My most-least-favourite four-letter word

Good.

There, I’ve said it. Good.

Good is a perfectly acceptable word. In many cases, it’s one of my favourite words.

When I don’t like the word “good” is when it’s in the context of things that writers say. Like, “Can you read this and tell me if it’s any good?” or “Yeah, I don’t want to share. It’s not good.”

In that context, “good” isn’t a descriptor, it’s a judgement, and a harsh one, at that.

Of course, your story is good. Stop wondering about its value.

Is it marketable? Does it need polishing? Can you do something to fix the plot holes?

Yes, probably. Those are craft-based questions. Those are the questions a writer asks. As writers, we need to understand our work has value, and we need to stop self-sabatoging with that great, but four-letter word, good.

Meanwhile…

(I’m in the passenger seat, Dad’s driving, Mom’s in the back)

Mom: Turn on Thickson
Dad: Dickson??
Mom: Thickson!
Dad: Erickson?
Mom: Boy, yah nah hear meh?
Dad: Where do I turn?!
Mom: Eh, nah, man, is deh same name deh bois call deh sexy gyrls back home!
Dad: Thick? Oh, Thickson!

And that, friends, is how my parents give each other driving directions

The Best Start to 2018

Photo credit @cipriann | unsplash.com

Reuniting a lost pup with their owner is the best kind of start to the new year—especially as 2018 has begun with a sharp -30, plus wind chill.

Here’s to hot chocolate, warm paws, and snuggles between people and those with puppy noses.

It’s all about the equipment

Photo credit: Greg Rakozy | @grakozy | Unsplash

This winter, Edmonton has experienced an unseasonable amount of balmy temperatures. So much so, the dog park has a thin ice warning at its entrance. Plus, dog walkers are walking with icers (spikes) on their feet as the combination of temperatures and wind makes for an ice rink rather than a snowy trail.

As I watch some of the walkers slip, slid, and shiver their way down the main path, I’m reminded of how important the proper equipment can be. Snow boots, mitts, thermals, etc. It’s amazing how the proper coat can turn dog walking from a chore into an activity you don’t want to end.

Writing, I feel, is the same way. The successful writer knows whether they best work with pen and paper, as opposed to keyboard and screen, whether they enjoy plotting via apps or index cards. No matter what the physical equipment, I can’t help but think that the mental equipment is what’s *really* necessary.

For me, it’s patience, understanding the industry will be difficult and heartbreaking (so don’t take it too hard when it’s difficult and heartbreaking), persistence, and a band of brothers—writers/friends/family who uplift me when the going gets tough and cheer me on when it’s a smooth ride.

No matter if you’re a panster or a plotter, a write-by-hand or a write-by-screen, make sure you give your metaphorical closet a good look, and ensure you have the right equipment inside.

A day well spent

Photo credit Alexandru Rotariu (@rotalex) |Unsplash

Too often, for my taste, I find myself consumed by the business of life: work, career, deadlines, bills. It’s an effort to stay mindful and aware of the world around me, but it’s all too easy to judge myself according to a weird standard no one can ever match.

Last week, however, I got a good reminder on the difference between living and having a life. I was running a little late for a meeting, beating myself up over the lack of punctuality, when who should I see coming up my driveway when but the neighbour’s dog, a giant teddy-bear of a fur-ball. Aware that my neighbour sometimes allows him to walk to the car by himself, and hoping the short delay wouldn’t make me too late, I took him by the collar and led him back to the house.

Where I found the front door cracked open.

I called and called, but no one answered. After securing the pup in the house, I had a choice. Walk away and assume all was well, or take a moment to sort it through.

I have a five-year rule for myself, as in, will this matter five years from now? It’s an easy ruler to hold my decisions to–in five years, it won’t matter that I was a little late, in five years the person I was meeting would understand why I texted I would be late, in five years, I’d never get over walking away and then finding out something had happened to my neighbour.

I phoned her, visions of heart attack/illness clouding the sound of the phone on the other end. She was horrified—he was *not* supposed to be out. We sorted through it all, (the new weather stripping was the culprit as it wouldn’t allow the door to close properly), ensured the big-little man was safe and secure, and I left for my appointment.

Because of the delays and the unexpected moment to step in for my neighbour and her dog, I got little else accomplished that day. No writing, no administration, emails unanswered, but I was satsisfied with the day.

Whenever I start fretting over my career or the deadlines or the host of things that crowd my brain, I remind myself that there are bigger and smaller moments in life, and it’s okay to take a breath, step back, and step in for someone who may need me, even if it means a delay in my work.