Tag Archives: focus

Counting down

When I was in nursing school, almost at the end, my roommate and I hung a little tablet of post-it’s on the wall, marked with numbers, and tore one off every day until we got to ZERO!!!!!!! (Remember PP?)

When I was expecting my babies, I counted days down, eager to see their faces, meet them at last.

But now, as a grow up, I seem to have lots of countdowns going on simultaneously.

10 days til my course with Humber starts.

26 days until my next trip to Toronto.

47 days til I go to a cottage.

9 days til I go to my next meeting of the Halifax Ukulele Gang.

21 days til the Blue Nose marathon

Month and a bit til the MS walk…

Everything is exciting and something to look forward to, she says, splitting up her sentences in a way she will be unable to soon…

But my brain is crowded with conflicting priorities and thrills and spills. Time to focus.

Once Humber starts, I’m restricting my FB time to rare occasions as rewards for finishing goals. I’ll be writing my experiences with the course here, in case anyone is interested. I’ll be slowing down email responses and trying to check only 3 times a day – morning, noon, and night.

So forgive me if I seem absent… Just trying to push my brain into a focused box. It doesn’t fit as well as my cat does. (He’s been living in that box since it arrived a few days ago).

Wish me luck!


Ah, Hemingway…

10153666_10152020746881776_8049968211621102789_nI cuddled with a statue of Hemingway when I was in Cuba, and I have a fondness for polydactylic cats, but other than that, I’ve got to say, I get a bit tired of him being held up as all that and a bag of chips every time someone talks writing.

What of the wonderful other writers, those that used long sentences, those that write of non-manly, non-war-related things. Women. You know, them.

Does it ever seem to you that, of the entire panoply of female writers, only Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath get any press time? With maybe the occasional Maya Angelou and Margaret Atwood tossed in “from afar” as my mother in law used to say about currants in unsatisfactory Christmas cakes?

It’s gotta stop.  So now and again, I’m going to hunt out famous female writers (some of whom not so famous, cos, as we know, there’s that publication bias out there) and put their writing quotes in this blog. Just for fun.

Here’s the first, from Goodreads! Yay! From one of my favourite writers, too, and so true.

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
― Madeleine L’Engle

View obscured

Sometimes a high-in-the-sky view can be overrated.
Today my building is wreathed with clouds and rain; yesterday the wind was howling persistently through my windows. I can’t see the ground.
It all got me to thinking about being high above things, as vs down and dirty in amongst them.
It’s easy, as a writer, to step back from life and observe. Fun to watch and note and “see without being seen” as my kids’ favorite game Scotland Yard says. Sometimes fun to envision playing with bloodless characters like chess pieces, moving them here and there, seeing how it turns out.
But I don’t think that’s where good writing resides. I think the writing I enjoy anyway is the writing that is on the ground level, below the clouds and mist, face to face and intense, filled with muddy puddles and those splashes when someone drives by and hits one. The writing of out-flipped umbrellas, waving tree branches, surging waves on a shore.
To get there, occasionally you have to get out in your world, experience it, feel is around you, meet people you’ve never imagined exist, have shocking and friendly and scary and enjoyable experiences. For that, you also have to be involved. Get your hands dirty, touch the world around you. Get to know people more deeply than the surface hello, understand motivations, hear histories.
The problem, of course, is the balance between writing time and experience time. I’m still working in that one…

Procrastination and classes and writing

Back when I was married, I had a certain amount of degree envy. My hyper-intelligent ex has either 2 or 3 Master’s degrees, a PhD, and a bunch of post doctoral education. I found myself wanting more and more degrees to reduce the “escalation dominance” of his education over mine.

Well, I learned lots. I mainly learned that I have a serious addiction to taking classes.

I can’t help myself. It’s a madness. My friends look at me in sorrow, asking “do you need to do this? Really?” One friend even held a mini intervention for me when I’d signed up for too many at once.

I’ve been toying in the back of my head with going back to school, with doing a degree in counselling, or a MFA, which would look nicely out of place on my wall of nursing and epidemiology degrees. I’d enjoy the contrast.

It’s tempting. The thought of testing myself against the teachers, picking new thoughts out of their brains, plunging into in depth study of writing or whatever. It is so lovely learning something new.

Not so lovely paying for it, or trying to make my unreliable MS brain perform on cue. It needs some wiggle room.

Then I wondered…am I using this as a form of procrastination, as another way to avoid doing the actual writing I have planned? I did some more research, using the excellent Poets and Writers, especially in the area of a MFA in creative non-fiction. (This was because there’s a new program at King’s College in this area and I like King’s, my so goes there, and it could be fun to go to classes right her in town. Pus the program has placements in New York and Toronto so you hang out with local publishers and such. It sounds really good. And most of my publications have been in non-fiction, creative or less so).

I floated the idea past a few friends, and one of them was fierce enough to say what was echoed in the Poets and Writers magazine. “Just write the damn book!” she said.
And she’s right.

So I took the money I’d have spent on my application and added another week at my writer’s cottage on the Northumberland Strait. I’m distracted with moving for the next few weeks, but after that it’s head down and write and rewrite. By the end of that time, I hope to have a product ready to send out – in fact two. A non-fiction book proposal with my co-writer Karen K. on Intimacy and Multiple Sclerosis, and a novel based on my my latest 3daynovel submission. More on that later as we all know plots are sneaky things and can slip away if you chase them too hard.

The cottage will be perfect. Owned and cherished by two writer/artist friends, the vibes are good, there’s a table overlooking the sea, and there’s no Internet!

Of course, I am still signed up for classes. I only need two more for my certificate from Gotham Writers Workshop. Plus one in writing a non-fiction book proposal. Cleverly, I have the last few classes scheduled for while I’m in the cottage. But I’m not going to do the MFA…

Instead, I’m going to write.