Monthly Archives: April 2013

Making Music

recorder group2

I have recently joined a recorder ensemble. Every Tuesday at 6:00 pm, we meet in a church and make music together. Our numbers vary from week to week, but in total there are fourteen of us. We’re an eclectic group of different ages and abilities, and our instruments cover the four basic ranges of recorder–soprano, alto, tenor, and bass–making harmonious sounds that bring smiles to our faces. We play music from the Elizabethan times all the way through to the Beatles and Abba. You’d be amazed at how good Eleanor Rigby sounds when it’s played in harmony with twelve recorders.

Making music has always been important in my life. Those who know me, know that I made a career out of teaching it, until I moved out of Canada and was no longer allowed to be gainfully employed. Still, music remained a part of me. Every one of our homes has had a piano, and seldom a day passes when I don’t play something on it.

But with all the moving about that we’ve done over the past several years, my music-making became a very solitary activity. Until I joined the recorder ensemble, I hadn’t realized how much I missed having an active musical life here in Bermuda. There is something inspiring about sharing the musical experience and collectively creating it.

I’m not sure what motivated me to bring along my alto recorder when we moved to Bermuda, as I hadn’t played it for many years. We discarded or stored most of our possessions before relocating, wanting to take as little as possible. I can’t explain it, but something in the universe made me pack my recorder among the things we brought with us. recorder

I am glad I did. It’s helped me to bring music back as a focus in my life, and adds to the joy I derive from playing the piano. I once again have musical friends who understand what it’s like to experience the need to make music. Tuesday evenings have become a highlight of my week.

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Blog Topics

blog_topicsI’ve committed to blogging twice a week: On Tuesdays I blog about some aspect of writing and Thursday I blog about pretty much anything that strikes me. For the most part, I’ve stuck to my self-imposed schedule. However I have to say that some days, coming up with a topic for this blog is not an easy task. You’d think that as a writer my brain would be full of ideas, but no. Often  I find myself staring up at the ceiling or at my computer screen with a blank mind.

So today I thought I’d blog about how hard it is to blog regularly, having to be eloquent when you just can’t think of anything to say. With the prevalence of social media, the life of a published author has changed. Now we no longer merely write books; we also have to write blogs. And those much more frequently and more immediate than our novels, which are ongoing projects. We are told that we must maintain our online presence. That is why I blog twice a week, even when I can’t think of what to blog about.

Do you have a topic you’d like me to address in this blog? Questions you’d like me to answer? If so, leave a comment and I’ll try to accommodate.

By the way, do you like my “Wordle” at the top of this blog? I spent a few minutes coming up with that before writing this. Just another task avoiding activity available for free on the internet!

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More Hours in a Day?

dali-clock-500x500I am fortunate to be the type of person who tries all kinds of activities. And I am fortunate to live a life where I have the time to try all kinds of things.

But wait, do I? Lately I find that there just aren’t enough hours in the day for me. Of course, I need hours each day to write. It’s my job, after all. But in addition to that, I want to play piano and recorder, paint another watercolour, finish reading my current to-read book, complete that cross-stitch and that knitting project, sort out my thousands of photographs, organize my recipes, chat with friends and family who live far away. Then there are my volunteer responsibilities and exercise and cooking and cleaning and grocery shopping. Oh, and golf and kayaking and diving and hiking and…

I think back to the period in my life when I was a young mother, running a household of five, going to school full-time, then working, driving kids here, there and everywhere, helping with homework and fun activities, making meals from scratch, and still finding time to dabble in hobbies…I was a supermom. How did I have time to do all that, not to mention the energy?!

I know time management is the key and I used to be a master at time management. Not any more. I find that as I’ve gotten older, my energy wains with the setting sun. My ability to focus has gone haywire (is there such a thing as middle-aged A.D.D.?). The day passes and I find myself wondering where the time went. I nod off in the middle of reading a chapter. Do I really have to slow down and do less just because I’m getting older? I don’t want to!

So I’m thinking, if I could just have a few more hours every day, maybe I could accomplish all that I want. Or maybe what I really need is to plug into a super-size battery! What about you? Could you do with a few more hours in a day?

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Writing is Homework?

homeworka

I recently read a quote on Facebook that resonated with me:

“Writing is like giving yourself homework, really hard homework, every day, for the rest of your life. You want glamorous? Throw glitter at the screen.” ~Ketrina Monroe

We all have an image in our minds of the glamorous life of a bestselling author. Book launches with champagne, schmoozing with famous people, our books selling all over the world, movie deals, large royalty cheques…but the reality is that writing is hard work. And that glamorous life? Most authors I know don’t live it.

Most of the time, to me writing truly feels like homework. Many people who don’t write, don’t understand how hard it is to plant oneself at the desk every day to do it. They think I have a cushy job with flexible hours and freedom. To be sure, a writing career does have flexible hours, but nothing gets written if I don’t actually do it. Obvious, right?

So why do I continuously get invitations for coffee or two-hour long phone calls or requests for yet another volunteer task? Maybe it’s because I’m a pushover and readily say yes to coffee, happily stay on the phone, and am eager to help out. However, at the end of most days I berate myself because I did not accomplish what I had hoped to in my writing.

I have actually not written any fiction for several weeks and am disappointed in myself. So today, I’m turning a new page. Today I’m going to be an author again. I’ll begin practicing the word “no” and approach my writing as a job. It’s not my homework, it’s my work. A portion of every day I will sit at the computer, won’t answer the phone, close down my email, and write.

Yikes, I’d better get to work!

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Charge it!

chargers Today I fly to Canada to visit my kids. (Yay!) It will be a short visit, only three nights, so I’m travelling light.  I packed last night and was happy to find that everything I need for this four-day weekend fitted into my small carry-on suitcase. Toiletries I didn’t need because I’ll be staying at my daughter’s house and in her bathroom is a little basket with “Mom’s stuff,” so all I put in the suitcase were clothes. Socks, check. Underwear and pyjamas, check. Three shirts, check. Pants, check. Fifteen minutes of organizing and I was all set.

Satisfied with a job well done, I took a cup of tea and my book and parked myself in a chair, ready to spend a quiet couple of hours reading before heading to bed. Suddenly I remembered something I’d forgotten to pack. Chargers!

Do you find these days that when you travel anywhere, you always need to take a Ziploc bag filled with chargers and cords? One for the cell phone. One for the computer. One for the e-reader. One for the iPod. Oh, and let’s not forget the charger for the camera, and the cord to load the photos onto the computer. We are wired for everything from reading to talking to entertaining ourselves, and it would be a sad day for me if something ran out of power and I was unable to charge it.

I hate to admit it, but I’ve grown dependent on my electronic gadgets. It would probably be good for me to just visit my kids and not take any them with me. Bring a print book instead of the iPad. Leave the laptop at home. Heck, even leave the cell phone at home.

Yup. It might be a good idea. Maybe the next trip…

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Reading and Writing

get-kids-to-readFrom the time I was a child, I’ve been a voracious reader. I’d read anywhere, anytime. Never would I leave the house without a book in my purse. First thing in the morning and last thing at night, I’d have my nose in a book.

Of course, life has a way of getting in the way of passions. Work, kids, and household chores tended to interfere with my reading time somewhat, but that didn’t stop me from plowing through several books a month.

…until I became an author. I don’t know exactly why, but when I’m in the middle of working on a novel, my inclination to read diminishes, if not disappears entirely. I theorize that it’s because my brain is so wrapped up in the characters I’m writing about that it can’t spend time on other characters. Or perhaps it’s because all my energy is spent on writing so there is little left for reading. Maybe working through a plot of my own makes me not want to be influenced by another’s ideas. Whatever the reason(s), the number of books I’ve read in the past few years is small. (But I did publish three!)

Currently I’m in a bit of a hiatus from writing. The manuscript for my second women’s fiction novel was completed weeks ago. Book 3 of the Lucy Arlington mysteries is with the publisher. And while I  have another novel started, I’ve not been inclined to work on it.

But guess what? I am reading voraciously. I’ve polished off three and half books in a week! So I guess I have to be content with reading between writing. And maybe my novels will be richer for it.

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