Thursday, March 31, 2005

Who let the snakes in?

Are there hazards to belonging to a writing group for a period of time? I'm beginning to suspect that sometimes, there are.

One of the two groups I belong to seems to be experiencing a snake invasion. Snakes have appeared on the pages of work from at least two members in the last month or so. Of course snakes are a very common symbol, handy for use by anyone. Perhaps that's why I think they should be avoided, at least most of the time.

It seems that other similarities in the writing of group members are creeping in too. It all makes me wonder if it's best to change groups when this happens. The weird thing, or maybe it's a surfeit of ego thing, is that I don't think I've been influenced much. But I've noticed that little bits of what I think of as "my style" are popping up in other people's work. That's something I was not expecting and maybe I'm just imagining it.

The group meets again tomorrow and I hope that we have seen the last of the snakes, at least for a while.

Monday, March 28, 2005

It's not my fault, the Movies tell me so.

This evening, after my writers group meeting I looked around my apartment and I was appalled. No, that should read I am appalled. What a muddle it all is! But now I know its not my fault and I learned this at the movies.

Our local library ran a film series called "A little bit about the Author" every Satuday afternoon this month. The films, Sylvia, The Hours, Shadowlands and Iris, all feaure British writers. My favourite of the four is Iris, and that may be because I admire Dame Judi Dench, in almost anything including the old series As Time Goes By now showing on PBS. But what was striking in all four films, after the acting and the plots, and the deaths (but I'm not going to talk about them) - was the dimness and the sheer squalor of their environments. Of course some of the dimness can be blamed on the British climate, the lack of enough electrical outlets, and the times the films portray. But the unholy messiness they lived in most of the time, well, I think that happened because they were busy writing. The films seemed to stress that.

So, now I have less stress. I know that I won't sink to spectacular depths of untidiness and dirt, because the other parts of my life intrude too often. But, if things get somewhat out-of-hand, I can blame it on my need to write, because the movies told me so.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

In the beginning ...

I'm somewhat concerned about starting this blogging journey. But what does that matter? It's like any other journey I've taken. It starts and it may continue, but I don't know what the destination is. I do know something about what I intend.

Some of my thoughts on personal matters, and some of my thoughts on world and political issues (how weighty that sounds) will pop up. And, probably a lot of my thoughts on writing and whatever else I may be up to. I suspect I may not be very orderly, since being too concerned with getting every word right the first time is one of the many things I'm trying to conquer. That's why I decided to title this blog 'Free Words' at least for the time being.

The last few days have been pretty much totally unproductive as far as working on my fiction goes. It didn't - go that is. Maybe it's slack time between great ideas. I'd like to think so, but really, I haven't a clue what will be next. Three stories are out for consideration and there are a couple of others malingering here in my computer. I can't seem find a market for one, since it's not a short short or a postcard story and it falls somewhere in between genres. I don't think it's literary enough for a literary magazine. Maybe some new market will appear and I'll have another place to send it. The other story is one I like but editors haven't, at least so far. I guess one of my lessons is to just get on with it and send it out again, rather than sighing and moaning about what's happened so far. But crabs like to sigh and moan, now and then.

Now for a swift change of subject. I've been reading about the Terri Shiavo case in the U.S. and can't help thinking that the judicial system is going to have a hard time tangling with the religious right. I have not been to the U.S. for a number of years, and it's hard to believe that the average American, if there is such a person, would be in favour of seeing the court system under attack. If Shiavo had been an older person, say an older black woman without family - who would have cared and who would have known. Shaivo has become a poster woman for those on the right wing who have an agenda. I grieve for her.

I don't believe in active euthanasia, but assisting a person who is dying to have a "good death" is, it seems to me, a humane thing to do. I was very involved in my mother's last days. She wanted to die at home, and she did, surrounded by family. Because she had terminal cancer, it was easier to ensure pain control and loving care for her at home. The amount of morphine she received to control her pain may have slightly shortened the very end of her life. I don't know. I do know I chose to honour her wish and I have no regrets.

The spring lawn care season is here, at least it's here for those who sell lawn care, like my daughter and son-in-law. They have a booth at a garden show this weekend, and another show next weekend. I hope the result will be many new customers. The debate about pesticides continues in our region and I hope the regional government will not pass any silly unenforceable bylaws. I also hope more customers will buy orgainic lawn care from Nancy and Gary, but it's a tough sell.