Sunday, January 25, 2009

Book rage

Some people suffer from road rage, I suffer from book rage. It's the curious buzzing that occurs when someone slams a genre or style of writing. I certainly have my own preferences but after working at a library for eight years I've learned that there's no such thing as "frivolous reading" as one of my colleagues suggested. Her stance is that romance is trash(red haze descended that day), that the only fiction worth reading is mystery or suspense.

In the eyes of many people romance is mindless reading or unrealistic. Because so many of us have been stalked by a serial killer and so few have ever fallen in love. Okay, I'll cut the heavy sarcasm.

Reading, whether it's a gossip magazine, scripture or anything else with words between the pages, is never frivolous. It's not mindless either. Because the very act of eyes moving across the page and brain processing those letters is far more than some people are capable of doing. Imagine what it would be like to be illiterate. Imagine no words, just symbols. Worlds of knowledge would be closed to you. Reading is a privilege.

It's also great exercise. Your brain is engaged in a myriad of ways. You learn with every single word that is revealed. It might not be earth-shattering or life-altering but it's still important. Geography, cuisine, fashion, family dynamics, astronomy, classical music, artificial intelliegence, theology, zoology; they're all subjects I've learned about from mass market fiction. Little tidbits of information are stored for future use. Because I read about a heroine who had to walk ten miles in high heels shoes during a blizzard, when traveling I've always made sure to wear footwear appropriate to the weather. That actually paid off when my car wouldn't start and I had to walk across town. Before that book I would have worn the shoes I wanted to, not the ones that were practical. Silly example but that's my point. You never know what sticks with you.

Tomorrow is Family Literacy Day in Canada. Read with a friend, even if it's not up to your usual standards. You might learn something interesting. Or not. But you'll exercise your brain regardless.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


This is what I'm working on.

It was supposed to be a quick read-through but I can't stop myself from editing. I still don't know whether Alex or Gabriela is older. I am enjoying the story. That's encouraging.

After this, back to revisions on Alex's story so that I can send it out. Kellie and Bracken continue to bubble away on the back burner while I revise and edit. Sounds painful.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Moving forward

I had a great dream last night in which an editor actually approached me. She could see an old manuscript in the clear plastic bag I was carrying. It was in dire need of a rewrite but I did end up selling her the two most recent works. I actually remembered the name of the publishing company when I awoke and have since added it to my list. Interesting dreams.

My office is in a real state of flux at the moment. The room has been taken over by a friend and repainted. I moved the computer into the attic which has a beautiful view of the Welland Canal, provided you look past the neighbour's back yard. In the summer his pear tree is in full bloom and blocks most things from view. In the winter, ice covers my windows so he still has his privacy.

Part of the moving process involved a relocation of some files. A binder spilled open onto the floor and revealed a manuscript that would actually make an interesting screenplay. It's no surprise that's the story I dreamt about last night.

I also rediscovered a more in-depth article about the differences between men and women than the thoughts I shared here a couple of weeks ago. I'm not sure what to do with it. Languishing in a drawer seems unfair to its brilliance.

As part of the revisions on Hell to Pay, I've had to re-read Heaven Coming Down. I wasn't sure which sibling was older but then I fell back into the story. I'm really pleased with it. I'm going to submit it to a couple of agents this week and get it back out there. It also deserves better treatment than an antique hatbox.

As I ease into this new calendar year, I'm slowly building momentum and moving forward.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Life and death

It's been a strange sad week with a big moment of euphoria. The contrast between the two moods means I've done little writing and a lot of reflecting.

On Monday I learned that one of my long time patrons from the small rural library died. On Tuesday my friend told us her husband had passed on Boxing Day. That was the same day we made the appointment to have Casey's canine companion put down. Not that the two even remotely compare but grief was unlimited in our house that day.

The next day, Wednesday, another friend of mine was thrilled when she went to the doctor and was pronounced cancer-free. I was over-the-moon thrilled and we celebrated a lot that day.

I felt guilty about it at times. So many people I cared about were devastated by their losses. Other people I know continue to wage a battle against that disease. Our joy seemed callous in the face of all that grief.

Thursday and Friday were solemn around here as we prepared ourselves and Tara for her passing. It's a cruel twist that our non-human companions, those who teach us about unconditional love, live but a few glorious years by our side.

Tara was a good dog. A smart dog who was loyal and dedicated to my parents. A dog who protected my mom and heeded my father's command to keep the house free of space invaders. It was his only real demand of her and to my knowledge we never once had an alien choose our home as an intergalactic B&B. She did her job well.

A dog reminded me that life, no matter how short or long, is to be lived to its fullest. That we are here to share ourselves with others, to protect and guard and love those we hold dear.

I know my friends mourn the loss of their husbands. I know they had wonderful lives together full of joy and sorrow throughout the years. I know a dog's life doesn't compare to theirs. I do know that my one friend has many years ahead of her to share with those she loves. And those she hasn't met yet.

Her joy in no way diminishes everyone else's sorrow. In a way it highlights the losses. She is well aware of not only how fortunate she is, but of the opportunities that lie within her grasp. I'm not sure who said it but, "A life worth living is worth living well."

The lives we mourn were well-lived. The rest of us should do the same.