Monthly Archives: February 2013

Quest for a Guru

I’ve been doing some research looking for ways to expand my support network as I get writing and for ways to improve my writing. There are some interesting university courses out there and online networks too. Some cost money and others don’t.

What’s hard to know is what to invest in. I have a sense that finding the “right” course or guru could be largely subjective. A course that might be right for one writer isn’t for the next.  The interaction of personalities can mean the difference between inspiration and immobilization. A teaching or mentoring style works for some while not for others. How can I figure out which will be right for me?

I don’t have names of mentors that masses of writers prescribe too as of yet though maybe their names will begin to pop up as I continue my quest. If you have any suggestions feel free to leave a comment.

Today I checked in with:

  • PWAC – Professional Writers Association of Canada but that’s for freelancing so not quite right


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Posted by on February 19, 2013 in PonderQs


Quit pontificating

OK. Time to get writing. I like talking about other people’s writing and what I think makes a good book because I glean information from what they’ve done to succeed and keep those bits as mental notes for myself. However, if I want to publish then at some point I actually have to begin writing too.

I started a children’s story today that’s been rattling around in my brain for about 8 months now. I had the opportunity to go to Elk Island National Park last June and they have wood and plains bison recovery herds. The moose has been my favourite animal but the bison is now threatening to displace it from the pedestal on which I’ve put it for the last 20 or so years. If you can’t fathom why then you need to get yourself out and see wild bison. You will be converted, I promise. They are magnificent! Lions and tigers poo-poo. Bison rule.

Anyway, I was walking about the park by myself and got to thinking, How could you explain to a little kid what the difference between a bison and a cow is?

And in my head I heard:

Billy the Bison is down on the bluff wearing a big broad brim

Carl the Cow is down on the cliff wearing a crusty cowboy cap…

And then I could “hear” them being too cool with each other as they went through what was the same about themselves and what was different. But I never wrote the story down so here I am 8 months later.

Today I started writing it down and I also figure it might be hard to make an entire story about only Billy and Carl so I made a list of animals that are frustratingly similar yet not the same and researched what their differences are.

Examples are

  • hare vs rabbit
  • frog vs toad
  • raven vs crow

And so on.

I gave each animal a name. Harriet the Horse fly and Deidre the Deer Fly didn’t make the cut. Apparently they’re both so horrid nobody on the Internet really wants to discuss their quirky qualities. They just bite dammit!

I created a list of unique attributes next to each pair of critters and the next step will be to see which ones spring to life the most so that I’d like to add them to the story with Billy and Carl.Plains Bison


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Posted by on February 19, 2013 in PonderQs


Beautiful Noise

Have you ever read a novel that you were loving so much you quit reading it so you wouldn’t get to the end too quickly?

I have three dogs and they had poopy pants last weekend. Yes there’s a point to telling you that. It meant I was stuck at home on a four-day weekend letting them in and out and in and out when I had hoped to be cross-country skiing every day.

Not to throw away the whole weekend, I decided to learn how to download an e-book on my tablet. But which book?

I got side-tracked. I have had this life-long dream of living and working in Ireland so I read online news from there every day. I stumbled across the book launch of Helen Seymour’s Beautiful Noise with photos of one Bono (from the band U2) who is apparently a pal and gave her a good word on the book along with a photo op.

Friendship aside, smart woman! Seventeen years in marketing, she knows if you can get a famous Irishman to help launch your book at home in Dublin, it has to help with sales.

And she’d be right because

  1. U2’s my favourite band of all time. Please hurry up releasing a new album fellas. Because Bono liked the book it got me to look it up and see what it was about.
  2. Her book sounded groovy in it’s own right. I don’t buy anything purely based on a good photo of Bono holding it.
  3. Beautiful Noise is the first song I can clearly recall listening to in a conscious way. My big brother loved it and would play it over and over again on the record player of which he was the only one old enough to be trusted not to wreck the needle and scratch the records at that time (I would have been about 6). We’d stand on the plaid 1970’s carpet of our family room and sing and dance along. All to say, I was curious about it’s place as book title.

It’s a good book.

I love everything about it. It’s not rocket science. It’s an easy read and what has me hooked are the characters. Seymour developed them really well. I can imagine knowing them and hanging out with them.

I realized I was reading the book so fast that it was going to be over in a day or two so I stopped. Because I don’t want to miss Iris and Elliott and Squirrel and his nutty uncle Eamo. I like being a fly on the wall of their fictional lives.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that did that to me.

Other books that hooked me because of their rich characters

  • She’s Come Undone
  • Little Bee
  • The Book of Negroes
  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle//
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Posted by on February 17, 2013 in PonderQs


Well-read vs. well-written

Do you think you have to be well-read in order to become well-written?

I don’t consider myself well-read if it means having read classics beyond what we were forced to consume in high school.

I don’t know if I’ve ever read a book on world issues. They remind me of university text books and then I get sleepy and can’t stop staring out the window and thinking about all of the things I could be doing in the fresh air.

Nor am I a prolific reader though I go through binge phases. I’ll read multiple novels non-stop for months but then not pick up a single book for many months more.

I like a well-developed novel with depth and a point. I crave well-rounded characters that I love and hate, including some that I can love and hate all at once, and the book is all the better if placed at a time in history that was real or is still unfolding.

I suppose you could say I enjoy delving into world issues through novels because they feel more personal. Novels can stretch the truth though. I understand that so, if a book touches me, I’ll often spend countless hours on the Internet searching for the factual aspects of a situation, place or person and people in order to ground what I’ve just read for interest sake.

I very much enjoy memoirs. Travel memoirs, stories of survival in harsh environments biographies and the “find myself” genre sometimes has a great read.

Truth is I am a dabbler. I like newspapers, Twitter links to articles, radio news and current issues programs and television news feature shows. I suppose I am a well-meaning-ed, hopeful-to-be well-read person and there are a few (what I’ve been told are) “must reads” sitting on my book cases that I never pick up and dust off.

Is this laziness or should I accept that this is the kind of reader I am?

Will this style of readership doom me to be a poor writer?


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Posted by on February 17, 2013 in PonderQs



The word “stasis” keeps floating into my head the last couple of days when I think about my personal development. I just looked up the definition and it means a few things depending on the context. Here are a couple that stand out to me:

  • A state of stability in which all forces are equal and opposing, therefore they cancel out each other
  • A state of static balance or equilibrium – STAGNATION

And that’s what I’ve been afraid of. STAGNATION

  • Stuck in an established routine; mired in monotony; caught in a stultifying sameness.

Oh my goddess!!!!! Not the stultifying sameness again!!!

I acquired the comfy job with a decent salary FINALLY and though it doesn’t fulfill me, it’s also not horrid and knowing how the world economy is going, I’m plain grateful to be employed and living somewhere beautiful. For the first time in my adult life I’m not living hand to mouth… or in my truck box… or tent

But, I can feel complacency settling in and that scares the crap out of me.


  • Resting on one’s laurels; To be content with one’s present or past honours, accomplishments, or prestige.

Apparently most people dread change but I crave it. The hardest thing for me to do is stay put. Stay put in a community, in a job… I bore easily. Actually it’s not the boredom that drives me it’s my curiosity. I want to know about everything first hand so I’ve tried many things out and on for size and then when I think I’ve got a handle on something, I’m off to learn about the next thing.

I like living this way but it’s tough on the pocket book especially now that I have five critters to feed and care for, a car loan, mortgage blah blah blah. About every other day I want to sell all of my belongings, move into an RV and travel North America writing about all the amazing people, places and professions that are out there just waiting to be discovered and shared.

The opposite of stasis is:

  • imbalance; instability

That sounds unhealthy to my ear and yet, sooooooooooo good to my heart.



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Posted by on February 17, 2013 in PonderQs

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