Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Reverb 10

Have signed on for this December challenge, which goes all month. Am liking the idea of reflecting and manifesting. Thanks to Kyran Pittman for pointing me there.

Here's the first day's assignment:

December 1 One Word.
Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?
(Author: Gwen Bell)

My response: ‘Endings’ (I liked completion too) This was a year of lost loved ones and coming to the end of writing projects. I’d like to think next year’s word will be ‘Beginnings’ – beginning to add loved ones, and fresh writing projects.
New Beginnings. Begin at the end, and start again.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Art Every Day in November

Despite a rough start, I've surpassed my November editing expectations, and although there's still a fair bit to do, I'm optimistic that I will be finished the fifth draft of 480 pages by Dec. 15. This has been a good month for my noveling elective as well. Nothing like five young devoted writers to practise the craft with.

My twin has introduced me to the idea that November isn't just for noveling, it's for some type of art every day. She has managed to include such forms as knitting, cooking, creating comedy jokes, writing - both long form, on a novel she began some years ago, and short form, speed haiku while traveling between jobs. I've been inspired to keep thinking creatively, even when the minutia of daily life pulls me in a thousand directions.

I had a wonderful long weekend in Texas, reaffirming my faith in love, and mine in particular, and taking a jewelry making class with my friend Tammy. Less than a month until that 2+ week vacation! Light at the end of the tunnel.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Deadlines Coming and Going & NANOWRIMO

Tomorrow is November 1. Since 2006, I have participated to some degree in NANOWRIMO, an international novel writing challenge that got my first 200 pages under me in 30 days back in that heady first year. It took another 3 plus years to get the next 282 pages done, so you can perhaps imagine the frenzied scribbling and typing that took place in that one frantic month. I have a huge soft spot for NANO because without the grip and gravity of those first 200 pages to anchor me, I'd probably still be back at about page 8, with perhaps two or three little one pagers - my previous specialty - to throw in.

Truthfully, I haven't been an orthodox participant in the competition since 2006, but every year I sign up and use the NANO website, forums, and sheer nerdy energy to power through some difficult rewrites and editing. Rather than begin a totally new project, I commit to visiting with my novel every day in the month of November. It isn't enough, but for someone with a full time job, that often feels like full time and a half, it's still really good.

This year, for the first time, I am leading a Novel Writing Elective and have signed our group up to the YWP to help motivate us and track our progress. I am excited about that and also about finding the time, despite their being really none available, to edit and revise every day in November. As per NANO'S quote, it will be 30 Days and Nights of Literary Abandon.

That said, I have a real deadline now. I have an editor scheduled to read my entire main manuscript on December 15, and that will be a combination of helpful and horrifying, no doubt. That deadline seemed far off in the impossible distance when I booked it months ago, and now here it is, looming large. I have so many things to work on in the edits, I just hope I can fit another full go through in with the time I have.

In class, I am using a YA novel/memoir (still just a first draft jointly written by my twin and I) to occasionally provide exemplars of a given element. That will be my November class project, given its suitability. So that's where things stand now.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Back to Life - Voted for a Mayor for the 1st Time Today

Short blog to say I'm going to try to get back on the Blog Roll. Low period of family loss - 2 grandparents in 6 weeks - (Spring of our discontent) has been followed by an Autumn return of creativity. Working on figuring out how to maintain my voice, with some caution, while working full time, in a job that requires discretion. But very pleased to state that I made it out to vote for a mayor tonight. Two siblings are now blogging pretty regularly, with specific missions, (finance for frat boys - NOT G rated for sharing, and buying nothing new for a year) and I'm feeling inspired by their output.

Noveling is going well - am now well into Draft 5 of the big project. Self-imposed editorial deadline of Dec. 15 to move me along.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Guest Blog by My Twin, Tara - Hard News

I am struggling tonight as I just heard that my Dad's father, Poppy, fell and broke his hip tonight. I got to speak to him briefly, but he was already sounding a bit doped, as they'd given him some pain meds. He's 88. Essentially he is the absolute heart and soul of our family. He is our centre. We've all come from him, look to him, and owe him a debt of some kind. Some emotional kind. He is an orphan who got to live his version of a dream by creating a giant, sprawling family. His village is the place I fondly refer to as my 'ancestral homeland'.

When he had a stroke, more than 12 years ago, I was lucky enough to be there to ride in the ambulance with him the almost two hour ride into the city. He soon after learned to use a computer for the first time (since he could no longer build boats and fix engines) and wrote his memoirs. We happen to be currently in the process of ordering family copies of his updated version of the memoirs (280 pages, which include the history of the community in Newfoundland where he lived, and also, of our family tree as it grew).

Around 3 years ago, I was there the night he had a heart attack, and shared in the sense of blame we all nursed about him eating a 'big feed of salmon and having some wine'. Later he had to remind us more than once that having a good feed, and a drink from time to time was one of life's pleasures, and in his late 80's that was no small thing. His nickname in our family and the community is the Skipper. This is a respected term, as he has captained more than a few boats. No matter that I am 40, I will never be ready to lose my grandfather. Tonight, as I await news, I am tearful and bereft. We are all children when it comes to facing the fragility or mortality of our elders. I have been so fortunate in reaching 40 with 3 grandparents still in my life, but strangely, this in no way makes me feel prepared for any kind of bad. Here's wishing my Poppy safety through the night and I guess I thank the universe for this yucky reminder of what is most, most important to me and many of us.

xo Tara

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Indignities of Air Travel

I had some extra time to indulge in Moving Meditations yesterday. I was returning from Texas to Toronto, via Montreal. I guess that was my first mistake. When you take a points ticket that involves a connection, I now know a) not to make it through Montreal and b) not to have your connection be your customs spot. I would have been better off stagnating in Atlanta or almost anywhere.

What happened was that my flight was slightly late taking off from Houston, and slightly late landing. That didn't seem so problematic. They even expedited customs and had a special super fast line through for connecting passengers. I breezed past many hundreds of unhappy regular travelers, and was through in minutes. The logjam was oddly on the way out, after we'd picked up our luggage and had to drop it back off. We couldn't get out of the customs area and to the secondary luggage drop - because there were so many people and no one working there to guide/advise us. By the time I got to the front of the line, I was flagged as being too late to make my flight, and shunted off to a side lane, where a friendly and helpful (though clearly harassed and hurried) agent, was tasked with rebooking me on a later flight to Toronto.

The last time I had a connection through Montreal it ended up in a delay where I had to spend the night at my own expense. I was directed to a Holiday Inn where I was given a room on the second floor - in a hotel with NO ELEVATOR! This was another Air Canada flight, meaning one where I was able to bring two heavy bags, and did. After a brief attempt to drag one up the stairs, I gave up and simply dragged myself up, leaving the bags with the night desk clerk.

So, I was pretty pleased to find myself booked onto a later flight that was a mere hour later than the original. After the agent handed me my new boarding pass and retagged my luggage, I was urged to hurry and drop off the suitcase and head back through security and to the new gate.

There was barely time for a compensatory pint, (none at all for poutine or food of any kind besides a cookie) and I was at the gate in time for boarding. Just as I was handing the new boarding pass to the gate agent, it struck me: this new ticket was NOT IN MY NAME! I explained the situation in a milder panic than if I had still been in the States, but for whatever reason, the rebooking agent had rebooked me on the later flight as Carol Lombardi - and tagged my checked bag in her name for good measure. The new flight was boarding, and there was no time to lose. The gate agent, an older man, was friendly and helpful, but also harried. He looked me up, and said I didn't exist, but worked some airline voodoo and rebooked me again. At this very moment, the gate printer quit working, so he wrote my boarding pass in his own shaky hand. It included my name, seat, and flight number, and after handing me something that looked like it came off a 1990 dot matrix printer - which was my new bagtag, he waved me onto the plane.

A few moments after everyone was seated, there was a message from the cockpit that we had a 'no show' passenger with a checked bag that had to be removed for security purposes before we could take off. This happens on about every other flight I take, so it took a moment for me to react. I pressed the page button and spoke to two flight attendants in some distress, trying to find out if the bag being removed belonged to my alter-ego 'Carol Lombardi'. Alas, they refused to give me any info and said it was too late. I would simply have to wait until Toronto; there was nothing they could do to stop this once it was in motion.

I got to Toronto finally. Waited a long time beside an empty luggage carousel, and had some difficulty explaining my situation, but eventually, the luggage agents understood and believed. What I didn't know was when (or even if) ALL my clothes (and my new spring ones) would arrive. Happily, the answer was a little under 24 hours later. So, thank you to the people who found them, and thank you to Carol Lombardi, who I assume had right of first refusal, and let me have my stuff.

Back to work tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Insomnia is OK when it's a good insomnia

Short post.
I've been awake since one a.m. And, for a happy change, not because I'm imagining bugs crawling in my ears or rats running under my bed. Instead, for the first time in ages, I'm awake because my story is back as the dominant running narrative and theme in my mind. It won't shut off, and that's a great reason to be awake.
I don't, however, need for the insomnia to become a frequently recurring theme in my life, given that there are only a few days of March Break left, but right now, I'm banking on a Pre-St. Paddy's Day afternoon nap to shore me up, after plenty of extra predawn hours in the writing bank.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Happy International Women's Day!!!

I celebrated this day more on Friday, when I helped to host an event for nearly 300 homeless women. It's an event that I've been part of for maybe 8 years now, and every year I spend a portion of it in tears, and a portion laughing hysterically. All this being good, of course.

I think that this year's role, reception, was a bit hard for me, because I couldn't leave my post, where in the past, I've managed this kitchen and served and so been moving constantly. This year, I had to face a few things - even conflicts - that I struggle with. But the overwhelming tone was positive and so lovely. It was also a beautiful day, which didn't hurt. The hall was decorated more extravagantly than ever, and in addition to being served a wonderful meal, plenty of door prizes and a gift bag for every guest, a number of them even got manicures on the spot. Quite a day for all of us. It's a day that keeps you on your feet, but thinking and reflecting constantly, and a day that makes you feel lucky and blessed. I hope to be a part of it for many more years.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

End of the Olympics Much Like the Day after Prom

As a writer, (and as a Canadian!) I have to apologize for the exclamation mark abuse in my last blog post, but hey - it was the Olympics and I was feeling the excitement in superlatives.

I had so much fun even though it was a very compressed time. We spent a lot of time in the streets, which were pulsing and throbbing at all hours with red and white, some time in pubs and pavillions and a long stretch in the Molson Canadian Hockey House, where thanks to a very good friend, we were set up in the ultimate VIP luxury. Strangers and friends all melding. All in all, despite having booked too late to actually get official tickets, we thoroughly loved and experienced the Olympics.

Monday, though, the day after the Olympics, wandering through the downtown area, killing time before heading to the airport a recommended four hours early, it was quite a different story.
It was like the day after prom: Everyone was wandering around in a daze, disheveled, wearing last night's finery, in some form, as they began to tear down the many weathered decorations bemoaning the fact that it had all gone by so fast. Still, despite the Olympic hangovers most of them were nursing, everyone agreed, we had all gotten lucky. Yup, it was the prom all over. Just longer-lasting, and we didn't have to wear those cruel shoes that pinched and chaffed.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Years, The Days, This Weekend

I've just finished another major milestone of the school year - this term's reports. And not to ride on my sister's coattails - since I actually turned her on to the book - but really relating to her post today, quoting Gretchen Rubin (of The Happiness Project) who's major ah-ha moment was 'the days are long but the years are short.'

I think every year it feels a bit more like that, but as my own mortality smacks me in the face a little harder these days, it makes sense to think along those lines and do what feels right as a result. Whether that means being nicer, working smarter, making time for people I love and like, or just doing the creative and genuine things that mean most to me, I need to consider my time and space.

This weekend I'm going to the Olympics in Vancouver! It was a very last minute decision, based more on a 'why waste this nearly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity' than the kind of naysaying that says 'it's too hard and too expensive to go so far for just a quick weekend.' Instead, we decided that it was worth the time, effort, and money, and we would just go for it. After all, we might be in our seventies by the time the Olympics come back to Canada! We've gotta go!

P.S. I'm knitting red mittens for my twin - who in her blog - has recounted her red Olympic mitten tribulations. They aren't official Olympic merch, but they're made of a rich pashmina red yarn, and she already loves them, in their half complete state. And, there's no way they can be quite as mismatched as my original freakshow pair. Go Canada!

Friday, February 19, 2010

My Netbook/Knitbook Cover

In all it's handknit glory. Try as I might, I could not find a store-bought cover in the right miniature size for this teensy computer. So now I've created the well matched combination of my very own knitting cradling my writing machine in cushioned safety.

I often think of my novel-in-progress as I do my knitting works-in-progress: there are holes with the potential for unraveling the whole. Those are the ones I've got to find and stop up. Then there are the stitches that hold everything together. Not necessarily the noticeable ones, but the ones with all the strength and structure weighing on their shoulders. Those are the ones I want to test - pull at and see if they hold fast and stay true.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lenten Vows

Here's my lenten vow, made in some haste, and no doubt to be repented at leisure (as per ma belle jumelle): I'm going to stop taking taxis to work. This will take some effort on my part, and will provide considerable relief to my pocketbook. Not sure if I can tackle too many other vows, but I'm trying to stay positive. This one won't be affected by my trip to the Olympics next weekend either! Very excited about this opportunity, as afforded by my lovely and loving husband.

So, for the duration of Lent, I will rise a little earlier, and spend much less money, but a lot more time, getting to work.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Anatomical Heart for Valentine's Day

Not sure my fingers are up for this challenge, but I am certainly considering it. Like the idea of making something and not buying it. And the anatomical heart is so much more masculine than the commercial heart. Of course, my husband doesn't need any extra hearts, because he's already got mine. But this is pretty adorable.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Gretchen and Me

Tonight I went to hear Gretchen Rubin speak at Indigo in Toronto. She was lovely and warm and friendly and encouraging. She even remembered my twin's buy nothing new blog! Took time to make personal comments and offer support. Kind of amazing really. She was very open to getting a photo. Apologies for fuzzy blackberry photo quality.
Such an energizing and happy encounter, however brief! She's the real deal. Thanks, Gretchen.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

My First Mittens

Readers may find it beggars belief, but these same hands knit both of these mittens. Sadly, the perfect mitten was the first 'knitten'. It took me all of twenty-four hours under the watchful eye of my expert Nanny S. in Newfoundland. Clearly, I was able to channel the skill of my Newfoundland Foremothers on this one, not to mention ask my grandmother every step of the way what I should do next. No pattern by the way - just frequent trying-ons.

The second mitten, after returning to the Big Smoke, took over a month of dithering and was completed finally on the inaugural Friday Night Knitting Club just held here. It looks like it was made more for an Alien than human hand. What may not be clear are what look like several pairs of tiny vampire teethmarks, scattered around the second, deeply flawed mitt.

Along with living in infamy on the internet, this pair may be headed straight for a glassed-in frame on the wall where they can be preserved for posterity. For now, I am still a Newfie Princess in training.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Unlikely Injuries

Although I once assumed that cutting myself quite badly on a piece of salsa was the most unlikely injury imaginable, I was mistaken. It turns out I have been the unwitting architect of considerable misery for my friend, Jeannie, who broke a tooth eating my undeniably delicious turkey soup.
Worse, to me, is that she didn't want to tell me. Not to mention the fact that I made the soup while staying at her weekend house, and in some respects, under her supervision. Well, I am heartily sorry, Jeannie, and I hope you got to enjoy some of the soup before it ruined your week. xo Tena

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Feels Like I've Finished Principal Photography on Titanic

And I don't mean in that sinking ship way, more in that the biggest part of capturing it all on film is done. Now I'm in the zoomed in stage doing some reshoots, closeups, maybe even a little C.G.I. and definitely some cutting and pasting. The stuff you do once the cast has mostly gone home, and you're pretty much on your own. But I'm happy to be at this stage. Many times it would have been hard to imagine ever arriving here.
I've got this lovely new little red netbook that I can carry on one finger, so I'm instantly more portable and motivated to work on the move. Looking forward to hoisting anchor and picking up some speed on the open ocean. Think good thoughts for me. I'm going to need them as I navigate around.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Moving Onward - writing and life

It's been quite a week - end of holidays is always a little hard to swallow, and the fact that my husband lives in another country, makes the end even more difficult. It's fine when we say goodbye after a regular weekend together, but after three weeks in the same place, goodbye is suddenly infused with regret and longing.

But, I'm happy to report that I'm still actively engaged in living my resolutions. Here's a little update on some:

- I finished my third draft of WIP and printed off all 468 pages of it, for myself and the early readers. Half my toner on the new printer is already gone!
- I'm moving on energetically with the equally important revising/editing stage.
- I'm more consistent with my online updates.
- I have been clutter busting like mad, getting ready for the painter friend who is going to make my bedroom and office more lovely and welcoming and less penitentiary-like in colour.
- I'm breathing more.
- I've been to the library with my brand new library card for a visit that felt a lot like Christmas morning!
- I'm connecting with/calling all my homes more - especially my grandparents - special love to Nanny S. who is about to go into the hospital for surgery on Monday.
- I'm walking, stretching, taking vitamins, and packing my lunch.
- Although I'm not officially buying nothing new, I'm moderately following in my twin's ambitious footsteps and buying very little new, and I'm SAVING!
- I'm taking fewer taxis, using my transit pass.
- I am re-inhabiting my house. It feels more like home again.
- I'm embracing employment and enjoying doing the best I can at what I do.
- I am appreciating my many and varied relationships.
- I'm remembering to be grateful.

Now, to get back to the dentist, relax occasionally, finish knitting that second mitten, and conquer fear! Ha! Yes, these are the tough ones!

I hope you are staying warm and doing whatever you planned for yourself this January.