I Was A Talented Kid

I’m going through so much old stuff while cleaning and packing for the move. 

My mom held on to lots of my work from elementary and high school. I have so many good stories, some I may rework. I’m not sure how many are based off other books or TV shows, but some are definitely originals. Oddly, I found stories I did not remember, which are very similar to projects I’m working on now. Looking at my childhood journals and creative writing makes me feel even more sure that I am meant to write. 

Here is a short story written when I was 11 or 12 (gr.7):





“I am Oly, you are Sven,” is actually a quote from the cartoon Ren & Stimpy. 

Another gem I found was a fantasy quest, I burned the edges of the paper to make it more “old-timey”: 












Needs work, but some good ideas here!

Big Changes

The day after my last post, I made a choice that will change my life completely. Everything was suddenly thrown into chaos; I am moving.

I’ve wanted to move for a long time. Every spring I start thinking about it, and by fall I decide to hole up in my cave for winter. In the past few years, I’ve been saving for a down-payment on a mortgage. I look at real estate apps and dream about all the things I don’t have in my current living situation. Natural light to grow plants. A secure art studio that my cats can’t get into. More than four feet of countertop in the kitchen. A place where I don’t have to live with the daily noise torture of loud neighbours. Nothing on the housing market fit my budget. I didn’t want to move my immense hoard to another rental just to pay off the landlord’s mortgage instead of my own.

I was looking at run-down hundred year old houses, with charm and potential. Although close to the amount the bank might lend me, down the road they were destined for some expensive and necessary repairs. I worried about even qualifying for a mortgage, being a single woman who earns less than $50,000 per year. It doesn’t matter I’m a master of frugality, never missed a bill payment in my life, never even paid interest on my credit card. The bank prefers dual income households with steady incomes, not cat lady substitute teachers with fluctuating hours, trying to be an artist and a writer.

My apartment building is in a great location, has a good building manager who immediately follows through with issues, an underground parking lot that keeps my car snow-free in the winter, and utility prices are very low. The top floor has penthouse units, with a view over the river and downtown through it’s double story tall windows. On the last day of April, I returned from a walk to the library to see the “Apartment for Rent” sign in front of the building. I looked up to the balconies, and one of the penthouse ones had nothing on it. If that’s the apartment that’s available, I should take it, I thought.

I spent the rest of the evening googling buying vs. renting. If I was approved for a mortgage, there would be so many costs I hadn’t really thought of. Besides all the hefty maintenance expenses, my utilities would also go up significantly. I’d have to pay property tax. There are lawyer fees, realtor fees, building inspections. I once thought paying rent was a waste, but I would throw much more away with buying. The interest would be just like the nightmare of student loan debt I just woke from. And what if the house I chose became a curse and a burden instead of a source of joy and security?

Once again I turn away from what society expects, what I have ingrained deep inside that I feel pressured to need, but don’t. When it comes to relationships, I am independent. When it comes to employment, I am noncommittal.  I don’t need a husband, I don’t need a full-time teaching contract, and I don’t need to buy a house.

On May 1, I call the building manager, and I already know the suite available is the one I want and I’m going to take it. And it is, and I do, like love at first sight, like a key in a lock, like being one with the Universe. My mom comes to check it out, I try really hard to think critically if this is the right financial move and not just the best emotionally, but I’m already giddy, and I give my month’s notice of moving out the same day.

There will be different and potentially worse noises up there, snoring or an unattended alarm clock for example. But if I’m going to creep around in my home wearing ear plugs and noise-cancelling headphones, I may as well like the place! I will be moved in nine days, and have until the end of the month to clean the old place. I am giving myself a break from my May writing goals until settled in. I will have a new writing nook, on the loft overlooking that gorgeous view. Literally moving up in the world.

 

 

 

 

The Next Phase

I feel I have entered the next phase in my writing journey.

The very end of March and all of April, my goal was an hour of writing every day, one blog post a day, and one hour of reading a day. I made an easy goal, and spent many more hours than that, but it kept me motivated. I’m ready to set new goals for May.

If I am not working mornings, I will write as soon as I get up. If I am, I will write after work and before supper.  From reading about writing, several people suggest using word count instead of time as a measure. I again want a goal that is easy to reach so I don’t get discouraged. I will start at 500 words a day and see how it goes, in the past month I have written as much as 2000, usually close to 1000, sometimes 300. I will allow myself one day off per week, but probably won’t need it.  I read a lot. I don’t think I need to keep track of how much.

I’ve started researching how to submit short stories to magazines. Many say unpublished work only, so I need to be careful what I put on the blog. Some consider any work available online as previously published, not just published on paper or a commercial site. This makes me a officially a published author! Just an unpaid one, unless you count the Grant MacEwan Young Writer’s Scholarship I won in 2007 for $2500.

I think instead of a daily blog post, I will try to work more on my existing projects than put my energy into my writing diary. I will cut back to one post per week, but more if I feel inspired to. I will not post any finished copies of anything I plan to eventually submit to a magazine. I have put up a rough draft of one of my fables, but it will be revised and other stories added. You are allowed to share excerpts with feedback groups, that is not considered published. I’m glad I discovered this before I posted a lot of the projects I’ve been polishing, like ‘Noise Complaint’ and ‘Medieval Feast.’

I started looking into magazines that would be a good match for what I write. So I googled creative non-fiction, which seems to be really flowing for me lately. It was also the genre of my award-winning story on Albertan culture. “True Story” is offering $300 for 5000-10,000 words, that one caught my eye. I could also find magazine websites with submission calls and contests based on horror, children’s books, travel writing, cooking, Canadian writers, women writers. There are actually a lot out there! Some you have to pay to submit, which kind of puts me off. I found a website that you sign up and they will send you different jobs hiring writers for magazines and blogs, but it has that scammy feeling, and I want to write whatever I want at my own pace, not “we need a piece on that football game by 2pm,” or whatever. I might look into it, but I need to be very selective because if a piece is accepted I can’t send it to someone else looking for unpublished work. I also need to research how copyright, First Serial Rights, and all that stuff works.

By the end of May I hope to have some polished good copies, and a better idea of who I want to make submissions to.

 

 

 

 

Recovery

Tears look different under a microscope for different emotions.

I look at my cats cuddled up to each other at the foot of my bed, and my eyes well up and I start crying because I love them so much. They need each other, I need them. My love is also my inevitable loss. I don’t know what shape these tears would make. Emotions jumbled together in a shifting kaleidoscope, pain and love and fear, or if this feeling has its own tiny molecular shape, bittersweet.

I wonder if I’m withdrawing from the opioid the dentist gave me after wisdom tooth surgery. Since finishing the pain meds, my anxiety is high, I’m always on the verge of tears, my sound sensitivity is flared up. I either can’t sleep or can’t get out of bed. I’m alternating between hot flashes and chills. Is this healing? The jaw bone building up the holes, tissues forming. I’m not eating enough. I don’t want any more jello, I’m so souped out. I’m irritable.

I feel sick, but I’m not sick. I scan through all the body checklists in my mind and I cannot identify this. I can’t exercise this crushing feeling out, can’t soak it away in the bath, can’t calm it with emotional eating. I don’t even want to eat, and that is weird. Depression? I’m able to go to work, I just feel so off. I’m not in physical pain. Am I being too sensitive?

I’m drinking lots of water, I’m checking my temperature for fever, and the holes are pink, no sign of infection. On the two week mark from the dental surgery next week, I’m going to the doctor if I still don’t feel like myself.

Progress Report

I had an hour of sleep and a ten-hour workday, and I was going to allow myself to take a break from writing, but here come the words tumbling in my mind needing to be let out.

It’s now been more than a month of daily blog posts, in fact I didn’t even notice when I made my one month mark. It’s becoming a great archive of where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going with my writing.

In addition to the blog, I’m working on several writing projects.

The Last Shipmate- based on Survivor and Big Brother but in a shipwreck scenario. It came from an idea that was sparked in a blog post about reality TV. While typing out the outline I was laughing and having a great time. I love the twist at the end. I don’t know if I have enough in me to make a novel, but it’s going to be longer than I usually write. It’s at 2500 words with the outline and I’m almost on chapter 3 of 10 or so. I’m finding juggling so many characters kind of tricky. I hope they don’t come across as too stereotypical while poking fun at the stereotypical characters usually cast: the athlete, the ditzy girl, the tough older lady, the hot guy, etc. I’m not basing anyone on any specific cast member. The host is quite a bit like Jeff though.

Noise Complaint- a non-fiction story of dealing with misophonia (sound sensitivity) while living in an apartment. It’s coming out quite poetically, lots of metaphor. It was going to be my blog post today but it needs to grow more, maybe a lot more. Maybe take it into horror fiction instead of memoir. Last night was a rough one, hence the one hour of sleep last night.

Animal Fables- I have one story and a bunch of ideas and outlines typed out, it’s at 1700 words. I’m waiting for the weather to improve to go out to the park which is my setting. I’ve been procrastinating starting the illustrations too. I’m still thinking of how I’m going to write the story of how my city got it’s name to make it my own and not rewriting the existing folk tales.

Medieval Feast- a non-fiction description of a medieval feast I attended last month, that was also meant to be a quick blog post but needed more time.

Aylomerna- I have a great idea for the setting and building backstory for my human character based on ancient people in Mesa Verde and Mexico. Still thinking about big plot decisions I need to make. This one is getting put back together small pieces at a time, but I haven’t given it much attention with all the others going on.

Well, time to go watch this week’s Survivor and Big Brother episodes, I mean, do some research for my writing.

 

Creativity

What is the source of creativity? What if you could speak to it? What would it look like if you saw it in a dream?

……………………..

Hello. I always knew you were there. It was as though you waited for my mind to ripen, and now I understand.

Yes, you are ready to accept the task of creation.

You are the separate entity behind my eyes, a disassociated part of my being, my divine link to the Universe.

I am a mental construct of your struggling human flesh, it’s a coping mechanism.

You are the one who shows me the finished product before I have started, filling me with the desire to work at it until others see it too. You guide my hand, you push me where I am reluctant to go.

You make yourself brave, you submit to your trust in fate.

You are my luck, lining up coincidences however impossible. You are the eternal Jungian collective unconscious. If I had to form you into a shape, it would be a vast embodiment of starlight, all at one darkest black yet dazzlingly radiant, an omniscient manifestation of the energy of life.

I am everything and nothing.

…………………….

Animal Fables: Magpie

treesI am writing a series of animal fables based on animals that live in a natural area near my home. I plan on making paintings as illustrations, and using as many references to the local landforms, climate, flora and fauna as possible. I have notes and rough outlines for several ideas, and I have finished the first draft of one of the stories. When the weather improves I plan to write while sitting in the park itself.

 

Magpie

Have you heard Magpie screeching and squawking? It wasn’t always so. Magpie once had a beautiful song. She trilled and she chirruped in heart-lifting melodies. Her song called up visions of spring flowers and warm sunshine on your face. Coyote heard her song, and saw how she was boastful and making other animals feel insecure about their own music. He challenged her to a contest, where the winner would forever hold the title of the Most Beautiful Song.

“Ha! Coyote and his mournful howls will never be as sweet as my voice,” Magpie thought to herself. Coyote was better suited at harmonizing, but he was actually very good. You would hear the sound of your soul finding its place in the universe, your heartaches would heal.

Coyote also knew how Magpie felt about shiny things. He had found a shiny on the path and hidden it away in his den. The golden hour before sunset came and the animals gathered to hear the animal songs. Owl would have the final say who-oo-who-ooo had the Most Beautiful Song after the audience applause for each contestant. Poplar tree settled the crowd with a gentle poppling of her leaves, and coyote began his song. He howled low and forlornly, he recalled the beauty of leaves turning yellow before the snow flies, a feeling of serenity after a good meal. The animals cheered, moved by his song.

He had the shiny hidden, and waited for Magpie to take her place in the contestant’s spot. She was putting on a show of primping and preening, checking that her iridescent blues and greens would be caught by the fading light. “Get on with it!” grumped Badger.

“I think we all know Coyote sings well, but not to my level of standard,” Magpie said as she began to get ready to sing. Suddenly she noticed the shiny. Her eyes would not stop looking at its reflective surface and her desire to investigate it grew more important than the contest. She swooped down just to have a quick peck at it, the audience could wait. It stuck to her beak, “kreee!” She tried to shake it loose, “waak waaaak wak.” Coyote had put sticky tree sap on it. When Magpie got the shiny loose, she cleared her throat for her song, but the animals had already began voting. Coyote was the winner!

She was so embarrassed she never sang her beautiful song again. She built herself a fortress of sticks high up in a tree where she could hide from the other animals. If anyone comes near she comes out to squawk at them.

Purple Hair

For almost a year I’ve been wearing my hair in vivid colours.

It started as dark chestnut with auburn highlights, which is a fancy way of saying brown. I loved playing with My Little Pony when I was a child, and I think that’s where the obsession with purple hair started. One of the anthropomorphic horse dolls that was my favourite had pinkish purple hair interspersed with strands of glittering purple tinsel. In video games where you decide what your avatar looks like, if there was an option to choose purple hair, I took it.

I was always afraid of bleach. My older sister once tried to lighten her hair and it went that ghastly brassy orange. I thought bleach would make all my hair fall out, or be so damaged I’d have to shave it. I dyed my hair all the time with box dye, black or burgundy, thinking that was fine, but to go lighter so that I could put in vivid colour was never something I felt comfortable doing on my own, and I was too cheap to pay good money to a salon.

After University I became friends with a hairdresser. She said she could make my hair purple. I babysat her cats while she was on vacation, and in return I would achieve my life’s goal of hair the colour of grape Koolaid. The day I was going to make my dream come true, she called to say she wasn’t feeling well and wanted to reschedule. The first red flag. It was the only day that worked, so I came in anyway. She showed me some samples of what the colour would look like, they looked pretty good. She then said I didn’t need to lighten my hair beforehand. The second red flag. Looking back, I should have insisted she bleach it and colour it the colour I wanted, not the brownish plum that looked almost purple if the sun hit it in a certain way.

I found a new hairstylist. We are a better match, but I’m still too cheap to pay over $30 without wincing. I was at a point where I still didn’t believe it was possible that I could ever have purple hair. I joked about altering my DNA so it would just grow that way and never need a touch-up. She recommended a wig. I saved up some money so that I could afford the hair appointment, as well as colour-safe products and a straightening brush. It came to several hundred dollars but it was worth it.

She painted on the lightener, and in an hour my hair was a silvery white. It was already more beautiful than I’d ever seen my hair. I chose teal, blue, and purple and it came out brighter than all of the peacocks in the world at high noon. It was real, it was happening. Old men would stop on the street and stare at me, people would compliment how well it suited me, my students thought it was amazing. My mom worried the school would fire me for being unprofessional but it’s the twenty-first century and teachers no longer have to worry about the length of their skirts and their petticoats. The dress code says you can’t show your underwear, but doesn’t comment on hair colour. I would come home and look at my hair in the mirror, brush it, twirl it around, I just loved it.

It faded out to pastel colours of mint green, baby blue, and lavender. I found I loved the colours during the fading process as much as when it’s freshly coloured. I went back a few times before I realized I could use semi-permanent vivid colours at home with similar results. I’ve been using Ion from Sally Beauty, I’ve tried purple, hottie pink, sky blue, radiant orchid, and lavender. If I wait until my hair fades out I can reapply the colour at a fraction of the cost. The dark purple fades to a denim blue, and when I add pink it becomes the purple I was searching for all these years. As an artist, I like playing with the layers of colour. I am still hesitant to do any lightening at home, and now have to save up for a professional appointment to get my roots done.

When I see a woman with bright blue or faded out pink hair at the gas station or wherever, I feel like she is my soul sister. We are connected, the way people who ride motorcycles wave at other people riding motorcycles as they drive by. We have unicorn hair, mermaid hair, whatever you want to call it, My Little Pony hair. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to natural.

Crush

PhotoScanStarting in high school, I wrote poems about being in love and having your heart broken.

I kept several journals that I titled “Crush” that I would pour my heart into. I used to think it was such a beautiful expression that was filled with emotion, now it just seems like embarrassing bad writing. I didn’t think I was going to put any of my love poetry on the blog, but I’ve noticed on one of my writing groups a lot of women are writing stuff like this.

In my journals, I made little drawings and wrote quotes from Sylvia Plath. In one drawing, a flower blossom is on a tree, with an underripe fruit, symbolizing the first stages of a relationship that you can’t rush because the apple isn’t ready to bite into yet. I never got to the apple stage, the budding fruit was always plagued with worms and rot.

I’m going through everything in my Writing Portfolio and transferring everything I want to keep to the blog, so it will be kind of like an online portfolio. I had a poem that was made from pulling my favourite passages from Crush and compiling them together like a patchwork quilt, even though the poems were sometimes about different people. I submitted “Draws Sparks on My Heart” to a poetry competition and felt so proud when they said it was good! Except they just wanted me and everyone else who submitted to pay to have an anthology published. I knew right away it was a bit of a scam, but I thought about paying just to see my poem in a book.

Now several years later and I can’t even type up the whole poem without cringing, groaning regretfully, and face palming, oh man did I really write that down, whaaaaaat… delete delete. Here is an excerpt:

 

Like a young child hugging the legs of a stranger

Naive, oblivious to danger

That is how I love you

Like a dangerous animal

Tamed and trusting enough to rest its head on your lap

Forgetting past wrongs, acceding to your dominance

That is how I love you

I used to wonder how I would rebuild a shattered heart

Climb out of the dark and teach my soul not to fear love

Now I find

It took not strenuous effort

But the warmth and attention of someone truly deserving

You are the shining sun

To a cold and destitute heart

 

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