May 27, 2003

Another little bit about Dorothea Brande before I close up her book and put it on the shelf… I have found yet another thread of wisdom about writing that has been pulled into the works of contemporary writers such as Natalie Goldberg and Sophy Burnham.

It is the idea that writing is a meditative process. Back when dear Dorothea was writing she didn’t come out and call it ‘transcendental meditation’ or ‘sitting zazen’, but she describes the experience in detail and it’s bang on with things that Natalie Goldberg has mentioned in her books on writing. (Writing Down the Bones, Wild Minds, Thunder and Lightning)

I must agree…magic happens when I can free my mind from the crosshatches of the mundane. Chase off monkey mind and I am left with a space where my best thoughts rise to the top. They come while walking the loop, picking rocks on the beach, soaking in the tub, between the end of the day and sleep. (and don’t fool yourself into thinking they will last…the notebook must be handy at all times!)

The reading – a wonderful night for all five participants in the WFNS mentorship program. We done ourselves proud.

I was nervous right up until I was standing at the front of the room. Once I started reading, the characters took over and told their own stories. What a freeing and exhilarating experience. I have to say that I love all aspects of being a storyteller…the written and the spoken word. It brings out the Dickens in me.

Natalie Goldberg
WFNS

May 06, 2003

Another update.
May 3 was the Atlantic Journalism Awards. (Was a finalist in the Feature Writing for Radio category) Quite the swanky affair...reception overlooking the harbour, excellent people watching opportunites, delicious food (a salad 'sculpture' with poppy seed dressing, salmon steak rubbed with herbs, and a decadent chocolate custard served with Nova Scotia berries. I feel so Virginia Woolf.), and a long awards ceremony laced with a bit of schmoozing. (and wine)

The guest speaker (a national news anchor who shall remain nameless) informed the audience that 'fiction can't change lives and journalism can.' Hmmm, I sure wish someone had told me that before I started the novel.
ARGHHHHHH. What an ass. I guess he thought he knew his audience.

After fuming over his remarks I have come to these conclusions...
1. If he's never read a work of fiction that has left him feeling 'changed' then I feel sorry for him.
2. Excellence in writing is excellence in writing. the 'difficult story' whether told by a journalist, a novelist, a poet or playwright is the most rewarding.
3. My reason for being there was to light a fire in my heart. The evening reaffirmed my dedication to work toward ALWAYS creating work that has meaning and depth.

On the up side I met some wonderful people. The journalist who won the gold in my category has been at it for over 20 years. She and some other CBC producers had many compliments for my work. Encouraging. I will keep the homefires burning.
Mr. National News can bite me.

http://ajas.ca

it's done!!!
Finished the novel last Sunday night. Of course there are things to 'fix' and I have to go back and smooth things out for continuity's sake (dates, names, etc.) but the flesh is on the bones and I'm feeling pretty happy about it.

my brother asked me, "it's done? how do you know? I can't write an email without revising it six times before I send it off."

he's right...it will be tough to know when to stop tinkering with it. For now I am trying like hell to stay away from it, give it a bit of distance. I find it (the novel) is behaving like an evil beau...constantly trying to lure me back to it, trying to get me to sneak off to my writing room and give it a few strokes.

Dorothea Brande is keeping me honest. here's what she has to say about the matter.
"You are simply not ready to read your story objectively when it is newly finished; and there are writers who cannot trust their objectivity toward their own work much under a month. So put it away and turn your attention to something else. Now is the time of times for the reading which you have been denying yourself. Your story is safely written, and will preserve the marks of your personality so tenaciously that not the deepest admiration for the work of another writer will be likely to endanger it."

For today I am safe. I have let out my little room to my son and his friends for a pizza party. Perhaps I will pick up a new book and let my mind wander...