It's Saturday night in St John, and I have just finished my last event with the glorious FogLit, St John's very first "literary festival." This has been an exciting time, for them and for me. Most of the writers here are from the Maritimes, and it's an exciting bunch of people.
This is my first real gig out of Ontario, and I do have to say it's very exciting. if I hadn't been trying to dodge a cold I would probably have enjoyed it more. The fatigue brought on by the cold has really sent me barreling into bed for a rest more often than I would have liked. ...
Fog Lit in St John
I arrived on Friday afternoon and went to a wonderful reading in the afternoon.....
Chad Pelley, Riel Nason, Beth Powning, and David Adams Richards all read at the Novel Tea event. It's the first time I had heard any of them, and I was captivated by the maritime voice, the long history of story-telling.
Of course I bought books, which means that my suitcase will be loaded up when I fly out in the morning...
Today I did a morning workshop on writing memoir. All of that was very exciting for me, because although I seem to have written two memoirs, I'm not really sure that I know "how to do it"... It was a great bunch of people! Not true "seniors", as I would have expected back in Kingston, but a slightly younger crowd for the most part. We talked a lot about memory and about "story" ... finding the actual story within the memory.
The moderator asked me to read a bit, which I did. A piece from Little Comrades (the story called "Pink") , and talked about it being the first actually "story" I was aware of writing. I passed out notes to everyone, and then encouraged them to talk to me. Went on for about an hour and then we all took a coffee/tea break. Talk, talk, talk. Later I read the "Stairway" section from Love, and all that Jazz. The people seemed pleased with the workshop.
I met Chad Pelley again Saturday afternoon, when we are on a panel together, with Cary Caffrey, to discuss what was billed at "Indie vs Traditional Publishing." I don't think any of us were quite happy with the concept of "versus", but we certainly had a lively discussion of the range of publishing options in today's world.
I’m trying to get back to doing the occasional blog… As you can see from the past notes, I really stopped communicating after my husband died… But now it’s time I picked up my life again…
My new memoir, “Love, and all that Jazz” has been published and the reviews have begun to trickle in… (You can find them elsewhere on this website.)
Kingston WritersFest 2013
I had a great weekend at the end of September with the Kingston WritersFest, where I was on a panel with the ever-wonderful Helen Humphreys and the newly-wonderful Iain Reid. Shelley Tanaka is a splendid moderator. She made us all think, made us talk, made us laugh.
We chatted about memoir, with each other and with the audience, and a grand time was had by all. There were a lot of exciting events to go to, a lot of writers to listen to and to meet, too many books to read ….
I have a new stack beside my bed now.
But what am I to do with the ones that have been languishing there over the past several months??
Perhaps if the sun were shining I'd find something better to do than write a note from Kingston on this early January day. This January day, early. Parenthetically, just to say that it is indeed early, at 8:30, but not as early as it was an hour ago, before I had breakfast. So. A grey morning, but mild.
We Canadians always deliver weather reports to each other by way of getting into any discussion. It's what I explained to my late husband as the "two stupid things rule." This rule permits any two people attempting to start up a conversation to begin with the weather or some equally insipid subject. "Miserable day, eh?" "Cold enough for you?" "How's things?" "How's the family?" Each of the participants in this attempted conversation is allowed to say two stupid things, and if nothing catches any interest or attention, may leave – no judgments assumed. My husband said learning that useful Canadian rule was more help to him than ten years of psychotherapy. The two stupid things rule, though undocumented, is a major feature of almost all inter-personal initiations.Â Â ......
Adventures in Kingston have been a bit limited over the past several weeks, what with everyone scurrying about hither and yon with family holiday doings, but it is indeed settling into true winter. Which, incidentally, means that I am rapidly making my preparations to get-out-of-Dodge. I am lining up a bunch of lunch dates over the next few weeks, beginning with today, when I had a very fine neighbourhood lunch at Days on Front.
Which reminds me that, oh dear, I do bemoan the disappearance of the apostrophe. I know they took it out of all place names and street names, so that Day's Road is now Days Road, but it is clearly disappearing everywhere -- partly, perhaps, because of the inability of some people to use it properly. The apostrophe as an intellectual challenge! And we all know that the solution to ignorance is oblivion. This poor English language had a superb form to indicate possession, and that's all gone now... Part of the dumbing down of just about everything. You really must pardon my parenthetical musings. I don't seem to be able to get over them, and this seems at the very least an appropriate place to muse... here on my computer in the muzziness of morning.
Another piece of dumbing down I note in facebook messages (and text messsages, presumably) from Mexican friends, is the universal elimination of "qu" in which quiero has become kiero. And so, the language changes.
I remember when in, oh about 1958 or so, the cigarette brand Winston, began an advertising campaign with "Winston's taste good, like a cigarette should." Well, there was hell to pay! The newspapers were full of it, the grammatical error of the statement, the eroding of linguistic standards. "Like" was clearly incorrect, and that particular usage must not be allowed to be-foul our precious English language. And now? Do we ever even notice that use of "like"? Or has language evolved to include it. And so, even when I rage these days about the application of the verb "grow" to non-organic nouns, I know that battle has long been lost.Â
I haven’t posted a blog on here for nearly a year! I have been distracted by several things … partly, of course, I have been doing more work on my next book, “Love, and all that jazz”, but also – my husband’s health suddenly deteriorated.
I haven’t written anything in this space since the end of July, I see. Well … life has been busy. Little Comrades created a nice little stir and I have been doing gigs around the area, some readings, some book clubs.
Sarah Hampson’s article in the Globe and Mail, Laurie Lewis pens first book, Little Comrades, at 80, got me a lot of attention. People seem to be interested in what I can only call “the age factor”. My mother used to say that once you pass 80, people will applaud you just for standing up! I don’t really feel the same about it. I do think that I have achieved something, and I have some pride in having done so, but for me the important thing is that I can go on from here. Somehow or other, in the process of all of this, I think I have begun to learn how to write. (Part of which is, just do it!)