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Survived the “in-between” period where I refused myself the habit of working on the novel each day.

It was so hard to stay away from it, but I managed about a month’s worth of not actually touching it. I worried the entire time that I would forget where I had wanted to go with it or that some freak natural disaster would destroy it. (wiping out the computer, the back-up disk and my hard copy)

Gladly, even giddily, I have returned to it for revisions. I’m ‘in love’ with it again, although I find I beat myself up over not doing this or that a certain way the first time. Ah hindsight…

They say writing a novel is akin to giving birth. Lately I find it’s more like trying to maintain a relationship…the chase, the lust, the love, the regret, the break-ups, the make-ups, the warm comfortable feeling of coming home.

Read “For Writers Only” during that time. Here’s what Ms. burnham has to say about it. So true!

“When you’re not writing you have plenty of time for fear.

Correcting galleys helps. Reading proofs. But that work is not ‘real writing’. Friends come up and congratulate you on your finished book, and you look back at them, savagely. You give a sickly grin. “Thank You.” You barely manage to muster the memory of manners, and you must forcibly remind yourself that they’re right – yes, yes, it must be good to have finished your book. In fact you remember how one day, it was. One day you put down your pen (turned off your computer) and thought with a surge of undiluted joy – I’ve done it! Finished!” And you were laughing to yourself because secretly you knew you still had weeks of playful work to do, editing, smoothing, polishing the sharp white stones. Or else you thought you’d use this freely flowing fine good enegy to start another work.

Instead in two days you collapse.”

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Another little bit about Dorothea Brande before I close up her book and put it on the shelf… I have found yet another thread of wisdom about writing that has been pulled into the works of contemporary writers such as Natalie Goldberg and Sophy Burnham.

It is the idea that writing is a meditative process. Back when dear Dorothea was writing she didn’t come out and call it ‘transcendental meditation’ or ‘sitting zazen’, but she describes the experience in detail and it’s bang on with things that Natalie Goldberg has mentioned in her books on writing. (Writing Down the Bones, Wild Minds, Thunder and Lightning)

I must agree…magic happens when I can free my mind from the crosshatches of the mundane. Chase off monkey mind and I am left with a space where my best thoughts rise to the top. They come while walking the loop, picking rocks on the beach, soaking in the tub, between the end of the day and sleep. (and don’t fool yourself into thinking they will last…the notebook must be handy at all times!)

The reading – a wonderful night for all five participants in the WFNS mentorship program. We done ourselves proud.

I was nervous right up until I was standing at the front of the room. Once I started reading, the characters took over and told their own stories. What a freeing and exhilarating experience. I have to say that I love all aspects of being a storyteller…the written and the spoken word. It brings out the Dickens in me.

Natalie Goldberg

WFNS

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Another update.

May 3 was the Atlantic Journalism Awards. (Was a finalist in the Feature Writing for Radio category) Quite the swanky affair…reception overlooking the harbour, excellent people watching opportunites, delicious food (a salad ‘sculpture’ with poppy seed dressing, salmon steak rubbed with herbs, and a decadent chocolate custard served with Nova Scotia berries. I feel so Virginia Woolf.), and a long awards ceremony laced with a bit of schmoozing. (and wine)

The guest speaker (a national news anchor who shall remain nameless) informed the audience that ‘fiction can’t change lives and journalism can.’ Hmmm, I sure wish someone had told me that before I started the novel.

ARGHHHHHH. What an ass. I guess he thought he knew his audience.

After fuming over his remarks I have come to these conclusions…

1. If he’s never read a work of fiction that has left him feeling ‘changed’ then I feel sorry for him.

2. Excellence in writing is excellence in writing. the ‘difficult story’ whether told by a journalist, a novelist, a poet or playwright is the most rewarding.

3. My reason for being there was to light a fire in my heart. The evening reaffirmed my dedication to work toward ALWAYS creating work that has meaning and depth.

On the up side I met some wonderful people. The journalist who won the gold in my category has been at it for over 20 years. She and some other CBC producers had many compliments for my work. Encouraging. I will keep the homefires burning.

Mr. National News can bite me.

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