Years ago I was struck by the profound saying of my friend and writing mentor, Susan Lynn Reynolds, "Don't compare the inside of yourself with the outside of others." And now I've heard writing guru, Anne Lamott say the same thing. Ah, writers! We're famous for under-estimating ourselves.
Those of you who've been following along are aware that I've been challenged by a home reno since late August and I'm happy to report that the messiness that drove the OCD inside of me crazy during the past few months has subsided somewhat because the home's exterior now looks as if nothing is going on. The inside is still driving me 'round the bend. Stuff piled everywhere. Clutter as room overflow with pieces from other areas of the house. Doesn't this remind you of writing a novel or other large manuscript? Scary, thinking that it can never be put right? In order?
This is exactly the time when you have to breathe; have faith in dealing with one detail at a time; take your progress in baby-steps. Utilize a reliable feedback group (such as a WIP - works in progress group), beta-readers or the help of a trusted editor much as you'd call on a decorator to grapple with everything from the drywall out. I'm hunting for everything from paint colours to ceiling fans to bed frames to textiles for my new space. And I'm feeling pink! In the same way you, as writer, must arrange you written materials just as furnishings are arranged within rooms.
Have faith in your taste; your sense of style; your innate ability to create order from the seeming chaos. Think of me, vacuuming up drywall schmutz and insulation fluffs, dreaming of my perfect vision. Believe that you'll get there too.
And write on!
Last fall not long after I started my concerted push to have poetry published (check out 13/3/2018 blogpost on the Jo Bell method of tracking submissions), I sent a handful of cancer-related poetry answering a call for cancer poems organized/edited/published by who-knows-who (at the time). Did I have cancer poems! Writing had been part of my healing journey after my mother succumb 7 months earlier. And my brilliant good fortune was to have a poem accepted (yay), but also to hear back from one of the co-editors - the wonderful and insightful Priscila Uppal (who I found out was splitting duties with Meaghan Strimas). The contact with Priscila was (almost) the most exciting part. I'd known her for many years in that loose poetry community in the GTA - first giving her a ride back to the GO train after her WCDR guest-speaker gig on a sunny Saturday morning; then corralling her as lead poet for several Pickering Library Poetry Month readings; lastly, booking her to teach workshops at the Ontario Writers' Conference (over the years), a much-loved annual event for writers of all kinds. I don't (unfortunately) know Meaghan yet, but hope to remedy that fact at the anthology's launch event on November 8th.
As many of you know, the poetry/writing community in Canada lost the amazing powerhouse that was Priscila to cancer in September. Before that time, she, in her generosity not only reached out via email to accept one of the most meaningful poems I wrote about my mother's cancer death, but she also advised that I lose the last two lines! And she was right in her observations. The work was stronger. I was merely telling. To pretty bows are necessary to wrap up a strong cancer poem.
I look forward to attending the launch of the anthology as well as the launch of Priscila's last poetry book, On Second Thought. I will probably cry. But the work of powerful Canadian poets (in this anthology by Mansfield Press) with whom I'm so honoured to be included will stand as a stalwart testament to the voice and courage of Priscila Uppal.
Celebrating the Life and Work of Priscila Uppal
Thursday, November 8th 7-9pm
Center for Social Innovation (Annex), 720 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON
Open to the Public
My fall has been consumed with having roofs reshingled. The 26-year old cottage has needed the job done for several years and the at-home reno called for the integrity of a whole roofing job. And in considering the roof, is the functionality not served by layering shingle after shingle; row by row; layer upon layer in order to produce a tight unit?
Writing is much the same. Word by word. Sentence after sentence. So the flow of storytelling washes over the reader like rain from peak to valley.
And colour matters. As does strength, durability, quality of the materials used. Oh, we poets do love our metaphors!
As you know, in sending out my poetry for the past year I've managed to have a roof-full of my little slates on display; shining out there in the wider world; observable even by satellite? Okay, I've stretched the metaphor about as far as I can. Fruits of my efforts are on display (online) this fall:
- at the Homestead Review: http://homesteadreview.net/Fall_2018/hunt.pdf
- in the League of Canadian Poets Anthology called Heartwood: Poems for the Love of Trees (below)
- at Making Monsters (Future Fire) in the U.K. (below)
- in the Mojave River Review: https://issuu.com/mojaverivermedia/docs/mrr-vol4no1-spring-summer2018_final
- in the Amsterdam Quarterly: http://www.amsterdamquarterly.org/aq_issues/aq23-genealogy/barbara-e-hunt-mending/
And coming soon to Montana Mouthful, Bunbury (U.K.), Bangor Literary Journal (Northern Ireland) and the Dysfunctional Cancer Anthology...and so I keep sending work out. Shingle by shingle, building a solid poetry roof...
Write On! Send it out!