Therapy and Writing

I went to see my therapist last night. It was the first time I’ve gone in a long time…several months, anyway, and then even longer before that. Hopefully this will be the start of something a bit more regular now, though. At least for a while. It wasn’t an emergency session, exactly, but it was much needed, and very last minute. I wasn’t sure I could wait until next week, so was trying to figure out if I could go in the morning today or tomorrow and just be late for work. But she had an opening that no one else was taking last night, and she told me to just come in, so I did.

She’s the best. Takes very good care of me.

I’d made a list of the things I wanted to touch on, and while I’ll wait to delve into some of them more fully next time, I’m pleased that I made it through the entire list to some degree.  I also made sure to mention right off the bat that, while I was grateful and relieved to be there so quickly after asking about seeing her again (she’d just been thinking about me the day before, too), I was also extremely nervous.  Much more so that I thought I’d be.  It reminded me a little of the first time we met.  We talked a bit about that night, as well.

I forgot to tell her about my meeting with the Library’s Writer In Residence last weekend, but we can talk about that later. I told her about this blog, but then spoke more about communicating and trying to express myself better in general, rather than feeling the need to talk more about creative writing and the like this time. It wasn’t even a conscious decision, really. Just a result of the organic nature of our conversation at the time.

My meeting with the Writer In Residence went extremely well, however. It was very positive, and pretty much changed my mind yet again on how to move forward and strengthen my manuscript, and that was completely unexpected. I went in with a plan I wanted to float by her, and some questions that were on my mind, and instead, she was so supportive of the story and the characters and the way things are currently laid out, that I left feeling like I didn’t need to change very much at all. She gave me some valuable tips and advice on how to make specific lines more powerful, but as far as the structure and execution of the story itself, she was very pleased with what she’d seen.

It had been quite a long time since I’d been able to talk about writing and the process of putting a whole novel together and to even just revisit those characters and that story with another writer. I’d gone in ready to tear a few things apart and rebuild them, and left feeling like that may not be necessary, and that I can make what I have all the stronger and more powerful just by changing some of the language and sentence structure.

Not that line editing isn’t a huge chore in itself, but if I can get that all tightened up, bit by bit, I think I will be closer to my goal for this book than I’d anticipated prior to having that meeting. My plan is to work on one chapter a week, but since it’s now Thursday and I haven’t started working on this first week’s chapter at all, I’m not sure I’ll be able to live up to that plan, but we’ll see. I have several other things on the go at the same time, so I am not sure how much time I can devote to this right now, anyway. It was definitely a positive kick in the butt to get me focusing on it more again, though, so I am hopeful that I will be able to maintain that bit of momentum as we move forward into the dark times.

Also known as winter.

Canadian Screen Awards 2016 – Gala 2

Just a few of my favourite photos from last night’s amazing awards gala!

Emily Hampshire for Schitt’s Creek (performance)

Dan Levy for Schitt’s Creek (writing)

Wendy Crewson – Lifetime Achievement

Michelle Nolden – Saving Hope Digital Content (Psychic Healing)

Christine Horne for her fierce guest star performance on Remedy – and the thrill of both her and young Shailyn Pierre-Dixon (Book of Negroes – performance) at finding one another on the winner’s red carpet!  Those pics aren’t great, but look how excited they are!

 

Seeing The Forest AND The Trees

Last night I dreamed I had a job interview. Of sorts. We were at a Tim Horton’s for a chat and she got me a cookie when she was getting herself a coffee. It was kind of informal. But an interview nonetheless.

And I think it went pretty well, which – of course it did, because it was my dream and existed entirely inside of my head. I remember I was fighting tears as I gave a couple of answers (one about teaching, and one about my current job), but I worked hard to answer honestly, and it felt kind of like a release after. Getting some of that stuff out felt good, even if it wasn’t real. I realized one of my problems might be that I often see the big picture, as well as the details. I see the whole forest AND the trees, which can be overwhelming sometimes. There is the universal struggle to find balance, but added to it is the understanding that it’s an impossible line to walk. You see all the things to do, how each of them affects the whole, and all of the things not done. Because they can’t all be accounted for. You can see all the trees, but you can’t give each of them the individual attention they need at all times. I think it’s what made teaching hard for me, and what makes my current job difficult, as well. It drives me crazy sometimes.

Well…crazier.

I also realized I was behaving kind of like an abused animal – one who has forgotten that human kindness exists. She bought me a cookie and I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. Which is somewhat true of me in real life, really, so that was interesting to me this morning, as well.

Anyway, what I really want to talk a bit about today is writing. I haven’t been doing a lot of it lately – this blog aside, of course – but I have been doing a lot of mental preparation for more new writing, as well as editing of things previously written. Last night was one of the more painful examples of the editing process, as I needed to get a short story down to under a certain word count, and I wasn’t a huge fan of what I knew I had to do to get it there.

There was a section of text that I’d written a long time ago – a scene that was one of the first conceived when I thought about writing the story to begin with. I loved that scene. I remember working harder on that one segment than on any other part of the story. Even as I was going over it more recently, I found little ways to tweak it and make it even better. The words flowed, the imagery was strong and beautiful and felt like it came out of some long-buried piece of my heart.

And last night I deleted it. The whole thing.

I knew it wasn’t necessary to move the story forward, and that I could get from A to C without needing B taking up more words, even though they were so very pretty. So I deleted B. And as all writers know, B is for Baby. I killed my Baby.

I did it quickly – didn’t give it one final read-through or anything. I just highlighted the whole section and hit the Delete key and then reminded myself to breathe again. And it was fine. It’s fine. The story is better for it. I think. Pretty sure, anyway.

Hoping to get it sent out later today, too, so that will feel good. It’ll feel complete.

That’s a weird thing about writing, hey? Most tasks require you to add more or do more or achieve more in order for it to be complete. Yet with writing, you build it all up, and then the sense of completion comes only after you take enough away; subtract from. Delete. Sometimes you go back and add things – dialogue, description, even entire scenes. But even those aren’t done until you’ve edited them and tightened them up and taken away the unnecessary.

Writing can be like sculpting, in that sense. The art of subtraction.

There’s probably a life lesson in that, but I don’t want to discuss it right now. I’ve killed my Baby – that’s enough subtraction and sadness for the moment!

Another thing that came up yesterday and got me thinking had to do with Carving The Light, my first novel. My Facebook memory feed gave me a look back on my imaginary dream cast for the no-doubt-Oscar-winning film adaptation of the book, with a few different suggestions for each major character.

Since those days, though, I’ve actually gotten to know many crazy-talented artists, and I started thinking it might be fun to dream-cast THEM into the imaginary film. At the risk of desperately wanting to shoot such a film, it could be very interesting to see what I come up with. My mind has already been working on it a bit, but that’ll be a post for another day. The important thing – for this entry – is that there is a tiny twinge of excitement inside me surrounding the idea of revisiting the imaginary cast with people I actually know. Even just talking to Tim about it a few minutes ago got me all wound up about it again.

In addition, there’s something about having people I am more familiar with in mind for certain characters that makes me want to tweak the characters and/or the story itself more – not necessarily cater any part of it to any of them, but to make it better on the whole. Flesh out the trees, improve the entire forest. Somehow, the idea of certain people in certain roles makes the story more concrete in my mind, and therefore I can already see ways of improving the overall piece.

There is definitely something there.

When I Grow Up

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I wanted to be a cowboy when I grew up. Not a pretty frilly cowgirl. A cowboy.

For, like, a year or so, anyway. I wanted the jeans and plaid shirts and boots and hat, but most of all, I wanted the horse. I really had no idea what cowboys did other than ride horses, so I figured that would be an excellent occupation for my adult self. I don’t really dig any part of it but for the horses, anymore, anyway.

I had a book when I was little – like a memory/keepsake book for each year of elementary and high school. There were pouches to put things in, and I had to fill out who my friends were and favourite subjects and stuff, for each year. There was also a spot to put what I wanted to be when I grew up.

The first year, in Kindergarten, I remember choosing “nurse” because I thought that was the only one of the options presented in the group of choices that seemed like something a girl would do. I was five. It didn’t occur to me until later to that I could not only pick anything I wanted, but if what I wanted wasn’t already listed, I could just write it in.

So there was nurse, cowboy, writer, actor…I think that’s about it. Writer and actor took up most of the years, back and forth. I can’t even remember if I ever wrote anything else in there, or if I just stopped trying to choose and/or write it down. I definitely don’t recall ever writing “English major” or “Work In Retail”, but hey – life doesn’t always go as planned. Or ever. Haha

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There was also a spot for school photos, and of course the class photos all went into the pouch, too. Has anyone ever noticed that every class photo looks pretty much the same? I’m not even entirely sure that it matters which decade the thing was taken in. There’s always a kid looking the wrong way, there’s always at least one girl who is too tall to do anything but stand in the back with the guys, and no matter how good our parents wanted us to look, by the time the pics were taken, we had ruined the illusion of propriety.  

Man, little kids have huge heads.

As I write, I am thinking maybe all class photos don’t look the same, after all. I mean, they DO, but I think maybe the decade or at least within a certain range of each decade does make a difference. Each decade’s photos look alike. I see pictures on Facebook all the time of class photos from schools I’ve never heard of, and still…there we all are. The same, but different. Pretty sure my parents had class photos similar to one another’s, but different from my brother and I. And the ones my niece and nephews have are likely different from ours.

I feel like things were easier then, in a lot of ways. But if that’s the case, then things are harder for kids now. And if THAT’S the case, then what’s the world going to be like when THEY grow up?

I am totally getting my butt kicked at work again today. I’ll write better another day. Gooder, even! 😉

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