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Brevity Podcast Episode #7 Kristen Arnett and Hippocamp

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

I told you we should have stayed home and listened to the Brevity Podcast

When you’re wandering the aisles of the local megastore, already tired of Christmas carols you’ve been hearing since Halloween…it’s time to pop in those earbuds and enjoy the latest Brevity Podcast.

Stream the show right from this post, or click over to iTunes, Soundcloud or Stitcher. If you’re subscribed, we’ll show up in your podcast app queue. And wherever you listen or download us, please take a moment to leave a brief review–it helps us show up in searches and recommendations.

Episode #7 features an interview with Kristen Arnett, author of Felt In The Jaw, on debut authorship, the value of literary social media, and how she got her beloved agent. We also continue our mini-series on conferences with on-the-spot chats from speakers and participants at the Hippocamp Creative Nonfiction Conference.

Show notes and…

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How can you mend a broken heart?

Reading this, hearing this from someone else, from dear Lizzi, it is hard. It’s hard because I know how difficult it is for me to leave someone behind, whether through death or distance or some unforeseen and uncontrollable circumstance. Still, it’s important to share because it is what makes us human.

Considerings

“I can think of younger days when living my life
Was everything a man could want to do.
I could never see tomorrow; I was never told about the sorrow..”

So much of my life has been wasted on sorrow and heartache.

Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? Almost glamourous – as though I were in a movie, staring brokenly through a windowpane with rain dripping slowly down the outside, whilst indoors a tear slips gently down my cheek, leaving a trail of bright agony in soft focus [and fade out].

Real life is so rarely like the movies. I’m pretty sure there’s a sneaky Hollywood conspiracy to take the ‘how we imagine it should be’s of our lives, present them beautifully on screen, then charge us through the nose to see them. They’re onto a winner, that’s for sure.

It might not just be Hollywood, though. It could be every writer/filmmaker/musician/artist/poet/lyricist/photographer EVER…

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, National Novel Writing Month, The Insightful Wanderer, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, TravelWriting, TToT

TToT: Looking Off Somewhere I Can’t Go #10Thankful

One need not be a Chamber – to be Haunted –
one need not be a House –
The brain has Corridors – surpassing
Material Place –

Ourself behind ourself, concealed ‘
Should startle most –
Assassin hid in our apartment
Be Horror’s least. 

– Emily Dickinson

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I am holding my niece in her Halloween costume.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for my little butterfly.

(See above photo.)

She has gotten her first few teeth.

No more is her favourite thing, chewing on my fingers, no longer is this such a harmless distraction.

Fly Little Butterfly, Fly!

I am thankful I am a print published author.

ISSUE 4: WINTER 2017 – MisadventuresMag

I have previously been printed in an anthology, but this time I was paid. Last time it was for charity.

I just heard it is going to be available in Barnes & Noble stores and so I will be off on a hunt to find it.

It may not be my own book, but I am excited to discover it’s a magazine that a bookstore carries.

I am thankful for the parcel arriving in my mailbox.

This package contained four copies of the magazine and my cheque.

Not bad, compared to in the past.

I am thankful I could share my news and book with someone, a friend, over a latte.

I was a few minutes late for meeting her. I was late because I just found the parcel in my mail and so I hope she understood.

She was happy to receive one of my four copies of the mag.

I am thankful for more stretching and meditating.

I am thankful for extra writing group time, in a new location, for November’s National Novel Writing Month month.

It has been arranged, in addition to meeting in the library twice a month, that we writers who are attempting NaNoWriMo can use a room in Woodstock Museum, every Saturday, for two hours for the entire month.

This feels like an extended writer’s group, but I don’t read and I get to bring my laptop.

Sometimes there are even snacks.

I am thankful for my loved ones being free from war.

I feel a lot of mixed feelings when a day to remember, like November 11th comes along, and really any time. War is not as simple as bravery and heroism.

But I am heartbroken to hear there is violence that will not rest, in any part of the world. I am glad my nieces and nephews don’t have to grow up around such traumas and horrors, but being aware of it all sometimes weighs me down.

That’s precisely what the above stretches and meditation are needed for. They lift me up.

I am thankful for some good food, especially the bread buns, to support a worthy cause.

I am no athlete, but I think it’s pretty cool what she’s attempting to accomplish. Unfortunately, it always takes money.

The Paralympics (Special Olympics as some like to call it) is, I guess needed, but it is still a neat thing, so important, to show the world that people with disabilities can and do participate in sports too.

Emily Trains for Winter Paralympics

She held a fundraiser and I just couldn’t get enough of the bread buns.

My brother and his friend won door prizes.

I wish her luck in reaching such an excellent athletic goal.

I am thankful for a piece that was just published, after several months since its original acceptance.

SeeingYukon Through Blind Eyes – Passport2017

As Canada enters its next 150 years, I wanted too start off telling the story of a place I will forever love and about the vastness of our country.

I wanted to start off on the right foot and hopefully the next period of Canada can be better.

I am thankful a movie I couldn’t find in theatres is now playing nearby.

I hope to see it soon and will give a review of it when I do.

Before I go…are you aware of the Japanese concept of ma by any chance?

The Japanese concept of ma.

Well, I wasn’t either, until a few days ago. I don’t feel I have quite grasped its meaning, but it feels important to me. It feels meaningful to my life somehow.

“it’s the presence of absence, the gap where the moonlight sifts through.
TheDark Feels Different in November – The Paris Review
It’s the hollow where ghosts gather, the pause in conversation.”

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Song Lyric Sunday

The Hardest Word, #SongLyricSunday

“It’s sad, so sad, so sad. It’s a sad sad situation.”

—Elton John, “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word”

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It’s one of the sadder parts of life and love.

Song Lyric Sunday

Elton John sings about it well.

Sorry really is a hard word to say, for some reason, and I wish I didn’t need to say that, admit such a thing.

***

What have I got to do to make you love me
What have I got to do to make you care
What do I do when lightning strikes me
And I wake to find that you’re not there
What do I do to make you want me
What have I got to do to be heard
What do I say when it’s all over And sorry seems to be the hardest word

It’s sad, so sad It’s a sad, sad situation And it’s getting more and more absurd
It’s sad, so sad Why can’t we talk it over Oh it seems to me That sorry seems to be the hardest word

What do I do to make you love me
What have I got to do to be heard
What do I do when lightning strikes me
What have I got to do What have I got to do
When sorry seems to be the hardest word

LYRICS

***

So many times, I become judgmental, when I hear of the end of something, a relationship, love, a life together. An apology isn’t enough or comes too late. It is too late if it was avoided for so long.

Even when it comes to leaders who are human like the rest of us, who have big and influential jobs, it makes it even more important that a good leader knows when and how to apologize.

If only…just say it…like it will be so uncomfortable, painful, such an impossible word to say. Some say it too easily, which may mean there is very little sincerity behind the word.

We make children say it. We make my nephew say it. Us adults have a hard enough time, like the word tastes highly bitter on our tongues.

Forever, I wonder…why?

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, National Novel Writing Month, RIP, SoCS, Special Occasions, Spotlight Saturday, Writing

Lay Down Your Weapons #RemembranceDay #SoCS

I am trying to write about war.

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On this November 11th, I try to put myself in the place of, say, my grandmother. She lived through World War II and yet I feel like I never even scratched the surface with her. She spoke of that time in her life, more than most, but yet not nearly enough.

I am trying to get down the words, at least a beginning to what could become a novel some day. November is not only Remembrance Day, but it is also National Novel Writing Month and, at this rate, I am not likely to make the fifty thousand words that is the ultimate goal.

I have a near stroke when I think of the setting I want my story to have. I worried that this piece of writing required too much research. NaNoWriMo isn’t supposed to be about doing research. That comes later. Just write.

In a way though, I feel I’ve kind of being doing my own form of research, for many years. I’ve been fascinated by history for as long as I can remember, most especially World War I and II and the 20th century. I’ve watched documentaries and read up on lived accounts of those years. Still, as much of an empath as I feel I am, it is hard to put myself in that place.

How would it feel to be living during World War I or World War II anyway?

I listen to true and up close accounts of soldiers, in the trenches, between 1914 and 1918 and the rats and the mud and the stench of death all around you.

I’ve listened hard to personal accounts in interviews, Jews and other victims of the carnage. I am writing a story about a woman, her mother, and trying to raise three young children/grandchildren during such days. I am trying to put myself in their shoes. That seems, though I am a human too, to be a difficult task, a goal, one I am fighting hard to reach.

I love my country, am happy to be Canadian, but I am no patriot. I wish political parties and affiliations didn’t exist. On a day like November 11th, I don’t glorify war, just like I don’t glorify it any other day of the year. My goal, in learning about it and writing about it, is to try and make it not repeat itself, like I have that power.

All the talk of bravery gets to me. Of course, it would be scary to be caught in a war, but to make the decision to go and fight in one is different altogether.

I feel like I am being disrespectful. I know it’s a sacrifice to risk losing a leg, an arm, or one’s life to war. I speak the truth of it, but what it is is ugly and awful and, I believe, unnecessary.

I heard a song on the radio earlier today, one that very nearly brought me to tears, about how we’re all one, all family, every one of us. We are from different countries, continents, cultures, and races certainly. Some say this makes us different in ways that cannot be altered. Others sing those songs of coming together as one, in humanity.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS (Remembrance Day Edition)

I wish walls were never built and lines never crossed in anger. I am not in control of most of this. Losing limbs seems, to some, to be a possible price to pay for freedom and democracy. I just want to write about war. I don’t want to see any more. People say, when it comes to us imperfect and often boastful humans, that will never be the case.

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Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, National Novel Writing Month, Poetry, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, TToT

TToT: Fly Little Butterfly, Fly – Root, Colour Dump, #10Thankful

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimmed their clammy cell.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir, the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

—Ode To Autumn” by John Keats

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for some time hanging out with my niece.

We played with toys. My poor knees can’t handle all that time on the floor, but she was having so much fun, so I was too.

I am thankful for a November 1st writing group night where I made the decision, with support from other writers, to try my hand at National Novel Writing Month again.

The site is still rather inaccessible and that is a problem, but that shouldn’t stop me from using the structure and the occasion of the month to start a novel I’ve wanted to start for years.

That launching evening, with others doing it, was just what I needed to start down the NaNo road for 30 days.

I am thankful for an hour of peaceful yoga.

I look more and more forward to that one hour each week.

I am doing it for physical reasons, of course, but mostly I need it for my mental state.

I am thankful for a tough violin lesson to follow an easy one.

After last week’s super positive lesson, I didn’t know what this week would bring.

It was more of a challenging week. This was strenuous, for sure, but then I decided I need that balance of both.

I am thankful for a package being sent to me.

I’m included in a winter issue of a literary magazine. My piece is a short one about the horizon.

Well, this is new and exciting because I received an email, informing me of how the magazine has sent out a package for me.

I am not certain, but I am guessing it includes a copy of the issue. I can’t wait to find this in my mailbox.

It comes out on November 15th.

But you can order it here, anytime:
Misadventures Mag, Issue 4: Winter 2017

There’s just something about holding a solid book, with my words in it, in my hands. It’s different from the online world.

It’s all a great privilege, but this is something that doesn’t happen to me every day.

I am thankful for a weekend extra writing social with chocolate.

I didn’t even think I liked Mars Bars, but that day I did.

We met at the museum in town. We have a room reserved there, for two hours, every Saturday for the month of November.

Having extra NaNo writing time set aside as a group can only help me.

Well, okay so not always a lot of writing happens in that group, but more than if I never went at all.

I am thankful my brother and his musician friends returned to practice in my basement.

I missed the absence of it, while lives changed and people got busy with other things.

I like having them down there. Every time they come, they thank me and I guess they worry they are imposing.

They aren’t.

I am thankful I am going off of a medication that has, I think, been causing a dreadful side effect.

These aren’t the usual dreams. They are every night and it feels like they take up my entire sleep.

I wake feeling emotionally worn out and deeply affected. I guess you would call them nightmares, but they aren’t me running from monsters in dark places.

They are me being sexually assaulted, my parents being trapped in a collapsed building, and epic adventures that leave me feeling drained when I wake up and all day long. And then it’s time to go to sleep once again.

I hope it’s just from a medication I soon won’t be on. The other option is a reaction from some level of anxiety I’m feeling. I do feel stress, but this feels different and new. I hope it’s on its way out of my head and my life.

I am thankful for a long awaited piece of my writing in a big time literary mag.

WRITING LIFE: Accepting My Blindness As A Freelance Writer – Hippocampus Magazine

First of all, I just liked the word (the part of the brain), but then I discovered it was the name of a literary journal and I was intrigued.

Meaning of Hippocampus

I am thankful for Sade.

I have seen a lot of articles written about her lately, like this one:
Sade’s Eternal Cool – Longreads

I think she is one of the cooler artists around.

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Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Song Lyric Sunday, Spotlight Sunday, The Insightful Wanderer

Striding Through Flickering Flame, #SongLyricSunday

“I yearn for comfort.”

—Sarah McLachlan

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There are a lot of songs with fire as the theme; and, indeed, with the word “fire” in the title or the chorus itself.

Song Lyric Sunday, #SongLyricSunday

Here is my pick:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ar6a1pkiGf8

It’s about continuing to walk into the fire, again and again, and a little at a time. It’s about doing this until I am immune from the heat of it.

***

Mother, teach me, to walk again
Milk and honey, so intoxicating
[
CHORUS]
And into the fire
I’m reunited
Into the fire
I am the spark
Into the fire I yearn for comfort

Open the doors that lead on, in to Eden
Don’t want, no cheap disguise
I follow the signs, marked back to the beginning
No more compromise
[
CHORUS]
Free the water that carries me to the sea
You I see as my security
[
CHORUS]
I will stare into the sun
until its light doesn’t blind me
I will walk into the fire until its heat doesn’t burn me
And I will feed the fire
[
CHORUS]

LYRICS

***

This is one of her earlier works. It has power. It has punch. It is a force to be reckoned with.

The guitar solos are attention-grabbing. It showed me Sarah McLachlan and the talent she possessed.

I love how she places together fire and the sea. The idea of those two different, yet, clearly powerful elements made me stand up and pay attention to her message here.

I stare at the flames of a fire, in a fireplace or outside, and I watch the bright flames flickering.

Their dark background always made them stand out to me, me and my fading eyesight, and I couldn’t believe something so sharp, its brightness in contrast to the darkness around it. It seemed unnatural, unreal to me, like something supernatural that I’d see in my mind or in a dream of some sort.

I’d imagine reaching out for it, passing my hand through it, passed the pain that would cause, to the other side of something. The smells of smoke, the crackling sound, the heat it’s emitting were all the senses I could trust (in it and in myself), but there was something more to it.

I don’t have to walk through actual fire to grow stronger. All the fires of life test me and my strength for coming out again on the opposite side of it all.

Then I hear of wildfires burning, out of control out west, and the smoke hanging heavy in the air, and I can’t imagine. All I think then is back to that image of the unnatural looking flames, against the dark background of nothingness.

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