Balancing (on) the popsicle stick tower… the writing life

June 20, 2011

Words stretch
Fold crumple

Sticks and stones
Break bones

Build your words
over Scaffolding

Your life
Your strength

Popsicle sticks
And glue

When it falls
Bones may break

But the words
Will stand


Ray Bradbury’s three – brutally honest – rules for writers…

April 7, 2011

“Work is the only answer. I have three rules to live by. One, get your work done. If that doesn’t work, shut up and drink your gin. And when all else fails, run like hell!” – Ray Bradbury, The Art of Fiction No. 203, The Paris Review

And people wonder why I wear my sneakers year round

Dear Fellow Writers: Has this ever happened to you?

December 22, 2009

I decided to sneak in a few more paragraphs of my current writing project while I was up at the front desk covering our receptionist’s lunch break today. Without intending to, I found myself slipping into THE ZONE. Even more unexpectedly, a full-on, entirely involuntary, facial meltdown hit me when I ran into the last few sentences of Chapter Four. The emotional drama of the scene was just too much – and this is someone who held out through almost the entire end-credits of Titanic. 

Tears weren’t just brimming, they were streaming down my cheeks. I blew my nose in tissue after tissue, to no avail. Even the briefest peek at the screen renewed the reaction, but I wasn’t about to back down – never when grammar’s at stake! Pretty soon my eyes were bloodshot and my face was unmistakably blotched and puffy. I was, inescapably, inexcusably, a girl crying at work.

Into the future – one celebrity purse auction at a time!

November 27, 2009

How often do you see a well built man in his underwear lay down his purse, ever so gently, and hit the floor for a vigorous set of clap pushups? Want to get in on the action? And find out why my husband wasn’t worried? My article about the YWCA of Calgary’s first annual Open Your Purse event is now up at Calgary Fashion – The Fashion Media Collective.

Dear readers, I recently wrote about a momentous life choice. It’s incredible what can happen when you risk a front-row-center chance on your dreams. Ending up, literally, front row center is just the beginning…

How to use Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” to strengthen your own writing

September 24, 2009
The story after the excercise

The story after the exercise

A blazer from Reitmans can never be compared to the timeless beauty of a Dior couture suit. The former is common and disposable, the latter, immortal. But what makes the difference? Honesty.

The skilled and practiced hands of the atelier’s master seamstresses are not enough. They are helpless without true, precise measurements of a client’s body. To create a lasting piece of art one needs technique, yes, but also an open honesty about the human beneath the garment, portrait, or story. Only then can certain aspects be exaggerated and/or minimized according to the will of the artist.

Franz Kafka was a self admitted hypochondriac with Daddy issues, but he was also a genius at writing the human condition. The surrealism of his stories, just like any Jean Paul Gautier gown, is successful because it is structured on honest human underpinnings. In “The Metamorphosis” (man wakes up as bug… trouble ensues) Kafka brings a family of individuals to life through the careful layering of specific physical, psychological, and behavioral details.

It is these details that give his writing strength and universality. For any writer, the question of what to put in versus what to leave out is always daunting. Why not learn from the best? Take a pen and highlighter to your favourite story and note how the characters are built. What do we find out, and when? What flowers are in the window box? How long has it been since J—– washed her hair? This exercise will make you more aware of using detail in your own writing.

But always remember, even if your characters hold the measuring tape loose around their bustlines and pull it tight around their waists and hips, it’s up to you to sneak their true measurements into your text. Of course, the only way to do that is to start being honest about your own.

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Fabulous news for writers!

August 7, 2009

We write, can’t help it, can’t fight it. But who reads?

I hopped the bus to work on a recent rainy morning, and was delighted to find five of my fellow passengers with novels under their noses. How many were busy with their cell phones or Blackberrys? Just one! And, wouldn’t you know it, of all the bleary faces on the bus, hers wore the only frown.