Well, it’s obvious. Instead of shortening the time in between my rambles as I had originally planned, it’s taken me weeks and weeks to get back here. Ten weeks in fact since last post. OIE!
But I have not only ONE good excuse but TWO.
I was a very sick puppy this summer. Slept in a cabin with some mold which turned me into a zombie. Took a few moons to recover. So much for that story.
But the upside is that being forced to slow down the past few weeks has also given me the opportunity to reinvent myself. By the time I’m 76 (three weeks from now) I will have completed the last round of revising my business plan. But here’s even better news: I haven’t just been daydreaming about what I want to do when I grow up. I’m actually doing it.
Here’s the lowdown. The new-improved version of Sandra looks like this: she’s moving out of the realm of writing stories for mainstream magazines and newspapers into the “literary” realm. That means getting published in literary magazines like The Sun, River Teeth, Creative Non-fiction, and Brevity. Ditto for making appearances in lit journals such as Geist, The Fiddlehead, Event, Room, Tin House–ad infinium.
I have a couple of ulterior motives. For starters, I applied for a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to do a Writer In Residence program in public libraries but was disqualified because I’m not considered a “literary” nonfiction writer. So be it. I’ll become one. This means establishing a track record by having prose, essays and long-from narratives published in lit mags and journals.
Mercifully I don’t have to learn how to do magic or fly from trapezes although it may feel like I’m doing just that. Also it ties in with my first love: writing narrative nonfiction. I love mining for story. Sooo … I’m taking a course on writing the personal essay at Université Sainte Anne with Darryl Whetter. I studied poetry with Darryl five years ago and remembered how much time and energy he invested in his students, and how much I learned.
All along I’ve been reading books on the subject of narrative writing in general and writing essays/ memoir in particular. (I’ve mentioned some of the books in previous posts.) I have a few more to add to that list (including online resources) and the NEXT post will have a list of these gems.
Meanwhile, as part of the course I’m taking we were required to give a 10 min presentation on a memoir from a recommended reading list. I chose JJ Lee’s memoir, The Measure of a Man. It’s a superb example of how a writer can write painful scenes without being maudlin or self-absorbed. The author’s gift to his readers is a rich basket of insights which help us understand the human condition. But in order to achieve that, the author brings us into the fascinating word of a man’s suit. (Oh! The research! And how he weaves it into the story!) He also paints such vivid portraits of people that you feel as if you know them and love them in spite of their warts. It’s “a true story, well told” as Lee Gutkind, founder of Creative Nonfiction Magazine once described creative nonfiction.
But here’s the kicker: Unbeknownst to me (before my presentation) there was a brief posted on Moodle re: what our prof expected. So I approached the assignment as a book review and missed what I “should” have done by a mile. I will undoubtedly get a big fat 0. Good thing I’m not relying on grades. Rather, I’m relying on learnin’. I just need to add to my list “Learn where the briefs about upcoming assignments are located.”
Now, dear reader, how goes YOU?