“The only discomfort I really experienced was to live in my workshop among discarded limbs and unfinished torsos.”

Vladimir Nabokov, “On a Book Entitled Lolita

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Reason #53 to Keep Living: Progress

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Photo taken by WordsFest London staff

This is, and always will be, one of my biggest reasons to keep living.

On Sunday morning, I had the privilege of reading and speaking with four other writers at WordsFest in London, Ontario. This is the kind of event I couldn’t have been part of three or four years ago — partly because of health reasons, and partly because my writing was no where near good enough to be read in front of a room full of people. My writing still needs A LOT of work, but opportunities like this remind me that I am progressing, and that my constant work and practice is getting me somewhere.

As a writer, signs of progress are sometimes few and far between. I will take what I can get, and this one was more than enough. Continue reading

Reason #48 to Keep Living: Staying Offline

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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

“She would not say of anyone in the world now that they were this or were that. She felt very young; at the same time unspeakably aged. She sliced like a knife through everything; at the same time was outside, looking on. She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxicabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day.”

— Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway

While Meditating on the Concept of a Story…

“Some moral tales belong to kindergarten, the age of being afraid of the dark, the age of venturing from the house alone for a short distance, admonitory fables in primary crayons. But other tales are always with us. We tell them to ourselves in midlife and in old age, different each time, accreting as stalactites press toward earth, heavier with each drop and its burden of secret dissolved rock and minerals, the many salts of the planet.”

— Marge Piercy, He, She, and It

The Feeling of Change

“She smiled scornfully and again picked up the book, but now was decidedly unable to understand what she was reading. She passed the paper-knife over the glass, then put its smooth and cold surface to her cheek and nearly laughed aloud from the joy that suddenly came over her for no reason. She felt her nerves tighten more and more, like strings on winding pegs. She felt her eyes open wider and wider, her fingers and toes move nervously; something inside her stopped her breath, and all images and sounds in that wavering semi-darkness impressed themselves on her with extraordinary vividness.”

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

(Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky)