Do you not know me?

sticky-quotes_080912_what-you-do-for-a-living-does-not-interest-me-i-want-to-know-what-you-ache-for-and-if-you-date-to-dream-of-meeting-your-hearts-longingwtmkIt’s a line from Moll Flanders, by Defoe. A book from 1722, yet the question is still valid.

Do you not know me?

Who does know another person? Sometimes I wonder if we all wander about, selves packaged in different boxes, pulling each section out depending own we are with. It’s not that we are dishonest, exactly, more that different parts of us fit better with different people. So who can really know us?

I’m taking an excellent Teaching Company course with the brilliant professor Arnold Weinstein. I’ve taken other courses with him, through Coursera, and he is such an impressive speaker and he understands and interprets literature so well I had to purchase this version from the TC (thanks Marie-Danielle for telling me about these people!) Weinstein dissects treasures of literature: Moll Flanders, Bleak House, To The Lighthouse, Proust, to name a few. He brings in humanity, the what if of the characters and the writers, not in the “analyze the green light at the end of the pier” way of high school, but wrapped in his knowledge of the times. He has a few gaps. He assigns to Moll an avarice, without saying anything about the grim status of women at that time if they did not have money. And of course, he relies rather heavily on male writers, but that is the way of things.

The best thing is that he brings universal themes into the discussion of the books, and makes me think about them. Thus the wondering about being known.

Coincidentally, I’m also reading a graphic novel, “Are You My Mother?” by Alison Bechdel.(The brilliant founder of the Bechdel test!) It, too is all about being known. About how it is only in writing that we end up actually defining ourselves, or others. Whether we write in journals (note to children: should I die, burn before reading), or stories, or lists (as in the very creepy Walt, by Russell Wangersky), we reveal ourselves best, I think, through the written word.

Alas for relationships, we rarely share those words, instead relying on speech and actions, those malleable things, to let others know who we are. True, we are what we do, but our motivations – ahhh, those are a different kettle of fish, often known only to us. And perhaps that’s a good thing.

We can figure them out, but it requires acute attention, a rare thing. I once knew someone who studied me, got to know me so very well, read my mind almost. It was unsettling, though I was grateful someone had finally seen behind my screen.

But I am comfortable, partially shielded, and knowing that is part of knowing me, too.

Do you not know me?


Originally posted on Quillfyre:

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The madness of #PitMad, or how to be rejected many many times in a few hours

There’s this Twitter thing. For twelve hours, four times a year, people madly pitch their books at agents. Agents look on and “favourite” pitches they like. Authors can tweet two times an hour and can retweet their fellow author’s pitches.

I have a young adult book almost ready to go, so I thought, why not try this? Why not try to pitch a book to an agent in 140 characters or less?

So I wrote up my pitches and timed them to run, but then got busy and forgot the essential bit, retweeting other’s pitches. In the spirit of fellow support, those retweeted retweeted back, which meant more appearances of your pitch in the stream.

And I’m not sure how many agents made an appearance. One posted at the end of the day that they were still looking for submissions, so that alone was worth the effort. I’ll be looking into them.

I didn’t retweet too much – had other things going on in my day – but I’ll know for next time. It’s too depressing to look at the end of the day and see you have no likes, no retweets, no indication you ever rippled the ether. 

Sigh. Live and learn. If nothing else, it gave me a chance to try and describe my book in an elevator pitch.  Need more practice at that, too…..


I dated a hammer-thrower once. He amazed me. I’d never met someone who could do that Highland Games thing. He came to pick me up, his hair shorn so short I had to run my hand over it. It felt like a seal pelt. In his trunk he had a full set of throwing hammers. The car sagged backwards with their weight.

He enchanted me. I had never met anyone so strong. When I rested my hands on his shoulders, they felt like steel. I knew he could lift even well-cushioned me without an intake of breath. It paralyzed me with astonishment and a weird kind of lust. We had nothing else in common, and our relationship was remarkably short-lived, but I’ll always remember the feel of his shoulders, that weird girly attraction to someone who could actually rescue me, if I were under a bus or rock or fridge. The type of guy who could carry me, Officer and a Gentleman like, out of my unsatisfying existence. And then catch me a wandering steer and make me some steak, while talking to me about world events or a new book or something he’d learned in the past day. But I digress….

See, I’ve always been the strong one. Knowing someone stronger than I was in one dimension at least was different for me.

I’ve met other strong people. They were mighty in other areas: one girlfriend who endures a horrific family situation with a calmness I could never master; another who copes with health challenges with a cheery “I guess I’ll just deal with whatever comes.” A friend who copes with the constant fatigue of MS and caregiving and still has more to give. A man who was so smart in so many areas I could barely keep up with the conversation.

But I’m strong like them, generally, though my challenges are generally different. Strong and always kind, I’m working on. But that physical strength… That’s something else again.

It’s weird. I am, when all things settle, more of an intellectual sort. But I’ve had to lift a fridge or two in my time, have done strenuous home renovations, dug long gardens, shovelled hundreds of meters of snow. In all that time, I’ve longed for a strong partner to help, never had one. Some part of me calls backward (or forward) to the person who can look after themselves after the Armageddon, maybe pitch in with the water-carrying, dig a secure cave, build a posthistoric fire.

Nah. I’ll just get busy with the weights. After all, it’s always so hard to find someone to lift a fridge off you when you need them. The phone is always across the room.

February 2015


some DA doggerel in here…

Originally posted on Open Heart Forgery:

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So, about that being a writer….


So You Want to Be a Writer
By Charles Bukowski

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

The Sound of Silence

I was at the hospital the other day for physio and overheard a weeping girl telling someone that her father was ill, so sick he was not going to make it.

It broke my heart.

I was pulling out of the parking lot and almost slammed on the brakes and turned back, almost raced back into the hospital and grabbed the girl’s arm and stared in her face and spoke to her.

But I’ve tried to stop doing that since the restraining order. Kidding.

I wanted to tell her, urgently, forcefully, to record her father’s voice.

Because there are always photos to look at, unless you’re like my dad and took all the photos in the family, but their voices slip away once they are gone.

For a while after my mum died, I could hear her exasperated, “now, Darth,”, and sometimes her laugh. I remember my brother hung onto her last phone message for a long long time. My dad’s voice is so long gone, and now that his last brother has passed away, I can’t even catch the echo.

I miss them, the sounds of my youth, their voices around me. I speak like them, I mispronounce scallops and have a quirky blend of Ottawa Valley and Atlantic Canada in my accent. But what I wouldn’t give to hear my dad’s laugh, my mum’s stories, even them saying hello.

So those of you with parents, take the time, record your parents, get them to tell you stories of their youth. You don’t realize how much you’ll miss the sound of them telling you off until they can’t do it any more….