Tag Archives: writing courses

Going to ground


Time is creeping on….

I’ve made a vow to myself to tie myself into writing for the next several months, stay focused, try to avoid distractions. I’ve signed up for a high intensity writing course and I want to devote the amount of effort needed to get good results and not waste my or my mentor’s time. Which means cutting some ties, removing myself from some activities, stopping myself from my involuntary volunteering.

Ah, the volunteering. You see, it’s a problem I have. I’m not sure if it’s because of my Roman Catholic inoculation of guilt, or the inner knowledge that I am not the person I want to be, but I find myself endlessly wanting to throw myself into things to help out, to atone, to serve. Maybe I just need to go to Confession.

I’m not sure wanting to help is necessarily a BAD thing, but it means I tend to overcommit and get confused. And waste time, and exhaust myself. All foolishness I should have learned to give up when I developed MS. But I struggle on, silly me.

Detaching from people is difficult, too. It is hard not to give offence when you are really setting boundaries, especially when your boundaries have been too flexible in the past. Poor judgement, the need to be liked, the desire to be loved and wanted – well, they all play in to wavery boundaries and the loss of goals and focus. I’ve always been slightly scornful of those who are able to set firm boundaries with their time – how uncaring! How selfish! How cold!

How accomplished they are now.

And there is a part of me that says I have a gift, sometimes, with my words. I can touch people, I can tell a good story, I have something I want to do with my writing. When I allow myself to immerse myself in it, I can make some headway. But I consistently shortchange myself.

So I’m going to go to ground this time. I’ve allotted myself time for ukulele, as it gives my soul wings. I will continue with my rug hooking, as the fibres and colours speak to my heart. I’ve booked in time for exercise as my MS won’t stop moving unless I fight against it every day. My family always has first dibs on my time – as the woman said in the coffee shop, “Ah birthed ’em”, so I’m always going to be there for them.

There are my dear friends, MB, H, B, P, L, T and W. Always a space in my life for them, though the times may be shorter than in the past. I hope they’ll understand. 

And then there’s Mr. PH. He I can’t put off, ever. For one thing, he’s my conscience, quite able to nag as needed. For another, I’m too fond of his dear phlegmatic British self.

Finally, Mr. Bendicks, my furry friend. I can’t put him off, either, but that’s primarily because if I do he stands all over my dasjbbdfgl;hf.

The course runs until late fall this year. Wish me luck with focusing. It’s with Humber College, and I encourage writers to explore it. Task for today, continue reading the recommended text, Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction: A guide to Narrative Craft.

C is for cookie


I recently signed up for a writing class called “40 days and 40 nights: deepening our practice”.  I thought it would be a good kick in the pants for me to write every day, much like the Wii fitness thing was a push to exercise every day.

Well, I dunno. For me, it’s just not doing it. The first assignments were easy, not too interesting, a bit childish, I thought.  Maybe they’ll get better, I told myself.  Maybe they get more complicated and demanding as the course goes on.

Instead they are getting sillier. For example, every week we are asked to write 10-20 paragraphs about words starting with a certain letter.  Today’s is to write about the letter C. I am SUPPOSED to be working on an entry for a contest I’m in, but all I can seem to do is sing “C is for cookie” and it’s blocking my head, so I’m going to charge through the exercise to clear mental space for the other thing to write (which is meanwhile percolating in the back of my head).

So here goes.  You judge if it is an addition to the lexicon.

C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me….actually, they are very very bad for me.  Sweet little mouthfuls – I have virtually no resistance to their charms.  I try to keep them out of my house because they are infinitely tempting as I walk by the kitchen. For someone who works from home, they are potentially damning. Still, they exist, a small treat, a tiny glimmer of sunshine in a cloudy world.

C is for charming.  There is so much charm in our world, from my tiny puppy, Chutney, to the cowslips and calendulas that flower throughout the world.  I love the tiny Johnny Jump Up flowers, with their tiny faces, so close to the ground.  We need to look for charm, to feel its grace in our daily life. It smooths the mind and heart.

C is for cost. Everything has its cost – from the cookies above, to decisions, to everyday wanderings through life.  Costs may be small or large, but life is a series of them.

C is for choice.  When I choose to smile, I make others smile.  When I choose to email a friend, I use time in a good way.  When I choose to watch reality TV – well, I never do, really.  I choose not to waste time. Right now I am suspended in choices. Do I move to the Maritimes?  Do I stay in Ottawa? Do I try to sustain a relationship, or do I choose to let it go? Do I choose to forgive my ex for marrying someone totally different from me? Do I choose to forgive God for making my dear ex-mum-in-law perish from ALS?

C is for creation.  It’s something I have to do, whether through art or pottery or writing or knitting or cooking or even putting together things in my head.  My dad was endlessly creative. He inspired me, frightened me – he was so much more capable than I.  As I grew older, I learned that his skill came from having the courage to just try things, throwing himself into them totally.  He didn’t hold back.  All creativity requires courage.

C is for courage, of course. The courage to try new things, the courage to make those choices, the courage to leap into the unknown, the courage to forgive. It’s tough. Sometimes we chicken out.  Sometimes we cower in our comfortable places, considering instead of acting. “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

C is for capability. I’ve always told myself I am a Jack of all trades, a Master of none. The truth is, I could master more, if I made the choice to do so.  When I studied statistics the first time, I crept through with a D.  When it was important to me in my graduate degree, I studied and studied and studied until it stuck in my cerebrum, and ended with an A.  So the thing is to choose areas to concentrate upon, to develop capability.  In the meantime, I choose to cavort around through a variety of activities, casting my net widely, sampling all.  So I can knit a lousy scarf, cook a passable meal, chair a meeting, cuddle a dog, convince others all to a certain level.

C is for Constantinople. Now Istanbul, it is a place I long to see.  The architecture, the people, the scents, the flow.  It is the heart of civilization and has been for centuries.  What souls have passed through this centre? Like looking at an apartment building at night and envisioning people walking about, living separate lives, one can imagine the centuries of feet that passed through the streets here, the people, all with their own hopes and dreams and worries and loves. I remember sitting on the steps of the cathedral in Strasbourg, France, and hearing wooden wheels cross the cobblestone square. History cries from the ground in these places; they are inhabited by ghosts.

C is for cynicocratical, one of the words from the excellent “save the words” site.  It means “pertaining to rule by cynics”, and I think it applies so well to political systems right now. No one believes, anymore.  No one thinks there is any good in politics, we distrust our leaders, we vilify those who take the trouble to take up public life. It’s sad. My son is running for mayor in Kingston  – he’s 19 – and he has been surprised by the response to his candidacy, which is supportive. I think, I hope, that there is a counter cynic movement starting.  We need to believe there is hope, that there may in fact be people of good heart who want to lead us. Or fight for us, against the leadership of greed.

C is for cognition, thinking. Perhaps we should all do more of that.

C is for conclusion, or enough of all these c’s. The final C? Singing “Oh Canada”, which is a terrific antidote for the earworm started with the C is for cookie song. It stops earworms dead.

Collige, virgo, rosas. (gather, girl, the roses)