Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Feb 7-13, 2021

As you prepare for the coming weekend, don’t forget to get your mental corn popping.

Laila El Mugammar announces that an emotional documentary about Canada’s legendary Black cowboy is streaming free now. Chatelaine

Samantha Kubota reports that the brand formerly known as Aunt Jemima reveals new name. NBC News

Azi Paybarah: KKK member who drove into BLM protesters gets more than three years in prison. The New York Times

Emotional intelligence, racial stereotypes, and the politics of emotional expression | Khadija Mbowe

Michele Debczak: new spacecraft named after Katherine Johnson honors the pioneering NASA mathematician. Mental Floss

How did the Milky Way get its spiral? SciShow Space

WHO says coronavirus unlikely to have leaked from Wuhan lab. CBC

Micheleen Doucleff: extraordinary patient offers surprising clues to coronavirus variants. NPR

Jaclyn Diaz reports that a second person dies of Ebola in the Congo, marking the virus’s return. NPR

Jason Slotkin: tens of thousands rally in Myanmar, protesting military coup. NPR

Eric Levenson, Stephanie Becker, and Dan Simon report that the rise in attacks on elderly Asian Americans in Bay area prompts new special response unit. CNN

Leah Brennan and Josh LaBella report that a Yale graduate student identified as the victim of Saturday’s fatal shooting in New Haven. New Haven Register

Michelle Ghoussoub announces that women’s rights activist Loujain Alhathloul released after 1,001 days in Saudi prison. CBC

Oliver Milman shares that air pollution in US subway systems stuns researchers. The Guardian

Sharon J. Riley explains how a public uprising caused a province built on fossil fuels to reverse course on coal mining. The Narwhal

Sandy Schaeffer compiles all the Joss Whedon abuse and misconduct allegations. #metoo ScreenRant

Deiter Buse: now is the time to ask what you can do for Laurentian. The Sudbury Star

Health Sciences North faces lawsuit over misread breast imaging results. CBC

Why you read slower as you age. SciShow Psych

Brenda Knowles examines imposter syndrome and how it can be a blessing in disguise. Space2Live

Stonehenge may have been first erected in Wales. Aljazeera

Listen to the sweet, soft warble common ravens sing to their partners. Audubon

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you took away something to inspire your next creative project.

Until next tipsday, be well and stay safe, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

The next chapter: January 2021 update

I hope everyone had a good January (after the 6th) and that the slowly lengthening days are infusing you with new energy.

I’ve felt better in recent weeks myself and am taking steps to lose the “covid 19” I put on since March. I’ve recruited Phil, who does the shopping and cooking, my mom, and a friend as a support group. I’m already measuring progress.

While the numbers of covid infections have been dropping due to provincial lockdowns and curfews, I think talk of reopening is premature. We need to stay on track long enough for the vaccination supply, distribution, and scheduling gets back on track. Once the manufacturing issues have been resolved, we should be good.

If we can get daily infection numbers to less than 1000 in the worst-affected provinces (Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and BC) on a stable basis and have our most vulnerable populations (front-line health care workers, seniors, Indigenous peoples, and other POC) vaccinated, we can reconsider. Yes, it’s inconvenient. Yes, the economy is suffering. But I think public health is more important than the economy at the moment. We’ll recover. We’ll survive. The economy will, too.

Locally, we’ve had outbreaks (defined as two or more cases) in several public and high schools, seniors’ residences and nursing homes, a group home, and the hospital. We’ve even identified cases of the “variants of concern.” Again, cases are going down, overall. All sites report that people are self-isolating, getting tested, and that all outbreaks are considered to be under control at this time.

The month in writing

There wasn’t a lot of writing this month. As I mentioned in my last update, I’ve decided not to dive into another novel right away. I want to give myself time to recover from 2020, solidify learning, and prepare to apply lessons learned to existing and new projects. More on this in a bit.

I wrote eight new poems. I’d planned to write seven, and so achieved 114% of my goal. I also submitted two batches of poems, both of which were not accepted, and I sent a proposal for my poetry collection to another small press.

I revised one short story, which was my goal. I’d allotted 1,500 words but ended up deleting more than I wrote. I wrote 187 new words, or only 12% of my goal. Just now, I realized that I forgot to update the word count on the story before I submitted it, but I did submit it. I’ll call it a win.

I also wrote my latest Speculations column for DIY MFA, which was published last week. The column came in at 768 words, or 77% of my 1,000-word goal.

And I blogged 4,532 words, or 129% of my 3,500-word goal.

Overall, I wrote 107% of my goal and revised 12%.

Other than those projects, I have a number of things I’m working on that I’m not tracking. I’m making revision notes for various pieces of short fiction, continuing work on the Ascension series guide, and making some revision notes for Marushka.

I’m also slowly updating this site and other social media images. Nothing major.

A vulnerable time

Three members of my critique group paused and submitted what they’d reviewed to date and asked me if they wanted me to continue. I completely misunderstood one of these messages, thinking that critique partner had chosen to stop altogether at that point.

I was thrown. I sorted out the misunderstanding and asked them all to continue but had to wonder if I’d given everyone the impression that I was especially fragile.

In reviewing the feedback, however, I felt reactive. I didn’t want to be, though. Maybe I am fragile. How can I learn to improve if I don’t know what the problems are? It’s a battle I’ll have to fight with myself.

Last year, I’d rewritten Reality Bomb, not referring to the earlier draft and then I gave it two passes to cut the word count down. I was trying a new approach to revising, because I have a habit on not making substantial revisions if I’m working in the same document. I may cut too much, though, or the wrong things. I may have focused on all the wrong things in the rewrite. Whatever the situation is, there are still significant problems with the draft.

Maybe I’m too much in my head. I approached the whole rewrite and revision too cerebrally. I can’t seem to get the emotion on the page. But I’m very closed down emotionally, in general. I don’t seem to respond to people like they expect. Maybe I’m neurodiverse. I just paused to take a self-assessment and scored high. Maybe I should get formally assessed.

Ultimately, I’ll need this month to develop my approach to reviewing the feedback and the next round of revisions on my novel. It was my hope to address the revisions in the month of March, but there may be so much to improve that I won’t be able to do that. I have to set that worry aside, though. Until I review all the feedback, I won’t have an idea of how much work there is to be done or how I’ll have to adjust my year’s writing plan and goals.

Add to that the fact that I’m in learning mode at work for the first time in 12 years. I’m feeling stupid and wrong and that this acting won’t be extended because I won’t be able to prove myself or be accepted as a member of my new team (cause I’m socially awkward). I’m doubting myself on all fronts.

I know that they way I’m feeling isn’t based in truth. I’ve won contests. I’ve been published in paying markets. I’ve been validated. I’ve had a successful 20-year career in the public service. When I was offered this acting position, my old team offered me an equivalent promotional position to stay. I do not, objectively, suck.

I’m just struggling at a point in my life when I think I shouldn’t be. It’s a massive case of imposter syndrome.

I’ll let you know how it goes, as always.

Filling the well

With the continuing lockdown, there hasn’t been any getting together with friends or family and, for the first time since I started to work from home in March, I’m feeling the lack of community. I have our household: me and Phil and Mom and Torvi. And I’m with them every day.

And that’s it.

I attended four virtual events in January, two workshops, and two readings. I also attended two board meetings for the Canadian Authors Association.

And that’s it. There are a lot of MS Teams meetings for work and I’m still at my peak zoom saturation level.

I’ve just been walking Torvi twice a day (which I must pause to do right now) and living in my own little world. I have to reach out to some friends …

What I’m watching and reading

The most recent season of His Dark Materials finished in January. I’m quite enjoying the series, particularly the chemistry between the actors who play Lyra and Will. There are some distinct differences between the series and the books, but I appreciate the choices made. For example, introducing Will’s plot in the first season.

Discovery also wrapped up its season in January. Though I like the series overall, this season seemed to find its stride better than some of the others. One reason may be because Michael and the Discovery are now in the distant future. They can, for the first time, write their own stories free of the legacies of other ST series.

I finished watching Warrior Nun on Netflix. It was okay. Confusing. And it took the protagonist seven episodes to get over herself and commit to her role as the halo-bearer. The last three episodes were the best of the season, but they shouldn’t have taken half as long to get there.

Also on Netflix was the first season of Snowpiercer just in time to start season two. I’d seen the movie but hadn’t read the graphic novels and liked that they chose not to do (another) reboot.

Finally, Phil and I caught up on the first half of Supernatural, season 15. We just needed to fill in a few gaps (How did Rowena become the queen of hell? How did Jack come back from the divine dead?) and now we have the full picture.

In January, I read/listened to seven books. The first was an Audible Original, Tanya Talaga’s Seven Truths. Loved it. Seven Indigenous teachings. Seven stories told with an emphasis on reconciliation and what it could be if we open ourselves to the possibility.

Then, I read Cherie Dimaline’s Empire of Wild. Fabulous. What would you do if your soul mate went missing for a year and when you finally found him, he claimed not to know you? Based on Métis tales of the Rogarou.

Louise Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God is a dark, post-apocalyptic novel with an unreliable narrator and a disturbing end. It’s a great book and Erdrich is a master of deep POV. It just leaves you thinking about how horrible people can be and how easily the world could turn into literal hell.

Then, I read Rivers Solomon’s The Deep. It’s the story of how the slaves thrown overboard on Atlantic crossings spawned a race of merpeople whose collective trauma is so deep that they decide to entrust it to one of their number. It’s the story of what happens when that one decides to share the burden.

The next book I listened to was Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day. The narrator has striven for most of his life to be a “good butler” but, in the process, has remained uncritical of his employer’s shortcomings, and of the feelings (his and hers) developing between himself and the housekeeper. The series of the butler’s reminiscences are framed by a road trip to see that housekeeper. In the end, he chooses wilful blindness. It’s the easier path.

Then, I read L.L. McKinney’s A Blade So Black. Loved. A retelling of Alice in Wonderland with several twists. I’ve already picked up the second in series.

I finished off the month with another Audible Original (it was a freebie), Mel Robbins’ Take Control of You Life. It’s about listening to your fear and learning how to move past it. You’d think I’d have learned something from this one, eh? It’s probably one of the reasons I’ve come down with this case of imposter syndrome. I’m facing my fear. Maybe I should listen to it again 😉

And that was the revelatory month in this writer’s life.

Until tipsday, be well and stay safe, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 28-July 4, 2020

Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter.

Because the only restaurant service other than take out currently allowed in our city is on a patio, local restaurants have been erecting patios all over the place, even getting exemptions from the municipal by-laws to create patio spaces on sidewalks. The complication, of course, is that people with disabilities, of which there are many living in the downtown core where most of these patios are popping up, are now having to use the street and risk what traffic there is, to move from place to place.

Yes, our economy needs to recover, but not at cost to the disadvantaged members of our community.

We have to commit to using the disruption of covid-19 to recover in a sustainable and respectful way. This is our chance to change our society for the better.

Thanks for your attention. Here are your informal writerly learnings for the week.

The Take takes on the white savior trope.

Natalie Hart is gaining wisdom and whimsy from the natural world. Donald Maass: we are unsafe. Then, Bryn Greenwood is on the way to Jerusalem (not quite what you think). Barbara Linn Probst clarifies that it’s not write what you know, but write from what you know: cooking life into fiction. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland examines the three stages of a writer’s life and how your age affects your writing. Helping Writers Become Authors

Jenn Walton wants you to write outside your comfort zone. Then, Bronwen Fleetwood wonders, is this a YA thing? On pay rates, racism, and toxicity in publishing. DIY MFA

Elizabeth Hartl shares some tips for overcoming imposter syndrome. Writers Helping Writers

Jenna Moreci returns with ten more tips for evoking emotion in your writing.

Jami Gold provides five ways to climb the learning curve.

Chris Winkle shares lessons from the terrible writing of Eragon’s sequel. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five stories that killed the wrong character. Mythcreants

Writing the morally ambiguous character. Shaelin Writes

Anthony R. Cardno interviews Nisi Shawl for Pride Month.

20 Canadian books for kids and teens to read for National Indigenous History Month. CBC Books

Thank you for stopping by. I hope you took away something to support your current work in progress.

Until Thursday, be well and stay safe!

Tipsday2019

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, May 10-16, 2020

Welcome to week nine of #pandemiclife.

Here in Ontario, the Premiere has authorized some businesses to reopen. Street-facing retail stores that can deliver curb-side service. Veterinarians, groomers, and pet boarding businesses. Essential-adjacent health support services. My mother-in-law will be able to get her housekeeper back—physically distanced, of course. And golf courses. And cottage country (which really doesn’t want to be open, from what I’ve been hearing).

Will we have another spike? Will we have to dial back? I’m maintaining the status quo. Kind of. I’ll be delivering virtual training over the next couple weeks. It’s going to be interesting. And … I’ve already been asked to deliver the next session, which is pretty much back to back, because there aren’t enough trainers who are comfortable with the platform, or even virtual training, to spread out the burden.

There are apparently five such courses to be delivered between now and September. I hesitate to be on the hook for all of them. But this may be my work life, moving forward.

I’ll keep you updated.

In the meantime, please enjoy some informal writerly learnings 🙂

K.M. Weiland uses a brave critique volunteer’s work to discuss seven possible hooks for your opening chapter. Helping Writers Become Authors

K.B. Jensen explains how to throw a virtual book launch using Facebook Live. Then, Chantel Hamilton provides a comprehensive guide to finding, hiring, and working with an editor. Jane Friedman

Shaelin Bishop continues her series on developing a novel with part 4: form, style, and voice. Reedsy

Joanna Penn interviews Larry Brooks about how to develop strong fiction ideas. The Creative Penn

Leanne Sowul touts the power of paying attention. Later in the week, Sarah Fraser lists five signs you’re ready to work with an editor. DIY MFA

Jim Dempsey helps you decide, your words, or your editor’s? Juliet Marillier: consolation or challenge? Kathryn Craft shares eight ways to unblock your scene’s potential. Writer Unboxed

September C. Fawkes explains how plotlines add dimension. Writers Helping Writers

Jami Gold wonders whether breaking the rules is easy or hard.

Jenna Moreci says imposter syndrome sucks, but you don’t.

Nathan Bransford tells you everything authors need to know about dialogue tags.

Aliza Mann explains how to get back on track when all your planning fails. Fiction University

Kristen Lamb wants you to create a story-worthy problem that will captivate an audience.

How the strong black woman trope has evolved. The Take

Barbara Linn Probst lists three motivations to write: artistry, identity, and legacy. Writers in the Storm

Chris Winkle says, no. “Art” does not entitle you to spread harmful messages. Then, Oren Ashkenazi gets facetious with seven musts for dominating a fantasy battle. Mythcreants

Richard Marpole goes for a walk among the trees: a look at forests in myth and media. Fantasy Faction

Esther Jones: science fiction builds resilience in young readers. Phys.org

Simon Winchester: has “run” run amok? It has 645 meanings … so far. NPR

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ve taken away something to support your current work in progress (or planning/development of same).

Until Thursday, stay safe and be well, my writerly friends!

Tipsday2019

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 29, 2019-Jan 4, 2020

It’s time to get your mental corn popping.

Jamie Carter offers a skywatcher’s guide to 2020. Forbes

Caleb Scharf wonders if we’re alone in a crowded Milky Way. Scientific American

Joe explains the benefits of launching rockets from the moon. It’s okay to be smart

Physics Girl shares part three of her visit to CERN.

Shayla Love: how long is right now? Fave bit: physics says “right now” may be an illusion … that’s not to say we should all become chrono-nihilists … Vice

The MIT Technology Review considers how a virtual version of da Vinci’s glass orb helps explain its weirdness.

Mike Cannon-Brookes: how to harness imposter syndrome for the greater good. TED Talks

James Hamblin says, your bedroom is too hot. Get your mind out of the gutter! The Atlantic

Darryl Fears: on land, Australia’s rising heat is “apocalyptic.” In the ocean, it’s worse. The Washington Post

Thanks for stopping by. I hope something here inspires your next creative project.

Until tipsday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

ThoughtyThursday2019