Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for live, love, laugh and be happy, oh and lamé

It's the A to Zed Challenge! I'll be posting the first half of the month from Ottawa where I'm staying with my youngest and his partner and their newest - a little guy who was born the end of March. Yay!

Theme? Writing and Life is what comes to me... how to balance the writing life with the other tugs you may have...

The ABCDEaria of the Writing Life

L is for live, love, laugh and be happy - 0h and


It is freaking phenomenal to be around a little new being. Sometimes I hold him for hours and hours til my arm is numb and sweaty and what I'm doing is living, loving, laughing and being happy. That red red robin knew what he was on about. And I've seen him and several of his relatives around this suburb and it is grand to see a splash of colour and know that spring is coming...
When April with his showers sweet with fruit
The drought of March has pierced unto the root
And bathed each vein with liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower;
When Zephyr also has, with his sweet breath,
Quickened again, in every holt and heath,
The tender shoots and buds, and the young sun
Into the Ram one half his course has run,
And many little birds make melody
That sleep through all the night with open eye

That's from the prologue to Chaucer's Canterbury I'm dandling a babe and spouting poetry and I'm just a buzz with happiness. is fleeting and muddy and so on...but just as I embraced winter this last year, I'm going to truly embrace spring! The day after you read this post (several days hence for me) I fly home to my sweet love's arms, full of love from my two sons and my new grandchild. I'll be sad to leave but ecstatic to get back to him, to my wee dog, to the glorious land of Labrador - this is that old diastole systole thing again which is the entire theme really of my eh to zed posts. Go out into the wild wild spring and take it, take it like a mad woman, then saunter back inside and let it cook and cook and cook. Then we'll see what we have eh? And Laugh...oh my goodness... I forgot it is L and this is April so I will add on my annual posting of


. Let me go find it!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

lamé - the abcedaria of a writer

lamé  - oh, and you thought knitting was a stretch - well I'm pulling from my ancient files for this one. Long time readers of this blog will know immediately of what I speak but I won't keep the rest of you in suspence for long.

Here are ten things I know for sure about writing:

1. If you are the kind of person who doesn't like to be told what to do - your protagonists will resist your efforts to make them behave. It's weird - almost like they came from you and weren't born free of your influence. Wait a minute...

2. Life in all its wild chaotic nowness will rise up and lay a beating on you if you try to ignore it for your manuscript. And knowing it won't be half the problem solved.

3. A woman will come to you in your dreams wearing a fantastic outfit of that weird sparkling fabric from the sixties. Silver or gold lamé. That's it. She will insist on you feeling the fabric. She wants to be in your novel. Don't let her in. She'll drive you crazy and so will that itchy stuff.

4. You might not like Neil Young - I really don't think I'd like to spend a whole bunch of time with him - but he is a narrative genius. I want to know what happens to him when he's wandering lonely on the highway. I do. And he understands pace and mood and style.

5. In the middle of the night when the woman in the fabulous lamé comes calling you will wake up and lie there wondering if anyone truly truly knows what plot, story and structure are. And you'll be sure, because it is the middle of the night, that anyone does but you do not.

6. After you finish fretting about plot, story and structure you'll move on to wondering if you haven't been lying to yourself about everything to do with your writing. You'll also wonder what the slinky shiny material is called. You won't remember that it is lamé until the next day and even then you might need to spend an inordinate amount of time on google trying to find it. Time you could be spending on your plot, story and structure for instance.

7. Even though you know all experiences are treasure for your work-in-progress you will be perplexed as to how you can use your new understanding of various strange and out-of-date fibres in a plot where clothing of any sort has barely been mentioned and then it was describing First Nation's dance regalia. Perhaps you need to bring in another character, you'll think! It might solve all your plot, story and structure issues. Well it might! Just like having a baby with your philandering gambling alcoholic husband might help your marriage. Well it might!

8. When your head hits your pillow after a good day in those long dug out ditches that guys fought in WWII - what are they called? Oh, yes, trenches, after a long day in the revisioning trenches you will fall asleep like a baby and the answer to your plot, story, structure problem will come to you intact in a dream. The woman in the lamé outfit (her fifth one!) will explain it to you perfectly. You will feel so relieved. Until you wake up and you realize that she told you the key was that god backwards spells dog. Oh yes. It will happen.

9. You will rise none the less and you will work in your optimum time of day for success. You will eat good healthy brain food and you will stop only to do your pilates or your yoga (where are those tapes - damn it) or take your dog for a much needed walk because hey, he didn't ask you to be a writer now did he?You will find your groove because you've read King and Koch and Lamott and you know it is showing up that counts and the heck with the muse. It's work for heaven's sake not a calling. And you will churn out the work, the shitty first draft or the clarity revision or the final draft or whatever mixture of those three plus the diversions you've taken allow you to call it. Because you are a writer. And you will sleep the sleep of the just.

10. You will awake after sleeping the sleep of the just and look at your previous day's work even though Elizabeth S-C told you NOT TO and it will be brilliant! No it won't. But there will be threads of brilliance in amongst the dog puke and it will simply have to do.

And that is what I know for sure.


Margot Kinberg said...

Jan - Oh, how exciting! Babies are so full of life, of promise - of lame! What a great reminder too that there is joy in life - so wear it. Make sense?

Liza said...

I do think I remember the lady in lame...

Patricia Stoltey said...

This is the happiest blog post I've seen in the middle of A to Z. Babies will do that, won't they?

And I was tickled to read #3 in your writing list -- I had just such a gal show up one day and she would not leave me alone until I wrote her into a story, a short story as it turns out. She was a disco dancer, her dress was shiny silver, and she was a terrible pest. She's gone now.