sea monkeys

5-Day Artist Challenge, Day 1: Writing

Okay, 5-Day Artist Challenge, here we go! In true OELC iArts fashion, I shall dedicate each of the five days to a different strand of art, and I decree that writing shall be first. Because obviously.

5-day artist challenge journal writing fountain pen

If art is bread for the soul, writing is… let’s say sourdough. You get a starter of an idea, you let it ferment a bit. You feed it some nice floury research, wait some more, and eventually you’re ready to knead and craft something interesting out of it. Or occasionally you might get a starter that’s all ready and you just have to go for it. Sometimes it will flop, sometimes it will have a respectable grain. Not everyone will like the result, but some people will think it’s delicious.

sourdough bread 5-day artist challenge
Image via bbc.co.uk

{My sister is the actual sourdough disciple. Through her, I have become acquainted with some different versions of her starter, Don Juan. Beth, do I sound convincing at all?}

Ahem. Yes. WRITING.

Writing is something I’ve done on a regular basis since my first diary was given to me on my seventh birthday. I really got going with the journaling in my pre-teen years, and was prolific throughout my teens and even university (as time permitted). I wrote compulsively about events I wanted to cherish, and even more compulsively about heartbreaking or awful or turbulent things I needed to process. Some hopes and philosophies, lots about friendships, and even more about boys.

During my grade-school years, I dreamed of being a professional writer one day (like my authorly heroines – Anne Shirley, Anne Frank, That Scatterbrain Booky). I was also homeschooled by my mom, who is herself a writer of poetry, stories, and historical novels. Her encouragement/bias is evidenced by the many stories and poems and not-at-all-historical novels I wrote during that time. (Her novels tended to treat actual elements of the British monarchy, and mine were about contemporary pre-teen girls with first-world problems. Amy the Dreamer; Remember Me? I’m Your Daughter; and My Friend Christie. They were twelve chapters each, written by hand on lined paper in duo-tangs. Full of my youthful feels, if not actual ingenuity. The Magic Chestnut was never finished.)

I remember submitting the painstakingly typed (and dot-matrix printed) Amy the Dreamer to Nelson Canada (it was kind of a homeschooling project, with a business letter and everything) and receiving a very nice rejection letter for it. I’m pretty sure I once had a poem published in Cricket magazine, and I won a few awards at my high school’s Literary Festival. My real accomplishment, though, was “Rainy Day Cindy,” my first (and only) fully author-illustrated short story – which you can view in its entirety on this very blog!

Then, in university, I wrote a buttload of essays, culminating in my 75-page mémoire (similar to a thesis) for my Masters in French lit. And that was enough of that.

My journaling, and actually my writing in all forms, dramatically tapered off when Sean and I settled down together. Naturally, peaceful love life = less fodder; real job = less time. It wasn’t until I started blogging that I realized how much I’d missed having that outlet.

I don’t really write fiction anymore. As a kid, I had no end of ideas, and felt absolutely entitled to write the heck out of them. Nowadays, I feel unqualified to make up stories, intimidated by the incredibly gorgeous and heartrending novels I’ve read. There’s a part of me that still wants to write a novel, or lots of novels. The trouble is, I don’t want to do so without a character who could steal your heart, preferably within a story that could blow your mind. I’m not confident that my imagination is up to the task.

But I do love blogging. I’ve heard folks paraphrase Dorothy Parker on more than one occasion: “I hate writing, I love having written.” For me, this is not the case. I relish the writing process, love finding and puzzling together the words to say what I mean. I even sort of liked writing essays, for the brain challenge. Writing soothes the itchy parts of my mind.

Thank goodness for you, lovely Di-hards. Just by reading, you validate my act of writing things. You motivate me just by your presence. You make it okay for me to keep this frivolous habit of committing my thoughts to words. I’m profoundly grateful to you.

***


 

Related Posts:

sea monkeys

Authentic Voices

I have been honoured this week by my friend lola over at bear & lion. She passed along to me the distinction of the Authentic Voice Award, for “those people who blog so transparently and with such authenticity that they are truly one of a kind”, created by Lillian at It’s a Dome Life.

authentic voice award

I feel privileged to receive this. Blogging is one of those arts with very few parameters on it – it can take any form – and sometimes it’s hard to have a direction, or to know what one’s “job” is as a blogger. I adore having this forum to write, and try to be as real as possible here. Even so, it’s hard to know whether I succeed at this. (Objectivity tends not to be a dominant element of blogging.)

Thank you, lola! You really brightened my week. (And congratulations! I heartily agree with Lillian that your blog is a unique, authentic voice.)

As Lillian says, there are no rules or questions or link requirements with this award – but we can spread it around.

A few times recently I’ve mentioned yeah write, where I’ve been reading some wonderful blogs. (So much that I really wish I could have a job that was all just reading and writing blogs.) Although basically everything I’ve read over there has been lovely and well worth reading, I’d like to share with you, for the Authentic Voice Award, some blogs that have particularly touched me. These bloggers write beautifully, honestly, insightfully – and represent, in my humble opinion, the best of what blogging is about: sharing the human experience in an accessible way that creates intimacy and connection in our global online community.

Angela at Not Appropriate for All Audiences

Azara at Tesseract

Bill at The Authentic Life

Christie the Outlaw Mama

Courtenay the Soup Mama

Ice Scream Mama

Jared at Lick the Fridge

Larks at Larks Notes This

Michelle at The Journey

Samantha at This Heart of Mine

I love reading your blogs, guys (when I get the chance. You know how it is).

And since I’m writing authentically today, and mentioned how week-brightening this award was, I will admit that it’s been a tough week. Heck, it’s taken me until Saturday to post a post I intended for Wednesday, so there you go. My Hubbibi got unexpectedly called in to work nights for the first time at his new job, and he’s been sporting about it… but honestly, it screws everything up.

Of course, when I’m the only adult in the house all night, suddenly my son, who usually sleeps right through, awakens several times because his BLANKET IS NOT RIGHT or whatever, and my daughter, who usually eats twice a night, decides she must eat approximately half a dozen times.

Then there’s the fact that E vacillates between sweet hilarity and whiny obnoxiousness (MOTL). After an interrupted night, my patience for these theatrics is… lacking. Which makes me feel like a bad mom (MOTL).

Then yesterday, we got the biggest snowfall we’ve had in ages. It buried our sandbox and drifted over our picnic table and almost engulfed our little car. The schools were actually closed (which happens very rarely – once a year or less), the library was closed, several bus lines stopped running.

Although life was business as usual for me, I felt happy about the snow. Last winter, we got very little snow and it felt wrong, like the snows of my childhood would never happen again.

I think it’s appropriate that once in a while, everything shuts down and everyone stays home. (Or as near as possible, anyway.)

Today it’s blinding white-and-blue outside, and Sean has worked his last night – for the time being, anyway. We’re having Liege waffles tomorrow morning to celebrate.

Related Posts:

sea monkeys

Narcissism on the Interwebs

My husband has a love-hate relationship with Facebook. He has created and deleted his account countless times. He knows that, for now, no other social media site does what Facebook does – that’s why he always ends up returning. The part he dislikes – apart from their sneaky privacy policies – is how it encourages narcissism.

facebook like
Likety-like?

I can see his point. There is something about publishing things on the internet that seems to lend them validity. You can go on Facebook and tell people: “Kids are at school, time for my morning coffee!” and chances are, there will be friends who Like your status, or who comment: “Me too! :)” or “OMG I <3 my Timmy’s!” Yep. Morning coffee: validated.

To Sean (and many others, I imagine), this is annoying. Who gives a poop about your morning coffee? Why should this be important to anyone?

And this is just a microcosm of the Greater Interweb, where anyone can be a published writer by starting a blog, anyone can initiate a comment war with a well-placed bitchy remark, and you never know if your stupid video of yourself accidentally face-planting in your kitchen might just go viral.

To me, the internet is simply a reflection of humanity. I’m not going to deny that, unfortunately, it has its evil side. The web validates child porn, white supremacy, and gun violence along with your morning coffee. That’s humanity for you.

At the same time, there are forums to condemn those things. And sources of sheer awesomeness to counteract them.

I see it as an equalizer. You can have your say and I can have mine. The floor is open.

I remember what it was like before the internet. I got my first email address in university, and it was a saving grace for a homesick freshwoman just a bit too introverted to love residence life. You mean, I can write to my family all at once? And they can write back that same day??

It took me longer to enjoy the wider internet. I remember my dad, who has been working with computers since they took up whole rooms, saying, “If you don’t know, you could look it up. On the internet.” I was dismissive; it seemed like too much bother. (HA.)

Now, I can barely imagine life without it. No more calling the Weather Office if you miss the long-term forecast. No more flipping futilely through Leonard Maltin if you can’t remember where you saw that actor before. No more recording grainy songs off the radio with DJs talking over the first ten seconds. No more researching with a mountainous pile of hulking tomes edited by a few academic strangers; Wikipedia weighs nothing, and it’s edited by everybody. Amazing!!

It’s a brave new world, easily accessible.

Aside from its handiness, though, it’s a great reminder that we are never alone. Whether your obsession be belly dancing, quantum physics, vintage cars, or high-quality writing implements with literary cachet {insert *Sean-cough*}, you know that online, you can find your peeps.

If you or someone you love has a miscarriage, postpartum depression, cancer, a broken heart, or anything else, there’s a community.

Also, if you need to laugh so hard you cry, or have your faith in humanity restored, it’s all there.

Some say that blogs are the ultimate example of narcissism. Any idiot can start a blog and start spewing their opinions and minutiae of their lives into cyberspace. True. The quality of blogs ranges from sublime to asinine.

But so what? As with all forms of media, all you need is a filter. If it sucks, DON’T WASTE TIME ON IT. If it smacks of narcissism, find something else.

I barely knew what a blog was when I started blogging; I just wanted to write. Little did I know that it would become the creative outlet I hadn’t realized I craved; that it would be an enveloping source of healing when my son died; that my message of encouragement to my colleagues would be read by thousands of disheartened teachers; that blogging would strengthen old friendships and open pathways to new ones.

It is wonderful, and humbling, to meet a reader for the first time and hear, “I feel like I know you – like we’re already friends!” And it’s not untrue: if you connected with me through my words, then we are connected. I wrote them for you.

I’ve felt similarly reading other blogs, learning so much about that writer and thinking, Wow, I love this person I’ve never met.

Mutual blog-reading and commenting is a unique form of friendship I’d never imagined. You can bond with people thousands of miles away, with whom you would never have crossed paths in life. That’s pretty special. The blogs I gravitate to are written by thoughtful, intelligent people, on all kinds of topics, and it’s genuinely comforting to read and relate to their words – especially after a national tragedy. In a community like Yeah Write, where mutual-readership is on fire, it’s like having a group discussion where we contemplate and compose our perspectives, then offer them to the company. I dig it.

And I don’t consider it narcissism to base your writing on your own experience. After all, that’s what we have to work with that’s most authentic and relatable.

As for Facebook… I like it. People complain about toxic comment threads and nasty gossip; I avoid those things as much as possible. It helps to have really nice friends.

It makes me smile to read about the kids or the garden, or see a photo of a delicious dinner or the dog looking silly. Those ordinary tidbits make me feel close to people I don’t see enough.

And when there’s serious news, whether personal or global, it’s heartening to see it through the lens of people I love.

By all means, tell me about your coffee. We can have one together.

continental breakfasts march10
Photo by Lisa of Continental Breakfasts.

***


 

Related Posts:

sea monkeys

A request for moms with a story to tell (I’m lookin’ at you, NaBloPoMoers and Yeah Writers)

As many of you already know, I am a two-timer. I have another blog besides It’s Dilovely – a blog called MotherGather, where I collect birth stories. I was inspired to start this community when I had my first child and realized how important birth and its stories are: real, unsanitized, passionate accounts of what are, for many women, the most intense and life-changing experiences we have.

Some of you have already contributed at least one story, for which I am exceedingly grateful. Your stories are amazing, genuine, unique, full of truth and love. Some of you wrote the stories yourselves and sent them to me, and some of you spent time telling me your stories while I tried to capture your voice as best I could. Some of you are working on your stories right now. 🙂

Today, I’m putting out an official request for more stories. I am always looking for new ones. One of the reasons I ask now is that it’s NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), a chance for bloggers to prove their mettle by writing every day of the month, and through BlogHer I’ve been perusing many an awesome blog these last two weeks. I’ve been enjoying the writers on the grid at Yeah Write, a community of “writers who blog and bloggers who write” – people who love writing, who do it because it brings them joy and satisfies a need for a creative outlet. Many of these bloggers are also mothers.

Dear Mom-NaBloPoMoers and and Mom-Yeah-Writers, I would be honoured if you would consider contributing your birth story to MotherGather. I would be thrilled to share your stories, linking back to your blog if you like. Please take a look at the Share Your Story page and think about it (and of course if you want to wait until after November is over, there’s no rush!).

And if you don’t think you are a writer, but want to share your story, please contact me at itsdilovely(at)gmail(dot)com. We will make it happen.

I can’t wait to hear from you!

Sincerely,

Dilovely

***


 

Related Posts:

sea monkeys

Is this what it’s like to be popular?

So, lovely Di-hards, how do you like the new look? Isn’t it pretty??

I’d like to declare a huge thank you to my big brother, Uncle Ben, a.k.a. Eupharos, for taking a nice theme by NodeThirtyThree and customizing the whole thing according to my inexperienced ideas. He’s got skillz. And he’s even going to help with different versions of it for different seasons, so we don’t get bored. Yay! Merci!

(Incidentally, we are still working out a few kinks of the changeover… like you might notice the comments suddenly aren’t threading, for some unknown reason… but we will figure it out, I’m sure.)

I also want to express my thanks to everyone who read – and everyone who shared – my last post about teachers. I never expected that the aforementioned facelift would coincide with a much larger event.

It has been humbling and wonderful and more than a little freaky to watch my traffic spike over the last week… and when I say “spike”, I’m actually understating it a bit. Through last Monday, I got nice, regular, very modest traffic (100-200 page views per day) where I knew most of my actual readers personally, and the rest of the traffic bounced across my blog looking for movie reviews, Kate Winslet naked, Salma Hayek’s cleavage, or Reese Witherspoon’s legs.

On Tuesday, I suddenly had the most one-day page views of my li’l blog’s history, including more than 500 just for my teacher post. I was all like, “Woohoo! How exciting!” Then, the next day, views for the post jumped, such that Tuesday’s numbers became tiny. By yesterday, the post had been shared so many times on Facebook (over 1K) that my widget stopped counting.

I know these numbers are not huge by internet standards in general, but to me, they were nothing short of shocking. By yesterday evening, I was feeling a bit more “Um, holy crap,” than “woohoo”, because what the heck do I know about getting this much attention?? As of this writing, Those Greedy, Lazy Teachers has been viewed 14,000 times and counting. (Please don’t think I’m boasting here – it’s more like boggling.)

Again, thank you. I am honoured that you found my words to be worth passing along, that you chose them to help represent teachers’ situation. And a special thanks to all you supportive non-teachers – you make such a huge difference at times like these.

I’m figuring that this will be simmering down pretty soon. I think it is most likely a one-post flash in the pan for this blog, indicative of teachers’ level of frustration – not to mention need for understanding – in the current climate.

As such, dear teachers, I hope that reading this helped, for a moment at least. You have proven what a tight-knit, solid community we are. I hope your first week back with the kids was stellar.

And I hope that at least a couple people who needed that clarification have gotten it, and understand a bit better. It’s hard to tell about that.

You see, along with all the page views, I’ve also had an unprecedented number of comments, and… my very first trolls! (It’s funny that I vowed in my post not to read any comments on online forums… I didn’t realize I was going to create one.) And I was very nervous about those trolls before they showed up yesterday, knowing it must be only a matter of time before they stepped up to the plate… but then I got a comment from “Fred”, and honestly, I was grinning. Silly though it sounds, it made me feel that I’d “arrived” somehow – to be spread far enough to get me some haters.

Anyway, after congratulating Fred on being my first troll, I was amazed and relieved to realize it wasn’t just me against him: other readers were stepping up to enter the discussion. (If you co-defenders are reading – again, thank you.) It got rather interesting. And THEN, there was Thomas, who made Fred look like a relatively good-natured mischief-maker.

All this served to remind me of something I think I already knew: if a mind is tightly closed, you can’t just go and open it.

I think, to get into a mind like that, you would have to come at it sideways, far from the protective anonymity of the Birdhouse. You’d have to meet that person, in person, in an entirely different context… see each other as humans first, do something unexpected that peels back a layer of baggage. Like in this story from Momastery – I love how Glennon wrestles (philosophically) with herself and the jerk beside her on the plane, and they both learn stuff.

And hey, just for fun, since I’m all wicked-popular now (get it? I’m sooo funny), here’s a song that I hope might give me guidance on what on earth to do next.

Related Posts:

sea monkeys

Mini-Update

I was going to try to come up with a cooler title for this post than “Mini-Update”, and then I figured that a short little title was actually appropriate(r) for a mini-update, duh. (Now I’ve just gone and ruined it by using a whole long sentence to explain myself. Oh well.)

  • The weekend before last I spent with my fantastic dance troupe ladies on a rock island in Gull Lake. The cottage we stayed in is as cottagey as you can imagine. No running water, outdoor composting toilet – it’s good to be reminded of how kinda miraculous our everyday amenities are. Also good to spend time with some awesome people and a lot of great food, in the midst of stunning scenery. How about a couple of gratuitous pretty-nature photos?

rock island in Gull Lake, Minden ON

softest moss in the world

  • It has also been soooo good to have quality time this month with people I don’t see enough of – my brother and sister-in-law from out East, and my cousin who’s wayyy out on the West coast. Sigh. I love my peeps.
  • It’s starting to feel like all I do is have appointments for the baby… but I can’t complain. I had another regular ultrasound yesterday, and all is well, perfect biophysical once again. AND, she put her head down! Yay! Now if we can just keep it there…
  • Also, she gained some serious weight. She’s been cruising along at the 50th percentile all this time, and suddenly she’s at the 97th (the doctor didn’t seem fazed, so I figure it’s all good).
  • Also, her cheeks are all round and cute! I saw ’em. Amazing. Continue reading “Mini-Update”

Related Posts:

sea monkeys

Meet the New Lady

{So far, Mr. A is winning: I’m pretty sure “Di-hards” is my favourite suggestion regarding club names to make us sound more cool. (Well, he suggested it along with “fans”, but I’m just not sure I pull that off.) To me, you’re di-hards because you rock no matter what. You’re here for the funny stuff and the sad stuff, whether we’re discussing poop or politics. You inspire me every time I write. If you weren’t here, I wouldn’t be either.

What do you think? Are y’all down with your new monicker? Because the polls are still open – if you have more suggestions, feel free…}

Okay, back to business. Would you like to meet my new friend? Here she is.

Kiwaya KS-4P ukulele

In my mind, I call her Lady, in honour of the yoga ladies. She is damn gorgeous.

Here’s how we came to be together.

Sometime in early 2007, Dilovely heard this guy play this song on CBC Radio 2, and promptly fell for both (you may remember it from the Pick-Me-Up Playlist)

 

Continue reading “Meet the New Lady”

Related Posts: