Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Done?

At this time of year, I have to keep reminding myself that I don't always get to decide when something is done.

I may be sick to death of revising, but that doesn't mean the essay is "done."

Similarly, I may be sick to death of dressing in ninety-eleven layers and wearing boots, but that doesn't mean winter is "done."

On the other hand, *I* can be done with something--like *I* can be "done" revising an essay. For now.

*I* could even be "done" with winter. As it happens, I haven't yet scheduled a trip to visit my sister (who, conveniently for my attention span for winter, lives in Tucson), so I'm not quite "done" yet.

Later, I can revisit the essay. If it's still as "done" as I can make it, then I can send it out.

One reason I haven't yet scheduled my sun-seeking trip is that I want to be sure that the time away is worth the return to a landscape that hasn't actually let go of winter. Even if all the snow melted tomorrow and we got nothing new, the weather can remain cold well into late April and early May. (I keep fleece jackets on hand for summer visitors, who are usually sure they don't need them but usually do.) Once I'm sure I'm ready to come back, I can feel better about going.

So, I'll set aside that essay, until I have fresh eyes and can see if it reads well. I can wrap my shoulders in sweaters and my hands around a mug of coffee, until I'm warm enough to put on even more layers and go out to enjoy the returning sunshine.

And while I'm warming up, I can even consider whether shortening the second section of that essay--or better yet, dropping that thread altogether--would help that essay become more nearly "done."
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Questions, Questions, So Many Questions!

Next weekend (in ten days), as I've mentioned, I'll be participating in the "Ask an Author" event, sponsored by the Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop.

As part of the lead-in to that event, I contributed a post to the NOWW blog, sharing a little about my background and writing history, what I'm working on, and how I feel about peanut butter on toast.

I invite you to go there and read this, and be sure to scope out all the other participants in the event, as well. There are many ways to "be a writer"--far more than the six we represent!--but we are all happy to share the pitfalls and rewards of the path we've taken to get here. 
Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Stories in Various Forms

I've mentioned before that one of my favourite podcasts is Scriptnotes. It is, as the subtitle says, a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters.

John August, a screenwriter and the originator of the podcast, is launching a new middle-grade book series soon, featuring a character named Arlo Finch.

He's also launching a podcast--limited-episode, apparently; the "mini-series" equivalent of podcasting--in advance of his book's launch. The new podcast is called Launch, and it's presented by Wondery. In it, he talks about his book and what he's learned in the past two years as he's entered a new realm of storytelling. He even got to see his book being printed, which is pretty cool.

I've listened to several episodes, not all (yet). However, what I've heard so far is a great basic resource for answers to some of those questions. I recommend listening.

And if you're interested in lots of "how to" answers about screenwriting, storytelling, taking criticism, procrastinating, and the general creative process, dig around on the Scriptnotes site. It holds a lot of answers.
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Ask!

Here's a neat event: it's Ask an Author!

Similar to the Human Library, this event lets you sign up to ask writers about whatever you want to ask about.


It's an honour to appear with these writers--I'd like to sign up for 20-minute chats myself! So mark your calendars for February 24, in the afternoon. You can sign up in advance, but half of the slots will be held for people who appear at the door.

Thanks very much to NOWW and the Thunder Bay Public Library for organizing this event and for supporting writers in general.
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

That Was a Thing That Was

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was going to read at an event sponsored by NOWW, the Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop.

And I did!

I always enjoy reading, once I'm there and standing up. (It really does help to practice ahead of time, so that I know what's coming when I turn the page.)

I also enjoy reading at events that occur anywhere from one to three months from now, when the event itself is in some comfortably far-off future, at which time I might finally be that confident person I dream of becoming. (And have the definitive confident-writer purse. For some reason, owning the perfect tote/purse/bag is elusive. Maybe I have a Mary Poppins complex.)

However. I don't always enjoy reading "tonight" or even "day after tomorrow."

As usual, the experience was really fun. I so appreciated the attention and respect of the people who showed up. And it was great to hear others share their work as well.

The event was note-worthy for me because I read for the first time from my first completed novel. "Completed" being a relative term, of course. I have a feeling that its major revisions are done. (I could be wrong, but it feels solid.)

In any case, introducing my novel to other people was nerve-wracking, but I'm glad I did it, and I appreciate all the encouragement and support.

So now, back to work--writing, revising, and even a little dreaming.
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

So Pleased

I had wonderful news recently: my essay, "Hours of Daylight," won third prize in the creative nonfiction division of the 2017 Prairie Fire writing contest. It will appear in their summer issue, along with all the other fabulous contest winners.

The judge was Betsy Warland, and I'm thrilled that she even read my work, to say nothing of choosing it as worthy of recognition. (A quiet squee: squee!)

Excerpts from winning entries in all three categories are available here. It's such an honour to appear in the company of these writers! I'm looking forward to reading this issue.
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Aloud, in Front of Others

A week from tomorrow, I'm participating in a really fun event: a reading, sponsored by the Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop. (Details: 7 PM at the Mary J. L. Black Library.)

The theme is "Janus," naturally, it being January. And what better theme for someone who's spent the past year's granted time writing and revising creative nonfiction? (Sad to say, what better theme also for someone who also spent a significant part of this past year SERIOUSLY revising a novel manuscript that has, shall we say, aged. Which isn't a question.)

I haven't quite decided what I'll read yet, but I will soon, and then I'll start practicing. Because no matter how many times I read a piece aloud before I submit it somewhere (and that's a lot of times), reading in front of other people is a VERY different experience. And a fabulous one.

Audiences are so helpful to writers who are working to better understand how people read them. (And isn't that all of us?) Because my husband and I live in the country and getting to town of an evening can be difficult in winter, I don't get to every single event where it's possible to hear people reading or performing their work. But I love it when we're there.

The audience doesn't get to just sit there--you're part of the event, even if the event is formal (no finger-snapping, as at some spoken-word events). Your attention is a gift you give the person reading.

You're receiving gifts, too, of course. First, I get to hear someone tell me a story. And second, I have to find that listening space in myself to hear the story. It's a brief time period when I stop the natter in my head and allow someone else's words to penetrate. Being there, in that moment, with that reader, is hugely rewarding.

It's a nice time of community. I'm really grateful for the opportunity to read.