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Retired blogger

September 18th, 2013 by deryncollier | Permalink

I took the summer off from blogging, and everything, really. And while I was at the beach I pondered this thing called social media and my approach to it and I decided that after four years of steady-ish posts, I’m ready to retire from blogging.

And please don’t think I made this decision lightly. I’m sparing you the details. There were many different days at many different beaches involved.

  Instead, I’ve started a   Facebook page, and will keep up with Twitter. So you can always find what I’m up to in those places. And you can check the news page on my website for the latest too.

I thought about taking this blog down, but decided not to. I’ll keep it posted here, as an archive and a resource. There are lots of great posts, and we’ve had lots of fun, haven’t we?

 Some highlights for me:

I started out reviewing first mystery novels – like this post comparing first mysteries set in my home town of Montreal. This was back when I approached each blog post like an English 301 assignment.

There was the time I finished version 7.2.4 of Confined Space and mailed it off to the Unhanged Arthur, and the giddy post the day after I found out I was shortlisted. Then there was that very popular post about how working with an agent does not magically solve all your problems and the heady day I got to announce that Confined Space was being published by Simon and Schuster and reveal the cover all at once.

Soon after I started blogging, I wrote about my first trip to the Vancouver Writer’s Festival. Who knew that three short years later I would be blogging about my experience as an author at the festival?

And of course along the way we’ve had some fun talking about the occupational hazards of parenting, and so many wonderful guests posts about creativity and staying sane when you are writing with kids in the house.

It’s been quite a trip, hasn’t it? I started this blog to build an internet presence for myself and put myself out there as a writer. To build my brand. And for that, I’d say it has worked remarkably well. It has also brought me in touch with some wonderful people, and has probably surprised lots of people who thought they already knew me.

And now, I’m ready to take a step back and let my books be my brand.

Books, you ask? As in more than one? Why yes. And we’ll be able to talk about that soon.  Come on over to Facebook and stay tuned.

And thanks for reading, peeps. It’s been a real privilege to have you with me on this journey.

 

How To Say No

May 21st, 2013 by deryncollier | Permalink

By Deryn Collier

 

 

Last week we learned that creative people say no. “Time is the raw material of creation,” we were told by a blog post buzzing around the internet. “…Nearly all creators spend nearly all their time on the work of creation.”

But how exactly are we supposed to say no? For many of us, this is a much more difficult question. And for those of us who are both creatives and parents, saying no can be even harder. There are some things we quite simply cannot say no to.

And then there are those  many situations where we can say no, where we should say no, but we don’t. Why? Because writing and parenting are vocations with fuzzy parameters. These amorphous boundaries can spread to every area of our lives, without our awareness or permission. There are no union rules to protect us. No shop stewards to complain to. No overtime. No government-mandated breaks. Nothing to limit the guilt, obligation, expectation and perfectionism that drive us to say yes, even when that yes is not in the best interest of our children, or our creative work.

When you are a writer and a parent, the only way to make enough space to write is to stake your claim, then guard against all intruders – regardless of how innocent they look;  how harmless their request seems. It’s only one meeting.  Only a few dozen cookies. Only one weekend.  Only one sandwich. Only one practice, car pool, play date, soccer game, skating uniform, fundraiser, camp out, sleepover, committee. Only one.

Three (not so easy) steps to no

A few years ago, my massage therapist taught me, step by step, how to say no. She did this as she kneaded away the  rocks in my shoulders that I’m convinced hold the world together.  A preventative measure, perhaps, to save her own wrists in the long run.

It turns out that there are three steps to saying no.

Step 1: Acknowledge the request and the person making it.

“I appreciate you thinking of me. It sounds like you are involved in a worthwhile project.”

Step 2: Make no excuses.

“However it is not a fit for me right now.”

Step 3: Say no.

“And so the answer is no.”

This only works if you do it

I’ve been practicing this for a few years now, and it was definitely trial and error for a while there. A few things I’ve noticed over time:

Step 1 is a crucial. We all love acknowledgement, and when you take the time to really hear someone’s request and learn what they are doing and why, you are noticing them, learning about them and about what’s going on in your community. Some requests are a fit for you. Some things you can and want to do. Others, you choose not to. Listening to the request and acknowledging the person making it are the only ways to decide whether you want to do the thing, or not.

Step 2 is essential. Once you’ve heard the request, and have made the choice to say no, you do not need to make excuses. You can elaborate on Step 2 a bit, but not too much.  For example, you might say:

“I am working to a deadline right now and can’t fit this in.”

But do NOT say:

“I can’t! My kid is sick, my dog got sprayed by a skunk, I’m really busy these days and we had guests all weekend and if I don’t fit any writing time in I’m going to lose what’s left of my mind!”

Do not do this. “It is not a fit for me” is all you need to say. People rarely ask or pry beyond this. We are afraid they will, and so we rush in with excuses. In reality, once you’ve acknowledged them (Step 1), most people are  satisfied. And if they push? Just say it again:

“‘It’s just not a fit for me right now.”

You do not have to make excuses or justify how you choose to spend your precious time and energy.

Step 3 is the most important of all. You must say the actual “no”. For a long time I avoided Step 3. I would stop at Step 2. And here’s how that would go:

“Wow, thanks so much for thinking of me. It sounds like you are involved in a worthwhile project, but it’s just not a fit for me right now.”

And then, a few months, or weeks, or days, or (I’m not kidding) hours later, the requester would be back. “How about now? Is it a fit yet? Can you do it now?”

And I’d have to start all over again,  and we’d go merrily around in circles until I finally worked up the nerve to throw in Step 3.

No just means no

I used to worry I’d come across as a bitch. Selfish, self-centered, un-giving, un-generous. A cow. A plague on society. A no-good hanger on.

But that’s not the way it’s played out.

I’ve found instead that people really appreciate it when I say what I want clearly and directly, without guilt or anger or obligation. Even when what I want to say is no.

And, even more importantly, I appreciate it when I say no. I am not shirking  responsibility, but rather, taking my commitments seriously. I have committed myself, my time and my energy, to my family and to my creative work. I must have time for them, always. I may have time for other things, sometimes.

Now that I know how to say no, there are times when I actually welcome the opportunity. Each no reminds me that I am keeping the promises I have already made.

 

The Dishwasher

May 15th, 2013 by deryncollier | Permalink

Guest post by: Jane Byers

Pre-kids the dishwasher ran once a week usually after company: perhaps a dinner party accented with good wine, gourmet food lingered over for hours, then the dishwasher: the final act before we retired, knowing that what awaited us the next morning at 9ish was a quiet kitchen, the Saturday Globe and Mail and the couch. This Sunday morning when I sat on the couch, with a twin on each hip, hopeful that my caffeine would bring me awake at 6:30 a.m., I stumbled over some stray doll clothes and then sat on a monster truck. We don’t even bother with the Globe and Mail anymore. My five year olds have hijacked that with chronic sleep deprivation, the constant low-grade demands, the illogical mood swings and tantrums that leave all of us shredded.

My worst fear was that my twins would swallow my creative-self whole. Though I have more time pressure, having young ones has opened me up in ways I couldn’t have known. My poetry has stretched to include seeing the world as a parent, observing my twins seeing the world for the first time, and the riches that brings: feeling the soar of them noticing mountains, or heartache of having a sad child or trying to make sense, myself, of the legacy of loss and love that adoption brings. Moments, so many moments, and what is a poem but a deep observation of a moment. I call these moments being “knife-edge” alive.

Most mornings, I sneak downstairs, while the house is still quiet. If I’m lucky I get an hour of writing in before little feet come tramping down and a sleepy hug interrupts my quest for just the right word. My writing resumes once the kids are taken to school, the dog walked, the errands complete. I write at my 70’s teak dining room table with my laptop. I eschew every ergonomic convenience and recommendation in my “office”, not insignificant given that in my professional life, I am an ergonomist. It is a testament to how much creativity transports one’s mind that a wooden chair will do.

Silence is the best gift my twins give me everyday when they go off to school. Silence, which I find precious, and hence do not squander. Which brings me to the curiosity of the dishwasher, it runs daily now, and usually, it seems when the kids have gone off to kindergarten and I start my creative workday. I find it soothing, like an auditory reminder that the mundane work is done for a few hours, or at least a signal that I will ignore the mundane for a while and get down to poetry. It is what rotting apples were to Flaubert. It is not silence but it doesn’t squeal or squabble and is known and not to be taken care of. It whispers in the background “the mundane tasks shall take care of themselves while you are off in paradise.”

Who is Jane Byers?

Jane Byers is a writer living in Nelson, British Columbia. She writes about human resilience in the context of raising children, adoption issues, sexism, local geography and health and safety in the workplace. She spent many years working for the City of Toronto in corporate health and safety and now works at WorksafeBC where she continues to facilitate resilience in injured workers. She is interested in how the landscape and our local geography relates to resilience. She has had poems, essays and short fiction published in a variety of books and literary magazines in Canada and the U.S., including Grain, Rattle, Descant, The Antigonish Review and The Canadian Journal of Hockey.

Jane kept a year-long chronicle of cooking her way through Whitewater Cooks, the same year that she and her partner adopted twins.  Take a peek here – you’re in for a treat.

What is SOUNDBITES?

Soundbites is an ongoing conversation about creative life and work, moderated by Deryn Collier.

For the past few months we’ve been talking about writing and parenting, with weekly guest posts from writer/parents who are really way too busy to bother with guest blog posts. And yet, here they are.

Your comments are always welcome!

My life is like writing

May 8th, 2013 by deryncollier | Permalink

Guest post by: Antonia Banyard

Warning: this is not a success story and contains no advice. These are just my random thoughts about writing and being a mum.

 

I’ve always loved writing. In preschool, I wanted to be an inventor. I had a very clear picture in my head of me sitting and making something. When I write, I think, I’m doing it.

 

I started writing seriously in 1988, when I was eighteen and went to study at UVic. I got a job in book publishing and studied editing. On weekends, I wrote poetry. My life was all about writing and publishing. You could say I was obsessed.

 

I moved to Vancouver and joined a wonderful, dynamic writing group. Together, we published two anthologies, gave readings, and launched a website. We wanted to be movers and shakers.

 

I started writing a novel in 2000. In 2003, I went to the University of Queensland to spend more time on it. There I met another fabulous group of creative, like-minded souls.

 

My sights were set on publication, but I also thought about having a baby. I came home from Australia with a plan: The novel would be published in a year. Maybe I’d do a reading tour while hugely pregnant. When all my promotional duties were over, I’d have a baby. After a reasonable amount of time, I’d start on the second novel, etc.

 

It didn’t quite work out that way. My husband and I thought a lot about overpopulation and the environment. A lot of soul-searching went on. I tried very hard to accept that I might not have children after all, and that was probably best for the environment anyway. But the baby desire can’t be controlled with logic.

 

In 2007, we bought a house in Nelson. My husband moved back in September, but I stayed in Vancouver until May 2008. Two weeks after I moved to Nelson, I got pregnant. I was excited, but too scared to share the news until my second trimester.

 

That summer, my novel was accepted for publication. It would be published in spring 2009. I was happy, but oooh, bad timing. Could we delay publication? No. Maybe the editor could send her comments soon?

 

My daughter was born in February 2009. After 26 hours of labour, a few needles, and some forceps, I had a beautiful baby to hold – covered in technicolour meconium, but that didn’t worry me because I’d never seen a newborn before. I had a new obsession!

 

I returned to work in September 2009 and the editor’s comments on my manuscript arrived in October. For the next three months, the routine was: work in the mornings, baby in the afternoon and evening, then once she was asleep, start work on the edit. At that point, my daughter woke up a lot – every hour or so all night. I’d often have to take a break from revising to put her back to sleep, then stagger back to the computer.

The good thing is that now, whenever things get tough, I think, “Well, it’s not nearly as bad as when I was finishing up the novel…!” and I feel much better.

 

Never Going Back came out in 2010. I toured the Kootenays with toddler and husband in tow. In 2011, my second daughter was born—much more quickly! They are now four and eighteen months.

 

It seems that my life is like writing. I never know what will happen or how it will all come together. I don’t write these days, though I try. When I hear of other parents who write, I wonder what their secret is. Do they live on take-out? Are they independently wealthy? Maybe they don’t need sleep?

 

But I think this fallow period is good. I used to feel guilty if I didn’t write in every spare moment. Now my life is so rich with material, but I don’t have the time to get any of it down. I have ideas, but for shorter pieces – picture books maybe.

 

Having children has made me a more decisive writer. No time for self-doubt! I also need to be more efficient. Forget seize the day, seize the five minutes. I used to have to journal or freewrite for at least an hour to get into the writing head space. Now I spend more time thinking and less time writing.

 

I’ve also had to re-think my relationship to writing. More soul-searching. I no longer define myself solely as a writer. I can be many things. There’s more room in my life.

A couple of my friends in Australia have said to me, “Don’t worry about the writing for now. It will always be there.” This advice might sound defeatist to some, but it gives me hope.

Who is Antonia Banyard?

Antonia Banyard can be found around the playgrounds of Nelson, BC, and sometimes in the grocery store. She hasn’t slept for longer than five-hours at a stretch in 4 ½ years, but she has great hopes of regaining her mind once everyone is sleeping through the night. She has published a book of non-fiction for children, Dangerous Crossings (2007), and a novel for adults, Never Going Back (2010). She is currently making books for her daughters about her family in Africa.

As part of the 2013 One Book One Kootenay celebration, Antonia will be reading from Never Going Back at the Creston Library on Tuesday, June 4th at 7:00 p.m., and at the Grand Forks Library on Tuesday, June 11th, at 7:00 p.m.

What is SOUNDBITES?

Soundbites is an ongoing conversation about creative life and work, moderated by Deryn Collier.

For the next few months we’ll be talking about writing and parenting with weekly guest posts from writer/parents who are really way too busy to bother with guest blog posts. And yet, here they are.

Your comments are always welcome!

Writing with teens in the house

May 1st, 2013 by deryncollier | Permalink

Guest post by: Rob Brunet

Writing teaches humility. The crushing self doubt splayed against seemingly interminable rejection is a gift few occupations can rival. But if you really want to amp it up, try writing with teenagers in the house.

When I committed myself a couple of years ago (to becoming a novelist, that is, although the act itself may qualify me as insane), my children were twelve and fifteen years old. The first few months, they pretended not to notice. Sure, Daddy no longer left the house in the morning. Instead I shuffled a twenty-foot commute to the freshly painted cubby hole across the hall from the bathroom. I was there when the kids came home for lunch. Or after school. Or pretty much any time, unless I was busy driving one of them somewhere. But I still made a point of shaving on occasion, and my cooking skills improved a bit, so there wasn’t a lot to complain about.

Still, they peppered me with innocent queries over dinner. Questions like, “So, when are you going to move back into a real office?” and “Explain again how you’re going to make money now?” Or the rather more pointed, “Daddy, can we still afford to go to university?” Once that was answered, they’d lose interest pretty quick.

The message was clear: keep the fridge full, allowance doled, and lifts available 24/7. After that, by all means, write. Whatever turns your crank.

It’s not like they were completely disinterested. It’s just that time moves at a different pace for teenagers. The whole concept of spending a year or two writing then rewriting and rewriting again, then revising and editing, and changing and polishing a novel, in hopes that one day you’ll land an agent and start the whole process over again—well, it’s just not as exciting as today’s drama surrounding whose boyfriend kissed who else’s girlfriend. Or which Hollywood sequel comes out next week.

In an attempt to overcome their incredibly short and pointedly selective attention spans, I took to describing each major event in my journey. I ticked off accomplishments like completing a draft, selling a short story, or performing a reading with musical accompaniment at the bar down the street. Ever supportive, my kids humored me. They’d listen, nod, acknowledge my success, then ask whether my book would be in print any time soon.

When I signed with my agent, they were convinced things would finally take off. Feeding the beast, I announced a plan to purchase a car that was less than a dozen years old…just as soon as I sold the movie rights to one of my books. My son started showing me his latest issues of Motor Trends, especially the ones featuring Ferraris.

From a teen’s perspective, parents can be embarrassing, or insane, or at best utterly irrelevant. So imagine my daughter’s delight when I insisted she friend me on Facebook. “Creepy” was her adjective; “safe” was mine. She was afraid I’d put the hammer down every time anyone posted a four-letter word to her wall. In an effort to help her understand that I wasn’t quite the prude she made me out to be, I handed her my unfinished manuscript. I write about small town petty criminals in voices that I hope are authentic. They curse. Sometimes, a lot. I figured four or five pages would make my point.

I felt my cool factor escalate as she went on to read a couple hundred pages about grow ops and bikers and bad shit going down in the bush. That got my son reading STINKING RICH, and soon I was hearing that neighbourhood kids in grade seven wanted to read my book when it came out. Somehow, I didn’t think it qualified as a middle grade boy story. Still, I basked in that brief bit of swag.

Sometime later, Thuglit published a story I wrote that sees two strangers hook up in a cheap motel room. It wasn’t one I felt like discussing with my kids. I left the anthology kicking around the family room for a week or two so I couldn’t be accused of hiding it. Then I hid it in my office. The cubby hole.

Typically, though, I do run my stories by my children. I figure tales of criminal misadventure can’t inflict any more damage than COD or the latest vampire soap opera. Of course, there’s more to it than that.

Part of it is pride, and my kids indulge that part. But that’s not it. You see, the raw honest emotional reaction I can expect from both my daughter and son is invaluable. It’s unfiltered. Often it’s more pure than feedback I get from peers in the craft.

Because, let’s face it, if anyone can look you in the face and tell you that your work is either good or absolute dreck—and mean it—it is your own teenage child.

 Who is Rob Brunet?

Rob Brunet writes crime fiction – tales from just barely off the grid. His award-winning short stories have been featured in Voices, Earthkeeper, and Thuglit. Find his writing at www.robbrunet.com or on Twitter @RRBrunet.

What is SOUNDBITES?

Soundbites is an ongoing conversation about creative life and work, moderated by Deryn Collier.

For the next few months we’ll be talking about writing and parenting with weekly guest posts from writer/parents who are really way too busy to bother with guest blog posts. And yet, here they are.

Your comments are always welcome! Are you brave enough to show your work-in-progress to your teenagers?

 

Can you handle the truth?

April 24th, 2013 by deryncollier | Permalink

Guest post by: Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Do you have the rare combination of persistence and patience necessary to be both parent and writer? I’ve created this handy Cosmo-style quiz to help you find out.

1.      You’re on the phone with your publisher when your son suddenly projectile-vomits across the living room. You:

a.       Drop your publisher in the puke and comfort your darling.

b.      Scream: “Aaaaaah! Spew emergency!” Then hang up.

c.       Chuck a cloth at the kid and hash out those e-rights now, while you have the chance.

2.      You have one e-mail to write. One. But your child won’t stop clinging to your freakin’ leg and you can’t concentrate for long enough to string a freakin’ sentence together and you really can’t remember WHY it’s illegal to list children on freakin’ Craigslist. You:

a.       Take a deep breath and cuddle your child. Obviously, he needs you more than your editor.

b.      Call Grandma. Put her on the phone with your child, close the door, and concentrate!

c.       Pour yourself a scotch. It’s 6 o’clock somewhere.

3.      Your child is finally asleep. You can’t wait to hit the keyboard. But, your spouse is looking at you in THAT way. You:

a.       Think how a third child would really fill that empty space in your soul.

b.      Resolve to wake up early and write. I mean, how often is your kid asleep by 9? The stars have aligned…

c.       Pull on your bathrobe and bunny slippers and pass your partner the TV remote. You’ve got writing to do.

If you chose mostly A: You’re a (much) better mother than I am. But the writing gig’s not going to work out. Maybe try music therapy, or reiki.

 If you chose mostly B: You suck at parenting on some days and suck at writing on others. Welcome to the real world. You’re going to be just fine.

 If you chose mostly C: Congratulations on your inner strength. I look forward to seeing your books on the bestseller lists. Just hire yourself a full-time nanny, pronto.

Who is Tanya Lloyd Kyi?

Love the cover!

Tanya Lloyd Kyi writes middle-grade and young-adult books from her home in Vancouver. She has an eight-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son, who are remarkably patient when she has imaginary conversations in her head and neglects to answer real-life questions. Tanya’s upcoming novel Anywhere But Here, published by Simon & Schuster, will be available October 15, 2013.

Tanya also manages to blog almost daily, and her blog is hilarious. Check it out here.

What is SOUNDBITES?

Soundbites is an ongoing conversation about creative life and work, moderated by Deryn Collier.

For the next few months we’ll be talking about writing and parenting with weekly guest posts from writer/parents who are really way too busy to bother with guest blog posts. And yet, here they are.

Your comments are always welcome! Let us know the truth! Do YOU have what it takes to be a writer/ parent?

 

Writing, parenting, and unschooling

April 17th, 2013 by deryncollier | Permalink

Guest post by: Robin Stevenson


If I hadn’t had a kid, I might never have started writing. I’ve always been a bookworm and as a child, I figured I’d be a writer someday, but it had been on the back burner for a good couple of decades. Somehow, becoming a parent kick-started my creativity. Maybe the sleep deprivation suppressed the self-doubt, or maybe I just needed an excuse to avoid doing laundry when my baby napped… but I started writing when my son was about eight months old and now, eight years later, I have written and published fifteen novels for kids and teens.

Yes, I may be a little manic (my editor once introduced me at a book launch as “Robin Stevenson, the author who apparently never sleeps”) but mostly, writing keeps me sane.

 

I confess, though, that as I dragged myself out of bed in the dark to squeeze in a couple of hours of writing before my toddler awoke, I eagerly anticipated the day that he would start school and I would have all that free writing time.

 

 

It lasted all of six weeks. And I spent a fair bit of that time at the school, banging my head against brick walls and trying to fit square pegs into round holes before I decided to call it quits. My son was a first grade dropout and we were officially homeschoolers. Um, make that unschoolers. Since school wasn’t a great fit, I wasn’t about to replicate it at home.

It took awhile to get my head around this unplanned adventure, but the truth is, it has been fabulous and unbelievably freeing. No more rushing out the door in the morning, no more school lunches to pack, no more levelled readers (ugh), no more homework, no more hoops to jump though. My son and I have both been able to relax, spend lazy mornings playing games or reading in our PJ’s or wandering the neighbourhood. We can travel when we like. We can look stuff up online and learn about black holes and game theory and solar cells. We can take pottery classes and squash lessons and hang out in coffee shops playing Plants vs. Zombies on our ipads.

We can both pursue our passions. And somehow, with the support of my lovely partner and my unbelievably supportive parents, there is time for all of it. Watching my son learn and explore in his own way has helped me to do the same. His curiosity about the world has reignited mine – and that can only help my writing. 

I occasionally imagine long stretches of blissfully quiet time in a tidy house, whole days of uninterrupted thoughts and completed sentences… but my house was never very tidy anyway and if I had more time, I’d probably just procrastinate. So while I still wonder what it would be like to have more time—and not to have to search for Dropbox on  a computer desktop covered in Minecraft mod icons—the truth is, I don’t really want to find out.

Who is Robin Stevenson?

Robin Stevenson is the author of numerous novels for teens and children, including the Governor General’s Award finalist, A Thousand Shades of Blue. Her latest book is a historical juvenile novel called Record Breaker. Robin lives in Victoria, BC, with her partner and their eight year old son.

What is SOUNDBITES?

Soundbites is an ongoing conversation about creative life and work, moderated by Deryn Collier.

For the next few months we’ll be talking about writing and parenting with weekly guest posts from writer/parents who are really way too busy to bother with guest blog posts. And yet, here they are.

How about you? Do you juggle writing and homeschooling? Or unschooling and any other creative work? Have you set your creative work aside until that day the munchkins go to school?  Is your house actually tidy? Jump in on this conversation at any time!

Coming up next week:  Do YOU have what it takes to be a writer and a parent? Our guest blogger will share her Cosmo-style quiz.

Writing with babies

April 10th, 2013 by deryncollier | Permalink

Guest post by: Emmet Matheson


There are plenty of writers who can manage the needs of raising a family, earning a bit of money, and getting some writing done. I am not one of them. I struggle with everything. Partly because I kind of love struggling, it’s what makes things interesting and worthwhile. The arrival of my first daughter, four years ago, actually renewed and resolved my writing efforts. But ever since the twins showed up, 18 months ago, it’s been a non-stop re-evaluation and recalibration of my writing methods and creative priorities.

Here are my five essential strategies for writing with babies:

Get some rest.

In my 20s, I could write all night. I still try to, but more often than not I end up falling asleep hypnotized by the idle, flashing cursor against a white screen. Being with your kids takes a lot of energy and writing (at least the way I do it, which might be the wrong way) takes a lot of energy. If you burn yourself out, you’ll be no good to your kids or your writing.

Do it every day.

 Dakota McFadzean draws and publishes a comic strip every day. Every day. He’s always been a pretty good cartoonist, but in the last year or two he’s become a great cartoonist. Sometimes he makes me laugh out loud, sometimes he makes me recoil in horror. It’s an oversimplification to give all the credit to his daily discipline, but it’s an oversimplification I try to emulate.

Set realistic goals.

 Okay, so I write every day. Ooo-oooh, right? But here’s the thing: my goal is 250 words. Chump change. But it’s a lot more than zero words a day, which is about the only easier writing goal to set for yourself. It’s the kind of goal you can meet in about 20 minutes. A lot of days I end up writing a lot more than 250 words, but even when I’m only hitting that low minimum, I’m still staying engaged with my story and chipping away at it.

Play. 

If you’re not having fun with your writing, what the heck are you doing it for?

Get help.

 My actor friends, in between waiting tables and auditions, are always going to class. They’re in movement classes, dialect classes, scene workshops, fight school. If it’s good enough for them, why not me? I’ve taken writing classes in a wide range of settings, but my two favourites have been Mette Bach’s continuing education course at Langara College in Vancouver and Sarah Selecky’s Story is a State of Mind online writing workshop–the latter has been a good fit with my life as a writing parent, eking out moments of writing and thinking about writing where I can.

Who is Emmet Matheson?

 Emmet Matheson is a recovering, relapse-prone music journalist, a sporadic blogger, and a wannabe crime novelist. Weekdays he’s a stay-at-home dad to three kids, weekends he works at a detox and transitional housing centre on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. This is his first guest-blog.

What is Soundbites?

Soundbites is an ongoing conversation about creative life and work, moderated by Deryn Collier.

For the next few months we’ll be talking about writing and parenting with weekly guest posts from writer/parents who are really way too busy to bother with guest blog posts. And yet, here they are.

How about you? What are your essential tips for writing in a house full of babies? Your comments are always welcome below.

Coming up next week: But eventually they go to school…right? WRONG! Writing and the unschooling parent.

 

Writing and parenting: New blog series

April 2nd, 2013 by deryncollier | Permalink

What do writers need most?

Time and uninterrupted quiet. Right! Very good.

What do parents lack most?

Time and uninterrupted quiet. Right again!

 

So what’s a parent/writer to do?

I’ve put that question to a whole bunch of writers who are also parents. And parents who are also writers. Because if you’re a writer, you can’t really stop being one, can you? And if you’re a parent, you’re kind of committed too.  So, what if you’re both? Can these two callings ever peacefully coexist?

We will explore this question and many more in a new series of SOUNDBITES guest posts on writing and parenting.

First up, a stay at home dad to a four year old and twin babies who writes every day. Yup, you heard that right!  How does he do it? Pop by next week and he’ll tell you.

In the meantime if you’d like to read up on the topic, try this post on how to survive an edit as a writer/parent, or this one on how loud kids really are.

 

Mystery camp

March 25th, 2013 by deryncollier | Permalink

You know one of my favorite spots in the whole world ?

Kaslo, BC.

It’s a gorgeous town with a funky vibe. I could go on and on about it, but I think this picture pretty much says it all.

So, I was thrilled to receive and invitation from Holley Rubinsky to come to Kaslo this summer for Mystery Camp!

Holley and I will be co-facilitating this 4-day retreat for mystery writers, or any writers looking to boost the suspense in their manuscripts.

This retreat is a chance for you to  work on your story in a supportive environment, away from the distractions of everyday life.

Holley and I will each do a little teaching,  there will be lots of time for writing, and time for small group and one on one guidance. There will also be time for reading from your work, and time for borscht, and time for wine.

Oh, and did I mention the wrap-around porch on Holley’s renovated Victorian house? You can work there. Or inside, under the twelve foot ceilings, surrounded by books and with a cat on your lap.

If you get a good day’s writing in, we might even let you go to the beach. (Yes, that’s the beach in Kaslo, below.)

Mystery camp dates are July 29 to August 2. I hope to see you there! You can find full details about this retreat, and all of Holley’s summer writing retreats, here.

 

 

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