Blogging · Gertrude's Writing Room · Hangman · Health · My Book · My YA Novel · On Writing · Poetry · Publishing · Readings · Writing Life

Small but valuable.

“Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life. Well, valuable but small. Sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it or because I haven’t been brave? How much of what I feel reminds me of what I read in a book…when…shouldn’t it be the other way around? I don’t really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void.”

Kathleen Kelly, played by Meg Ryan, You’ve Got Mail, based on the play written by Nikolaus Laszlo, and the screenplay, written by Nora Ephron.

“It wasn’t that she was just selling books, it was that she was helping people become whatever they were gonna turn out to be. Because when you read a book as a child it becomes a part of your identity, the way that no other reading in your whole life does.”

Kathleen Kelly, played by Meg Ryan, You’ve Got Mail, based on the play written by Nikolaus Laszlo, and the screenplay, written by Nora Ephron.

Greetings friends. I write to you with a pensive mind and a full heart. It has been far too long since I’ve written a post here in this blogverse that is ‘vanessashields.com’. I’ve been consumed with ‘gertrudeswritingroom.com’ the past five months. Consumed with organizing and planning. With poster design and social media. With school workshop prep and performance. With yet another, but finally the best, revision of The Guesser – Book One in the Hangman Series (remember this old bitty? The young adult novel I started nearly six years ago?!). The last months have been momentous on so many levels. It feels like I created at least two major mountains of dreams, planned, prepared, practiced and climbed them. Now, I can say with mostly confidence, that I am on the tops of these mountains and beginning to enjoy the views. The tremendous views.

Thing is…these mountains aren’t so much mountains as they are small hills in the grand landscape that is the literary world. And…I didn’t know that coming in. I didn’t realize that in the creation of these dreams. Things always feel so much bigger in your soul than they are when they settle in reality outside your body and mind. I have to say I’m grateful for this. This phenomenon happens, I believe, because taking small steps, moving small loads of light and love, pulling small packages of ideas up a gradual hill is the only way to get to the top…if that’s where you’re heading. It’s all very metaphorical…metaphysical…spiritual and deep because that is the stuff that dreams are made of.

The holidays arrived and with a great sigh of relief, I ripped off my bra, slipped into sweats and a fuzzy sweater, and found rest on the sofa while watching loads of movies. My go-to movie during Christmas is always ‘The Family Stone‘, however, it takes a special mood and timing to watch this one. That mood and timing comes when I least expect it but it is a strong force. It came late in the vacation for me. But ‘You’ve Got Mail‘ (‘You’ve Got Mail‘ – screenplay by Nora Ephron – is based on the 1937 Hungarian play Parfumerie by Miklós László and its adaptations. Parfumerie was later remade as The Shop Around the Corner, a 1940 film by Ernst Lubitsch)…that sweet romance film by Nora Ephron featuring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks was the film that I really needed. I watched it three times. On the third go-through, I stopped the film at two places to write down the quotes that I included at the beginning of this post.

Somewhere in the heart of every book-lover and writer, I believe, is a bookstore owner. The main character in You’ve Got Mail, Kathleen Kelly (Ryan) owns a children’s bookstore that was passed down to her from her mother. The bookstore in the film is simply breathtaking. It is whimsical and unique. It is inviting and playful. It is welcoming and hand-made. Gosh, it’s the bookstore that would be in Gertrude’s!

I loved all the scenes that took place in the bookstore…even the final scenes when *SPOILER ALERT* the shop closes. I think what I love most about what happens in this film is the inner transformation that the lead characters go through. I love that Kathleen questions her small but valuable role in her community, in the grand scheme of it all. I think we all do that at different points in our lives…and perhaps a little more whole-heartedly at the end of one year and the beginning of another…or maybe on our birthdays especially if they end with a zero.

This was one of those years for me birthday-wise. Forty arrived with not a bang as I thought it would, but rather with a gentle, small, quiet passing. I was planning and rehearsing for a huge birthday bash where I sang and danced, and then had a big party after…but then my Nonna was very sick and celebrating among such turmoil felt…not so important after all.

I think at the heart of ‘me’ is a wild performer. I love being on stage…I often dream of being a lead singer in a band or of participating in an open-mic for musicians. I love playing the guitar (not that I’m great at it!), but there’s a special energy that zaps in my body when I sing and play the guitar. I spent a lot of time over these holidays doing karaoke with our mic and small amp…It just makes me feel so…alive and joyful. Also, it’s super humbling. I can’t sing like Whitney Houston but I sure do try to!

I like to do a lot of creative things…and there certainly is no shortage of passion or desire within me when it comes to expressing myself. But there are many times when I know I have to be responsible with the gift that is living a creative life. I have to take care of my self in ways that aren’t always…overt.

Two different individuals (one holistic, one psychic) told me that my imagination never stops. My brain – my thinking – never stops. This affects my sleep and my body’s energy. Ummmm….ya-huh! But it was so important for me to hear this two times from people whose gifts I am grateful for. Because it was like…they could see inside me and were communicating directly with the places where my writing comes from…where the creativity lives and breathes. It was an awakening. So much of my life I spent thinking that I need to handle my body, my body, my body…and I’m not saying that I don’t need to handle my body, but it’s a different perspective thinking about my brain/imagination as being the core part I want to take care of. Honestly, it’s a bit daunting because I’ve never thought about needing to ‘rest my brain’ or ‘take care of my imagination’ like I would my body. I’m working on ways to cultivate and respect my imagination and brain, which includes new ways of caring for my body.

I have ideas. I have new commitments. I have doubts that I’ll be able to stay committed, but I also am really hoping that as I live out these new commitments, the doubts will fly away because my brain and body will be invigorated. And I just keep hearing: stay small. gentle breathing. do one thing at a time.

STAY SMALL.

GENTLE BREATHING.

DO ONE THING AT A TIME.

Which leads us back to the beginning (phew, we made it!). Gertrude’s Writing Room is a smaller version of Gertrude’s Literary Cafe. The writing room is a hill…born out of a mountain of the dream that is the literary cafe. I have lists as long as my leg for things to do at the writing room…and they don’t include the things on the list for the ‘rest-of-my-life’. It’s good. I make lists to keep me focused. And I write blogs to keep my spirit in check. And I write poems and stories to keep my soul fulfilled. And I’m committing to new things to keep my brain and imagination healthy. I know I can’t accomplish any of it without staying small in my choices and responses. Without breathing through each experience especially when stress wants to climb on my shoulders and in my guts. Without doing one thing at a time.

I’ve had ‘be here now’ tattooed on my wrist for years. I think ‘do one thing at a time’ comes from the same place of knowing. And, perfectly, I recently had a typewriter tattooed around the words…which is perfect because (and I’m literally getting this as I type RIGHT NOW. #goosebumps) what I want to work on the hardest this year is not pushing my own writing to the bottom of any lists. I will schedule writing time and I will write during that time – no matter what. Being in the moment of doing one thing at a time is of utmost importance when it comes to my own creative writing. I don’t know how I’m going to accomplish my creative goals otherwise. Imagine what it will feel like once I create and stick to this habit of sticking to my writing! I’ve gotten so very good at writing in the in-betweens then rushing towards a deadline. It’s jarring on the body and the brain. And, it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.

I miss this space for writing. I commit to giving time to blogging here. It may only be one or two lines. Maybe a photo with a caption. Maybe it’ll be a 2,000 word essay, but I felt a hole in my heart for this blog…and I want to fill it. So you have my words that I’ll be around much more.

I’m very proud of the publications I’ve had this past year…and I’m excited about all the writing publications to come.

‘thimble’ (working title) my new poetry manuscript will be published in 2021 by Palimpsest Press. My next draft is due in April and I think about it every day. I will be scheduling writing time dedicated to working on this. So, make sure I follow my own schedule, okay?!

I had several poems published in the newest edition of the on-line Windsor Review. A creative non-fiction piece I wrote will be published in a book called ‘Fear and Courage’ by Exisle Publishing in October 2019, and a poem about my Nonna won third prize in the Polar Expressions Publishing annual poetry contest. It was the first time a poem has placed in a money contest! I’m waiting to hear back on several other contests I submitted to. I think I submitted more this year than I have in the past…and that’s a small miracle! I’m not at all strategic in my submissions. I’m totally fly-by-the-pants about it and submit to a contest on a whim or a blind urge.

Here are the last two Writing Parent blogs I wrote for the League of Canadian Poets.

Support System How-Tos

Inspiration – The Myths and The Magic

And, I recently wrote the last (at least for awhile) piece for the LCP Feminist Caucus as the Action Committee Chair. I have decided to step down from this position. If you’d like to read it, please click here for the latest issue of ST@NZA published by the league.

I’d like to also say that books really are a huge part of my life. I love reading, as you know…and maybe you do too. Reading does something…moves things around within me on a cellular level…and there’s something magical about that. I love bookstores…because they are heavens. Real heavens touching down. And I’d love to own a bookstore one day…but for now, I’m collecting and sharing. And for now, I’m letting my self fall into all the different worlds that books offer. There’s magic in feeling like I live in a book…that maybe I’m a piece of Mrs. Ramsay from ‘To the Lighthouse’ (by Virginia Woolf) or a spark of Jo March from ‘Little Women’ (Louisa May Alcott) or even a tear of little Richie from ‘It’ (Stephen King)…what I’m saying is that my life, my being is enriched by reading books. Thank you writers! Thank you bookstores! And yes…those books we read as children do very much weave pieces of identity into the quilt that is who we are. Each book is a square on our identity blanket…Oh, how grand that is.

On the subject of being brave what I have to say is that if you do what you like – if you do what you LOVE – then you ARE BEING BRAVE. And a grain of sand is as brave as a whole mountain…for they are made of the same things, are they not? Kathleen was brave to run the bookstore like she did…to sell and read stories to children – these stories that would then become a piece of the fabric that creates their identity. And she was brave to close the store down too. In the end, she found a love that she wouldn’t have found had she not been the owner of a bookstore and a lover of books at all.

I hope you are well in spirit, in body and mind…that this new year sees a continuation of all the things you love doing, and all the things you love sharing with the people you love. And that you feel brave no matter what size steps you take on your adventure.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Small but valuable.

  1. Am so touched by what you have shared here. it is uncanny, yet that is how life functions if you have faith and belief that you are given what you need at the right time. Thanks

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for reading! I appreciate it! It certainly is a way to live that cannot be done without faith and heartfelt beliefs!

      Like

Leave a Reply to ritiksood Cancel 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 )

Google photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s