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.

Wow, wow, and more wow

Lark Holds the Key & Across the Floor are starred selections with the CCBC Spring Edition, and Gatekeeper hit #3 on the YEG bestsellers. And to think of all the times—all the times—when I was one breath away from giving up because it seemed hopeless and useless, and that I was kidding myself. I am so grateful, so incredibly grateful to all those people who came into my life and encouraged me to keep going. These accolades are theirs, as much as they are mine.

2007 vs 2017

I was watching an episode of Corner Gas yesterday, the one where Lacey wants to write for The Howler…only The Howler won’t have her. Throughout the episode, she meets up with other townsfolk who all write/have written for the paper. Emma, when she learns that Lacey wants to be a columnist, tries to encourage Lacey and says of the paper, “Oh, they’ll take anyone.” Meanwhile, she has no idea that Lacey has already been rejected.

The subtext that Lacey’s been rejected because she’s not a great writer aside, the episode brought back a lot of memories of when I was trying to break into the publishing industry.  Everyone, it seemed, was getting published or getting an agent.

My friends were winning writing contests, a fellow writing student had their first book accepted for publication from the first publisher to whom they submitted…I keenly remember struggling to hold on to my sense of optimism. I think I spent more time reminding myself that writing was an individual journey, that we each had our own path than I spent writing.

Fast forward ten years later, and I’ve been nominated for awards, won some awards, had my books on lists. I have an amazing agent (Amy Tompkins), supportive publishers (Orca Book Publishers and Great Plains Publishing), and I’m writing in the genre I love best (Kids & Teens).

I’m glad I held on and kept going, though looking back, I’m still unsure how I managed to make it through all the rejections, dead ends, and brick walls…somehow I did, and with 2017 now started and carrying its challenges and obstacles, I remind myself that if I kept going in 2007, surely I can keep going, now.

Happy New Year to all. May 2017 bring us all the happiness, peace, and health our hearts can hold.



We’re not shipping syrup to the Serengeti

The writing has not been going well. Deleted pages, blank pages, no pages. It’s easy to get frustrated, to blow everything out of proportion, and to get discouraged.

That’s when having friends in the industry is such a help. One of my writing friends told me when the work threatens to overwhelm, and the anxieties grow, she takes a breath and says, “You’re not shipping syrup to the Serengeti.” As in, this isn’t life and death. As in, take it down a notch.

And not just that, but I have the best job in the world. I’m a professional storyteller. I make my living by living in my imagination. This is hard work, gruelling and boring at times, but it’s also blessed work…and when I come across a gorgeous photo like the one below, it’s a double reminder that we’re all foraging, all looking for the thing that gives us life and value and connection.

I’m not shipping syrup to the Serengeti, I’m not even hunting in the freezing cold. So how about if I take a breath and concentrate on the positives—to take joy in the *trying* rather than the *finishing*.

While my friend below hunts for their next meal, I’m going to do my part. I’m going to hunker down in my den and get some words in.

Photo courtesy of Ray Hennessy

Photo courtesy of Ray Hennessy

Images by unsplash.com


Writing Process Blog Tour

Thanks to Judith Tewes for the tag!

freeimages.co.uk workplace images

freeimages.co.uk workplace images

1.) What are you working on?
I’m currently working on edits for Guardian, a YA novel about a girl being haunted by the ghost of the boy of bullied her.

2.) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I actually don’t think my work is that different from others in its genre; I love quirky characters, strong protagonists, and a huge dose of humour in my stories.

3.) Why do I write what I do?
I always imagine someone coming back from a hard day, and needing a laugh and some escape. I write stories that I think will make them laugh, relax, and have a great night.

4.) How does my writing (or writing with pictures/illustrating) process work?
Lol, uh, write. Rewrite. Rewrite. Rewrite. Rewrite…did I mention, rewrite?

My tags: Johanna Riley, Stacy Dawn, and Alicia Dean