Monday, March 23, 2015

A Monday Morning Gift

I love Monday mornings! I have said this before and I realize not everyone shares that feeling. On Monday mornings from September to May I am in my office writing, if nothing else comes up to take me away. This morning will be my last writing day of March and I am reluctant to let March go even though warmer weather will be welcome. When I get back from Meg's I will have some writing days in April squeezed in with wedding preparation and celebration. I will also celebrate the launch of The Memory Chair. We will face the challenge that April presents as we come to the end of another year without Zac. We will celebrate Meg and Ashlie's birthdays. I am anxious to get to work this morning as yesterday's writing left me eager to keep going . This morning when I checked my e-mail there was an e-mail from the teacher that had invited me to Beaconsfield Middle School. She had attached comments from some of the Grade Eight students. What a wonderful gift on this cold and blustery day. I printed off the page and a half of their comments and I will carry their kind words with me when I go to Ottawa for my tour in May. If my presentations there elicit even a fraction of the thoughtful and empowering remarks they gifted to me I will be pleased. Their remarks will be the boost I need to get me through the busy and draining days of the tour. How could lines like these not lift anyone's spirit and keep them going? " Susan White was very straightforward and nice." Susan White was funny and I'm glad she is making another book." I really like the blend of fiction and real life events." "I loved to listen to her read." " Each chapter really connected to each other, each made you want to hop into the book."" Ten Thousand Truths was one of the deepest book I have ever read." "I enjoyed the fact that she didn't spoil her books while talking about them." " I am excited that there is going to be a sequel to Ten Thousand Truths." I am excited about that too. So on this Monday morning I am going to get back to Rachel, Amelia, Jodie , Zac and Raymond and find out as I write, what the next part of their story will be.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Back to Beaconsfield

Yesterday, I spent the day at Beaconsfield Middle School. I had not been there since the last day of my Grade Six year in 1968.I don't remember a lot about being there in Grade six. The inside of the building didn't look familiar to me at all. Outside, the playground and the surrounding streets leading down to the water brought back memories. I remember the smell of the pulp mill that we smelled daily as we thronged onto the playground each morning waiting to enter the building. I remember too how much I did not want to be there. I had left all my friends , my school and the house I loved in Fredericton. I felt like I was in exile on the west side of Saint John. I do remember though that it was there in the back porch of a downstairs flat on City Line that the deep desire to be a teacher presented itself. Possibly the desire to be a mother and a writer was forming there as well. Yesterday, a girl asked me if I thought a would be a writer if Zac had not died. What a heavy 'what if' question. Life is so loaded with that question. What if we hadn't moved to the west side ?, what if we hadn't moved to the Kingston Peninsula ?, what if ?, what if ?, what if? I tried my best to answer that question, a question that I so often ask myself. When I hold 'The Year Mrs Montague Cried' and feel such gratitude for where the success of that book has taken me I can not help but feel the deep sorrow of the very existence of it. How can we ever trace all the what ifs of our lives? The 'it is what it is' of our lives is really the best we can do. So my 'it is what it is' took me back to Beaconsfield School yesterday. I spent a full day talking , reading, responding and answering questions from a great bunch of eager kids. Lily, the most enthusiastic and vocal student of the day was beside herself when her mom came and bought her all four of my books. Her EA has been reading Ten Thousand Truths to her and as I talked she vocalized her excitement . I read the class the last two chapters and she hung off every word. That was so much fun for me. Thank you Lily! Thank you to all the students , teachers, EA's and especially to Mrs. McFadden for inviting me and introducing Beaconsfield Middle School to a writer who used to walk their halls.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

What we Teach Each Other and What we Teach Ourselves

I had to push myself out the door today. I thought perhaps I wasn't feeling up to snowshoeing but luckily I listened to the part of myself that knew it was exactly what I needed to do. Once I got going I explored many previously unexplored clearings. I know they will not be as accessible for much longer. I even made my way into the large fenced in pig yard that for most seasons of the year is too muddy and wet to walk through. The two big pigs seemed surprised but pleased to see me. They have a wonderful maze through the deep snow a ways around their feeding trough and shelter. They don't realize that they could step right out of their fenced in yard just about anywhere. My thoughts of the day came to a few of the things I have learned about writing from others and from myself. I will not list them but will mention a couple that found their way to the top of the list. Last night my friend Rosalyn and I drove to Sussex for Beth Powning's book launch. We talked about many things and we always seemed to find our way back to discussing writing. Rosalyn who has kids still at home ,a job, a lot of volunteer work and much more that pushes her writing time aside is constantly trying to come up with a plan that works for her. I told her of one of the tips I got from someone, 'Touch Your Work Daily'. Maybe just that little habit will connect her to the writing until the story she carries within gets completely written. Last night Beth Powning spoke of the beginning to what became the beautiful book A Measure of Light she was launching. The story of Mary Dyer sought her out. I have a manuscript that doesn't quite cut it yet and I think in some ways it is because it is lacking the powerful force of a story that needs to be told. Maybe it will take shape and maybe it won't but I do believe it can wait while the stories that push through take over and demand to be written. We teach each other so much when we listen and in the same way we have so much to teach ourselves when we stop the chatter and the self doubt and hear what we already know to be true.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Time for Paige

My blog coach has pointed out that there are no pictures of Paige on my blog. There is lots of mention of that darling little girl but no pictures. So I am writing a short entry just about Paige. Can't wait to see Paige at another book launch. Can't wait to see all three of my girls. Meg has always gone out of her way to get home for my launches. This year she is squeezing a wedding into the trip. Looking forward to the busy time ahead. Paige is now a delightful , funny and unpredictable three year old. I expect she will keep us entertained.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

They're Here!

Yesterday's blog entry got delayed until this morning as I had a glitch of some kind with my computer which resulted in a migraine headache that sent me to take refuge under the covers. I am feeling a bit better this morning, but still a bit foggy. The sun is bright and beautiful out side though and I hope to rally. I am so pleased to announce the arrival of four boxes of my new book The Memory Chair and a plethora of bookmarks. Again a dream that starts with an idea, a few words and lots of time and attention has resulted in a book I now hold in my hands and slip in to the bookends with the three others. How very happy that makes me! Happy and determined to keep forging ahead with the work in progress and the work that simmers on the back burner.

The March to Spring

After sleeping a bit longer than usual (I'll blame the time change) I am ready for the day. I am getting very anxious to hold a copy of The Memory Chair. I will only have maybe ten more writing days left before going to Alberta for Emma's sixth birthday. The book I am working on continues to take shape and I look forward to sitting down and just letting it. Maybe April will give me a few more writing days but I can see that they might be limited. May, of course starts out with a busy tour week and then garden time will be upon us. I can not quite get my head around Emma turning six. I'll have a really hard time with sixteen. But I know just how quickly sixteen years go by. It has almost been sixteen years since we last had Zac with us. Spring approaches and as it has been every year since loosing Zac I feel that in my very core. As the days get longer, the sun stronger and season gradually comes upon us I feel such a range of emotions. This year we will throw a wedding into the mix. We already have our anniversary and Meg and Ashlie's birthdays. There has always been the mix of joy and sorrow in April. I have been loving the snow , my daily trips up the wood road and I will continue to have that luxury until the snow melts and the road becomes a muddy , slushy mess. I will embrace the spring, engage in all that this one brings and reflect on what the spring of 1999 took away. I will spring ahead and march to the music that has been given me.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Zac's Treehouse

What a beautiful structure. Burton commented this morning that he doesn't know what to do with Zac's treehouse . He doesn't want to cut the trees down because of the amount of nails a young Zac used to build his masterpiece. Zac had no restraint using whatever he could find in his Dad's basement. We still come upon light fixture boxes, army ammo boxes and many other items that Zac and his brothers used for their wide range of imaginative play. He tramped every inch of the woods behind the house and across the road. I never walk by this treehouse without a sense of the little boy who built it. My answer to Burton's question this morning was "We will just leave it. It will stand there long after we are gone" Yesterday as I reached the edge of the field approaching the house I thought about how much I hate it when my woods road walks or these days my snowshoe treks come to an end. It is as if I have to come back to reality from a magical place where I can let my worries and heartaches evaporate into the wide blue sky above the trees. As I stepped out into the open field it came to me that the end of every walk serves to reinforce that important life lesson; we must enjoy what we have when we have it. Years from now someone may question the array of old boards and tin that are nailed so haphazardly on to some trees at the edge of the woods. They will not remember the wonderful boy who put them there but I always will.