Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Piece of Cake, The Insightful Wanderer, Writing

On Shoveling Snow During a Blizzard and Writing Memoir at 26

I started writing my “autobiography,” on my heavy duty Perkins Brailler, when I was fourteen. No technology because I didn’t rely on computers then. I soon changed the name of what I was writing from “autobiography” to “memoir” because I felt like I didn’t need to keep defending what I was writing, as memoir is about memory and living. We’re all in the process of living and all of us have the right to write about it. I look younger than I am often too. I still obtain wisdom and intend to use it, to share it, but I still (deservedly or not) get out of shovelling snow, though I like how the writer of this piece uses it as example for real writing life and struggle.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

Katie HS Square (3 of 1) (1).jpgBy Katie Simon

“What kind of writing do you do?” It is snowing heavily outside, and I am at a party, ice flaking off my quilted boots and melting into puddles on the hardwood floor. I get asked this question frequently, not just by buzz-cut, twenty-something, plaid-wearing, men like the one in front of me, but by people of all hairstyles, ages, and clothing preferences. I know what this man expects me to say: short stories; poetry; hot takes on pop culture trends. I am 26 years old, and anything I write must be imaginary or ephemeral.

I squirm in my boots, stare out the window at the weather I just escaped. I hate this question. “Memoir,” I say.

“Huh.” He looks at me skeptically. Even without asking my age, he has a general idea. I look younger than I am. “Kind of funny for somebody your age, don’t you…

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Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, Writing

Stripper Girl

CNF is challenging enough, but when it’s about ancestors and family history it adds a whole new layer of challenge. This subject sticks with me as I try to construct my own familial literature.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

A guest post from Melissa Ballard:

Family history. Why would anyone waste their time with it?

In the summer of 1993, I agreed to do just a bit of ancestral research, at the request of my great-uncle. I was quickly lured into the mysteries of century-old handwriting, sepia-toned photographs, and the personal details in local newspapers from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

I began to write essays about my ancestors, who were much more interesting than I’d thought. My publication record for these pieces is scant, but I persist. At first, I had to go to libraries or historical societies and do battle with microfilm machines. Now I can do most of my research online, from my home office.

So when the newspaper database I use added two decades of issues from Muncie, Indiana, I set aside some time to search. I already knew a line of my…

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Happy Hump Day, Memoir and Reflections, Shows and Events, Special Occasions, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel, TravelWriting, Writing

After the Summer Writing Workshop: Back to The Real World

I can relate, so well to these thoughts on what a week that’s all about writing can be. Thanks, as I look back on one year ago, this week, goes to: Amy, Donna, John, Jen, Kerra, Sara, Angela, Kristin, Lisa, Susan, and everyone else I met during that magical workshop in Mexico.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

fastBy Melissa Fast

I noticed the moseying around the quiet little town of Gambier, Ohio—stop by the Amish basket maker, peek in the bookstore one more time, grab a bite to eat at the Village Inn (Ohhh, the tater tots).  Suitcases were already packed and most of the writing workshop participants had boarded shuttles to the airport or loaded up the car and left. The few of us who remained didn’t want to leave. The spell would be broken.

I know I’m not the only one who thought it. Once home, I scrolled through Facebook and Twitter feeds and saw the same kind of sentiment—magical, fantastic, unbelievable. Status updates tried to encase the week-long experience of TheKenyon Review Writers Workshop, perhaps to hang on just a bit longer.

I more than willingly entered this other world. For an entire week, I was spellbound in words. I dis-remembered contrary…

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Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Travel, Writing

Jolt, #JusJoJan

Caffeine doesn’t give me a jolt. That is not why I sit in a relatively newly opened cafe, on a cold January day.

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It’s the chilled air of January in Canada that gives me that jolt, as I go on a downtown wallet hunt. Thankfully, I left it at a cousin’s hair salon.

I look through the lens of my writing. I visit this cafe to find a next great writing spot, a place where creativity may blossom and bloom, but I must learn my surroundings first.

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan

Coffee, like everything else, seems to have a light and a dark. Huh. Hmm.

A bitter sip and my attention is on the super laid back atmosphere of this local joint, rather than remember the more bitter moments, those ones I am moved to write stories about.

This place doesn’t seem to live up to my deeply held expectations of what a writing spot should be. I view the rustic feel of cafes in my past, on my travels, in Ottawa and in Whitehorse and somehow Woodstock isn’t like those.

I am not in Ottawa. I’m no longer in Whitehorse. I am back in my hometown and in the middle of the cold of winter.

My writing is in freefall as I see it. I still hope to land somewhere solid.

I may land and be jolted by the rocky ground. I can’t tell at this early stage of a new year.

People just expect me to be on some kind of roll with my writing, as I ended off the previous year. I can’t say either way.

Coffee near my laptop scares me.

Maybe they won’t mind me coming in there and writing, without buying something. If they come to my table, I might request a drink or a snack.

So typical of me though, to only ask when asked, to wait to be spoken to, instead of doing the speaking on my own.

I stated my declaration: “stoker” will be my word for 2018 and that means having opinions and making them known.

Not to wait to be heard, to take a stand on what’s important. All the coffee in the world, the jolt it provides, may never be enough.

Most people can agree on coffee, if nothing else, and this prompt word is brought to us
by teleportingweena,
for the 9th day of January.

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Ketchup On Pancakes: Episode 8 – Farewell 2017 (By the Fireside) #Siblings #Podcast

Here we are, back again!

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It’s 2018 and we’re sitting, warming ourselves by the crackling fire in our latest and first episode of the Ketchup On Pancakes podcast of this new year.

Won’t you join us? It’s bound to make you smile.

Episode 8 – Farewell 2017…By The Fireside (Ketchup On Pancakes)

Last year was “beyond expectations” great for both of us and we, at Ketchup On Pancakes, have high hopes for the coming one.

Also, thanks to the mysterious fire stoker, fanning the flames behind us as we talk, I’ve decided to make “stoker” my word for 2018 and I vow to stoke the fires, like our stoker, to help keep the warmth and the glow in the world going.

Also, do check out the audio story we created. It’s a holiday story perhaps, but it also takes us back to a simpler time and maybe it will do the same for you too, at any old time of year.

E.T. & A Slinky (recorded for Jon Solomon’s 25-hour holiday radio marathon)

Are you fan of the film about the lovable alien? Did you have a slinky growing up?

Also, please feel free to follow
Ketchup On Pancakes on Facebook,
for mostly regular updates on all things podcasting and related subjects, specifically when we post a new episode.

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It Broadens the (Writer’s) Mind

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

Let me tell you about my book, Señor…

The sticky joys of packing the kids into car seats. The triumph of cramming your daily life into a carry-on, victory dance cut short by a full bottle of contact lens solution. The stoicism of sleeping on the lumpy foldout sofa.

There’s nothing so delightful as travel at the holidays.

Fortunately for writers, it turns out travel broadens the mind regardless of destination. It’s not where you go, or even for how long–the process of moving to and within a new location is stimulating, even if it’s Aunt Hildy’s instead of Buenos Aires. As Jonah Lehrer writes in the Guardian,

…problems that feel “close” – and the closeness can be physical, temporal or even emotional – get contemplated in a more concrete manner. As a result, when we think about things that are nearby, our thoughts are constricted, bound by a…

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Memoir Monday, Shows and Events, Special Occasions, The Insightful Wanderer, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, TravelWriting, TToT, Writing

TToT: Insertion Follows Playback Like Edit Follows Automation – Full Cold Moon, #10Thankful #IDPD2017

“(UN IDPD) serves as an important reminder that globally there are over a billion people with a disability. This year’s theme, “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all” is especially relevant to our accessibility efforts…”

—Microsoft

More on IDPD2017 from the WHO.

I know when and how to celebrate and I am learning when to stand up and speak up for the important things – overall, a thankful post brimming with gratitude really.

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Photo caption: sisters watching the decorating of their father’s 62nd birthday cake. Talking/smiling. Happy Birthday Dad! XO

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for this artistic girl.

Making works of art out of the task of cupcake decoration.

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Making something, all her own, and loving it.

I am thankful for this sly guy.

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He likes to hide, but there’s a mischievous spirit just under the surface, behind the hands that sometimes cover his face when he’s playing shy to the camera.

I am thankful for such a smart and curious almost ten-month-old sweetheart.

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Photo caption: Cousin hugs.

Her big cousin Soph adores her. It’s sweet to see them interact.

Mya is so interested in everything now. She is so close to walking, as she sees the rest of us doing it and wonders why she hasn’t managed it yet.

She is the happiest baby I’ve seen really. She likes to cuddle, but I can barely keep up with her when she’s on the move, and she’s not even a year old yet. Her mother and I are in no real hurry though.

I am thankful for the missing and missed one at last weekend’s gathering and the kind soul he is.

Old soul is my man Maxwell.

I am thankful he could enjoy his new friend’s birthday party. He got so excited. He was counting down the hours to his first party invitation since starting junior kindergarten in September.

I am thankful for a name given, from a friend, that suited my current state rather perfectly.

**Given what you’ve shared recently, I’d say the cauldron’s selection is a potent one for you. Your Embrace the Darkness name is “Good Night’s Sleep.”**

I had mentioned my sleep/dream issues lately and she generously handed this one to me, gifted me with it as a way to accept and deal.

I am thankful for a visit with one of the few people in my life who understand about living with chronic pain.

She brought me a coffee, doughnut, and a sympathetic ear.

She lives with pain and manages to hold onto her most original sense of humour and I take lessons from her on that front – where I find strength through some good sarcasm now and again, I see she does too.

I am thankful my friend arrives home from Ireland next week for the holidays.

I see her and her daughter just once a year, at this time, and it’s a fascinating way to observe the growing up of any child. They are quite the pair.

A little Christmas shopping with them maybe? I want to get her something memorable, as I only get to see her once a year and it takes her a little time, each time, to warm up to me again. A toy may help, but it can’t be anything too big because it must get back to Ireland.

Lots for them to cram into only a few weeks here back in Canada, with family and friends, but it’s always fun.

I am thankful for such kind and generous parents.

They bring me medication when I go away and forget it at home. They go that extra mile, in so many ways, and are flexible in so many ways too.

They are both unflinchingly generous people.

I am thankful for another job completed and well done, hopefully.

I wrote a memoir piece about our family, from the past, and the early December trips to a giant toy store we’d make as a family.

I turned it into a bit of a back-and-forth with me and Brian. We recorded it and added sounds and a bit of music to the piece.

We are submitting it for consideration on my brother’s favourite holiday Christmas marathon radio show he has listened to for the last three years.

Even the year of his horrible fall, when he was slowly recovering with a brain injury, he listened. The jingle bells accompany the radio guy and he plays some of the most obscure music for the season, to be heard on a New Jersey college station.

In the midst of all the musical pieces, he plays short holiday themed stories, recorded by friends and fans. This year we wanted to be included in that.

We shall see what he thinks when we send it to him.

Adding more…

I am thankful for fresh edits to a piece and that time away so I can come back at it with fresh eyes.

I wrote about the road I took through my Yukon visit and the road I’m traveling down in my life.

I worked on it with one editor and took a few weeks away from it. Coming back now, with fresh eyes, I can consider other editing suggestions and work to make it the best piece it can possibly be.

I just saw a Yukon documentary, playing in theatres for a limited time, and this virtual return to the north of Canada has given me new life to put into the writing.

I appreciate all I learn and how I can improve and grow as a writer, with the guidance of talented people I am lucky enough to get to work for/with.

I am thankful for a movie about the Yukon in my heart since I visited there, even without the DVS working.

It’s funny to have the story, on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, but again we ran into issues with the audio description service at the theatre.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover they said they had it. A worker disappeared somewhere and came back with two headsets and wireless boxes.

Once inside the we turned them on. One worked and the other did not. The first worked, but it was describing a story that certainly wasn’t that of the Yukon.

We were offered their apologies and two free movie passes, but that won’t address this issue.

I did enjoy the film, despite all that, but a documentary, at least, has steady narration.

I don’t even think about going to an action movie or one with a lot of adventure, not without the proper assistance from a helpful person sitting next to me.

This is no answer. Perhaps not that many blind people go to movies, anymore or ever, but this must be improved upon.

As for the movie, I nearly came to tears more than once, as it brought back sense memory of my days there and my deep feelings about so much of that wild beautiful part of North America.

I am thankful for the day, December 3rd, to highlight disability, not just in North America, but around the world.

Every day is a day to talk about it, without becoming preachy. I feel this is something I have been called on to do, but it is a rather tricky balancing act.

I watched a Canadian national news broadcast and no mention at all was made nor any story aiming to shed light on some aspect of disability and what IDPD means to so many. I know an hour long news program can’t get to everything, but I think this should have been covered in some way.

I plan to do a lot more of this activism stuff in 2018 and beyond.

I am thankful for the final super moon of 2017 and the fact that, in spite of my worsening eyesight, I could still make it out on the horizon as we drove home.

I am all about horizons these days. Onward and upward, all while still making the effort to enjoy the final weeks of 2017 in the meantime.

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