Hello, June.

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I didn’t get to enjoy June’s entrance thanks to a flu that knocked me down for a week. Able to (somewhat) function today, I made it outside to see that most of my lilac is on the ground and I missed the bloom of the alliums.

So, I did what any rational flu-recovering individual would do: I grabbed my camera to stand in the drizzling rain in order to capture the last bit of spring.

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Buried Words. Blank Page.

notebook-731212_1920I had to force myself out of bed this morning to go for a walk. I was late, so it turned out to be a short one but I was rewarded for my newfound commitment with the beauty of the rising sun reflecting in the bay, colourful tulip gardens, and blossoming trees along my favourite path.

I returned to my house only to be slapped from my reverie with some good ole teenage snark. Thankfully, contentment was restored when my husband and I had an in-depth chat about a novel idea that I’ve been working on for a few months. After twenty minutes of lobbing story possibilities back and forth, I was ready to hit my desk and power out character sketches, scene ideas and a blog post.

But, then I checked the news.

I clicked on a video that brought tears to my eyes. Horrific human behaviour. What is happening?

There’s a heaviness now; my words are buried under sorrow, disbelief, and confusion. Optimism will return soon, I’m sure, but I’m having a hard time writing through the headlines lately.

Photo Credit:  https://pixabay.com/en/notebook-paper-page-empty-blank-731212/

 

Writing and the Stink of Forgotten Laundry

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I’m having a terrible time writing today.

Write. Delete. Write. Delete.

I write four posts that I’m not happy with. The concepts are okay but the execution is lacking, none of them feel finished. I try to edit but that doesn’t go well — my inner Mean Editor Lady screams for me to trash it.

For a change of pace, I flip to my homework. I read through some narrative voice examples and begin to feel a sense of excitement for a character I’ve been trying to develop for months. There’s a distance from her that I haven’t been able to close but I think I might finally have it figured out.

I grab my character notes but scribble only a few lines before I’m distracted by a rough draft of my character’s first scene. Mean Editor Lady slaps her bifocals back on and begins to rip apart every sentence, “What are you playing at, silly girl. Your idea is good, perhaps you could tell it to someone who can write.

A successful day of writing for me is a little like congratulating myself for putting a load of laundry in the washer. “Way to get things done, Kath! You’re amazing. Awesome job knocking down that To-Do list.” Riding a euphoric wave of accomplishment back upstairs, seven other things distract me and I forget about the washer until the dank stink of neglect settles into the fibres of every shirt and unmentionable contained within.

My words have been permeated with stink. I’ve let myself get distracted, leaving projects too long. Here’s hoping that, like that extra splash of detergent added to the family’s clothes as they swish through a rinse cycle, a little editing will flush the stench.

It’s All In How You Think About It

narrative-794978_1920I am a forty-year-old woman sitting in the library, writing. I alternate between daydreaming and racing to scribble down ideas before they’re lost like wisps of smoke to the wind. I feel the heft of recent life changes — specifically, my focus on writing — so intensely some days that I can’t summon any words.

But, today I think:

I am a forty-year-old woman sitting in the library, writing. How amazing is that? I’m starting from scratch, and I’m fortunate enough to be in the library nestled amongst books. I’m in the one place where anything, and everything, is possible. I am so fortunate.

Photo Credit:  https://pixabay.com/en/narrative-history-dream-tell-794978/

 

When I Grow Up…

bookshelf-1082309_1920When I was little, around six or seven, I used to play Library. My friend had a big empty room with two bookshelves at the far end that made me giddy every time I was at her house. Once in a while, she would give in to my bookish whims and allow me to dig out paper and stamps so we could write library checkout cards. I loved pulling books off the shelves and talking with my imaginary library patrons. There was always a lineup.

I won’t admit to how often I played library at home by myself. Sometimes, my parents would take pity and I’d have a real-life customer, but for the most part my imagination sustained me. At this point, you might be thinking ‘What a lonely, dorky child she must have been.’  You’d only be half right, though — I wasn’t lonely at all.

I don’t know if I ever voiced it, but I so desperately wanted to be a librarian. The coolest job in the world. As time passed, that particular career started to lose its lustre but my love of books continued (okay, intensified).

In grade two, a story I’d written was chosen for lamination. The pride I felt, knowing that my bunny tale was good enough to be plasticized, was almost too much for me to tamp down. There was a celebratory parade in my belly complete with fireworks, confetti and party horns.

I dreamt of being an writer, not based on innate talent but on my love of books. I largely kept that dream to myself, though, always feeling like it was too lofty a goal — not the stuff real life is made of.

When high school rolled around, I was surprised at my dislike of English class. I loved reading but I didn’t like being told what to read. King Lear was not my thing. ‘If you don’t like the classics,‘ I’d tell myself, ‘then you can’t be a writer. You’re obviously missing something.‘ Every red circle or edit on an assignment further cemented, in my mind, that I needed to find another profession. Thus, any lingering author aspirations were quashed.

I continued to write but without any nagging thoughts that my words were anything other than a way to maintain a quasi-acceptable level of sanity.

But, starting to write a blog for my business twelve years ago rekindled my long-buried passion for writing and I’ve come to realize there’s only one answer to what I want to be when I grow up:  A writer.

Photo Credit:https://pixabay.com/en/bookshelf-old-library-old-books-1082309/

A Mostly Postless March

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I’ve had a lot of time to ponder life recently, thanks to a mild case of middle of the night insomnia. I looked it up – it’s a real thing, complete with its own abbreviation: MOTN. It’s also referred to as middle insomnia, which is the name I like best – like Middle-earth only less exciting and more annoying.

Anyway, MOTN has given me time to reflect on the absence of writing here. In the wee hours of the morning, I think: It’s not for lack of tryingI’ve just used up all of my words between work and writing classes. Then, I debate posting a recent assignment instead of attempting a new post but, somehow, that feels like cheating.

I begin to imagine that I really did use up my words — that I’d been so prolific I eliminated half my vocabulary.

What would happen if words did have an expiry date or maximum use limit?

It might be wonderful — being able to permanently delete words that irritate me. With the lights out, I would grab my favourite blanket and curl into the fetal position to prepare for battle: panties panties panties panties panties. I’d rely on my husband to bring me water when I was parched, and be my cheerleader when I wanted to give up. ‘Panties’ would be no more.

Then, I’d support my husband as he prepared for a fight of his own: titch titch titch titch titch. Okay, if I’m honest, I’d probably sabotage him. I’d tell him the wrong word limit or interrupt him with endless “emergencies” because it would be too sad for me to lose the word. I slip ‘titch’ into general conversation whenever I can because his hatred for it is most entertaining.

We may not mourn the words titch’ or ‘panties’ but the loss of  ‘I’, ‘no’, or ‘water’ would be much more significant. Would they be replaced by new words with the same meaning? How would we learn about the replacement? Would there be a warning or would we be left speechless unexpectedly?

This is how my mind works at 3 a.m.

At least I have lots of questions to add to my ideas folder – a possible story to flesh out, perhaps. So…thanks, middle insomnia.

Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/users/congerdesign-509903/

Great TV, Grief, and Sharing Our Stories

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I’m in love with This Is Us. In love.

At the end of each episode, I’m usually muttering ‘…such a stupid show’ through tears as I bemoan having to wait another week for more.

Months ago, my sister told me about a video she’d seen online about a family losing their pet. It brought us to the topic of how much people share online, and why. The conversation has stuck with me and often gives me pause as I write. Watching This Is Us has reminded me why it’s so wonderful that people share their stories; how important it is.

After watching an episode late the other night, I curled up in bed looking through my bedroom door. I looked past the silhouette of the bookshelves to the place my two children often stand to chat as they expertly delay their bedtime. I slowly brought my focus back into my bedroom, to a shelf that holds the memory of my child that was never given the opportunity to pester me with questions instead of going to bed. The baby I’ve never been able to snap at in nighttime frustration – sending her to bed to nestle under the covers beside her twin sister.

I’ve never stood outside my girls’ bedroom, telling them to stop playing and get to sleep, while I quietly revel in their sisterly goofing around.

I wish This Is Us had been on ten years ago. Watching one of the story lines unfold so beautifully – the complexity and interplay of joy and sorrow – has reminded me how I struggled bringing only one of our daughters home from the hospital. I held the social worker’s words of advice close and searched online to find more information about what my little girl, sleeping in her swing, would feel and go through as she neared adolescence. I sought online help to figure out what I could do to fill the void my daughter would feel having lost an immense piece of herself before she could even comprehend such a loss.

I found many touching stories online but little that was specific to the loss of a twin. Through the years, I’ve written a bit about my experience but it was cathartic writing, not anything I wanted to share. I was too close to it, and didn’t want my words to be a call for sympathy.

But, I’ve arrived at a place where I feel like I am closer to knowing the answer to why I write and, more importantly, why I would want to share. This Is Us has reminded me how alone I still feel sometimes — forever bound in that stinging ether between joy and sorrow.

Grief is a taboo subject. It is rife with cliches and a deep desire from onlookers for the griever’s raw emotion to be subdued or, at the very least,  packaged in a socially acceptable box wrapped with a colourful ribbon that screams, “I’ll be okay. Go about your business. I got this.”

Grief, though, is an asshole and isn’t going anywhere. Watching Rebecca and Jack’s story helped me remember the painful moments while feeling a little less alone.