Friday, April 13, 2012

Writing Away

A long held dream about to become reality! I'm off shortly to a small writing seminar near Toulouse France for four days, followed by a week in Spain to work on my project. Goal is to have a fairly polished submission for the Banff wired writing program due June 15.
I've been working on this novel for several years in what I can only describe as sporadic interludes and now is the time to hunker down and pull the disparate pieces together.
I've printed out a copy of the mss, have my IPad and my notes and hopefully will have peaceful sunny days on the terrace to sit staring at the pyrennees and then the Mediterranean, while the writing elves guide my pen.

What about you? What is your deepest writing desire? Where do you see yourself doing your work? Is there a writing course or teacher or book you feel would inspire you or give you additional skills as a writer? Can you see yourself writing in Rome, or reading The Artist's Way or taking an afternoon to walk and think your way through a plot point?

Heed your writing soul when it calls to you. As a writer, the deepest, most satisfying relationship you will ever have, is with your writing self. Follow that call, no matter how odd or difficult or impossible it may seem.

If it seems impossible that you will ever write in Rome, start by writing on the terrace of an Italian restaurant. If even that is impossible, make yourself a pasta dinner with a bottle of chianti, light a candle and listen to Pavrotti. There! You have your notebook and you are in Italy, in a dimly lit trattoria, working on your story. I guarantee you serendipity will engineer your life so that someday in the not too distant future you WILL be writing in a little Italian trattoria and recalling this little exercise in imagination.

Next challenge: draw, paint or Photoshop the cover of your novel. Make it real. See your name above or below the title. What IS the title? (of course it will be changed as the definition of a working title is a title that ISN'T working.

Take a look at amazon's list of titles in your genre. What jumps out at you.
Happy writing!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Notes for family history

Mother told me some things about their life during the war in Holland. It started with her reminiscing about the time Lamber Heuvel arrived unexpectedly at our farm in Eganville. We were out in the garden weeding the potatoes when an unfamiliar car came in the driveway and a man got out and came walking across the yard toward us. Mother knew right away it was Lamber even though she hadn't seen him in thirty years. She said it was very stressful as she didn't have anything prepared for supper and wasn't expecting visitors. Dad was in the bush and she sent me out to tell him that he had to come home and go into town for pork chops and cookies. The visit was too short, Mother said she was trying to cook and look at the photo albums he had brought and she said it was one of the great disappointments of her life in Canada. She lived with that family for five years in Veghel looking after their two kids Ilse and Bertie whose pictures stood on the living room china cabinet for years in Canada. Their mother was an invalid and mother looked after the household. Lamber was a builder and they were a well-to-do family with a big house and she lived with them in town and had a better life than if she stayed in Erp on the farm or worked in a factory. That started them talking about all the prominent townspeople that lived on that same street in Veghel and how Lamber did their renovations and such and that many of those townspeople who were Jews were all rounded up and put on the trains and many of them never came back.
Others who must have suspected what was coming, were able to flee to England.

Ma (at one point we watched too many Ma and Pa Kettle movies) said they had to all have a pass with their picture and thumbprint on it for identification. She was about fifteen when all this was happening. She was living in Eindhoven at the hospital when the bombardment started. The hospital was hit and it destroyed the staff sleeping quarters. So all the girls had to go home. Mother was at home for about a month and then she returned to Eindhoven even though Oma didn't want her to. She was there until the Normandy landings and then Ome Tien showed up the next morning and said that she had to come home...that Oma insisted that it was too dangerous and that there could be more bombings or such in Eindhoven. So Ma went back home. She lived for awhile at Ome Johan's and that is where she was when the actual hand to hand fighting came through their part of Holland. The family with all ten children were hiding underground in the rain cistern while the Germans and the Allied fought their way through the area. After it was over, they found dead soldiers in the ditches and she said you could hear the screaming and moaning of wounded soldiers. When the area was freed it was on Sept 17, a beautiful day and Ma said she could look out and see all the parachutes floating to the ground. It was the Americans...she said they were all little soldiers...and everyone was cheering and singing and the girls decided to go into Veghel for the celebration. They bycyled into Veghel where the Americans were handing out cigarettes and everyone was ready to party but the authorities told them they should go back home to Erp as it was no way certain that the Germans were all gone. So they bycled back home and when they got back, Ome Tien was digging a big hole in the ground and Oma had filled a trunk with all the good clothes and family valuables so they could bury it because they were sure the Germans would come back and take everything with them as was their custom. Dad said he remembers graves dug in the sides of the roads with dead soldiers...both English and German. Some dutch people shot any German soldiers they came across.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wilno Women Writers

Had a "catch-up" writers group meeting on monday night. Lots of discussion and very nice to be back together. Am thoroughly enjoying sandra's Mistress of the Sun and waiting to see the new draft Jenifer has brought back from mexico.

My own project is taking some form...a historical novel set in Spain with a central story involving a gitane girl and a famous bullfighter. Celestina is the daughter of a gypsy wheelwright who maintains the ranch carts for Don Ricardo Alfonso de Miura whose ranch is becoming renowned for their fearless toros. Celestina is obsessed with the livestock...wishes she could ride and ranch instead of having to mind the children and beg in the square. She befriends a cow laid up with an ailment which is due for slaughter. Only the bravest dams are allowed to bear calves and Celestina's favorite is rescued from the brink by having been set free in the pasture with the champion. She gives birth to a bull calf destined for greatness.

1932: birth of Celestina
1942 birth of
1945 Celestina attends corrida and falls in love with torrero.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"Mistress of the Sun" reading

Tuesday May 13: We had a very busy weekend but found time yesterday evening to attend Sandra's reading from her new novel Mistress of the Sun at the Killaloe Public Library fundraiser. The author, lovely in a period gown with draped sleeves and a satin bustle, answered questions from an audience of friends and neighbours. The third member of our writer's group (Wilno Women Writers), Jenifer McVaugh is also back from her winter sojourn in Mexico so we had a short reunion and planned a writers meeting for later this month.

Monday, May 5, 2008

no time to write???

Having just turned 55 and am feeling oldish and tired and weary of the same old routines and am looking for a way to turn those routines into a more productive and creative life.
My days are spent cooking, serving, cleaning, selling art, gardening, doing paperwork and more paperwork. I start at 7;30 am and we are often not out of the cafe until 9 pm or later. I enjoy our business and I enjoy the people we meet and I love being in an environment filled with art and music and good food but my personal life is getting short shrift and most nights I'm too tired to even eat a proper supper.

My writing also is stalled since most of my mental and creative energy goes into our cafe and inn. So I am all set to whine about how I just can't find the time to work on my creative projects...
BUT...says the little honest voice in my seem to have enough time to sit about in the evening drinking half a bottle of white wine before you go home to bed.
The little honest voice is right and furthermore, although half a bottle of white wine, sloshed down in a hurry on a mostly empty stomache does wonders to relieve the day's stress , it means I wake up at two a.m with an incipient mild hangover and insomnia.
Oh this is SOOOOO unfair. I like drinking half a bottle of white wine and feel resentful that a mere two and half glasses of a delicious riesling or chardonnay is enough to make me feel less than one hundred per cent in the morning. And then of course, there are the evenings where one has two-thirds of a bottle of white wine because we are having entertainment and one needs to stay lively and it's easier to have a glass of wine than to go to the kitchen and make myself a soya lecethin and banana milkshake which would be much better for my nutritional well-being.

And I know that even small amounts of alcohol are not good for post-menopausal women and that I don't need the extra calories and most of all, drinking wine becomes a substitute for other creative activity. A couple of years after we started our cafe business, I decided to quit drinking entirely and did so for almost three years. The first few weeks were slightly difficult, mostly because I had to find other things to do with my time. I promised myself a new Mac laptop and Internet access and that took care of the time issue. Within a month, once I'd gotten into a new evening groove, I didn't care if I ever had another drink or not...

This time, my rewards and diversions will have to be different. As one gets older, it seems that there's a negative sort of reward system in is happy just to feel healthy and energetic and focused instead of searching for the zapped up bliss that held so much promise just a few years ago. So the absence of pain and the accomplishment of a growing pile of pages should be enough to keep me on the straight and narrow path of tea and tap water. So here is my "vision statement".

Distilled into its essence, I feel that I spend too much of my precious free time drinking wine and not enough time writing and if I spend an hour every evening writing instead of drinking wine, I will have: @about 700 pages of something...maybe not very good stuff, but at least something written after one year. b) saved myself approx 1500.00 dollars (based on 5.00 per half bottle per night times 365 days a year c) saved myself about 300 calories a day which means I'll lose some weight effortlessly d) enhanced my health and saved myself the occassional morning headache and middle of the night insomnia.

So day one of the new disciplined regiment comes to a close. Cleaned the entire upstairs of our summer house this afternoon and this evening, after a yummy supper of pork chops, brocolli and rosemary mashed potatoes (with no wine with dinner) came back here and sorted out a large box of family photos and then organized this blog. Productivity level: good. Nutritional efforts; very good. (also had toasted western on whole grain for breakfast and a herbed egg salad on brown for lunch... too many carbs???...too many eggs?? I can get really neurotic about food.
Spring peepers are making their froggy noises down by the creek at Heritage Park and my spinach plants have sprouted in the greenhouse. All in all, a very pleasant sunny day and feel justifiably tired.