Category Archives: Just Writin’

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/

Morphing Into a Valentine’s Fan

I don’t buy into the craziness of Valentine’s Day. I get something for the kids so they wake up to a card (yep – I have a  problem with cards too) and little treat. But, that’s usually where the Valentine’s celebration ends. I think it’s a pretty silly day.

Except…

My husband decided to spoil me a little this year.

Last week, I was snappy with everyone. I’m not a talker by nature – I tend to let my irritation, sadness or anger fester. It’s not a good quality and I’m trying to unwind the unhealthiness with my kids. Within my little four-pod, we’re pretty good; in our home, emotions are never embarrassing and talking through things is the norm. But, that doesn’t stop me from falling into old habits and stewing every once in a while.

My husband, fortunately, is more emotionally intelligent than I, so he gave me the opportunity to unload by making time for us to sit together.

I felt immediate relief and have enjoyed the added bonus of a little pampering since, including the flowers and card pictured above.

The (seriously amazing) card didn’t change my opinion of this commercial day, but my husband’s words later in the evening made me desire Valentine’s Day every day.

After a wonderful dinner (that he made), he disappeared upstairs. When I followed a few minutes later, the bath was steaming and candles were lit. “I’m locking the door,” he said as he left the room. From the other side of the locked door came the sexiest words I’d ever heard:

“Kids, you come and get me if you need anything. Do. Not. Bother. Your. Mom.”

Nineteen years married and I fell in love with him all over again Valentine’s Day, 2017.

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Winter Wisdom

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Years ago, the kids were out front building snow forts.  The sun had gone down so I kept an eye on them from the warmth of the house.

When I saw my child ready to eat a handful of snow I hollered, “DON’T EAT SNOW IN THE DARK!” Neighbours, outside at the time, made a point of mocking my choice of words.

I took the ribbing but still remain steadfast in my sentiment: One should not eat snow when lighting does not allow you to see colour variations. Full stop. No exceptions.

We live in a very dog friendly neigbourhood.

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My Place of Persistence

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You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.    -Octavia Butler

This is my blanket apology for potentially pointless, grammatically challenged drivel. It’s to be applied retroactively and to all future posts.

Chasing Clever is my little space in the world to write – a place that forces some accountability –  but I make no promise of it being good, entertaining, moving or grammatically correct. One day (hopefully!) but I’m a work in progress.

I spend a lot of time staring at the ‘Publish’ button asking myself why I want to throw my words out into the world. Will they make a difference? Does it matter if they make a difference?

After a first draft I ask myself if I’d be comfortable telling a family member or friend what I’ve written. This question is usually cringe-worthy, forcing me to put the piece away for another day. I am a private person so my desire to write is often at odds with my lifelong aspiration of invisibility.

Instead of clicking on ‘Publish’ I obsessively mull over where and how my writing fits. I try to work out what my focus should be – the niche all the experts say is necessary.

But, I have no niche.

I will rarely put my thoughts into a coherent order and I’ll never use words as eloquently as I’d like to, but writing is a compulsion that I’m going to give in to for now.

Chasing Clever is my place of persistence.

You’ve been warned…