Each day I put something on the blog, usually an informal essay about something that has inspired me, where to get ideas, and reflections on the writing process. I then work on one of projects I have going, go through my old writing, or read. I have a writing journal to jot down notes and ideas while the project is just forming or while I’m researching something.
I started by going through my writing portfolio. It contains all my teen angst stuff from the 90s, a dream journal from almost 20 years ago, several notebooks I called Crush where I poetically poured my heart out about all my infatuations and heartache, the articles I wrote for the MHC student newspaper where I just complained about things, reflections on lessons when I was a student teacher, a speech I gave to my graduating Education Assistant class encouraging them to go all the way and become teachers, a comic I drew about working in a call center where the characters were created from error codes I dealt with daily, unfinished projects and ideas from Creative Writing in University, a few polished pieces also from that class, and reviews my classmates, friends, and professors wrote about my writing. I also had some ‘notes’ typed out on Facebook over the last several years that I went through. If something really moved me, I’d come home and write it down. Before my grandparents died I wrote them letters every month. So I guess I’ve always been a writer, now I’m a daily writer.
The story of a lonely dragon who falls in love with a human, but to save his life she gives her own and becomes the sea. This was a short story from my portfolio that I am reworking. I pretty much ripped it apart and will be starting over, because something in the story still holds me and it is not done. I had a lot written about the dragon’s experience but very little of the human. I started thinking about what his life and family is like, why is a boy wandering around in a cave? I immediately began drawing from my last vacation to Mexico where I swam in underground rivers in caverns, and at one point the guide casually mentioned the Maya would send their young through the caves as a kind of spirit quest becoming a warrior ceremony. A HA that’s what he’s doing in the dragon’s cave! And now I can describe the caverns a lot better and with accuracy, how amusing that I wrote the first draft having never seen an ocean. So I tried to research the coming of age ceremony and can’t find anything about it online or at the library. I did come across some descriptions of Ancient Americans living in cliff dwellings in Colorado, which inspired the human’s village. His original name is Evan, but it definitely needs to be something else, maybe Spanish. I don’t want the story to have a specific setting, just a very long time ago by the sea. This could end up continuing to be a short story, or perhaps unfold into a novel. I want to throw a few illustrations in, but not like a picture book.
A short story about a death-obsessed woman describing her last days suffering a variety of mental illnesses, the end reveals she is a ghost in purgatory. This came from a lot of dark thoughts I’ve had and experiences myself and those I’ve known have gone through. I don’t feel there is enough structure, there is no story line, just rambling thoughts of a dreary existence with some poetry thrown in. I find it very revealing and it makes me feel both brave and vulnerable to shine a light into the deep shadows hiding in my mind. I can’t figure out how to kill her off. I have played around with shell-fish allergy. She is suicidal so it would be ironic if it was a complete accident. Struck by lightning?
I love talking animals. I made a few paintings that were the first seeds of this idea, using Canadian animals and setting to form stories similar to traditional folktales. I can’t help but be influenced by those I’ve read in the past, but I am not going to rewrite fables, I’m going to make my own. I have lived in Southern Alberta my whole life, I know its climate and its flora and fauna. These will be my setting and characters, not set in Native times, set right now tucked off in the parks where I live. I’m planning to bring my journal to these parks to collect thoughts and ideas while I’m in nature. I started brainstorming animals that live here, and what morals I could work into the tales, and why animals have certain attributes. This will also include a painting series of local wildlife.
I also have a lot of reading piles going on. I’m reading authors I admire like Margaret Atwood and HP Lovecraft, reading memoirs by writers like Stephen King and Bill Peet, and books on how to write and get published. I am balancing my writing pursuits with working part time as a substitute teacher. I have some ideas for a dystopian future story where the public school system has crashed and burned but I would have to be very careful so I don’t get sued by the Teacher’s Association for bad-mouthing their current practices. I have joined a writing community on Facebook where I can connect with other writers, and participate in discussions about the process. It’s all coming together and I’m hopeful I will one day be published, just need to get some polished manuscripts and put in the hours of typing instead of thinking.