Intuitive Counselling

I would try to make this a ‘long story short,’ but where would the fun be in that?

At an event I attended recently for the company I work for, I won a door prize, a complimentary half hour session of “Intuitive Counselling.”  Translation: I went to see a psychic for the first time.  Ever since going yesterday afternoon, I have wanted to write about the experience.  Luckily, because I don’t know if posting a “Google Review” counts as writing, I have a blog.

To be fair, she stated her practice approached things differently than what I may have thought a typical psychic does, and that she doesn’t work predictively.  I liked that because I believe, in part, that ‘what you think about, you bring about,’ and self-fulfilling prophesy is real.  The film Paycheck based on the short story of the same name by Philip K. Dick taught me that.  (I love all things Philip K. Dick, by the way, and even though Blade Runner 2049 obviously isn’t written by him, as he passed away in 1982, I still cannot wait to watch it when it hits theatres in a few weeks).

Honestly, she did seem quite intuitive.  Early on the session, which we specifically decided at the beginning would focus on the very broad theme of “career,” she pulled the “Creativity” card from a deck of 79 cards.  She asked me if I my current career allowed me to be creative, and I said, no, but I had recently recommitted to fitting in time for creativity within my current work structure.  She asked what my creative outlet was, and I said, “I’m a writer.”

I did not tell her that after more than a year away from school, I was finally applying for grad school.  I did not tell her that I spent 17 out of 27 years going to school as a part-time student to obtain my undergrad degree.

But, I suppose she could have Googled me, and read this blog…

Anyhow, she did mention a few things about my job (not writing) that I certainly hadn’t mentioned, which impressed me.  How the heck did she pick up on some of the conflict I’d recently went through with hiring?  However, she made an assumption about something that I initially decided not to correct her on.  Her assumption was that if “I’m a writer,” I intended to be a writer for my profession, and that would mean the pursuit of becoming commercially successful with publishing, going to book signings, negotiating movie deals, and maybe even screenwriting adaptations.

She cautioned that “fitting in time for creativity within my current work structure” could be a problem if I needed to pursue my career marketing myself as a writer, because I would need to find balance.

Even though she missed the mark on my chosen profession, which is ultimately teaching, not being the next J.K. Rowling, she intuited that balance is the challenge.  Based on how our conversation had been, with her saying things about the various cards she drew, and me not saying much at all, I think that was very ‘intuitive’ of her.  I didn’t tell her this:  Balance has been a huge struggle for me for most of this year.  I was a student for ten years between the years 2006 and 2016.  After graduating, without something like schooling that I was actively pursuing outside of my job, I spent a good part of 2017 feeling directionless, out of sorts, and untethered.  However, in the last month, when I decided I would definitely be applying for grad school, I dusted off my manuscript from 2009 and finally self-published my first novel.  Then I researched low and optional residency writing schools, I drafted reference request letters, and I started writing again on the novel I began last November for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  With this forward momentum, most evenings I go to bed feeling positive and accomplished.

It’s only really in the last five weeks that I’ve again constructed a balance between work and creativity, and my spirits have substantially improved.  Did she pick up on that intuitively?  Yes, I think there is a chance she did.  She actually mentioned going back to familiar structures, instead of forging new ones.  Did she know what was in my future?  Not exactly, but as she told me right at the beginning, she doesn’t work predictively.

Later on in the session, I finally corrected her and said that I was not keen on counting on books sales to pay my bills, and that my future ‘career’ involved writing for the love of the writing by firstly being accepted as a student of my craft, (grad school, part time, of course, for the next 5 to 6 years).  And then that I would like to be a professor of the craft of writing, at a college or university, (which to me is still being a student on some level because I believe writing is something we practice, like practicing law or medicine).

I wonder what it would have been like to have gone to see her two months ago while I was still mired in feelings of fecklessness?  Anyhow, I feel like I am going in the right direction now regardless.

 

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Transcription of VLOG from September 16, 2017:

“A friend of mine is taking a memoir writing class and additionally I was speaking with my sister this week about genres; fiction, non-fiction, screenwriting, drama, that kind of stuff, genres.  But within non-fiction—memoir writing.  That’s a non-fiction format, because it’s your words, your truth, you’re not making things up.  It can be creative non-fiction if it is written narratively.  But I was thinking about the format of oral history that is being created via vlogs: video logs versus the blog, which is writing.

So, vlogs—oral history—is a non-fiction format I think, and I think it’s interesting, of course, because if you transcribe the video then it becomes written, but it’s non-fiction.  Anyhow, I think that’s a really great sub-genre of non-fiction in that’s it new to our times; social media.  Vlogging is what blogging was twenty years ago, at the advent of the internet.  Like, starting a blog, and putting up an online journal and all that kind of stuff was new, but then it became YouTube.  Oh my goodness, let’s record a video.

Now, all the videos I’ve recorded in the last…mostly it’s just been this year 2017.  But I did do one last summer after watching Grace and Frankie that showed that Frankie did vlogs, and she encouraged Grace to try it for a big reveal, because when you’re talking to yourself out loud there is that illusion of clarity because you’re trying to be coherent in case somebody else watches it.  So, anyhow, I think it’s fascinating , the idea that this is a sub-genre of non-fiction and transcription of what I say orally could be a really neat non-fiction project.

But anyhow, that being said, because I’m trying to get into a Masters of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing, that’s why I’m thinking of genres and whether a transcription of this could count as an assignment (ha, ha), because it helps me.  And I’ve actually done some transcription, or certainly a synopsis of all my videos so I can remember which video came up with which idea.  Because I do find that I say something fairly revealing.  My last vlog was on, um, today is Saturday, and I think I did it on…Wednesday maybe?  Anyhow, I got a little emotional thinking about asking my mom to edit.  Anyhow, she was fine with it, she was, like, yeah, fine, sure.  And she sent them back the same day, and it’s all good.  But to get in the MFA program I am primarily a fiction writer.  But I need to pick three genres.  I’ve written adult fiction, I’ve written children’s fiction, and I need a third, so non-fiction.  And certainly I have written non-fiction, I do actually have a blog that I started in 2011.  But I’ve also started this oral history, as of this year.”

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The Hematite Horses, I Published it!

Buy The Hematite Horses

At this point, publishing is about finding a space, even if it is online, to bring my work alive.

I came up with the idea for a postern door to another world when I was about 10 or 11 years old.  There was an old shack in the woods of the property where my elementary school was situated.  By the time I was 12, the shack had been demolished and was just a huge pile of boards and plywood that we would dare each other to go climb (all the while watching for the ever dreaded rusty nail that could be sticking up and which would result in a tetanus shot).  But before it was demolished, instead, the dare was to go inside, which I never did.  I imagined if I went inside for just a minute, I would come back out and a whole year would have passed on the outside, and thus I declined the dare.

In 2001, I was in the habit of having a pen and paper next to my bed, and I would write things down that were in my mind immediately upon waking.  At that time, I fancied myself an amateur poet because I missed the creative writing classes I has taken in high school and my first two years of college.  One morning, I wrote this:

The dream swelled
beneath the consciousness
of her being
The story telling
the truth of things to come
things done
It would not be told
to rest
or to take a different path
It was a part of her soul
what the Hematite Horses
had to show

I really had no idea what I was writing at the time, but the Hematite Horses stuck out in my mind.  And somehow, the idea of the postern door in that old shack in the woods that would shift time never left my mind as well, and it seemed like a set of Hematite Horses, whatever they may be, would be good guardians for such a door.

Welcome to my story.

The Hematite Horses

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Travelling to a New Place

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When it comes to ‘place,’ this can mean an emotional, or spiritual, or mental place, not just a physical place.  And you can bring your same people with you to the new place, if they want to come.  Or maybe you will need new people for your new place.

In the first half of 2016 I got to a new place.  A place where I was done with my university degree and didn’t know where to go next.  I drifted aimlessly for a few months, treading water, not going anywhere.  Then, at the end of October, my niece encouraged me to do NaNoWriMo.  I didn’t officially sign up for it, and I didn’t commit to a 50,000 minimum word count, but I did start writing for just 15 minutes a day on an idea I had for a novel.  The first week was brutal.  Every day I thought about those 15 minutes, and it seemed like they would be the most difficult 15 minutes to endure for the whole day.  I had to push past the discomfort, push past thinking what I was writing wouldn’t be ‘perfect,’ and push past all my self doubt.  When December 1st rolled around, I kept going.  Saturday, the last day of the year, I reached over 20,000 words written.  I can undeniably say I am in a different ‘place’ now than when I started.

And I’ll be in a different place tomorrow too.

I don’t know if I’ve exactly found happiness in this new place I keep going to.  Maybe I’ve found meaning.  Maybe it’s purpose.  But I know for sure that I am moving forward, which is a heck of a lot better than standing still.  Because, like the picture says, I won’t find happiness in the same place I lost it.  It absolutely must be found in a new place.  And I intend to keep travelling to a new place each and every day this year.  And I look forward to where I will be at the end.

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15 years since 9/11

In 2007, just 6 years after 9/11, my step-son decided to join the Canadian Armed Forces.  He was just 18, and had been living with us the last 6 months before deciding to leave, early in November, for basic training.  The ‘war’ on terrorism was in full swing.

Watching documentaries today on the anniversary of 9/11 brings it all back to me, like it was yesterday.  Not just that day in 2001, but the day, 6 years later, when we said goodbye to our 18 year old kid for an undermined period of time.  We were ‘loaning’ him out to the Canadian Military, and all we could hope for was to get him back at some point.

 

On Loan

 

There’s already dust on your computer screen.

Your room is so silent, I guess

because for the first time in months the computer is turned off.

I keep coming into your room, I guess

because now I can.

For so long the door was always closed.  It was

your space, on loan to you while you lived here.

 

When I walk down the hall, I see your open door.  I still

think of it as your door, your room.

It’s clean and it stays clean.  All your stuff,

the stuff you left behind, is put away,

and no one touches it.

Your laundry is done. I did it all.

I am surprised at how many clothes you left

here.  All those t-shirts you wore

so often, I thought you loved them.

 

I don’t know when you’ll be back, if ever, so I guess

this means you’ve really moved out.

I have had to learn all these new acronyms.  CFB stands for

Canadian Forces Base.  BMQ stands for Basic Military Qualifications.

I haven’t learned how to spell “Afghanistan” by heart, instead

I look it up on the poster

on the wall in your room every time.

 

Before you left, I wanted control of your room, to clean it, I guess

because it is part of my house. It drove me nuts

to see your clothes all over the floor,

dirty laundry, dishes, crumpled bedding,

because I couldn’t do anything about it. Now,

I have complete dominion over your space, and I guess

that’s why I keep coming in here.

Because now I can.

And it’s so quiet,

I can hear the dust gathering.

 

—Kiera Polzin

 

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Now What?

Honours Thesis available from Lulu Press, Inc.

I did it. I finished my thesis. It took 17 of the last 27 years. It wasn’t always easy being a part-time student and a full time adult. I have a letter that states that on graduation day I “will have satisfied all requirements for the BACHELOR OF ARTS Honours in English and Minor in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. The degree is expected to be awarded in May 2016.”

Now what?

‘Not done yet’ has been my universal excuse to put off a great many things, the biggest of which has been having to answer the question: ‘now what?’ Unfortunately, I may have to finally figure out the answer to that question. Or not.

Honestly, for the better part of the last 25 years, I have not been able to answer that question, so why would now be any different?

For a few weeks I have been struggling, because ‘not done yet’ was my shield from the question: ‘now what?’ Without that shield, I feel exposed.

I suppose the question of ‘now what’ is just what most graduates and post-graduates face. Applying for a graduate degree, Masters of Fine Arts, where my thesis project is a novel of publishable length, is of interest, but grad school applications are a competitive process. Just because I want to do it, does not mean I will be accepted. The program I want to apply to has only a 25% acceptance rate.

So, for now, I take a step back. Try not to think about it too much. Applications for an MFA are open between August 1 and October 15.

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Had to Borrow this from Bill Watterson

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February 7, 2016 · 9:15 pm