Back to Reality


I feel a little bit as Dorothy must have felt when she “returned” from Oz – you want me to do whatChores?  Feed the chickens?  Five minutes ago I was wearing some damn nice slippers and now I’m back in my sensible shoes…

Such is the feeling of let-down and decompression since returning from the (brilliant, fantastic, awesome, inspirational – insert all that apply and they all do) writer’s workshop.  I didn’t fully appreciate how exhausted I would feel upon my return to normal life, no longer in the heady air surrounded by literary agents, editors, and award-winning authors.

Let’s just say I was a bit cranky this weekend.

I’m better now and yet I’m determined not to let this experience go to waste; it’s damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead! Dammit cat, get out of my way!  If only I could get my office chair into the perfect, comfortable position…

Two things are on my must-do list today (besides calling the plumber, mowing the lawn, and trying to get this damned chair to work):  follow-up with a literary agent that I met at the workshop and send a nice, handwritten note to the Program Director at Humber College.  My mama taught me that a handwritten note is far more meaningful than a typed one – she passed away before email was commonplace.  The poor man might just fall off his office chair when he gets it but that’s kind of the point.

I nearly made Alistair MacLeod fall out of his chair with the climax of my short story so why not the director of the Writer’s Workshop too? Alistair assured me he was fine and that the scene was “great!”  Working with him was the equivalent of wearing those ruby slippers.

The director sent us into the four winds on Friday afternoon with hopeful words.  He said he hoped that we found the workshop to be “rocket fuel for our writing.”  I share his hope; however, I feel time is of the essence.  I don’t want the rocket fuel to just puddle in my brain, unlit.  I want to ignite it and have my stories take off.

So, no rest for the weary.  I studied my notes as I drafted my email to the literary agent.  Later, I will sit a spell, give some thought to the theme of The Novel.  Careful thought.  I might try a trick that Alistair uses:  writing the last line of the entire thing.  He calls this his lighthouse – it helps prevent him from getting lost in the dark.

You could hear a pin drop as we listened to him describe how he writes.  He said he thinks.  He thinks about this and he thinks about that. He wool-gathers and it sounds so easy.  I sit, thinking and staring out at the busy Toronto streetscape. I picture my mentor who is no doubt back in Cape Breton.  I see the old gentleman perched on a bluff overlooking the deep blue ocean, his tweed cap at a jaunty angle.  He sits, quietly, listening to the distant roar of the sea, weaving thoughts and words into a rich tapestry.

Or, as he also said, stringing the words and thoughts like beads on a string until a necklace appears. It should always be so.




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