of thirty years or so. The next round we asked for everyone to look at their first answer and see if they could see how their desires had manifested in this life. Was it true that they hadn't attained what they thought or was there a way that they had? That was astounding from my point of view.  My answers to both sets of questions had been about my creativity. I feel that having a book of mine published is within by grasp. And I'm good with my crazy life - I cannot be a Hilary Mantel or a Margaret Atwood  - I don't have enough life left but I make a hell of a Jan Morrison! The answer to my first question was that I thought I'd be famous by now. Not like Madonna but that I'd have earned famousness. Shallow stupid but true answer. When I went deeper I realized I am famous with those that I want to be. Tonight I'll get to take my bow and be famous in Chester. Next week I'll walk down the road in Sheshatshiu and a gang of kids will yell out 'Jannie Bananie! Wait for us!' and I'll be famous there. I do love my life.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

5a.m. revising

I'm getting used to getting up at 5a.m. and making a small French press of coffee, firing up the system and working away. Yes! I now have one complete edit of my ms and there will be more to follow. This is enough for now. I want to work both on the micro and macro so I am. My hope is to revise 8 to 10 pages a day but I got behind because I lost the weekend. I'd done everything I could but G. had lost his connection so couldn't send it til Sunday evening. I'm at about page 70 and will work tonight on another ten to twenty pages. I can't be totally accurate as to how long it will take me. Some chapters are not marked up much - others have a forest of comments to wade through.

On the macro side I need to do some characterization work. One fella is practically a ghost, not even saying boo. And there is another I want to give the p.o.v. to for at least one chapter. This is a suggestion by G. and the weird thing is that she had her own chapters during one version of the story but I thought it was too confusing to have so many people with p.o.v.'s. I like it when it is handled right so I guess I'd better learn how. Now's the time. I'm also going to set another chapter or two in Nova Scotia. My gang all up and heads off to New Mexico and then the Grand Canyon but I want a firmer base in the South Shore community they live in so the contrast will be more... uh... contrasty.

Okay, it is after six and I need to get dressed, make my breakfast and my lunch. I'm taking my bike to work this morning. Yee haw.

Here I am on my bike a few days after I got it several weeks ago. You'll be very glad to know the snow is finally gone and beach season has arrived. Kind of.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Bridges crossed...miles to go and another meeting of the IWSG

Here we go again! Whew...that month flew ...didn't it? So grab your favorite beverage off the table there and settle into your bean bag chair. Comfy? Good. Today I have a guest speaker. She doesn't know she's here but I invited Linda Graham who wrote the fantastic book Bouncing Back to talk to us about our insecurity and mindfulness. Instead of telling you too much about mindfulness, brain plasticity and how we can change our mind, I decided that she would simply share a mindfulness practice that will do better than tell you about those things. We writers appreciate a 'show' rather than a 'tell' anyway.

Here is an exercise from page 117:  - * I have substituted writerly examples where applicable. 
Exercise 1: Creating a Better Choice through New Conditiong
1. Identify a habitual negative reaction -"I'm not a good writer" "No one will ever publish this." "I'm always rejected." - that you would like to use as a cue to practice rewiring your brain.
2. Identify the new response you would like to substitute - "I'm writing well." "There will be interest in this work." "I'm persistent."
3. Identify a positive code word or phrase you will use to break the circuit and cue yourself to change the channel in your brain: "Open." "It's okay." "All good." The choice is up to you - what's important is to use the cue as soon as you identify the trigger, to prevent yourself from falling into your old, conditioned reaction. Practice saying your cue word to yourself while you're in the actual state so that that your brain conditions itself to shift to that state when it registers the cue.
4. Each time the trigger arises, practice the new pattern of response: say your cue word and shift to the state you've chosen as the new experience (for example, a genuine kindness) as many times as you need to for the new pattern to become the old habit.
5. Notice as the old pattern fades away in the the background and the new pattern becomes more automatic. You have conditioned new learning in your brain, and you have learned that you can do so. Take in the sense of mastery as you experience the actual rewiring in your brain.

Meeting adjourned.


It is only day four of the BuNoWriMo but I'm happy with my progress. In the four mornings I've worked I've written a new opening chapter and worked the next two with the suggestions from G. I sent him those three chapters this morning and have to wait until he sends me another chunk of revision. So...I'm a bit behind as I'd like to have forty pages revised by now and I have something like 26 but the thing is I know how it's going to go and I can manage it.

My plan of waking at five is working with some jigging. I have got up anywhere between 5:12 and 6 but each time I've managed at least an hour and a half of work with lots of time to grab my breakfast and smooch my fella. I don't fret as long as I do the hour and a half. On the weekend I hope (if I have another chunk of manuscript by then) to do some extra hours. G. has told me he has really dived into the book and that the chapters are getting better. That's a relief - may it be so and continue to be so!

So...there you have it - I'm checked in.

Where are you all at in the merry month of June? This photo is of the Pinware River on the southern coast of Labrador. We were there just about this time last year...we're heading out the other way (towards Quebec) this year but I hope later in the summer we'll do a weekend down to Red Bay (just before this bridge!).

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

2 of 30

Hey! I got up at 5:12 AM two mornings in a row now. And I plan on doing that all this week and all next. I can work for two hours on my ms by doing that. It's quiet cuz even the fella doesn't get up that early (6 or a bit later when he's on holiday). I make a small pot of coffee and settle in. I'm not going to talk about the stupid operating system but other than that - things are cooking on the work. I have a new first chapter in hand - will do a bit of a polish then send it off to my guide through this labyrinth - my mentor, who I will call G. as I haven't asked his permission to out him! It was G's idea as he thought the first chapter was too much info and not enough protagonist. I really like what I've done and even though it will require slightly adjusting every other single sentence (yes - you know it!) it is worth it.

As of tomorrow I won't be creating new stuff though. I'll be working the edits and revision. I'll be polishing and sanding and possibly moving a few walls and putting an elevator in. Or a really nice billiards hall just like in my old game of Clue! No! This isn't a mystery and it has plenty of rooms already.

Okay - I'll probably be updating this a lot as that is how I like to work the BuNoWriMo. I know I can write on the fb page and I will but I'd rather be held to my promises by you all - my old and new faithful readers (you are faithful aren't you? you aren't messing around with another writer named Jan Morrison are you?)

Later... oh and this picture is of an old classic painting called The Gleaners by Jean-Francois Millet.  I put it here to remind me of what I'm doing at this point.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Birthing a book

I managed to haul my butt out of bed by 5:12 AM. I woke at 5 (no - no alarm - I do it with me own head) but set my mental snooze alarm for another dozen sweet minutes. Then I went to my desk and started up my program. Here's one of the more irritating parts of my life right now - I have a new operating system. My fella cleaned up my computer and I had to get rid of Word - it was just too ancient. He put in open office for me and I hate it. Is that too strong a word? No it isn't but thanks for asking. All the actions that have been a part of my writing life are suddenly ever so slightly changed. Where's the line spacing tool? How do I turn off that ridiculous word completion nonsense? And so on. I'm not mad at my guy - I had to have it changed - but I do wish he'd be sympathetic to how I feel. I said to him 'What if I went into your workshop and took your most used tool and replaced it with something that is supposed to be way better but that you didn't get - how would you feel? And oh by the way, you have a really big project to finish?'  He just looks at me and says that there is nothing to be done and lots of people use open office and love it.

That means I'm sitting in the corner at my desk muttering curses under my breath. Just saying.

But - I did get me arse on the seat and I did do my new chapter started. Over a thousand words and I know where it's going and I can't believe I've worked for three years (today!) on Bright Angel and not known I needed this chapter. And it will be the first one. Thank you dear mentor - you are already worth your weight in gold for suggesting this.

And yes it has been three years to the day that I started Bright Angel. At the beginning it was called something else - for a moment it was The Barrens - but that didn't last. Then I called it Good Enough -  I think and just before it became Bright Angel it was called Crossing Bright Angel. About thirty thousand words in, when my protagonist ended up travelling from Nova Scotia to the Grand Canyon I found out about an old trail called Bright Angel and that became the name. I spent some time last night reading my old blog posts from three years ago. I can't believe I started a book and wrote 70 thousand words in two months while our house was for sale and I was also writing a poem a day for a project I called 60 poems in 60 days in my 60th year or some such twaddle! I was absolutely on writing fire.

Three years will seem a lot to some of you I know but I think I will be done with this final revision the end of this month and I feel like this has been a short haul. It's not like I haven't done other things - lots of other writing - plays, poems, revising other manuscripts; moving to Labrador, working now at a very compelling job - continuing my therapy practice and so on.

Nope - I'm happy with a three year pregnancy!

And I'm super happy to be taking part in another BuNoWriMo under the tutelage of the tartlette. Go to her site and see how to join up if you like. It is a wonderful group to work with.