Mary Oliver (September 10, 1935 to January 17, 2019)

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

 

Writing Retreat, take me away

It’s only four days into the back to work / back to school grind and I’m already craving a break. Thankfully, I’m heading up north tomorrow for a luscious three night writing retreat.

This retreat is the final act of an amazing course called The Big One offered by Firefly Creative Writing. Last year, we spent nine months together workshopping and focusing on our individual projects. Since we couldn’t bear to say goodbye to each other, some of us continued this year with a four month class as well as this weekend’s retreat. As excited I am for the retreat itself, I feel sad to be at the end of this journey with these writers and their characters that I’ve grown to love. But I’m not going to think about that now. We have a whole weekend together. Time passes so slowly on retreat.

Writing retreats with Firefly always hit the spot. I find that my words flow freely when I’m free of the day to day responsibilities. Being well rested is also a big creative instigator. For three blissful days, I will be responsible for no one but myself (with the exception of the one meal I’m prepping with a partner). Without all of the usual external demands, I am better able to be present with myself and know what I want from any given moment and what I need. I sleep more, eat nourishing food made with love and consideration, I read and I write and write and write. And oh how I love the lengthy periods of silence.

Retreats are like a little getaway with myself, where I can check in and catch up; all while in the soft container of Firefly community.

My suit of confidence

I submitted a thing for publication a week or so ago. It wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last, though I’m still in the single digits for submissions. I’m guessing that I haven’t been chosen based on the lack of response and the number of days that have elapsed since the editorial committee met. I was hopeful and excited about the possibility of being chosen and I’m proud of the piece I submitted.

What’s interesting to me is how disappointed I am that I appear to not have been selected. As if I assumed that I would be.

It occurred to me that this is because a writer needs to have a certain degree of confidence to submit their work for publication. After all, if I didn’t think it was good, I wouldn’t have been willing to put it out there for strangers to read. That confidence is what allows me to keep track of various submission deadlines, re-post on a Facebook page I created for that purpose (very eloquently named Stuff for Writers), and indeed to even consider submitting for these opportunities. Further, this confidence, worn as if an outer layer of clothing, makes me feel good about submitting, secure in the belief that I’m a real writer and folks want to read what I write.

So it naturally follows that my piece would be chosen, right? When it isn’t, I am genuinely dumbfounded. I don’t quite know what to do with myself as internalised self-doubt simply doesn’t get along with my suit of confidence. Inevitably, they start fighting. Self-doubt, though it’s been away on holidays, has the home court advantage, and it punches me in the gut.

It gets easier, doesn’t it?

Firely Open Mic Night

The next Firefly Open Mic night is coming up on January 19, 2019 with the theme of Endings and Beginnings. I love all things Firefly, but I especially love these Open Mic nights where the warmth of the Firefly community fills the studio with attentive care and support. It’s a great place to start out reading to the public and equally wonderful to come home to when you’ve been out in the world for awhile. Hope to see you there.

Emerging Writers Reading Series

By now this is old news, but it’s still pretty exciting news, so I wanted to post about it nonetheless. In early October, I found out that I have been asked to read on June 10, 2019 as part of the Emerging Writers Reading Series!

Reading the bios of other writers who have participated in these series fills me with a whole lot of “imposter syndome” (“I’m not worthy!”). It also fills me with a whole lot of pride in how far my writing has come and in my sell-confidence, without which I wouldn’t have applied at all.

I’d love for you to be there. June 10, 2019 at 7pm at Glad Day Bookshop.

Jumping into the deep end…

Hi. This is me, taking a deep breath before I take a running jump into this blog.

I admit, I’m a bit nervous about this. What if I don’t have anything interesting to say? What if nobody reads it? What if everybody reads it and knows all my business? Gah!

Stick around. This could get interesting.