Category Archives: Fiction Friday
Back and Forth, #TGIF #FTSF
I often feel like these last twenty-two years have all been a dream, that I’ll still suddenly wake up and be back in the fourth grade, that ten-year-old little girl who has no idea what lies in store for her: both good and bad.
But that’s a story for another time.
IF I could travel in time, it’s the 80s I would return to.
Not only is it my favourite decade, for the music alone, it is the one me and all three of my siblings were born in. It was when we were young and we didn’t have to worry about filing taxes, basement flooding, and the future quite so much.
Save a Prayer – Duran Duran, 1982
Both Duran Duran and Back to the Future mark the 80s, in both music and film, better than almost anything else, in my opinion.
Marty McFly and Doc Brown’s DeLorean are giving me a ride and we’re traveling to the date…well, I don’t know because it all depends on my mood, sometimes from moment to moment: 1982, 1992.
I really liked Back to the Future, but only the first and third, as I thought the second one jumped around too much. It couldn’t make up its mind, thinking the future would be so much better, re-writing things too much, but I guess I am not recalling it very well.
I liked BTTF because the star of the film, Michael J. Fox, he’s Canadian and I always thought he was cute, sweet, different than all the other actors in Hollywood, starting from the eighties onward.
Well, music changed, Duran Duran, once it hit the 90s
changed quite a lot in its sound,
But it’s still the same band. They are still performing, all these years later,, for outrageous ticket prices if you ask me. It really costs a lot to travel back in time from the year 2016 apparently.
Past, present, future. It really shows that things don’t change that much, and yet they change more than we know when time feels like it travels so slowly in the moment.
A time machine could bring me back or forward to any date I might wish, but what would I have to sacrifice for either one?
Duran Duran, in 1992 said:
“But I won’t cry for yesterday.”
I guess I shouldn’t look back, a concept I am exploring a lot lately, though it’s hard not to look back at all.
I don’t have the time traveling vehicle featured in Back to the Future, (although I did ride in one like it at Disney World once, with my family in the 90s), but I do have music. It
and it is my time machine, taking me wherever I wish to go, any time I might need a little reminiscing.
And that is a precious thing, one that doesn’t exist only in the movies, or in a science experiment, or at a Disney theme park of my childhood memories.
This was a Finish the Sentence Friday post, thanks to:
Michelle Grewe of Crumpets and Bollocks
If I Were a Crayon… #JusJoJan
If I were a crayon…
has written something awesome for the newest of linkup collections I have decided to jump in on.
I can do that, can’t i? I can cross-connect linkups and prompts, right? I sure hope so, but even though I know life sometimes has
I often like to rebel and break them.
Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan,
is another one of those words I am mostly unfamiliar with. I am learning a lot this month.
Well, I don’t really feel all that comfortable using “felicity” in a sentence, in my writing, but life is full of the uncomfortable things. It’s how we grow and develop character.
If felicity means happiness or blissful, then I know of a dream that I love to dream, where I can colour like when I was a child. When I lost the ability to see my beloved colours I tried to look at that as a character building experience, otherwise I would be awash in blue sadness and angry as red red fire.
Now I have writing and words to colour my world with brightness and beauty, but at one time it was the array of colours found in a box of crayons that made me happiest.
If I were a crayon I would be as waxy as can be. I would be proud that I can be felt as well as seen, unlike all those coloured pencils, also known as pencil crayons.
If I were a crayon I would be red because red is so powerful. It’s Christmas and Valentine’s Day and love, passion, and anger.
If I were a crayon I would be as bright as bright could be, as to be visible to everyone, no matter what. My bright red would share the blank slate with blue of the sky and of the water. All those yellow/orange/pinky skies would be drawn wide, as far as the eye can see.
If I were a crayon I would be a brown tree trunk with the greenest of green leaves. I would be a black car on a grey highway.
I would be one of those scented crayons, as well as colourful. I would be red cherry, purple grape, and brown chocolate.
Waxy under fingertips. Sweet smelling, or smelling like wax. Bright and colourful. Just don’t try and take a bite out of me, even if you’ve remembered to peel back my paper wrapping. Yuck!!!
If I were a crayon, the magic box would make colouring with a child, more than just possible, for someone who missed my colours so so much. Not all who once coloured with me still can. It’s not fair, in my crayon’s view, that a simple colouring session with a niece or a nephew who loves to draw has to be missed out on. Scribbles are beautiful, done at any age. I would tell those who don’t think so that it is so, not to let anything stop them, that they don’t need to miss out.
If I were a crayon, colours would be seen by everyone. In a world of vibrant orange and peachy peaches, our power as colours is so strong, you could see us from space.
If I were a crayon, yellow suns, pink hearts, rainbows of many colours, there’s no boundary to our magic in the hands of those who truly believe in the force of a crayon to make children and adults alike smile.
I am aware, as a crayon, of the comeback of adult colouring books and I sit in my box, along with my friends, so proud to be crayons, just waiting for the chance to make my mark on a page or two.
Just picture the felicity of holding me in your fingers again. In other words, pure bliss. So very peaceful.
Crayons and character. Crayons have character. Crayons are characters, as one budding writer says so beautifully:
And “Felicity” is brought to you by
Ah, here’s to colours and words.
If you were a crayon, what colour crayon would you be and why?
Just Jot It January: Hip Replacements, Scouts, and Thieves #JusJoJan
It’s the end of the first full week of 2016 and week one of Just Jot It January has come to a close.
I have never felt robust. Looks like I’ve missed the boat again, yesterday.
I missed it because of just how not robust I’ve felt. I read how hip/knee replacements have worked wonders in reducing pain of several people, but these people are mostly sixty and older. I am under forty. I joke about needing one, but at times like this it feels as if it couldn’t be any less of a joke.
I always think that if I were in a fire-in-a-crowded-theatre type situation, I would be trampled to death, unable to keep up with a fast moving herd of terrified people.
If I were in some desperate sort of war, life and/or death scenario, I would not survive.
I am not robust. I could hardly handle a short walk the other night and again the next morning without depositing myself on the doorstep of a surgeon who could give me a new hip right then and there.
I am writing, jotting really, as much as I possibly can this first month of 2016 and that’s because I thought it would be the best way to find my rhythm for the new year, while trying to decide if I wanted to continue to submit my writing for publications of all kinds for the months ahead.
Now I am faced with writing about honour, while feeling less robust than ever, and I don’t have anything whatsoever to say on the subject of being honourable.
Survival of the fittest.
Honour among thieves.
Is that all I’ve got, just a couple cliches related to these last two days of this January blogging challenge?
Well, it is the middle of the night and I am wishing I’d procured that hip for myself. Maybe my mind isn’t all that clear.
Oh wait…I just thought of another one: Scout’s honour.
Not sure that refers to the Scout I’m thinking of, but Harper Lee did write a lot about honour and what it means to be considered honourable in her stories of Atticus Finch, his children, and his community.
I read and wrote a lot about that when Go Set A Watchman was released, a highlight of my 2015.
Now it’s a new year and what it means to be honourable hasn’t changed much in fifty or sixty years. I don’t think it ever will. There are just some truths that are timeless.
Linda writes about honour, ethics, and puppies:
Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan
Today’s JusJoJan is brought to you by Corner of Confessions.
My Top Spills and Thrills of 2015
Okay, so instead of a movie review for the newest instalment in the Star Wars franchise (which I am postponing until 2016), I am attempting to sum up this past year: the good and the bad.
It has been a year of huge surprises, stupid spills, and awful scares for myself and my family, but there were thrills to be had throughout. It all ended, with a bit of a bang, and now here I am. I see I am not the first to write one of these, but since I waited and just posted about my hopes for the coming year, last New Year’s Day, I thought I would follow that up with another review, of sorts, about how those hopes translated into one wild ride of a 2015.
First Day of the Rest of My Life
I say in that post that I am not a fan of resolutions at the end of one year, with the blank slate of a new year stretching out in front, but I did have a vision for what I hoped my year might look like.
Now that I can reread that post and see how I fared, I want to bring it all together.
So I thought I would take a page out of this blogger’s book/blog and go month by month. Bare with me.
One of my first posts of 2015 was all about trying new things.
I hoped this would be a sign of things to come for the year.
I continued participating in something that matters to me, that is all about a subject near and dear to my heart and life. I would continue writing about awareness for equality and disability rights. This post was a kind shout-out to all that.
I Don’t Want Coffee. Here Are Some Links, Though.
This links to another blog hop I could participate in, if I had more time and more days of the week, but I read it weekly. I have found and left a few different circles of bloggers and blogging groupings over the last few years, but many of these circles intertwine with one another, here and there.
Speaking of blogging circles – January was the start of one of the best things I’ve gotten involved in in a long time.
1000 Voices Speak For Compassion
Thank you: Lizzi and Yvonne.
Also, it was a month of endings and beginnings.
Letting Go and Continuing to Write Another Day
The ending of an opportunity for the short story I’d written gave way for the beginning of a chance event, one for which I am so glad I snatched up my chance to be included in, in the months that would follow.
This, my birthday month, brought not only the day to celebrate my birth, but also the celebration of my first full year of blogging.
One Year and Counting: Kind and Generous
1000 Voices Speak For Compassion
And after that, my first contribution of many for #1000Speak, there came more focus on kindness with a post I’d written, which was published on a site devoted to love and friendship.
A Friend In B By Kerry Kijewski
I continued to write about a vitally important cause to me, rare illness awareness
Rare Disease Day, 2015: Ventilation
There was a weekend in Ottawa with a friend. This I will never forget.
This year I took a step forward, in the right direction after lost love, and began dating again.
This is my life.
This was not easy for me and I didn’t want to do it, but I did it and hope to do more of it.
Microwave Popcorn For Dinner It Is
As the year went on I managed to keep a secret that I’d been keeping hidden for a few months. It would involve the struggle I constantly have inside about the fine line between truth and fiction, memoir or not?
Truth Or Fiction: Which One Is Stranger?
The first of two weekly blog hops I would soon come to depend on for both comfort and inspiration began as the third month of 2015 came to a close.
Stream of Consciousness Saturday
And I finally published an interview, long worked on and awaited, with a female who is making a mark for herself as a smart businesswoman.
Keep Calm and Get Your Hair Done
There were three deaths this year, in the entertainment world, of which were sad ones to me.
The first was Richard Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. Edward Herman died almost exactly one year ago.
I did not write a post for this at the time, but wanted to include him here and now, with news recently of a NetFlix Gilmore Girls reboot, of which the man who played Mr. Gilmore will not be able to reprise his brilliantly portrayed role.
(He had an amazing voice and used it to read voiceovers, playing Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Ken Burns documentary, of which I watched near the end of the year, after Herman was gone.)
with the shocking death of Jonathan Crombie (Gilbert), the man behind the portrayal of a great literary heroic character.
Third, Christopher Lee.
Into The West: RIP Sir Christopher Lee
Babies are born and babies die everyday.
Upon hearing of the loss of one precious life, for which I had to rant about the unfair ways of the world, next came a re-blog from my own blog, written one year earlier, the worst kind of anniversary imaginable.
These few things from early in the month on my blog only served to show the contrasted miracle, the wonderful shock I would get at the end of the month
I had no idea I was about to learn of the upcoming birth of a sweet child in the month of spring’s renewed promise.
Let’s just say, to say I was shocked to learn of my friend’s pregnancy was an understatement. Best surprise all year and, as I continue on with this 2015 summary, that is about to demonstrate how much this brand new little girl means to me because she is a part of my oldest friend. No publishing achievement or literary goal met can possibly compete.
I saw my aunt twice this year, in her new home, a senior’s long-term care facility, sadly. My uncle, my father’s half-brother, he visited from Germany. He wanted to see his sister because nobody knows when it will be their final time together.
I spent lots of time with family, not only during the month of April, but I make a point to do this every month, any time during any given year. This year, 2015 was no exception.
It was only by doing this that I could think enough about how lucky I am to have family of my own, that I was able to write the guest post about famous orphans in literature.
Into the fifth month of 2015, nearly halfway now, and things really took a lousy turn.
I was distracted and although the first computer problem was a simple mistake, a fluke thing and a sign of my naivete with technology, it was only when I was careless enough to have a sticky drink next to my precious laptop that I really had something to kick myself over.
Having to fall back and depend on an ex boyfriend to fix things was a hard thing to do. I knew he’d help, if I asked, but I didn’t wish to bother him. It was still hard to admit that he was the one person I would still need, in the desperation I was facing, when it came to computers and technology, the one person I would still trust most to help and help he did. He’s good like that.
If it weren’t for the honour of a request to write a post on a writer’s site whom I greatly admire, the month would have been a total disaster.
Writing the World, Sight Unseen
The girl’s got a way with coming up with titles. Oh, and she’s got the neatest sounding last name around.
Oh, and then there’s this.
At least some good came from the month of May.
Oh, and I can’t forget this either and never could.
May was the month I joined this wonderful weekly blog hop. Many examples of what TToT stands for and looks like can be found in the comment section of this origin post.
There was, also, the series finale of a truly great show.
End of an era really, or several, from the 60s onward to the end of 2015 and the start of 2016.
And I had a publisher. Yay!
And with that, I had to attempt to put into words what writing means to me.
How Writing Has Positively Influenced My Life
Still working on this, but I keep letting other things come first.
The year 2015 was now halfway over. I was still working on both education and love.
Another milestone. I made it another year with my father’s kidney, working and keeping me well and off dialysis. Every year I avoid that is a reason to celebrate.
The year 2015 has been a spectacular one for music.
“You must be curious. Even…just…a little.”
This song, among others, made my year and it was only half over.
I was trying.
This year, 2015, meant the anniversaries for my grandparents’ deaths:
**Five years for Grandpa
**Five years for Oma
**And ten years for Grandma
Speaking of death, the composer of the wonderful Titanic soundtrack died, tragically, in a plane crash.
The US did make some progress this summer.
My country has made some much needed changes this year too.
We’re working on reconciliation and welcoming our differences, rather than hiding them away and spreading fear.
Life is all about the fireworks.
Whether it was the stress of a first date or the unpredictability of a summer fling,
(Men Are From Mars, Women From Venus, and Then There’s Jupiter)
I had one hell of a summer.
I’VE BEEN PUBLISHED!!!
That’s another item I can check off my bucket list.
Plus another guest post on J.K. Rowling’s end-of-July 50th birthday.
It was a truly spectacular book and a fascinating study in literature.
Jean Louise The Silent: My Review of “Go Set A Watchman”, Part One
Jean Louise The Silent: My Review of “Go Set A Watchman”, Part Two
The summer was full of not only literature, but also some amazing theatre performances, culture, and history.
Read a review of the play here:
Stratford’s Diary of Anne Frank
And the summer ended with a bit of nature by Future of the Ocean.
And one more guest post I had published on Hasty Words.
My summer of 2015 was full of new experiences, harsh realities, and missed opportunities.
Sometimes, some things just aren’t meant to be.
When the anthology with my story first came out in the summer it was only available as an EBook, but finally I could hold a book with a story I’d written in my own two hands. It was an indescribable feeling and a dream come true.
With the arrival of autumn there’s the twenty year anniversary for Jagged Little Pill.
At the end of the month I had a trip to Toronto which was full of surprises and adventures.
Faith and a Spinster’s Gratitude List – Harvest Moon
I tried my hand at Writer’s Digest’s month long October Platform Challenge, but I messed it up and did not finish. Admittedly, it was a bit of a half effort and I misread the instructions.
This year marks three anniversaries for television and music I’ve loved:
Gilmore Girls, A Boy Named Goo, Beverly Hills 90210
By the time we were nearing the end of 2015,
Canadians felt it was time for a change.
I also decided to try something a little different, when I was invited to do an interview for an online radio program.
Travelling with the Speed of Sight
Canada’s one-and-only Major League team, Toronto Blue Jays, came closer than they have in more than twenty years, to winning the World Series. It was a wild ride.
The eleventh month of 2015 found me trying something new, something I’ve wanted for a long time.
Being a part of a writing group is exactly what I have needed to progress with my own writing. I hope to continue with this in the year to come.
Remembrance Day and November 11th had a special significance this year.
In Flanders Fields: One Hundred Years Later
An unassuming Friday the 13th in November turned into much more, so much devastation,
Then came the first of the hospitalizations for my brother for 2015 and this one was frightening enough, but it was only a prelude to what was to come for our December.
And with one one hundred year anniversary there came a forty year one shortly after,
with a Great Lakes ship wreck and a song written more like a tale set to music.
It was time to celebrate a great man.
On the final day of November.
As Long As There’s Christmas: My Grownup Letter For Santa, 2015
We almost made it. We’d arrived at mid month, only a few weeks left in 2015 and then the bottom dropped out.
My brother had a bad fall and suffered a brain injury.
For a few days we weren’t sure what kind of Christmas we would have, but my family and his friends never stopped believing he would come out of it the same old Brian.
The doctors didn’t want us to get our hopes up, but we had a Christmas like the others.
We were all together and Brian played music again.
My last guest post of 2015. – Advent Calendar Day 20: One Tradition After Another
Now I end 2015 with a huge Happy Birthday wish for the most special five-year-old around and I ring in 2016 with a friend. Girl’s night!
In the world of feminism, 2015 was a fabulous year for discovering awesome female voices in music, literature, travel, social issues, and history.
FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE: NEW SINGLE PACKS A PUNCH
The Danger of a Single Story – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Not all of these are current, but the act of me finding them this year is the point. All examples, of females who are or were strong, which gives me the push to keep moving forward.
Women of the Year: 30 Canadians Who Rocked 2015
On the continually fascinating subject of wickedly special females, three albums and their artists are worth mentioning this year:
Second, How Big How Blue How Beautiful.
Ship To Wreck – Florence + The Machine.
And third, Honeymoon.
High by the Beach – Lana Del Ray
As for The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, it was an every Monday sort of thing for the previous half of 2014 and I continued, missing a week here and there, but I have not forgotten about its importance in my own world and here on my blog.
This coming year I plan on really starting something that I want to focus on though. The year 2016 will be 20 years since I began the journey that matured me before my age likely would have otherwise.
I have imagined writing a book about it, memoir called Piece of Cake, for years. Now that I have this blog I will start by writing about those days, as the next few years pass.
I have goals and dreams for 2016 and beyond, but I hesitate to speak of them all out loud, in fear of falling short.
I want to make more connections with writers, creative and smart women, and I want to keep writing. I want to not be afraid to keep putting my words out there, even though the fear of more rejection is a lingering one.
I want to keep working on the one and only “resolution” from 2014/2015: jealousy. I hate that part of myself and I wish I could let that go. That doesn’t mean I don’t want the best for others and don’t cheer other people on. It just means I do both and feel conflicted.
Some make resolutions, others pick one word for their year, but I resist doing both. If I have to choose one word though, I suppose I will go with “Adventure”. I do want more of this, as I believe life is one giant adventure, all the years we get to live it.
We in Canada made a change and took a stand in 2015 and, the question for 2016 is and will be: America, will you?
Okay, so I just went through my entire blog for the year, to prepare for this post. I know. It was a long one.
Wow, I wrote a lot. I did not receive an end-of-the-year WP blog stats report like I did last year though. Hmmm. Wonder if that means I didn’t do well with follows, comments, and views this year. Ah well. Staying true to myself and remaining authentic is all I can ask for.
Goodbye 2015…hello 2016. Be kind.
My Mystery Object Speaks
It was a circular, silver jewelry tin I’d received, from my oma, on my twentieth birthday. She handed it to me, in her kitchen, at our combined birthday celebrations. Hers was three days before mine. When I was turning twenty she was turning eighty-three. Inside the tin I discovered twenty loonies, Canadian dollar coins, one for every year of my life.
Why hadn’t I thought of that for her? Would have needed a bigger tin.
Fast-forward more than eleven years and I placed the silver tin, faded from sitting on a dresser in my bedroom, on a conference table – my contribution to my new writer’s group and the game called: Mystery Object.
It was, I’d recently discovered, an excellent writing exercise. I was pleased I was getting the chance to bring the object for this week’s festivities.
The rules are: someone brings an object, an air of mystery to it, and the remaining time is spent with everyone, after having passed the object around the room, writing a story where the object plays a part, no matter how big or small.
Past mystery objects have included:
— A painted model of a dragon
— A ticket stub from a visit to the Eiffel Tower.
I guess I cheated because I didn’t just bring the silver tin, but inside, instead of twenty Canadian dollars, there now rests a necklace, a blue pendant on a chain.
Two for one I guess, but nobody seemed to complain. I’d taken the necklace as the object, originally; however, as I’d needed a case to carry it, in the moment I grabbed the tin and placed the necklace inside.
This gave us all more options. We could write a story about the tin, the necklace, or any combination of the two, more or less.
They even wanted to know the history of the mystery.
The mystery object meaning the necklace, which a few of the women around the table murmured comments of interest over. The guy with, what I’m guessing is a British accent, he was supportive when I told the group a little bit of history about the blue gem on the chain.
“It was originally a Christmas present for a friend who never came back to claim it. A bit of a falling out with that friend, the end of a friendship,” I told them vaguely, leaving plenty of room for creative licence and imagination.
“‘Looks like you came out on top,” someone said. I appreciated this person trying to make me feel better about the situation myself and my necklace had been through in the past. I appreciated that, as new as I was to the writing group, any one of them would say that, as my relationship to these people is still just beginning to develop, for whatever that might mean.
My first attempt at the mystery object exercise resulted in a narrative, made up of two people in an antique shop. This is one of my favourite settings for a story, since my senses were set off strong upon entering an old building, converted into an antique shop in my town, on a dreary October day a few years ago.
I have had a dislike for old things ever since childhood, but now I see their stories in the feelings they bring forth in me and in others.
This mystery object exercise is brilliant. I love to see what the other people bring and, in this case, I couldn’t wait to find out where their minds would go when attempting to write about the object I’d chosen to bring.
I know what the silver tin and the blue necklace mean to me, the history they played in my own life, but the trick would be letting all that leave my mind for an hour, allowing me to write fictionally about them. Then I was waiting to hear what they would come out with.
I’ve considered publishing all the pieces I come out with during these bimonthly writing groups, posting them here afterward. I have had the feeling of not being naturally good at writing fiction, as I have been told and felt myself that maybe I do better with nonfiction and memoir especially, but that is why I like this group. I can write like they write, and I get so much from that interaction already, and I’ve only gone three times so far.
This latest time I wrote about a jewelry store burglary and the mystery of why the thief took only that necklace, leaving the rest of the jewelry behind.
I did not finish the story and have no idea what was so special about that necklace. Time was up for the evening, the library closing and the cleaning crew anxious to start their work to prepare the building for the following day’s borrowings.
I purposefully did not volunteer to read my jewelry store tale, preferring to hear the other stories, on the off chance that we would run out of time, which is exactly what ended up happening.
I’d preferred my previous Wednesday night’s fiction writing exercise attempt, starring the Eiffel Tower ticket, dropped from above and onto the Paris sidewalk.
Some of the stories written about the tin/necklace included:
— One rooted in hints of the wardrobe leading to Narnia and a reference to the famous sketching scene in the movie Titanic. (This movie came up, somehow, in our chatter at the beginning of the evening’s meeting.)
— One about a love sick young man and the jewelry he purchased and later returned, bought for the object of his affection.
— One beginning with a wonderful scene of a little girl dying to arrive at her grandmother’s house and ending with that little girl finding a beautiful blue necklace in said grandmother’s spare room, unaware of the history it has.
— One about a spur-of-the-moment dropping of a necklace in a coat pocket and the chase others take to get it back.
I love to listen to the other writers read their stories, how different each one is, but the theme of the past of a piece of jewelry (real or fantastic) was a thrill to me, the person who really does own it.
People feel different about reading their work, depending on the day and what they come up with in the group, but not one person said they weren’t able to write something using my contribution to Mystery Object Wednesday. I was happy about that part. I was pleased to have spurred their imaginations, even if I couldn’t quite let go of what I know about the necklace in my own reality and past.
The true story of the friendship which ended with that necklace, indirectly, is best left for another time, but I just wanted to mark this occasion, as was pointed out to me the other night by one of my new writing friends: if that friend had stayed and taken the necklace, events wouldn’t have been able to lead up to the experience of my mystery object contribution with those who bravely took a stab at coming up with alternative storylines for a blue necklace on a chain.
For next group we’ve all been given a small slip of paper, containing a scenario and we are supposed to use it to demonstrate the concept of a favourite writing rule: show don’t tell.
This is the sort of homework I am more than happy to complete, I think. I will keep posted on what I manage to come up with for that one.
Mystery objects are exciting things, fiction that bursts forth from each and every one. They mean different things to different people and tell a story worth hearing. They are helping me get to know my fellow writers, one story at a time.
Why Men Lie – Not What It Seems, #VIP, #BlogShareLearn, #BluSkyFriday, #LinkYourLife
“I’m sorry,” said the server, with a tap on the shoulder, “But this is a VIP lounge. Not that the two of you aren’t important or anything, but…”
Two girls had been looking for the bar, while waiting for the official author event to begin. They’d wandered through a revolving door and into a world of words.
Okay, so now what? They’d stumbled into the wrong place. What a way to begin the evening. It’s hard enough to feel like she fit in there, even though she loved it so. It’s strange to feel so at home in a place, and still feel completely out-of-place all at once.
Where had they stepped into, being excluded from, politely excused? Who were those very important persons? They did not ask. The two girls simply continued to wander. Up the stairs, where the server had directed them, to the cash bar they were looking for, just to check the prices of the drinks.
By now they were afraid of entering somewhere else they did not belong, so when they approached two closed doors, they hesitated and right back down they would go, until they noticed others going the way they’d just come. So, back up they went, feeling more than a little ridiculous.
She was a doctor, not a writer like her friend. She was leaving her baby girl at home, for a couple hours, at the request of her oldest friend, who had wanted someone to accompany her to a literary event.
The main event was a question and answer session with a local arts reporter and a well-known Canadian journalist. He’d been an investigative reporter for Canada’s CBC Television for many years. The girl, relatively new to the world of writing, she had no aspirations to become like him, not as a journalist. She simply liked to listen to his maritime accent and the way he told stories about a diverse array of people, places, and things.
On this night he spoke about his books, works of fiction she hadn’t known he’d written. She only thought he was a reporter and a TV personality. Her respect and admiration grew, for this man, when she learned of his fiction. She was on a continual mission to collect books and have them signed by their writers. Her collection was growing. First Carrie Snyder, then Douglas Gibson, and now Linden MacIntyre.
The talk on this night was about the question:
Does a good journalist need “fire-in-the-belly” to be good at their job?
The journalist’s answer:
No. Fire-in-the-belly could get one into trouble. It could lead to emotional reactions and lack of professionalism or the required objectivity.
Wouldn’t fire-in-the-brain be more appropriate?
He made a good point. Many in the crowd nodded in agreement. While the writer girl cringed at her least favourite word, since childhood, “belly”, the doctor thought of physical conditions that might be the cause of “fire” in the belly or the brain: appendicitis or meningitis.
The girl with the literary aspirations sat and glanced around at the other tables, full of local college and university students mostly, and wondered what she was doing there with them. Did she fit in? Did she belong there? She tried to squash her insecurities, as she listened to the murmuring and the muttering, because, maybe, she wasn’t the only one who felt that way. After all, wasn’t insecurity and self doubt not uncommon for writers?
She knew only the doctor sitting beside her, her closest childhood friend, who felt more at home in the world of science than literature, but who put her heart into the evening and gave it her best, because that’s just the sort of girl she always had been. This wasn’t the first event the writer friend had dragged the doctor along for in recent months, and it always worked out, turning into some of the memorable times they’d always been capable of having together. The doctor and her little girl had been around, as fate or life’s cruel irony would have it, but this wouldn’t last.
A professor of humanities had organized the festival, with all the authors and events, spread over the weekend, including a poetry night, lectures on creativity, and much much more. He went on to introduce the panel of other writers: political writers, comedy writers, and poets.
After the panel answered questions and promoted their work, the two girls stood up, along with everyone else. They weren’t sure where to go next, but the literary one was determined to get her next signed book.
Immediately, upon the wrapping up of the presentation, the featured authors were swarmed by people from the audience. There was no other option. And so, back down the stairs the doctor and the writer would go.
Back down in the lobby and the doctor’s resourcefulness shone through. No lack of VIP status would stop her from helping her friend.
“There’s one of the authors. HE’s right behind you. I could walk us right into him, if you want. That’s how close.”
The doctor was one-of-a-kind and made even awkward literary events fun, disarming the beginner writer, making her feel less uncomfortable, in hopes of more less uncomfortable literary events for her in the future. They got themselves a copy of one of Linden’s novels, “Why Men Lie”, and off they went, on a search for possible answers to the question.
Very soon the doctor spotted him. He had made it down and away from the throng at the stage upstairs, down into the group mingling in the museum’s lobby. The doctor waited for the opportune moment, when he was not speaking to another, and introduced her shy writer friend.
“What’s the name of the one this is for?” Linden asked this to the two lovely young women standing before him, unsure which one it might be.
“It’s Kerry, spelled K…e…r…r…y.” People couldn’t be blamed for getting it wrong, but to avoid another Ricky Martin incident, clarification was necessary. “I remember, about ten years ago, when you did a story on the whale from the Free Willy movie. Not sure if you remember.”
“Yes,” he said immediately. “I went to Iceland for that one.”
He seemed pleased that someone would remember him for that one in particular.
“Well, I love writing about marine biology specifically,” the girl spluttered. These encounters were always a little uncomfortable for her. She took her newly signed book and the two girls departed.
But, before leaving, back out the revolving door and into the still November night, the doctor home to her baby and the writer home to her books…
“There’s the professor who interviewed all the authors,” the doctor spoke, conspiratorially. “Wow. He’s shorter than I thought he would be.”
“Shorter than me?” the 5 foot 2 writer asked.
“Maybe. Let’s go see,” suggested the nearly equally short doctor. This was just the sort of crazy idea she often had, of which made spending time with this particular doctor anything but boring.
And so the doctor and the writer followed the professor, darting through the people, until the two girls and he were standing only feet from each other.
“Well…is he?” the writer asked, attempting to speak quietly enough so she wouldn’t be overheard, but she already knew the answer.
The two girls had to leave then, as their attempts to remain inconspicuous would not last long if they remained in that serious literary environment. They then took their non VIP selves out of their and did not look back. They never did find out why men lie, but then again, some questions have no tangible answers.
Note: The writer girl in this story is, it turns out, a VIP (visually impaired person).
And, in that VIP’s opinion, so is the doctor. After all, aren’t doctors very important, in their own right, in the work that they do, everyday?
Not to mention the importance this particular doctor has played in her writer friend’s estimation, since the two girls were ten years old. She will play an extremely important role for so many patients who count on her expertise and her compassionate care.
VIP is all relative.
Journalism fuels Linden MacIntyre’s fiction writing
For the answer to the question of why men lie, guess you’ll just have to read the book to find out.
And if you are someone who is offended by the assumption of men as lyres, Linden wrote the book.
Words With Friends
I have no idea what I’m walking into, but I stride forward, into my favourite place: the library.
Of course it would be my favourite place. It is a building full of books. I would live there if I could, but I don’t think those in charge would really appreciate that.
I don’t know what took me this long. Why did I take this long to check this out? There had to be others around me who loved to write and I wanted to gather with them. And so I have.
I am always apprehensive going into a new situation, but this is stacked with a whole new set of expectations. This time, I’m supposed to share my writing, to open up that part of me.
Oh, of course I do it all the time here, now, and I don’t know what took me so long to do that either, but here I am.
This, however, is something entirely different. This time, I am not hiding behind a computer, waiting for the comments or likes to trickle in. This time, I am face-to-face with those who also love to write, or else they wouldn’t be here. This time I can’t hide.
I approach the checkout desk where people are taking out library books and I ask for directions to the room where the writer’s group meets.
I have been in this building many times before, for years and ever since the library from the old church of my childhood became the new location. This, though, is new to me. I was not aware of this room, just off the main area.
I find it with little problem, even with signs and people in my path. The room is to the left and they are inside, waiting for me, or new members like me.
I made sure to come on time, but I like the room almost immediately.
Someone shows me to a chair. I can’t remember who it was now. It’s all a blur of frazzled nerves. I’m doing this and I hope it is everything I’ve ever imagined a writing group would be. How unfair to put oh so many expectations on these poor fellow lovers of the written word.
There is someone across the table and people sitting over to my right. They appear to be engaged in some casual conversations when I appear on the scene, but they welcome me warmly. I can be one of them if I put my best foot forward.
My best foot is my coming-out-of-my-shyness-shell foot. I will put it out alright. If not here, where?
This is the time to drop that silly shyness and give it my all. They seem to agree.
There is someone on the other side of the room, bustling around and making tea. The guy to my right speaks with an English accent, which I can make out through a cracked voice, the ends of a sore throat. He still talks enthusiastically and seems to be one of the first members of the group. He is friendly and has a sense of humour, which I notice right then and there.
I hear my name. Someone recognizes me. She works at the library and runs the group, but she does not stay for the whole thing, instead overseeing it and taking hot drink orders. She speaks with a soft voice, the perfect library voice I suppose. She has met me through my sister, my brother-in-law, and I strain to remember when, although I knew she worked here.
The guy sitting across the way appears to be a new comer like I am. This makes me relate to him then and there. He has come from out of town.
I am still taking time to get an idea of who is here. I wasn’t sure what the cross section of people at a writer’s group could be. Age. Male or female ratio. From different backgrounds.
As people take their seats and we push tables together, I try not to shuffle and fidget more than is necessary, but in new situations I tend to do both to excess. I try to focus on the cues I can get from the people now sitting around me.
National Novel Writing month is discussed. I think I should speak up and say that I did it once, but not this year. I was sure showing up here for the first time in the month of November would mean NaNoWriMo would be a common topic of discussion, but I had no idea if everyone else would be doing it, as a writer’s group would be the place to bring it up.
I have come equipped with my laptop and earphones. Oh, how I wish I could go the old fashion route and write with a pencil or pen and a notebook. I would have picked out a special notebook for the occasion. It would have been red and the pages would have smelled like books, like paper smells.
I wonder how this is all going to work. I can’t write by hand and so how will I join in and share my writing at the end?
Do we even share?
Do we just bring in writing we do at home, for it to be shared and commented on?
Something is happening. I am talking and speaking up and out. Finally, it’s a whole room and its full of those who only want to talk about the writing they love, like I do. There is nothing else I’d rather talk about.
There is tea for the one with the lost voice and ginger cookies from a local bakery being passed around the table.
I decline, hopefully in a polite manner, a cup of anything hot. I even offer up the story of my disgrace from last spring and the ensuing events leading up to me, using a generously provided laptop in a pinch. I am new here and the nerves still could cause a problem. I wouldn’t want to knock my cup over, in a move to open my laptop, as I hear the guy sitting beside me has a laptop too and I seem to have the worst luck. I would hate for that to “spill” over to anybody else.
He asks me if I spend a lot of time in Waterloo. I hesitate and ask for confirmation that he is, indeed, speaking to me and not someone else. I am bad for that because I have gotten it wrong before and I hate that sensation of embarrassment, even though the feeling of discomfort is one I still end up feeling either way.
I tell him he must be thinking of someone else, but it is a strange, deja vu sort of moment. I liked that it happened here. I seem to get mistaken for someone else, in the most interesting moments and in the strangest situations. I wonder who that other girl is that I keep getting mistaken for. Could make a cool story sometime.
Next there’s talk of a mystery object. This, I hadn’t expected, but I like where this is going.
A model of a dragon is being passed around, painted by the one with barely a voice, when he was a teenager.
People compliment him on the painting he did of the creature and it is passed to me.
I take it in hand, ever so cautiously, and I feel the wings and the head. I ask for a physical description of it, mostly its colour. It is small and intricately detailed. I try hard to detect every bump and groove with my fingertips.
The maker or someone else mentions Lord of the Rings. He painted models, or meant to, from LOTR, the sort of thing you might expect a teen boy to do after school.
I like to be developing a picture of everyone here, even if it’s bits at a time. We could give rambling explanations of ourselves, going around the table, but instead we simply state our names.
It is hard it first, taking me a while to learn which name belongs to each and every one of these lovers of words, but I will get there.
NAme tags are made, the spelling of my name is wrongly guessed at, but this isn’t uncommon. I like to have this discussion. How long will people require a glance at another’s tag, before the name to the face will come right to mind?
This is a group of barely ten. I like this number. It’s not such a large group that I feel lost in a crowd, but not so small as I imagined, making a writing group less a group and more a few people.
So I guess we are writing now, or after much of the conversation dwindles. Our group leader brings up dialogue and character development in a story. I announce, perhaps over confidently that I have specifically been complimented on my dialogue, by a trusted friend whom I gave my NaNo project to when I’d finished the month. This speaking up thing I seem to be doing feels good, although still rather foreign to me.
Now the pressure is mounting. The talk grows quieter and less frequent and it’s time to write, right?
So I need to write about a dragon?
Okay. Here goes nothing.
I like the noise of the guy’s fingers: click click click. He is writing, then pausing to think, I suppose. I do the same.
I try not to fear him being able to glance over and read the few words I’ve managed to write. I guess I have some self absorption that writers are prone to. We are all hoping to produce something we can share when time’s up. We all likely think about sharing of ideas vs stealing them.
I take in the smell of ginger and the sound of keyboard keys clicking and I just write.
It slowly dawns on me again. Oh yeah, dragon, dragon, dragon. Don’t forget to write about the dragon.
I don’t write fantasy. I can’t write like Tolkien. That’s not my thing. Or is it?
I pick a locale and two characters and I write a scene for them. The dragon is coming up.
Time is up. The silence is broken by people’s uncertainty at what they’ve just put down, on paper or on screen. Will it be good enough?
Well, that’s what I am thinking, but maybe they aren’t. But wait…how will I participate?
I volunteer to just let my VoiceOver speak my story to the room, as a joke. I don’t want to be different, and I’m glad I didn’t not bring my laptop, or I would have been sitting there and twiddling my thumbs while everyone else wrote, but now how do I read what I’ve written for comments and reactions?
Others read their stories. They are all fantasy themed. They all involve real live dragons, but I did not go that direction. Maybe I should have, but instead I enjoy their little tales of discovery, intrigue, and adventure.
I listen to their reading styles and the inflections they place in the words. I try again not to move around, if possible, as this is a sign of boredom. I want to respect all these people who share, as I want to learn from them and to earn their attention when it’s my turn to share.
When it comes to me I don’t want to miss out entirely, so I go ahead and describe what I wrote. I receive a few comments and nods of approval at my subject matter, as I’d chosen to write more modern and contemporary, about an antique shop, one of my favourite settings for a story.
I talk about my one character not knowing what he’s exactly looking for, when his girlfriend asks, but his declaring that he’ll know it when he sees it.
This part seems to get people’s attention. I am happy they believe that I wrote what I’m saying I wrote and that my relaying of that writing is coherent.
Now that I know what actually goes on during one of these things, I must revise my plan and go with my braille display, as long as there is a plug nearby and I can bring a cord long enough to reach. I can write my stories in there and be able to read them back in the moment, along with the rest. My first idea to bring what I’d written from last time falls flat in my own estimation because I don’t want to be always behind a week. I want to be in the moment with this room and these people.
The guy beside me informs me there is an available spot to plug in my device and that he too may require it at some point. My laptop has held up this time, but I know its battery life is limited.
My laptop’s voice was an interesting bit of discussion this time. It has resulted in talk of a Gilbert Gottfried reading of Fifty Shades of Grey somewhere out there online. I had never before compared VoiceOver to Gilbert, but it makes sense.
I wonder what they will think when I walk in next time, with my Braille Sense over my shoulder, like a purse. I’m already looking forward to next time. I love this. I’ve found my tribe. I did not want to get my hopes up about this whole thing, but the real thing did actually surpass my expectations, in unexpected and interesting ways, some of which I’ve mentioned here.
I feared they wouldn’t like me, that I would feel out of place, as I do in a lot of places, but here I have this one thing in common with these people.
I don’t play Words With Friends, but I like the name of the game.
I don’t know what might come of being a member of a writer’s group, whether we become friends or not, but I like to hold back on any expectations I may harbour and just be in the moment, in that room, with those who love words as much as I do.
Howling At the Moon
The moon does not fight. It attacks no one. It does not worry. It does not try to crush others. It keeps to its course, but by its very nature, it gently influences what other body could pull an entire ocean from shore to shore? The moon is faithful to its nature and its power is never diminished.
–Ming-Dao Deng, Everyday Tao: Living with Balance and Harmony
It draws her in, with its bright light, when the night comes. She is drawn to it, unmistakably, the pull she always felt growing stronger and stronger over time.
From a long time back, she couldn’t explain this if she tried, but lots of people love the moon. She wasn’t alone. Nothing so strange, except there was.
Her love of the night continued to grow too. It felt like home, her hours of peace and pure tranquility, when so many slept. She stayed wide awake throughout the hours of darkness and solitude. Something deep inside of her wouldn’t let her sleep anymore. It became normal and expected. It was invited, instead of fought against.
Walking along, under the moonlight, the waves crashing over the rocky shoreline. She looked up at that moon, thinking about the pull it had on the tides and on her limbs and her very spirit.
Her limbs. Speaking of her limbs.
They were changing and morphing into something alien to her, somehow, so slow and under the overhanging watchfulness of the moon. It seemed to be spying on the progress of this change in her.
It would have begun in puberty, with hair growing, suddenly. It was at the normal amount for her age group, but soon enough it was something more.
She could try to wish it away, to be like the other females, but they would look at her, under moon or under sun, and exclaim:
“Why do your legs have such thick and fast growing hair? That can’t be right.”
It wasn’t. No cream or product could touch the growth once it began. No hair remover, laser, or treatment she tried helped. She was slowly watching the hair move up her legs, out from her arms, dark and rough to the touch.
Hands and fingers, even the thumb. It was relentless, unnatural. She was being stared at, so she hid and only showed her face when the light of the moon was all there was to show herself off with.
The hair, it crept up and around each arm, to her shoulder blades, to the small of her back. Everybody has hair, fine and unnoticeable, over most of the surface area of the body, other than the bottom of the feet and palms of the hands. It should be undetectable, in most places, or you were a freak of nature.
The moon didn’t care. The night didn’t reveal. The solitude was her friend.
One morning she happened to notice the hair taking over most of her face, chin and cheeks, lip and inching its way from the eyebrows to the sideburns. The hair became the thickest, on her head, it had ever been. Where wasn’t their hair most harshly spreading?
The next full moon was just a few nights away. The hair caused her to finally become a shut-in. People knocked on her door and she ignored them all, shying away and shrinking from the knocking that kept coming. Then, suddenly, the moon was at its brightest and she came out.
She’d stare at her hairy hands, now hairy palms, and know there was no denying it, no going back.
The moon pulled her out, all resistance disappearing, and the cold night air nipped at her cheeks, but the hair there kept her warm from its bite. Her fingernails had grown, in those days she’d remained hidden away, and now they were long and like weapons.
She knew what she had become and she did not hide from it, all horror films aside, and she would embrace her fate. She would belong to the night, with so many nocturnal creatures. It was where she belonged now. Her love of the moon made much more sense to her this time. It had called to her, even when she hadn’t realized why. Now she had only to examine her hand to know it and to fully believe.
The howl escaped her before she’d realized what was happening. The moon brought it out of her. It felt as natural as breathing. She was home.
2015 October Platform Challenge: Day Nine, #platchal
I missed a few days there, or a little more than that, as I already have both a Facebook page and Twitter, but I’m back for more of a refresher.
I outline what I want for my blog, in my very first post,
but I had no clue how it would really be to have a blog, day in and day out. I couldn’t have known then.
I do like to keep a rough schedule, more in my head, but the categories I select before each post help me keep things straight.
I stayed up, into the night, before I actually launched this blog, coming up to my thirtieth birthday in 2014 and mapped out which days I wanted to post.
I would let alliteration lead me.
Memoir Monday: My Fear of Going Blind
Fiction Friday: An Old Woman’s Regret
From there, as the months of blogging went on, more weekday categories were added.
Touching Landscapes: Feel the Vibrations
This was my regular post, my growing favourite, Travel Tuesday as I called it. This was how I eventually decided to branch out further, creating
and my blogging schedule continuing to change.
Slowly, my favourite weekly posts have become
In The News and On My Mind: #1000Speak Edition
because these allow me to focus in on what may be going on, in the moment.
It is a difficult question, how often to post on a blog. I don’t like to box myself in by telling myself I have to post, but I understand consistency and regularity.
I have not run out of things to say, like I’d feared in the beginning, and only really the opposite is true.
Every day is too much, but I hate to go more than a few days and not publishing something.
My Mondays have become a series on disability, for which I have a vested interest.
When It Rains It Pours – The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge
I do the well known TBT thing.
Throwback Thursday: World Kidney Day
My weekends were where I featured interviews. I wanted to give the spotlight to other people who write, blog, and make a difference in some way.
Eventually, my weekends would evolve into what they currently consist of: Stream of Consciousness Saturday and 10 Things of Thankful on Sunday.
TToT: Extra Thankful For These Last Eighteen Years
So this is just a selection of my posts, an example of the kind of blogging schedule I keep to. This won’t be the way others can or choose to do it. I don’t know. Is this too much? I know it’s enough and I am happy because my blog, its content, style, and all other elements, including number of weekly posts is me…just me.
When an idea hits me I make a note of it, trying to decide when and if it might fit. I plan things, sometimes weeks or even months ahead of where I am. It works for me. Writing is a lot of hard work, more than people realize, but the weekly practice is the best thing for me. I like to have a plan wherever possible, but yet I also like to go with the flow and let things happen naturally.
A blogging calendar, like a yearly one, has certain markers of importance and note. What might take place in between is anyone’s guess.
I am enjoying this challenge for the month of October. It has given me more to think about. It is now a part of my month.
Follow the guy who runs the challenge.
Dates to make note of, things to come on my blog, of course always subject to change:
**More posts for Redefining Disability, including my thoughts on a woman who made the news for making herself go blind.
**An “In The News and On My Mind” post about voting. Will I or won’t I?
**A post about love (tentatively titled Somebody That I Used to Know), a list of songs to help with heartbreak and how to get past lost love.
**Halloween themed posts about spiders, werewolves, and ghosts.
**My story about a giant book fair, by the lake, in Toronto.
That should get us through October anyway.