June 5, 2014

Off-Road Adventures

I just watched On the Road (a movie based on Jack Kerouac's iconic novel) and was reminded anew of the need for writers to get out and experience life. Whether it's taking a bus across town or people-watching from any good vantage point, writers observe to gather material. We like to watch, coagulate, and regurgitate. Elegantly, of course.

Family-wise, this year has been a tough one, with a series of health alarms and one recent loss, of my one and only and very dear Uncle Jack. I still have trouble believing that he is gone. And I suspect we all go through this at one point in our lives, but Jack's passing was a big wake-up call for me. I ended up sitting on the floor one evening, doing yoga and thinking - why am I buying myself crappy ice-cream? If I'm going to eat the stuff, why not eat the good stuff? Life is short. We all say it, but when the concept sinks in (again and again, no doubt) there's no denying that our lives can change in a millisecond. There's no point in putting anything off for later, is there?

So. A tub of good ice-cream in my freezer and a renewed commitment to my "off-road" adventures, which all take place in my head and at my computer. I'm working on a new blog called Comment Curator, which will alert you to quirky bits of news, along with a brief look at how readers are reacting. I find on-line comments wildly entertaining... we've had media gate-keepers for so long, it's fascinating now to see what's coming out of the closet and the woodwork, so to speak. This is the closest we've ever been to having unfettered access to (mostly) uncensored public opinion. And while most of it is as banal as you'd expect, some of it is pretty amazing and quite hilarious. In any case, I'm willing to surf for the good ones, read through hundreds of comments and summarize them for your entertainment. We'll see how it goes!

I'm also making time to pull my Abi fiction scenes together. Thanks to a mutual commitment with another writer friend, I have produced 30,000 words of Abi's big adventure over the past year or so. The average book is about 60,000 words, so it looks like I'm halfway through my first draft, and now I need to develop some structure for the plot-line. My writer students at the TMI course gave me some brilliant ideas.

Finally, I continue to pump out short stories and poems, and will be submitting them more regularly to North America's literary journals and other possible publishers. Tough times for us emerging writers! Most publishers have discovered the financial value of holding literary contests, with the unfortunate result that writers now have to pay for the privilege of having their work read. It's bad enough that we are expected to write for free, and I was balking at having to actually put money out - but another writer friend reminded me that I should just be doing whatever it takes to be noticed. He's right.

I'm a writer. I writer things. It's what I dew.


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