Monday, May 25, 2015

Word Spring

I am torn. I want to write a blog entry and I want to finish my report of my book week experience and I want to get back to my writing. I am anxious to get back to where I left off last time. I also want to mow my lawn and I want to start planting and I want to take my kayak out and I want to go for a walk. I also want to start reading the two books I bought from two authors I heard read or present at Word Spring. Isn't that what most of our days are like. I often ( ok always ) list at the beginning of the month what I want to get done that month. I also list at the beginning of each day what I hope to accomplish. I generally get most of it done. Some days and months the undone stuff gets put ahead to the next day or month. One thing that I want to get done today amidst the other things I have already mentioned is to ruminate and reflect on what I took away from my weekend in Moncton at WFNB's WordSpring. Some of what I gleaned was from hearing other writers read or conduct workshops , some from casually talking to other writers, some from the always interesting discussions my friend Barb and I have around the topic of writing and life in general. Some of what is bouncing in my head this morning just pushed it's way in to my thoughts as all the other was taking place and needs a louder voice when I actually get back to the work that is always simmering below the surface of all the other tasks. I found more out about my characters. I was given more clarity surrounding the underlying story , I better understood some of the motivation and depth to the interactions and possibly see my way more clearly to the ending. I will not know this until I get down to business and let the writing happen. I will finish this entry, hang out a load of laundry, put the finishing of the report on tomorrow's list , walk and mow and maybe kayak later . I will get to work and let the revelations that came to me fight for their place in the story.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

This is Where You Are

Now onto the driving part of my book week experience. What a huge challenge that part was. When I arrived in Ottawa, Hertz gave me a Yukon. At first it was thought to have a GPS and then in the absence of that an OnStar to help me with the navigation. But the OnStar had been disconnected and so I was back to the Google maps that I had prepared before leaving home. Back to the Google maps and my wits. Recalibrating is what they call it when your GPS reroutes you when you've made the wrong turn . My brain did a whole lot of recalibrating. Even with careful attention to my maps I found myself lost on several occasions. Sometimes I took the 401 West instead of the 401 East. Sometimes I didn't go far enough or missed my exit . I would stop and figure out where I was. Life gets us lost sometimes. Sometimes we know exactly how we got lost and other times we haven't got a clue how we got where we ended up. Once we figure out where we are then the next step is to come up with a plan to get us where we want to be. I spent a good amount of time doing just that and figuring out east, west, north and south and the quickest way to arrive at my desired destination. It was challenging , stressful, and I was always very relieved when I finally pulled the Yukon in to my destination. I stretched myself and just as anything we do in life that is challenging it is also rewarding. I felt such a sense of accomplishment in doing that. I took the Yukon back to the Toronto airport without a scratch. I caused no collisions and never succumbed to my desire to give up and cry in a Husky parking lot. I did what I had to do !

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Kids Get Top Billing!

Last week I toured the Ottawa/Toronto area as part of the TD Canadian Children's Book Week. Sunday, I flew into Ottawa and began the adventure. And what an adventure it was! One statistic that sticks with me is the number of kids I have been privileged to stand before. In my 29 years of teaching if I taught an average of 30 kids a year I would have taught 870 kids. Last week I presented to approx. the same number of kids. And it was indeed a privilege. I told my story of becoming an author. Intertwined with this story I told of a life in which I have met large and small challenges, loss and heartbreak, and followed dreams and in which I have so much to be thankful for. I attempted to tell the story with humor and sincerity and from an honest place . I was rewarded at every location. The rewards came through the eyes , the smiles , the caring questions and comments and in one place the spontaneous applause that brought this author to tears.(not that tears are ever too far from the surface) Time after time I was impressed by a group of attentive and respectful kids willing to soak up what I was saying. They laughed in all the right places and the places that brought about compassion and empathy they offered in abundance. Overall the week for me was about just that. Twelve times I stood before a large group of kids and shared a story that for me is heartfelt, intense and difficult to deliver. Every single time within the first few minutes I knew that my effort was not in vain. The enthusiastic requests for my autograph that will be forgotten and misplaced was not the indication that what I did last week matters. It is what I saw in glistening eyes, what I heard in heartfelt words and what I felt collectively in the hour I spent with each group that made last week an unforgettable experience for me. Just as I have always hoped that part of whatever I gave to the 800 plus students that I taught over my career mattered, I likewise hope that what I brought to those 800 plus kids last week resonates in a meaningful way. What more could I ask for!

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Week That Was!

This is the first of what I am sure will be a series of blog entries as I attempt to truly reflect on what last week was for me. I am going to meet a friend this morning who just had a new grandbaby and is travelling to Calgary to meet him tomorrow. We normally swim on Wednesday but we will swim today and I will do some errands across the river. Then maybe later I will have time to have a good,long look at the experience that participating in The TD Canadian Children's Book Week tour was for this author. I have many stories to tell. It was such a relief to turn in the keys of the Yukon and get on the plane in Toronto and fly back home to where I so thankfully am rooted. It was daunting to stretch myself so far beyond my comfort zone and accomplish just the getting around in the Ottawa/Toronto area. The privilege was the opportunity I was given to present to 800 kids. More on that and the driving later. Let's just say I don't expect to having any trouble turning left (without a flashing green arrow) while facing four lanes of oncoming traffic as I meander across the river and in to the familiar highways that lead to Saint John. Oh, and the snow is gone and it is Spring on the Walton Lake Road!