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And then – a day opens!

Last night after I watched ‘A Few Good Men’ (I was craving Tom Cruise, what can I say?), I looked in my datebook to see what was on the schedule for today. I did a little jig when I saw that the day was open until 5pm! A whole day to fill up with…with what?!

Did you or did you not ORDER THE CODE RED?

My elation at having a ‘free’ day – free of anything scheduled anyway – quickly gave way to a tightening in my chest. The panic of ‘what should I work on?’ setting in like a hive on my soul. Sooo many projects…which one do I choose to work on? Well, friends, you get top priority. Thing is, I’m always writing to you in my head…but it’s feeling more and difficult to give you priority. Why is that?

I use this platform to write about my writing life, my writing process…and while I do write and read every day, most days I’m not working on my…what do we call them? Passion projects? I have a deadline for my editor on May 17th for my new poetry book. Haven’t started writing what is due…but I will. Today. Have to finish my business plan for Gertrude’s Writing Room so I can apply to take a small business course, and hopefully get accepted into the program. Also have to finish a blog on ‘work’ for the League…I’ve been hacking away at it for months.

It’s so bizarre lately, my writing life. It is very full. I’m writing a lot. I’m reading a lot. And I’m feeling joy in everything I’m doing. But it’s a different kind of joy than working on said ‘passion projects’. Passion projects include: new novel idea about witches, one more revision on Hangman, editing a new children’s book, finishing another children’s book that is well on its way (more on this later)…and, of course, my new poetry manuscript that has proven to be so damn difficult to write. The hardest thing I’ve ever written, really, but I know it’s because it’s wrapped up in so much love and loss my heart is having a very hard time accepting the truth of it all.

It’s also AGM (annual general meeting) time for the League of Canadian Poets and the Writers’ Union of Canada. I used to be able to make attending these conferences a priority but this year because of time, money and Gertrude’s, I can’t attend either of them…and that makes me feel a little sad. I do love attending…meeting other writers, being in the thick of decisions that affect us…perhaps volunteering to be on jury. As a writer I feel compelled to participate in these meetings and meet-ups, but I just can’t do it this year. I hope that in my future I can commit to a dedicated role in each of these groups…but that feels very far away.

I’ve been submitting…short stories, if you can believe it. I’ve been feeling very drawn to writing short stories. Can’t say I know what I’m doing, but it feels good to write them. I’ve been recycling them for different contests. I keep getting rejections, making tweaks, then resubmitting to other contests. We’ll see how it goes. But I can tell you, every day I see at least two submission calls/contests that I think to myself, gee, I should submit to that. Then I don’t. I could spend all my time sending out submissions…I’m trying hard to make some time to submit. Even this is a daily challenge though. I wish I was better at scheduling a ‘submit today’ day. Wah-wah.

Speaking of scheduling, my schedule is still pretty wild. It is calming down a bit now that the schools are winding down for the end of the year. Not having workshops in schools scheduled opens up a lot of time to do other things. But the ‘other things’ pile is taller than three mountains – at least that’s how it feels.

I have friends who are able to work on one major writing project at a time. Oh, it is amazing to me that kind of discipline. I visualize writers like Stephen King and Elizabeth Gilbert sticking to their disciplined writing schedule. I saw an interview with Gilbert and she let the journalist into her writing room…she showed the tens of neatly organized boxes of recipe cards she used to write one of her novels. I thought to myself – holy hannah, that woman is amazing! I’ve always dreamed of having the life where I can wake up and write – dedicate hours just to the craft – then it’s done and I can get to the rest of my day. And some days, like today, I have that opportunity. The kids were off to school by 8:10am. I was home by 8:20am, coffee in my hand ready to start the day. Did I start writing immediately? Nope. Full disclosure here (#nojudgements): I watched half an episode of Gossip Girl while I ate my breakfast and drank the rest of my coffee. I know. I know. But I can’t just wake up and write…at least not unless I’m on a writing retreat of some sort. I need to let my brain and body wake up. And nothing does that better than watching a completely ridiculous and overly dramatic show like GG. It worked though because look at me now! Writing away.

I daydream of writing a novel in a day. Isn’t that silly?! I think it’s because I often only have one day (okay, let’s be honest – maybe 5 hours in a row) to write and I feel so overwhelmed with inspiration and possibility that I feel like I could actually do that! I wish I could stay up late and write or get up really early and write…but I haven’t been able to do that in years. I honestly don’t really know why except to say that I was tired of being so damn exhausted. Even though writing is the best thing ever, that kind of schedule wrecks my body. This fourth decade of life I’m in, many days offers lessons in accepting the defeat of the day. Another day has happened. I filled it to its brim. Maybe there was powerful writing involved, maybe there wasn’t. There was work and family and laughter and food and, now, dear Vanessa, it’s time to sleep. That’s what being forty is like for me. I’ve never loved sleep like I do since I’ve turned forty. It’s like it’s healing time or something. Oh sure, I’m still having vivid dreams…had one last night. One of my recurring nightmares, in fact, but I still felt rested when I got up and out of bed. Funny how that works.

I’m reading a book called ‘The Last of the Golden Girls’ by Susan Swan. I found it on my book shelf at Gertrude’s. I don’t know where or when I bought it…or if it was a gift…but it is a gift! It’s about a teenage girl’s summer experience…but it’s riveting and it’s pulling me deep into my own childhood adventures and all I want to do after I read it is write…there are short stories brewing. And again…I day dream of writing a collection of short stories. Mon dieu.

The children’s picture book I’m working on is called ‘From A To Ziffery Zanks’. It’s a collection of kids clerihew poems and it’s illustrated by the great Windsor artist Glen Hawkes. Here’s a sample of his delightful work!

Indeed both the poetry and the illustrations have a certain grotesque silliness to them – and I love that! I’ve had much feedback from kids about it – and they love it too! We’re hoping to be complete our finished draft soon. You’ll get all the details! Yup, it’s a self-published book it is! We’ll see how that turns out!
The other children’s book I’m working on I will send to a publisher who said I could submit new children’s book ideas. So, that feels good. We’ll see if I can get this story published traditionally. Then I’ll be in both worlds and can see what that feels like!
Yes, I’m still also dreaming about having an agent…and Hangman is out to one that I’m waiting to hear back from. It’s a massive waiting game, isn’t it?
I’m looking very forward to the summer. To heat and beaches and swimming in the lake. My birthday and Jett’s birthday is getting closer every day. He’ll be thirteen. SUPER GULP. He has man hair on his ankles. #ican’teven The hubby is taking Jett and his buddy to Cincinnati to a concert to see Greta Van Fleet, Jett’s favourite band. It’s the best gift we could give him! Me…well, it’s the big 4-1 that I’ll be celebrating this year. Makes me think of last year at this time when I had cancelled my fortieth bash because my Nonna wasn’t well. I wondered then if this year I’d want to revisit that shindig and celebrate 40 at 41…but there’s not a bone in me that wants a big party. Typewriters. Kijiji-style, old or used typewriters. That’s what I’ll be looking for. I think they’d be great at Gertrude’s! Otherwise, I want Jett to have the best turning-thirteen birthday. That’s a wonderful gift.
Forty-one. Wow. I’d say I feel in my brain about…ten. In my body…some days 27 others…47! I don’t think too much about it…except to say that I’m still battling the Demon Woman in my head who says mean things about my body…and trying again to shift my eating habits and add exercise back into my life. When did it get so hard? I used to exercise like a fiend…I used to do triathlons, for goodness sake! I can’t find that motivation inside me anywhere. Seems it slid out of me somewhere in my late thirties.
Okay, friends. I’m off to work on other things. It’s 9:48am and the day is open like a wide-mouthed yawn. I shall continue to jump into it and write, write, write.
How’s your writing life? Any summer writing plans? What are you reading?
Be well and love big.

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