Archive for the ‘resolutions’ category

As for the terrors ahead…

December 31, 2015

You’d think we’d never seen food before. December 31st, 11AM in the grocery store, and the line snakes around the centre displays of gift cards and bananas. We’re all at the same thing, gathering to consume larger amounts of the things we eat on a regular basis anyway.

What else is there to life but the necessity to feed, take shelter, and celebrate survival at the end of each year?

I pull out a book (I’ve taken the advice of Stephen King, never leave home without one). David Grossman, See Under: Love. I read:

Momik tells Mr. Munin about [the latest spaceship] Pioneer 4 and Munin jumps up and lifts Momik high in the air, and hugs him with all his might, to his prickly whiskers, and his coat and the stink, and he dances wildly all around the yard, a strange and frightening dance under the sky and the treetops and the sun, and Momik is afraid someone passing by will see him like this, and Munin’s two black coattails fly up in the air behind him, and he doesn’t let Momik down until he’s all worn out, and then he takes a crumpled piece of paper out of his pocket and looks around to see if anyone’s watching, and then he crooks his finger for Momik to come closer, and Momik who’s still pretty dizzy comes closer and sees it’s a kind of map with names written on it in a language he doesn’t understand…. Munin whispers in his face, “The Lord redeemeth in the twinkling of an eye, and the sons of light soar high,” and then he imitates a flying leap with his big hand and says, “Feeiiiww!” so loud and furiously that Momik who is still dizzy trips over a stone and falls down, and that’s when Momik with his very own eyes saw stinky black hilarious Munin taking off diagonally in a strong wind to the sky like the prophet Elijah in his chariot maybe, and at that moment, a moment he would never-ever-black-and-blue forget, he understood at long last that Munin was actually a kind of secret magician….

When I look up, a woman who was grunting in an attempt to get her shopping cart through the line has suddenly smiled at the crowd that parts just for her, and a child who was crying decides to laugh.

I consume books, in line at the grocery store, at home between work and guiding the kids to figure out how to clean up after themselves. I’m reading Geraldine Brooks’ latest, The Secret Chord. I adore the brilliance of Brooks’ historical fiction!

I dip into my daughter’s pile, but I never have enough time for fantasy, so I demand she summarizes all of her fiction I am missing.

I pull out one of my fav’s, Anakana Schofield’s Malarky.I love this one, and re-visit it for the brilliant voice, the surprising plot twists and depth of vulnerability of the main character.

Then I’m on to dancer memoirs, sheer, raw, admirable, take-my-breath-away perseverance in Agnes de Mille’s Dance to the Piper, and the much more recent  Life in Motion, by Misty Copeland. I prefer de Mille’s writing, the density, the wide world view she presents of life in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, but Copeland’s story is no less riveting.

There’s a different kind of dancing in Bohumil Hrabal’s Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age, a hilarious, one-sentence freak show, loveable, dirty old man, and in Karel Capek’s War with the Newts.

I’ve begun my own read-around-the-world, and I wonder how many of the books (thanks for Tweeting it, Gemma!) from Ann Morgan’s list I could get through, in 2016.

But I have my own project to work through in the coming year. My friend, Sharon Bala, says, tell everyone you are writing a novel and it will keep you to task.

So here it is: I will finish a first draft of my novel in 2016. For my Master’s thesis, but really, for me. Resolution: have a goal, stick with it. And in the dark of self-doubt, when weeks go by where laundry and doctor’s appointments seems to take precedence over my work, I will Dance to the Piper and persevere.

Or, as in my daughter’s favourite line from Bridge to Terebithia:

As for the terrors ahead, well, you just have to stand up to your fear and not let it squeeze you white.

On discipline and the power of love

January 9, 2013

From across the moonlit distances between the inevitability of life and the finality of death, I hear you, Ray Bradbury (may he rest in peace)… I’m not sure why I didn’t come across this video sooner, and I’m at a loss to describe how destiny works (as Bradbury was, too), but I believe in it. And in the coincidence (for me) of coming across this inspiring speech by Bradbury at the beginning of what will be a challenging year (which will include a home reno after a burst pipe resulted in a tectonic upheaval of our parquet kitchen floor….nothing like a good toe-stubbing first thing in the morning to wake all your senses….and maybe I’ll take that over the nausea of having to reno the whole kitchen, but maybe it’s not entirely up to me, and it’s just got to be done. Maybe that’s a sort of destiny in itself).

Back to writing: I believe in Bradbury’s challenge to write a short story a week, and at the end of the year, to have 52 bad ones. A much better goal than my previous idea of simply polishing up the few measly stories I’ve had on the go for the last few months, and sending them out into the great unknown. Why not write, harder, longer, stronger, and see what comes of it? I’m completely committed now. So why not push forward with even more gusto than I ever thought possible?

So here you go. For anyone out there who would sit and watch this entire thing, and be even half as inspired as I was (as much the second time as the first, since the first time I tried to watch I was interrupted about twenty-five times by two or three munchkins underfoot and in my ears and pulling at my last remaining strands of patience. But I was still completely awed, and I hope you are too).

One more writerly thing that inspired me this week was this – enjoy!

Committing to something as elusive as a dream….

August 30, 2010

I am amazed that this will be my first blog post specifically on writing. The fact is, I’ve always considered myself a writer. Classmates who knew me in grade school remember that I used to write 20-page stories when everyone else handed in one-page scripts. I have an entire trunk full of my journals (one is where I got that above piece of information, otherwise forgotten). All my day jobs have been in writing – journalism, freelance writing, corporate communications, marketing, and teaching college-level communications courses. And I’ve always dreamed of publishing fiction.

This last year is the first time I’ve actually begun to devote time to my fiction. It’s taken me more than 30 years, but I’m finally getting down to business! It helped that I had to give up my last job, move to a remote location, and to decide that the one thing that would truly keep me sane here, is to focus on fiction. Discover the real meaning of committing to something as elusive as a dream.

So I participated in my first NaNoWriMo (look it up if you don’t know what it is) last fall, and had no problem reaching 50,000 words in 30 days. All crap – except that it got me into the habit of writing daily. Average of 1,500 words each day. Then I was hooked.

The next major event in my serious writing journey this year, was to attend a four-day writing workshop when I was back in Ontario this summer. I found it quite by accident online, and was thrilled when I learned from the teacher, Marsha Skrypunch, that there was room and I could attend. It was a wonderful experience – one of the best things I’ve done for myself as a writer. I met amazing people – most of them women, and mothers, like me, taking their writing seriously, half of them already published!

Now I find I can’t go a day without writing, even if it’s only for an hour. I hope my kids don’t start to think I love writing more than them….so far, they seem quite understanding! I wonder if my baby, due in two more months, will be, too….

January cabin fever

January 27, 2010

My five-year-old daughter greets me with a cheery, “Good morning!” at 6:50 a.m. I groan. Last night I had stressed to my children the fact that today is a PD day – no school, and daddy is not here (away on a business trip), so none of us have to get up early. Please, just let me sleep until 7 a.m., just once in a blue moon! It’s extra painful, because she woke me out of a very deep sleep (as she did yesterday, at 6:40 a.m.). I convince her to get in with me and get warm. She does so, about as gracefully as a very large animal trying to devour the home of its prey, and proceeds to call out the numbers on the digital clock each time they change…6:51…6:52…6:53.

“Please,” I plead for the second time in three minutes, “just keep quiet, say nothing, until…7:00.”

Whispered: “6:54…”

Seven o’clock rolls around in the blink of a puffy, blood-shot eye, and my two-year-old son shuffles down the hall, calling out, “I need to go pooh!” So up I get, to proceed with our regular routine of unzipping his pj’s and lifting him onto the toilet. Then, I convince him to come back to bed.

I keep the kids in bed with me until 8 a.m. It isn’t relaxing – there’s a lot of arguing over what the numbers on the clock say (my daughter continues reading them, while my son pulls his thumb out of his mouth long enough to announce: “Seven dot-dot free!” which he says with more and more umph each time, and soon it’s a game for him to say his own line after she says hers). And there’s a lot of grumbling over the rumbling in their bellies, which I ignore, because at least in bed I can keep my eyes closed just a little longer, even if I am, reluctantly, awake.

Downstairs there’s the next part of our routine to engage in: peanut butter on bananna for the boy, while the girl attempts to pour her own cereal. Which ends up all over the counter and floor. And I still have to empty some back into the bag in the box, because her eyes, in the morning at least, are bigger than her belly.

The kids play for a while, then ask for a movie. My wave of guilt is washed away with the relief of having them occupied for long enough for me to attack the pigsty that my house has turned into seemingly overnight. I vacuum the entrance, which looks like a gravel pit, and then suck up the spilled dry cereal. Then I go outside to shovel a large enough path in the snow to get the garbage out. I’ve already missed the recycling pick-up.

We had made plans to go swimming with friends, but the heater at the pool, it turns out, is broken. At least we found out before we got there (a process that almost discouraged me from committing to the activity in the first place, as gathering bathing suits, snacks, towels, extra clothes, etc. takes a good hour to accomplish). So, with said friends, we get into our snowsuits instead, and head to a nearby hill to toboggan. The wind turns us back. Five of six kids are crying after only 10 minutes. My friend and I look at each other, decided that, as our husbands are both out of town, we’ll get together later for pizza (and alcohol, I think, knowing she’s thinking the same thing).

It’s afternoon, and my son is down for a nap. My daughter is alternating between being my best friend and my worst enemy every five minutes. The cabin fever is getting to us all. I come upstairs to gather the laundry, and hear a bang, and then tears.

My daughter has spilled her milk.

The doorbell rings at 2 p.m., waking my son.

Now we’re all crying over spilled milk.

Slipping back into reality, post-holidays

January 5, 2010

As this title implies, the routine of my daily life in what I still consider to be my “new home” (since I haven’t even lived here for six months yet) has found me. My son and I walked my daughter to kindergarten this morning, visited with friends, picked up my daughter, came home for lunch, then took the daughter to afternoon school, now my son is napping, and I have time to…. do whatever  I like.

Yesterday, the “whatever I like” involved sulking. After my husband left for work, and I took the kids to school, I was lonely. I went shopping at Giant Tiger, and felt envious of the employees there, with their regular jobs, and easy companionship. I had an overwhelming urge to bring in my resume. But then I remembered it would cost me money – with two kids in daycare, paying full-time even if only part-time was needed – to work, and I pushed that urge aside. So then I came home and started in on the depressingly-always-there housework. Today, I’ve turned my back on the housework (it’s not going anywhere, after all!) and have turned back to my writing.

By the way, I DID reach the 50,000-word goal in November! I mentioned, way back in what was I think my first blog post, that I was participating in NaNoWriMo (I should make that a link, shouldn’t I? Note to self: figure out how to do that… also, add more pics… makes the reading a lot easier), and I completed my word count goal before the end of that month! I’m thrilled. But, as many NaNo participants begin their revisions, I’m still sitting on my mess of a manuscript and thinking it could and maybe should be two separate stories – one, plus a sequel. What a notion! And then there’s the research I intend to do for the story. Intend. That’s the key, now, isn’t it?

Which brings me to another topic (gee, this blogging thing is great, and scary….a wandering thought process spilling onto the screen… Next note to self: FOCUS on one topic at a time! Next time.)…. New Year’s Resolutions. ‘Tis the time of year, after all. And with this topic in mind, I’ll reveal something about myself I’m quite proud of: that is, I am great with resolutions!

The key is, as has been said and written over and over again in magazines and articles and, probably, blogs, is to keep resolutions within a reasonable scope of reality. No vowing to get to the moon this coming year, or to become a millionaire (not that we shouldn’t dream, but hey, who needs major disappointment?).

I don’t break my promises to myself. Here’s some examples:

My first big one was to get out of a relationship that had been dragging on. Immature as it may have been, I finally had to tell my ex that I wanted no more contact between us (I remember we had been muddling through that part of a dying relationship when all our discussions and meetings ended in arguments). I stuck with that one, and moved on to, if not better men to date (he wasn’t a bad person, just not the right one for me), better, happier situations for me.

My second was the best to date. For the millennium, I vowed to quit smoking – for good. And I did. Cross that off the list.

This year, my resolutions are more vague, but still important. One, is to turn the television OFF more often. I’m not the biggest tv junkie – I’ve never had talk shows on during the day when home with my kids, but I’ve had many whole evenings sitting numb in front of the tube. “Making me stupider” as my husband says. So this year, I want to turn to my long list of Books To Read (not to mention, Things To Write) and attack it with gusto. Get more of my life and brain back, under my own control.

Oh, and in the back of my mind (not the front, I’m a bit ashamed to admit), I also vow to have my kids watch less T.V. One should, after all, go hand-in-hand with the other. I might have to move the darned thing to the basement to make that happen. And, it’ll be hard through the long dark hours of winter I have left here in Northern Manitoba (too many hours to count… I try not to think about it). But we have SO many books, SO many crafts, SO many games to play together… I’m sure I can do my part to feed their brains with activities, rather than television shows! Some of which are not bad. And are a great tool to use while I want my offspring off my back to get things done around the house. But no, I WILL spend more quality time with my kids!