It’s been a week since I submitted my “manuscript” for validation on the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) web site. Such an understated climax, pasting what you hope will be recognized as 50,000 words into this tiny, two-line text box and then pressing SUBMIT. And what a feeling of … what, a little jubilation and a lot of relief when this WINNER banner comes back at you.
As I explained in my last post before I started on this journey, NaNoWriMo Newbie, I had never planned to write a “novel”. I wasn’t one of those people who’ve always said they’ve got a novel in them. Quite the contrary, actually. I like writing for my grandchildren, but adults? I don’t think so. But somehow the idea slowly took hold that this could be an interesting challenge. And November in Atlantic Canada doesn’t have a lot of competing attractions. Thus began a novel November for me. Continue reading
We’ve just returned from a great trip in Portugal, Morocco and Spain, and in a perfect world I’d be blogging about our trip, especially our time in Morocco and in the northern Sahara. But that will have to wait until after November.
I also read an intriguing book written by a Cuban exile while I was away, a book that cries out for a blog post once I get my head around it. But that will have to wait until after November.
What is it about November? Turns out it’s National Novel Writing Month. I had never heard of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) before I started blogging. Who could have imagined that tens of thousands of people around the world sign up every November, pledging to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Needless to say, the notion is that these 50,000 words will form a first draft of a novel. I suppose they could also form a collection of short stories or even creative non-fiction, but you get the idea. Many people say that they’ve always felt like they have a novel in them. I was never one of those people. But, with no grand plan that’s been simmering for years and no background in fiction writing except for a few stories for my grand children, I’ve taken up the challenge. Why? Because I’m retired and I can. Because I like a challenge. Because I work better when I have a goal and a deadline. Anyway, why not?!
Meanwhile, when not writing my 1667 words per day, I will be spending time reviewing the writing advice I’ve been fortunate enough to glean from some of my favourite bloggers, all of whom are NaNoWriMo veterans. To all of you, thank you for your inspiration and guidance. Of course, I say this on November 1. By November 30 I may be sending curses your way!
In most of the books and blogs I’ve read about writing, the first piece of advice is “put bum in seat”. In other words, to borrow from Nike, “Just do it”. That’s a bit misleading. You not only have to stop procrastinating, you also need to have a creative idea to work with. It’s not uncommon in the writing process to stare at a blank screen or sheet of paper for a long time without any results. Sitting down and getting to it is more helpful than not doing so, but it doesn’t guarantee success.
Running isn’t that complicated. You don’t need to be creative; you just need to do it. Just. Do. It. Then why is that so hard sometimes? Recently my brother – and frequent running partner – sent me a one-line email that said, “You are not nearly as fun or interesting now that you are a non-runner.” I guess he misses me! We’ve spent the last 4 years enjoying frequent and long phone conversations commiserating about our weekly training efforts. Until June. After our last half marathon in Ottawa at the end of May I was ready for a break. That was my story and I stuck to it. The problem was that once I stopped it was so darn easy to just stay stopped. I became an example of what we learn in physics: inertia – a body at rest stays at rest. My summer has been one of inertia. Continue reading
Posted in Running, Travel
Tagged Blue Nose race weekend, excuses, Half Marathon, Halifax, inspiration, marathons, motivation, older runners, perseverance, procrastination, running, setting goals, target race, training, Washington DC, writing
Labour Day. The last weekend of summer. In most parts of North America, the Labour Day Weekend marks the “real” end of summer and the return to life’s routine (not to mention Labour Day sales). Let’s call it the end of the spirit of summer, even if it’s not quite Sept. 21. School is starting again, with kids starting a new grade or even a new school. Colleges and universities are welcoming their new and returning students. Few of us can’t recall the anticipation of the first day of school each year, regardless of how long it’s been. Labour Day is really more like New Year’s than New Year’s because our lives revolve around school terms, even when we haven’t been in school for decades. It’s a time of new beginnings. This is when regularly scheduled activities resume, like choir practice, photography clubs, book clubs, bowling leagues, you name it. This is also a time when we get a chance to reset our routine. Maybe we’ll find a new course to enrol in or a new fitness class to try out or some new volunteer work. It’s a time of new beginnings, an opportunity to write a new script on the clean slate of the 2013-14 (school) year. Continue reading
Posted in Odds and Ends
Tagged back to school, employment, end of summer, global economy, Labor Day, labor movement, Labour Day, multinationals, school, unemployment, work
We have lived in prime whale-watching country for more than 40 years, but it wasn’t until after I jumped at the opportunity to go whale watching – for killer whales – while on a trip to British Columbia 20 years ago that I thought, “Wait a minute, what about the whales at home?”
Killer whale sighting from our zodiac off Victoria, BC
We have since rectified that omission many times over. If you haven’t been whale watching and you have the opportunity, it is something not to be missed. And it’s not meant to be just a one-time event, although once is way better than never. These are big animals. Spectacular. Majestic. The ocean is their domain. Also, being out in the open water brings many viewing experiences, with whales just being the main attraction out of the many entities you’ll encounter. During our most recent trip out on the Bay of Fundy – from St. Andrew’s, New Brunswick last week – we saw seals, porpoise, a puffin (somehow I missed it, but everyone else saw it), several other varieties of sea birds, herring weirs, and enjoyed a full hour of watching two humpback whales swimming alongside our boat, the first humpbacks of the season. And this time we had the pleasure of being joined by our grandchildren (and their parents), whose home near the Ottawa River boasts many pleasures, but no whales. Continue reading
Posted in Travel
Tagged Baja, Bay of Fundy, children, grandchildren, gray whales, humpbacks, killer whales, orcas, photography, travel, Victoria, whale watching
One never knows when inspiration is going to strike. And one never knows what will spark that inspiration. Today’s unexpected spark was a exhibition of quilts by Solveig Wells. This was a special display of quilts; it was organized by her family as a celebration of the life of their wife and mother – and quilter par excellence, who sadly passed away in March of this year. Her husband Dave Wells and his family have my heartfelt sympathy for their loss and also profound thanks for sharing Solveig’s wonderful talent with the public. Continue reading
I was successful in overcoming the urge to write a post after Andy Scott’s funeral a few weeks ago. I reminded myself of my self-imposed hiatus. I was successful then, but now there’s a new topic that I simply cannot avoid writing about and this topic would benefit from some lessons learned from Andy, so let’s start with him. Andy Scott, our very popular former MP, sadly died of cancer at the age of 58, leaving a grieving family, a grieving community, and grieving colleagues from across Canada. What was special about Andy was that he included everyone in dialogue – and Andy was defined by dialogue. He held regular town halls for the entire community; not Party meetings for partisan posturing, but open gatherings to discuss topics likely to be debated in Parliament (remember when Parliament used to debate topics). He would invite non-partisan experts on a topic to help explain the background and various sides of an issue; he’d discuss possible outcomes depending on how legislation might go, and then open it up for questions and comments. All opinions welcome. He came home from Ottawa every weekend – even when he had to drive through the night because for a time Air Canada had a very poor connection between Ottawa and Fredericton – to be with his family and, importantly, to spend Saturday morning at the market, catching up with all his constituents and listening to their concerns. Continue reading
Posted in Entrepreneurship & Business, Odds and Ends
Tagged Andy Scott, business, Calgary, Chicago, disasters, Edward Burkhardt, Hunter Harrison, Lac Megantic, oil, politics, public response, putting people first, Quebec, railroads, writing