It’s Birthday Eve at our house, a holiday Fooey claims to have invented. Birthday Eve means one among us is on the eve of his birthday. And we take photos to mark the occasion, but that’s about it.
“We won’t have a sweet little four-year-old after tomorrow,” I said to Kevin.
“But you’ll have a sweet little five-year-old,” CJ anxiously reassured me.
Won’t we, just?
Kevin just texted to tell me he’d seen AppleApple and her class running by from their excursion to the library this morning. Meanwhile, I’d received an emailed check-out notice from the library with the following titles:
Fascinating, huh. AppleApple is planning a science project on herbal medicine. Coincidentally, this dovetails with one of the subjects in The Girl Runner, so she might find her mother taking notes.
I love the smallness of the world, sometimes. The magic of connections.
|Michael Ondaatje’s Bookmark|
Speaking of connections, did you know there’s a registered charity in Canada devoted to marking famous places in Canadian fiction? For real. It’s called Project Bookmark, and it’s the invention of writer Miranda Hill (side note: I’ll be reading with Miranda next Sunday at GritLit in Hamilton).
Project Bookmark is launching a month of fundraising with a creative twist: every day in April there will be a prize draw for that day’s donors. Each day is sponsored by a “reading personality,” who is offering up a prize of his or her own devising. Personalities include Margaret Atwood and Shelagh Rogers, so a mere $20 could get you something pretty unique and amazing.
Sounds like it’s been a helluva lot of work to organize, and I’m hoping Project Bookmark reaps the benefits. I love the idea of marking out our literary landscape, grounding the imaginary in the real, and inviting us to consider how the two interact. I also like imagining where I would place a Bookmark. And thinking about the real places that inhabit my imaginary worlds — or is it the other way round? Do my imaginary worlds inhabit real places?
Can I do it?
All day I’ve been pouring my energies into an alternative non-fiction project, which I shall have to title sooner or later. I’m currently calling it: The Woman Formerly Known As …
Having been so very very good, I’m rewarding myself with ten minutes to blog. Because in ten minutes I will have to leave the house to pick up the kid who rides the bus. Can I offer a small weather-related complaint as an aside? Why is it so cold? Why does the air blow so arctically when spring is, surely, just around the corner? Why is there no sunshine? Why must yet another winter storm approach on the horizon? Why won’t it stop being grey?
That was more than one complaint.
Mildly interesting unrelated tidbit: We’ve had a month of breakdowns. First, the truck (remember that?): transmission. I won’t quote you the fixin’ price, but it hurt. Next, the oven! I had to borrow my dad’s oven a couple of Sundays ago in order to bake bread. Thankfully that was fixed within a week, and for a somewhat smaller fee than the transmission. And now, the boiler that heats our entire house and provides all hot water. On Saturday, suddenly everyone was wandering around shivering and wrapping themselves in blankets and draping themselves with dogs, when I thought to check the thermostat. Falling swiftly. I am thankful to say that has also, now, been fixed.
What else? I’m afraid to ask. I’m afraid it’s some kind of obvious metaphor that I’d rather not apply to my life right now.
I’ve nothing more to add. And look: it’s only been thirteen minutes! Which is admittedly a couple minutes more than ten. I’m going to pop in a photo and press publish, and presto, it’s school bus time.
Shortest break ever, huh.
A few things. If you are a blog subscriber, please don’t unsubscribe. I will continue to post updates from time to time. Like now.
I find myself throwing around two vastly different ideas on how to continue blogging, with the intention of keeping it a healthy outlet and connector, rather than a time-consuming distraction or vanity-feeding outreach. My first idea is to become a weekend poster, or “slacker blogger” as suggested by a friend. As an all-in personality, this suggestion sounds tough, but just might work. I’ve got the notion that I would like to pour my daily blogging energies into the writing of a non-fiction book, so maintaining an irregular, special occasion, weekend blog would fit well with that. My second idea is to form a paid subscriber base that would make blogging a job rather than a hobby. I throw that idea out there, while acknowledging that it’s problematic from a number of angles. One is that I have serious inborn qualms about mixing creative endeavours with monetary ones. Two is that I may not have the time to give paying subscribers what they’re paying for, and that would be stressful.
So many other things to write about!
* March break: over and done, and after a long week home alone with the children I am inspired to find alternative plans for our summer holidays. My half-baked plan to let the kids look after themselves while I put ear plugs in and worked was a total fail. What was I thinking??
* Making tea: I read a little article in Geez magazine on making your own infusions/tea by using ingredients like dried orange peel, ginger root, cinnamon stick, cloves, etc. So I’m drying the peel from the orange my son ate this morning.
* Ingratitude is on my mind. How to help my children express and feel gratitude for the many offerings they receive, rather than sulking or complaining about the things they wish they’d received instead? Hm.
* After my last post, I was grateful to hear from readers who hadn’t commented before. The one-sided nature of blogging can feel lopsided and strangely weighted, like I’m writing to a mirror-self, and that sometimes bothers me. I appreciate when people comment, or tell me in person that they’ve related to something I’ve written. It makes writing feel like less of an isolating, interior occupation — which writing so often does. I would miss that about blogging. I think I would miss it too much to stop altogether. That is my weekend reflection. What other medium allows me to connect, in a genuine and honest and real and perhaps most importantly immediate way, with so many people all at once?
So, thanks for reading. Til next time. xo, Carrie
P.S. In response to my vague idea about blogging for subscribers (above), a reader emailed to say: “It occurs to me that it might be possible to think about a blog not on a subscriber model (which might pressurize a daily post), but on a supporter model, which could be more fluid.” She also sent a link to this TED talk by Amanda Palmer on “The art of asking.” Here’s the link. Here’s a taste: “For most of human history, musicians, artists, they’ve been part of the community, connectors and openers, not untouchable stars. Celebrity is about a lot of people loving you from a distance, but the internet … is taking us back. It’s about a few people loving you up close and about those people being enough.”
does it ruin the scene to know that this cookie recipe came from the back of a Chipits bag?
My nap-dream this morning: I found a beautiful overnight bag in a child’s closet. It had so many zippered pockets, and every pocket that I opened was full of small items we’d lost over the years. I didn’t want to wake up. It was so satisfying to keep unzipping pockets, reaching in and finding small lost treasures.
In other news, AppleApple has lost her third pair of swim goggles since September.
In other other news, Kevin brushed her hair out this weekend.
It hadn’t been brushed for ages and was looking a wee bit knotted. Turned out the volume and curls and length had been hiding the severity of the situation. It took Kevin two rounds, adding up to about two hours of careful combing.
I feel wrong posting about cheerful everyday things. I just need to confess that.
I am heartened by the news that share prices for gun manufacturers have dropped steeply, and that investors, individual and collective, are investigating what they’ve been supporting, perhaps without the conscious knowledge that they were. We should all do that, you know.
Today is the last day to order The Juliet Stories online and receive it before Christmas. But local bookstores, like Waterloo’s own Words Worth, will be open all weekend and on Christmas eve. If you’re in the neighbourhood and want me to sign a copy especially for somebody, give me a shout. Happy to.
The house is quiet. Yesterday we had the first taste of Christmas holidays, with the teachers’ one-day-protest keeping the kids home from school. We took in a few extra kids too. Lots of cookies got baked and decorated and eaten. I put the hammer down: no ‘lectronics, period. And look what happened:
little boys watching big boys play Risk (photo better seen in full on Flickr: just click)
Of course, the house was also rendered a complete disaster zone, the full extent of which was only discovered when I was about to put the kids to bed last night. “I know why you won’t have time to read to us,” said CJ. “Because there are toys all over my bed!” Note to self: organize group cleanup effort before sending friends home. There were bowls of water of one room. Bowls of water, spilling everywhere! This is where creative children will lead you. And I embrace it, if not quite so whole-heartedly at bedtime.
Kevin worked from home yesterday, to help out, but even so, I only managed an hour and a half in front of the computer. But with Scrivener, that hour and a half got used very productively. Why? Because I could pull out an individual scene and work on it. Then I could cross-reference it with another, with ease. I worked on five scenes and finished one. It helps that I have a complete draft in place–not sure how it would feel to start from nothing with this program. Thus endeth today’s Scrivener report.
Reflecting on my grouchy mood by day’s end yesterday, must find strategies, over the real holidays, to counteract and mitigate. Here are some initial thoughts on the subject: a) find alone time, b) exercise and get outside, and c) can’t think of a c right now. Listen to beautiful music? Play the piano? Relax with the doggies and Kevin in front of the TV? Bake sticky buns? Hot yoga? Read books?
I found it hard to put CJ on the bus this morning. I was struck with sudden terror as he walked up those steps, his little backpack on his back. But then I made myself step away from the fear.
Love, keep pouring out.
Picture me here, if you’d like. This is my cozy office. “Carrie’s folly,” reads the pretty embroidered sign on the wall. The universe understands irony, right?
Anyway, here is where I am, and where I’ll be pretty much indefinitely, hammering together the structure of a new book. Unless the teachers go on strike. Now, if the teachers go on strike, which may happen as early as Monday, you’ll likely hear far more from me here on the blog since I won’t be tied up with writing a book. There will be no writing of books while I’m chasing children and wondering why I have no back-up plan.
Why do I have no back-up plan?
Don’t worry. I’m not going to write a blog post on the subject of not making prize lists every time my book doesn’t make a prize list. (Whew, that was a close one, says the good reader.) Nope. Today my nap told me to blog about all the really good things going on in this crammed old life. So here are some of the things I’m glad for right now.
* Killing two birds with one stone: Oldest son is supposed to read out loud for 15 minutes a day. Youngest son adores books featuring Star Wars characters which mother refuses, on principle, and for the sake of her sanity, to read. Ergo, oldest son reads Star Wars books out loud to youngest son.
* Freelance gigs arriving at exactly the right moment. Exciting freelance gigs — even better.
* Surprise messages in my inbox from readers who have loved The Juliet Stories. Still working out the best response to these, since they tend to make me feel a) self-conscious, b) teary-eyed, and c) weirdly unqualified to reply. (Like: did I actually write the book this person is referring to?) Funny thing: when I say thanks for telling me you liked it, people often say, no, thank you for writing it, at which point I get stuck because saying you’re welcome seems weird. Or maybe it doesn’t? Let me try this out: “Thank you for writing a book.” “You’re welcome.” Now I’m not sure. Maybe that’s exactly all I should be saying. Though it’s tempting, also, to add: That’s awesome, now, please tell all your friends to go buy copies too!
* This message in my inbox from a friend: “I have to tell you, half an hour ago I saw a great picture unfolding as I drove by [your daughter’s school] … Up on the level ground, I saw a girl with long red hair dribbling a soccer ball through a large pack of boys.”
* Festival season. Wow! Is it ever festival season! I’m reading at Word on the Street at Kitchener City Hall (inside) at 4:30 on Sunday afternoon. And then I’m up and flying to Winnipeg for the Thin Air Writers’ Festival where I’m reading on the Mainstage with a crowd of other writers, starting at 7:30pm on Monday. On Tuesday at 2:30pm I’ll be back, along with Cordelia Strube, for an on-stage chat with Charlene Diehl. Charlene is the director of Thin Air, and she just happens to have been one of my favourite professors way back when. I’m really really looking forward to this.
* Happy, improbable fantasies: such as, why not train to do an Ironman this year? A friend posted on my Facebook wall that she thought I could do it — her husband just completed his second, and managed the feat despite training only over his lunch hour (!!). So now I’m thinking, yeah, I’ll bet I could do it! Except I have no spare time for Ironman-level training just now. Maybe come winter??
* Texting. Seriously, I love the medium. Has anyone else noticed that there is something poetical about the form? Sometimes it’s nothing but pure comic poetry.
* And, finally, a shout out of congratulations to everyone on the Writers’ Trust short list, especially to Tamas Dobozy, whose kid was on my kid’s soccer team a few years back, so we swapped stories on the sidelines about agents, editors, and trying to get published. I love the smallness of the CanLit world.
(Now, in traditional blog call-and-response style: want to tell me what you’re glad for right now?)