Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day to day

There's an Inglis sign along the Gardiner Expressway that's been there as long as I can remember. There's always some profound,amusing - or both - statement running along the bottom. I was look forward to reading that sign when I go to Toronto. It's also a good marker for me as it usually means I've almost reached my destination. The other day it said something along the lines of Anyone can handle a crisis, it's how we handle the day-to-day living that shows our strength.

That struck a chord with me. I'm in hard edits right now. It's the day-to-day of living with his injuries that drives my hero insane in Hell to Pay. It's the day-to-day therapy with Casey that will determine his long-term recovery.

With the right resources and skills anyone can swoop down and save people from a situation. But the day-to-day stuff of living is hard. Particularly when you're so involved you can't see the challenges inherent in daily wear-and tear.

I've been exhausted, miserable and unproductive because I felt overwhelmed by all that needs to be done on a daily basis. I started making lists. Each day has a fresh list. Some things get carried over but crossing things off helps me get a handle on the day-to-day stuff so that I live instead of perform tasks. Every day I write. Might not be much, given all else, but it's quantifiable. It charts my progress but doesn't put pressure on me.

The list isn't a must-do thing. It's a reminder. LAUGH is there in capital letters. Because sometimes I'm immersed in "things" and lose sight of how funny life can be. Casey helps with that. Everything, including his therapy, is a source of joy for him.He's an attention hound. Loves it. Seeks it. Demands it. Good or bad he doesn't care. His joy reminds me that chores can be fun.

As I continue to write every day, it occurs to me I had it all wrong. I thought I wasn't writing because I was miserable. As my mood improves, I suspect I was miserable because I wasn't writing.

Or laughing as I lived day-to-day.

Monday, January 25, 2010


It's a cold wet miserable day here and I'd like nothing more than to emulate Ky. He's lying on the bed, occasionally turning his head to stare out the window. The rest of the time he drifts in and out of sleep. Not a bad way to spend the day.

Instead I'm trying to knock a bunch of stuff off my list before I head into work. Phone calls to return,emails to answer, chapter to revise, squares to knit, laundry to do. I got both of my assignments done last night and sent out.

I didn't write my blog because I felt all this pressure from things that are not getting finished. I was afraid I'd spew little toxic clouds all over the place and they're hell to get out of the carpet. Not to mention, no one wants to hear me whine about my life. Really, it's not that bad. It's just too crowded. And before you suggest I remove something, let me assure you I've done that. Remember how I failed to write for three months? That didn't help. The tick of the clock reverberated in my belly all that time. Not pleasant.

So I took a quick trip to Toronto yesterday. I verbally erupted all over Stashaholic then settled in for a lovely afternoon at The Purple Purl . Look at these walls.

I fondled yarn, even picked some out for a sweater I've been wanting to make for some time. I watched the owners, Jennifer and Mikko move through the shop ensuring everyone had what they wanted or needed, engaging in conversation, directing students downstairs to class and refilling coffee mugs. As the crowd slowly dissipated, the circle shrank to a handful and the political discussion was neatly deflected, I felt the pressure ease.

I pulled out the project I'm working on that needs to be handed off to the organizer by Friday. When I was asked what I was doing for the Olympic Challenge, I opted for WIP wrestling. My whole life seems to be about works-in-progress these days. It feels like nothing ever gets finished.

Mikko invited me to join the year long challenge. Starting February 1st, one has to knit all the projects in one book. Stashaholic is doing a book of lace patterns. I think she's nuts. But I could feel the words bubbling up out of my throat to accept that challenge. You all know how well I work with deadlines and challenges. But as the pressure in my belly mounted with those words, I managed to decline. I said I would finish all the projects - knitting,spinning, and writing - that I currently have on the go in the next year.

Driving home, I thought of so many places to go with the Sweater Book. Names, scenarios, plot points. But none of that starts until Hell to Pay and Heal, Casey are revised and out the door.

2010 is the year of finishing. It's the only way to siphon off some of the pressure so that I enjoy all that I'm doing.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What happened?

It wasn't all that long ago that I used to jump out of bed every morning and head straight to the computer so that I could write. No matter how long I had worked the previous day or how tired I was from the night before, I wrote every single day. And loved it.

Lately, not so much. In fact, hardly at all. Not loving it. Not writing. I'm not sure why that is. I've been busier, less focused and more frustrated and still written. My excuse tends to be along the lines of catching up, other commitments and even industry disappointments.

I went to a writer's conference a few years ago with a reader friend who is an accountant. After three days of industry talks, of listening to writers discuss their craft and their business, she thought we were nuts. There was no financial incentive for us to continue writing. I won't tell you what she thought of how publishing works as a business. She was appalled; as much as my easy acceptance as at the entire industry. Believe me when I say it was a long and interesting car ride back to Canada.

NYT bestselling author Jennifer Crusie often says that the only control you have over this business is your writing. Once you send it in, it is literally out of your hands what happens next. Focus on the writing, make it the best damn thing you've ever written each and every time.

For whatever reason, my focus is shot. Maybe it's a combination of factors. Fear of success? Fear of failure? Both? Neither? Mental breakdown?

All I know is that either I get back to it or shut up about it.

I've always worked best when I'm accountable so I'm going to use twitter for the rest of the month for daily posts on my writing productivity. By this time next week I'll either have a substantial offering in revisions or a really fantastic excuse. 'cause my imagination still works. It's just my discipline that's missing.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A cautionary tale

Casey is running around in his brace, pouncing through the snow and generally living like any normal dog. His therapies continue and despite an overlong break due to kennel cough(him) and my usual insane schedule, he's improving again.

So last night we went off to celebrate a traditional Christmas Eve dinner with wonderful friends(postponed like everything else was this past holiday season). We gave each of the dogs a marrow bone and while it did run through my mind that we shouldn't leave them unsupervised with the bones we did so anyway.

A few hours later we came home and proceeded to let the dogs out into the -22C yard. Casey was flipping his bone in his mouth. Except that it didn't hit the floor. The bone had slipped over his lower canine teeth and was wedged on his lower jaw.

Given the amount of swelling and his anxiety, it hadn't been there very long. We moved his tongue out from beneath the bone but it didn't give us enough room to move it back up and over his teeth.

A trip to the emergency vet clinic was necessary. They put him under anesthetic for 10 minutes and sawed off the bone. Casey came home an hour later. According to the vet this is not all that uncommon. The hollowed out ring slips over the lower canines but can't come back. Swelling of tongue and mouth is the most dangerous part of the whole trauma.

Be very careful when giving your dog a marrow bone. Make sure it's too long for a tongue or teeth to get stuck inside. Monitor the dog in case the bone splinters and gets caught in teeth or jaw. Know the phone number for the emergency vet clinic off by heart like I do.

Casey's mouth is still swollen and tender today. He's eating soft food and lots of snow. All marrow bones have been removed from the premises.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

It always comes back to -

Perspective, of course.

While most people were relaxing over the holidays, I worked. It's the busiest season for retail - and this year was one of the busiest. I've never been run off my feet the way I was the last two weeks. I don't know about your economy but ours is booming. People are spending again.

All that spending gave me the impression that the recession is on its way out. It could be a false impression which brings me to my point. It's all a matter of perspective, gained on personal experience.

I needed that reminder about perspective.

Last week I read a jacket cover that was the synopsis for one of my books. The one-of-a-kind-no-one-has-ever-thought-of-this-angle book. Apparently I was wrong. And that was hard to take. Why finish up and submit something that isn't unique after-all?

I'll tell you why. Because my voice and my way of telling a story is like no one else's in the world. My perspective, if not my idea, is unique. It's based on my life experiences, my world-view and the angle at which I figuratively and literally stand upon this earth.

That sense of perspective is why some writers and stories resonate with some people and not others. Some of us are drawn to perspectives wildly divergent from our own while others prefer the more familiar. Regardless of perspective we all have a unique one.

Put ten people at the scene of an accident and they will all vary slightly in their witness accounts. We are programmed to see what we expect to see for one thing. But if two people are standing in roughly the same spot, their range of vision is still not exactly the same. Those millimeters apart can mean a world of difference.

I'm going to submit the one-of-a-kind-no-one-has-ever-thought-of-this-angle book. There are thousands of successful versions of Romeo and Juliet. While I'm not suggesting my story is on par with Shakespeare, I do think it deserves the same chance to be heard.