Digging Deep: The Agnony of Revisions

My dog is an opportunist she watches perched on top of her chair and waits patiently as I prep dinner in the kitchen.  She always  knows there are morsels of scraps in the trash bin and will seize the opportunity to raid the bin as soon as I leave the room.

The end result is disaster across my kitchen floor and the only words uttered across my breath are “SADIE!”  She then like any scolded child slinks to her room and hides for the next hour.

idea

The other day as I removed the chicken bones from the stock and threw them in the bin. The girl could not contain herself and within seconds she had lifted the bones from the trash in front of my very eyes.

The NERVE! She didn’t even have the impulse control to wait until I left the room.

In my life I can be just as impulsive!  It is that moment of throwing caution to the wind  with that extra shot of tequila or two  on the beach and  enjoying the freedom to dance all night long.  A good idea can have the same effect and it  strikes when you least expect it!

The next day usually results with a very strong hangover. The spur of the moment of creating and the end result always a  disaster! But the key of a good idea gone ugly is surviving the  hangover.

My routine is to awaken with weary eyes, blink several times, slumping down in my chair, and then force myself into the process of revision.  The room  spins  from the agony of it all but deep down I know there is a story to tell.  Just as there is poutine waiting to rescue my belly from the heaviness of a hangover – there is a keyboard waiting for my fingers to connect to my brain and revise the story.

If you are good opportunist you wait to share that story not at its first, second, third, or fourth draft. You wait until it is perfected and that your words will be understood.  All you need to do is lift the idea from the  bottom of the bin, polish, and then trim it with cautious love. Some days revising  feel like a  spinning hangover but in the end I know with patience I will be sharing my first novel with you.

My Week of Uncensored Tweets

I have a Twitter rule which is attempt to be upbeat and positive with most of my tweets. However, I recognize at times that I can be borderline snarky and sometimes cranky.  So if I am having one of those “special weeks” I think before I compose and tweet.

So I thought I would share with you all of my past week of uncensored tweets that never made it to my Twitter Profile.

to tweet

Day 1

Dear God! What is that smell? OMFG! What the hell is it?

Day 2

People it is a girl swinging on a wrecking ball. Big Whoop! Please divert your attention back to Syria.

Day 3

CRUNCH is the sound of my front bumper in the parking lot.  I think I might effing vomit.

Day 4

Holy Hell! It is 3 am in the morning and someone just tried to break into my basement window.  Holy Hell!

Day 5

In celebration of Friday the 13th I am becoming agoraphobic. Did I spell that right?

Day 6

You did not just say that! You did not just say that! #angry #weepy

Day 7

Wiping drool from my mouth after a long nap on the couch. Why is my dog on TV? Wait! I am on TV! I am a CBC rerun! #squeal

As I look back through the list I realize they are just the day and a life of an average person going through a very bad week.  Also, I actually would have tweeted Day 7 but I couldn’t find my phone (that was stuck in the middle sofa cushion next to the stale Cheetos).

My only hope for this week is a warm cup of coffee each day because my standards for the good life have succumbed to being very low. Can I  Tweet that?

The Creative Energy Suck

It happens when you least expect it! Your mind  gets lost in  a dark thicket and there is no escape! You  wake-up to realize you have been surrounded by the ill-tempered and they have zapped every once of your creative spark.

thicket

They circle like old hags exclaiming again and again “Watch  what you eat! You are wearing that!?  Is that a drink in your hand? Oh My! You are not reading THAT! Are you?”

You are left dredging around in the fog! You can almost see the creative light! Grasp it!  Touch it!

Until some old miser out of nowhere dims the light by exclaiming and rattling his cane  “Science is the only truth.  Liberal arts is nothing but misfits and degenerates. Nothing but misfits and degenerates! They know nothing!”

The fog gets thicker and you drudge on  feeling all of the creative energy being sucked from your body. Your mind is replaced with self-doubt as you ignore the light that once twinkled before you.  You go about your routine trying to forget about the unfinished story  waiting for you.

Somewhere in the distance  you hear a whisper as it calls you back like a long-lost lover “You need me. I need you. We love each other.”

You feel the warmth of the energy moving back into your body as you move forward  to the keyboard  and return to the story. You begin to work on  the next chapter which was lost in the fog surrounded by useless noise. You type on knowing your love affair will only last as long as you put the words to the page with a selfish silence unspoken between the two of you. It is through that silence you escape from the poison of the hags and the miser.

Congratulations! You have escaped the creative energy suck for one more day!

Once there was a Bear and Elton John Enters the Room

Sometimes music  can be the inspiration needed to keep me writing at my desk. However, I have to be careful about my musical selection because my mind wanders to the beat of certain songs. All of a sudden that song  can become the  front and center  story smacking me right in the face.lurking bear

I discovered this as I was working on my almost bear encounter and I turned on Elton John for a little background music. I started  to write about the woman attempting not to frighten my children, whispering, and pointing up the road “Bear!”

I exclaim, “What!? Bear!” which of course frightens my children.

And then Sad Song comes on! Of course I take two minutes to sing  it into my  coffee mug. I then muse over the last time I sang this song with friends in the middle of a pub over fifteen years ago.

Now I then try to focus back on the men emerging from the woods excited over the bear.

“You can go see the grizzly right there! She is right there!”

“Ummm. No thanks.”

I clutch bear spray the bear spray can tighter,  attempting to walk back to my trailer , keeping the kids calm, without running into a bear.  The bear you know is being contained by park rangers but still it’s a bear close by in the bushes.

I then begin to write about the anxiety of the bear and then I Don’t Want to Go On with You Like That starts playing which reminds me of that one guy I dated and badly danced with to this song in a smelly bar after  sharing our second  or third grog. It is inevitable to discover years later that he was gay and that this song meant so much more to him than I could have ever imagined.

So I then go back to the bear, the thoughts running through my head, about what if we had stayed on the trail, and had run into the bear.  Of course, I have to note the British couple that we run into along the way who think “It would be charming to see a grizzly bear.”It is obvious they never watched Grizzly Adams or Legends of the Fall or read what to do if you see a bear which is posted all over the God Damn national park. So then Nikita comes on and it’s not my favorite so I skip it!

Obviously, it  goes straight to I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues which takes me back to India alone in the apartment missing my future husband who was in the final stages of finishing his engineering degree. I may have played this song, over, and over again. But don’t tell him that because I don’t want it to go to his head.

I then snap back to the bear, we make it back to the trailer,  only to discover my husband  snoring the afternoon away,  obviously not concerned about his family. I tell him excitedly about the bear, he grumbles something illegible, and rolls over to go back to sleep.

Only in the final moments of attempting to finish this blog post This Train Don’t Stop Here Anymore magically plays and I am left with a sigh. I think about everything else and I belt it out. Oh! And there was a bear. But this is what happens when I try to write and listen to Elton John at the same time.

The Good

Sometimes there is an ugly in life that reminds us that there is always darkness that lurks in the light. It is in those trying times you want to take those shadows and stomp on them. You want them to recede into the dark corners but have to accept without those shadows there would be no light. You cannot have one without the other.

Sun setting

During those brief moments of darkness you stay calm by recognizing the craziness for what it is and move forward by staying focused on the light.  It is within that light that reason will prevail and with work you will find a solution to the problem.

 You breathe. You do not allow yourself to be the victim.You focus on your friends and family. You create in the quiet hours of the day.

It is in the good you can still see the beauty in people and move forward recognizing that there will be ugliness too. The ugliness is a reminder that we should never take what we have good in our life for granted.  The good is what you want to hold onto and cherish as it evolves into something more beautiful each passing day.

I want to Thank everyone for their kinds words and emails in this past month. It has meant the world to me and my family.  We are at point in which a resolution has been made and hope the best for the quiet.   I look forward to touching base with all of you and getting the carnival back en route to its next destination.

The Way We Connect: Is It Challenging the Idea of Friendship?

In 2001 when I moved to Delhi, India and began to settle into the apartment I noticed we did not have a telephone. I asked the office manager of the company I worked for when we would get a landline. It was advised that it would take several months. I sighed at that time it was the most important line of communication for me to stay in touch with my family and friends.

However, there was something that was shaping the way people connected in India and that was the use of the cel phone. It was the cel phone that you could take with you to work or to the market and not worry about missing the important calls that mattered from the ones in my life.

It was at that time I connected with friends through email and  feel free to gasp sometimes by mail.  At that time Twitter was a tweet from a Robin and Facebook was not even out of diapers. Tom Chatfield points out in his recent article “Rethinking Social Networks” that Facebook will connect 1 in 7 people this year but as it connects so many people is it diluting the intimacy of friendship?

 facebook_conn_image_976x462 (1)

At one time friendship was an intimate circle of friends but as we have expanded with various social networks it could be degrading the very fiber of friendship. We have opened the door to connecting with more and more people many that we have never met in real life.  It is through opening this door we are no longer conversing together at coffee shops but sharing ideas over the internet.

Chatfield argues that there are now over six billion phones worldwide and 900 million of those cel phone users are from India. It is these phones that have a purpose which is more than a mini computer but offer practicalities such as a sturdy battery and flashlight for when the power goes out.  It is also the most important tool that keeps many people connected to their closest friends and family.

Networking has a way of connecting us but the most intimate relationships are the ones that we share we are phone numbers with those in our inner circle. It is these friendships that provide support when the chips are down and the first to share with any exciting news.

Since 2001 there have been so many changes in technology and with the rise of many social media networks I have had the great fortune to connect with many wonderful people.  So it fascinates me that even though many of us have never met in real life we all share an interest or a common goal and that is what Nicholas Christoakis would point out is “the reciprocation of kindness because we are better off for it.”

We have networks because we evolve to connect with other people through experiences which tie us together. It is the benefits of the connected life which bring us together to share and expand ideas. It is through this cooperation of spirits that makes us more genial people.

So as there are different level of friendships on and offline they all matter because they are what connect us in this globalized world.  As my phone has become my crutch it is used to share those scary and special moments with my loved ones.  My blog has become a platform that I can share ideas and connect with so many wonderful people who I have become truly grateful for in my life. You may not have my phone number but you always challenge me to think about what is over yonder in the horizon and are always the gentle  reminder that we are never alone in this world.

Do you believe the way we connect changes the face of friendship?

Why I Am Not a Brand

As bloggers we are told by experts that we must define our brand. What is a brand? A brand is a trademark or distinctive name identifying a product or a manufacturer. The last time I checked most of us are living and breathing human beings.

andy-warhol-campbell-s-soup-i-1968

I am not a can of soup.

I am not a box of cereal.

I am not a  bag of chips.

I am not a kitchen appliance.

I am not a race car.

So therefore I can deduct that I am not a brand. A brand would mean that it would be an inanimate object waiting for consumers to devour or enjoy my services.

It is when I read  bloggers, authors,  and journalists. I am not looking at their brand. I am interested in the person behind the creative and what inspires them to be great.

What am I if I am not a brand?

I would like to point out that I am a living breathing human being with thoughts and emotions. Sometimes I write rubbish. Sometimes I hit the mark and I am funny. And sometimes just sometimes something good happens from having a blog.

All of this occurs not because I am a special brand of cyborg. But because I connect with other fellow bloggers who share their own thoughts and creative sparks.  Who as far as I know – are also not cereal boxes or cyborgs?

My only request to experts in the blogging field to attempt to use marketing terms that reflect the human spirit. We are real breathing people just as you are a real breathing experts spouting your expertise. So instead of offering courses or insight on finding your brand.

Perhaps, it would be finding yourself? Keeping it Authentic? The Path to Happiness? I am not sure you can really put a brand or a label, on that, can you? But I guess that is the thing in this world of consumerism we all have to be labelled to sell ourselves or you would be out of a job.

So if I was a brand it would be one that took risks, laughed too hard, cried too much, am damned one way or another, and usually busted for holding my finger up to anyone who reminds me of all of my usual inadequacies. But then I guess I am a terrible brand. I am only human after all.

Are you a cyborg? Confess.

I would like to thank Linda from the Task at Hand for inspiration for this post.

The Expressive Leap: Blogging and the Personal Essay

Janet Steen examines the question “Have Personal Essays Gotten Too Personal?” in a quest to determine what is the truth and beauty of the personal essay.  In her article she points out the shift of the personal essay has transformed with the evolution of blogging.   Steen states “Blogs were an inevitable stage, and a useful one, but often they were narcissistic and ranty and you, the reader, had to sift through. A list of gripes does not necessarily make an essay, but a well-crafted, meaningful list of gripes might.”

winter wonderland

It is these well meaningful list of gripes that many of us sift through to discover the blogs that are gems and acknowledge that there is a truth to their writing. It provides meaning and sustenance in our daily lives.

One of the many diamonds  in the rough contribute each day whether it is a ranty post about poor customer service,  an inspirational post about a walk in the park, the political manifesto that your never thought of,  or a humourous look at motherhood.  All of these have helped to shape and transform our world and bring people one step closer together within the global community.

Janet Steen  points out “A great essay takes some little leap out of the ordinary, it has alchemy to it, it has magic.” It’s when you discover that hidden gem which makes blogging more interesting and exciting!  It is underneath that gem which holds a truth of what is beautiful and imperfectly human.

I have seen and read comments on occasion that suggest every Tom, Dick, and Harry seem to have a blog these days. It maybe true but the rubbish usually fades into the sunset while many bloggers seek to find their own truth through the words of their own blogs. They seek out to be better, to express themselves with eloquence, and shine on their own page.

Seth Godin, points out in his  short novel The Dip “The people who are the best in the world specialize at getting really good at the questions they don’t know.”  So perhaps as many bloggers throw in the towel there are many bloggers out there attempting to be the best by expanding their growth as writers and taking the time to seek out the truth.

It is by pushing ourselves to the limits that we create new expressive thoughts in personal essays.  As the world evolves, technology pushes us too new limits, our thoughts, and dialog will change. It is our role as bloggers to break the rules and seek the limits of discovering the truth through our own creative work. It is up to us to determine what is good and thumb our nose at the rigid critics who are unwilling to change with the times.

Do you attempt to take a leap out of the ordinary with your blogging?

Resistance from Within

As I wait patiently for spring to arrive and renew my creative energy. I get stuck. I procrastinate. I hum and haw. I surf the web. I search for dust bunnies. The whole time I am restless and not doing anything that I love. I make a lot of excuses for not blogging, writing, or getting anything creative done.

the  war of art

It was this week that I picked up “The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Creative Battle” and it was at that moment I realized I was at war with myself for no good reason.  The only resistance I faced was the inner critic whispering in my ear that anything  I finished would not be good enough.

Steven Pressfield points out:

If resistance couldn’t be beaten there would be no Fifth Symphony, no Romeo and Juliet, no Golden Gate Bridge. Defeating resistance is like giving birth. It seems absolutely impossible until you remember that women have been pulling off successfully, with support and without for fifty million years.

The key is  to push against resistance when I am at war with my own inner critic and recognize that  sometimes that rational self  caters to the critics that want to judge us.  It’s when I fail to create I fail myself and I hate the words “I told you so!”

How do you overcome your own inner critic?

What is Your Favorite Tip?

If you haven’t heard?

I have decided A Blogger Tip a Day is the perfect way to streamline my life to be more organized and improve my sense of well-being. It is with this I will be sharing with you a fellow blogger’s tip a day and implementing it into my life.

I believe this will be an exciting journey and I look forward to sharing it with you! If you have any tips you would like to share, advice,  or comments please feel free to drop me a line at abloggertipaday@yahoo.ca or just leave your tip in the comment box.

If your tip is chosen your name will be placed  a monthly draw for a twenty-five dollar I-Tunes gift card. So get those tips rolling in!

What is your favorite tip? And why does it work for you?

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