It has been a very, very long time since I have felt rested in any sense of the word. Perhaps as a consequence, all the writing I have done in the past five months or so has been forced (at worst) and usually uninspired.
I wrote the final exam of my undergraduate degree just under a month ago, and it has taken that long to rediscover my “normal” self (if there is such a thing as my normal self). Some time away from the city — see the picture above — and some time spent with my rather carefree brother helped to fight my fatigue. During the last couple of days I have experienced actual excitement and a sense of purpose with regards to my creative writing. How extraordinary! I had nearly forgotten what a difference inspiration can make. Continue reading
UWO’s student journal, Occasus, has published one story, two poems, and one experimental piece of mine in the 2017 issue (launched today). This journal has been very, very good to me throughout my time at university. Now that I have completed my degree, this is the last publication I will have in the journal.
To bid me an especially fine farewell, Occasus granted my story, “Alyson and the Haunting of the Home Decorating Store,” first prize in its contest. This is a story inspired both by my time working at Pier 1 Imports and by an old coworker of mine. It is also a story I thought would forever go misunderstood. It deals with very subtle Marxist themes, but more significantly with the dangerous undercurrents lurking within retail. In addition, it’s slightly comedic — and, considering comedy is something I always struggle with, this story provides a nice alternative to my usual writing.
Farewell, Occasus! It’s been swell.
Disclaimer: I did not take this photo; my brother did while climbing a tree in order to get a closer look at this long-nailed, big-lipped buddy. I was down below, on the ground, watching the magic unfold. In another, blurrier photo, the porcupine shows his orange teeth in what looks like a smile, but is probably closer to a territorial snarl.
This all happened in a forest far away from the internet. I spent a week at a camp, not going online once, and found it heavenly. I have always been a proponent of “less screen time,” but I often fail to achieve my own ideals, what with this blog and various social media outlets pulling constantly at my attention. I didn’t realize until I spent this week away from computers how much these distractions were affecting me. Recently, my creative writing has been scarce — partly because my focus was previously on academic writing for summer school, but also partly because my mind was much too scattered to produce a coherent narrative. Continue reading
Although my bio for this one is a little outdated (I wrote it maybe five months ago), here is my poem, “Stove-gas Quiet,” published today in The Voices Project.
“The essence of life is to be found in the frustrations of established order.”
John Gardner, Grendel
“I was pretending that I did not speak their language; on the moon we spoke a soft, liquid tongue, and sang in the starlight, looking down on the dead dried world …”
Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle
When I was younger, I made large chalk drawings on the road outside my house. The driveway wasn’t enough for me. I didn’t want to be contained — I wanted space and freedom to make huge drawings of faces with gaping mouths and wild hair. I would wear down the chalk until it was as tiny as a pebble in my hand, and then I would wear it down more, my fingertips scraping the pavement.
I was so consumed by the drawing I was making that I was never truly conscious of my location: the road. Although my family lived on a quiet street, I still played in the domain of vehicles. The possible danger of being run over by a car simply never occurred to me. I didn’t worry about the risk I took to make my (what I thought were) amazing chalk drawings by being on the road. I was young, and my creativity stretched further than the confines and safety of the driveway. Continue reading
Today I made the mistake of rejecting the ideas of a creative mind.
My friend and I were taking the bus back to the University after a lunch break, and he suggested we take the bus in the direction away from the University, to experience a quick tour through a part of the city neither of us had been in before. The extended route wasn’t that long — it would take maybe only ten minutes more than the bus that could take us directly to the University. I refused to take the longer route with him, and we both ended up taking the usual bus back to class.
I told myself later that I had said no to his idea because I wanted to hurry back and get some reading done, and that I really didn’t like riding buses in general, so the less time spent on them the better, but these were just excuses. The truth was I didn’t want to break my pattern, and I was unwilling to expend the extra energy to explore. I like to define myself as being naturally drawn to adventure and creativity, and yet I was too afraid and content to simply take a new bus route. Continue reading
This quotation is perhaps overused, but that is only because it is so inspiring and true. When I lose drive, Steve Jobs is one of my core motivators. If you haven’t watched his Stanford Graduation speech, I highly recommend that you do so. Remember: it is always better to struggle at what you love than to be bored and comfortable doing something that makes you miserable. The risk is worth it.
Writing by candlelight has always been my favourite way to write. I am lucky to have the perfect location for it, on the third floor of my grandma’s ancient home, at a large wooden desk set by the window. Most are not fortunate enough to have this kind of arrangement, but it hardly makes a difference. Candlelight has the ability to make even the most dreary location beautiful. Here are five reasons why you should be writing by candlelight: Continue reading