Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I write morning pages daily to enable me to write from the prompts at our Headwaters Writers’ Guild (HWG) meetings. Otherwise, I would freeze on my page. It’s not like I write anything profound or awesome like Harry and Alex but at least I am able to write something.
I remember Barbara Kyle (author) saying, “Everything can be fixed.”
If I view my raw writing as if it were a masterpiece, I’d never pick up my pen. I would have quit writing years ago. And I certainly wouldn’t write anything at HWG’s writing sessions. Allowing myself to write badly frees the writer within.
Whenever my writing is edited, I am reminded that writing is really rewriting. It would be wonderful if my prose or poetry never needed editing. Possibly, in twenty years from now, it might happen but I’m not holding my breath waiting for perfection. If I waited to write perfectly the first time, I’d have given up a long time ago.
The late Ed Wildman used to say, “You can only be defeated if you quit.”
It’s not easy being a writer. One of my biggest regrets is that I stopped writing in my early twenties. My inner critic taunts me. “Imagine what a good writer you’d be if you never stopped.”
I disregard the thought and just continue writing. I focus on the present and not the past. I remember that writers, write.
Last week when I met my writing friend Bonnie for lunch, she wanted to know if I’d finished editing my poetry book.
“No,” I said.
“Do you have a deadline?”
“No.” I shook my head.
“Without a deadline your dream will never happen.”
Thanks Bonnie for the kick in the butt. I’ve finished editing (hopefully the second last edit). It’s great having writing friends that encourage you.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
YOU ARE INVITED
8178 IndianTrail, Rockwood,
(directions at www.eramosaeden.org)
2 - 5 PM
BookLore, 121 First Street, Orangeville. 519-942-3830 Monday, April 26, 2010
Tuesday, April 6, 2004
I was talking to Ed yesterday. He said that he really likes our group because there's no friction in the group and you can tell that we all like each other. He also said that we are supportive and kind to each other. I told him that he was right -- we all like each other and it is a good group.
He also commented that when he took the workshop from Natalie Goldberg she mentioned that in reality they were all to learn from each other. He is happy that Carrie joined the group (March 2004).
Ed said that he hoped that we would pass what we learned to others . . .
He also remarked that everybody has made improvements with their writing.
I talked to Ed 'cause I told him that he had a very interesting life and if I were he I would be working on a book about his life. That we all enjoyed the characters in his stories because he'd captured the essence of them. I told him, I couldn't wait to read his memoir.
I really like our group because each of us contributes and we all inspire each other. There's always a good feeling in the group. It is like we were meant to be together and write.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Label is a poem that I wrote probably in 2004.
If it weren’t for the sorrow in my soul,
I might have done great things
It’s not that I didn’t try
As much as I believed
The label that my family
wanted me to wear
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
YOU ARE INVITED
Book Launch: Stories of Prayers and Faith – Compiled and edited by HWG’s member—Gloria Nye.
Four members (Diane, Gloria, Nancy, and Ruth) of the
Headwaters Writers’ Guild have stories in this book.
BookLore, 121 First Street, Orangeville. 519-942-3830 Monday, April 12, 2010 7 PM
Meet the Authors: Eramosa Eden Retreat Centre, 8178 IndianTrail, Rockwood,
(directions at www.eramosaeden.org)
Sunday, April 18, 2010 2 - 5 PM
Be Loud with Praise
Be Gentle with Criticism
I immediately went into edit mode.
Be Lavish with Praise
Be Gentle with Criticism
This is definitely food for thought.
I wondered if I'd become too critical of my writing.
Once the censor arrives, sometimes I acquire writers’ block and I’m unable to write. I think this should be called a creative block instead. As most creative people sometimes find it difficult to create when negative thoughts run rampant.
July 4, 2010
I want to hold back the censor from spewing hateful words. I clutch a knife to his throat. “Do not say a word,” I caution, “or I shall slit your throat.”
I watch as the blood pours onto my page. The censor’s words echo in my mind. “You have no talent. Why did you think that you could write? You call that writing?”
I won’t care for the moment, as my censor lies dead across my floor unbidden like a dog with fleas. I have killed him if only for a short while as words pour onto the page.
In the hundreds of books that I've read on writing, one of them suggests that we should also create a sweetheart. We should play back in our minds, all the good things teachers, creative and non-creative friends have said about our creative endeavours. Oh, dare I say it; we should make up complimentary comments about our work.
When the censor arrives unbidden like a dog with fleas, we should discount him and override him with positive messages about our creativity.
When I showed my youngest daughter, my story, Heavenly Encounters, that was published in Stories of Prayers and Faith, she was not complimentary. “Oh it’s by Gloria. That’s why it was published.”
I dismissed her comment. My sweetheart artist/writer daughter, Carrie was impressed not necessarily with my story but with the cover of the book.
Since I’ve become a writer, I have a new respect for writers, as I know how much it takes to actually write the piece.
If you’re having trouble with writers’ block, why not compliment yourself? Or better yet, print off any compliments you might have received re your writing.
Thanks Richard, I appreciated your comment on our Blog re The Writers’ Job. In fact, I’ve printed it off and put it in my compliment file.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Clare led the meeting and had some interesting prompts which I'll post at the bottom. No rushing off ahead to peek, you might miss something along the way!
Jayne warned us about parking in the Organist's spot in the lot. Apparently, she is very "predatory" about her spot. Harry agreed that we definately did not want to "strike the wrong chord with her."
We all introduced ourselves, including Laura who got a "daypass" from her family to attend. She announced that she would write more if Diane would quit writing so much. She is a fabulous editor though and I can never thank her enough. Especially when my books finally get published!
Richard brought up the fact that people don't take the time to comment on blog entries. He has been added to our list of contributors now. We are all glad his writer's block and other issues have been resolved.
Jayne showed us the back cover of the Presbyterian Record (www.prebyterianrecord.ca). Her novel Caught Dead: A Dean Constable Mystery is going to be published on their website beginning April 5. There will be a new chapter every week so make sure to mark it under your favourites and enjoy it!
We also discussed the Anthology that we would like to do. Gloria presented us with a publishing proposal that we will talk about at the next meeting. She had two plan options but Richard suggested a third - that we seek a sponsor to subsidize the book. He will look into that and get back to us next meeting. We decided against a theme for the book since that will limit our creativity. We would just call it something like The Headwaters Writers' Guild Collection. You are welcome to bring any other ideas to the April 11 meeting.
Since the last Brian Henry workshop had very low response, we cancelled it an moved it to Oct 2. The two options we had for topics were How to Make Yourself Write and How to Write for Children. Since a lot of us have no problems with actually doing the writing, we selected the writing for children option. Even if you don't want to write for children, it will teach you how to streamline your writing and simplify.
About half of the group had items to read this time. Gloria gave us food for thought with her short story The Author's Dinner. We had to all rush home to look up words like gelid and sapid. June read more from Death Spiral. Richard read to us from the second book of The Ostiary: Silent Semper (hope I got that right). Caitlyn, who was brave enough to rejoin us after the last meeting, read a wonderfully descriptive piece about a woman visiting a psychic. We can't wait to see what she does with it! Harry read The Garden Tale a great one for the kiddies.
Nancy read a piece about the "R" word and how words have the power to affect people. This led to a discussion of how the meanings of words have changed through history for example: faggot, special, retarded, the list goes on.
The prompts Clare brought were interesting. Laura had a piece about a man humming and cleaning a bloodstain off the floor. Richard had to know what he was humming. Guesses ranged from Hi, ho, hi, ho, It's off to work we go to Zippity-Do-Dah. Nancy read a piece that included the words "blank you". Richard HAD to check to make sure that was what she wrote and not her infamous "f" word. It was!
I found out after the meeting that Laura is going to be published in In the Hills for Kids. Her article is called Bundle of Joy? Way to go Laura! You can find a preview of the story on www.kidsinthehills.ca/blogs/in-the-hills/bundle-of-joy.
Okay, you've waited long enough. For anyone who couldn't make the meeting, here are the prompts courtesy of Clare:
1) A chunk of bologna and gob of mustard fell from his sandwich.
2) Coffee perked cheerily on the back of the kitchen woodstove.
3) The red traffic light sparkled off the icy intersection.
4) Peering into the darkness, she stood with her arms crossed.
5) He was the only customer in the coffee shop at 3 in the morning.
6) "Bonjourno," he clucked, stroking his crop of silver hair. (buon giorno Laura corrected the spelling)
7) I burst out laughing when -------------
8) "HI! I usta be a Wal-Mart greeter."
9) As I looked at --------- all that I could think was ---------.
10) He was nothing more than a smelly old man.
Okay, my work here is done for a day or two. Hope you all enjoy the wonderful rain and keep on writing.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Laura mentioned that she loved Jayne's postings.
Today, I’m going to go where the computer takes me.
At the March 7, 2010 meeting when I read my short story Outside of Heaven, Richard said at least three times that, “IT WAS DISTURBING!”
Judy said, “When it’s told from the point of view of a child, it would make it disturbing.”
I remember when the late Janet Bellinger read her short story at Ed's workshops, about two men trying to persuade their wives to loose weight. We must have talked about her story for at least 45 minutes. She hated it after that.
I told her, “As a writer, it’s your job to provoke thought.”
Thanks Richard for the compliment. I’ve done my job.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I learned storytelling at my mother's knee.
Everybody in Ireland was a storyteller.
Nearly everybody thinks their experiences are insignificant. For years I wondered if anything that had happened to me would have broad appeal to readers. But now I realize that everyone has a story. Nothing is significant until you make it significant. It's not what happents to you, but how you look at it.
It’s good to be Irish. For us, everything is about the story.
I told my father that my younger brother mentioned to me that the best thing that ever happened to him was when my father came home and through him out of the house. My brother said, “It made a man out of me.”
I thought my father would be delighted. Instead, he said, “That’s not exactly how it went.”
I remained silent for about 60 seconds. “But I like Steven’s story much better than yours."
My father laughed because he knew “it’s all about the story".
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
FROM THE INSTRUCTOR’S DESK – Donna Ippolito answers the question, what is the career path to becoming an editor?
Check out Janet Hartman’s Potpourri. It’s all about the Chicken Soup for the Soul deadlines for stories.
Did you know that about 140 publishers rejected the first Chicken Soup for the Soul book? They believed that it was a stupid title.
HURRY - IT WON'T BE THERE FOR LONG!
Check out the Newbies Section. Garfield McAdam (I love his name) writes from Canada. He’s seventy-one and he lists magazines that have accepted his true stories and short stories.
From the Instructor’s Desk – Donna Ippolito gives us examples of how to tighten or streamline your language to make for stronger writing. She also explains the RUE technique.
Check out The Verb website
HURRY! IT'S ONLY THERE FOR A SHORT TIME!
Monday, March 15, 2010
or can bug Harry for a print article which we hope he will bring to the next meeting.
Way to go Harry!
I shall not be back now until the fall. Argentina is calling for a month - my blogsite is www.lodgeatpinecove.blogspot.com and I shall be writing little observational essays, as I travel across that lovely land with my backpack - please send it on to the others if that is appropriate. In the fall I may well be off to Argentina for the winter and if not, Devon, UK or Victoria, B.C. I know, I know they are all such boring places but I am looking to find a spot with a bit more warmth and a place where I shall not be bothered a lot. I want to start "really" writing and if Argentina, then I shall also learn Spanish with the hope of reading Neruda, Marquez, Lorca, Borges and all the other great Spanish poets and authors in their own language. W then to see only glimpses of these giants of literature in our part of the world which is a pity.
So, thanks to everyone and I really mean that. You were welcoming, interesting, and full of humour.
All the best,
Just a footnote, Alex has my address and will try to send postcards and notes via snail mail when he can. Aside from that, be sure to check out his blog!
Friday, March 12, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
I emailed the instructor. She was waiting for more people to register and I bugged her repeatedly as I sensed this would be the perfect course for me. I intuitively felt it would be a go.
Finally, in February after numerous emails, Janet emailed me confirming my intuitive hit that we’d start.
This is the strangest course that I’ve ever taken. One woman whatever she wrote in her journal happened. Janet maintained our group was the strangest she’d ever taught. She credited me with making the course happen with my strong belief that it would.
I introduced Janet to Animal Speak by Ted Andrews. It’s about animal totems that we encounter in waking time and dreamtime. Today, Janet continues to thank me for recommending this book.
One week, I believe three of us bought the same book, Callings, Finding and Following an Authentic Life by Gregg Levoy. All of us, were in the process of reading it.
He writes a chapter on awakening to our dreams. He speaks about wake-up calls that influence us to live an authentic life
“Wake up calls, however, change the bottom line. What seemed important before doesn’t now. You have a new set of priorities. When you get sick, work takes a
Ask anybody who has had a near-death experience and visited heaven, how it changes everything in their life. Ask anybody who has experienced a life-threatening disease how it changes everything in their life. And they’ll tell you.
Are you living an authentic life?
Are you living your dreams? (Dreams are the language of the soul.)
Are you writing the story that only you could tell?
And yes, the course influenced me to continue writing. I have fond memories of it. Thanks Janet.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
We had a large crowd on Sunday and most of them brought things to read, which was fabulous! This means we're all writing! We spent a lot of the meeting reading, except Richard who said that he slammed his head in a door and thought he had an epiphany, but discovered it was really a concussion. Let's hope it jarred something and you put the pen to paper again. We're anxiously awaiting Book 3.
Nancy reminded everyone to register for the Brian Henry workshop on March 13 if we haven't already done so. You can contact Brian via his link on the side of our webpage.
We also decided to make a donation of $100 to the church twice a year. Possibly at the end of April and the end of Oct/Nov.
Nancy got Diane (a.k.a. me) to read a couple paragraphs from Natalie Goldberg's Old Friend from Far Away. There had been some questions in the group as to what was best to write with so we think we have that question answered: (I hope!)
Begin to work those muscles. Just like you'd go to the gym every day, or at least three or four times a week, pick up the pen and to these ten-minute exercises. Choose a cheap notebook, in which you are not afraid to make mistakes. Use a fast pen. Try out different ones. Find what suits you. The mind is faster than the hand. Don't slow the hand down more wiht a ballpoint or a pencil. Cover both sides of the page.
But I like a pencil, you say.
Then use it.
What about a computer?
Use that if you like. Only know that handwriting and pressing the keys with your fingers are two different physical activities and a slightly different slant of mind comes out from each one. Not better or worse, just different.
But remember: there are no excuses not to write. You can't say, but I'm in the woods and don't have my computer with me. Learn to be comfortable with the most simple tools. What if you can't afford to pay your electric bill? You should still be able to write.
Often people who use a computer at work prefer handwriting for memoir to create a boundary between their professional and personal writing. Many writers I know do handwritten first drafts. Then they take it to the keyboard.
We all initially learn to handwrite. Arm connected to shoulder, chest, heart. Come back to the beginning. But maybe that's not true anymore. You might be part of the generation that used a computer as your first way to begin to write. If that's so, then use what you know naturally.
We introduced ourselves to Caitlin, a friend of Jayne's who joined us today. She submitted her novel to Humber School for writers, but the teacher doesn't read her genre which is gothic/horror.
Clare announced that his cross to bear is Nancy. The sunny day, and spring fever, made us all a bit crazy.
Judy read "The Bank of Paper Bag" which she had published and showed us at the last meeting.
Harry reminded us that April is National Poetry Month. His group in Owen Sound will be doing poetry readings at the Grey Roots Museum on April 24. Their theme is: Climate Change and Ecology.
Pat read a story called "Retribution" about a lucid dream she had.
June read from an old story she dusted off. Something she wrote years ago.
Richard wondered if there are contests to submit novel manuscripts. If anyone hears of any please pass the information on or post it on the blog.
Alex read a piece about how we are all becoming bland like "Kraft Dinner." We need to be free and "all used up at the end of our lives. To live and be alive.
Clare talked about his Meanderings column and how it was cut from 900 words to 500 or so. It was about the Creole pig in Haiti. That led to a discussion about censorship in writing and art. We talked about Gary Larsen's unpublished cartoons.
Sonja read part of her novel that we are all looking forward to reading someday.
Anita read a wonderful poem by a young friend of hers named Josh. I am adding it to our blog with his permission:
The Colour Red
Red sounds like a Canadian flag waving in the wind.
When red is bright, it's as smooth as silk, but when it's dark, it bursts with anger.
Red tastes like a sweet strawberry that you should savour in your mouth.
Red smells like a young rose on a bright sunny day.
At any time, red can be contained in a heart to symbolize love.
by Josh W. (Age 10)
What a wonderful poem, thank you for sharing that with us Josh and Anita.
THANK YOU to Dorothy as well for the decadent, scruptious, dripping with sugar squares that we all made disappear in record time! WE LOVE YOU AND YOUR TREATS!
We also discussed a group anthology. We began to write one a couple years ago before Len's death and decided this might be a great time to work on it again since we have a whole new group to include. Gloria Nye has offered to edit and put it together for us. We won't have a real theme and every author will maintain full rights to their work (plus get a publishing credit!)
Glenn has moved to Alberta for a few months and won't be with us for a while. If anyone wants to keep in touch, contact Nancy or Diane for mailing information. Nancy will send him our meeting minutes and updates on a regular basis (as regularly as I get them on the blog anyway!) so you can sent notes or whatever via Nancy's mailout.
In closing, Nancy asked if I can post her prompts from this meeting as well. Most of these are very basic prompts from Natalie Goldberg and always good for getting your pen moving when you slam your head in a door and your concussion needs inspiration (right Richard?)
1) What I don't remember is...
2) There are eight good reasons for men to lie.
3) When I die, I'll miss...
4) How poor were you?
Poetry or whatever flows:
Metaphors for a poem: a pitcher of bitterness, a taste of sacrifice, a house of delight, a course of sorrow, a spoonful of delight, a knot of hate. Courtesy of: http://www.creativewritingprompts.com/#
Thanks for the giggles.
See you all at the next meeting March 21, 2010 Clare will be leading.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
From Reading Aloud posted on February 25, 2010 - I've only cut and pasted the last part of the post.
He started with the prompt, what I don’t remember is . . .
When I wrote what I don’t remember in my journal, I held on to the pen so tight that my fingers started to cramp. Oh God, please don’t take me there. A memory from my troubled family home had surfaced. I fought it. I wrote out what I don’t remember is . . . at least five times.
For the last five years, I’d been writing morning pages (The Artist Way by Julia Cameron) and I’d become accustomed to going where the pen took me. I knew if I didn’t go with “flow” that I’d experience writer’s block. So I wrote the dreaded memory.I’d listened to the others read their writing. Most of it contained phrases like what I don’t remember is what I went upstairs for …”
“Nancy,” Ed said. “Would you like to read your piece?”
My voice shook. “I didn’t what to write what I wrote because I knew that I’d have to read it. But I went where the pen took me.”
This is the piece that I wrote on October 25, 2001. I've changed a few words but have left it in its raw state.
WRITING PRACTICE – ED WILDMAN – OCTOBER 25, 2001
What I don’t remember is any love or affection in my family and I don’t know if love ever resided in our home. The violence started when my mother became pregnant with me. My mother told my father that she wanted an abortion, as life had become difficult with two small children and living in a single bedroom upstairs in my grandmother’s house. She couldn’t cope with the idea of another child.
My father flew into a rage and made his first accusation. “THIS BABY ISN’T MINE,” he said.
My mother’s life and mine were doomed. As luck would have it, my mother suffered through three days of labour with a breech birth. My blue eyes condemned me.
“She can’t be mine, my father said. “Those blue eyes don’t come from me.”
The battle lines were drawn.
My parents fighting in the kitchen created my earliest memories. My father is yelling at my mother.
“You and damn bastard child,” he said.
I sit alone in my highchair watching in despair. What kind of insanity is this? Unloved, unwanted cursed with blue eyes. I am the reason my father became a drunk.
My father continues yelling. “You whore. You’re nothing but a whore.
I am my father’s excuse to abuse my mother.
What I remember is my wedding day. The fight the night before had exhausted me. I definitely couldn’t wait to leave my parent’s home. After my mother’s vicious attack, I lay on the floor crying for six hours. I never cried and they wanted to take me to the hospital but I refused.
I remember that the sun shone across the windowpane when I looked up at the thermometer it registered 80 degrees. It felt like a scene from a movie. It seemed like somebody else had taken my place and went through the motions. I observed and smiled.
The happiest day of my life—ruined by my mother’s temper tantrum. My parents’ gifts to me never included happiness.
It felt surreal standing on the lawn of the house that held many secrets. My father had been drinking, what a surprise. They loved the drama.
I sat in a daze in the back of the car that took me to the church. The shock of my mother’s attack still drained me and I continued to observe. I stood at the altar beside my husband to be and watched as a part of me felt locked away. I knew the priest spoke but I couldn’t make out the words.
My husband nudged me and I arrived at a particular scene but exactly where? To this day, my husband kids me that the priest had to ask me twice before I said I do. I never explained that fear and anxiety held me prisoner and I’d left.
Ed just said one more minute to write. Why is this stuff showing up a writing course when I have to read it aloud?
I married on my birthday yet nobody in my family wished me happy birthday but my new husband.
Later, Ed would say, "When Nancy read her writing, she freed the rest of the writers to write."
I've acquired gems from my journal and my writing practice.
Why not try it?
Friday, March 5, 2010
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Posted by The Orangeville Banner.
June 10, 2004
Before The Artist Way, when my husband asked me what I was doing. I’d lie.
“Just trying to figure out what we’re going to have for supper,” I said.
After The Artist Way, I acknowledged that I was a creative being. I decided to admit to daydreaming.
“What are you doing?” my husband asked.
“Just daydreaming.” My husband stared at me with a shocked look on his face.
“Don’t act so shocked. You daydream, too. When I ask you what you’re doing, you always answer nothing. You’re daydreaming.”
I decided he must have thought that daydreaming was punishable by death, too.
It took a lot of courage but after writing for three years, I approached my father.
“Dad, I was just thinking, maybe but quite possibly, I think that I might have a creative personality.” I waited for the bomb to drop and strong profanity to fall from my father’s lips.
“I could have told you that,” my father said. “I’ve known this since you were little.”
I bit my lip. And I wondered why he never told me.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
The following is an excerpt from my journal:
June 10, 2004
It took me a whole lifetime to be myself and it took another lifetime for me to allow myself to be a creative being. It’s not really my mother’s fault. Looking back, I realize that she's a creative being, too. Her parents harassed her for her creative energy, and she harassed me. I’m not totally blameless, as I harassed my daughter.
I didn’t do this on a conscious level. I never realized that my creative side is the part of me that my mother cursed, as her mother cursed her. All I know is that my mother tried to beat creativity, as if it were a cancer, out of me, and I tried to change my daughter’s artistic personality.
As a child, I learned to despise my creative side, as my mother punished me for daydreaming and not working. I tried as my grandmother did and possibly generations of women to turn my creative right-brain daughter into a logical left-brain child.
It didn’t work for me anymore than it worked for my mother. In 1996, after my second near-death experience, I began to explore my creative side. I followed Julia Cameron’s instructions in The Artist Way.
While doing the exercises in The Artist Way, I realised that my parents thought artists were losers who would die penniless or starving to death. My grandparents didn’t want a creative life for their daughter. And my mother surely didn’t like this part of herself anymore than I did.
Daydreaming is a needed activity for creative beings and is not punishable by death. By acknowledging, that I am a daydreamer, I give voice to my creative side. Yet I have denied my daydreaming habit most of my adult life.
TO BE CONTINUED . . .