Thursday, June 30, 2005

Back here on Earth and Practicing Harassment

I had a great time but now my feet are on the ground. They would be in the mud if there was any, because then they would be cooler.

By Saturday, or Sunday, or sometime down the road it is supposed to be a civilized temperature. All this heat is making me grumpy. Yesterday I told a friend who is not a writer that if she wanted to read my prize winning short story, she should consider buying the book. Now that was very bold of me - or was it? Yes, I'm delighted to be published and I must say that I don't even know what "rights" are involved yet since I neglected to check (didn't think I'd win) and now the information is not on the website. Fiction writers are the last to know, I guess and maybe we are expected to be humbly grateful.

But, after reading about the "literary" Canadian writers who have contributed so much to us, yet now live in poverty I've decided to get tough with my non-writng friends who can afford to buy books. Afer all, I'm not the only writer in that book and the Niagara Branch of the CAA takes a lot of time and trouble to try and produce something good.

The Canadian Writers Foundation is really struggling to provide financial support to writers who are "national treasures" but later in life are stuck in poverty. My friend Lori and I are considering an idea that may help. It's too soon to say whether we will be able to go forward with it.

In the meantime, I intend to stick with my "buy the book" stance whenever it seems right to me. At least one of my better-off friends wants to buy several copies. I'll have to remind her of her promise when the book comes out in September.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Floating Down Gently

The last few days have been so exciting. Lori arrived from Calgary on Thursday morning and it felt like I'd known her forever. Nancy, Lori and I went out for a birthday lunch, the first of a round of celebrations, and had a great time together.
I was so happy I didn't even think of checking my mailbox. Good thing since there was a rejection notice in it. Why do editors take seven months to say no?

But never mind that, it was a very minor downer in what turned out to be a great weekend. The conference was informative and fun. But the best thing was meeting other writers. Some of the folk from the Kelley Armstrong board were there and putting faces to the names was great fun. In a lot of ways, the whole event was a case of so many people I wanted to talk to and not quite enough time to do everything.

I don't think I've stayed up until 1 a.m. two nights in a row, for a long long time and I'm still very tired, but I'm so glad I did. Lori and I were treated to birthday drinks and then of course the banquet was held in our honour, or so we chose to think.

We "ate out" the whole time, and since my apartment had already been put in a pristine state there was nothing to do but enjoy ourselves and we did, oh we certainly did.

Lori left Sunday afternoon and I came home still to revved up to relax, or even to make food. I ate out again, but this time it was Tim Hortons in honour of budget retraint.

Monday mornng I got a phone call from Sandi Plewis of the Niagara branch of the CAA. Well, actually I was on the internet and found a message when I disconnected. I had to call back long distance. At this point I started to get that thumping in the chest. Would she be calling ne if there wasn't good news? Probably not, but I couldn't be sure because all the message said was - would I call back. I did, and she told me I'd won second prize in the Ten Stories High contest.

I coudn't tell you what I said to her - it's just a blank but it must have been somewhat coherent. She gave me instructions on how to send the text to her for the printer (msword doc attachment) and requested a bio (5o words or less). She also told me the presentation and author (hey - that's me!) readings will be held September 24th in the afternoon.

After the phone call, I screamed. It's a wonder someone didn't come knocking on my door to see if everything was all right. Euphoria is the word, but even that word seems understated for how I felt. Yes, yes yes! I kept saying that out loud and I danced around the living room.

The bottle of red wine that Lori and I didn't get around to opening got opened and I toasted myself, and Lori, and every other writer who has experienced that unique feeling. Then I contacted everyone who would care enough to congratulate me, starting with Nancy and Lori. The congratulations came pouring in and I soaked them up, even revelled in them.

This morning I still have a quiet glow. Reality has taken me down from the ceiling, but gently.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Motorcycle Mama!

I'd like to be one, sometimes. Mama is what my grandsons call me instead of grandma because they have two grandmothers. Friday evening there was a big Show and Shine event held by local motorcycle enthusiasts just down the street from my place. I had to go because proceeds of tee shirt sales and money raised by participants in the Ride for Dad held on Saturday went to support prostate cancer research.

Okay, okay. I really went to see the bikes and the riders. Of course most of the riders are older guys. Who else can afford those huge Harleys, and Hondas, with a few other Japanese brands thrown in? It was bliss. Lots of chrome to admire, old rock n' roll playing and free Tim's coffee. I bougt a tee shirt and gave it to Gary for Father's day and because now he has a new motorcycle (new to him anyway).

The motorcycle saga started when Nancy got her first one at 20 (I think). She later sold it. A couple of years ago she got another one, then Gary got one too. The cost of insuring the bikes went through the roof, so they sold both bikes a few weeks ago. But then, their accountant said that if Gary got a bike and used it for business purposes, which was something he had been doing anyway, they could write off the cost of the bike and the insurance. So, now Gary has a motorcyle again. I imagine Nancy might get to use it sometimes too. But it isn't likely I'll get a ride on it so I'll have to remember riding on the back of her cherry red Suzuki.

Sam's dance performance weekend went well, but it was a long slog for him. At the theatre for 6 hours on Friday evening and the same thing again on Saturday afternoon. He's decided to sign up for next year so I guess the fact that he hated one of his costumes and was very vocal about it that didn't change his mind about performing.

It's already Tuesday and there's still lots to do to get ready for Lori's visit and for the conference. It's strange to try on clothes that have been in the back of the closet and wonder why I ever bought them in the first place. Or is it because most of my better clothes are at least six years old and in the interim some of my body parts have grown and have drifted further south? In the end, I'll opt for comfort, as I almost always do. The forecast for Friday is hot and humid so that will determine the outfit.

I'm planning to enjoy every moment.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

I've been Drafted - or I should say Dragooned

Last night, I went to the CAA Branch meeting. Turns out it was the Annual Meeting night and before I knew it, somehow I became the secretary for the Branch. I think I said something about being interested in maybe working on the newsletter. Well, they do have a new volunteer for that so now I'm the secretary, for the time being.

There was a lot of discussion about the Conference and it is looking better all the time. The branch may actually have to close registration since there is only a certain amount of room at the Walper Hotel.

The "goodie bags" will be phenomenal. They are not even sure how to get all the freebies into the bags! Books, lots of books and many other things too.

The hot gossip - certain, prominent members wanted detailed information on the location of the nearest bar(s). Oh, you are not suprised by this.

There was also a speaker last night, a woman who writes war poems. She read from her work and spoke about her relationships with war veterans. And, I had the greatest difficulty in keeping my opinion to myself. Only one or two people ever read this so I'm sure she never will. She believes that no "war poet" who hasn't been in a war should write "as if" they were there. Well, yes, but then again I don't think it's beyond the pale. It's possible, maybe barely possible, but possible just the same, that someone could succeed in doing this. I do agree that war should not be romanticized in any way.

Perhaps what perturbed me the most was the way she romanticized her personal relationships with veterans (although it is not overt in the few poems she read). When she was talking about the Vets with me later - she referred to them as her boys and I wanted to give her hell, but I didn't. Attachment to Veterans is something I understand. I still miss my "guys" (even though a lot of the ones I worked with at Sunnybrook and other places are dead now) but never in this world would I have referred to them as boys. Some would have resented it, others would have taken advantage of it, and still others would have refused to talk to me.

In the end, it just motivated me to start writing more stories, using what I know. Guess I should be grateful.

Friday, June 03, 2005

June - Dreamy Time

This morning it is not all that hot, but it is humid. June humidity. There's something about it that makes me remember sitting in elementary school classrooms in June and drifitng off to somewhere/anywhere else. Maybe young kids should have a longer summer break, because I don't ever remember learning a single thing in June. At least not any academic thing.

I'm sure it's hard for the teachers to get the kids to pay any attention so I hope they have "covered" the essential parts of the curriculum by now. I know that Frank and Sam are already thinking about summer, and camping, and all the boy-things that have nothing to do with school.

All the summer birthdays are coming up soon too. Frank's on the 24th then mine and my friend Lori's, then Sam's in early July. As the boys get older it's more difficult to know what they would like. I may have to resort to gift certificates since their tastes and interests change very quickly.

I don't know all the summer plans yet. Maybe I will stay with the boys at the trailer for a week, if I'm persuaded. I'd also really like a week on my own up there but will have to wait and see what the plans are. Or, maybe I only think I'd like a week away from everything (the computer, the television) and everyone.

The last time I went on a "retreat" was a good ten years ago and it was excellent. I stayed at a camp that is very busy in the summer, but was very quiet in the springtime. There were places to walk, a quiet room with only the bare necessities and meals were available at set times. I did lots and lots of walking, I guess really it was walking-meditation, since I was trying to decide on a number of things.

Maybe I'll investigate what's available for later on in the summer or the fall, if I don't get the opportunity to stay at Nancy and Gary's trailer.