Showing posts from January, 2013

More Tools for Taking Stock

In the spirit of not reinventing the wheel, I point you today toward a couple of articles that ask good questions and can possibly help you answer them. They're both on Write It Sideways: "writing advice from a fresh perspective." In the spirit of full disclosure, its founder and impresario, Suzannah Windsor Freeman, is Canadian with ties to Thunder Bay. (We met online. That counts, right?) Plus, they're about to launch a new literary magazine, Compose , which is pretty exciting and might call for further announcements here. Back to their recent articles that are useful tools for taking stock. This one asks whether a Writing Residency is right for you . We all long for that uninterrupted time away from it all to just write. Sometimes, that may indeed be exactly what you need. And sometimes...maybe not. This article suggests that  setting boundaries on  your goals  may help make them more achievable -- and most helpfully (to me), reminds us all that we can cont

Successful Learning

While catching up on Macleans magazines, I ran across a profile of James Dyson by Jay Teitel . It's entertaining as well as illuminating -- well worth the read. The paper version of the magazine used this as the pull quote on page 2 of the story: The path to discovery is full of mistakes and false leads. You can’t do things if you’re afraid of making mistakes. "Mistakes and false leads" might also be called "playing," and doing THAT requires me to transcend my parents' "focus on the goal" achievement-oriented upbringing. But speaking of my parents, here's another Dyson quote -- and this one sounds even more familiar.  You learn from failure. You don't learn from success. My mother used to say this. I'd bring home the algebra test on which I'd scored 97%, and she'd ask, "What did you miss?" I'd deflate. Of course, she wanted me to be humble. But mostly, she knew that to learn, you have to find out what

Taking Stock

January is technically more than halfway over as of today, but since I haven't sent out the Christmas letter yet, I'm still going on the assumption that we can still call 2013 "the New Year." Seriously, late December and early January are traditional times to take stock, though of course I feel the urge in September as well, when school starts. In any case, I've done that. I've updated my creative writing plan and set new goals for 2013 -- the first quarter, anyway. And because it's a stock-taking time of year, others are considering the same topics. For example, here is an excellent essay by Jane Friedman, with the intriguing title, "How Long Should You Keep Trying to Get Published?" So many excellent ideas, worth pondering. Here are a few: * The value of reading: it gives you a good sense of what is (a) being published and (b) appealing to you. * The value of questioning: questions can help you decide if it's time to change course.


It's early January. Normally at this time of year, the bay in front of our house is frozen solid, and the days are sunny and cold, with temperatures between -15C and -10C. Understand, I'm no meteorologist; I haven't actually researched what's "normal." I know only what has been "normal" weather for the past seven years or so, since I started living here year-round. And I know that today's high, which was something like 6C (45F, give or take) was definitely abnormally warm. Did I enjoy it? You bet. We were out and about, running errands. One of those errands was buying water from the city water pump in town. (I'm a bit of a princess about the way my drinking water tastes, and our well is temperamental in its own unique way. The well and I are both recovering from the holidays. I'm drinking more water; that's as close to a resolution I'll see in 2013. Plus, we're generally augmenting well water with town water, 20-liter jug

Mouse View/Eagle View: Revision

Ah, a new year, a new calendar page! In the past year, I've had the opportunity to edit fiction for a US publisher and provided feedback to other writers on their creative projects. And now I'm also in the throes of revising some creative writing projects of my own. One of the more frustrating realities I live with is that I've worked, with some success, as a writer and an editor for years -- yet revising my own creative writing remains one of the most challenging parts of the writing process. Good news: Revision is one context in which distinguishing between mouse and eagle view can be the most helpful. In fact, it's necessary. When I work with a client, I have to know what kind of feedback they're looking for. Do they want me to be a mouse? If so, I'll standardize their use of punctuation and verb tense, correct errors in grammar and usage, and even check the bottom of every page to see if the last word is hyphenated. Or do they want me t