Recently, when I’ve been out for events other than work, people have been saying, Oh, haven’t seen you for awhile. I claim hibernation, which feels true. When the blossoms begin to burst, I come out of my den… and they’re here, in full force! But I haven’t exactly been hibernating, which implies sleeping. No, I’ve just been tucked away inside, writing poetry, short fiction and personal essays; applying for residencies; baking; etc.
A topic that comes up at times is how writers manage to write in different genres at the same time. Sometimes, it does make my attention feel a little scattershot, but I like the variety. This week I took the risk of it becoming even more diffuse, in a full-blown literary smorgasbord. I am so grateful to live in a town where this is possible. (Never mind all the other arts events here, including the film fest the week before, where I got to see Connor Gaston’s poignant, award-winning feature film The Devout, and a six-pack of short films, and attend PEP to hear Arleen Pare and Carolyn Smart read their sharp poetry, and hear the Vic High R & B Band perform at Pearson College of the Pacific to the most amazing audience ever—students from around the world who danced and cheered for nearly three hours straight). God, I’m lucky to have had the week below.
Sunday: met with my Fiction Bitches writing group, where we brought our full attention to every line, every comma, every space. Because it was Valentine’s Day, we ate chocolate-covered strawberries and spoke of love and sex. (although V Day is not necessary for these things to happen).
Monday: Master class via Open Space with Guy Vanderhaeghe on short fiction, in which we talked of a sense of play being essential when writing (my sentiments, exactly) and the importance of endings, and how short stories are closer to poetry than they are to novels. All of which prompted me to decide to say F&*#! the novel I’ve been working on for eight years and fully claim my identity as a short story writer (and poet—but I’m still working on feeling fully comfortable with that one). I may try again, but for now, no.
Tuesday: Master class via Open Space with Sylvia Legris on poetry and research, in which I tried to shake my narrative tendencies off their comfortable perch and was reminded that mining the memory is a form of research as much as looking at a Field Guide to Seashore Creatures. Also, Sylvia encouraged us to try editing a poem as more of a distillation than a revision, until it can be recognized as coming from the deepest place within.
Wednesday: after work, a reading at the Copper Owl, for the Warren Review, a UVic lit mag, in which Patrick Grace shared poetry of Vancouver transit and the architecture of grief, L’Amour Lisik got real about race and sexuality in CNF, and Leah Callen’s play about a glass woman and a man who could only see in blue made me revisit some sad corners of my imagination. But all the while, thinking of my new nephew, born today in Ontario!!
Thursday: another day job day, on which I began to write a new short story about a woman named Deb.
Friday: on which I finished Toni Morrison’s latest novel, God Help the Child, and reaffirmed my dedication to short fiction’s muscular intensity, and collapsed at home after a full work day, unable to go to a party for writers I was really hoping to attend. My energy was revived a little by the mail: my annual PLR cheque arrived from the Canada Council. Always thankful for the work the Writers Union of Canada has done to advocate for these author royalties for books in libraries.
Saturday: From Poetry to Memoir workshop with Jenna Butler, in which we wrote from poems into prose and vice versa, and I agreed with the metaphor of poetry as bird of prey. I ended up writing a new section of my CNF project on being a white mother to a black daughter and sat in the sun at lunch, outside. In February.
Sunday: on which I sat in my favourite local café and recollected it all beside my growler full of coffee beans. Buy nine, get one free—and this one was free. Time to start punching the card all over again, and heading into another week of creating. Starting with today…
Monday: meeting with my second writing group…
(image from a card by Sacred Bee )