Category Archives: East End Writers’ Group

Only Child in weather worry mode

Coming to our locale or a variation of it

Coming to our locale or a variation of it

Ontario and Atlantic Canada, as well as the United States on the south side of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River are going to be hit hard with nasty weather Wednesday and Thursday this week. And meteorologists can’t figure out exactly what will come down from the sky or where what will land. The range is almost everything – from a messy mixed precipitation of snow, rain, perhaps ice pellets and some freezing rain, or a mix and then a lot of rain, or just snow. The only things certain, unfortunately, are the storm is coming and will include heavy winds.

So I’m on big storm watch and all that entails with it being anything. Have to be on basement watch in case it’s lots of rain with winds and therefore possibly water getting in the basement, outside – shovel? (although the guy I pay to shovel snow resurfaced Monday last week to shovel snow, so I may not have to do it all), salt.

To add insults to injury, our garbage collection day is Thursday, so that means putting recycling and green bins out over night Wednesday in the high winds. I may leave the green bin stuff until next week as that is collected weekly.

The other insult is I will probably have to cancel this month’s meeting of my East End Writers’ Group because not only will it be difficult for me to get to the library where it is held, group members will have that problem too – even the few who live within walking distance of the library. I’ve only had to cancel one meeting in all the 15 years I’ve been running the group. And guess why? Mixed precipitation in winter weather and guess whent? Also for the February gathering and water did get in my basement. I cancelled it and emailed all members. Back then, we were still meeting in my living room.

This time it’s a bit more complicated as the library is involved. So I’ll have to check in with them.

And this week I’m supposed to take my son and his girlfriend out for a belated birthday dinner. Martin’s birthday was Feb. 17 but he and Juni were on holiday in England then. After the next two day’s mess, two sunny days are scheduled but as the temperature is going to nose-dive it will be slippery outside. There there will be some groceries to get – no matter how much you stock up ahead of time (and I do), there is always more to get. I mean fresh vegetables and fruit don’t last forever.

All this weather nonsense makes me angry and worried. When I mentioned it to the bank teller yesterday, she said that we haven’t had it so bad this year after what we got last year. She may be eating her words come tomorrow. And I wish I was wrong here.

So, add winter and winter storms to my “why I hate the world we live in” list. And add all the extreme weather worldwide, year-round to the same list.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Anxiety, East End Writers' Group, Extreme Weather, Life demands, Only child, Rain, Snow, Uncertainty, Weather, Winter Weather, Worrying

Only Child terrified of heavy rain and wind storm starting Wednesday

01910012As if dealing with the snafus connected with the preparations for my East End Writers’ Group’s 15th anniversary presentation for Wednesday evening weren’t more than enough, there is a big storm coming our way the same day. It’s the remnants of Hurricane Patricia plus a clipper from western Canada. And I am terrified.

Terrified of too much rain and floods and high winds. Terrified of the potential damage to property. I worry about water getting in the basement, especially as for some of the time the winds are from the east, and if so how much water and the cleanup. I worry about eaves trough issues – eaves troughs have been cleaned twice so far this year but the leaves keep falling. Problem is walnut trees hanging over from the neighbours’ property. I’ve been keeping an eye on the situation and early this morning noticed some leaves and small branches (that’s how it falls) sticking over the eaves troughs. So immediately I called Gerry who cleans the eaves troughs but he can’t come today as he has to work at his main job (usually he works nights). He suggested tomorrow morning AFTER I had told him about the big rain and wind storm coming Wednesday.  He is coming Friday morning to clean out what the wind sends down during the storm. So I climbed up on a chair and started tying to remove the leaves with a rake. Not high enough to see what’s going on, but I have vertigo and was getting dizzy. I got a hold of Mike who hopefully will come today and clean out the eaves troughs – it will cost me more, but if he can do it today during daylight, that will be a big help.

Terrified of roof, tree, etc. damage and the consequences.

Terrified of power outages and the consequences.

My nerves are so much on edge that my respiratory infection which was showing signs of getting better, is now in a bit of a relapse. It’s all this stress that keeps coming at me – in spades. I noticed that over the weekend when I had little stress the healing had progressed. But from early this morning, no.

I had been sticking to natural remedies because of my allergic reactions to most anti-biotics. And I had decided to see a medical doctor to check out my tinnitus but now he will have to check out the respiratory infection and I’m terrified here – of both the diagnosis and the treatment. My trust in medical doctors is very low because of past experience, which is fodder for another post. I would really like to go to a naturopath but they aren’t covered by our provincial health insurance so I can’t afford the cost. After paying some bills today and taking out money for cash expenses, my bank accounts are almost depleted.

Seniors day as I call it when the old age pensions and the like arrive, isn’t until tomorrow.

Sometimes I think life is too much of a struggle. It is no fun not having a partner, or whatever you call a significant other.

As for the weather, which is at the heart of all the current problems, I can only say what the lady in the bus back in May said.

“God controls the weather.”

I hope he gives us all a reprieve with a much less severe storm. I have my wishes here and am presenting them to him. I hope he listens to me and does the right thing.

It’s not just me involved here – there are all the others connected with the East End Writers’ Group presentation Wednesday and on a much broader scale all of us living in southern Ontario.

If you want to read more about the storm (and get terrified), go to The Weather Network http://www.theweathernetwork.com/ and enter “Toronto” in the Find Your Forecast box.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, East End Writers' Group, Extreme Weather, God, Health, Life demands, Living alone, Old Age pensions, Only child, Power Outages, Trees and Shrubs, Uncertainty, Weather

Only Child on creativity and the word “no”

Only Child again in contemplative mode – this time on  creativity and the word “no.”

It might be hard to see a connection between the words “creativity” and “no.” However, I’m finding a few associations here. “No” can be a big factor and word in order to do whatever it is you do to be creative. In my case it is writing; more specifically, rewriting my prequel mystery novel to meet my publisher’s deadline to look at it.

I do have third and fourth factors to consider – my freelance work, particularly freelance editing. Ideally it would be a good idea to take three months off to finish rewriting the novel. However, I need the money to eat and pay bills. I also like editing. So, I’m comprising – I’m taking two and a half to three weeks off around Christmas to not only spend time with family and close friends, but to do some rewriting of my novel. Right now I have to steal a few hours here and there from regular work. My eyes do not do late at night at the computer well and my weekends are filled with catching up on personal email and phone calls, seeing family and friends, a bit of housework (I can’t afford to pay someone to do it), and now Christmas decorations, food shopping and the rest of the present shopping. I also want time to read the newspaper and books, walk, and watch TV.

The fourth factor is being an only person – no partner/husband or siblings to help out (financially or otherwise).

Here is where “no” comes in. When I was growing up and long after, my modus operandi was to please others. Some of that still remains – and it is a good thing where clients are concerned. However,  I am learning to say “no” to more things than I used to.

For instance, I have clamped down on clients/former clients looking for freebies, something I alluded to in last week’s post. Long after the contract work is done they want me to monitor their query letters (which I wrote under contract) to literary agents or look at part of a book proposal they wrote or they go on an extended email campaign to get a hold of a publisher via me. The first one I quit working for, the second one I sent the format outline for a book proposal but politely declined to look at the book proposal part; and the third one I just stopped returning emails – something I should have done sooner in that particular correspondence once I gave the person one piece of vital information. (I did say, I’m learning to say “no.” I just need to make a better decision when.)

Now that I’m a published author I’m refusing to read an unpublished author’s full manuscript for free. Later, I might do a trade – when there is time. I also keep my mentoring of other writers to members of the Canadian Authors Association – I am the Toronto branch Writer in Residence and there are obligations here to honour.  The other group is my own East End Writers’ Group which I run. It’s a writing critique group so we do group critiques and I bring in speakers (and also speak myself) on different writing and publishing topics. At my meetings I willingly give any suggestions/advice I can (and ask for it from others). One thing that came out of this (I did the asking) is a trade – one member is helping me organize my marketing for my short story collection and in turn I will evaluate one of her short stories.

Perhaps that is the answer to some of the “no” issues. Do a trade with the other person. Or refer them elsewhere.

In my personal life there are also time issues – such as housecleaning. As I can’t afford to pay for cleaning services, I’ve decided my house can live with being not so clean and not so tidy as others so I do minimal weekend cleaning (although I do a big houseclean before the East End Writers’ Group comes or before family and friends come over for dinner, etc.). Now, I just have to live with the setup and not feel guilty.

And for pseudo-no issues, I use the “delay” tactic. For example, more purging of stuff (mostly paper) in the house, gets scheduled in winter when I do only indoor gardening. In summer, the “stuff” inside takes the trunk (below even the back seat) to my garden outside.

Now, if I could just get my mind to stop its whirling about what to do and what not to do… Have to consider my health too.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Balance, Creativity, Delay tactics, East End Writers' Group, Family and Friends, Help and Support, Helping Others, Living alone, Money, Only child, Prioritizing, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Remembers Mom

Only Child's Mother

My mom’s birthday is November 9. If she was still alive she would be 104. But she died at 63. Too young to die. Of course, I’m going to say that because I’m heading into that age territory later this year, so…

But the age and the date have got me thinking more about Mom. A psychic friend once told me she could sense her spirit’s presence in my house. And I have felt it, not inside the house I grew up in when I re-visited it, but afterwards at the nearby park where my friends and I used to play. I remember Mom’s weird  sense of honesty. In my memoir I have a chapter called “Mom’s Ten Rules of Honesty.” The chapter begins with

“Eat your dessert or the police will come and get you,” Mom says. She points to the front door and nods her head like I better do it or else the Black Maria will roll up the driveway and scoop me up into its dark interior.

I stare down at my bowl. Stewed huckleberries and apples. Black smashed berries and their dark juice seep through the apples. Yuck. Smothering the stew in vanilla ice cream can’t hide the taste of huckleberries, a taste that sits in the middle between sweet and bitter. But Mom insists on growing these strange berries in her garden.

“Sharon, did you hear me?” Mom gets up from the kitchen table, scurries into the living room and stares out the front window. “Oh, I can see a police car coming up the street; it’s turning into the driveway.”

I start to shovel the mixture down my throat. Then I jump up and take my turn at the living room window. Down the street, Mare’s father cuts his front lawn; Mrs. Armstrong sits on her front veranda, with her collie dog at her feet, and a couple of finned cars cruise up the road towards the dead-end street. Our driveway at 139 lolls in its usual empty state. When I finally get the nerve to look straight down at the veranda outside the window, all I see are the two Muskoka chairs – vacant.

Such was my mother’s twist of the truth. My legacy is rich with the fallout from my mother’s Rules of Honesty. She had a skewed sense of right and wrong. According to Mom, I had to tell it all as it actually happened, but she could tailor her honesty according to what she thought suitable for little ears to hear or what she wanted little people to do. Or she could stretch the truth by throwing in a little imagination. I compare it to a ruler, each inch (or centimetre, depending on your generation) from one to 10 being the equivalent of one of Mom’s Rules of Honesty to live life. The higher the rule or ruler number doesn’t necessarily mean the more significant the rule.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford).

To this day a strong sense of honesty, integrity and even justice stays with me. It is important that everyone is treated fairly and that covers the good and bad of each person. I’ve been taken to task for going after someone who has treated me wrongly or unfairly but I believe that if someone messes up they need to be held responsible. Often this means I confront the person – and that’s what I get the flak for. However, I also do the flip side of the coin and try to show my gratitude for someone who has helped me or is doing something good. An example of the latter is one of the members of my East End Writers’ Group who decided to help me with the publicity for our 10th anniversary celebration and did. Now, she is having a book launch for her memoir and I am doing my part to promote it and work it out so I can get to it (and the other book launch a few hours earlier the same day).

In case you are interested her name is Susan Siddeley and her book Home First: a memoir in voices is being launched Sunday, November 13, 4.30 p.m. at at The Flying Beaver Pubaret, 488 Parliament Street,  (just north of Carlton St. and south of Aberdeen). in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. For more information on Susan and the wonderful writers’ retreats she holds in Chile check out her blog at http://losparronales.blogspot.com/.

Do I follow my ethical criteria all of the time? No. Was my mother perfect? No. But as I write near the end of this same chapter in my memoir…

Mother’s honesty didn’t just encompass telling the truth; it covered people’s basic integrity and how they dealt with the screw-ups, bad times and bad luck that always pop up in life. Nothing is certain except taxes and death, but the trick is to wind yourself through the days, months and years until you die – without falling into the muddy waters.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford).

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Book launch, Death and Dying, East End Writers' Group, Home first memoir, Honesty, Integrity, Life learning, Mother dying, Only child, Only child memoir, Responsibility, Sharon Crawford, Susan Siddeley

Only Child on preparing a memoir writing course

Only Child with some of the books for her Crafting a Memoir Writing Course

I decided to expand my mini-workshop on Crafting a Personal Memoir. I’ve been teaching this one (and still am) for a year at branches of the Toronto Public Library. Many participants wanted something more and longer, so I’m doing it on my own, through my East End Writers’ Group (a writing critique group which also runs workshops) as an experiment. So for those who have signed up – I guess you are “guinea pigs.” So am I.

I’m running it from my home. I’ve done this before for day-long workshops and used my large rec room for the location. However, with six sessions, two in the evenings and in October, there is the temperature of the rec room to consider. True, I have a radiator and a heater down there and have used them before. And the lighting is fine. But I’m playing it by ear. We will probably be at my kitchen table for the two evening sessions but I’m hoping to put the two double sessions on two Saturdays in the rec room. For the Saturday sessions I ask participants to bring a lunch (they can put it in my fridge, use my micro wave) or they can go up the street to the local chicken take-out or Pizza Pizza. Heck for the last Saturday, I might be generous and order in a pizza (if we all eat pizza and it will have to be gluten-free thanks to my allergy).

The advantages: cheaper to run so I don’t have to bump up the fee. I’m also offering a fee reduction for those who sign up by Sept. 28 and so far it is working.

And I didn’t put all sessions on three consecutive Saturdays because I figured who would be able to make all three? Turns out I might be the only one who can’t because of a high school reunion on the middle Saturday. A few participants have to miss evening sessions or part of evening sessions so they get their session outline and handouts ahead of time. And in the last session we do a review as well as having extra writing time, so some catch-up can be done then.

I’ve had to do the prep work for the actual course – in between all my editing work (I’m a freelance book editor) plus all the house stuff (see my previous posts). Here’s how I did it.

I expanded the content from the mini-library workshops – basically what I taught there made up parts of Session One and Two. Then I did a brief summary of what I wanted to cover in each session, considering lecture, discussion, exercises, writing time and handouts – an outline and extra-related material. Most are available electronically but all will be in hard copy. From the outline I expanded what to cover. And I use published memoirs as well as my memoir You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons which is now in the “pitch to literary agents” stage (more on that in future blogs). We can all learn from what others have already done as well as our own mistakes/wrong turns (one of mine deals with family flak, another blog posting from last year).

So, I’m looking forward to doing this. And anyone in the Toronto, Ontario, Canada area, who is interested can post a comment and I’ll send you the course outline – it is less than a page but here’s the shorter blurb I post online.

The East End Writers’ Group presents…

Like Your Family Before You – Crafting a Personal Memoir – the course.

Always wanted to write your story – how you overcame an addiction, growing up in a large (or small) family, your mom and dad’s life story, a unique travel experience, sailing solo around the word? Whatever your life experience, if you want to write a memoir about it, writing instructor and Canadian Authors Association Toronto branch Writer in Residence  Sharon Crawford will show you how. This six-session course is expanded from Sharon’s introductory Crafting a Personal Memoir workshop taught at several Toronto Public Library branches and will include: getting started on your memoir; doing research and how to use it in your memoir; writing a killer beginning to hook your readers; writing your story so it reads like fiction but remains your truth (characters and dialogue, point of view, creating scenes and character); naming names and dealing with family flak. Each session will consist of instruction, discussions, and some hands-on writing including exercises connected to each session’s topic as well as in-class time to work on your memoir. Some critique of participants’ memoir excerpts will be given. E-mail contact with course-related questions is welcome between sessions.

It starts this Saturday, Oct. 1, with evening sessions Tuesday, Oct. 4, Wednesday, Oct. 19 and then the final two sessions, Saturday Oct. 22.

Who knows? Maybe next year I’ll expand to Webinars.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under East End Writers' Group, Memoir writing, Memoir writing course, Only child, Only child memoir, Research memoir writing, Sharon Crawford, Writing courses Toronto, Writing groups, Writing workshops