Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. The Ferryland – New Foundland Iceberg Easter 2017. A Word Press Production.

Writing a Book

Thursday – The Blank Page Syndrome

sidneysheldonThe weather has been stellar these past few days. It was breezy cool this evening when we left for the meeting. Lows will be steady in the teens for the next week. It will be a full weekend, with the best night of the week tomorrow and the walk home, which I look forward to.

Saturday is going to be warm and sunny, which will be good, because the area is hosting a Sober Family Day on the west end of the city at the Loyola Campus of Concordia University. I got a free ticket tonight from a friend, so I will be going with Baby Mama and Baby LuLu.

For the past two weeks, I have made some significant progress with the baby. For a long time she would not let me hold her, and she would always want to be with mama, but as of late, she is coming around to me, little by slowly. She is happy when I visit and she is engaged and when I visit she goes nuts with her books and stuffed animals, passing them back and forth between me and mama. Wednesday nights, I carry over and cook dinner, this tradition was to make sure that they eat a good meal during the week, and to allow the baby to get to know me.

On Tuesday I was over for a bit before the meeting, and when it was time to leave, I put on my backpack and started for the door, LuLu took both mama and I’s hands and she walked us both to the elevator. That was the first time that she was comfortable holding my hand. And the last week, baby LuLu even lets me hold her, and she stays … that is big !!!

It’s all good.

I’ve begin writing this week. It is sometimes intimidating when you are looking at a blank page, because you need to write something, and sometimes I need to think about how I am going to write and about what. I have my outline, and there are stories that are on the surface, that I can write about. They are not necessarily in outline order. So I am collecting word documents on my desktop of the stories I can comfortably write about.

I still need to talk to my aunt about some things about the family portion of the story. I don’t want to end up telling a story about speculation, but of facts. I need to take care of this sooner than later.

Tonight we heard a friend speak.

They say, that if you stick around long enough, you will eventually hear someone tell your story. I think we hit that marker tonight. This lady friend, has been sober a while, and I had never heard her share, but she hit many familiar topics, and had several similar experiences in her life that I had in mine. She has had her process growing from a drunk into a woman who has emotional sobriety.

I did not get to speak to her after, but I will chat with her when I see her over the weekend.

How do children who grow up in negative homes grow up into mature, emotionally sober adults when we carry around negative baggage from our parents? She seemed to have conquered that dragon, as I have my own.

Like our thanker said tonight, our parents, who told us we were mistakes when we were kids, we are all grown up now, and we should thank those adults because we are beautiful people. And if it were not for them, we would not be here.

It was a good night.

More to come, tomorrow night.


Saturday – August 1st, The Writing Process Round Three

the blue moon rafaRafa’s Blue Moon – Friday July 31st 2015

This is the park we were standing in late last night on the way home, and Rafa clicked this photograph with his phone. It has been filtered and treated to get to this image.

It is exactly what we saw in real time.

I met with Rafa this evening for round three of the outline review. And once again, he had plenty of food for thought. He is a classicist and is well read on a great amount of classical literature, which makes him a perfect mentor for my project.

In pondering my theme of “Canada” from the book, this week, he introduced the concept of
“Nostos” or homecoming to me and that it might apply to my story as it has unfolded for him.

The story opens with a God moment, and as the story unfolds, Canada becomes part of my story, but for almost the whole outline, Canada does not appear until I cross the border into Canada.

I was directed to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, but no “nostos.” I went to the Oxford dictionary and got the word “homecoming.” Then I thought of Wikipedia, now I know, as an academic, that Wikipedia is never used as a credible source nor should you ever cite or use a wiki entry, on any paper. But this is what they had to say about “NOSTOS.”

Nostos (Greek: νόστος) (pl. nostoi) is the Greek word for homecoming, the idea of returning home from a long journey. Nostos can also mean “Welcome Home” in the Greek language. Nostos is a theme dealt with in many Homeric writings such as the Odyssey, in which the main character, Odysseus, strives to get home after the Trojan War. The plural term nostoi is applied to Greek heroes’ homeward journeys after the taking of Troy and is the name of one of the poems of the Epic Cycle on that theme.

God is there, in my life, I am introduced to Him and He to me. The God thread runs throughout my life, and at one point, I am in seminary, then I am summarily dismissed from that seminary when my concept and practice of faith does not meet muster with my superiors.

And I walk off the grounds and look to heaven and say …”Hey God, don’t you know who I am?” “Do I matter or what, and why am I standing here outside the gates, when I should still be standing inside of them, and I am not, WHY?

I have read “The Odyssey” by Homer as a student, and later in life, saw a television movie of the same book. Tonight, Rafa gave me his copy to read, “The Odyssey of Homer by Richmond Lattimore. I am told, this translation is the best one to read.

Why are you reading the Odyssey? you might ask.

My story is a story of “homecoming.” Beginning in one place, and as a child, I am taken on a journey by my parents. I grow up, go to college and seminary, where my personal odyssey begins.

I say my personal odyssey, because I chose what I was going to do it, I was not led or taken anywhere by anyone else, like my parents, growing up as a child.

I travel from one “island” to another “island.” I am adrift at sea a number of times, and then end up on other islands, and the final move is to “ITHACA.” My story, not unlike Odysseus’ journey to return home to Ithaca, takes a long time, on a winding path, from one place to another, to this person and the next, but it seems, for a while, I may never get there, until a fortuitous letter comes in the mail, with an invitation to come HOME.

But the journey is not complete for Odysseus, he just doesn’t return and become king or get the title or his wife, and all that was his, he has to work his way back, one step at a time, and we talked of other books, that we do not have, the book that comes before the Odyssey, and the one that comes after the Odyssey, telling us what happens to Odysseus after he returns to Ithaca.

When I get here, to Montreal, there is still work to do. I just don’t win the prize, having freshly walked over the border. And in the end there is a penance that I must do.

At one point in my story, I meet a priest who is crippled by M.S. and he becomes my spiritual director. And in telling Rafa this story again tonight, he likens me to a “crippled preacher (read: recovering alcoholic), who must travel and share his message with others,” like Odysseus carries an OAR into/onto the land far from the sea, to share his message, until he reaches a place where nobody has ever seen the sea or know what an OAR is.

My life is an Odyssey, and in the end, I get to return to Ithaca and I am finally restored to who I am and to whom I am to become, something that was rightfully mine as a child, but taken away, and as the story unfolds, I am sailing and traveling endlessly, until I reach Ithaca.

I get to Canada, and I inherit all that is mine to have, passed down from my family, but it takes time to learn just what those things are, what they mean, and why they are important.

So my task now, it to rewrite my outline. I need to gather my stories in the form of “Islands and Time at Sea.” Each episode is a visit to some place, to meet someone or learn something. I am reminded to use literary economy, and use as little words as are necessary to tell my story. And if what I am writing is not relevant to the story, to just leave it out.

I need to thread all the stories together, which is why I am reading the book now, before I start writing, to see how it is written, what words are used and why and what they mean.

Read the Book, work on the outline. I have two weeks to complete this round.

Which is why tonight, I begin my read of the Odyssey.


Sunday Sundries … On a Monday Morning Early

tumblr_ndwhz7VmHB1qzx74yo1_1280It overnight, Sunday into Monday morning. I wasn’t going to post, but thought otherwise.

It was a beautiful Sunday, they are telling us that this week, will be more of the same. We will see the warmest temps yet this summer, this week.

Thank God for Air Conditioning.

I spent some time reviewing my outline and did some additions, and thought about the writing process and how it was going to go. I guess I won’t figure that out, until I actually sit down and start writing.

I spoke to my writing coach this evening on the way home, and I told him that I had finished the theme section and my graph was complete. And he suggested I start writing. I would rather sit on my outline for a few days to think about it and let thoughts foment and let things fall where they may. And on Saturday, we can do another read through, to see what comes out of our discussion of the new material. He agreed with me.

I find it better to have two minds on the process because he is well versed in literature and language and he sees things that I don’t. I tell him stories about the stories and I get his feedback and also his vision as he sees the project roll out.

I need to talk to my aunt to get some info from her about the opening chapter. I know what that chapter is, but I need to fill in some detail that I don’t yet have, and she might be able to fill in some of my blanks so that I can explain locations and setting a bit better, than just writing,

“it started here and we were in this building, so forth and so on.”

That is just too general of a description.

We sat a full house at the meeting, and we read from the Twelve and Twelve, and Tradition Seven. Every group should be self supporting declining outside contributions.

Several topics came up in discussion.

  • Financial Freedom
  • Emotional Freedom
  • Putting something in the basket, because we are accountable and want to fell part of
  • Meetings don’t run themselves, someone has to do the shopping and pay the rent
  • With no supplies, we could not feed and coffee the crowds that come

I think about ALL the money I spent on alcohol in 34 years of drinking. A mid size fortune, to be honest. I could probably have fed a third world country with it.

Now I toss a loonie or a toonie in the basket, across my meetings, because I can, and because what I get back in grace and love, pales in comparison to what I give on a nightly basis.

I also set up, make coffee and buy supplies for several meetings across town.

Everybody is well tonight.

One of our women could really use your prayers. She is in hospital and the light at the end of the tunnel is too far away to see, and she needs all the love and support we can throw at her.

Monday starts another busy week. But I would not have it any other way. I have time to spend with others, and I do that. And I better make the best of my time, because you know, we aren’t getting any younger.

T – Minus 5 days … Friday is my birthday, 48 years, another year closer to fifty.

That book needs to be written soon. I promised hubby retirement money for the bank.

And that exactly what I am going to do.

Goodnight from Montreal


Saturday – The Writing Process – Round 2

joy2AThis evening I met with my writing coach and I brought with me my first draft outline. Over the evening we talked through my points, and we built a larger frame to work with. In discussion, he came up with six themes that he became aware of.

The Themes are:

  • God
  • Canada
  • Family
  • Alcohol
  • AIDS
  • Homosexuality

We decided on the first chapter and the last chapter. I know what those two chapters are going to look like and what will go into them. I took copious notes on the draft and brought it home. From my notes, I composed a new outline, incorporating the new points and stories that were fleshed out. Running on the themes that arose, the story is much more complete.

The Outline went from two pages to a total of five pages.

I typed out each story point down the page, completing all the pages, I drew a graph table on the far margin with six columns. One for each theme on each page. Then drew horizontal lines between each story point. Then for each story point, I ticked the box that was theme appropriate for that section.

The story as a whole is my story. But through discussion my coach determined that I also had a Canadian story, which turns the book into a wider audience. God begins the book and ends the book, as one of the main themes that runs throughout the entire story.

Canada begins the book and also ends the book as well. My originally being an American child with Canadian and Italian family. I am introduced to Canada through family, I am raised in the states, but eventually find my way here to Montreal, because of my maternal family.

I have to find my way into assimilation and into Canadian Society, during the run ups to war, seeing the world from above the Northern Border, and how everyday Canadians react to world events, was a shocking show. I am told to sew Canadian flags on my back pack, and my academic adviser begins to orient me towards choosing who I will align myself with.

That process took more than two years to navigate. There was no going back for me, only forwards motion. I came to Canada to become a Canadian citizen which took place in February of 2003. So this is definitely a Canadian Story.

Family, Alcohol, AIDS and Homosexuality are parts of the story and they have a certain beginning and play their part in the fuller story.

I have added some major people to the story, at the points where they impact the timeline as it happened. I can now tie the entire story together and see a fuller picture.

Inside the story are integral paranormal additions. Over my lifetime, family members who have died, at some point, return to me one way or another, those would be my Grammy, Grampy, Memere, my mother’s mother and finally Sister Georgette. Their appearances play a part in the story telling, and take place at certain points in the story.

Now I have a complete road map of what I am going to write and how that is going to flesh out.

I have the stories in chronological order with their themes.

I need to work out how to weave the stories together, within the themes provided, and write a cohesive story, start to finish.

I have completed the table for my next session next Saturday.

There is yet to be a title, but I am told, that will come eventually.

He spoke about Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, and how I did not need a chapter on “the whiteness of the whale.” And he also mentioned Earnest Hemingway and how grand a writer he was, which then I said, I don’t know if I have those kinds of voices to write with, because I am literate up to a certain level. I don’t use lofty words that are beyond my comprehension, just to get an idea across. But I do have a voice.

I find, usually in my Pastoral Ministry work, that if I need to write someone or talk about a certain topic in that field, I can sit down and think about what I need to say, and I find that words come to me on specific occasions based on specific needs. The words are there, I just may not have them but on a need to have basis.

My coach likes my voice and my story telling ability.

He is sure there is a hit on the way for you all to look forward to.

More to come, stay tuned …