On Writing

So this is what’s been happening…

Hello friends! It’s been over a month since I’ve last written. Isn’t that wild? What a difference from last year when I wrote a poem every day. Where is that energy and dedication? It is fluttering…fluttering…I have needed time to be…quiet. To put my head down and work. To worry and dream. To sleep and pray. I can’t tell you how many times I started a blog post and then just couldn’t finish it. I hope that this mega-catch-up will show you how things have been…and how I hope they’ll be in the near future. That is, more sharing, writing poetry again, and a conscious effort to write even if my heart feels shy.

Writing Retreat in February w/ Charis Cotter

For five days in mid-February, my writing partner Charis Cotter and I had our yearly writing retreat. Once again, we were bound to the virtual landscape to make this happen, but it didn’t deter us from an intense week of writing, sharing, complaining, laughing, learning and feeling! I spent time at Gertrude’s as well as at home – following the quiet in each location. This was our longest writing retreat yet coming in a five days in a row – Monday to Friday – 9am – 3pm, with an added evening on the Wednesday for tea and talk.

Charis had a tremendous week – completing the fifth (sixth?!) draft of her latest novel, finding out that both she and her daughter received a Canada Council grant (AMAZING!), and confirming an exciting new writing project that would begin in March. Me, I started two new non-fiction kid’s projects, did a lot of writing in my journal, and worked on an Access Copyright grant for a mentorship.

As per usual, by the end, we felt like it wasn’t enough time, and we yearned for an in-person retreat! I felt the weight of not completing projects that I started…and tried not to get down on myself about it as I did complete the grant application and made plans for in-person workshops at Gertrude’s for March.

Writing retreats are essential. Giving ourselves dedicated time to write for our heart projects and/or complete projects is extremely important. Making it known to family and friends that the retreat is happening is also a critical part of the process so that everyone in your support groups knows what you’re doing and can help you stay focused on the writing.

By Friday, I did find myself unable to avoid doing some ‘work’ work…I did feel stress in that regard, and we had some good conversations about this. We talked about ‘work’ – the things we do that aren’t ‘heart writing’, but that are related to our writing in some shape or form like planning school visits, emails, grants, and collaborations. Our ‘work’ lives are so entwined with our writing lives – we could ‘work’ every day for 8 hours and never be ‘finished.’ But that is the nature of our work…of work in general these days, so we also talked about the importance of NOT WORKING and planning days off to relax and read and walk and dream.

Thank you, Charis, for another stellar writing retreat! I can’t wait for the next one!

More in March…

I decided to offer in-person workshops at Gertrude’s this month. This is very exciting! It is keeping me busy prepping and gathering. Both workshops sold out – one is tomorrow night! I’m enjoying the different preparations in-person workshops need…and then the joyful, emotional and intimate experiences of writers gathering in the same place to write and share. It feels so good to reach out and hold a hand, to embrace, to clink coffee mugs, to share silence….

March Break was full. I’ve been feeling the urge to purge. On the Tuesday, my mom came over and we cleaned out my laundry room. We worked all day! I have photos…but I’m too embarrassed to show them. The ‘before’ was really something. But, we have lots to donate, lots to share, and now I have a dedicated folding station!

We also babysat a puppy which made our in-house animal total = 3! Oh the mud! Oh the fur! Oh the snuggles! Oscar and Pages had a blast playing with and teaching this fine little fur friend. They definitely tired each other out!

I’m growing out my hair. And mostly, I want to cut it all off.

I haven’t grown my hair out since after Miller was born…that’s some 13 years ago. I feel like I have one grow-out left in me before I keep it short/shaved until I hit the heavens. It is a gruelling process. Most days I don’t like how my hair looks, how I look with it grey and unruly on my head. Sometimes I want to dye it dark brown. Sometimes I want to cut off large chunks so it looks like a bad haircut, but, you know, cool. But I want long hair so I can braid it. That’s my motivation. Braids that reach to my boobs. I don’t even know if that’s possible! And I’m telling you this because I have a lot of feelings about this. Energy goes into not cutting my hair off. Many thoughts bang in my head about hair, what it means to me, how it makes me feel, whether or not how it looks really is ‘me’. Which brings me to my next sharing…

I’m in Peri-Menopause and I feel Crazy.

I have wild dreams and hot flashes. I laugh like a wild witch. I cry like a wounded child. I can’t make decisions. I have silly cravings. Falling asleep is very hard. Waking up is even harder. The voices in my head are constantly yelling. I feel rage for no apparent reason. I feel pregnant once a month. My body is like a foreign land with its own language and dialects for each part. I know I need to write about this. About how this life-change is changing my body, my mind, my self. But mostly, I’m dealing with major energetic shifts every hour, and I get drop-on-the-couch exhausted, and all the words I need to write and share crawl back inside me and hide. This is why I’ve been so quiet here…I have so much to say…and then the voices talk me out of it. But, I’m working on it.

I’m on the Nancy Duffy Show!

Longtime friend and inspiration Nancy Duffy posted our conversation about ‘thimbles’ on her podcast, The Nancy Duffy Show! Nancy has been interviewing and having meaningful, passionate conversations with creatives from near and far! Her shows are delightful, engaging, emotional and heartfelt – just what we need!

To hear the episode, CLICK HERE.


On March 19, 2022, myself and co-editor extraordinaire, Irene Moore Davis, hosted the virtual launch for Gertrude’s Writing Room’s newest anthology: Community! It was a grand event with more than 50 poets, family and friends tuning in with open hearts and big smiles!

The submission call was back in September 2021, so this publication has been a long time comin’! We are so proud of and grateful for this collection of poetry that literally gathers poets from around the WORLD in unity through community!

Books are for sale! $20.00. To order your copy, please email me! (shieldsvanessa@gmail.com)


It’s been years since I’ve done a live event for poetry. The spell is finally ending! I have the pleasure and honour of being a guest for the Windsor Yacht Club’s Literary Luncheon series. I will be reading from ‘thimbles’! Indeed, it will be an emotional sharing that I can feel in my bones already! If you can believe it, my virtual launch for ‘thimbles’ was Thursday, April 29, 2021. This luncheon is marks nearly a year since then! It would be incredible to share food and words with you! Will you join me?

To reserve your tickets, please call the Windsor Yacht Club at 519-945-1863.

*There will also be book sales and signing! Payment types: cash, credit, debit.

Poet Laureate Update

I’ve got an interview for the Poet Laureate position coming up on March 30. This is the next part of the process after handing in the application. Oh mama, mama’s nervous. Did you know when I get anxious, I like to create little logos/images? I made this one (left)…if I get the position, I’d like to make stickers. Of course, I want to make stickers! This would be one of them. I suppose this helps me dream about the dream coming true possibility of it all. I’ve also been reading over the incredible letters of support I received…these are helping me incredibly with my confidence. Thank you again for your support! I will keep us updated on what happens.

April is National Poetry Month – Intimacy is the theme

Poster design by Megan Fildes

I’m getting excited about National Poetry Month! The theme is intimacy and oh lordy, it is ever time for some of that! I will be writing a poem a day on the theme of intimacy. Yay!

For more information on this fine celebration of poetry, please CLICK HERE, and see how you can engage with other poets and the League of Canadian Poets. So. Much. Yay!!!

Here we are…

And so, if you’ve made it this far….thank you! Ha! I will work harder to write. To share. Because it’s important to me and as I bob-and-weave through the seasons and this wild-woman ageing experience, I have to remember that I am a writer. Writers write. If it surprises you that I could forget such a thing…such a purpose…it surprises me too. That’s been one of the most challenging parts of ‘me’ these days…feeling ‘me’ is often foggy. Alas, the earth is warming. The moon is worming (full moon was on Friday – the worm moon!). Today is the Spring equinox – equal light and equal dark – and I’m feeling in balance for the first time in awhile.

Keep spreading love and peace, friends.

One thought on “So this is what’s been happening…

  1. Vanessa, I’m dictating this on my phone so the diction, spelling etc. will be off kilter. Oh yes I want you to BE the poet laureate. If you were in Arizona you could become the poet lariat. Fingers crossed.

    Your retreat with your friend from Newfoundland sounds great. I don’t think I could manage the live zoom while writing but the close support is cool, essential.Yes I need time set aside solely for writing. Since my last book came out I’ve been doing mostly hit or miss advertising/promo, some blogging, but no fiction writing. I did some today, starting a short story, and it felt good. I think I’m back in a writer/author mode or nearly so.

    Yes I think you should let your hair grow. I really like the picture of you with the goofy expression on your face touching your hair.

    I know all about menopause – – or as much as a man can. I think I told you that Anne’s Stroke 20 years ago was caused by hormonal replacement drugs. Please be careful.

    What else did you talk about, oh yes cleaning out the laundry room? I need to clean out our garage and also go through a ton of old paper files I have, but it will have to wait so I can stay in the writing mode for a while.

    I liked the dog pictures too. We really miss our golden and will probably adopt another after we do a little traveling this year.

    Glad your head is now firmly attached. I think mine is too now. Hugs, Mark

    Dictated or typed (inaccurately) on my iPhone. Tout va bien.



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