writing career


2007

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Because I was a teacher, I’ve never really gone off the school calendar. My year begins when school resumes in late August. I have longer weekends nearly every month and life is regularly interrupted by early out days, oddly placed vacations and the occasional night duty.

So when everyone else (and by that I mean normal adults with real jobs) were heading back to work after January 1st, I was still in “off” mode because Dee had another week of Christmas vacation to go.

Today, however, she is back to school and Rob is back to work and I am officially beginning 2012 with a schedule of my own, which includes 3 nights of teaching yoga, one night of soccer, one late afternoon running of the child to her own yoga class and two yoga classes of my own to attend. Monday thru Friday is beyond packed and the margin for error or the unexpected is slim to none.

But you still have the weekends, I hear you thinking. A long one at that. This is true. Aside from soccer practice on Saturday mornings, the weekends are blissfully free of obligation. Happy Year of the Dragon to me.

The only thing I have not settled on is my writing focus, but that’s hardly new. I am leaning towards going back to fiction and the memoir. I like Abel’s idea for a theme for the latter and my e-copy of Game of Thrones has made me nostalgic for fantasy. Some of the first good fiction I wrote was fantasy because that’s primarily what I was reading at the time.

I will say that I have lost the fire for freelance. The class I took in the fall was a good experience. I learned a lot. I discovered, however, that I still dislike journalism. Essays and opinion pieces suit me much better. And, I am still burnt out on activist political posting. The world has become such a sad, dirty place in terms of politics and issues that I think it’s bad for my soul and not all that good for karma to immerse myself in that kind of writing at this time. I don’t need the extra negativity. I have family for that.

I have a couple more things to say about widowhood, dating and remarriage though but I am still running them around the track in my mind’s eye.

Last thing on the agenda is organization. It’s past time for the next great purge and there are a few legal things that need to be taken care of in addition to the fact that the house is screaming for all things to find a place and just stay there – no more musical chairs.

Did I just make resolutions? Good gods!


Cartoon showing baby representing New Year 190...

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I never really left school. I went from university to teaching, so the calendar year never altered for me. August kicks off the new year in a way that January just never did.

It’s funny really that the year officially rolls over in January yet many people mark the passage of time with the school calendar or the fiscal year, which is July or October usually, depending on your occupation. January 1st is just Christmas’s less interesting sibling.

Back in the day, I would have already been in my classroom and probably completely ready to go by now. I made it a habit to crack the seal on my “office” door the first week of August. I’d spend the mornings cleaning, organizing, decorating and finally planning. I typically outlined the entire year before breaking it down by semester and then grading periods and finally daily lesson plans. I rocked really.

August, therefore, feels like the time to plan. With Dee heading back to school, I have free hours during the day that need direction.

Direction that isn’t laundry or baking or cleaning.

Briefly I toyed with applying for a job at the museum in town. They are looking for a program assistant. It’ teacher work. Organizing and brainstorming. I would totally be in my element. Curriculum. History. Teaching. Some of my favorite things in life. The work is even part-time and mostly flexible, but the bulk is Tuesday and Thursday, and I am already committed to teaching yoga at the community hall in the evenings. The potential for the whole thing to turn into long days in the hellmouth is fair to good.

I’m gearing up to have myself added to the city’s yoga teacher sub list, and I’m going to take a couple of classes to get ready to e-publish a few short works that are a bit too niche for the bigger markets. That’s enough on top of home and family though I struggle still with the stay at home thing. Four years out of the workforce is a freakish feeling for someone who spent nearly 30 years of her life working. And with the economy in free-fall again, I get itchy.

But we don’t need me working part-time for peanuts, which screws us at tax time, and me going back to teaching adds unnecessary stress to our daily lives because the juggling of household chores and kid is no small thing. The pressure to work outside the home rears up though. Not as often as in the first years and usually driven by  something coming up that my working wouldn’t fix anyway.

It’s better that I stick to my original plan, which could pan out more profitably in the longer term with a bit of luck and nose to the keyboard.

Need to put my father’s daughter to bed once and for all and concentrate on the ball in play.


kosmic blogging in samsara

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I should be writing today. I told someone – okay, my editor – that I would. But I am not. I am dorking around while I have three stories waiting on me for the paid gig, but inspiration and desire to write eludes me.

So what do I do when I should be writing but I find it task-like and unappealing?

I spam my own Facebook feed with nonsense.

This is not productive and only serves to remind me that other people are more clever than I am … and have more work ethic. And are more mentally disturbed.

What happened to my work ethic?

Oh, right, I never really had any personally. It was just pragmatism disguised as productiveness.The curse of those born in the shadow of the Valley of the Boomers. We work hard when necessary but we prefer coasting. Just look at President Obama if you don’t believe me.

I was talking about my contribution to the household finances the other day with Jade, the owner of the yoga studio where I teach, I mentioned that Rob smiles fondly at me when I talk about my paycheck. That smile reserved for cute children and pets.

“Awwww … she’s so sweet when she thinks she’s contributing.”

Because monetarily, I am not so much.

My heavy lifting is kind of just that as I make the trains run like the house’s wife should – efficiently and looking quite fetching as I do so.

And it’s not as if my husband doesn’t give due credit or is anything other than appreciative. He just thinks my fixation on my money-making endeavors – the blog stuff in particular – is not worth my worry.

If I write and get paid – awesome, and if I slack, well, then I do. It’s not like the compensation is commensurate with the effort. And that’s the problem. I put in time for a token and though I am not creating a Huffpo empire for someone exactly, I am not creating much for myself either. I am an Internet content serf.

So, I vacillate. One month, I pour it on and the next? Meh.

I was asked recently when I was going to open my own yoga studio.

“No plans for that,” I said. I’d just spent a week holding down the fort for Jade while she was on her yoga cruise, and there is no glamour in running a studio – though the studio itself is glamorous  and I always get a little thrill when I open and close up. It has, frankly, a feeling of purpose that regurgitating news sans personal commentary doesn’t.

But I am not sure I am up to run a business on my own though it would be sort of awesome.

Or I could just go back to fiction writing and pretend that people read my blog.

Poised. I am in a constant state of poised. Where is the tipping point? Poised seems frozen and first runner-up.

If only patience was one of my virtues but then I would probably be a famous blogger if that were the case.


I am still bone weary. I just do not bounce back from sleep deprivation. My body refuses to push the envelope anymore. It’s a direct result of years of getting by on 4 or 5 hours a night while carrying the weight of my small existence around on my back, stooped like a Chinese peasant tending rice paddies.

Since I know it can take weeks to get myself even again, I will have to modify my plans for the next three months a tiny bit. Yes, it’s the new quarter, and I am laying out the calendar.

April will see me finish Night Dogs. Thanks to Rob’s plot insight, I have plugged the gaping plot hole in a plausible manner and can now continue. Night Dogs will be the story I workshop in June when I have plans to take a course on revision at the U of A’s Women’s Writing Week. The revision class is the only one I found that was not fluff, and it bothers me a bit to support a program that equates women’s writing with “journaling” and poetry only but so be it. It’s the only game going and I need to take a class.

In May I will begin working on a novel whose idea came to me via a science article on Slashdot about solar flares and our planet’s scary dependence on electrical grids and gadgets. Rob listened while I outlined it as we drove and he answered my questions about what-ifs. He liked it. He is partial – to me – but if he thought the idea totally blew chunks, he would say so.

June is classes. Revision, drafting and the beginning of prodding Rob to write out his part of our story. The memoir is now a joint project. We will work on it over the summer with the idea that it might be a pitchable idea by the time I head to the Williamette Conference in August (where I am going to try to pitch Night Dogs for sure and hunt for an agent at least).

In the meantime, blogging is going to suffer, but I will continue – just not at my usual pace. I can’t say what my pace will be, but if you bookmark me or put me on your reader, you shouldn’t miss much.

If you are wondering about the trip, you can read about it here, here, here, and here – if you haven’t already.

Wednesday afternoon was spent unpacking, doing laundry and generally regaining our land legs. Slept in on Thursday  but as I mentioned, I am still whipped.

I finished up the presentation for the workshop on Saturday but I am not going to be practiced enough. Hopefully my teaching instincts will take over and all will be well.

Since I am too tired (I’ve mentioned that too much, I know), here are pictures from the trip to make up for the piteous Friday update.

Revelstoke Town Centre

Revelstoke Town Centre

Rob taking a photo of Mt. Robson

Rob taking a photo of Mt. Robson


I answered the phone yesterday and when the young woman asked for Robert I was fairly certain I was dealing with a telemarketer.

“He’s not available. Can I take a message?”

“Well is this Shelley?”

Now I am certain she’s a telemarketer.

“Shelley died.”

“Oh, I am so sorry. Perhaps you could help? I am calling on behalf of Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party.”

I refrained from asking her why that nob thinks the party is his alone and interrupt with,

“I’m an American. I don’t vote here.”

“Oh, I am terribly sorry. Have a good evening.”

It wasn’t quite three in the afternoon, so she must have been out East and I wondered if she knew something I didn’t, but a quick scan of the headlines at MSNBC revealed that the U.S. hadn’t completed its slow implosion, nor had the solar winds ripped away the atmosphere hovering above it so it was indeed still there.

An interesting punctuation mark at the end of my work day. I’d just gotten back from town where I set up my own checking account to deal with business expenses and hopefully payment someday soon. I felt like a 50’s sitcom wife, setting up her little hobby business. Except I am my business and I am not a hobby. It was odd, however, because I have had my own banking accounts since I was 15 or 16 years old and I still have accounts back in the old country.

Reminded me a bit of getting the credit account at the furniture store a few weeks ago, stepping back and seeing how different I am. I had refused to merge my accounts with my late husband’s because I was so worried about losing my identity to that of Mrs. My mother had beat it into our heads as young women that we should never be without money or credit in our names alone.  It was too dangerous in a world where women are still not quite equal.

With the continuing collapse of the financial world, I should be more militant but I have a feeling that in the end, things like credit histories and the like aren’t going to matter all that much.  I hope I am being too much of a pessimist, but American currency seems a dubious bet right now and joint or separate – it’s all the same, heading toward worthless.

On a brighter note, I will hit 70,000 words today or tomorrow and be done by Christmas. That is two weeks later than my original goal but I got tangled up a bit on my timeline and needed to go back and read some email and the like for clarification.

I was reminded by a woman in my Fort writing group about the Writer in Residence at the U of A only being available to critique manuscripts until the beginning of April, so I will have to get on reading and revision quickly in the New Year. Can’t let a free service like her go to waste.

Rob is chomping at the bit to read. Usually I let him read and edit things as I work, but I have been selfish with the memoir. I did read him a bit the other night and he liked it. Good sign.

My thwarted columnist ambitions are still on the hunt for other opportunities. I hesitate to seek out another blog contributer position because even with the exposure, it’s still working for free. I am keeping my eyes open. At this point anything I find is at least good practice. I plan to sign up for a course or two via Writer Mama. Perhaps define my area of expertise and work on short creative non-fiction?  Still deciding.  Kind of like the business cards.  I think I need one but haven’t decided on the wording or look. I am a WIP just like my memoir it seems.

BabyD’s Christmas concert was last evening. They call it “Christmas” here. None of that “winter holiday” stuff. Typical elementary performance. Mercifully short. I am a terrible person who really would prefer not to watch other people’s children sing badly, so I was fine with the abbreviated length.

Last day of freedom for me today, so Rob and I are eating in town. Our usual sub joint.

It’s cold. An old high school friend’s FaceBook update indicated that a woman knows it’s cold when she has cl*tcicles hanging from her lady cave*. It’s not that cold.  But the hairs in my nose freeze or thaw depending on the direction of the air flow and fingers are sandpaper from dishwashing these days. -31C yesterday morning and worse is to come for the new year.

And that’s the week, dear readers. Do stop by Monday. I’m having a book giveaway! Joshua Henkin will personally autograph and send a copy of his novel, Matrimony, to one of you – wherever you are in the world – and all you have to do is drop by and comment.

*I am paraphrasing somewhat. Disturbing vision though, eh?