This Week

Had an interesting connection with another blogger this week regarding my short story Pocket Watch. MerileeWein.com Doublegeneologytheadoptionwitness found my story and communicated to me that the man I wrote about, Robert McArthur, the owner of the pocketwatch, was her great-grand father. She knew only a little about the 1918 Protection Island mining accident and was happy to have a narrative to flesh out the incident. She told me Robert’s son, her grand father became Chief Mining Inspector for B.C. Obviously he had been deeply motivated after losing his father in such a tragic way. And though I made an attempt to personalize the men in the incident, to make Robert McArthur and the others real and not just names and statistics, that they had lives, and families, and worries, to hear from Merilee further made Robert flesh and blood, with a lineage; I don’t know, I was really moved when she notified me.

I’ve been working over another short story to get it ready for submission to the CBC Non-Fiction Competition. I should say a different story because I had originally began with a story about a sailing trip I crewed on but decided it wasn’t really right for this submission. The story I’m going with now is titled Sue, taken from an event from my childhood that may, or more likely my not, be interesting as an entry or as worthy material; but this isn’t the point. Having a deadline, in this case the end of February, and putting stuff out there is the point. To submit. And I found when I resuscitated the story- I had written the rough draft last year- I heard a “voice” in the narrative that I hadn’t heard initially that I want to expand on. I want to see if I can carry that through, as an exercise.

I still have all my pottery to underglaze over the next couple of days. And I haven’t yet made a mark in my Sketchbook Project. My resolve to “art” every day feels like Dis-solve lately. But all is well, spirit is high and life is good, and we had snow for a few days, so that was fun! (I’m serious, I LOVE when it snows here)

My evening walk, Protection Island, February 2021

Cheers~

Drifting through January

Half way through one of the longest months of the year here on the North west coast (why does this month have 31 days anyway, c’mon.) It has a penchant for being the dreariest out of the twelve. Here on Vancouver Island we get little if any snowfall, other than Mount Washington up island in Comox. But whenever we do get snow I’m a happy camper. It’s still novel for me. I was born in California. It brightens the landscape and the sun usually will shine with the crisp weather. And it begs you to go out in it and take a walk.

But we’ve been having an ongoing succession of dark, grey, rainy days and nights. And this month out of all is the one I steel myself against. It’s long, it’s dark, and there are no “occasions” to break it up. My antidote, to embrace this month of few distractions to allow myself to go deeper within, readjust, and redefine myself. Ideally.

And attempt not to overly engage in the crazy making going on in America. But it’s hard. I did a rare political scribble one night when the news of the coup seemed relentless.

I’ve been working through my fridge and freezer. So, not sure where that fits in. Paring down, cooking stuff off, and getting my eating habits back in line, I suppose that’s a kind of clearing out and organizing, and readjusting. Yesterday I made many jars of peach jams from fruit I had in my freezer that I brought back from Salmon Arm last summer. I made some chicken pot pies, I made several loaves of bread. I made some soups. It seems once I start working in the kitchen then that is my day. There was a time I did this everyday. For years it was my career. Now, I don’t feel so compelled. Cooking has taken on a more functionary role than creative. I eat well, I cook from scratch, and that’s about it.

Sourdoughs

My daily yoga practice gapped a bit as did my daily morning walks. True most mornings it has been pouring rain and I think to myself, I should get out there anyway; I’m sweet- but I’m not made of sugar, I won’t melt. Then I correct and think-I’ve got nothing to prove. And I’m not hard core enough to walk in pouring rain. I’ll walk later. But later it’s no longer “my space”, “my time;” walking in the half light of morning with no one else about. It’s a special time. So occasionally, if wasn’t raining, I walked in the half light of dusk, and that was fine.

I began work on another non-fiction short story to submit to the CBC competition; deadline end of February. I’m pulling up a sailing trip I crewed on back in the 90’s down the coast of Baja. Also still working on a creative historical non-fiction novel.

So I plunk along. I’m going to post my second story from the Protection Island Book today too. More for my own record on my blog site; stories are a commitment for a reader to invest their time in, it’s there for me.

I just checked my blog word count- how easy it is to clock out five hundred words in my blog than when I’m writing and working on my other projects. I set a goal to get down a thousand words down during a writing session. Sometimes I make it, sometimes over, most times I can barely squeeze out three hundred words in a three hour session.

No matter though, I love the process regardless. Write on!

Sweet Little Days

Ok, I have found that I am not keeping my promise in making weekly posts. It’s not as though I’ve been unable to. The weeks seem to float by, like ‘sweet little days,’ to clip a lyric from John Prine; so unassuming that I’m caught unaware. And the next thing I know is- I haven’t posted anything.

In my last post I mentioned that I will be involved in the Nanowrimo (National November Writing Month) and that is precicley what I have been up to. The goal is to write about 1700 words a day to a total of 50,000 by the end of November. I started the month with a story I had already in progress, with 25,000 words already written. My goal is to have a written draft completed by the end of the month. The challenge too that I’m trying to overcome is the need to edit as I write. Having a stiff timeline like the Nanowrimo to work under pushes me to power through and not over think. To “fix it later.”

I compare it to the cooking competition show Chopped. The chefs are given a black box containing crazy mismatched ingredients and must create a delicious plate of food, within a sharply limited time frame, that is then put before the judging panel. In this situation, the chef cannot spend moments thinking; it’s Go- NOW!

Except I have thirty days to put something together, the chefs have twenty minutes.

Anyway, I’ve been tapping away on a historical creative non fiction, rather ambitious for a first novel; go big or go home and all that, and I’m making good strides. I think I am. That’s the thing with writing a book. You sequester away for days, months, years, as nearly a hermit, with no guarantee anything will come of it.

I’ve begun a little practice of waking early, before dawn, and heading out on a walk. It’s early enough that no one is out, and I feel like I have the island to myself. As the sky lightens I find images to photograph on my walk, so it becomes an Artist date ( The Artist’s Way ) and exercise at the same time, win-win!

I’m loving starting my day like that. When I get back home, some yoga, then breakfast, then feel I can sit down to write for a few hours- sometimes more than a few hours.

I’ve recently gotten my pottery out of the kiln, a big bin of mugs, some vases, and a couple of bowls, and I’m happy with how they came out. Almost. Still having issues with the clear glaze I apply over the underglaze; coming out on the opaque side rather than crystal clear on some of the pots. And my mugs could be slightly bigger- I’m surprised how much shrinkage happens in the bisque fire.

So that about catches me up. I can’t accept that I haven’t played any music for two months, so that is an issue in need of rectifying.

Cheers and stay well ~

Studio Work and Back to School

I’ve been a little preoccupied over the last few weeks. One, I’ve been getting some work done in my studio. It took me a while to get myself down in to the basement- my studio’s location-because I had to overcome a ridiculous hang up; where will I put the things I make? Where will I store them? True, there isn’t a lot of space down there, yet presumptuous of me to worry about stuff I haven’t even made yet.

So I gave myself a pep talk: just get in there, make stuff, then consider the logistics.

 

I can self sabotage like a champ.

And I know I’m not alone in this. Why do we self sabotage ? Especially when it’s something we love to do, or have always wanted to do? Self Sabotage is slithery, sometimes – many times- I don’t even realize I’m doing it. I don’t know about you but I can always come up with a justification for not doing something.  I’m working on rectifying this, and recognizing when it’s happening is the first step.

There should be a Self Sabotage Anonymous Group.

 “Hello, my name is Debra and I am a self sabotager.”

“Hi Debra.”

The other preoccupation; I’ve enrolled in a Fiction Writing university class! It was hit and miss for a bit because I was on the waiting list. This happened mid January and I’ve got three weeks assignments in. There are reading assignments, then questions to answer in paragraph form. We submit our own short story piece every other week and give constructive critiques to each other. The instructor then does his final critique privately to each student at the end of each week.

Writing is a passion for me. I’ve been writing, privately, for many years, and have kept journals since the age of fourteen. Badly written pieces aside, I want to do this. These first few weeks have been illuminating, and I’m loving the process!

And let’s just add that I need this class.

The bonus is the class is conducted online, which is ultra convenient. If you don’t know, I live on a tiny gulf island and commute by boat. So when it’s a snowin’, blowin’, sleetin’ or a rainin’,  I. don’t. care. I’m snug at home.

Enrolling in the class was a positive step in taking something I imagine I can do to the next level. It is also a sly method to seek some outside validation. In other words I can write till my fingers fall off and think it’s pretty good. But, in fact, like Schrodinger’s cat, I’m a great writer- in my eyes – in my house.

Now I’ll see which state collapses when observed by a third party.

I continue doing Morning Pages. I believe they have been instrumental in guiding me to dig down and mine the good stuff I had buried over the years. Focused journalling, is what I call it. Three pages every single day for nearly five months now.

Happy Creating ~

 

My New Morning Practice to Nurture Creativity

I have an amendment to my previous post. I, in fact, have been very good at getting up each morning and doing a work out, (and changing my clothes twice in the morning) and, more importantly, another thing I have added to the start of my day is Morning Pages. I picked up Julia Camerons book The Artist’s Way, the book that introduced Morning Pages as a daily practice, and having recently searched it out at my local used book store, I have begun working through it.

I’ve been familiar with Morning Pages for some time; The Artist’s Way workbook has been out since 1992, but I never took a look at it-for whatever reason. Too busy with the mechanics of married life, working, etc. It’s now I felt I could benefit from this book in helping with not only my writing, but to facilitate an overall reconnection to my creative yearnings after suppressing them so long.

Beginning with the first week of Tasks in the workbook, I discovered it is exactly what I needed at the right time. I much prefer starting my day with this, rather than a work-out. Doing the Pages and working through the workbook provides an avenue for beginning my day in a creative flow, sets the right tone that creativity comes first, ideas come first, insights come first. Mind before body.

I have always “journaled,” since the age of fourteen, but doing it as a Morning Pages practice feels different. There is a type of intention in it. So each morning I rise early , 6 am or so, and the first thing I do- pour a cup of coffee and set down to write three 8″x11″ pages of stream of consciousness writing. Then my work-out, shower, then breakfast at 9:30 or 10.

I think this is what I’ve been struggling with. Reading over what I’ve written in that previous post, I now realize that the “domestic” work needn’t dominate the day- those tasks will always be there to do, never changing in their nature. So do them when time allows, but the creative work is the priority because it has the of risk slipping away from us if not well nurtured and attended to. It has something of a “shelf Life.”

I’ve only just now begun Week Two of the twelve-week workbook, so it’s all still a new endeavour. So far I look forward to the Pages each morning and have even noticed some humble synchronicities and serendipitous effects since beginning the workbook. Of course these serendipitous episodes may have always been happening, perhaps I wasn’t “tuned in” enough before to notice. I think probably.

I’m curious to experience any shifts in insight over these next weeks, and so far, with Week One down, it’s feeling beneficial in general.

Scheduling my time is still in process, but I think instead of the word Scheduling I will use Committing.  Things are falling into place ~