Friday, March 30, 2012

Encounter at an Art Show

I met someone last night who could only be described as vile
Her gimlet eyes and waspish voice
Insulted me with their aluminum sound
Scraping on nerves already raw with fatigue
Who are you to tell me I am wrong
You who has known me for under a minute
And yet
Your words sting
You insect
Inflicting venom with your comments
Words pierce sharper than daggers and cut as deep
Would that I could squash you. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Love Note to Libraries

A love note to the book trailer of my youth

Dear Book Trailer,

I remember the way your metal sides and portable stairs winked at me in the sunshine inviting me in.  I remember the magic of stepping through the narrow door and being surrounded by colorful spines and the smell of paper.  I remember thinking the librarian the most glamorous person in the world and taking joy in the way she stamped the borrower's card inside the front cover pronouncing the book mine for a time.  I remember the sense of continuity of all the stamps that came before mine.  The shared legacy of reading.  And I remember the day I found my favourite book hidden among the titles and how it changed my life forever.  I remember falling in love with books in that small space, a fantastical world on wheels that landed in the parking lot outside the grocery store once every month and let me discover its secrets for free all the while giving me something that money could never buy.

I Must Be Crazy

It's almost spring.  For me that means looking forward to 3 months off work.  Yes, I am one of the lucky people in the world who has summers off.  I have time.  Time to putter, to hang out at the cottage, to read, to do some artwork and, of course, to write.  You would think that I'd take it easy knowing that I have all this free time coming up.  Instead I've decided to start on two projects that will catapult me into the writing habit and give me some much needed accountability.

The first is NaPoWriMo or 30 poems in 30 days.  I am a poet by nature I suppose.  I find it much easier to work through things in freeverse.  So beginning April 1st I'll be putting that to the test.  I finished NaNoWriMo last year.  I figure if I can do that I can do this.  I'm sure going to try.

The second is of my own doing.  I'm writing a novel.  Nothing so unusual in that. But this time I'm inviting people to follow along.  Beginning May 1, 2012, I'll be blogging my novel at 500 words a day for 365 days.  That is a much scarier prospect.  500 words seems do-able, it's doing it for 365 days that seems daunting.  I am known to have a small problem with boredom, not to mention the random bouts of menopausal depression that seem intent on derailing any creative energy that makes an appearance. However, I am going to do my best to kick my hormones in the ass and get some words out.  I hope you'll come with me for the ride.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Metal taste
Like blood
In the back of your throat
Bile rising in a bid for escape
Internal poison
Swallowed whole
Sinks like a stone
A shipwreck
Rusted tomb
Hidden in the murky waters
Invisible on the surface
Where everything is fine

The Wolf

It’s hiding in the dark,
Yellow eyes  watching;
Waiting for the right moment .
Until I think it’s moved on,
Until I start to relax.
I look for signs like footprints in the snow to see if it is stalking. 
I wake up and listen to the house. 
Is it too quiet?
If I stop watching, stop keeping it at bay
It will rip me open.
I want to kill the wolf. 
Hunt it down and shoot it dead.
 I want its yellow eyes to glaze over.
I want its skin to turn to paper. 
I want to walk across its grave and laugh. 
But it’s growing dark now
And somewhere the wolf is  hiding.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Working up a new story.  This is the way I do it.


Sifting through the ashes of
Someone else’s life
She finds
A Letter
An imaginary lover
Is out there somewhere
Awaiting a reply
Not knowing there is none forthcoming
In a moment she decides to be
To live a life belonging to someone else
Someone who may have died alone
Who may have hesitated a bit too long
Someone who was loved
She breaks the seal and hesitates
But only for a moment
Because she can’t bring herself to believe that it’s wrong

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Real Writer

Not long ago our neighbour, who is a teacher, asked if I would look at a short story that had been written by one of her students.  She’d been telling the class that she lived next door to a “real writer”.  She knew that I liked to write because I, like an idiot, had told her so.  I thanked her for the compliment but demurred.  I suggested she approach the well known novelist who lived around the corner.  But she was insistent.  Finally I agreed to read her student’s short story and immediately had an epic bout of impostor syndrome.
While it’s true that I write and write nearly daily, have a novel, young adult novel, various short stories and a bagful of poems under my belt, I was uncomfortable with her calling me a real writer.  There could only be one reason for these sudden feelings of inadequacy.   I haven’t been published.  Even as I write that I feel somewhat ashamed.  It’s like my writing life is a dirty little secret instead of something that I should be proud of.  Tell anyone you write and the dreaded ‘have you been published’ question is the first thing out of their mouths.  But not this time, this time I was, for the first time, dubbed a real writer.
As I read this student’s story (all 28 pages of it) I found myself mentally critiquing it.  She was too wordy, she constantly shifted tense, her characters did a lot of talking without saying much and the plot was weak.  Did I mention that the author was in fifth grade?  My neighbour told me how this child loved to write.  It was natural for her.  It reminded me of myself, as a child, excitedly writing a very dramatic and angst ridden short story for 8th grade English.  I loved to write too.  I thought that I was pretty good.  But what I needed at that age was for someone to tell me so. 
I remember approaching my teacher,  Mr. Brown,  at his desk, paper in hand, sure of the praise I was about to receive.   He had a rumpled, unkempt, scholarly look and I couldn’t wait to show him what I’d written.  I always think of that moment as pivotal to the psyche of my newly hatched writing desires.   As I got closer to the desk I remember that Mr. Brown had seemed distracted.  Perhaps he had trouble at home, maybe he’d had a bad performance review or he’d wanted ham instead of salami for lunch, I’ll never know.  But suddenly I felt hesitant sure that his mood was somehow my fault.  I should have gone back to my desk right then.  Instead I said, “Mr. Brown could you look at what I’ve written so far?”
 Now every writer knows that it was more than 2B lead on newsprint paper that I was handing over.  It was much more.  I loved my story.  I thought it was great.  But I needed to hear him say it.  I needed to hear him say “You’re a really good writer Angel.  You should keep writing.”  Only he didn’t.  All l got was a half hearted wave of the hand and a “yes, yes Angel it’s good”.  What was that supposed to mean exactly?  Did it mean ‘yes, you are a great writer but I’ve got students with real problems to deal with’? or was it a casual brush off to a mediocre writer?  I don’t even remember what mark I got on my story.   But I will always remember that dismissal and in that moment any confidence I had in my writing was waved away like so many eraser crumbs.  
 This young lady whose paper I held in my hands loved to write and she believed in herself.  I realized that what I thought didn’t matter.  It was what she thought of herself that made all the difference.  I wish I knew that then.   I wish Mr. Brown did.

When I finished her story, I stacked the paper neatly and wrote this on the front page.
“Dear Eunice, 
You are a great writer.  I loved your story and the colourful characters you’ve created.  I’m sure I will see you published one day.  Keep writing.”
I hope that she does.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


and so it is that I am me/and not who I pretend to be/ the die was cast/ the plot foretold/this wisdom came from growing old

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Running on Empty

Twitter.  It's kind of like high school.  But back then I was popular.  And young.  Now I sit in the slush pile of writing wannabes scanning tweets for writing tips and probable locales likely to feature the kind of thing I want to write.  Or should I say the kind of thing I do write.  What I do write are ideas.  I'm in love with them.  I'm addicted to  the burst of adrenaline that rivals any energy drink on the market when I get a new idea.  I smile at everyone, think the world is amazing and humans are wonderful.  It is a high that nothing else comes close to.  The thing is, just as quickly as it comes, fickle lover that it is, it evaporates.  Fireworks and then the glittery falling apart that leaves black sky and wisps of smoke in its wake. 
I've come to this conclusion.  It's very hard to be a writer when you can't fan those flames. And therein lies the rub.  I can't seem to get past it.  That's not entirely true.  If I am extremely disciplined I can do it.  I once wrote a childrens' novel just to see if I could.  I entered Nanowrimo and finished.  But have I edited either one?  Nope.
So the answer is discipline.  Cool.  But when the sink is overflowing and my full time job has me drained where is that spark then?  It's dancing with someone else.  Someone younger and more energetic. Someone with a flat stomach.  So cliche.    I mentioned in a previous post that I turn my ideas into freeverse or risk losing them completely and that works to preserve them.  It's the literary equivalent of  Botox.  But when I run across these beautiful beginnings while adding yet another best selling idea  to my ever expanding notebook and see them looking so good it literally pains me.  I gaze at them longingly willing any one of them to step forward and take my hand and lead it across the page in a waltz of words. Too much? 
To say I'm frustrated is an understatement.  It's times like this that I usually sit myself at my computer and berate myself for being such a shitty writer; a true impostor and then a curious thing happens.  While I'm telling myself I will never amount to anything and that I will die on a mattress stuffed with hardcopies of magnificent undiscovered manuscripts I will idea.  And so it goes.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Sea in Relentless Pursuit

An empty vessel
Tiny boat
Battered and cast adrift
Rolled over and righted
In a momentary sense of balance
And then
The waves crash down
Splitting it in two
Rendering it to splinters
That stab at
What’s left
And then
When the sea calms
The fragments bob
In a meandering fashion
Useless pieces swallowed whole

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Window

There is a window in her room
The one she sits at
Day after day
Watching the life she used to know
Stroll by
Hand in hand or pushing a stroller
She rubs her empty palms now and then
So that the blood will flow
Although she wonders
It wouldn’t be better to let it dry up
Her eyes mist over at remembered kisses
Forgotten moments jump to the fore
And as she drifts she dances
Eyes closed humming a tune
 The glass is fogging over
She decides that
The plant on the windowsill
Looks lonely