Wednesday, March 14, 2018


The theme for March has been "postpone."

Because of illness, a friend postponed a get-together. For some mysterious physicians' reasons, a medical appointment has been delayed. Travel issues have caused a family visit to be postponed for months.

As a result, my schedule has room to breathe. And therefore, deadline that I had given up on meeting is now not only possible but reasonable.

Because of this room, I can not only "send something" just to be sending something, I can send something that's recently revised and re-considered. Perhaps even re-re-re-considered.

It's a good goal. So I will take advantage of fun (and appointments) deferred and meet it.

On the flip side, I'd planned to make a blueberry cobbler for the visitors. Even though they're not coming, it's still on my list for this evening. Because a cobbler is a sort of pie, and today's pi day, and my cobbler topping is scone dough, and (as we all know) scones are never wrong.

Some pleasures can be savored when they're postponed. But sometimes, making the cobbler is still the right choice. And new space in the calendar is a gift that I don't take lightly.
Wednesday, March 7, 2018

More Listening

The days are getting longer, but the ice remains on the roads, and therefore, my walks remain on the treadmill. Which means I listen to podcasts.

I was especially excited to see notice of the return of this podcast: Missing & Murdered. This season focuses on learning the story of Cleo, a young girl from the generation of the "Sixties Scoop."

As I said here, I learned so much from the first season of this podcast--among other issues, how and why some people might zero incentive to cooperate with authorities.

True-crime podcasts can feel squicky, in the way that reality TV shows can: exploiting tragic stories for sensationalism, fame, or ratings. I have wondered whether I'm "done" imbibing crime stories, whether those stories come in the form of books or podcasts or even longform journalism. I haven't decided.

But even if I declare a personal moratorium on similar podcasts, I will continue listening to Missing & Murdered. First, it doesn't feel exploitative. (To me, at least; your mileage may vary.) I also learn so much culture and history from the families and their willingness to share their experiences and stories. I said it before, and it's still true: I feel honoured to have the opportunity to listen.

And, as always, listening is important.
Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Calendar Page

At the end of a month, any month, every month, I take stock of what I've done and what's happened. Things that are inside and outside of my control.

In the past couple of months, I've spent a lot of time reading and sitting with other peoples' work, talking about writing and arts, talking about the writing process--talking in general. And the flip side, listening.

For the most part, it's been a really good experience. I've learned a lot. I hope other people I've interacted with know how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to hear their perspectives and share my own.

It's been a lot of reading, talking, and listening. Not so much writing.

Which I'm looking forward to changing, as I turn the calendar page.
Wednesday, February 21, 2018


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


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.