I’m moving again, to a smaller apartment, with adaptations for my disability. It’s pretty swanky and I am looking forward to it, though I have a disturbing feeling of claustrophobia as I pack my fourteenth book box…but I’m not ready to part with those books yet.

Many I have on my to be read list; others are dream books; some are classics. My books encircle me, help define me. Where would I be without Winnie the Pooh, with the original illustrations in colour? Or Ogden Nash’s crazy poetry collection? Or Thomas Merton, Henning Mankell, philosophers, Anne of Green Gables, Hop On Pop, Trevor Cole, Alistair Macleod and Alexander, Bronwyn Wallace, oh so many more friends of books lined up, each of them offering either a new adventure or a familiar visit with friends.

But I feel a bit as if I am in “the garden of forking paths”, as J.L. Borges said, or is that “the forking garden of paths?” In many ways my life seems to be getting smaller, forcing me to work small, think small, focus small.
This is not altogether a bad thing, just unfamiliar to this ‘big picture’ gal. I’m finding small projects in writing and otherwise, and adjusting my expectations.

It’s all part of growing up, I think, and settling into who I am. I’m leaving writing mystery stories and easing into humour and stories for younger folk. I’m playing with new fibre arts, music, and other artistic venues. Every one of them small, so as to fit in my smaller life. I’m not bothering to try to be what people think I should be any more. It’s a good place to be, though the one thing I wish was smaller (me) stays firmly round!

I wonder how long I can bear it before I need to break out and breathe bigger air….or before I fold and change my life again….for right now, all seems cozy and comfortable. It’s all in boxes, tidily tucked away…

The ethereal, synchronous nature of writing, and how it can totally creep a person out

There’s a magical thing that happens when I write. My brain gets into that flow state and I wander along, my thoughts outracing my consciousness. My characters develop their own interests, go off on unplanned adventures, mutter to themselves far too much. They wax rhapsodic about sunsets and hair colour and the flush on their cheeks. They stride and growl, snort and writhe.
In short, they take over and become boorish. They start talking over each other, minor characters drink too much and push the major ones around. But somewhere underneath this rambunctious behaviour, they talk about truth.
Yesterday I met with my writing mentor and discussed my current work in progress, a young adult book that I thought my characters had made up as they played, loosely based on some terrible events in my life. As we talked about how to make the story better, my mentor gradually narrated the story of my life to me.
Totally freaked both of us out. We don’t know each other well at all. We’ve met three times, and it’s always been in an “honourable teacher/humble student” arrangement, at least on my side. And there she was, supposing this, supposing that, based on the story I had made up (which was quite different), telling my life.
And I realized the story was really about something I hadn’t dealt with, about a different event, and my powerlessness in that and my regret that I hadn’t been able to solve the issue, or protect the people involved.
Not the event I thought it was about at all.
So now I’m excited about rewriting, for many reasons. First, there’s a truth there that I think might help others, or at least make a meaningful story. Second, I’m down to the nugget now, have stripped away all the blather my characters were using to conceal their motives from me. It’s going to look better.
All because of a conversation with a surprisingly kindred spirit and excellent mentor. And several strange synchronicities that out both of us in the same place mentally at the same

Oh, Roberta Flack….


Returning to modesty

I picked up this book the other day – bought it new! Thought it might have some pertinence in our lives of TMI, loudness, lack of privacy or respect, rape culture writ large and small.


It’s not that the author is a nutter, exactly. I mean, she does have some good points about modesty and keeping oneself for those who honour you with a relationship. Though I don’t want to come straight out and talk about my misspent youth (which was about four years ago), I have found that intimacy is MUCH better with someone you like, or better still, love. I do feel that the “hookup” expectations are of more benefit to men, who enjoy that sort of thing, than to women, who often react better sexually in a place of safety.

Me, I always made certain I could physically take down the men I dated if I needed to.

Until one time, I couldn’t. And that was the end of taking the risk. Because someone took me, without permission.

So then you get to being distrustful and all that and maybe that isn’t where you want to be.

So she has a point.

Maybe being more hesitant, more modest, more unassuming would help things, reduce assaults. Fair enough, she encourages men to be modest, too.
But not very firmly. It’s mostly about women.

And then she starts going on about the shame – about how masturbation is a sin, about how lying with a woman who is menstruating is a sin, and all that stuff that simply makes sex and bodies “dirty”, and she loses me.

Yes, I want to be respected and treated with concern and care. But no, I’m not going to cringe in the dark, afraid of the sexual being that I am. I’m not going to insist men only hold my hand on the third date, and never kiss til the sixth or seventh.

Life is too damn short.

The author says she got hate mail when she originally published the book. I’m not surprised. It’s not so much her idea of abstinence that is offensive, because that is always a viable choice, but her slut-shaming women who take the pill, who have more than one partner, who enjoy their bodies. We’ve had enough of that, don’t you think?IMG_0264.JPG

The really bad thing about good used bookstores

Went to Doull’s bookstore today.
Now, bear in mind I am moving in a few months and this is one of my bookshelves…and I have seven. Seven! Many of which I am selling to friends so I can get matching ones for my living room. They are all full.

So I walk into the store, ostensibly to buy textbooks for my son for school. He wanders off with one of the staff, who knows where everything is and constantly astonishes me by this since his store holds 1000’s of books, in piles and heaps and shelves and more piles.

I’m trapped at the door. Already I’ve found three books I really want to read, now. I pry myself away, vowing to get more than three feet in today, and in search of mysteries as my brain can’t handle much more these days…

Twenty minutes later, my son and I pile up the finds. Nine for me, twelve for him.

I ask the genial owner, he of the white beard and twinkling blue eyes (always my downfall) if he would take some of my discards. He looks a bit shamefaced. “We’re only offering store credit,” he says. “Had to do some roof work.”

Somehow I don’t think that will be a problem. If I didn’t force myself out of there I’d need another seven bookshelves and I wouldn’t have anywhere to sit in my place!

It’s a treasure trove, and fun to share with my son, who is so well read and still wants more more more, just like his mum. We already have two huge totes full of books to move to his student digs in a few weeks.
Well, at least our places are well-insulated.



How to change your life—and fuel your writing

Originally posted on Dream, Play, Write!:

Solid, focused writing starts with a clear, abundantly creative mind. For the ideas to flow from your brain onto the paper, you must create a similar flow of energy in your life. Ever feel stuck? Like you just can’t get past a certain point no matter how hard you try? That’s what happens when energy stagnates. It need to be released.

To help you do just that, I’ve developed 6 Simple, Daily Commitments that you can apply to your life?as well as to your writing. In the very first week, you’ll notice changes in your life. Little things: a better mood here, an unexpected gift there. Then, you’ll notice bigger things: people and opportunities that can help you will come into your life as if by magic. Relationships will improve. So will your health.

Then, you’ll notice changes in your writing: a thorny plot will work itself out, too…

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