A week of things

This week was a good week. It’s nice to have them occasionally. I honestly didn’t expect it would be all that wonderful. But it was pretty chill, and productive, and somehow visiting with my radiation doctor made me feel less dismal and more . . . just . . . steady.

Boo!

Boo!

Here is what happened. It’s almost so unremarkable that you really needn’t read another word in this post. But I feel like writing it out, so there you go.

This week I saw Margaret Atwood for the second time in my life. I’m editing/recording a mini podcast feature for the Ottawa International Writers Festival and Foment Literary Magazine. It’s a nice thing that gets me out of the house on the rare evening, and lets me talk about events with other literary loving minds. Margaret Atwood wore skeleton gloves for the event, which she picked up at a gas station. Throughout the evening I know everyone in the audience was wondering why she wore those gloves. And I know this because during the Q&A at the end, someone ask her why and everyone clapped. Then when she explained it was a spooky season and she bought them at a gas station, everyone clapped again. Two rounds of applause for the skeleton gloves. And Margaret Atwood. And her new book Hag-Seed, which sounds really entertaining.

Also this week, we have had a bunch of pumpkins populating our home. Tomorrow I’m hosting a small gathering of family and a few friends, and we are carving these pumpkins up. This is really an overly elaborate plan to make other people carve pumpkins so I can enjoy the benefits of roasting pumpkin seeds later. Mmmm, I adore salted roasted pumpkin seeds.

Furthermore, I made a rather excellent cheesecake.

As well! It’s always a satisfying week when I’m able to make progress at work. It seems to me there is always another big project that needs attention. In general, it feels like having this massive piece of ice I’m meant to turn into some lovely sculpture. But the only way to accomplish this gleaming sculpture is to slowly scrape and scrape at the ice till it finally takes forms. The  scraping is emails, phone calls, writing texts, experimenting with ideas, sending newsletters and such. And in the in, you get something wonderful. This week, I could move that sculpture along. But next week, of course, there will always be more to do. This is okay. It helps me. By the by, the Amnesty International Book Club is having a Readers Choice vote – go vote! It closes on the 31st.

Counter that above point: this week I worked mostly from home. I just could not handle it otherwise. Firstly, it’s a post-chemo week. Secondly, I received shitty news about my treatment last week, which got me down down down – and so incubating myself, in a way, helped me cope with all the ice chips I needed to scrape off not only my work sculpture, but my life-in-general sculpture too. And I could cry whenever I wanted. Plus stop to take naps. And watch the end of Star Trek Voyager.

Next: My art class was attended by only two people this past Wednesday. While that sucks for our lovely instructor, it wasn’t at all bad for me. It was useful to have  a little extra input into my impossible-flower-painting-that-is-driving-me-crazy. Oil paint is an interesting medium, but my goodness does it require patience. Patience is not my strongest point. And so, I am reminded to slow down in life.

We cleaned. This is why you invite people over, in additional to harvesting their pumpkin seeds. It forces one to finally clean one’s apartment.

We had sushi. That was fun – it’s this roll-it-yourself sushi that Zsolt and I really enjoy. After finally finding sushi rice at Bulk Barn, we ate our hand-rolled sandwich style sushi. It made us both quite happy.

So you can see, it was an unremarkable week that was nevertheless good.

Last week was terrible. Apparently while other areas in my body are stable’ish’ in regards to the cancer, my liver spots just keep on growing. Fuck buckets. This terrible disease is terrible. However, there are areas in my body that seem mostly stable, and that is good. Dr Canada is working to see what alternative treatments he can find me. I hate cancer. And this is a shitty way to end this happy blog post.

Therefore I will add this! I booked a ticket to go on a trip. I’m excited. Extra excited because I’ll be traveling with my Dad, and we haven’t done anything like this together ever. Not that I can remember, anyhow. It’s gonna be one long plane ride of him saying crazy things, and me taking the bait every time. FUN!

Last thing, it snowed!! Holy moly.

Happy Halloween 🙂

Catherine

 

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The Slow Movement & Small Thinking

My girlfriend and I were chatting at the Bridgehead this evening around expectations set for writers, and how we feel about those expectations. I reckon this is a story we have all experienced before, many times with references to J.K. Rowling, since that’s most people’s point of reference in the world of book publication. Anyhow she described a story that went along the lines of this:

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She’d been chatting her novel with a co-worker, and the colleague was quite excited for her. So excited, that he was throwing out ideas about how she could hit the mark and sell thousands of copies of books. He showed her an article in the newspaper that that very day reported on a self-published author who had hit it big, and was now being sold nation-wide and had a strong following.

This caused some anxiety in my friend. She loves to write. She is totally a writer. But . . . she really isn’t into marketing, promoting, and all the stuff todays aspiring authors often need to be.

In that moment, as the newspaper was displayed as an example of where she could be a year from now – it wasn’t inspiring, or encouraging, or invigorating . . . for her, it was anxiety causing. She worried about it quietly in the back of her mind. She thought about it on her way back home. She talked with her partner about it.

And he reminded her that it was never about the selling of books. Her love was in the writing of books. To write, to print, to share and then to write again. Simple as that.

And I related.

Oh, how I related.

Let’s be clear, I’d be thrilled if Claire Never Ending was picked up and launched far and wide into the world of readers. But holy hot dog, do I not enjoy the expectations that often come with a dream. There are the expectations of blowing it up huge, or selling tons of copies, of creating a business.

It’s truly knackering. And while I do see all kinds of merit in building that career as a writer – I like what my friend brought up next, which was this idea of “slow marketing

Slow Marketing is a term that emerged from the expansion of the Slow Movement into the arena of marketing and advertising.” ~Wikipedia

Basically, slow marketing is about taking your time, doing something well, and not worrying too much about that very big, big, big picture. It’s about the long journey rather than the rocket ship ride.

Maybe that is too abstract. I guess it’s mostly about doing what you love, devoid of expectations that don’t fit your real desires.

Personally, I feel a little torn. It makes me quietly ache when folks with excellent intentions ask if I am writing another book. No, I’m not. I’m not writing too much these days. And the other day I had a realization: that is okay. It is okay for me not to be writing at this moment. It is all okay. I am doing just fine putting my creative energies in other places.

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When I realized that – that I didn’t really feel like writing another book right now – the pressure suddenly lifted. It felt okay to focus on writing-related project that actually don’t involve creative writing. My mind is curious and engaged. My book is alive and well, which was always a deep drive inside of me. And I will continue to market it in small but persistent waves of effort. . . when I can, as I can, and with pleasure.

Soon I’ll go back to developing the new cover. Isn’t that exciting? I think so. I look forward to it. And once done (if they’ll have me), I look forward to throwing more bookmarks at innocent bookstore shoppers.

And I love social media. Of course, it is a world of “marketing, conversation and sales (a side of things I also like very much. Seriously, if I went back in time, I would have taken a degree in marketing – it is fascinating and so fun). So yes, it has that element, but even more importantly, it is a world of conversation and community. I find out the weather from this Ottawa fellow named Kyle who is soooo fast to report atmospheric changes, and advise whether you should cancel or continue the BBQ. I see what my fellow authors have been up to, and where they are in their writing and accomplishing their big dreams. I listen in on the local Vanier conversations – and who has spotted what in the last few days. I following along the #BCSM conversations, and click through to read the latest news in cancer research.

That’s my form of slow – it’s real & genuine engagement with my community.

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This evening I said to my friend, “I always think small, and that can be to my detriment.”

But then I corrected myself.

“Or maybe . . . maybe it’s to my benefit? Maybe the detriment is judging the way I operate as being wrong. Who am I comparing myself to anyhow? And why bother comparing at all?”

And she said to me, “Some people think big, and they do it really well. Some people think small, and they do that really well too.”

So we sipped our tea and felt quite satisfied with our resolution to this conversation.

What do you think? Big, small, slow, fast? What pace of ambition suits you best?

Does anyone relate to this, or are we crazy?

~Catherine

(And this is where I had planned on ending the post. But a second look & quick revision has caused it to keep going on . . .)

 

P.S. Did you notice I’ve inserted some seemingly random pictures from Star Trek in this blog post? That’s right! I did it cause I felt like it, and because it was fun. Wasn’t that fun? My goodness, watching Star Trek again from an adult perspective has made it even better in my mind.

P.P. S. I’m cooking  up a series for writers on crowdfunding. It will involve 1) a long & pretty infographic. 2) TWO podcast episodes – one where I chat with another author who crowdfunded, and one where I chat with Kevin about why it’s hard to ask for help from others. and 3) A FIVE part youtube series called “Crowdfunding for Writers” where I break down things to consider if you are launching & want to crowdfund your project.

If you want to get all of this delivered to your inbox in a handy, summarized and easy-to-reference manner, just click the picture below to find your way to my mailing list sign up page.

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P.P.P.S. I’m burying this becuase I don’t want it to be a big deal. It’s been just about 1 year since I was diagnosed with metastatic fucking cancer. So there’s that. But also, it’s been over a year since I’ve given up wearing a bra. Maybe for the rarest of rare occasions I will put one on… but otherwise – NO BRA. It stared when my chest had intense pain and I really couldn’t wear one . . . and now . . . meh, it’s not really on my mind.

1 year, no bra.

and yes, I’m still here, still creating, still living, still loving  . . . and still very much alive. Thank God.