Monday, November 30, 2015

Silver linings

Last Wednesday was hands down one of the worst days of my life. Every phone call, text and email was bad news. The worst was the one informing me that my dad had to have a triple bypass and aortic valve replacement. The rest of it was noise thwarting my plans to enjoy life. I'm not proud of my scorched earth reaction to the other things. It was mostly a case of needing to remove any and all negativity from my mindset. I accidentally deleted three people from my contacts. My phone has rebelled every day, randomly calling some people and hanging up on others. It's all a bit juvenile and ridiculous.

I haven't had much time for writing. My brain processes via nigmares and odd dreams while I nap. Sleep has been impossible. I write regardless of mood, emotion or opportunity. I write as a way to process. I write to entertain, to teach and to learn. Its what I do, I write.

At the moment, I'm buried beneath words of all flavours, texture and colour. The image that returns time and again is that of a dark stormycloud hurling lightning, hail and booming sound waves of doom at my house. Through the flashes of light, I see streaks of silver. Dad is in the best hospital for this kind of surgery, I have friends who support me with midnight hospital runs, nutritious soup, yummy ginger snaps, the ability to tear down my garage. It will be sad to lose the garage but we did our best to save it. The city won't allow us to replace and no engineer will sign off on repair. The insurance cheque will give us a much needed cushion.

While the sleep is elusive, the nightmares I experienced before my dad's heart attack are gone.  I've pulled a muscle lifting my mom as well as all the cleaning and organizing I've done. Odd thing, I heard and felt something crack in my hand when I was replacing the kitchen taps. My exercises are less painful now.  Typing can't be far off.

Otis (70 year old black man in 25 year old white boy's body) took me out for hot chocolate the other day and reminded me that a strong connection does not always equate into romance, nor should it.  He also reminded me the power of magic and love.  Several of my friends are finding people who bring out the best in them. I don't begrudge a single one of them happiness. Realizing that has been a boon.

That one day of horrible news hasn't destroyed my core belief that if you look you will always  find a silver lining. It's a bit Pollyanna of me but I'm more than fine with that.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Importance of stories

Since the beginning of humankind, we have gathered to share stories. It was a way to pass time by the fire, a way to teach each other the lessons of life, that fire burns, woolly mammoths are dangerous but provide food, shelter and clothing.  Stories connect us, unite us with shared memories, in laughter, love and acceptance.

Sometimes stories scare us.  They allow us to react in a controlled environment when the real monsters are too horrible to comprehend. We bleed off the fear and feel triumphant when we can defeat the monsters beneath the bed.

Stories inspire us with tales of love and devotion. They remind us there are good moments in the midst of bad.  That love often shines a light in the darkness.

There are big stories that touch millions like the Parisian man reassuring his son that love and kindness are more important, even stronger, than the bad men. Tigers pouncing on pumpkins make us laugh and elephants painting landscapes with their trunks inspire us to fill the world with colour.

There are the smaller stories, the ones your don't share with anyone else. A gentle touch on the back of the hand, a first kiss perfect beyond expectation or description, a smile that fills your heart because you alone could tease it free. The quiet of the night broken by the sound of soft breathing. The sweet scent of a child's hair as they slumber in your arms. Those are stories of love, of trust, of possibility and all the more precious for being held close to our chests, shielded from the rest of the world.

We need those stories. In times of stress, whether global or personal, they distract us, comfort us, inspire us.   Stories add colour, texture and depth to our lives in every way imaginable.  We are richer both in the telling and the hearing.

Thank you for your stories.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Writing is an exploration

It's been a roller coaster of a week.  I'm house-sitting at one of my go-to writer retreats.  This is the place I come to knock out five to seven thousand words over a couple of days. I'm starting a new story. I'm here for a week.

Writing is painful.  Literally causes a great deal of pain in my hand.  Physio this week was not only frustrating but discouraging.  Restricted use of my right hand continues. I've tried wearing bracelets and rings to remind myself to type one-handed. Yes, the pain should be an obvious deterrent.  When creativity flows, I ignore everything but getting the thoughts out. I pay for it later.

My editor came back with some BIG changes for the first book in the four-part trilogy.  Science has minimized or even solved some of the global crises I used as the basis for the hero's Quest. Several emails were followed by an hour long discussion on how to attack the rewrite.  I've had a few days to consider all the options and have found one that works for both of us. I'm anxious to fix it before I start the new book.

It is better to fix the mistakes of the past so that you can go forward with confidence.

Two books have helped me this week. A quick skim-through of An astronaut's guide to life to refresh my memory led to the new catchphrase, "What would Chris Hadfield do?" Dealing with life and death issues in space means he can't freak out and decide things are too hard.  Sometimes things break.  "Work the problem" is how NASA handles the unexpected.  Considering how much they train for every conceivable thing that could go wrong, that there is an unexpected is amazing. But inconceivable happens.

The other book I'm reading is a YA about the need we have to label everyone.   Openly Straight is fiction.  A young gay man chooses to move across the country and not tell anyone he is gay because that was the only way anyone saw him back home. His English teacher assigns semester long personal essays that follow E.L. Doctorow's edict that "Writing is an exploration.  You start from nothing and learn as you go."

Reading, thinking and the occasional jotting of notes will get me through this phase. Therapy will eventually strengthen my hand enough to get back to typing. In the meantime, I really need to mentally go through the manuscript and work out the best way to move forward with the original story and characters in a way that is less dated.

Sounds like a great way to work the problem.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Music notes lifted from the keys to swirl around the yard like dying leaves on the Autumn breeze.

Colours collided in vibrant hues of orange, purple and gold.

Splashes of rain bounced off the dead soil.

Her eyelids flickered as his distinct scent tickled her into awareness, teased her up out of the dream about him.

The crash of the kitchen door.  A scream cut off abruptly.  Coppery scent of fresh blood.  Senses chasing her through her dreams turned nightmares.  Demons and ghosts with talons made of bone and the cold stare of Death.

Images piling on top of her, suffocating her, drowning her. Pain, the scalding hot pain of realization, speared her chest, robbed her breath.  Her body shuddered as her eyes opened wide.  Terror shoved adrenaline through her veins while gaze sought out answers. A silent room. An empty room

She willed her limbs into quiet.  Took a deep breath to restore vital oxygen to her panicked brain.  Nightmares. Only nightmares.  She turned her head towards his pillow, to the comfort of his scent, the reassurance that only he could provide.

Moonlight through the window exposed the sharp steel of the blade that lay upon the red stained pillow.  The scream lodged in her throat as the gloved hand reached down to silence her forever.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Did you ever hear a piece of music so perfect you wanted to climb inside the notes and be surrounded by the exquisite beauty?  And no matter where you go in life or what happens after you carry that feeling inside you, being part of the music and it being part of you. You and the music make the world so much more through that exchange. Kisses are music.
Sing to me.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Strange fascinations

I feel for my physiotherapist.  I am incapable of silence when in the company of others.  This is a bit of a surprise to me.  Regardless, I ask him tons of questions about physiotherapy, ultrasound, treatments, changes in medicine over the last twenty years and how they affect his practice. I ask about patient patterns, industry growth and improved understanding of the human body when it comes to physiology, kinesiology and psychiatry.

I have always been curious about science and medicine. Both of my grandmothers were nurses, my brother and nephew were both born with a malabsorption issue and my family has had all sorts of life-altering diseases.  The more I've understood the better equipped I've been to helping them out whenever possible.

Books have been the gateway to knowledge for as long as I can remember.  Fairy tales and nursery rhymes hid life lessons from an earlier times.  My dad encouraged me to understand the symbolism and parable in each.

The thing is that no matter how much I learn, it's the tip of the iceberg to what I can still learn. Books tell me so much but trained professionals and experts can teach me so much more.  I ask a few questions then listen to the answers.

It's not just my physiotherapist I subject to my interrogations.  Friends, family, strangers on the Internet are all fascinating subjects for me to interview.  I explore the vastness of space and the microcosm of biology, the complexities of human behaviour and the simplicity of faith, the cruelty of fate and the kindness of whimsy.

I don't think fascination with life and all it holds is limited to me. I think it's a very strong foundation of most writer personalities. It gives depth and interest to our characters, our worlds and our stories.

What's your strange fascination?