Tag Archives: Sharon A. Crawford

Using Fiction Tools to Write Memoir (continued)

Only Child in Grade 12

In our last memoir writing session this week, we covered the topic of using fiction techniques when writing your memoir. Today, we discuss setting. There are similarities with using setting  in memoir and in writing fiction, with a few differences.

Always, you need to remember, memoir is not fiction, so you can’t make stuff up. True, settings in fiction often are real settings – at least countries, cities and the like. But sometimes the city or town is fictional, as are the residences and businesses and of course the streets.

Setting in memoir can give the writer an advantage, though. For example, you can write about the place you grew up in – as it was then (and a lot of that is how you remember it. Look at those old photos) and you can go back and see how it is today. Is the house you grew up in still standing? Or is it now a huge ugly condo or a paved parking lot?

But the narrative of setting in both fiction and memoir is stronger and more interesting if you skip writing it like a travel piece and put your character (you, in the memoir) right there. Show yourself going into that high school for the first time – how did you feel? Who did you meet? And blend in what you saw? For example, when my friend Nancy and I switched high schools for grade 12, (in the mid-1960s),  we had a heck of a time finding the most important classroom – the study hall. I don’t know how many times we walked around the whole top floor of the high school (it was walking in a square – that’s what it felt like and the actual shape of it). Finally another classmate with a study period helped us find the room.

So, you can see how that could generate the setting of just this school floor as Nancy and I wandered around lost. And the emotions, some dialogue and the actual study room when we finally found it and entered it.

Here’s one of the exercises I had my class do for setting. If you have time, you could try it.

  1. Exercise: Take a scene from your past and write about it with you in it. This could be the backyard of the house you grew up in, your bedroom, the kitchen, the street where you live. Note: if your memoir is about a particular time in your life use a scene from that as opposed to a scene in your past that won’t have anything to do with your memoir. The purpose is to create the atmosphere as you remember it in one location important to your life and learn how to show it to the reader from your unique POV. For example, if you were terrified of thunderstorms and hid under the covers when one came, and your brother liked to run outside in thunderstorms, the two of you would definitely have differing points of view. (copyright 2017 Sharon Crawford)

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under 1960s, classmates, Friends, Memoir content, Memoir writing, Only child memoir, School days

Only Child deals with doing too much

Sharon CLB mid 1990sSometimes we bite off more than we can chew in all that we do. It is a life variation of the old eating too much axiom that my late mother used to say – your eyes are bigger than your stomach.

This time, my eyes and my mind too, are presuming I can do much more than is realistic. So, I’ve been slowly pruning and putting in pending some of what I do. Lately, I have been doing this with my business.

I am a writer, editor and writing instructor and as such there are specific things they encompass and specifics I wouldn’t touch with anything. Having said that, I am still trying for gigs, particularly in the instructor and presentation area. But I am cancelling going to a few business meetings and not taking on some new work. So, the tally right now is:

Cancelled one business meeting for sure this week but presented via email some suggestions within the topics on the agenda.

Went to one writing organization Christmas party (this is fun too) last evening,  but not the other one on the same evening. Having gone to both a few years back when both also occurred the same evening – never again.

Am being approached for editing work from potential new clients and I am grateful for that. But I will be meeting with only one of them in the New Year as what she wants is what I do. She is also connected to me on Linked In and Goodreads. The other one emailed me out of the blue and I am not sure where he got my name from. I don’t think my website because it lists very clearly what I will do in writing, editing and teaching and what he is asking for is not there. And I double-checked my website just to be sure. I do not ghost write or rewrite somebody else’s story, somebody else’s manuscript. I do copy editing, manuscript evaluation and one-on-one writing tutoring in person or by Skype. So I will email him back with a polite refusal and send him to the Editors Canada website to find an editor who will do what he wants and needs.

I do have current clients and it is important to do their work.

So, if you are living your life in overwhelm – business or personal or both – remember  my mother’s axiom – your eyes are bigger than your stomach.

Otherwise you might bite off more than you can chew.

And that’s enough of cliches from me.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gratitude, Life Balance, Life demands, Mother, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Time management, to do list

Only Child finds a little joy in horrid world

Busy city street - sign of current times

Busy city street – sign of current times

Yesterday a friend and I were talking about the world today, the world we live in. We both agreed that is is a horrid world – too digital, too hurried, extreme weather, the terrorism, etc. I said it all got going into this state when we entered the new millennium and she agreed, with the addition that back in the 70s there was the Vietnam War. I added that back then there wasn’t so much of everything.

I don’t think it is because we are both seniors (albeit at the lower end of the seniors age bracket).

Truth is we are inundated with too much crappy stuff these days.

It is hard to find a little peace, a little joy. But we need to. The only other option seems to be to “get the hell out of Dodge.”

Last night while hurrying along a Toronto street to do some grocery shopping, I realized – hey, the weather in Toronto is warmer than usual for this time of year. No actual winter weather. True we’ve been getting a lot of fog and clouds and rain is coming later this week. I think something my ex said in an email earlier yesterday also was somewhere in my mind. He and his wife live out west and while they are getting a lot of rain he likes it because it is warmer then.

So, I did a momentary mind pause, slowed down my walking, and stopped cursing the Food Basics store for having one cooked ham on sale left (and it was awful looking – too much fat and a small string curled up in it – you know the “ick” factor).

I actually started to enjoy the evening, thinking it wasn’t bad weather-wise, still warmish.

How do you find a little peace and joy in your life?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Carpe Diem, Cities, Extreme Weather, Family and Friends, Friends, Happiness, Seniors, Sign of the Times, Winter Weather

Only Child celebrates birthday

Birthday_birthday_cake_3Today is my birthday. Didn’t the Beatles have a song that started out something like that? Which would be appropriate as I was and still am a Beatles fan. And yes I went to a couple of their concerts at the old Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto and screamed my throat out – back in the mid 1960s.

Some people reflect on their year and what is ahead at the end of each year. I do some of that, but the annual birthday may be just as appropriate, if only for the “I’m getting older” factor. Birthdays are a reminder of that. When you are a senior, like me it is very mixed.

Yes, I would like to be  around 10 to 15 years later – if I could have my so-called wisdom and experience and my son would be the same age as he is now.  And be in good health and afford to live.

First the bad side of getting old and I will paraphrase my neighbour from down the street (also a senior). When I mentioned that I had been experiencing a lot of health issues the past five months, she said that this time in your life it is supposed to be when we can retire and enjoy life. She said it as if she didn’t believe it anymore.

She is right. Life in the senior lane can be awful. The body fails; the mind fails and for some people it can be very lonely. Add in living in poverty, despite all those glowing retirement ads and stories. Not all of us are rolling in money. Some (myself included) live below what Statistics Canada states is the upper level for singles (all ages) living alone.

Heck, last year when I had that dreadful boarder living here (I finally kicked her out and am glad I did), my net income was lower than the year before when she was living here only five months, not 10. Turns out she drained my electricity and water and that upped those bills.

And utility bills, with or without boarders, are high. So are property taxes and not just for seniors. Many of us live on a budget and certain things (like extra health coverage for health areas not covered by government health plans). Many of us don’t have access (via our or spouses’ retirement plans) to extra health plans, so we do without. We may have to choose one extra area to focus on. Eventually the others will fail us in old age.

And more things happen. So far my memory and forgetfulness haven’t worsened – I don’t think. On days when I have too much going on, too much bad being shoved my way to deal with, I wonder about that. That’s why I’m continually trying to prune what I do and also get rid of the clutter still left in my home. Right now I’m focusing on all the excess paper in my home office. The laundry room and storage there is next – but a lot of that is garden stuff dumped inside now that garden season is about over. I say about as there are still a few more things to do out in the garden and the weather might just be co-operating this coming weekend.

So, what do I give thanks for on my birthday? What do I still like in my life?

My outside garden obviously. In winter I try to compensate with lots of plants inside, but it’s not the same – so I do plan for next year’s garden.

My writing – particularly my Beyond mystery series and personal essays. And promoting my books. And something new I just started and enjoy – doing short skits as public presentations where I dress up as my main Beyond Blood character Dana Bowman.

Teaching writing workshops/running my East End Writers’ Group and helping and connecting with other writers.

Reading (and yes, print mainly although I do have an e-reader), walking, watching favourite TV programs and movies on TV. I’m old-fashioned enough to want to watch TV on a TV, not a computer, although I do watch short videos about the weather, gardening, health, writing and the like on the computer, also like cooking, and dining out with family and friends, going to street festivals, going into unique shops with crafts and the like (mainly “window shopping). And living in this house which I love (despite all the things that need fixing).

What do I want to do in the future?

Continue collecting info on my late father’s ancestry and reconnecting with cousins on Dad’s side of the family (particularly another one doing some genealogy research in that area), travel more – but not by plane. I don’t like all the excess security for those of us who are not security risks. I think my ex put it best when he said something about removing shoes was what got to him. But he and his current wife do still travel. Me, I want to travel more by train to Quebec province (where my dad was born), the train trip out west to BC through the mountains, and to my cousins’ in a medium-sized town in Michigan. One cousin has offered to pick me up at Windsor or Sarnia and I’m hoping to take him up on that later next year.

And more money to come in to pay for extras including house problems and travel.

I also wish for my health not to get any worse.

To tag on to the above two -house and health. If the latter gets too bad I don’t want to hang around. And I don’t want to go into a nursing home or even a retirement home. My next stop, I say, is the urn.

If I have 10 to 15 more good years (see above for what I consider good/not good), that will be fine. Living to an old age for most people isn’t worth it if you are sick in mind and/or body and are just wasting away.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under Family and Friends, Gardening, Genealogy, Health, Health Seniors, Home and Garden, Old Age, Only child, Poverty, Reading, School reunions, Seniors and Happiness, Seniors Hobbies and Interests

Only Child condemns Microsoft’s Windows 10 marketing

Computer_Assault_2I want to go on record as being 100 per cent opposed to the aggressive marketing Microsoft is doing with its new Windows 10. “Aggressive Marketing” is probably putting it mildly. Many of you with Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 have experienced this attack on our computers. Some of you may have wanted to upgrade to Windows 10, but maybe not now. Some of you have had no choice.

The horror stories abide – just Google and get into some of the forums. The one that I think wins the award for most invasive and disrupting someone’s business and its functions is the fellow who was at a conference who turned on his laptop for notetaking and other conference business-related functions. Imagine his shock and surprise when he found Windows 10 downloading and later installing when he didn’t even okay it.

Since the October 2015 monthly Windows updates, the nasty Windows 10 icon has showed up in the updates box. If there are other updates listed you can get into the list of what is available (there is another way which I found by a fluke but can’t remember offhand) and hide it. Earlier this year, in previous monthly update, Windows snuck in an update numbered KB3035583 – details for it were just the usual security update blurbs. No indication that it prepared your computer for Windows 10 download and installation. Before that Microsoft had snuck in a “Get Windows 10 free” connection on your computer toolbar. Apparently, that was supposed to be their okay to do the nasty.

It has been a lot of reading online and trying different things to get the damn Windows 10 upgrade from even showing up in the update box when you click on Windows Update. Woe to you if you have your updates set to automatic and have been just letting Windows do the updates as you shut down your computer. You have to change your Windows Update Settings to “Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them.” And hide that KB 3035583 or maybe uninstall (like I had to do) first. Good luck. No guarantee that Microsoft won’t automatically download and install Windows 10 in 2016.

I always went into the Windows Update and checked it out, when the Update (the orange exclamation point) showed up in the Shut Down box). But until I figured out a way to stop it – for now – I was afraid to shut down my computer. In fact, I cancelled going to the doctor’s because of it. You might say this Windows 10 snafu is bad for my health.

This is more than a bad business marketing decision on Microsoft’s part. Microsoft is offering Windows 10 upgrade free to those with Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 for a year. It is supposed to be optional? You think? Whoever came up with this marketing idea and those who put it into practice, should be named all over social media. And they should be fired. Because this is not ethical; this is not moral. It is an invasion of our privacy and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was illegal.

I was resigned to having to get Windows 10 when my current leased Dell laptop will run out next October and I leased another laptop. I figured that by then a lot of the bugs new systems get would be fixed (I know, there are always patches). Having lived with Windows 7 a few years back when it first came out and all the weird things that happened – I even had to have Windows 7 re-installed by a professional and that cost a fortune in my books. Now with Microsoft’s bigger than big booboo, I’m changing my plans. No offense to Dell, but I’m switching to a Mac. Ditto when the desktop PC’s lease runs out – but I have over two years for that. Meantime, I hope my son (who is in the computer business and encouraging me to get a Mac) will let me try out his Mac and give me some pointers on the differences in using a Mac and PC.

I bet a lot of others will switch to Macs. Microsoft you really screwed up this time.

Meantime, here are a few links to where I did my research. One of them is the well-known Windows and Office guru Woody Leonhard. I like his wit and knowledge. You can go to his webpage to read his regular postings on Windows and Office here 

The article is appropriately titled

How to clean the Windows 10 crapware off your Windows 7 or 8.1 PC

Here are a few more links, randomly selected, on the subject:

http://www.extremetech.com/computing/214070-how-to-delete-microsofts-unwanted-windows-10-download-files

http://blog.ultimateoutsider.com/

There is lots more – just Google for them.

 

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Computer problems, Consumer action, Life demands, Microsoft, Only child, Problems

Only Child give kudos to Hudson’s Bay optical dept.

Only Child and son Martin - glasses run in this family

Only Child and son Martin – glasses run in this family

One of the few, maybe the only corporate entity I have dealt with lately, who has been exceptional in customer service is the Hudson’s Bay Company’s optical department. So, today, I’ll tell this story and leave the start of dissing the companies and organizations who are and have been maligning the phrase “customer service” to future blog posts.

Like my mother and father before me, I have been wearing glasses all my adult life. When I reached my 21st birthday (back in the grey ages), I was suffering from a constant headache. My mother was in the hospital for tests for her severe arthritis, so I was worried about that, so much so that I barely ate anything and lost a lot of weight. The other three ladies sharing a room with Mom suggested I go across the street to the optical company and get my eyes tested. So, scared, I did. I made sure I told them I didn’t want drops in my eyes because back then the drops left you temporarily sight challenged. I had first experience with this when my then fiance had his eyes tested and I had to literally lead him back to work because he had trouble seeing – except for pink elephants.

That optical company was not Hudson’s Bay. Over the years I have switched optometrists and opticians, depending on service and depending on where I lived. Last December, when my annual eye tests at my optometrist’s showed I needed new glasses, right away, I decided to go to the Hudson’s Bay Optical at their Bloor/Yonge Streets store in Toronto. I had gone to Sears the past four years and although their optical service was good, Sears management in its infinite wisdom decided to close their big downtown Toronto store. No way was I going to (and fro) the optical department in the Sears store in a mall in North Toronto – too far and too many transit changes for return visits.

So, I switched to Hudson’s Bay optical and I’m glad I did. Here is my story as I sent it to their customer service department.

This is praise for all the opticians at The Bay optical on the lower level at the Bloor/Yonge Store. I don’t have their names but they have been very courteous and helpful from when I brought in my eye prescription last December to last month and Wednesday when I had a problem with the frames on my prescription sunglasses.

 

Very helpful in helping me choose my glasses in December, even making sure the receipt was dated then (well, I did pay by credit card then) instead of early January when the glasses were ready (the date for tax purposes).

 

Early September when the arm of my sunglasses fell off – first when I called and said I couldn’t find my receipt and the optician said not to worry, we have you in the system so just come in. I did find the receipt anyway so brought it in.

 

Great service – even though the glasses frames were no longer being made I was told if none were still in stock I would still only pay the $20 (percentage not covered by the warranty for the price of replacement frames) because that wasn’t my fault that they didn’t carry the line anymore). They even glued the arm back on for the time being as I was going on holidays in a few days.

 

This past Wednesday (Oct. 7) I decided to get the frames replaced or whatever was necessary to be done. Again I couldn’t find the receipt, phoned again and was again reassured I was in the system so come right in. This time I did not find the receipt. The optician said that there was still brown frames (I had black originally) for my sun glasses. I tried that on and decided to take it. Only had to wait about 10 minutes for the lenses to be put in the new frame. And the optician, at my request, even wrote out a replacement receipt for the original order.

 

Now that’s customer service. I would like this put into each of the opticians’ personnel file.

 

A satisfied customer.

 

Now onto dealing with the idiots from other companies who have screwed things up for me. Next week, I plan to write about one of them.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Arthritis, Consumer action, Eye gkasses eye tests, Family, Hudson Bay Company, Mom and Dad, Only child, Opticians and Optometrists, Sears

Only Child deals with time stealers

Teddy points out my time being wasted

Teddy points out my time being wasted

I am so fed up with unwanted and unasked for time-stealers. Over the past four months it has been difficult to get things done. Sometimes I feel like I am in freefall, in overwhelm, running around in the proverbial circles. Was it ever like this, even remotely, for my Mom and Dad when I was growing up? You know back in the grey ages in the 1950s and 1960s.

I don’t think so because the world, society moved at a slower pace then and there just weren’t as many “things” happening, so not so much coming at you.

Well, I’ve had way too much going on – a lot of it bad, some of it good, but it needs to be sorted so it’s not all happening at once.

First, the bad – only a short list or we’d be here until doomsday.

My health – this summer I’ve had to deal with sinus/gland infections (still traces but I see improvement with the third natural remedy I’m taking), being stung by a wasp and getting a localized allergic reaction. I’m now on wasp alert and when I killed one the other day I felt a lot of relief, felt the situation had evened out (I know, probably not the actual wasp that stung me), and getting injured from a fall caused by some careless dingbat leaving a picture hanging wire outside. Somebody got cursed then.

Consumer stuff – this is an endless list but I’m only going to focus on travel. The business with VIA rail delay because of US/Canada border problems when I was returning home from Grimsby earlier this month. Now, a much bigger issue is happening locally – Toronto Transit in its “wisdom” is upgrading/renovating two consecutive subway stations at the same time, including closing them to buses and bus platforms and moving the bus boarding a few blocks away in one case. I will enlarge on this one in a future post. Suffice to say I’m composing a letter to the CEO of Toronto Transit about that.

Too much in my life personal and writing going on at the same time.  And much of it not asked for, not expected.

That’s enough complaining for now. So, what am I doing?

First of all I am focusing on the most important to me each month, each week, each day. The rest can go to hell or limbo – for now. I will only take on so much at a time and let others know. If they don’t like it, too bad. My health issues this past summer have taught me that. I have also started to say “no” to things, even if I’ve already signed up for them. Case in point. Signed up for an entrepreneur seminar all day later this month. No cost. But when reason finally prevailed, I realized it starts too early in the morning for me to get out. No, not get up, get out. Some of my health issues are worse in the morning so I can’t get out of here until after 10 a.m. at the earliest. So health first. I’m not attending this seminar.

House and property work (excluding gardening) – I have made a list of who does what and that includes the two handymen. And I ride herd on either of them to get them here to do the job. Also hinging on the when for the main handyman is when I book a furnace cleaning, so the two don’t happen the same day. See what I mean by too much going on at once? I’m also following my cousin Ron’s advice about housework/housecleaning, i.e., lower my standards about what I do and do less. So just basics weekly on weekends – laundry, vacuuming and cleaning kitchen counter, sink and stovetop. Dusting only every four to six weeks and cleaning the bathroom – maybe every two to three weeks. Sorting stuff out – winter project. We are still in fall.

Have also made a gardening – fall cleanup list and am going through it now – this one is a pleasure. Also connected to this is preparing food for the winter and that is not going well – time problems again. I want to dry some of the oregano that’s in the garden and try to dry some apples and bananas. I’ve at least bought the dehydrator (used to have one until it died a few years ago). For fresh vegetables and fruit for the freezer – so far a few corn-on-the cobs I bought at a farmer’s market, plus local wild blueberries purchased from a greengrocers, and the black raspberries and rhubarb from my garden. Still need beans for sure. Problem? Finding time to get to a farmer’s market including when I can actually prepare the vegetables right after purchase. That’s being sorted out after….

I sort out my writing and book promo and speaking engagements. Too many too close together although I’m not complaining about doing well selling  books at Word on the Street on Sunday. But it’s the upcoming stuff – two big ones. Now I plan to focus on one per month – for October my East End Writers’ Group 15th anniversary celebration/presentations. The other one I’m involved with doesn’t happen until the end of November, so my participation in organizing my group’s part (not EEWG) will not start until November 1. I also have to use my timer more – sometimes when a lot of email needs answering (not today – so far) I set the timer and when it rings I only finish the current email. Then there’s my third Beyond mystery book, which I’m not spending enough time writing. That is changing this week.

Some help from God would be appreciated.

To pull it all together I’m doing an update on the A, B, C, and D charts I use. Each has headings like “Don’t want to do/don’t have to do.” That one ties with “Want to Do/Have to Do” as my favourites.

My mother would be proud. She was very organized.

I’d like some comments on how you cope with time management (outside of shooting the clock).

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

 

What Only Child is doing with unwanted chores and the like

What Only Child is doing with unwanted chores and the like

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Balance, Gardening, God, Health, Help and Support, Home and Garden, Life Balance, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Only child, Prioritizing, Time management, Writing