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Old College Try, #Freelance #AtoZChallenge

I am no journalist.

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I write memoir, the kind of essay, nonfiction that may never bring in the big bucks.

The A to Z Challenge – F is for Freelance

My latest freelance rejection of a pitch I’d sent out, early in the week, the editor in her email response said:

“I find this story objectively interesting…”

Oh, great. That sounds positive. As long as I stayed focused on her first few lines of the email, all looked promising, but then:

“but it’s not really a fit for us. We do very few personal essay stories of this sort”.

It is my responsibility to learn what any publication I pitch publishes, what sort of pieces, and a lot are journalistic in tone. I can write, could, and maybe I will get there.

She did proceed to include in the email, a pitch doc for what she said was:

“to help shape future pitches”.

Not sure if she meant that is encouragement to try again with them in the future or just as a general tool. Either way, I appreciated the gesture.

I haven’t been able to map my writing road as such. Somehow, I ended up in a group on Facebook and there I saw editors asking for certain kinds of pieces. They were mostly about things from marginalized writers and voices and I qualified.

I had written pieces which were published on various websites, publications, and blogs, but none were paying, until this year. It’s nothing to retire on, but it felt like I was finally pulling my own weight.

So, I barely call myself a freelancer, just like I barely called myself a writer for a long long time.

Eventually, that changed. I moved up on this particular ladder. I now refer to myself as a writer. I am literary and would like to write memoirs and novels and plenty more, but if freelance work can find a spot in there somewhere too, I will do my best.

***This is my first year of joining the A to Z Challenge and so I’ve decided to post randomly, as a way for new visitors to my blog to get to know me a little better. I look forward to discovering some interesting new blogs too.

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TToT: Landscapes of Skies – Morning Chatter, #AtoZChallenge #10Thankful

“I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl could be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”

—Daisy Buchanan, The Great Gatsby

For April Fools’ Day this year: Tourism Ireland claimed they were saving power by having sheep keep the grass trimmed, George Takei announced he was running for office, and that’s just the start of it.

It may have been a week of
tomfoolery,
but also of sunshine, birds, flowers, and beautiful skies.

I learned my brother and Vincent Van Gogh share a birthday.

Thanks, everyone, for your delightful and helpful descriptions last week, for what a rainbow looks like to you.

Anyone want to take a crack at describing Van Gogh’s painting? I’ve never seen a rainbow, but I’ve also never seen the stars.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful that I was published again.

My Wedding Won’t Be Like My Sister’s, but That’s Okay – A Practical Wedding

I received a lot of positive reactions that I wasn’t necessarily expecting.

I am thankful to learn that writing is hard for everyone.

You have to be able to stand not knowing

Oh, of course, I am not glad to hear anyone feels this way. I just know it’s easy, as a newer writer, to feel like things will never go where I want them to. This writer has been published, books, and she still gets down on herself. It is oddly comforting, that it isn’t likely to get much easier, the further down the writing path you find yourself.

I am thankful for writers who are willing to stand up for others.

The Men Who Won the Presidency – Full Grown People

This essay hits the nail on the head. I am glad Full Grown People has returned, after being on hiatis. It seems to be moving to publish more of these kinds of open statements and I think that is important.

I am thankful, again, for a doctor who cares.

This doctor is doing all she can to help me feel better. In my experience, that doesn’t always work so well, but her sincere desire to try means a lot to me at this point, after some doctors I’ve seen over the years.

I am a little nervous to try her latest suggestion, but I will see how it goes. If it doesn’t help, then we return to the drawing board.

I am thankful for my brother.

He turned 30 and we didn’t get to celebrate like you should celebrate the start of a new decade of life, but I’m just thankful he’s here to celebrate it at all.

He had a seizure on the eve of his 30th.

I am thankful that my brother is okay.

It’s not a good sign that he’s had a seizure twice in only a few weeks, but luckily he has a doctor appointment this week and maybe he’ll have to increase his medication.

You never know when one will come on. He must have bumped his head on something as he fell because there was blood everywhere.

We’re all just so relieved he came to and phoned his friend, who thankfully could tell right away that something wasn’t right, and went straight over to check things out.

I am thankful my violin teacher and I could work on some problem solving and practice strategies.

When most people move out, I prefer to move in.

We discovered I could keep my arm straighter, in the proper position, if I stand against the wall to play. I rest my right arm against the wall and then I know not to bring it inward any.

It’s a bit of an odd place to be, but hopefully it’s just until I get the hang of things better. I need to know the feeling of where my arm should be, just like I need to learn to feel where my fingers should be.

We are working hard to find ways so I can practice more efficiently. Every lesson we discuss things in a slightly different way.

It was exhausting, but a good kind of exhausting.

I am thankful I got my entry in by the deadline.

The Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story

I doubt my abilities sometimes, but if you don’t submit, you’ll never win.

I wrote something that I quite like. I am proud of it, but we’ll see what the judges think.

I owe some of my family for their input.

I originally did not give my main character a name. Then, as I was working on the final touches before submitting, I realized what day it was. I am not a fan of April Fool’s Day because I am too gullible for my own good, even on a day I know jokes and pranks will be occurring. I did snap up a bit of, what I hope will be good luck, by naming my main character April.

I thought since the deadline was April 1st, it felt meant to be somehow.

Speaking of jokes and pranks…

I am thankful for humour and light things with Canada’s leader and a sitcom star.

Did you hear about this?

Matthew Perry responds to PM’s April Fool’s Tweet

I can’t tell you how nice it felt to read this and be able to smile at a story I read in the news for once. I say I can often be gullible, but I can’t believe some took this seriously. I needed this kind of lighthearted humorous exchange, between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Matthew Perry (Chandler) from Friends.

I am glad Canada has a leader with a decent sense of humour.

I decided to try the A to Z Challenge, for the first time, on a whim this year. I hope I will be thankful for that decision, as April goes forward.

A to Z

We shall see.

“To be an artist means: not to calculate and count; to grow and ripen like a tree which does not hurry the flow of its sap and stands at ease in the spring gales without fearing that no summer may follow. It will come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are simply there in their vast, quiet tranquility, as if eternity lay before them.”

—Rainer Maria Rilke

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Don’t Scoff, #JusJoJan

There is so much rotten stuff going on all around us. But there is also so much that is wicked good and lovely, so much that makes one’s very being tingle. Just look for it.

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan – Tingle

I recently read an essay written by a favourite editor of mine, in Creative Nonfiction Magazine, about writing and happiness, joy, pleasure. These topics interest me.

What are the experiences in life that most make us feel alive?

I know a lot of what feels awful and unpleasant. I am aware of that. I know there will inevitably be both in the human experience.

I am asking and pondering on that as I continue to experience life, both the good and the bad, in 2017 as a newly begun chunk of time. The year makes something of my experience and my willingness to let go and not forever analyze every little detail so much.

What is it that makes life worth putting up with? It’s the experiences that make you supremely pleased to be alive, that’s what. And, when they wash over you, don’t push those feelings away. Don’t shrug them off as problematic or unworthy or meaningless.

I think philosophically. I ponder and overtly over think, like usual.

I was recently given or shown one piece of really wise advice. It feels counter intuitive to me, but there are those who don’t let Facebook take up loads of their time. There are those who don’t spend their time dwelling on things. It sounds hard. Can it be done? Can I do that too? Some might scoff.

Of course I can, if I want it bad enough.

I long for those truly tingly nerve-to-very-soul experiences in life. It’s looking like I am destined for some of those in this first month of the new year. I am trying not to let long sewn character flaws, let’s call them, for the sake of this musing on anything that’s worth tingling for in life – as opposed to those stresses I can’t seem to shake. I will try.

I can do that.

What really causes any of us to feel truly tingly with vitality in this life? It starts with a twinge perhaps. It spreads outward then, from there. Just be open to it, even if it feels uncomfortable at first. It’s not often that we feel that, certainly not every day, so why not let that come if and when it may?

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TToT: Alliance, Maladies, Rare – “Quiet, Screaming Desperation” #10Thankful

The news coming out of certain places, parts of the world, like the fighting in Aleppo keeps getting worse and worse. The only way I can seem to deal with it is by acknowledging the reasons I am thankful.

I am thankful it’s this year and not last. Yeah, let’s start there.

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My animals love my tree. Dobby and Lumos.

I’m thankful for yet another medical checkup, my second last to my twenty-year anniversary checkup, which will come in June.

I didn’t ask what the record for that clinic has been. I don’t even think they are planning some giant party when I return in June. I just thought it worth marking.

Again, I felt like so many other patients needed the doctors a lot more than I did. I didn’t even see the head nephrologist, probably because I’ve been so stable, so I saw another doctor and he told me that, once again, my levels were good and I was out the door, after waiting for hours.

The service is not really something to complain about. It’s only twice a year. I didn’t mind sitting and waiting. And waiting some more. I know how lucky I am. It may not last forever, but until those numbers start going up, I am believing that it still could.

I’m thankful for my violin teacher’s patience as I don’t use enough of my bow or I don’t trust myself nearly enough.

We are learning Silent Night and I remember the notes, but my confidence is where the problems are.

She is always ready with suggestions for how I can keep improving.

I’m thankful for brave writers.

The Stripe – Full Grown People

Sometimes you read a piece of writing and you are immediately blown away by the guts it must have taken the writer to put those words out there.

When I read this essay I instantly felt floored at the gutsy person who would put such personal thoughts out into the world. I’m not sure I could. I don’t even know where a line should be, because not all people believe everything should be written about, and still people do it.

I’m thankful we finally got our newest episode of the podcast released.

The Great Gong Show of 2016 – Ketchup on Pancakes

This was a show about politics, but just this once likely. It is not our area of expertise. I get far too emotional when talking about it. I just thought it was worth doing at the time. It was a serious subject, but I hope we ended on a positive and we tried to throw in a little bit of humour, where applicable.

I’m thankful we made the decision and went for a year’s upgraded subscription for SoundCloud.

This means we plan to keep going with this project into 2017 and who knows where it might lead.

I’m thankful for the chance to meet new people, local writers, to build relationships and connections.

By chance I came across a Facebook group about writing and it just so happened there were a few other writers there from my area. We all three decided it would be a good idea to meet up to discuss writing and local discussion about events with a literary theme.

It was so lovely to speak to a woman with older children, who has a longer career in writing for magazines and other publications, who is full-time freelancing. She was full of ideas and willing to share valued experiences with us.

The other woman has a science background, now with a young child at home, trying to get into the world of freelance writing. We all had something to contribute. I felt like people understood something about me, writer to writer to writer.

I felt like just one of the girls. I felt understood.

I’m thankful for a newly discovered place to shop locally.

The Closet

I’m thankful my cousin runs it and took the time to help me find a few new/used things for my upcoming trip.

I’m thankful I can challenge my long running phobia of used things like secondhand or slightly worn clothes.

I am sensitive to smells and to the idea of old things. I am learning that many things have value, that it’s important not to continually contribute to the rampant consumerism and material waste, and that everything has a story. Finding a deal isn’t bad either.

I am thankful for snow.

It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s kind of messy. I know all this and I complain in the moment, just like everybody else, but then I step outside on a silent, snowy night. I listen to the silence and I feel the light flakes falling on my hair and on the car. One hits the tip of my nose and I stick out my tongue. A snowflake falls there too.

I walk through the snow coated, snow-covered, cold ground. I hear my feet crunch in it. I love a snowy December night in Canada.

So much snow falling this week in Toronto, during rush hour, and the ploughs can’t possibly keep up. This is really what we choose to complain about?

It’s the kind of silence where chaos can begin and where any screams of parts of the world are too easily ignored.

I have so much to be thankful for and I know it. I don’t always feel like I deserve it, but I know.

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The Grimmest of Grims, #HarryPotter #TGIF #FTSF

I love Harry Potter. I was late to the party though, on becoming one of the obsessed. I was twenty-four to be exact.

I often say,
like here on my About Me page,
that my three most visited topics throughout my mind and my writing are birth, death, and love. At the heart of most of what I write, those are the three subjects that are fueling it all.

The Harry Potter books are about the transformative effects of love, but it is also, in many ways, a book about death, if you look at the books critically. It’s about a villainous wizard who is so afraid of dying that he does whatever it takes to make himself immortal. I understand that, to a point.

It is easy for many young people, as I often hear, to believe that they are invincible and that death is so far off that it’s pretty well preventable. Maybe a cure to death will be found by then, they think. Maybe I can avoid all the darkness of the unknown of death, for myself or those I love.

But is that what we really want?

I had a discussion once, on a long drive home with a boyfriend, about death. There’s the science that’s working to put a stop to the inevitability of death. There’s the discussion about aging and suffering that often accompanies an aging human body. Then there was the added level of disability and medical conditions we both knew a little something about.

Did we want to live forever? We were several decades, ideally, from death. I don’t recall how this conversation came up.

Suicide is heard a lot more about these days, while stigma and misinformation still exist. A sudden or not so sudden end to a life, by choice is a frightening topic for most people. It’s a reality faced, by friends and families, for many of us.

Then there’s the fact that I never had my own brush with youthful carelessness or exuberance in the face of death, thought to be yet many many years down the road of life.

I lost dogs, several by our family’s admitted rotten luck. I’d lost a grandparent when I was ten. It didn’t get any easier with age to accept that I wouldn’t see certain people again.

While most kids are going through puberty I was also going through multiple surgeries. Then my little brother followed my medical path in a similar fashion. I then truly worried for someone else more than I cared and worried for myself. I wanted to take his pain away, add it to my own, still in progress.

As we got older, some of his medical issues became more serious and life-threatening and I feared death more than ever.

I can’t say I ever thought, right as I found myself on an operating table and about to do the paediatric anesthesiologist’s suggested countdown from one hundred, that I might never wake up. I just didn’t think it. I wasn’t worried, in some strange way. I can’t say now how I would feel. I have been lucky to avoid surgery for anything in many years, but I will likely face it again in the future, unless a cure for kidney disease is found in the meantime.

Now I am past losing grandparents. I just lost an aunt. I fear losing my parents. I fear the topic even being breached, as when my father brings it up in a nonchalant manner, as I know he is afraid too.

I live with a lot of fear about many things. I wish this weren’t just one more of those. It is inescapable and Voldemort is just a fictional character, but it’s his strangely relatable characteristics that I found most fascinating as I read, as fear of death is universal. It’s his deeds to avoid it, with how extreme and evil they are, that make him one of the greatest villains in literature, in my opinion.

I would like to write an essay of some kind, but it feels like such a huge undertaking. I feel like it would, by necessity, end up becoming a form of college term paper. I am not experienced with those.

If I did write it, it would be about the theme of death in the Harry Potter books.

Through the obvious, as I mentioned before, but also through J.K. Rowling’s use of other characters and symbols, such as ghosts and a black spectral dog, which when seen in the wizarding world, means death is near.

This isn’t my favourite of the Harry Potter films, by far, even if Emma Thompson is one excellent actress. I just include this clip to show you, if you’ve never read the books or watched the movies before. Though the third book, Prisoner of Azkaban, was one hell of a roller coaster ride when I first read it in 2008.

There’s some connection, a connective circle, as I mentioned dogs above, but I don’t know yet what it all is or what it all means.

I don’t know what that’s like when death looms ever closer, but I have come closer than many at my age and younger often do.

All these myths of black cats bringing bad luck and black dogs bringing news of demise. I will write about these things, as hard as they sometimes are to face, until the day I die.

This was
Finish The Sentence Friday
with host Kristi from Finding Ninee.

Read her feelings on the FTSF prompt for this subject if you can. They are lovely. As for myself, I have been away from this particular Friday prompt for a few weeks now, but I couldn’t resist coming back for this one.

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TToT: Wave Form Audio – Drop and Drag, #10Thankful #RoaldDahl100

“Don’t analyze. Don’t analyze. Don’t go that way. Don’t live that way. That would paralyze your evolution.”

Analyze – The Cranberries

I love autumn and am glad when the days cool off from oppressive summer heat waves. Lots of waves. Waves at the beach this past summer. Waves of fear that I am making wrong choices or not making choices out of fear to begin with. There are audio waves too, I’m learning. Letting that wash over me.

September has arrived and I feel a lot of pressure. I feel tense a lot. I feel the turmoil going on everywhere around me, in this giant and complex world. I try to find my place in it. I try to not allow things I have no control over to drive me to even more stress and distraction. Such anxieties are common, universal, and I can get through and keep moving forward.

And so, here I am, I will try not to analyze everything and I am more thankful than ever.

I am thankful for the perfect title for an essay I’m working on.

It was provided by one of my brother’s friends on Facebook.

I know. I know. I need to finish writing the entire essay, but I get inspiration and a direction to my essays if I have the right title to begin with.

This one is just so perfect, so fitting, and then I took his idea and I ran with it.

I am thankful I have started to learn a new song on my violin. It’s a special one, something I’m learning for someone special who’s on the way, before we know it.

This required I start playing a new string, the D string. Up until now I was only playing on half of my strings, E and A, but now I need to learn to move my fingers over just a little more and to hold my bow on a slightly differing angle.

I am thankful to have such a smart niece, one who seems wiser than her nearly six years on this planet and who knows how and when to ask the right questions.

Okay, so she may have done that thing where you answer a question with another question, but when you have something important to ask, I say go for it.

I am thankful that we got the second episode of our podcast all done and recorded.

All we need to do now is a little bit of editing. We were aiming to keep Ketchup On Pancakes at sixty minutes, which episode one just magically seemed to be. This one’s looking more like seventy minutes, but we think we can cut it down a bit more before we release it.

We just need to research more about podcast platforms and how it all works.

I’m thankful, especially, that we got one segment in particular completed.

We decided to read one of the short stories I’d previously written on my blog, as more of a dramatic reading, and you don’t realize how difficult that is until you keep messing up words.

It took about eight or nine takes to get through the small story with the least amount of mistakes throughout. We were both reading from our braille devices and you can actually hear our fingers moving across the dots as they pop up, as we move through the lines. We decided we like that sound in the background.

I am thankful for awareness for pain.

It’s something I don’t talk a lot about on my blog. The stigma and judgments are out there and sometimes I feel like people don’t want to keep hearing about it.

September is Pain Awareness Month and I do believe that anyone living with pain should not have to hide away. I know that must sound contradictory, but I do believe fear of judgment is often what it boils down to.

I am thankful and grateful because I actually have a pretty wonderful support system, where others do not. I do want to bring this silent suffering out into the open.

I have found some things that help and that work to make things bearable, but I thought it worth mentioning at this time.

I am thankful for even more awareness of a different kind.

Whether it’s the awareness of feminist issues or disability awareness, this week I was reminded a lot and heard from those speaking out and up.

Rick Hansen Interview – CBC’s The National

Again, people fight it. They become angry and defensive, on both sides, but if you’ve never experienced something yourself, I would hope there would be compassion and a little understanding for something someone else may have gone through to make them feel they need to say something or do something.

There are some who say they don’t want to identify themselves as feminist. That probably means, once again, they haven’t had many problems with something, be that a woman who has lived a somewhat privileged life and has had no reason to feel the need to fight for something.

I don’t care what you call it. I call it feminism and people freak out. I use the word equality and it’s pointed out that nobody has total equality with everything. I just speak from my unique experiences. I’ve been lucky, but I’ve also felt extremely limited in the world. I am taking steps toward empowerment, but it’s not as easy as it might seem.

I am thankful for a relatively stress free visit to a school for the blind in a city not too far from me.

I did not go there for my education. I went there this week to check out some computer equipment, to see about getting some new technology.

A lot of that is now becoming more accessible with the introduction of Apple products. They don’t require, for the first time, extra software or programs to make things square. It’s all built in.

But there’s still the braille readers and they can be thousands of dollars. Here in Canada, in Ontario where I live, there is a governmental program which helps out with the cost.

I am thankful my nephew made it through his first full week of school.

We ask him if he likes school, if his teacher is nice, and we get mostly “yes” to our questions.

He’s probably wondering why we are so curious. Things are more likely to come out at more random moments, like the rocks from the playground he kept bringing home in his pockets, or the little girls who are likely a few years older than him and who help him with his backpack when it’s time to get off of the bus.

It’s both exciting and anxiety inducing. He’s getting so big. All the children in my life are.

I am thankful for the connection made possible through WhatsApp.

It’s how my friend living over in Ireland sends family back here in Canada photos and videos of her one-year-old daughter.

I am honoured to be added to such an exclusive group. She includes descriptions of the pictures when she sends them so I know what’s going on in them.

Oh, and, Happy Birthday Mr. Dahl, who would’ve turned 100 this week.

My grandfather Roald Dahl, the magician

This article written by his granddaughter in The Guardian made me miss my own grandfather, who never published a book, but who was a magical storyteller himself.

“I will not pretend I wasn’t petrified. I was. But mixed in with the awful fear was a glorious feeling of excitement. Most of the really exciting things we do in our lives scare us to death. They wouldn’t be exciting if they didn’t.” So says the boy hero of Danny, the champion of the world.

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Collecting Furniture, Memories, and Emails #SoCS

I have been trying, unsuccessfully of late, to write an essay about home. This has given me plenty of time to think about what that means, which must include thoughts of all the things I’ve accumulated in my current home, coming up on ten years living here, this September.

What all can one person

accumulate

in ten years anyway?

I started with donations from several sources. By that I mean odd pieces of furniture from family and friends. There were groceries to fill my new and empty refrigerator, given by my Oma, who loved to shop and always wanted to make sure I had something to eat.

I guess I am struggling to write this essay, one which I feel is highly important for me to write at this time, because I am struggling with the idea of material things vs memories accumulated in this house.

When I saw that the word for this Stream of Consciousness Saturday was “accumulate” I knew I could find something to say for this stream of consciousness writing exercise of which I’ve found so helpful for more than a year now.

I thought maybe I could look deeper into this accumulating things vs memories and experiences. This home I’ve lived in for ten years, of which I’ve loved, which has brought me a place of comfort to come back to, even when so much of the world and life is so uncertain.

I’ve put all this pressure on myself to write this essay before the end of the year. In my head it must be written in the year of my tenth anniversary of moving in. Silly me and my little things which my brain tells me are important.

Secondly, I know I’ve accumulated emails. This is a sore spot for me lately and for my poor family who have seen how many messages flood my in-box on a daily basis, with seemingly no end in sight. They have tried to help me to get a handle on the problem, but I feel kind of like it’s a run away train kind of a thing.

I started out in blogging, wanting to show support for other blogs like I was getting. I wanted to give back and thank people, to show support to a new blogger, after I had been given so much of that support myself. This landed me in a perfect storm of sorts.

Then I had a few computer blow-ups and switches. The emails kept on coming. Unsubscribe you might say, to lessen the load. I feel so overwhelmed by the whole thing, the technology world one I hardly can get a hold on on the best of days.

I don’t read them all, not by a long shot. I simply can’t. Not possible, or as Ralph likes to say: “That’s unpossible”.

I feel trapped underneath the weight of it all. I know I know, how silly of me to let something like this get to me like I have.

Thinking about all the memories made in this house, for the writing of my essay-in-progress, I think back on someone who lived here for a short time, and I curse him for leaving.

🙂

The deeper parts, the fact that we were in a relationship and when it ended the recovery process for me was huge, I now look at my emails and I blame him.

Oh, not that I didn’t miss him when he left, but getting past the harshness of the statement, I now miss his knowledge of all things computer related. When I struggle with a problem such as this one with my emails, I wish he hadn’t left, taking his expertise with him.

Writing about the other effects involving him and a lot more in my essay of living in this house coming soon, I hope, but will I ever get my email problem under control? Only time will tell.

I hate that I’ve let the problem get this far out of control, as I accumulate even more emails as each day goes by. I feel like a hoarder, but my house is not full. It’s my in-box that’s overflowing.

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