Culture Shock!

It’s the Monday after daylight savings begins.  Or is it when it ends? I never know.  But the clock has deprived me of an hour sleep and I do resent it.

I spent most of my weekend sleeping, as I was battling a cold.  Not that I don’t spend most of spend most of my weekends sleeping.  I really need to do something about that.  I need time in my day to clean and stuff, you know? And also time to write and be otherwise creative.  But these days I usually end up heading for bed around 20:00, which is utterly ridiculous really, especially when you consider I don’t have children or any other form of dependent that is making me tired.

I did manage to do some shopping this weekend, however.  Got some leggings, jeans, dress pants and a skirt, and somehow manage to sort of impulse buy a new tablet.  It’s not an impulse buy  because I’ve been planning on getting a new one for months now.  It is an impulse buy because I didn’t plan to get it *yesterday*.

So what did I get? A Samsung Galaxy Tab E.  It’s a middle of the road tablet, not super cheap, but also not an iPad which would have cost twice as much for almost the same tech specs.  So now I have to learn Android.  Which, I have to say, is not nearly as intuitive as ios is.  I miss certain apps that aren’t available on Android (Paper by 53, I’m looking at you), and little features that the system doesn’t have, like tapping space twice to get a “.”.  It’s like the difference between the United States and Canada.  Mostly the same, but there are differences that still cause culture shock.

But as these things go it’s the epitome of #firstworldproblems, so I’ll shut up now!  But if you have any Android app suggestions, do drop a comment!

Book Review: The Reason You Walk

I finished reading The Reason You Walk last night. It’s a wonderful, touching book about Wab Kinew and his relationship with his father. I received it as a Christmas gift from my friend Jasmine.

The book is very much a memoir, in that it follows the life of Wab’s father and then Wab as well, ending in the inevitable changes that happen when one of our parents pass away. But if you’re looking for a typically written book, you won’t find it here. The writing style is very different, something I noticed almost immediately. You could almost say it is written in the style it would be spoken, because the pace of the writing very much comes off like oral tradition. There aren’t as many subtle segues and there are large jumps in time, but it doesn’t come across as detrimental. You can almost hear Wab himself talking to you.

I learned a lot the Kinew men by reading this book. And why was I interested? Well I’ve been following Wab Kinew for several years on social media, where I knew him as a CBC personality and somewhat of a spokesperson on Aboriginal issues. These issues are important to me, because I am Aboriginal myself, and also Ojibwe like the family in the book.

So when the first chapter opened with a Sundance I was very, very confused. Ojibwe people don’t perform the Sundance, so what the heck was going on? Thankfully this connection goes on to be thoroughly explained and explored within the story itself and ends up being an important ceremony for the family.

The book is about many things, a father and son story, about maintaining your cultural heritage, about life and death. But mostly it is about love and passion and motivation, and those are all the reason you walk.

Being Social

So it’s been a busy weekend  for me, which is always fun.

Thursday night I spent with Matt, having dinner at Town and eating some glorious beef short ribs and pecorino potatoes.  It was good to catch up, although it was the shortest fancy dinner I’ve had in a while!  That at least tells you that the service at Town is great and fast, usually two things that don’t go together.

Friday I spent most of my time sleeping (thanks Naproxin!) but I did get a chance to sneak out for lunch with les boys, two former colleagues of mine.  Sometimes it’ll take us up to a year to actually arrange to get together, but it’s always worth it.  I have a lot of fun chatting with them about work and life and I hope it’s not a year before we see each other again.

Saturday night I had a fun time with a friend at the Brig chatting about all things geeky. Sunday I took myself out to lunch and tried to write but was too distracted by the couple sitting next to me to get anything decent done.  They weren’t particularly interesting or anything, but they were supercloserightnexttome so it felt really odd.

But whatever, maybe I’ll finish that bit off tonight.  Then I have another piece to write for 613.Beer!  Not to mention all the writing I have to do for work.

This coming weekend brings a visit from a dear friend so hopefully she and I will get to catch up and hang out.

Briefing Notes Galore!

The thing about it is, I work for the Government of Canada, In a specific department, managing their Employment Equity Act obligations. This involves a lot of writing, as you may imagine. Plans, Briefing Notes, Emails, PowerPoint Presentations etc etc. So you could say, in a manner of speaking, that I do actually write for a living. It’s just a different kind of writing.

Boy is it different.

The irony of government writing is that it attempts to stick to a “Plain Language Policy”, but generally it utterly fails to do so. Have you ever heard of the game “Buzzword Bingo”? There’s a reason that game exists and I often think it was invented by a Public Servant. Government writing is all about the big words and phrases and saying things like “we will be maximizing our synergies” (real life example).

But as frustrating as Government writing is, it is still fundamentally writing, and in fact I consider it to be a genre unto itself. There’s a definite art and skill to it, and I pride myself on my ability to create government content.

Until recently, that is.

My manager at work is a heavy editor and it has definitely taken its toll on my ego, lol. It’s mostly editing for style, not content, but that’s almost worse because it makes me wonder if he thinks I’m a totally crap writer. I have never been edited so thoroughly in all my time in Government (17 years!), or perhaps in my life.

I had a long conversation with my cube neighbours this morning and I really have to learn that 1) It’s constructive for me to see his editing, I can learn from it, 2) I need to take it less personally, and 3) in the end it’s not *my* product, but *our* product.

So it’s not just fiction and poetry that helps me practice. My work does it too. And that makes me happy.

Meant to Be

So yesterday there was this thread on Metafilter about The Most Dangerous Writing App (TMDWA). The premise of the TMDWA is that you set a timer and write for that amount of time. If you stop, all progress will be lost. Similar idea to Write or Die, which I actually own a copy of. I use write or die to get me writing, and more importantly to get me to stop overthinking my writing, just to get stuff down on the page so to speak.

All this seems pretty straightforward until the discussion in the thread turned into whether you’re really a writer if you need tools or “hacks” like TMDWA. And this, of course, is where I get really, really angry.

It starts with a user who in general terms I really admire because I like his writing a lot.  But then he says this:

If you need to be tricked into writing, or forced into writing, or cajoled or guilt-tripped or rewarded into writing? You’re probably not really meant to be a writer.

Really?  I mean, really?

Writing, or being a writer, is not as simple as that in my opinion.  I consider myself a writer.  I have written stories and poetry literally from the time I could print.  I used to steal notebooks from my grade one class so I could take them home and write stories in them.

And sometimes I need to be cajoled or rewarded into writing.  That’s just the way it is sometimes.  Life gets in the way.  Or I’m lazy.  Or tired.  Or I’m writing something I actually hate.

So does that mean I’m not meant to be a writer? I don’t think so!

Being “meant” to be a writer comes down to whether you write or you don’t write.

Which is very true. But what’s being dismissed here is people’s motivation to write differs. Again, I am a writer, and hey guess what? I am not constantly writing, nor do I always feel the overwhelming urge to write. Sometimes I just don’t feel like it, and that may be for days or even weeks. But I always come back to it.

Why is the way that I write a problem? And I don’t mean me, specifically, though it’s clear I’ve taken this a little personally. I just don’t understand how the fact that sometimes I have to force myself to start means I am somehow less than. That because I don’t curl up in a ball and weep when I’m not writing, I’m not meant to be a writer. That because I use tools like write or die, again, I am not meant to be a writer.

Personally I don’t care what gets a person writing, as long as they write.

Rant over.

In Like A Lion…

The title means nothing really, besides the fact that it is now March 1st! The end of winter is within sight, and I, for one, am glad for that.

So I want to start writing in this blog more often, but struggle with things to talk about.  What would you, dear reader, want to know about my and my life? Within reason of course!

Yesterday for the first time in ages I did NOT go to sleep at 8:00 p.m. and instead found myself up for a few extra hours.  That was nice because I did some painting, trying to put to practice some things I had learnt from a Skillshare Course on “Painting Loose” (which was very cool, by the by). Painting “loose”, it turns out, is definitely my thing.  Mostly because stuff only has to vaguely suggest what it is as opposed to the pressure to be perfect.

Now if I could just get some writing done.  Right now all I’m writing is briefing notes, which I’ve decided will be my own personal hell.  Writing briefing notes until the end of time.