Bucket List, Memoir Monday, Poetry, RIP, TToT

TToT: If You Don’t Control The Narrative, The Narrative Controls You – The Summer Day, #10Thankful

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver “The Summer Day”

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for new pillows.

I’ve been using flat, old, barely there pillows for a long while. It was time for something new.

I decided to go with two different levels of firmness and they look the same. This way, I can switch it up and I learned which one I preferred.

Never underestimate the luxury of a decent pillow.

I am thankful for the laughs we have at my writing group.

We do write, but it was another fun time with the gang. I don’t know if a story is destined to come from this one, not from me this time anyway, but other stories were shared and good times all around.

I am thankful for a surprise gift from my neighbour.

I heard a ticking sound as I sat out on my neighbour’s deck last week. I asked her if it was a clock and she showed me her little sun dial.

Well, she got me one with a sunflower on it. If you put it in the light it moves back and forth. She wanted to congratulate me on getting my writing accepted. It’s nice when someone does something like that, totally unexpectedly.

I am thankful the deal with my essay for Catapult was made official, with contracts and a likely date of publication and everything.

This made my day mid week. The editor wasn’t certain when it would get published, until she suddenly emailed me and said she’d had an opening. I try to stay patient these next four weeks or so and keep in mind that things could change, but this will be exciting when it does happen.

She worked, as my editor, and the final piece that came back had a few changes to the final product, but kept my overall message and voice.

And now there comes my least favourite part: the contracts and paperwork.

I am not complaining, really, but I am no good at all that. Has to be done though. Luckily I have a sister who is better at such things. I will definitely be including her here on the TToT when she helps me with all that here soon.

I am thankful I heard back from Hippocampus and may be getting a short piece published with them soon.

They are on my list of spots where I want to see my writing placed. This one is a small foot in the door, but it’s a step in the right direction at least.

I am thankful for a new yoga teacher who wants to learn from me as much as I learn from her.

She says she is very interested in learning, from me, about the best ways to teach visually impaired and blind students who want to take yoga like me.

There are so many ways to do yoga. I never could have imagined. Of course, like anything, you must be cautious that you don’t push things and cause more pain than that which you were working to help relieve in the first place.

I am highly conscious of this fact. I am taking it slow, but my back has a metal rod in it and might not be able to bend the same way as other people. I don’t want to be careless and make things worse, obviously, but this teacher seems open to suggestion and to not pushing me too hard.

It’s just a different situation for her, to try her best to describe the positions for my arms, legs, and whatever else, by being as specific as possible. Watching her simply isn’t an option for me. This is new to her just as to me.

I am thankful for more and more representation of visually impaired characters on television.

I caught the final episode of the second season of a show, filmed here, near to me, in Toronto:
Private Eyes

What first drew me to checking it out was the fact that it was filmed in such a familiar place and then there was the reappearance of my favourite 90s television star: Jason Priestley

Then I discovered that Priestley’s teenage daughter on the show is visually impaired. She reads braille books, uses a computer that talks, and a white cane to get around. I try to watch her character, to follow how the creators write her visual impairment into the show. I am so glad there was a second season and that she was featured so often.

But I will be keeping a close “EYE” on how she is portrayed. It’s important blind people are shown in reality, even on screen and in fictional environments, because people have enough stereotypes and don’t need any more.

I will miss the show over the next year or so and cross my fingers a third season happens.

I am thankful to have family who can replace a roof now and again.

The rain has been finding ways in. It was in pretty good shape when I moved in, ten or eleven years ago. Now, however, the need is growing.

First step, install new water heater. Next my uncle and cousin will replace it, both house and garage. Apparently the second one badly needs it. Funny, I have no idea what everyone’s getting so bothered by. Though, I won’t even go inside that garage at all. Not my scene.

My neighbour asked if she could paint something on the side she has to look at from her deck, to help cover up the ugly. I had no problem with that.

vHCXJCr.jpg

Can you guess what this is?

I am thankful for my parents and neighbour and their kind willingness to help me out with my dog who likes to bark.

He is also terribly attached to me.

My parents watch him when my head is particularly bad. They wouldn’t have to do this, to put up with it, but I hear he’s rather calm and good when he’s with them.

Also, my neighbour opens my door and brings him out when I am away, if she is at home, and ties him up on her deck. He usually is happy to sit quietly while she goes about her day.

Although, this last time, something odd occurred. She just happened to stop by (to give me her gift) right as I was leaving. So we thought she could get Dobby on his leash and just take him with her. Big mistake.

I followed them out the door and left a minute later. As I sat in the car, as we pulled out of the driveway, I could hear him still barking.

It turns out that when he sees me and she physically takes him from me (in his mind), he won’t settle down for her. She soon had to put him back inside my house and then come and get him like she usually does. And that time he settled down on her deck once more and laid quiet.

Huh … hmm. What a dog.

I am thankful for songs like this one, songs that have helped me through difficult times.

“One thing: I don’t know why…it doesn’t even matter how hard you try. Keep that in mind, I designed this rhyme, to explain in due time.”

In The End – Linkin Park

“Time is a valuable thing. Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings. Watch it count down to the end of the day; The clock ticks life away.”

Back around the year 2000 I was in high school and struggling just to keep up. Finally, I couldn’t do it anymore. Daily headaches were making concentrating to do well in my classes supremely hard and nearing impossible. In the end, I took fewer and fewer classes and finally had to quit all together, without graduating. This is not an easy thing for me to speak about, but it’s nagged at me for years ever since and I do plan to finish sometime in my current decade of my thirties.

These lyrics are about getting so far (years and years of school, including missing over 100 days in seventh grade for dialysis and a kidney transplant, almost being held back), but then I ended up catching up in the eighth and graduating, starting high school with my friends and peers, before falling behind all over again. It was a year or so later that things grew worse once more.

“I tried so hard, and got so far. But in the end, it doesn’t even matter. I had to fall, to lose it all. But in the end, it doesn’t even matter.

It felt for years like no matter how hard I tried, it didn’t matter. I was still behind and stuck and lost. This song brings a tear to my eye, even today, even as I am working to jump start my life and writing and things.

RIP Chester Bennington

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The Summer of My Dreams, #FTSF

I’m visiting with my old friend and, somehow, we end up running into another, a reunion thought to likely never happen.

Then, yet another old friend meets up with us, we go swimming, and end up in water which starts to become wavy. We try to get out, but a bunch of slippery, soggy dolphin-like creatures begin to drop into the water and I am taken aback, before getting bitten by one of them as I struggle to get onto land again.

I’m back in the old friend’s house, like we’re kids once more, but different somehow.

Then I am with a boyfriend (a lot like an actual ex) who speaks about how it is to date a woman who is blind, as people we pass when we’re out comment. I have a guide dog in there somewhere.

Then we’re at a party, with lots of relatives, and he lets it slip to everyone (without asking me if the time is right) that we’re engaged. This isn’t our celebration. We’re there to celebrate something else…someone else, and the crowd goes silent at this guy’s nerve to ruin the day for others.

If you hadn’t guessed it, these are just some of the things I’ve been dreaming lately. Recently my dreams have been more frequent and seemed a lot clearer. Different somehow. I wonder if a recently started medication has done this. It’s only been since start of summer and here we are at the mid point.

Summertime is half way over, and I have been making it all about my writing.. Really, June was my month for new experiences and fun times I won’t soon forget. Then the really hot temperatures arrive and I sort of hibernate inside my house.

Sure, I’m sitting inside with my laptop, instead of making the most of this warm July weather. Though, I prefer fall. I know most people think me strange for this.

The summer maybe means less to me now because it’s no longer my summer holidays, off from school. Still, the heat gives me headaches, humidity causing me to become slow and foggy, in limbs and head. I make great use of AC and only go out for small bouts of summertime.

I do enjoy hearing the sounds of families walking together passed my house, the noises of the new family out playing together who just moved in across the street. This makes me happy for summer.

I’ve been doing yoga to calm my troubled mind.

Both my nephews were born in the summer and for that I celebrate.

Camping and sitting by the fire, roasting marshmallows. Days at the beach. Pool parties. Baseball. BBQs and ice cream.

Writing isn’t normally on that list of summer fun, but I have been working hard at it, at making some of my dreams come true. I should have three or four pieces out by the time summer comes to an end.

Was it worth missing out on all that?

Well, the summer is not over yet.

Summertime sweet memories made
with Kristi of Finding Ninee for this week’s Finish the Sentence Friday.

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TToT: Peace, Happiness, and Love – June Gloom Lifting #10Thankful

“A large pine tree backlit by a cloud that is glowing from the light of the setting sun. The pine tree is a mass conical-shaped clumps of darkness that angle upwards from the unseen trunk in the middle of the tree. The edges of the tree shows more details, each branch ends in a splaying of fingers of pine needles. The cloud does not show the color in the photo as vividly as it was, it was a glowing orange color that was strong enough to show the spaces between the branches of the tree that stood between the camera and the sky.”

—TToT regular Clark of
The Wakefield Doctrine

I return from a busy time and thoughts swirling. I began this week’s post with that caption of a photo. (To see the photo, must go to the link I provide just above.)

There are a lot of photos I could now share, and I will, of my adventures in the last few weeks. I just thought, as I saw many photos and this includes Clarks’, that I have only descriptions (as vague or elaborately detailed as someone else chooses) to give.

For now, I needed a break from trying to imagine what my eyes can’t see and am going back to a totally wordy TToT post. Instead, I challenge you to read the photo descriptions of Clarks’ that I include here, as a thankful, and try to allow his words and mine to conjure up images, without necessarily relying on the visual.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for a writer like Clark deciding to explain the photos he includes.

“Looking Homeward from the woods. The light and shadows cover the lower half of the photo and, together point towards the house. The ground is brown with shadows and light that do nothing to make it less brown looking. Even though the house itself is mostly brown (with dark vertical rectangles, outlined in white that show the windows along the top half) the background above the house shows blue, even though the green pine trees rise through the top of the picture, telephone pole straight, with drooping green arms of branches. The house looks farther away than it is.”

Well done once more Clark. Bravo!

Writers are, or should be, great at describing a visual image. It seems like an excellent writing exercise to me. I appreciate it when it is done, though it can’t completely ever make up for the inability to see with one’s own eyes. I only allow myself to feel the pity of that situation in my own life for short bursts and then I return to thankfuls such as these.

I’m thankful for such excellent writing advice.

With a little summer happiness.

Carrie Snyder says: My current philosophy (and by current, I mean, as of yesterday afternoon), can be summed up thusly: just finish it, including all of your bad (wild, implausible) ideas, and see what happens. As I counselled a student yesterday in my office: the perfect story you’re holding in your head has to get out of your head in order for others to read and experience it—and in order for that to happen, you have to accept that your perfect story will be wrecked in the process, at least to some degree. You can’t take that perfect story out of your head and place it on the page intact. No one can. But there isn’t another way to be a writer. Let your perfect imaginary story become an imperfect real story.

I’m thankful for the opportunity and a first successful conversation with someone from a leading awareness organization of blindness and its issues.

VisionAware

I hope to start writing articles for them very soon.

I’m thankful for a successful first real try at yoga.

I am doing it with my bed as a yoga mat and my teacher a voice through my laptop, for now anyway.

I will buy the mat soon as I decide I will stick with it and I found a teacher who lives in Montreal, so not all that close by. She instructs me over Skype and it works.

My favourite part was at the end when she instructs to just stay lying there, still, for however long it takes to get back up and into the real world again.

So peaceful. I heard a basketball bouncing, off somewhere out my window, but I focused on the light on my ceiling and allowed no intrusive thoughts to interrupt the peace.

I’m thankful I got my entry in on time for the Writing Diversity contest, for a book festival that takes place on Toronto’s waterfront every September.

I left it to the deadline, not good, but it’s done.

I began the month of April submitting one short story to Alice Munro’s contest and ended the month of June with this one.

Each time I feel my story is actually good enough to have a chance, so maybe my confidence as a writer is growing, at least.

It would be cool to get to read this latest story on stage in Toronto if I did win.

I’m thankful a new episode of Ketchup On Pancakes is complete.

Raise a glass or a fist with us to progress and the passing of the years. A lot can happen in twenty of them.

January/February to June/July and Ketchup On Pancakes is back on the podcast scene.

Episode 5 – 2017: “Get Up and Get Going) (Year of the Roooooster) – Ketchup On Pancakes

Are you into astrology? I admit, I am skeptical, but it seems as possible as anything, and highly philosophical, which I like.

This is the year to get up and get going toward something. The time is now. This moment is everything. We are making this year count.

Brian’s laugh is infectious throughout. Both of us aren’t afraid to make fools of ourselves to lighten the mood. In this first new episode of the year (already halfway through), I follow a rooster’s example and Brian shows off his recently graduated audio skill set. We discuss travel, family, achievement, and feelings of self doubt that makes any adventure such a worthwhile challenge, using our trademark sense of humour to keep things real.

Give us a like.

I’m thankful for “The Elsewhere Region,” also known as the local library’s writing group I attend – for many starts to possible stories.

Without this group, I wouldn’t have a started story twice a month or so to possibly shape into an entry, like those I’ve been submitting lately.

I began going to this group to work on more fiction. Otherwise, I lean toward more nonfiction and memoir. That is great too, but this balances out the all too real.

I start a story, never knowing where it might lead. I have many I started and haven’t gone back to, but sometimes, an idea catches on and leads to more.

I am thankful for messy conversations being had.

Inside Messy Conversations About Race – NPR

My friend Kerra did an excellent job being interviewed about the project she has teamed up to tackle. It’s an important conversation to have and to continue having, no matter how uncomfortable it is.

I’m thankful for the chance to consider what my country is all about on Canada Day, 150 and every day.

Part of it was what I felt on my Yukon trip last month. Part of it was the discomfort I experienced as Canada Day 150 approached. It was a lot of things all mixed together.

I don’t wish to revere the man who started Canada, 150 years ago. I don’t wish to say Canada is all a lie. I just wanted to be real about how we all got here.

I do feel lucky to live here. I do.

All the careless playing with fireworks people seem to do. All the celebrating and revelry of one day, as people love a party. I just wanted to get past the one day, to remember all the others. I don’t get why Toronto had a giant yellow rubber duck for the occasion. I don’t pretend to understand it all. I just want to focus on what is good about this land. I don’t know where the future will lead. I only know right now.

Shamaya – Susan Aglukark

I’m thankful for Canadian music, artists, and the history of a country like that from which I live and learn from.

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TToT: April Showers and Scoops and Slurs, #NationalSiblingsDay #10Thankful

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” – Helen Keller

The birds have been keeping me sane all week.

7BzgUb2.jpg

Their songs, tweets, chirps, and twittering melodies have calmed me, any moment I felt anxious about a bit of a difficult week.

It was Billie Holiday’s birthday. Her voice brings me back to a different time.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for a glimpse into an unfamiliar place.

The Colours of Kenya

Love the colours.

I meant to include this last week. Lizzi wrote this incredible story about her time in Kenya. If you haven’t read it, you should.

I am thankful for tall mountain pose.

Someone who knows a lot more about yoga than me found this one. I’ve been trying it out. The woman describes the poses well, though I don’t know I am all that good at following the instructions. The deep breathing is the nice part.

The music in the background is rather soothing, but for the clanging bell sound that makes me think of that warning bell you hear at a train track as a train comes near. Not so relaxing for me. Kind of triggering.

I am thankful for a challenging week.

I have been doing A to Z for the first time and this week has been rather fun. I’ve not put too much pressure on myself with it.

I am thankful for an opportunity to share a little piece of myself.

It Was All a Blur #MyBlindStory

I am thankful for a night out at an author reading which involved some helpful men who showed me through the library and a kind word from an author, on a night I almost missed out on entirely.

It had been a rather bad week and I almost backed out and stayed hidden at home. If I’d received the rejection to a writing pitch I would receive while I was at said author reading, or if I’d heard the unsettling news that would come later on that night involving 45 and missile strikes, I may have chosen to stay hidden. Thankfully, I hadn’t. It was a rainy night, but I am glad I braved it anyway.

“Ann Walmsley author of the Prison Book Club will be sharing her experience of becoming a book club volunteer at men’s prisons in Ontario. This incredible book recently won the Edna Staebler award in 2016. One juror Bruce Gillespie quoted: “Walmsley’s book provides a unique glimpse into the lives of incarcerated men and the transformative power of literature and fellowship.” Featured several times on CBC it is truly a honour to have her come to Woodstock Public Library.”

After the reading, I introduced myself to the author and bought a copy of her book. I spoke to her about being a writer and she gave me a bookmark with her email and told me I could email her if I ever had any questions about writing.

http://www.annwalmsley.com

I am thankful for scoops and slurs.

I have moved on from Brahms’ Lullaby and on to learning a song I didn’t recognize from my teacher’s description, until she played a little of it and a song that came, preprogrammed on my brother’s little keyboard from childhood, it all came back to me. I love the different violin techniques in this one. It will be a challenge, but one I am quite excited about taking on.

There are scoops when playing the violin. Going from one string to another.

Not all slurs are nice, but the one that occurs in this song is a new technique to me.

I am thankful for family members who are handy and generous with their talents and time.

A leak somewhere in my shower, dripping water down through my ceiling and into my living room are a different sort of April showers. Keep that outside my home preferably.

I have an uncle and cousin who do this sort of thing, fixing showers and leaks for desperate nieces and cousins like me.

The machine they had to use up in my ceiling was loud and reminded me of a dentist’s drill. Again, triggering.

Now I have a layer of dust over everything, including my books, but all is well again.

I am thankful for a day of family, an early Easter/birthday celebration.

Family days include fun, laughter, children playing, and scoops of vanilla ice cream.

I am thankful for my siblings and the siblings (my nieces and nephews) who have each other.

My nephew now has a sister, a sibling, and all of them have a friend for life.

This makes my list every year (National Siblings Day) and every year it is more and more true.

This year mine are willing to do something special with me in a few months, zip lining alongside Niagara Falls, to celebrate my twenty-year anniversary of my kidney transplant.

They are the best.

I am thankful for a surprise phone call from a friend.

I was tired, after this week, but it was nice to talk and catch up.

It’s been raining, off and on, all day long. This is April – to be expected. Not so bad.

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Seeing From All Sides, #HowISee #HowISeeIt #SoCS

October 1st is the start of Blindness Awareness Month.

Okay, so SoCS usually means Stream of Consciousness Saturday, but well Saturday, Sunday, either way.

Many visually impaired people, writers and bloggers specifically, are blogging every day and many are speaking about one particularly controversial hash tag and campaign making its way around Twitter and social media lately.

I re-blogged about this just a few days ago, and though I don’t mean to rehash or restate, I figured I would offer my own thoughts on the whole thing.

When I tried to think of what is AWKWARD,

I thought about these very topics. Blindness means I face many awkward situations, all the time in fact. I try to improve my social skills and interacting with a mostly sighted world, but I often struggle to fit in and feel like I am seen and yet that I don’t stick out, stand out, and get in the way.

I often feel as if I am in someone’s way, but I recognize this is often more in my own head. The thing about the world is I skip past a lot of the more awkward situations, simply because I don’t see that they are even taking place at all.

🙂

As for the idea of a sighted person putting on blindfold for a few minutes and attempting to walk or cook or whatever, I thought on it awhile, as I pondered the thoughts of others.

There is a lot of awkward nonsense going on in the world these days. Why should anyone with a visual impairment feel like they must always be cast as the awkward ones in this nonsensical world?

The Foundation Fighting Blindness Canada (FFB)

They state that their mission is “leading the fight against blindness” and they are doing that through social media campaigns like this one to raise money:

#HowISeeIt on Twitter

People who are blind share stories and videos of how they do certain, every day tasks, and then their friends or relatives who are sighted will put on a blindfold and try those same tasks.

I know people are curious. I’ve often been asked how I pick out my clothes or how I use the stove. I get that. Most of us don’t mind answering a genuine question when asked. It’s just a fine line when it crosses over to patronizing.

I know foundations who raise money and do research to fight blindness are needed and necessary. I get that also.

I am often told I over think things or am too sensitive, and perhaps I can be, but perhaps that’s an easy, bandaid response for a bigger issue. I often can’t tell the difference anymore, and not sure I ever could or ever will.

😦

On one hand I hate the statement put out there of fighting blindness, like it’s some enemy that needs to be destroyed. I should understand language and its uses better than anyone, but I feel icky when I hear that. I am fighting a constant battle with myself, never mind some war against blindness in a wider context.

However, I would take a cure, sure I would. If it were real and lasting, but blindness isn’t quite so simple. I want attention put on finding ways to stop progression of or slowing down of retinal eye disease. That’s what I have and I often wonder what my life would be like if a cure were suddenly found. Would it be the answer to all my prayers of life? Would it automatically make things easier?

Yes and no, I think the correct answer is, which isn’t really any answer at all to my satisfaction.

So I could rant on and on about this, such a giant thing that I cannot contain, to hope that someone somewhere will understand me, after all I don’t think some lousy blindfold is the answer.

Apologies if this post is long and rambling, with a few links thrown in for good measure. I feel like I am always apologizing for something, to someone. Stop it Kerry, stop it.

But going back to some of my “In The News and On My Mind” posts I’ve shared on this blog in the past, I’ve usually opened those with a line from a woman I know on Facebook who is also blind and living life well. So Here’s her take today, to start:

“The Foundation Fighting Blindness is doing a screwball campaign in which they have sighted people wear a blindfold for a few minutes and try to complete some everyday household task. Naturally, they’re lousy at it, because they don’t have any training. The FFB then has them share their horrifying experiences under the hashtag “how eye see it”, the idea being that blindness is terrible and scary and must be stopped. Well, obviously, we can’t have that rumor going around! For the next week, I’ll be stealing this hashtag to share cool stories about blind people’s actual everyday experiences. If you have a story I should share, send it to me in a message. Today, I’ll share my story. I’m 27 years old and live independently in a gorgeous little apartment in Austin. I’m happily married, work in the field of higher education, and have a wonderful close-knit family and group of friends. I love yoga, hiking, music, poetry, and have recently taken up martial arts. My life is abundantly rich, and has not been diminished by labels or other people’s preconceived notions. This is #howIseeit.”

I do feel it’s simplification for someone who does not live with blindness to put a blindfold across their eyes for a matter of minutes and try to tackle something they won’t feel they could handle without their sight. If they had it all their lives, a few bloody minutes trying without will only muddy things up even more, further blurring the lines between reality and something else entirely.

It feels pitying to me. It feels dumbed down. It feels wretched really.

You panic when suddenly all your world goes dark. Of course. Nothing is how it is compared to if you’ve had time to process and work out solutions we have worked hard to find for ourselves and our independence.

Debates began popping up on people’s social media and on FFB’s Facebook page, in the comments, from both sides. People have accused Foundation Fighting Blindness of blocking or deleting comments that oppose what they’re trying to do with #HowISeeIt and FFB replied that it must have been a misunderstanding, but they usually put the blame onto Facebook and their rules for commenting. Things are getting ugly. People don’t feel heard. It’s impossible for something like this to speak for all. I just want to share opposing views and keep the conversation going.

The point was made that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge may have had similar responses. I don’t know how many ALS patients felt about it truthfully. Not sure you heard much about that amongst all the screams of shivering cold horror and shock captured in all those videos that went viral. Money was raised. A good thing. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth I suppose.

But that challenge did not have people living in wheelchairs, unable to move. See the difference?

I see all sorts of lives lived by those who are also blind. Some are doing life more successfully and happily than others. But that’s no different than the rest of the population.

I first heard about a Twitter campaign going around known as How I See, which I wrote my own post for here several weeks back:

Black Or White #HowISee

Life is neither, sometimes one, sometimes the other. No different for me.

When I heard #HowISee vs #HowISeeIt, I admit I was originally confused and wrote on FFB’s Facebook page, asking for clarification. I did not jump to participate or to get anyone sighted in my own life participating either once theirs was explained to me.

Some more well known visually impaired advocates are taking part in #HowISeeIt, by helping spread that message of FFB, such as a UK poet with RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa):

Stand By Me RP awareness page on Facebook

Of course, different people are going to have different opinions on which hash tag campaigns, websites, and organizations are doing good work and which are furthering myths, stereotypes, and negative views about what blindness is and what it’s like to live with.

Here one visually impaired young Canadian has her story told through FFB.

I have watched many of her awareness videos on her YouTube channel and she has been working with The Foundation Fighting Blindness Canada since she was young.

This may not seem like stream of consciousness writing exactly, with all these links inserted, but I knew it would be close enough, as I feared before I began that if I started to write about my own thoughts on this topic, I may never stop.

Here are a few places where I think we’re on the right track:

Blind New World, #BlindNewWorld

&

Bold Blind Beauty

Of course I mention all sides because I don’t necessarily think there is a total right or wrong here. People with all sorts of experiences deserve to feel how they feel about these things.

I just make it work with where I’m at today and keep as much positivity and hope alive inside as I know how.

Thanks for listening.

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Review of One Word at a Time

“A successful writing career will humble you more than almost anything else I can think of.”
– Eric Vance Walton

Welcome to this mid-November edition of Spotlight Saturday.

I have several author pages on my Facebook newsfeed, but one such author stands out as I scroll through.

Eric Vance Walton, Author has written novel “Alarm Clock Dawn” (his debut) and, his newest book, “One Word At a Time: Finding Your Way As An Indie Author” is out now.

Being smack-dab in the midst of November and NaNoWriMo, I thought this would be the perfect time to introduce a practical, how-to guide on how to reach for success as an author in the new, developing, and always changing world of indie publishing.

Author’s Publish Press knows all about that and they have brought, along with Eric, us some useful tips and advice and an insightful step-by-step guide for how to navigate through the world of writing and publishing.

Eric says:

“Writing isn’t just something we do. It’s something we are.”

Truer words have never been spoken and after reading this in the first few pages of the book, I already felt comfortable and able to relate to this writer and his experiences.

He tells his story to help others avoid mistakes he, himself has made. He knows about the struggle to manage the events of everyday life with the need to write.

Here is a frank, honest, and open account of the life of a writer. It is a refreshing look at the possibilities of indie publishing, straight from the mouth of one who has traveled the journey and come out on the other side.

All the years of unfocused writing while living life brought him to the awakening he had on turning forty. Sometimes this is just the sort of push we, as writers need, to take that step and he did..

He has been living the writer’s life and he speaks openly about how he climbed that ladder of success. This is a story of the adventure he embarked on, over the last twenty years and he has the firsthand knowledge any working writer can surely use.

He has written novels, children’s stories, poetry, and freelance articles. Many writers are doing this, getting by, but they lack the awareness and the push forward to truly tell the story they are meant to tell.

Eric has a blueprint that he is very willing to share. that is what this book is all about.

He shares achievable strategies such as developing structured blocks of writing time, the perfect writing nook, how to work through writer’s block by walking the dog and getting fresh air and jus the right amount of physical exercise, and ways to keep both mind and body healthy so that the best writing can be produced without the help of artificial substances such as alcohol, drugs, or caffeine.

He relays the tools he has found to be most useful in producing his best work: adequate amounts of sleep, the right environment for a peaceful night’s rest, and one of his biggest tips being meditation. Exercise and a reviving walk, meditative gardening, yoga or Tai Chi. These things that have worked to relieve stress for him are mere suggestions for any writer looking for ways to bring forth their best work.

He shares his battle to walk that fine line between a day job to bring in a steady paycheque and finding the time to truly devote to the writing life he wanted. It wasn’t all roses all the time and he shares his triumphs as well as his defeats.

He shares how the biggest mistake, to not have a concrete plan and set out goals, will leave you unsatisfied and unable to reach any attainable writing career success or fulfilment.

Sometimes, more often then not, sacrifice is required and compromise is the key. He makes it clear that you must decide what is your end goal and what are you willing to give up to get it, such as satellite television or material items and how to be frugal while walking the fine line of giving up something such as the steady pay from a day job, for the somewhat uncertain life of a full-time writer.

“Clear goals and dicipline,” he says. “Smarts, luck and persistence,” are, according to Eric, what it takes. HE is offering another path to the starving artist path a lot of writers and other creative types often go down. He shares his concrete plan that worked for him, exactly how to save enough money and to give a specific amount of time to get a novel written.

He compares novel writing to military bootcamp and proposes that writing can be a formula, with such tools as NaNoWriMo to help get the words down on paper or on the screen.

He shares tips for bringing in multiple revenue streams while walking the road of being an indie author, how the two big things to consider in this journey are time and money. His tips on making money through blogging and how to build confidence and experience through public speaking are direct and specific, with directions and clear-cut references to Google and other surveys, showing evidence on how to be successful as a writer. Having a budget and being mindful are his best pieces of advice on how not to be that dreaded starving artist.

Marketing and promotion are just as important as the writing. This book speaks on social media, on other authors who have done something right and have made a name for themselves, in this day and age and in the digital world we now live in, how important a blog can be in making a name for yourself in writing.

Motivation is an important topic he speaks about throughout and how the “non-writing” and the fear of never producing anything, by the end of his life, are the best motivators for him and perhaps for you too, to get the writing done now, and not to wait for tomorrow.

Mentioned are important tips on becoming a better writer: polishing, tweaking, and learning. He advices taking classes, reading books, and brushing up on proper grammar rules. It takes time to become a good writer and his years of practice have brought him to this book.

He talks about the fundamentals of fiction: proper story pacing, writing realistic dialogue and proper dialogue tags, and communication and body language. All this and more are the mechanics of writing and are at the heart of it all. With this, he includes actual examples to help anyone who wants to learn to grow as a writer.

Consistency. Continuity. Creativity. Characterization. Clarity.

One of the most important pieces of advice, in my opinion, is the one about not falling for the lure of social media and the urge to publish before giving a piece of writing all the attention and clarification it needs. this is the biggest problem with easy access to technology and the revolution of the indie writing universe.

He provides resources and offers tips on finding the right beta readers and the best editor to fit your needs, for your particular book project.

He quotes and refers to Sylvia Plath, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, Maya Angelou, Veronica Roth, John Green, J. K. Rowling and Harry Potter and others when talking of creativity and how to tap into it. He lists reading, going to plays, and listening to music, all things that inspire to surround yourself constantly with creativity from all sides. This includes being around others in the creative fields, for a learning experience from others who have the same sorts of interests.

“Creativity is self-doubt.”

Here Eric quotes Sylvia Plath, and this single, simple line becomes an important topic throughout this book.

Voice, genre, brand. He offers a lot of advice on what is badly needed for creative people who can’t seem to get out what they want to say. This book outlines a strategy for discovering, developing, and growing an author’s brand.

It is easy, for most writers who are naturally loners, to stay hidden, but this last piece of becoming an author is key. Learning how to work with other people is strongly recommended and is the last thing to be discussed in this book.

It was a friend’s question about how his first novel was going that sparked something in Eric, a seriousness toward the task of completion.

He is honest about the reality, the highs as well as the lows, and he is grateful for all who have assisted him in his writing journey.

He provides real-life examples from his own life on what success in writing meant to him as a younger man and how that definition has changed over the years, offering practical advice on setting goals and adjusting expectations.

He is open about the fear and self-doubt that often plague writers. He is genuinely appreciative to his readers. Finding his niche audience, launching and releasing his novel, and receiving reader reviews; he speaks about all the stages of writing his first novel in a relatable way that any fellow writer can see themselves in.

Although he, like most writers, first dreamt of being published by a traditional publishing house, he lays out a writer’s alternate options: self-publishing or through a smaller, independent press.

He explains writing in a clear and concise way, with the help of quotes and websites for more information, he lets the reader know that it isn’t always a smooth road with self-publishing, that a writer must be all things: writer, editor, graphic designer, etc. However, this can only be the case up to a point, and then hiring experts becomes necessary for a more professional looking product. This, however, is becoming, more and more, the way to go if a writer wishes to hold control of their own work.

He is up front about the costs that still go along with indie publishing and the pros and cons of having both hard copies and ebooks created. These pros and cons still do apply to making the decision to go the indie route and then, in future, changing to the traditional route if it suits.

He speaks on technology and how it can be utilized in ways (Facebook/Twitter) that weren’t possible only a few years ago. He knows, realizing his responsibility as a writer, to offer advice to others who are where he has been and who hope to be where he is now.

Balance and gratitude are the two key elements, that stood out to me when reading, for success as an indie author or a traditionally published author. This book is part writer’s memoir and part mechanical writing guide.

I have enjoyed Eric’s Facebook page for a while before reviewing this book. Eric posts poems which are beautiful and moving and he has a lot to say on his many years growing and developing as an indie author himself, what it took him to get to where he is today.

On Saturdays he opens up his author page to others who want to share links to or bits of their writing: Showcase Saturday. He is generous enough to give others a chance to shine.

Find Eric at his website:

https://ericvancewalton.wordpress.com

You can check out his book here,

One Word at a Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author, on Amazon.

Or you can follow him on Facebook,

Eric Vance Walton, Author on Facebook.

I promise you won’t regret it.

I was given an early version of this book to review. I am sure there have been final touches and fixes since then and now this book has been released and I recommend it for anyone looking for a guide for writing success, especially in the indie world.

You can be a writer and produce your best work, one word at a time.

“Although writers spend lots of time crafting fictional characters, ironically, the act of writing develops the character of the author more than anything else.”

Thank you, Eric Vance Walton, for that and for this helpful guide on writing.

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