Life Update

Hello everyone.

I felt like updating this blog today. I don’t have much specifically to say. I’ve had some requests from folks to update and put up some fresh writing. Unfortunately, I don’t have any of that for you. I haven’t had much time to write, which I will tell you all about. Thankfully, I’ve been getting a steady stream of visitors to the blog even with my absence, but honestly, it has much more to do with the Taylor Mali poem I posted back in April than my fans demanding updates.

On the writing front, I’ve started a writer’s collective here in Ottawa. As of this writing, it has 113 members and it’s eating all my time. I created the group during a “lonely writer moment” and it exploded. I thought there may be 20 people with only a fraction of active members. Instead, I have over 100 and the participation and enthusiasm of this group has floored me. It’s a great problem to have so, it’s hard to complain about it. Unfortunately, between this and working full time, I’ve had very little time to actually do my own writing. This is where my time has primarily been but, as we pass the three month mark, I’m getting a lot more people from the membership to volunteer to help me. This has been a tremendous help and I only expect it to get better. I keep waiting for this thing to lose its steam, but it’s going strong so far. I’ve met some great people through this (the ultimate goal) and everyone is being so, so kind. It’s a little overwhelming but in the best possible way.

Otherwise, my life has not changed significantly. My work is all consuming as ever. I already feel like Christmas is over, but I’m looking forward to the five days I’ll be off over the holidays. I really need the rest. I’ve officially enrolled in my first Masters course at Griffith University. I’ll be completing my Masters of Aviation Management online for the next two years (at least). (If you’re feeling your stress levels increase just reading this, imagine how I feel!)

I hope to maybe start doing writing prompts or something similar here again soon, if only to get my pen to paper again. If always had great response and support from this blog, far more than I ever expected, and I want to keep up my end of the bargain better than I have been.

No promises, though.

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On Jealousy

I spent a lot of time in my younger years being jealous of other people’s talents rather than focusing on my own. I wasted a lot of time wishing. I wished for things other than what I had and did things I wasn’t good at for the sake of being like those people. Like, I tried out of a musical recently. I’m a good singer, a decent actor, and have absolutely no passion for the craft. I used to once, but when I thought about getting cast, all I thought of was all the work, not the pleasure. I was in a pipe and drum band for five years. When I came to Ottawa, I thought about joining one up here but they are all Grade 4 and 5 bands (that’s the highest). Just like the musical, all I could think of was the work. It’s almost ridiculous how much time I have wasted wanting instead of enjoying.

I wish I could say those times are over but I still spend a lot of time wishing instead enjoying, being jealous instead of being satisfied. My jealousy is more focused now, at least. Now I realise I don’t want to be the musical theatre girl or the pipe and drummer anymore. Those were periods in my life I loved. I loved performing but the key to that sentence is that it is past tense. I know what I want now and that is to be a writer.

Part of being a writer is that you read a lot and in reading a lot, I have a lot of opportunities to be jealous. Inwardly, I realise that someone else’s talents cannot diminish my own. Outwardly, I panic at every word I write and think “this person did this already” or “that person could say this so much better”. When I read something that I think is amazing, I can’t help but grumble a little. When I read something I didn’t like, I can’t help but feel a little superior. Instead I should be enjoying the written word for what it is, whether it’s great or not, whether I think it’s better than mine or not.

I hope I’m not the only person that feels this way. It’s something that I want to work on in the future. I want to be able to just enjoy reading. I know I’m not going to be the next J.K. Rowling or have the staying power of Charles Dickens. I’m not expecting that. I guess my point is that we should put down the measuring stick and enjoy the ride, for better or worse.

2012 Reading List

Hi all,

Every year I keep a list of all the books I finished. In 2012, I finished 17 books. They are in more or less the order that I read them in. And here they are:

  1. Swing Low: A Life by Miriam Toews
  2. The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
  3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  4. The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie
  5. Bossypants by Tina Fey
  6. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
  7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  8. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  9. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  10. Free Stallion by Amber Tamblyn (twice!)
  11. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  12. Homecoming by Bernhard Schlink
  13. The Last Time As We Are by Taylor Mali
  14. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  15. Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns by Andrea Gibson
  16. The Madness Vase by Andrea Gibson
  17. Every Day by David Leviathan

A few were rereads, like Wuthering Heights, and there was some poetry in there. I think my favourite reads in 2012 was the Hunger Games trilogy, and The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie. Andrea Gibson was my favourite discovery.

What were your favourite reads in 2012? Who did you discover in 2012 that blew you away? Any suggestions for my 2013 reading list?

The Importance of Encouragement

Get ready. I’m going personal for a second. I had this as private for months, but I want to share it now.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. For a long time, this dream was dashed because of two people. One is my first psychiatrist. He told me I’d never make anything out of myself and at first I believed him. He stopped me briefly, but only briefly.

The person who was first to really shatter me was my teacher in grade 7/8. I would have been 12 or 13. Grade school was not good to me. I had no friends, I was tormented by the kids because I was hovering close to 6 foot by then, and I held a lot of “Catholic guilt” being at a religious school. The worst part was that the adults were equally cruel to me. I don’t know what I ever did to any of them, and it’s stupid that the question still comes to my mind. I was a child, they were adults, nothing I could have done would have made me deserve any of it. It happened anyway.

I’m not going into the specifics about how each adult wronged me, how the priest made me hate religion, or how no one was ever reproached for the well known poor treatment. No. I’m just going to talk about Mr. D, and how for years afterwards, I never wrote a word.

It was a tiny thing, but I was already so fragile. I was staying inside for recess because I had no friends outside. This was a huge thing and I don’t remember how I managed to stay inside. Nearly every day, I was forced outside to the reminders of how worthless I was there. I was writing a story (one I remember as, but probably wasn’t, really great). It was very LOTR-esque, and I remember it had “chaos” in the title. I can’t stress enough how excited I was about this. I gave it to Mr. D to read, tell me what he thought. (I guess it’s important to mention here that despite everything, I was a really big fan of Mr. D.)

He handed it back to me after merely glancing at the first page, said to me, “the title is spelled wrong”, and refused to read it further. It was such a tiny thing but I remember being utterly crushed.

I didn’t write again until high school, when it was like I couldn’t hold it in anymore, and never showed a soul. At one point, I let my friend Allison read something. She loved it so much I continued.

I needed a lifeline more than anything at that grade school. It was a miracle I made it out alive, though more broken than when I went in. I don’t have one good memory there. I wish it would get torn down. I’m sure Mr. D is still there, or somewhere, tearing up dreams without even realising it.

I would go to my old hometown just to watch the place crumble. I’d gleefully spit on its ashes, dance in the rubble. I’ve never hated a place before, or even a person for that matter, but I will happily hate that place for the rest of my life.