On Writing

Hop to It!

This nest is at the foot of the large tree on our front lawn. Fallen, but not damaged.

Greetings friends! I come to you with a head full of things to say and a the feeling of not knowing where to begin. These grey skies and bustling winds make me pensive and slow-going. Even though life is bustling and only sometimes do I move slowly!

I’ve been reading a lot. And that thing is happening….when I’m reading an incredible book and I’m loving it, but then that negative voice creeps out of her depths and whispers things like: why don’t you have a novel published yet? why aren’t you winning awards for your writing? everyone is better than you anyway, so does it matter if you write or not?

Pretty nasty stuff. This competitive-comparison-put-me-down monster rears her ugly self every once in a while. She’s usually pretty quiet, but I think I know why she’s come out for a visit.

……see….I haven’t been writing.

More specifically, I haven’t been writing for me.

I’m writing a lot in general, and so my soul is feeling mostly fulfilled because all the writing I’m doing does bring joy. But it’s a different kind of joy that writing for me creates.

I’ve also been on the procrastination wagon. I’m like, holding the reins and whipping those procrastination ponies constantly. I’m avoiding the ‘me’ writing for two reasons.

  1. I’ve received some pretty major rejections this year…another one came in last week. I’m feeling a bit wounded. I’m feeling a bit like no matter what I write…it never gets accepted. Which is utter bullshi* but it feels that way sometimes. I’m certainly not alone in this feeling…I was emailing with a writer friend who was feeling frustrated and sad as well. She got a rejection and a friend made the long-list. That’s a doozie. How do we navigate the feelings of disappointment that we didn’t make the cut but also be joyful and supportive of our writing friends who may succeed differently (or more) than we do? I don’t think it’s jealousy that’s at the heart of these feelings. I believe that we’re generally a very supportive community – this community of writers/artists. I thinks it’s a sticky mixture of disappointment, loss and motivational shifts that is at the heart of our responses to rejection. In these times, I have to take my own advice: feel the feels – all of them, up, down and all around – then get back to it. Re-submit. Edit. Or write anew. Keep up the courage!
  2. The writing I know I have to do is extremely personal. Perhaps the most personal and emotional that I’ve written thus far. And I just can’t seem to find the space, time, energy…courage to sit down and write it out. This procrastination push is wrapped in avoidance. And, that’s not like me. But there you have it. I’m avoiding the writing because I’m avoiding the topic – and therefore the potential spiritual and creative work that this writing entails. Thing is…there’s a deadline attached this writing I need to do, so I can’t keep avoiding it. My soul is very aware of this, and I can feel, will not let me get away with such heart-felt procrastination much longer. It’s funny how in the deep-deeps, I know that the avoidance will end, and by some miracle of creativity, I will be able to sit and write and trudge through the emotions. This is, I believe, because at the core of this writing is love. And love always wins, doesn’t it.

I’ve been busy with many excellent events. We had a storytelling event with the Jack Miner Migratory Bird Sanctuary. It was so quaint and sweet and warm! Then I hosted a welcome event for Windsor’s newest Poets Laureate, Mary Ann Mulhern and Samantha Badaoa, and Poet Laureate Emeritus Marty Gervais. It was at Biblioasis and there was a great audience and yummy desserts. It felt good to be among poets, writers, books and croissants all in the name of poetry!

Tonight, I start the first of a five-week class on love poetry at Gertrude’s Writing Room. I’m very excited to share love poetry with writers. I’ll also be writing love poetry too…which I really ‘love’.!

So yes, I’m doing a lot of writing but it is attached to Gertrude’s mostly, and there are many events and things I’m always planning that keep me busy. Most nights, when I lay (lie?) my head down at night for sleeping, I think back through the day and can’t imagine having fit one more thing into the mix. But I’m not feeling overwhelmed or exhausted even (mostly). I do enjoy watching trashy shows on Netflix, walking the dogs (which means two separate walks because I can’t handle both of them at once!), hanging with the kids, visiting with friends and family, reading and relaxing. Funnily enough, I do schedule all of these things in as well!

It’s the ‘writer’ in me…who is sometimes too gentle and shy to push her way to the forefront who I need to make room for. Alas, I also get that all of this – the busy-ness, the procrastination, the negative voices, are all part of my writing process. Just like there is always a part of the process wherein I DESPISE what I’ve written, I recognize that I’m actually right on track for a very explosive and incredible bunch of writing sessions.

Here’s what I’ve read in the past little while:

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts 

This is a story about Maud, the wife of L. Frank Baum, who wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and her intention to keep the ‘real’ Dorothy’s spirit/light alive in the making of the MGM film ‘The Wizard of Oz’. It flashbacks through Maud’s life as a young woman when she met Frank, her family life, her schooling, and so much more! It was a quick, entertaining and educational read. If you love The Wizard of Oz books or film – this is a must read. It’s got a great feminist power to it as well!

Dig by A.S.King

A.S. King is one of my favourite writers OF ALL TIME. I anxiously await every word she writes! This is her latest YA masterpiece. I had the chance to hear her speak and read, and we have photo together but the skin on my face looks like it’s dripping off for some reason so I don’t share the photo!

Here’s my review!

*some spoilers*
You know how people talk about book comas? Like, after you read a really incredible book, you can’t read another one for awhile…because the story and the characters are still holding on to your soul and brain? Well, King’s ‘Dig’ post-book reading experience is unlike any other – I am not in a coma but rather zapped by the electricity that is her extraordinary ‘voice’ and messaging system that plugged into me as soon as I started reading.
Look, I was confused. I was compelled. I was even a little frustrated because as per King’s writing style – reading her words is like she’s taking her hand to your cheek and gently but seriously slapping you. It’s a kind slap, but it’s also jarring. And necessary. What King does through her incredibly unique storytelling is wake up and shake those parts of you that are sleepy…or sleeping…or so well-hidden that you didn’t know they were there. She makes you DIG. Her ability to wrap metaphor into a character’s being is outstanding. Half the time, I swear my brain could barely visualize what I was reading but it was only because every word gave me serious pause…and forced a deep contemplation and self-reflective response that I’d have to go back and re-read – all the while thinking – did she just write that? Is she really holding up THAT mirror to me right now? I felt the privilege of my skin colour burn in sympathy…in pain…in solidarity. As I read and read and read I was emotionally pummelled by the delicious shovels of her words…and actual shovels…and I had sudden, undeniable cravings for potatoes – chips, french fries…I also found myself being grateful for what King DIDN’T write. This is also where her metaphorical and storytelling expertise really makes my writing heart burst – she says everything without saying what you think she’s gonna say. I didn’t want the details of Loretta’s abuse…I didn’t need them. The fleas told me everything. It’s been nearly 72 hours since I finished reading ‘Dig’ and I’m still 100% buried in the story.
‘Dig’ does what the title suggests – it burrows into you. It dares you to go within and face the realities that exist among us as human beings. It dares you to look at yourself – inside and out – and pay attention to who you are and how you are. And the ‘flickering’. I mean, it’s brilliant. The tunnels? We are all in them. But what King so powerfully does is show us how our tunnels connect. In the end, though there is loss and darkness there is also hope and light.
Everyone should read this book – it may be labeled YA – but it’s for really for Y’ALL. Read it in your classrooms and study its lessons. Engage with it. Buy it for your book clubs and be prepared to dig in.
Thanks A.S.King – you’ve done it again…Your words are medicine. Humanity needs to take this prescription of potatoes and profoundness.

The Familiars by Stacey Halls

Loved this one. Witches. Foxes. Hangings. Strong female characters. I zipped through Halls’ debut novel like a fox in the woods!

The Neon Heart by Ben Van Dongen

Local sci-fi writer Ben Van Dongen‘s latest book is out. I purchased a copy at the Windsor Small Press fair this past weekend. It’s a small book in size but not in story. I’m about half-way through and I’m carrying it around so I can read it in all the spare moments I have…plus, whenever else I can make time! It’s got a fast-pace and a smart sense of humour. I don’t often read sci-fi so sometimes it’s hard for my brain to imagine the unique world he’s describing – but that’s all on me, not him! I’m enjoying the story and characters very much and have no idea what will happen next. I love the unpredictability of the story thus far. Feels extra special to support a Windsor writer with this one! You should too!

The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer

Just started reading this one as well. It’s about model-turned-photographer Lee Miller in 1930s Paris and beyond. I was immediately attracted to this book because it reminds of something Paula McLain (The Paris Wife, Love and Ruin) would write. Plus, this too has an incredible female lead and it takes place in Paris which always sucks me in. The writing thus far is poetic, tight, charming and exciting. Am loving it so far…This is Scharer’s first novel. Amazing.

What are you reading these days? I haven’t finished ‘The Map of Days’ by Ranson Riggs…having a hard time getting into it. And there’s a stack of books to love and read on my bedside table…slowly I’ll get through them.

I’m looking very forward to this long weekend. Not just because the stores are filled with Cadbury Creme Eggs, but because I plan on relaxing, reading and writing as much as I can!

Thanks for reading, friends. I hope you’re all well in body and spirit. Happy spring! Happy Easter! Happy hopping!


One thought on “Hop to It!

  1. Hey! Thanks for sharing my book. I’m glad it’s not too far out there for you.
    Hopefully you can find your way back to the writing you want to do. You’re totally not alone in letting other things push writing to the back burner.


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