Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Seasons Change

I love May. My surroundings change so much--from mud and dirty and lingering snow to green, out-of-control grass and budding birches.

I also hate May. I get really grouchy. It's hayfever season--merely annoying to me but seriously annoying to my husband until all the trees quit dropping pollen everywhere.

Mostly, it's just that May brings change. Between-ness is uncomfortable to me. Even though I'm celebrating the fact that I finished a lot of work (and some recent visible publications! bonus!) this winter, I still didn't do everything I wanted.

So I've been struggling a bit--trying to get out from under layers, like the ones below that kept me company yesterday as evening fell.

Summer is just...different.

For one thing, we're outdoors more of the time--but never, it seems, enough.

Most important, my energy for writing and revising is different, so it's time to change projects. New writing is stirring--I can almost feel it in my palms. It's exciting.

So I put away the remnants of the projects from the winter and spring I didn't quite get to and try to focus on what I did finish.

And I'm (still, always) listening--to new voices, to long-ignored voices, to new-to-me-voices, to inner voices, to the voices of this beautiful, beautiful world.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

May is "Marion Overshares" Month

Just kidding, sorta.

"Sorta" because both essays that went "live" this month shine a spotlight on elements of my life that may not be social media-worthy. Though I did write them, and I did submit them for publication, and they're out there. So any second thoughts are a couple of years/decades too late.

August heat and obsessive love at Gravel Magazine in "Through the Hearts of Space": 
You drive through the August night. The swampy heat climbs the back of your neck to twine in your hair, where it clings like kudzu. 

The aftermath of illness at Compose in "Bypass Instructions": 
On a sunny early-August morning, I load my new chainsaw, the squeeze bottle of cherry-coloured oil, and the small pair of loppers into the red wheelbarrow. 

But I said "just kidding" because I've been very lucky. By circumstances of birth, I have a lot of choice about what to share and what not to.

Others, as I continue to learn by listening (my word and my work for 2017) live in a different reality. One in which their voices often remain unheard. I have a responsibility to listen to them.

So here's a list, from the fabulous resource The 49th Shelf, of Books by First Nations and Inuit Women. These titles are just a few of those I hope to immerse myself in this summer.

And while I'm at it, The 49th Shelf has tons of lists, organized by various subjects. (Including, speaking of immersion, books about swimming.) Very helpful for broadening your reading horizons!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

New at Compose!

I'm thrilled that my essay, "Bypass Instructions," is up now in the Spring 2017 issue of Compose!

In it, I humblebrag (or maybe just brag) about chainsaws and cutting trees. But all of that is in service to more serious subjects--love, of course; and recovery from illness (yours and/or someone else's).

Also in this issue: five other nonfiction pieces (family histories and cooking! beating the illness odds! river philosophy! school pictures and family relationships! caring for people and dogs!) that are excellent reading--good companions to mull over while you work outdoors. And fiction, poetry, and featured interviews, of course. Plus artwork!

Thank you to the Compose editorial team and publisher!
Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Canadian Shorts: Proceeds to Refugees

Canada Post (a term I use to refer also to various courier services) has brought me some very nice things lately. Including this!

Sponsored by Mischievous Books, the Canadian Shorts anthology contains "Canadian-themed short stories featuring top entries of the 2017 Canadian Shorts writing contest."

Best of all, proceeds from anthology sales will go to the Canadian Council for Refugees, a nonprofit organization committed to refugee and immigrant rights.

And the anthology includes my short story, "A Map of the Moon," which placed third in the contest. It's about maps, tardigrades, motorcycles, dreams, and trying again. And family. Of course.

The anthology is available at a link on this page. With 15 short stories, it's the perfect summer read for lazy, rainy afternoons. While you're at the Mischievous Books site, check out some of their other titles for adults and young adults.

It's such an honour to have work included in this anthology! Especially when it supports such a great cause. Thank you, Brenda Fisk (managing editor of Mischievous Books) and the contest jury.

It's been quite a month, with an essay now live at Gravel and another forthcoming in Compose (new link next week!). I'm grateful.
Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Her Voice in My Ear

My mother was born in a home in Port Arthur, Ontario, 100 years ago today. She died nearly seventeen years ago but had disappeared gradually for several years before that, so she's been gone about twenty years.

Yesterday I stood in line at the bank because there are still some things you have to see a human about. I try not to go when I have a specific appointment after, because I'm more patient if I'm not in a particular hurry, but there are some times when you can't effect that, either.

So standing there trying to ignore the minutes ticking by, I watched a woman of maybe seventy years help her ninety-plus-year-old father with his banking. I wondered how that would feel, to still have parents today, never mind ten or fifteen years from now.

I was my parents' "late in life" baby. I started what I hope is the second half of my life without my mother. With any luck, I'll live longer without Mom's presence on the planet than I did with her here.

It feels strange to call that "luck," but I'm in no hurry to die. There's too much to write about first. Much of what I'm writing is about her and my father. It's about the place my grandfather built north of Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay), in what is incorporated as Shuniah, where I now live. My work is about family and roots. I recently received support from the Ontario Arts Council to complete a collection of essays and I'm grateful for it.

There in the bank, I realized I held a magical device in my hand--one with which I could alert my lunch date that I might be late and let her know why. So I did. And wished, for just a moment, for a way to text my mother, to receive a text in return.
Monday, May 1, 2017

Now Live at Gravel! my essay, "Through the Hearts of Space," about
* driving through Little Rock on sweltering summer nights,
* listening to New Age music, and
* (of course) wallowing in obsessive love.

Thanks to the folks at Gravel, a journal published by the folks in the MFA program at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. Lots of fun reading in the summer issue!