On Thursday, Oct, 31, I officially settle into my PARL writer-in-residency position right here in Pictou/Antigonish County in beautiful Nova Scotia. I'll be reading from old books like Mable Murple and the new "baby" Singily Skipping Along at the Stellarton Library. One o'clock.
So it's also Halloween on Thursday. I consider myself the Scrooge of Halloween but I'll be dressing up as I usually do ( like almost every day) as Mabel Murple.
Who is Mabel Murple you ask?
Well, I've never sold as many books as JK you-know-who-I-mean ( but I'd have no probles with that ) or Robert Munsch (I know. You've just loved him forever—but let's move on) or old friend Glenn Murray (his malodorus dog is my one of my grandson's favourites—imagine a tooting dog over sleeping dragons! I can't bring myself to say the f **t word. We were scolded for that as children.)
I'll never be as prolific and consistently excellent as one of the children's writers I most admire—Jane Yolen—(She has over 300 books—read them.) BUT? But.. as my mother would have you know, I'm a published writer going on 27 years now and one of my characters—dear old Mable Murple—has travelled around the world. And back. That is true. I have proof.
Here is Murple with Monkey on the Great Wall of China.
They followed me to Shanghai when I was a visiting author there for a few weeks in 2009. Here they are in Bhutan when I was a writer-in-residence for Bhutan's first National Reading week—teaching poetry and children's writing there. (1995 and 2009.)
Kuzu zangpo la. (Hello in Dzonkgha)
They want to go back. Me, too.
Then? Recently, they told me they found a lot of good soles in Holland- their first time ever (and mine) in Europe.
They both loved all those windmills. ( Notice Murple's hand. She's smitten with Monkey. My apologies.)
They jumped for joy in Marseilles...
And of course : they'll always have Paris.
(where they declared undying love for each other and threw their key into River Seine.)
So back to me. I'm a WriterinRez. I like the spunky sparkly jazzy sound of that.
Snap your fingers, tap your toes, clap your hands. Here comes a nonsense poet/storyteller as WriterinRez.
I promise it won't all be green eggs and ham or as Murple would say, purple maple silly syrpleish. I won't teach in rhymed couplets.
I've been teaching as long as I've been writing. I take that role and my nonsense seriously. I care about this world. I discovered I love to be midwife to others' writing.
AND I have written SERIOUS THINGS, too. Books longer than 32 pages. I have a "DARK SIDE". Things "for adults only". Not exactly XXrated but not for munchkins either. I have novels for young teens and mature teens. I've written a few plays and movie scripts (no offers..yet!), I've penned television scripts and reviewed books and broadcast essays and published creative non-fiction and yada yada yada ..ZZZZ. I am sometimes silent.
I started professionally at thirty and am staring sixty in the face. I hope I've got a while to go before I leap across to what comes next. I hope my personal best is yet to come. Who knows?
I'll offer as much as I can from my experience and help you search for your story and its spirit and TRUTH.
Serious or silly, regardless of reading demographic, the truth is, I'm a storyteller and a woman obsessed with words. I have an overwhelming need to "play" with them. Shape them into a story or poem or a play or a RANT. I hear words as musical notes. Some letters roll, some buzz or twirl or amble. All of them hum. Sentences jangle, jingle, waltz. ( see, here I go, ..fodee rooll.)
Language is music to my ears. Writing is about language. "Language , said Margaret Atwwod, "is everything we do".
We will do. Listen. Let go.
Also: explore our senses and muck around in mushmellow land. Invent words.
A strong synaesthetic tendency of mine has informed whatever I've written these past twenty-six years or so. What do I mean?
Hair like dandelion fuzz. Bread dough arms. This candy tastes like pink.
You know what I mean. The criss-cross of sensory perception. Poets do it. Children do it. You do too. We will bring this element into awareness as we strive for our authentic voices and visions in writing in any genre and for any age group.
No, I don't take illegal drugs. Call it my poetbrain (see The Poetry Experience). Call it kindervision. (See my M.A. thesis at Acadia University. Riveting reading.)
Call it imagination. Metaphor. Simile. How a writer shows AND tells.
Through the senses, the body, the breath.
Hope you are curious.
So what more can people at PARL and in the communities expect from me?
Every few days, or every week, or okay—as close to that as I can manage, here in this space, until April, I intend to write on my activities as WriterinREZ. It's not "a blog" exactly because I don't really like the sound of the word blog. "The word reminds me of a bloated frog", I once wrote somewhere. (cough, cough--KISS THE JOY AS IT FLIES). Nothing against bloggers. I just want another word.
Maybe I'll think of the writing here now in this space as "a weekly musepaper" I guess. Ha.ha Yeah, A Musepaper! SNoRt. Snort. Get it. Oh, I warn you. I am sooo into corny puns. The more you groan the more I like it. Wait, that sounds almost.. indelicate. So not like me.
I will try to give a synopsis of workshops I'm offering and give some of the ideas for "first burst" writing we use. I'll do mini- reviews on books on writing I love. I'll talk about "creativity." "Mindfulness" "Flow". I'll talk about the meat and potatoes stuff, too—revision, publishing, agents, how to practice the ART of WAITING. Yes waiting not writing.
I'll talk about books I'm reading.
Also, though this is (really scary sheree), I am going to share what I'm discovering along the way as I enter unchartered territory with my own writing. A collection of linked short stories for adults—as well as a new poetry book for children and something VERY secret. (Yes you can work on three things at once!)
I haven't tackled a "big project" for three years. My heart needed some repair. Life asks you to pause sometimes. Now, I'm ready to go.
"Yee-haw here .. we go."
So... Please join me in person in the next months if you can ( if you can't make the workshops, I'm available one on one. Contact library. Links below )
And if you are reading this, wherever you live, please tell me here and DO join in the conversation if we can get one going. That would be seriously wonderful.
I know—who has time?
Your words matter. Your voice is what I'm looking for. Plus, I'd love to have a conversation not a monologue. I talk to myself enough already. Also, the wall. Ask me questions. (JUST SCROLL DOWN to the VERY bottom and where it says post comment, beside the date-- press. I think you have to do one of those irritating eye scrinchy thingies --but then you get to ask me a question or tell me a tale.)
How do we "write" our world?
We tell stories that makes us understand what it means to be human. We try to connect.
No matter how challenging the work , how sober the content—writing is joyful. Because—writing is, finally, a sharing. Of spirit. OF unique irreplaceable you.
(I have hard time with endings. I will always need an editor. I will write about editors.)
Whether you are published or unpublished
whether you want to just write for the Halibut
or know in your belly you are this century's undiscovered Shakespeare or the next JK Whatshername, I hope you will discover the joy of writing along with me as
LINKS: PARL, the schedule, Deanne Fitzpatrick & me on Global news, an online auction for the rugs in Singily Skipping Along with proceeds to L'ARCHE Atlantic; In This House ARE Many Women; Kiss the Joy As It Flies; The Poetry Experience; Breathe Stretch Write; Mable Murple; and the admired JANE Yolen, JK whoseits, Robert Munsch, and Sydney Smith.