Thursday, August 22, 2019

Popping in to Suggest a Read

Hi. I'm revising and waiting for feedback and attempting to prepare to launch a book. And fitting vacation in. Apparently 2019 is the Summer of Baking.

Recently, I re-read this Guardian article by George Saunders, about what writers do. You should read it too. In case the link gets stale, it's from March 4, 2017. As usual, he says things so well.
Wednesday, July 31, 2019

More Revisions

See? Here's what my most recent set of revisions looks like.




















I'm currently revising the manuscript of my essay collection, Reverberations, coming this October from Winnipeg publisher Signature Editions.

Yes! A book!

I'll share more details about it later. I've got manuscripts to take apart! Which means I may not post much in August.

Happy rest of summer, everyone.
Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Welcome Delivery

Because not every "dry well" is a metaphor.


Especially in this warm stretch of July. Especially with family visiting. We expect the well to get low--and although we'd hoped to eke it out until the family was gone, we have a solution. Water. Energy.

Which is also handy in several of the metaphorical senses of "dry well," too.
Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Revision Fatigue

"Revision" sounds like "decision," and in fact consists of a lot of decisions. Which explains why I'm sort of punchy at the moment.

Also why periodically I pick up our loppers and head into a clump of trees to open up a trail. Or take sandpaper to old wood and, later, fill a brush with paint and swipe back and forth on the sanded, wiped surface.

Here's what the revisions look like.













Note that we are still at the "duct tape" stage. In fact, the "layers of duct tape" stage. "Layers of duct tape in what may yet become complementary patterns" stage. I think the colour combination is already working, but that may be just me.

That's what later stages of revision are FOR: making a coherent whole from disparate parts.

Which means lots of decisions, mostly answering forms of the question, "how well is this working?"

I do find answers--and eventual peace in making decisions--in trimming branches blocking a path or rhythmically painting staircase railings. Tomorrow, I'm confident I'll complete a good day's worth of revisions, because I'm spending most of the day washing dishes. Lots of time for mental play there.

If nothing else, dishes/painting/path-clearing can be defined as projects of finite duration, which helps me resume projects without firm endings yet.

Revisions: not for the decision-averse. And now, I'm off to fold sheets.
Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Books are Awesome

Yes, breaking news. Books, though, really are awesome.

I  mean, look at these:

About being ordinary and extraordinary

About fear and illusion and preconceived ideas










































I'm not buying books (and bags and boots) this year, except for when I am. Which is to say, when my "wear in public" boots don't fit any longer, or (for example) when I want to read a book that's important to my novel and don't have a copy.

Which is the case with Hound of the Baskervilles. And yes, I know it's in the public domain. Yes, I could read it online. But that doesn't work for me, for my revision process. So.

So when Toronto's Gladstone Press advertised a Canada Day sale on Instagram, I jumped on it. And I got not only books but a bag. And they are all lovely.

I mean--lookit that dog's paw with a fingerprint in it. It has a topographical map bookmark, too. (The one for Mrs. Dalloway is a picket fence.)

Also: Because I'm reading a book important to my novel, I am learning that the draft requires a few further revisions. Which is why I needed to read this book. So all is going according to plan, bwa ha ha. (Actually, hahaha because plans are useless though planning is vital, according perhaps to Eisenhower.)

Surely there are books you need to read on a rainy day in July.




Wednesday, July 3, 2019

All Projects, All the Time

Summer! Project season!

Here's a couple of projects we finished recently.


The table used to be unfinished cedar, several years old. We have another just like it. Plus a bench that will resemble the tables when it's finished. The chairs were always white but were also sporting a bit of rust, as one can do when one is 30 years old.

Here's a project Nature has been working on.


Lilacs sure are pretty, especially the ones growing high enough that the deer can't get them.

These projects don't preclude others. I'm revising--even while applying paint to tables, I'm moving scenes around. I'm considering whether someone would choose the "really stupid dangerous" option or the "just dangerous" one. And I'm reviewing podcasts about story structure, with which I always could use some help.

Then I go inside and apply fingers to keyboard to try out what I imagined.

I hope your summer is blooming nicely!
Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Whatever Works

A writer friend recently read Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. She's also doing Morning Pages from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way.

Another writer-friend is recruiting "bunkmates" for Camp NaNoWriMo, which is apparently the summer version of NaNoWriMo. She suggested creating your own project--not necessarily drafting a new work, which is (as I understand it) the function of NaNoWriMo, but perhaps editing or submitting or researching or something else--intensely, for 31 days.

Others are creating schedules and valiantly attempting to stick to them, even though summer is here, with all the summer things--like WARMTH and SUNSHINE and GELATO and STROLLS. (And for me, bug spray.) For many who work in a teaching capacity, summer feels like "found time," and their fear is that late August will bring despairing moments of "whaaaaaaaat haaaaaaaappened to aaaaaaaallll that tiiiiime?" (Flashbacks to childhood feels. Though I also liked school a lot.)

I, too, am transitioning from "well I'm stuck indoors so might as well make progress on this novel" time to "geez, they're showing up when?" time. Summer brings visitors, and I live here in part to make it easier for loved ones to share its beauty. But making this transition can be challenging.

Especially because I, too, want to look back in August and say, "Okay, I took care of that, and that, and now I'm ready to transition to this." Especially because I, too, respond to structure and discipline (though not necessarily the communal nature of a NaNo project). And I, too, sometimes really REALLY need a return to longtime friends with their advice and inspiration, and morning pages.

The upshot of all this? Do whatever helps you complete your work, whatever that may be. The world needs it.