Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Yes it is another meeting of the fabulous insecure writers support group. Click that link to go to the sign-up page.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the February 3 posting of the IWSG are Louise - Fundy Blue , Jennifer Lane, Mary Aalgaard, Patsy Collins at Womagwriter, and Nancy Gideon!

 February 3 question - Blogging is often more than just sharing stories. It’s often the start of special friendships and relationships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere?

Why yes indeedy I have. And most of them through this group I do believe! I'm afraid to name names for the ones that I will inadvertently leave off (I'm old okay).

But I'm going to go ahead and do my best. I think the one I've had the longest as a pal is the Watery Tart Hart Johnson. Her blog Confessions of a Watery Tart was a lifeline of cheer and sheer foolishness for so many years. Unfortunately she has stopped blogging but I think is still active on facebook. I miss her! We never met in the flesh though we cooked up a few plans to do so. We were Beta readers for each other and when the world is allowed to meet again I would happily cross the border to meet with her. There were several other members of the Burrow (a mostly online writing group that instigated BuNoWriMo) like Cruella Collet from The Giraffability of Digressions, Tara Smith, Chary Johnson, and Rayna Iyer. I think mostly only Rayna is still blogging but unsure of that...

There are two pals I met a little after Hart that have been absolute wonderful support types - neither do the IWSG but always post a comment when I do. They are the fabulous Elizabeth Spann Craig who is a stalwart of the writing world with her longstanding blog Writing is Murder.  The absolute dear Margot Kinberg from the wonderful, but now defunct, blog- Confessions of a Mystery Novelist. But my gawd - she has a web site called Crime Writer Margot Kinberg where you can still get your fix.

One person that I'm determined to meet in person sometime in this lifetime is Liza of Middle Passages. She writes beautifully - her poetry takes my breath away and she is a wonderful photographer too. I also appreciate how steady she is - through some incredibly hard times of late she continues to post and share her writing life. 

Oh man, this is difficult. There are so many people I really connected to - Alan Orloff (A Million Blogging Monkeys), Elspeth Futcher (It's a Mystery and her brilliant sidekicks - the sheep), the marvelous Patricia Stoltey and the very fun Talli Roland (a bluenoser who decamped to London). Both Barbara Casey and Niamh Boyce of Ireland have special places in my heart. I also adore any post that Faith Pray makes from her great blog Sacred Dirt.

And I want to make a special shout out to our Captain - Alex J. Cavanaugh - who is the founder of the IWSG and comes to comment more than I think humanly possible! 

All of these folks I have made some personal connection with. Some it has been made up of comments and writing back and forth - some I've been Beta readers and they have in exchange. Some we've exchanged actual things - material objects like woolen hats and photos and paper prayer flags have whizzed through space and been held by one or the other of us. Outside of my writing life I have a number of relationships with bloggers in the visual and textile arts.  This photo is of me in Labrador sporting the best hat I ever had (and yes I lost it!) from Hart.

When I think of these people they are real - they are both body and soul present in my mind. How can that be? I don't care! 

So I will stop here and simply say that the blogging community in the realm of the literary or visual arts is bloody fantastic! Such good training for Covid too...

In Other News : I'm writing! I'm writing! I'm writing! 

What are you writing Jan? I'm writing a novel inspired by my own random crazy life. I don't want to write a memoir - I just want to be inspired by my own memories and see what happens. The protagonist has already split from being me and taken on her own life and history. I'm so enjoying this. I have about 12,000 words and it has been not quite two weeks. 

What a huge relief. I haven't not written for my whole life and I found the fallow field very barren. It was, in truth, only a few months...

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

woohoo it is 2021! first meeting of the year for IWSG


Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the January 6 posting of the IWSG are Ronel Janse van Vuuren , J Lenni Dorner, Gwen Gardner Sandra Cox, and Louise - Fundy Blue!

Hi all dear writing and non-writing pals!
I'm writing this a few days early...because...well, I always do. There's lots  of things that I always do. That seems to be a side-effect of aging. One puts in certain protocols to prevent things slipping one's mind. Or this 'one' does. So when I get the notice of the next meeting - I go off and write it and post-date it. Then I can wake up on the morning of the 6th with a song in my heart, instead of a leaden bit of old porridge cemented together with the not-very-sticky glue of 'wasn't I supposed to do something?'

January 6 question - Being a writer, when you're reading someone else's work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people's books?

 I read a lot of books. This last year I read eighty. The year before 120. I read lots of fiction, some poetry, biography, travel-memoirs and dharma books (about my Buddhist practice).  I mostly finish what I start, but I'm careful of what I do start because of that. Recently I finished a book but sort of wished I'd tossed it - but no - I'm curious as to whether someone can rise above a poor start. I'm not going to name this book and I'm not putting it on my Good Reads list either. I don't think it would be helpful for me to tell this person what turned me off. Not at this point. What was it? It was meandering that bored me. The author could have made this already fairly slight book slighter. Per* could have cut about 30% of it and it would have sung instead of sagged. I think the problem was that per wasn't sure what per was writing. It was a memoir of a certain time and the author kept going on about side-issues - which weren't in of themselves boring but they were distracting. So that's about it. I don't like filler. Which doesn't mean that I don't like descriptive writing - I do - but it must further the story - not spackle together the bits of it that do.

Note about my own writing: I'm not writing. Not a sausage! Not a crumb! Not a morsel! I'm not editing, revising, or even just playing in the world of words. I think I just need to go fallow for a bit. I really haven't been able to make myself write for a few months. I really worked hard for two years on Crooked Knife. I sent of queries I am quite pleased with in September (and a few since) and now I just want to hear from the world. I have a kid's book percolating but so far my pen hasn't touched paper. Maybe I'll start a series of linked poems but right now the thought of any of that is about as enticing as more turkey. Nope. Enough for now. Still a writer - just not writing. Bear with me please. Isn't that a nice phrase - bear with me? I think it means more than we usually attribute to it. I think it means to help me share the burden of my non-writing - help me hold that up and be okay with it.

Here is a photo of a dried Queen Anne's Lace pod that I took recently. I've loved my walks amongst dried golden and frosted weeds and grasses this winter. It looks like a cage of stars...

*per is what I'm using for personal pronouns as in  Marge Piercey's Woman on the Edge of Time. It is used for all personal pronouns and therefore no need to memorize what people's choices are. I don't have the bandwidth for that.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Yes, it's another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group! 

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the December 2 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia, Sylvia Ney, Liesbet @ Roaming About Cathrina Constantine, and Natalie Aguirre!

December 2 question - Are there months or times of the year that you are more productive with your writing than other months, and why?

Not as easy a question as one might suppose. I want to say "yeah...but" or "no...but".

Usually I can get fired up in November and I used to get fired up in June - why? Because I would join up a novel writing in a month group and fly atter. The June one was initiated by the Burrowers led by the imitable  Watery Tart. The November one was (is) NaNoWriMo.  Both of these have been hit and miss but more hit than miss by a long shot. My two novels that are absolutely finished began in one or the other of these challenges. I've got a few others that were generated by those challenges but aren't as finished as they need to be. I thought I'd try it this year again. Crooked Knife began in November, 2016 and is now looking for a home. But massive fail. The truth is that I don't feel like writing these days and nothing is inspiring me to do so - or even kicking my pants to do so. This time last year I was deep into revisions and then into 2020 with more revisions and edits and packaging and...  I guess all of that - which continues and will continue until CK finds a home - has just wore me out in the writing department. I know it will come back - I have another ms with the same protagonist on the go with about 12 thousand words done, and a YA with about the same. I like both of them but I simply find myself unable to apply the old bum glue. Is it just the normal response to an all out effort being met with radio silence? Is it covid, or the news, or shiny new projects? Not sure. I'm smart enough to leave it lie for now though. To be perfectly clear - I'm not annoyed with no response yet - I know the long game of querying a novel - but it does have an effect on one.

So am I a seasonal writer? I don't think so. I have written in all seasons. And I'm still making. I'm still a complete and utter creative nutbar. In fact I've got two projects I'm quite excited and consumed by - one is an art piece commissioned for an album a musician friend is producing. I did his last one too - so this feels good. The other is a story for a kid's book that is percolating. I guess it includes some writing, but is mainly a picture book about dance hall dogs. I'm going to do the story and the pictures. We'll see how that goes.

Okily dokily dear friends. Time to get to the drawing board. Hope you are all well and that wherever you are on the spectrum of creating, you are more than satisfied with. Keep on being you - all others are taken.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Why I Write


Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the November 4 posting of the IWSG are Jemi Fraser, Kim Lajevardi, L.G Keltner, Tyrean Martinson, and Rachna Chhabria!

Yes, it's another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group! I love this month's question - it goes to the heart of these times. Here it is:

November 4 question - Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Conner said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

As my writing is varied (plays, novels, poems, essays) one might think my purposes might be as well. Nope. I write to wake myself up and perhaps to wake others up in the reading of it. It isn't that I think my waking up is crucial to the saving of the world, but I do believe that it is imperative that we all become aware of the water we swim in. So...I believe that both Camus and O'Conner answer this question as I might. The last big writing I did was my novel Crooked Knife - now looking for a home. I wrote it because I was enraged and broken-hearted about a certain situation. Writing gave me a place to try and understand my thinking and feeling about that situation.  My hope is that others reading it will be both entertained by the story and have a new understanding of a community that is little valued. 

 I write poetry to discover what I might be thinking and feeling about very big questions - the core of my belief system, my values, my sense of beauty and the raw energy of the world. I'd say it all comes from the same place but the poetry is another layer. Another prismatic view of my world.

I write for the same reason I read. To wake up.

Hope when you are reading this that your community - where ever that may be is functioning and that people are acting peacefully. I am very aware of the division in the USA and how frightening and painful that must be for my American friends. I pray that whatever outcomes occur that kindness be the first virtue embraced.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

out my window

 And here we are at another meeting of the IWSG

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the October 7 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett, Beth Camp, Beverly Stowe McClure, and Gwen Gardner!

October 7 question - When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like.

I don't think much of the term working writer. It seems too wordy. My partner doesn't say he is a working carpenter. My pal doesn't say she is a working doctor. Maybe it has become cheapened - the perfectly good word 'writer'- because people feel like if you say you are one, you may be fantasizing. I write. I have written my whole life. On occasion I've been paid to write - journalist, publicist, etc... So...I feel like it is a slippery slope of propping yourself up. I don't much going around presenting myself as my career or work choice anyway. Perhaps that is because at the age of 68 I can lay claim to too many livelihoods. I'm a psychotherapist. I'm a teacher. I'm a clown. I'm a playwright. I'm a cook. I'm a daycare worker. I'm a logger. I'm a cleaner. I'm an entrepreneur. I'm a photographer. I'm a meeting planner. I'm a counsellor. I'm an arts administrator. I'm a publicist. I'm a journalist. I'm a director. I'm a...human. Other than human, I've been paid for all these jobs and more I haven't thought of. But, since I was a teenager, I've written. I've written through all of them. It is the only work I've continued throughout my whole life.

On other fronts - my query packages are out and I'm waiting to see what happens next. I only sent three but they were very directed. (I had someone who had paved the way so they weren't blind submissions)  I'm working on a new novel and have decided that this time I'm going to write at least a skeleton of an outline. I have already begun the first draft - have about ten thousand words and it has the same protagonist as in Crooked Knife so there is already lots of background known. I plan on working on the outline and then doing NaNoWriMo to get my next fifty thousand words or so. It is called Red Bay. 

I love October. I know this is a tough time but I'm continuing to enjoy this new house and the maple trees are turning. Turning is one of my favourite words. Turning, falling, changing...

I went to Tancook Island last week for three nights. I think I found my next place to set a novel. Island people are so interesting no?

Thanks for visiting and see you next month!