All posts tagged writing

Writing about Writing

Published February 1, 2012 by megdedwards

  I wrote this post three years ago. Now I live without my Mom’s voice and I am doing what I promised. I am working on a big project, writing a novel and my mind is playing on a big canvas.

My blog posts arrive quietly in my mind while I am cleaning, sorting or putzing around.

Thoughts develop, themes appear, and I want to talk about them. Sometimes I need to just sit quietly for a while and then my ideas arrive and start bubbling.

I thought I was going to write about love yesterday, but today I find myself writing about writing.

Writing is something that my Poor Mom misses.  Her thoughts bubble about and are delicious, metaphoric and deeply insightful, but she can’t write them down anymore.

I call her My Poor Mom now that Parkinson’s has taken over her life and fogged her hard working mind with apparitions and paralysis. All her life she was a woman with ideas and creative outlets; now she struggles to have a conversation.

We talk about blogging and writing a lot and she remembers her days when she wrote for an internet writing group called NerdNosh.   She wrote episodic memoirs of her life with the caveat that it would be good for her family to have those stories written down.  This was a very happy time for her; she had her own writing room where she would work on her albums and write her Nerdnosh remembrances.

This was as close to being an artist as my Mom got, and believe me, she could have been an artist. During one of our recent poetic, speculative and superbly honest conversations I told my Mom that she could have been a novelist (or painter or filmmaker).  Even now, her imagination and her ability to analyze her imagination are incredible.  When she woke from her weeks of semi-consciousness after her heart operation she told us all about the novels she had been writing while she was resting.

Recently her mind has been creating stories to accompany the hallucinations that crowd into her life. She told me that it is tiring living in the middle of a film set as people are always moving things and putting labels on things.  Even after I confirmed that this was just her own personal apparitions, she went on to tell me that the theme of the film was quite interesting, as if she was writing a film review. “It is all about the dark spaces of nothingness between the frames” she said. I said, “Mom, you are blowing my mind”, and she laughed.

And we went on to talk about why women find it so hard to take themselves seriously as writers or artists.  She told me that her life as she was living it right now would be a good premise for a novel. “I’d make an interesting character”, she said.  As a busy mom she told stories, painted, drew, and played the piano. She surrounded her children with creativity, worked as a journalist, an administrator and an agent. But she never created a story that was parallel and separate from her.

We wondered together what type of personality it took to sacrifice time and energy to a novel. We know that men and women do it all the time, even women with children, (which is truly remarkable) but we wondered what it is that drives them to produce purely fictional material.

What stops so many of us from grasping the full title, or aiming for the highest achievement? Can I create more than patches on a quilt of my life stories, or ‘mere light nothings’ as my Mom calls it? I feel that being a fiction writer may require a bigger ego than I have, or possibly, more mental discipline and stamina. But as I near the age of fifty I know that I not only have a perfectly good ego, but stamina and discipline.

I am fascinated by women’s writing and why they write and how they write. I am interested in the entire debate of a ‘woman’s voice’ and whether you can say there is one.  An old text book on Feminist Literary Theory, my conversations with my lapsed writer mom, and my blog are all leading me irrevocably down a path.

In respect of my Mom, and with love to my Mom, I feel that I have to take the creative process one step further.  Women are often content to create as we go; our story telling, our art work, our sewing and knitting adorn our lives and others, but are washed away in the current of life.

Maybe that is best. I don’t know. I don’t think that ‘fine art’ is better than craft; it is just defined and valued that way. But sometimes we hold back from creating something big because of a lack of confidence, and that is not a good reason.

In our latest conversation I told Mom I would attempt to take writing to the next level.  My mom has always said you are not a writer unless you have a manuscript hiding at the bottom of your files.  I have those, a pile of them, and they are very old and dusty or in ‘word’ files that can no longer be opened by any proper computer.

I told her I would try. It is a big commitment, promising a dying woman that you will write stories for her sake, but my only saving grace is that Mom may forget what I said.

So I have a project I am handing myself,  I am going to take all my lost children, my unfinished stories, and work on them with the same upbeat, sensible wordsmith practicality I take to my journalism or public ‘journaling’ (blog).  No self-loathing or recriminations, no high expectations or fear of failure, just a person who is happy to have her mind and fingers still working together.

And I better work quickly so my Mom has enough vigor to be able to criticize what I create; I don’t mind, I can take it.

I lost my Job and found a Blog

Published October 14, 2011 by megdedwards

This whole tweeting business is much more fun and useful than non-tweeting people realize. I have plenty of friends who think facebook is somehow morally wrong, so you can imagine I don’t have many friends who tweet out here in rural New Brunswick.

But there are people out there in cyber space who are partying and organizing, and I am joining them.

I like participating in this cyber socializing – I love to chat, text and tweet, it is fun! And if you reject new forms of technology you might as well lump yourself in with the ancestors who distrusted the printing press.

The first bonus of  tweeting is that it keeps you busy in queues and at hospital appointments. I always madly texted with my one good hand when I was bored at physio appointments, my other hand encased in hot wax.

Or take today at the Superstore cash out; I had a pile of groceries and limited time to shop and the customer in front of me had the last un-priced kumquat that she absolutely had to take home with her that day, and when the cashier headed down the alleys at a glacial pace, did I sigh and shift about and talk quietly to myself? No, I pulled out my cell phone and tweeted my daughter.

I love tweeting. It is quiet and useful; it occupies me and keeps me out of trouble while I could be ranting or making trouble. And talkative opinionated people like me always have something to say; a line up in the grocers is a gold mine.

What instigated this exciting, albeit unpaid, digital exuberance so late in my non-career? A curt email layoff from our local paper where I had been the roving freelance reporter for about ten years freed me from my paid work.

I was very happy to have that work over the years, because it allowed me to work from home while caring for my kids. The money was pretty good (maybe if I had not negotiated so well I’d still be there now) and more than anything, it gave me a place in society outside of doting mother.

But then I was suddenly free of that work and my eldest daughter Rose created a blog for me, taught me how to text, and later, tweet.  These things don’t happen organically at my age. I sent many a tweet worthy of When  Parents  Text  causing all sorts of  amusement.

I started by texting her randomly about nothing at all while she was living in Toronto this last summer. And, she texted me back, happily, and not because I was a suffocating hovering mama. In the mornings I would receive texts about her war with a particularly angry bus driver and his weird minions that would sit close by him as if for protection. Boy, did they have hostile words in the early morning smog of Aurora. Then, while she simmered, she would tap out her anger on the long trip to her downtown internship.

So, for a mom who is being weaned off her first child’s constant presence the texting was a pacifier; it was good for both of us.

But then I began to branch out and tweet.  The first unexpected thing I did was try an experimental tweet to a writer I admire. I tweeted @tabathasouthey .  I follow her in the Globe and Mail and happily discovered her in Elle magazine while getting my hair done. I often find myself giggling while reading her Elle columns, especially when she gets on to the topic of her Dad.

So I took a breath and dived – I think I wrote “I really love @tabathasouthey ‘s column in Elle“– or something like that. Within approximately 10 minutes I heard a beep beep and she was thanking me for my compliment. I was astonished. Rose may have been surprised as well.

A few weeks later I crept further into the world of tweets. Why don’t I follow some writers on Twitter? I looked up @MisterJohnDoyle, a great television critic for the Globe and Mail. I can catch his articles as he posts them – cool. He also tweets a lot about what he loves – soccer, not for me really.

What about @margaretatwood, everyone knows she is super cool and cyber connected. She is lively on Twitter and involved in all sorts.  When she re-tweeted a post on blogging I looked it up. It was funny and informative and I thought I could learn a lot from this writer so I wrote her and told her about my blog. Then this lovely woman read my blog and liked it!

In this way I became on friendly e-mail terms with the writer Tracey Jackson, (@traceyjackson4).  The more I learnt about her, the more our interests overlapped; I too have loved India, I have a daughter who just recently left home, and I also believe that tweezers are essential life tools!  We also seem to share the same tell-all style of writing.

She sounds like a lot of fun, and I already like her but I would never have met her without tweets and blogs. As it turns out she is a real-life successful writer with books and film scripts ( Confessions of a Shopaholic, Lucky Ducks, and her new book, Between a Rock and  Hot Place  – Why Fifty is Not the New Thirty  for starters) and I would never have introduced myself to her at a book signing event the same way I did on her blog.

When I stopped writing for the newspaper, I began to write for myself. I loved my freelance writing gig, but right now I am writing for free, and more freely than I have ever written.   And it was blogs and tweets that turned things around, took a lost job and made it into an open horizon, and made me excited about all the things I want to write.

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