On Writing · Writing Life

On dream-development and forty and discipline…

Friends, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started writing this blog post. Too many. My heart has been a flutterin’ and my soul has been a flappin’. Many things have been going on in my life that at times, I want to share with you…and at times, I need to keep quietly within.

Forty came and went in a small but sweet flurry of friendly celebrations. I cancelled my big party, and I know it was the best decision at the time. Today, I don’t feel like I want to reschedule. All the excitement and…moxie that I was garnering for a performance and a night of dancing and celebrating has fallen off me like water droplets. It’s different. It doesn’t feel like ‘me’. But, that’s about how this year has been going. Many things have been new experiences and it’s been affecting my ‘me’-ness. I think I’ve secretly been craving and needing change for some time, and now that it’s here and happening, it’s new and scary and exciting and exhausting…and you know, wrecking some havoc with my heart and soul. That’s what change does. I know I’m in the thick of it…there is a faint, faint light somewhere far off that I get flickers of every once in a while. But nothing lasting. There are no big road signs saying: ALMOST THERE…or even TURN HERE or REST, IT’S ALMOST DONE. Some days I feel confident that this big dream I’m developing is exactly right and on task with my life’s purpose while others I feel outside myself, lonely, scared and…very, very uncertain. And guilty. And sad. It’s truly a wild experience. On the eve of my birthday, Miller and I went skinny-dipping. We both mooned the moon. It was divine.

I’ve been reading loads (more on this below), and that’s filling me up in ways that are helpful. Alas, I know it’s also a way for me to procrastinate on dream-development and decision-making. I feel there’s a major bout of discipline I’m going to need as this summer pushes forward and that’s terrifying. I’m usually not this…apprehensive about discipline. I usually have a clear outcome or goal to focus on – but, see, I committed to myself in January that freeing myself of writing for an outcome was going to be one of my #1 challenges. It’s challenging alright. One still needs discipline to write at all though. And that’s where I’m at now. I’ve been fitting the writing in around…well, this dream-development, and mothering and wife-ing and friend-ing. I’ve been going with some kind of ‘flow’ all year, but now I know it’s time to take the reigns on Time and set some serious boundaries.

There is Time to fit it all in, at least I feel clear about that. But I’m going to have to say ‘no’ to people and things I love in order to get the writing time in, and in order to get this dream-development into dream-come-true. Exchanging loves for loves. It’s feeling scary right now. But it’s all love, right? I have to keep repeating that to myself.

I’ve been keeping a rather large secret from you all, and that’s been really hard too.

It’s funny how this blog has become an extension of me over the years. I write to you because I want to share my life and creative stories with you. I think I know who most of you are. And, in the grand scheme of blogging, my audience is quite small. It doesn’t matter. Even this blog feels like it’s changing because if you can believe it, there were many posts I wrote with an ‘outcome’ in mind. I need to continue to free myself of that. What matters is the writing. What matters is how it makes me feel to write. What matters is that I’m changing and I’m sharing this experience with you. No outcomes necessary, but to feel the freedom in sharing.

Very soon, I’ll share what I’ve been dream-developing. And, even when I do, know that my heart is sharing to share.

Here’s a quote from a book that is holding my heart up right now.

“Real writing, I was beginning to realize, was more like laying bricks than waiting for lightning to strike. It was painstaking. It was manual labour. And sometimes, sometimes if you kept putting the bricks down and let your hands go on bleeding, and didn’t look up and didn’t stop for anything, the lightning came.

Not when you prayed for it, but when you did your work.” 

Paula McLain, ‘Love and Ruin’, pg. 181

A few nights ago, I finished reading Paula Mclain’s new novel, ‘Love and Ruin‘. It tells the tumultuous, romantic, yet painstakingly heartbreaking love story between Ernest Hemingway and his third wife, Martha (Marty) Gellhorn. McLain is one of my favourite writers. For many reasons…she writes from a poet’s heart, her stories are rich with love and life and pain and suffering. When I read her words, I am transported and affected and always sighing with emotions. Hers are books I don’t want to end so when I hit the twenty pages or less mark, I feel a bit sad. I tore through the end of the book…and when it was finished, I dropped the book on my chest and felt a tear slide down my cheek. I looked around my bedroom…at the sleeping dogs, one against my side, one keeping my feet warm…at the photos on the wall…I inhaled the cool air…and I felt filled up. I felt grateful. I felt educated. I felt a little more alive than I’d felt before I started reading this incredible book. I felt grateful for Paula McLain. And for Gellhorn. And Hemingway.

I’ve been reading books more this year than in many others. I’ve been reading voraciously. Like I did when I was a kid. In the last two months I’ve read four books. And, if you recall, I’m not buying books this year so many of the books I’ve read have been from the library. This means there’s a deadline to get the books read! Surprisingly, I’ve met all but one! I did receive some books as gifts for my birthday – that was lovely! And I’ve already dove into these books as well.

Here’s my reading list:

Love and Ruin by Paula McLain

Fall by Colin McAdam

Day After Night by Anita Diamant

Winner of the National Book Award by Jincey Willet

I’m halfway through:

Nevermoor – The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Calypso by David Sedaris

Birds Art Life by Kyo MacLear

What are you reading?

I’m off to the Humber School of Creative Writing Summer Workshop the second week of July. I’m freaking out in the best of ways as the date to begin gets closer and closer. Perhaps this is part of the flickering light I see ahead of me. I’ve already made some new acquaintances, and I look very, very forward to learning from my teachers and fellow writers. I haven’t been in a writing class in far too long, and this one is a mother load.

I’m still writing a blog for the League of Canadian Poets. My latest one is about editing my son’s first short story. Read it here!

I’ve just handed in my monthly Feminist Caucus Action Committee Chair report. That’ll be out soon. It’s all about boobs. No kidding.

I got a new tattoo!

Thank you artist Tess Snaden, and tattoo artist Vanessa Ruth at Advanced Tattoos for helping me bring this one to life!

I’ve been writing in my journal like nobody’s business. I’m on my third journal already this year.

My current journal. No lines. Thick sketching pages. Faaa. So great!

I’ve been submitting some work, but not a lot at all. So many deadlines fly past me my hair is always ruffled.

Wish me luck to get these poems published!

I’m inspired all the time. I’m grateful all the time. I’m also bitchy and grouchy and irritable and silly and sad and tired and hyper too. The colours of me are changing but there are so darn many of them!

Had some fun with my poetry blocks! Thanks Miss Rebecca!

I’m going to kill someone in the new piece I’m writing. That’s something.

And I’m still having dreams about meeting Tom Cruise.

Image from Tom’s Twitter Page.

He actually points at me, just like he’s pointing in this photo. He’s all, “Oh, hey! Vanessa – you’re here!” He’s always happy to see me. Huh.

4 thoughts on “On dream-development and forty and discipline…

  1. She laughed a deep belly laugh…. the kind of laugh that shakes not only the apples off the trees, but the roots to the centre of the world. They threw the words around like a basketball, allowing them to hit the floor, and fly up high, and no one ever catching it for very long – “life purpose”. She laughed, because the idea of any life NOT having a purpose was absurd. What she knew was this, “Know thyself, and to thine own self be true”. Now that…. THAT was purpose. Once one finds them self, they are everywhere and nowhere, all at once. They are where they want to be. And they are never where they don’t want to be, unless they want to be where they don’t want to be. Do you see? Tossing her hair over her shoulder, she sat down. And she did nothing. To the outside world it looked like she had given up on the world, but the truth was, she was just finding it. Don’t you know, it’s an inside job? She knew. She knew that nothing she chased out there, would ever take her to the place she wanted to be. She laughed. She picked herself up from the gross, spotted a butterfly and started chasing it with all of the passion and madness her heart could muster. Because it was right here, HERE, that she found herself, and was finally true to what she found. ♥

    Enjoying your journey my friend. Love, Tracey

    On Thu, Jun 28, 2018 at 4:17 PM, Vanessa Shields wrote:

    > Vanessa Shields posted: “Friends, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve > started writing this blog post. Too many. My heart has been a flutterin’ > and my soul has been a flappin’. Many things have been going on in my life > that at times, I want to share with you…and at times, I nee” >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Trace! Thank you for taking the time read and respond so heart-fully. Your writing is so vibrant and visual and spiritually moving. THANK YOU! I Love – IT’S AN INSIDE JOB!


  2. Oh, God, Vanessa, you just hit me straight through the heart. Shift in the cosmos. It’s all about the writing, keep filling those pages. And yes, kill somebody off, but not you. Love, Bethany

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s