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Entries in Creative writing (31)


Finding balance in the year that was and into the future

It’s easy to write off 2016 as a crummy year. Sure, lots of unsettling things happened in the world-at-large that challenged our values. Almost in response, many people’s personal circumstances also took a beating this year — including my own. But here I am at the end of 2016, still breathing like you, reflecting on the delights this year also contained. Yes, it was messy, amusing, frustrating, exciting, worrisome, joyful, painful, exciting, grievous, beautiful and creative. Some highlights:

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There's a long road ahead for this writer — and that's ok

I had an uncomfortable moment yesterday in the writing class I’m taking. I realized I am, at best, an intermediate writer. This is not false modesty. Yes, I know some things about writing. I’m published. I make a small income through my writing and people tell me they enjoy it or it makes them think. Those rewards are fantastic but they may have fooled me into thinking I know more than I actually do. There is WAY more yet to learn, and so much practice ahead.

And guess what? That’s ok.

I also know as an educator that you need to have those uncomfortable or “transformative” moments that challenge your assumptions

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Poem: Seeking Beauty

The world lost a wonderful woman to a dreadful disease yesterday. When it threatened to overwhelm me I did what helps me the most: went outside seeking beauty. As always, it wasn't hard to find.  


Seeking Beauty


I set out seeking beauty today,

and found it in a splash of warm sunshine on my face,

in the curiosity of a toddler examining a flower,

and in a yellow butterfly who visited right after I received word.


I set out seeking beauty today,

and found it in a couple walking hand-in-hand over an arched footbridge,

in notes from friends and the collective strength of neighbours,

and in a shady graveyard where families are eventually reunited.


I set out seeking beauty today,

and found it back at home,

in the measured chaos of a family dinner,

and in the quiet company of a soft cat.



What's Your Story? The joys and importance of memoir writing

Sharing is optional.

When teaching memoir writing, I challenge students to write without inhibition. The first draft is free-writing in response to a prompt. Writers shouldn’t worry about offending anybody or using proper grammar—those types of considerations are for the rewriting stages. The goal is merely to unblock and write the memory down. This can be intimidating to someone not in the habit of writing, who struggles with literacy, or who is insecure about whether their stories matter (they do).

Sometimes writers reveal private or unflattering things so I leave it up to them whether they want to read aloud or show their work to anyone. That’s why I was so delighted when I visited the OPtions Program at Saint Mary’s University this week.

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Double Double 


"Careful, it's hot."

I took the coffee from her outstretched arm. I peeled back the plastic tab then laced my exposed fingers around the warm red cardboard cup. It felt comforting in my chilled hands.

"Thanks. I'll get the next one." Steam rose in a wavy line in front of my face. I took a sip, gratefully discovering Hailey had ordered me a double-double. I wanted the calories and sugar boost. I tried to remember if I'd eaten anything today. I suspected not but I wasn't certain.

We'd been sitting on Spring Garden Road all morning, with nothing but a few quarters in my open guitar case to show for it. We'd fallen into a lull, not making eye contact or attempting to speak to the passersby. That always had poor results. We needed to look worth helping, not hopeless.

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