Tales of Imagination Never Get Old 

My favorite author sat down every morning to write before the world would awaken and bring with it the duties that made her life vastly different than yours or mine.

She wrote through sicknesses brought by the harsh Canadians winters, sometimes having to sit on her frozen toes to warm them up.

She wrote diligently, in times of grief and desperation, the same as she did on happy and hopeful days.

She beat all odds working against her; she was a woman, from a small town on a secluded island.

She went to become one of the first if not the first Canadian woman to make a living with her words.

She succeeded, in her life time, in doing something many of us writers, fail to do. And she did it all without having the luxury of internet, computers, even without typewriters in her early years.

Whenever I get discouraged I think of her. I have no excuses really.

She was a freelancer about 100 years before the word actually existed. Before she wrote her famous work of fiction “Anne of Green Gables”, she sent out stories written by hand to magazines and managed to make a stable and comfortable income.

At the time of her death she had written 22 books.

I read today that Netflix will debut a “Anne of Green Gables” series this summer.

Lucy sat down in 1905 and wrote the first words to the book that this same series is based on.

2017.

More than 100 years have passed since the idea for her story was formed in her head.

I’m honestly speechless about the whole thing, that’s how remarkable it is to me.

I’ve been struggling lately with my artistic ambitions and I’ve found why.

Some people go through life trying to find out what the world holds for them only to find out too late that it’s what they bring to the world that really counts.

Lucy Maud Montgomery

I really couldn’t have said it better myself.


Have you ever read Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books?

Do you have an author that inspires you?

Let me know in the comments 🙂

*Photo Credit: lovinkat flickr Creative Commons 2.0

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Letter to my Former Self

Dear old me,

I think of you often. If I’m being honest (I know you appreciate honesty) those thoughts are mostly about trying to understand you, not very much about a fondness for who you are (who I were). To be fair you wouldn’t like me that much either, I have failed you in ways you might have predicted and failed to do things your brain hasn’t even conceived yet.

You and I are similar in that we’re both perfectly imperfect and you probably already know that’s all we’ll ever be. I think you get the beauty of that, although I’m way ahead of you in appreciating it to its full extent.

I see you from afar trying to cling to things that don’t serve you because you like the idea of them and the comfort they bring to your life. Life is never perfect, you know it but you still believe there’s a perfect time for changing. That one is hard to shake off. I know. 

This is not a letter to try to change you, obviously that’s impossible. If you could somehow really receive this letter I know you would though. You have it in you to be the kind of person who cares about aligning their actions with their morals.

You’re nice to everyone around you, too nice sometimes and you make up for the times you aren’t. You care about people and the bad things happening to them so much that you’re unsure how to deal with it. I can’t tell you the answer to that, I still haven’t found it. See, the world didn’t get better in the years that separate us. In many ways, it’s worse. Much worse.

You don’t think of injustice everyday like I do but you think about it more and more. I remember.

I have clear memories of all the times injustice and cruelty didn’t cross your mind at all.

Sitting down at the Brazilian Churrascaria place, wondering about what the future holds with this boy in front of you -well man- but more boy than man, feeling privileged that he took you out for once.

You didn’t think about what was on your plate at all that night. Especially not what was on your plate used to be.

That’s the memory my brain brings me to often when I want to try to understand you.

I don’t know if I ever will. I can’t change anything you did now.

All I can say is this:

I forgive you for believing there’s such a thing as necessary evil.

Much love to you,

Your future vegan self.

 p.s I do envy you sometimes for the easier and happier life that this lie gives you but I wouldn’t ever go back.


This was part of my “writing a letter to myself” February challenge. 

What would you write to your former self? 

I’d love to know in the comments!

*Photo Credit: Max Braun flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Be Your Own Hero

 “Sometimes I look at my life and…”

Someone said that to me once with their voice trailing off to somewhere I couldn’t follow.

It was such a great opening, an intriguing start to a very human confession whose nature promised the delivery of some deep truths and authentic connection which I both sought.

I was left to fill in the blanks myself with my interlocutor’s sudden silence accompanied with a swift wave of the hand.

I still think about it from time to time, the writer in me can’t help it.

Statements like this resonate for a long time in my psyche.

It amazes me how sometimes the absence of words can speak louder than all the words in the world.

It’s a hard fact to accept as a writer.

I want to put words on everything, from the mundane to the extraordinary. On universal feelings and ones you wouldn’t know you had before reading about them.

I can’t.

I tried imagining what the speaker meant to say.

Everything I came up with felt flat.

I then thought of what I could say.

“Sometimes I look at my life and…”

I’m at a loss for words.

Plain and simple.

Not because there’s nothing to say, quite the contrary.

But because there’s so much.

Looking at my own life as if I was the hero of a story, I realized that if I want to ever be able to fill those blanks for other people I should start with my own.

Of course there is power in what is left unsaid but you can’t deny that most of us crave to hear or read stories that show the universality of human experiences.

I think if we can find those kinds of stories in our own life and tell them well enough to satisfy that craving, we can then really call ourselves a writer.

If you wish to capture deep truths and have an authentic connection with your readers, you have to start by connecting with your own truths first.

You don’t have to be a memoirist but if you can’t write about the little and big things in your life in a way that makes you feel empathy for who you were, who you are and who you will be, how could you do it for any character?

I say “Be your own hero”.

Writers out there, what do you think of auto fiction? Is it a necessary first step to writing good relate-able characters? 

If you’re not a writer, do you “sometimes look at your life and…”? 

Let me know your thoughts on the topic in the comments. 

*Photo Credit: blinking idiot flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Writing Letters to Ourselves

I still have the first letter I’ve ever received.

It was from my best friend when she was away at camp during the summer. I was 8 or 9 I think.

I never went away on vacation long enough to actually write and send letters myself growing up.

As a teenager I wrote letters frequently. We’d exchange them between classes or go home with one.

I’ve always liked the art form. It’s an easy way to share a part of ourselves. There’s no immediate response needed like in a conversation.

Throughout the years after high school I’ve had a few correspondences who sadly all fizzled out.

I could never find someone as long-winded and willing to share as I was.

It’s partly why I started to blog in the first place.

To send my thoughts out to anyone who would like to read them.

I think most of us have lost the habit of writing letters.

That’s something I’d like to get back into.

If, like me, you have no one to send them to, you might want to consider an obvious recipient.

Yourself.

For the month of February I will be writing letters to myself.

A letter addressed to my past self and my future self.

A letter to open on sad days, one to read on happy days.

All sorts of letters, from me to me.

Because it’s the month of love and it should be the month of self-love as well. (or so I say!)



You can join me if you want. Think of it as a writing prompt.

Do you ever write letters? To whom?

Do you miss old fashioned correspondence?

I’d love to know in the comments.

*Photo Credit: Bianca Moraes flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Writing with the Tide

Imagine for a second that your mind is a beach.

You sit with your ideas and your thoughts everyday in the sand.

Sometimes there’s lots of people around you, it’s noisy and you don’t get much time to consider going in the water in front of you at all.

Then at some point, it’s quiet and all you can see is the infinite mass of waves crashing into each other.

It becomes tempting to put your ideas in a raft or a boat and let them float away. See where they might take you.

You imagine the beautiful trip.

On a warm summer day, alone on the shore with the sun shining brightly, you contemplate the docile ripples, the movements of the sea, calm and steady. The fresh air gently blowing on your face while you look into the clear depths below. You think to yourself: What could go wrong?

Putting your ideas down on a raft, letting them seamlessly float away feels good on one of those days.

You trust that your thoughts will end their journey in a good port even though you can’t see it yet.

That’s the way writing feels on an ideal day if you’ve ever wondered.

That’s the way we wish writing could be all the time.

It’s most often not.

Expressing ideas, committing ourselves to stories, writing down our thoughts in an effort to go somewhere with it all, is like taking a life raft into open waters.

It’s a lot less scary when you can see miles down to the bottom, are being gently rocked by the slow predictable current beneath you and the clear skies above you reach far into the distance.

Yesterday I found myself on my very own beach with cold wet sand in my shoes, wind hitting my face, an unsteady unfocused sea to contemplate. High waves crashing down the rocks on the shore. The clouds, an uncertain mess, an assurance of a uncomfortable time.

My ideas would just fly off into the hectic sea. I’d have to swim hard, tire myself to retrieve them. No chance of going anywhere without painful, excruciating work.

There is a lot of talk about writer’s block. The way I see it, it’s 99% of the time the result of looking at the whirling pool of water with trepidation.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the tide does pull away completely. It’s okay to stay on the beach with your thoughts then.

But don’t shy away from jumping in when it goes back up again, even if it’s a grey day with thunder rumbling in the distance.

There is value in stories of gentle voyages at sea but there is a lot more to learn from dangerous adventures where we are flipped off our boats and have to dive deep into the foamy waters.

Coming back up, we may find that the story we tell in the end was not the one we intended but the one that was needed.

*Photo Credit: Ben Salter flickr Creative Commons 2.0

NBO or Die

When I was little, I used to envy those that knew how to read. I wanted to know what the billboards we passed on the street said, what those letters on the paper and milk carton meant.

I was sad that there was a world outside of myself that I couldn’t be a part of. Then one day I learned to read. I don’t remember the exact moment it clicked in my head. I just know that suddenly those letters that were senseless the day before, somehow came together and offered me what I always wanted.

The day my brain formed those connections that made it possible for me to understand written language changed my life.

From that point on I read everything I could find. I even read the parenting books my mom kept on her bedside table.

The simplicity of children’s books bore me really fast.

I wanted every new book to be an adventure in a territory I didn’t have yet access to.

I was lucky, I could get any book that my eyes laid on at the library.

I liked reading the titles and judging the covers before taking anything.

Except for that one day.

I felt uninspired and left it to fate. I closed my eyes and ran my finger on the back of all the spines of the novels on the shelf. Until I landed on one that would be “the one”.

If you have read “Summer Sisters” by Judy Blume, you already know that this is “the one” I’m referring to.

Odds are you don’t. (Even though she’s a known author, her books for children are more commonly read).

The story is about the life long friendship of two young women. It is a somewhat typical coming of age novel but it was the first in its genre that I ever read.

I was 9 years old.

I may not have been in the best position to agree to it but I made the pact with my favorite heroines.

NBO or die.

Never be ordinary.

An ordinary life is worse than death.

I wouldn’t say I’ve broken the pact. I don’t think I’m ordinary.

However I don’t think ordinary exists at all.

This is something I’ve learned for myself by revisiting the book over and over again.

The reason I was so keen on believing anything the characters said, felt and did was their humanity, full of its uniqueness that made them as real to me as anyone I could met on the street or at school.

Fictional entities, no matter how their stories play out, are a reflection of us and they’re never boring.

So why would we be?

Picking up this novel truly changed my life. I saw for the first time how we never truly know those closest to us, including our very own self.

I firmly believe there is a hidden story inside all of us.

This is why I decided to become a writer. To dig beneath the surface of my own life and others around me. To find what is there at the roots of our humanity.

Because that will never be ordinary.

What book(s) has inspired you or helped shaped your life?

Let me know in the comments!

 

*Photo Credit: Fah Rojvithee flickr Creative Commons 2.0