RSS

Monthly Archives: February 2013

Hello Future. How was your day?

I am a child of that tactile world of rotary telephones, record players and hand-written letters.

I can recall being marched into a room on the top floor of the elementary school to view a thing called a computer that even the teacher seemed afraid of. We surrounded it like bystanders gawking at an accident scene as it sat on a table looking rather lonely. Look but don’t touch, were the instructions. It was a moment of awe, the future of something in front of us, but what?

I liked that it was called a Macintosh like the apples we ate at home. Then we were ushered out of the room and I didn’t see another plastic box with a built in TV screen for about four more years when I signed up to take computers in Grade 8. I had wanted to take art or drama but my parents said computers would be good for my future.

It was a glorified typing class with no paper waste. I don’t think the teacher knew what else to do with them and us. Once my ASDF JKL; was up to snuff, I played a lot of Where in the World is Carmen Santiago, a new computer game based on geography.

Fast forward to 2013.

Where the hell is cyberspace? Coming from that tactile place of foolscap and three-ringed binders, I grapple with where all of this digital, virtual stuff IS so that I can put my hands on it. I want to make a collage with magazine clippings that explains it or a homemade flour paste diorama that shows just where things are stored. I want to go to the Dewey Decimal catalogue and pull open the little wooden drawers that release that lovely, comforting, old cardstock smell and look up BOOKMARKS so that I can find them again.

I just spent the last hour frantically trying to figure out where my bookmarks went as somehow I have been thrust into a new home page without being asked about it. Then I opened my email to see that I’m being coaxed to upgrade to some new email entity with a veiled threat implying that the email I’ve had for 14 years is likely going to disappear the same way my home page did today.

And after having read several articles recently about how we should all have an online presence in order to matter, I’ve joined the Twitterverse (or is it Twitter Nation?) with nervous apprehension; nervous excited and nervous nauseous all at once.

Now, I like Twitter. I use it at work, but I’m not sure how I feel about broadcasting myself as a developing writer on Twitter. I get the sense that a good way to expand my network and find like-minded people is to put myself out there so I’ll give it a whirl. What could go wrong?

EVERYTHING!

If I don’t want to get left behind then I suppose I need to jump headlong into social media and figure out how to work it and have fun with it. The harder I push myself to embrace these intangible technological challenges, the more I grow.

It would be nice to feel clever once in a while. In order to feel clever, I have to start off ignorant and risk failing. I keep telling myself that it can only get easier the more I participate in it. To prove that point, I did eventually find and relocate my Bookmarks to the new home page so that I could get back in here and write this post.

Hallelujah!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 25, 2013 in PonderQs

 

Saturday Sun

Have you ever read the Skippyjon Jones books? They are some of the best read-aloud stories I’ve come across in years. Having been an aide with pre-school aged children with special needs in a past career, I’ve read a lot of terrible stories so when I say Skippyjon is fun to read, really it is!

A goal for the stories I’ll write is to ensure that they too will be fun to read out loud. There is more than one audience in children’s literature so far as I can tell. The trick will be to write something that can appeal to all ages in the messaging and in the use of language. The sound of the words rolling around their mouths should be as enjoyable for the adult or baby sitter as it is for the little ones they are reading to.

Today, it was a luscious -5 Celsius and now that the February sun is packing a bit of heat in the afternoons, I set up a lawn chair in my back yard and continued to read Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay.

Winter Reading 2013   Minus 5 2013

I had started this book before Beautiful Noise but I like the coincidence that I’m reading two novels back to back that are based on radio.

This novel is set in Yellowknife in Canada’s far north in 1975. I’m not too far into it but already there have been several passages that I’ve had to stop and re-read because the language and imagery are so rich. Apparently some of the characters are going to go on a canoe trip, something to do with tracing the path of a lost adventurer, so I was in love with this book before I even flipped open the cover.

My three dogs ripped up a storm of fun while I was reading and now while I type, they are snoozing and having good dreams about the awesome day they just had outside.

True 2013                               Piper 2013 Charlie Cheeks 2

//

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 23, 2013 in PonderQs

 

Blog Block

My brain was taxed today and I was left with no time to create and now I’m tired but determined to write something. In the spirit of The Artist’s Way I think I should get something down if only to keep momentum going. Write through the block?

When I was taking the break from the novel Beautiful Noise so that it wouldn’t end too quickly, I stumbled across a radio interview with Helen Seymour  and she spoke about how working in marketing sapped all of her brain power and left her with nothing to put into her novel writing. And I get that, especially today. Only sadly, it wasn’t anything creative and fun but much more technical writing that used me up.

Free flow writing … Now having just decided to name this blog Blog Block, it has caused a funny memory to surge forward about the first time I left the west and saw some of central Canada. I was 24 and recently graduated from university. I had just wrapped up my first summer of guiding canoe trips up north and rather than figure out a winter career, I decided to drive as far east as I could before the money ran out.

I ended up in Ottawa around Thanksgiving (October in Canada) to stay with one of my oldest friends who is a contemporary dancer. At some point we were in a supermarket, a big one, but which I’d never heard of. Loblaws. While in the fresh produce section she informed me that she’d heard the owner of the store chain’s first name was Bob.

Bob Loblaw.

Say it out loud.

That’s good fun isn’t it?

“Hello sir, and what is your name?”

“Ba-blah-blah.”

It makes me laugh every time I remember it. I’ve never taken the time to find out if that’s true or a myth and I don’t think I care to know because it’s just fun to say.

Don’t tell me what the scientific explanation behind the northern lights really is because I like to think, as I was once told by a Cree friend, that they are the spirits of our ancestors dancing and don’t burst my bubble and tell me Mr. Loblaw really goes by Robert.

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

//

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 23, 2013 in PonderQs

 

Caterpillar Shoes

Just before falling asleep last night I was thinking about caterpillars and how when you touch them sometimes they start curling and flipping about to keep you from eating them. Obviously they assume everything that touches them is a bird.

And then I had this funny thought that maybe the real reason they do it is because instead of tying each shoe up individually, they’ve tied the shoelaces of their many Converse sneakers to each other and now they can’t get up.

And this made me laugh and I started thinking about a new story called

A Caterpillar Named Chris and the Great Converse Clusterf*ck

Picture it. Chris doesn’t know how to tie his shoelaces. He rolls on his back in order to pull on all of his sneakers but then all of those laces are dangling down in his face and he doesn’t know which lace belongs to which shoe and chaos ensues.

So what then? Well on Mondays at Science Camp it’s no issue because they wear rubber boots to collect stuff in the muck and on Tuesday nights at line dancing class it’s not such a big deal because his cowboy boots are pull-ons and Wednesday nights at swimming lessons there’s no issue because he only needs to wear flip flops between the change room and the pool but on Thursdays when he takes tap … clusterf*ck again!!! His mom tried to help by removing the laces and putting in Velcro but that stuff is so loud no one can hear the taps and he keeps getting into trouble from his teacher each time he rippppppppppppps a shoe open and closed. And there are a lot of shoes on a caterpillar to open and close!

And then there’s his older sister who’s already gone through pupation so she’s this gorgeous butterfly who wears point shoes and takes Miss Paulina’s ballet class next to his tap studio and she’s soooooooooo embarrassed of him and his best friend is one of those caterpillars that has spikes all over him like a Mohawk and he only wears combat boots and Chris wishes he was that hip but just can’t seem to pull it off … so he’s a hurtin little guy.

And somehow I have to help Chris learn how to tie his Converse sneakers up properly so that he can show his sister and buddy that he’s got skills maybe on the basketball court or running track or whatever.

And of course, I’ll need an appropriate book title for children.

🙂

//

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 21, 2013 in PonderQs

 

The Artist’s Way

A number of years ago, I suddenly lost a job. It was devastating and, not having close friends in that town, I ended up at a walk-in mental health clinic to talk to someone. After a while, the counsellor said, “You need to read The Artist’s Way.”

I left rather peeved. I was bawling about how I wasn’t sure how I’d eat and pay the bills and this woman was telling me to go read a self-help book. ARG! I didn’t listen to her. I found another job the next day and carried on.

However, the title stuck in my head and probably a year later I was in a book store and I wanted to buy something, remembered that title so went in search of it to finally see what it was about.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is a workbook for writers and creatives. I worked through it all that summer and it was amazing. More than anything it led me back to myself. I realized the dreams I had for myself as a kid were actually still the ones I had as an adult but I’d gotten sidetracked.

I suppose I owe that counsellor some credit for having figured out within one hour of listening to my blubbering that my anxiety over losing the job wasn’t so much about the job itself as I was struggling to find my place in a boxy world that I didn’t fit into.

Cameron instructs people to write for one hour a day, as I recall, and it’s simply free flow writing with no goal or structure and then you’re supposed to shove whatever you come up with into an envelope you’ve decorated (that’s one of the creative exercises) and not look at it again.

Well, right there, that was one rule too many for me. Sorry. Geez. I’m really not oppositional. I just kind of do things my own way. To paraphrase something my mom said about me once in exasperation,

She not only marches to a different drummer but she has to pick a different drum beat too.

ahhhhhh geez.

Anyway, I’ve repeated aspects of the workbook over the years and adapted Ms. Cameron’s suggestions. Starting in November, I wrote every day and then taped whatever I came up with on my gloriously blank, wood panel kitchen wall. Then, every few weeks I took down material that seemed out of place or unimportant and shoved it in an envelope that I never took time to decorate and kept things that still resonated with me up a bit longer. Then I slowly started to search for recurring themes or words or ideas in the pieces and tried to figure out where they were coming from or leading me.

It helped me to begin to break down the greater goal of wanting to write outside of the technical stuff I often do at work into smaller goals that seem achievable. Starting this blog was on one of those lists. Talking to the local children’s author was another.

I have stopped taping my writing to the kitchen wall now and am going to use this blog and other ways to carry on the process. For now the only thing left on my gloriously blank wood panel kitchen wall is this Christmas card from my 5-year-old niece. I love that she spelled the “V” sideways the first time and took another crack at it so I actually get TWO loves and hearts on my card. She told her Kindergarten teacher, “This is my Auntie with the crazy hair.”

Auntie 2012 002

//

 
1 Comment

Posted by on February 21, 2013 in PonderQs

 

One Step Forward

I was recently in contact with a woman who lives here in the summer who has published a few children’s books. I asked if we could meet so that I can ask her how she went about getting her books published and she is more than happy to when she comes back in April and to talk about my projects if I’d like to share them with her. So I’m off and running.

I knew about her last summer but was too shy to ask her.

Enough with fear and self doubt. I cannot let those things stand in my way of succeeding.

This also gives me a deadline to have some drafts down to show her and get some real feedback. Oooooooooo I love working to a deadline!

//

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 20, 2013 in PonderQs

 

Lyricist Proses a Problem

Possibly a silly question but still one that I’ve been thinking about.

What is the difference between a lyricist and a poet?

Then there is the chicken and egg debate that goes with it.

Do the lyrics come first or the melody?

AND

Are you a lyricist ONLY if you’ve also written the music to go with the words?

I like to write children’s stories with a lot of rhythm to them… or is it cadence …

and will sometimes write poetry… or is it prose …

anyway, one of each of those,  and will sometimes hear it in my head set to a tune.

But I also count in musical time when I’m walking and I like to stomp and clap out rhythms to my dogs as I communicate with them in song or chant soooooooo

maybe what I’m doing is none of the above and I’ve finally discovered one reason why people have often said,

“You’re weird.”

Dang! A mystery solved! Not a poet or lyricist. Just an odd duck.

Lets recap the things I’ve discovered today that are frustratingly similar yet not the same and that are not critters like in yesterday’s list of same but different:

  • Lyricist vs Poet
  • Poetry vs Prose
  • Rhythm vs Cadence

//

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 20, 2013 in PonderQs

 
 
%d bloggers like this: