Floating

I have sort of let things get derailed, and these weekly updates will not be added to the list!

I had gotten a pretty steady routine together: exercising in my living room, doing yoga before bed, jogging in the park nearby. I had been whining for months that I need to do something with my body, because each time I levered myself up off the sofa, I creaked and cracked and felt far older than my years.

I first tried a yoga routine that I found on YouTube a few months ago, discovered that the floor was entirely too firm, and bought a yoga mat.

Reconnecting with my body felt amazing. Hearing the pops and cracks in my legs as I followed the instructions of a soothing voice every night before bed is a great way to disconnect and wind down. I added my exercise routine, mostly lunges and squats and push-ups, and relished the soreness I would feel the next day. I jogged and loved the air filling my lungs and the feeling of my thighs and calves and feet all working together.

Then my routines crumbled. Getting started became a monumental task I couldn’t accomplish. I would try to rationalize the benefits, reminding myself that it usually felt good, and I’d thank myself later. It’s so much easier to get stuck in my phone and let the hours slip away, though.

I am working to let go of the ensuing guilt at “failing” to get myself started. I have read articles on procrastination and laziness and I know there are reasons behind these things, there are explanations as to why we can’t just do the things we want to do. There are ways to overcome these roadblocks, the task can be broken into smaller steps, I can set a goal that’s easier to reach: get dressed for exercise!

I don’t know how many times I’ve talked about this in therapy. Putting this out here is helping remind me of what I’ve already learned, and that’s useful. I think I’ll whip out the yoga mat, change into something that’s easier to move in, and put on an upbeat playlist.

Another thing that I’ve discussed in therapy is a sort of counterintuitive cascade effect. It’s part of the smaller goals idea: if my goal is to get dressed for exercise, then it’s easy to follow that up with some actual exercise. Even if I quit before I finish, like the time I tried to jog when it was ridiculously hot, I still achieved my goal and that’s enough to silence the awful Voice of Guilt.

If I write this blog post, it’s easy to then do something else, and something else, until I don’t have the energy. Even if I do stop at this blog post, I’ll have met my goal, and I can be okay with that.

I’m totally getting changed, though. For lunges!

Breaking 50k

Getting out last week’s post felt really good, but there was no real update there, so here we go!

The QWF has a wonderful resource called the Hire-A-Writer directory for people interested in coaching, editing, feedback, etc. Many of the faces there are familiar to me from social gatherings, and a friend of mine recommended Elise Moser from her own experience.

Many of the chapters of my novel have been workshopped on an individual basis, often submitted in pairs of consecutive chapters, but I needed someone to look at a larger piece and tell me whether I’m on the right track. I communicated with Elise, who put me at my ease immediately. After a brief exchange to clarify what I was looking for, I submitted the first six chapters of the novel and tried to put it from my mind and work on other things.

I got feedback a lot quicker than I expected! The short of it is, I am heading in the right direction, even if I have a lot of ground to cover. Elise provided excellent points for me to work on, and as a result I’ve drafted a new opening chapter. This makes my third attempt at beginning this novel, which is fine; the beginning is the most important part. It determines whether a reader continues along this journey with me or moves on to something else.

I’m submitting to my primary writing group, and I can’t wait to hear how they receive the new chapter. I have Elise’s notes for the remainder of the opening chapters, but I’ve been focusing my efforts on completing the rough draft. I have pushed past 50,000 words and nearly completed part two of three; I have seven more chapters outlined and that’s it. The rough draft as currently outlined will be complete.

Facebook was kind enough to remind me that it’s been a year since I sat down and outlined this book. I had recently returned to Louisiana to visit family and those experiences were fresh in my mind. I had been cultivating ideas of home and belonging ever since I moved here to Quebec, some eleven years ago. It feels like I built a framework then, and I have been steadily adding to it for a year so that now I have something that is beginning to take shape.

As slow as progress feels sometimes, I can look back on this and feel proud.

In other news, I’ve been invited to perform a story that appears in Claire at a special pride edition of Confabulation! Tomorrow night, I will be telling the story of how I met Mathieu, which began a chain of events that led to me moving from Lafayette, Louisiana to Blainville, Quebec. Come hear the tale at le Ministère tomorrow at 9:30pm!

Let’s build some momentum!

Patreon is live! I have managed to secure one entire patron! She is also my sister and thus has already put up with far too much of my nonsense. Thank you, Kiera! ❤

I have also managed to write a poem, which was fun. It was easy to take my current frustrations (my cell phone) and turn them into something that had an interesting flow. I hear there’s another Breathing Space coming up, maybe I’ll put a few together and share them in public. It’s bracing.

I’ve been focusing on being more active in my notebook. When I’ve worked desk jobs, it was always open and ready on my desk, and I’ve written down some interesting things since I’ve started. I can use my notebook when I’m at home as well, and for more than just the tarot card of the day. I’m actually writing this post from a bullet list I made in my notebook and posted to Patreon (because I have no idea what kind of content people want to see, so I’m trying things and this one turned out really practical!).

Goals for the next week include increasing my word count on Claire, exploring poetry a bit more, and maybe doing something that is neither to practice my flexibility. I could set a date for myself to hang out in the Atwater Library and do some writing sprints. It’s just so hot all the time!

I did it!

Did you have doubts? Given my sporadic updates in the past, I don’t blame you!

But I did it!

This took several takes, a change of t-shirt, and required turning off the air conditioning in my home office (that thing is LOUD). I will be updating weekly with new videos available to patrons of the appropriate tiers. Become a patron here!

Completely free text updates will continue on this site! This has been my home for many a year and I am fully dedicated to maintaining this space. This is the portal to all of my creative shenanigans.

What have I been up to apart from talking to my cell phone? Last Sunday, I got a message from Rachel McCrum inviting me out to Breathing Space, an open mic taking place at le Dépanneur Café. I had already arranged to go with a friend, who ultimately couldn’t make it, but now I had someone else to hold me accountable so I agreed and began wondering what I could possibly read.

There was a chapter of my novel which seemed promising, but it went into insecurities about dating while exploring non-monogamy, and that felt a little too raw for my very first open mic. It was also a lot of dialogue, and I didn’t fancy doing voices.

I had a story idea, and since I’ve taken to creating my stories by reciting them to myself (with the occasional recording), I started working it out loud. I managed to get it to about five minutes, headed out, trying to remember essential lines.

It ended up being about two and a half minutes because I rushed like it was nobody’s business. For some reason, I get anxious performing in new spaces, and though the room felt very welcoming and the telling went well, once is not enough for me to feel fully at ease. Still, that’s another first for me, and I’m mostly pleased with the result.

There is a video, credit to Marie Cornellier (it was so great to see you there!). It’s going on Patreon next week as one of my works-in-progress; I’d like to flesh out this story and give it another go.

Short update!

So fluctuating confidence is a thing for me, but by this point I’ve done enough that I’m able to consistently remind myself that I’m not lacking in accomplishments. I have been producing content in the form of short stories, oral performances, and a good chunk of a rough draft of a novel. Yes, I worded that intentionally.

I am working on things, and I am gonna get off my ass and come here to talk about it once a week. I want to hold myself accountable, as well as motivate myself to continue this momentum. It’d be pretty fucking embarrassing to come here week after week with my hands in my pockets going, “Um, well folks y’see, it’s been a really busy week, and…”

No. I have got shit to do and it’s time to get to work.

I have Shut Up & Write this Saturday—actually, I forgot to register, so I’ll sleep in and write at home. In my office. With the silly, colour-changing lights I like so much. I’ll put some music on the google home and increase my word count.

I’ve been looking at Patreons, wondering how and why I might want to make that work for me, and I’ve decided to put one together. I’m making myself a commitment to set that up and come talk about it more next week.

It’s part of my plan to motivate myself to express myself through poetry a bit more often. Lately, if I’m feeling a particular way and it gets dialed up to eleven, I tend to put down a few lines and then look away and pretend they didn’t happen. Probably because the poetry I wrote in high school was absolutely overblown and florid and saccharine. Well, hopefully I’ve developed some taste since then, and a weekly poem isn’t too much to offer people in exchange for money. It also sets up some structure (more motivation, yay!) and gives me a place to potentially share tidbits I’d rather not put out for the entire public to view. Only interested, paying parties.

Um, but like I said, I’ll talk about that more next week. Ideally with a video is what I’m thinking.

That’s probably enough to get done in a week’s time. Stay tuned for the update! I swear!

Comedy and storytelling

I had a blast at Tinder Tales last Saturday! I arrived early with some friends, enjoyed a nice meal with a couple of cocktails, then joined the other performers downstairs. The mic was not in service, but I learned how to project back in high school so I wasn’t nervous about that.

Thus began my crash course on the differences between comedy and storytelling. I am still processing some of the finer points, and there is a huge amount of overlap in this particular Venn diagram. I’d like to take a workshop on comedy, or read about it, do something to expand my knowledge and help clarify these new thoughts.

I sat back and appreciated the performances, laughing along with the crowd, which was a very warm and friendly collection of faces. Then came my turn.

“This is less of a Tinder tale and more of a Scruff story,” I began before launching into my performance. You know how it goes: you meet a guy for drinks, you have a chat, you find out your ex lives with his ex. I got some good laughs, and I even saw some sympathetic looks as I went into more vulnerable parts of my story. I don’t know if I stuck the landing so much as slid to a stop, but I felt good on the whole. I know I’m being my own worst critic here, but it’s helpful to think of how I can do better next time.

Thank you to an amazing audience, including several friends; your support means everything to me! Thanks to Adelade LaFontaine for producing, Monica Hamburg (catch her show Pornomedy) for hosting, and to the hilarious performers who got up and told their tales. A special shout-out to Heather Hurst (@ForceOfStature on Twitter and Instagram) for looking at a table of three bearded men and asking, “What is the name of your podcast?” We had a good laugh after the show when I told her they were my people.

I’m pretty sure I’m a storyteller and not a comedian (or perhaps some hybrid creature?), though I do enjoy the relationship between tension and laughter and I would like to learn how to better manipulate said tension. So it’s practice, practice, practice and on to the next story!

I don’t have anything in the works just yet, so it seems like an opportune moment to return to my long-neglected novel. I’ve got Shut Up & Write next weekend, I’ve submitted a total of three chapters to two writing groups, momentum is building and I need to harness that energy and let it take me as far as possible.

Another first

I’m not freaking out, you’re freaking out!

In a mere two days, I will be performing at Tinder Tales for the very first time! I’ve run through my story enough to figure out which words sound awkward together and which beats I want to really hit. I might have an ending, but I’m not too sure on that yet.

The ending is crucial. I want something that will close the story and let the audience know that it’s over before I bow my head and return to my seat. I’m not looking to tie everything up with a nice bow, but there needs to be a certain resonating thought that signals the story is over.

It hasn’t happened every time, but usually I come to the event with a clear idea of how I want the story to end. It may not be memorised word for word, but I know more or less what I want to say and I try to make my way there naturally.

All this to say, I have a vague idea of where I want this story to land, and a little over 48 hours to refine that idea without over-rehearsing my story. Come out to Lord William Pub on Saturday night to see if I stick the landing!

A moment of calm

I’ve reached the end of the Confab Storylab, culminating in our breakout performance at the Freestanding Room. It was a great night of awesome stories in an intimate space, I was able to feel fairly laid-back even though part of my brain was screaming about how much improvisation I was about to attempt (like, a lot).

It worked? I had to ask for some outside opinions, naturally; I got caught up in the flow of the story, went off on an unplanned tangent, and wrapped it up as neatly as I could. Telling a story seems to happen in a breathless rush with me, though I don’t feel like I sped through it at all. Those minutes go by in a flash, then I’m bowing my head and retreating to my seat to enjoy the heady rush of a story told.

One of my fellow workshoppers shared a story that centred on the Main Deli, so a few of us went down the road for smoked meat and latkes. My first. Yeah, I’ve been in Quebec 11 years, lived on the island for three and a half, and still had never gone for a smoked meat sandwich. What kind of a Montrealer am I?

A Montrealer-in-progress, obviously.

Since that night, not a lot of work has been done on stories. I have Tinder Tales coming up May 25 at Lord William Pub, I should probably run that by a few people and get some feedback. I have a submission deadline in my calendar for a nonfiction contest organised by the Malahat Review, and a vague notion of what to write for that. QWF’s Shut Up & Write is starting up again, and I am keenly aware that the last session earned me nearly 4,000 words of my novel. I can’t expect that every time, but my word count has not increased in (gulp) months and I need to change that.

So many stories

April has been a fantastic month.

The Confab Storylab has been rolling right along. giving me new tools and tricks to play with in my storytelling. The more I advance with these techniques, the more I understand that I am going to have to try things different ways before I ultimately settle on my way. As someone raised gifted with a huge fear of failure, this is mildly terrifying.

Luckily, workshops like these provide a safe environment to fail in. I told a story that I had barely written a rough draft for, and got a page full of notes on how to develop it. Last week, we were asked to take a familiar story and improvise part of it. Going off-script is taking a huge leap outside of my comfort zone. I like my lists, I love my threes, I enjoy hand-picking sensory details that firmly plant my audience in my story.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover I do less floundering than anticipated. It’s not pretty, but it’s very real, and that is often the more desirable trait in storytelling. Watch me get lost in a moment on stage while I search for words to bring you into it with me.

May promises to be exiting as well! The storylab is putting on an intimate breakout event where I’ll get to experiment a bit. I am also performing at Tinder Tales on May 25 at Lord William Pub. Who doesn’t love awkward dating stories? I’m excited to share one of mine (oh, there are many!) with a room full of strangers.

Working hard

I have been giving 100% at my new job, and any new learning experience is mentally exhausting, so there has not been much writing going on. I’ve done some editing for my Confabulation performances, but nothing much apart from that.

My gut reaction is to feel bad for my lack of productivity in terms of creative work, but ultimately this isn’t a useful line of thought. I’ve still come so far in such a relatively short amount of time, I can allow myself to put things on pause while I focus on establishing myself in my new workplace. Once my job becomes more routine, I’ll have more energy for creative endeavours.

Despite not having touched my novel, I have been keeping busy with stories.

I’ve joined another storytelling workshop, this one part of Confabulation and presented by the wonderful Matt Goldberg. There are a lot of familiar faces, and I’m really excited to see what we learn from each other and Matt in the coming weeks.

I was invited to participate in Confabulation’s Audience Favourites show, bringing back my very first performance from December. Having told a couple more stories since, I found ways to improve upon my earlier performance, as well as the text itself.

It was a night for feelings! Each of the other storytellers brought tears to my eyes. You could feel the entire room with them during their most powerful moments, there were these stunning silences. I opened the second half with my own emotional story, reliving the feelings I was relating, keeping them just under control so my voice didn’t break. It felt amazing.

A refreshingly tearless experience was Taylor Tower‘s retelling of a story she had showed us in workshop, and getting to see it told live was an entirely separate experience. I already knew the twists and turns, but a masterful performance has you right there with the storyteller each step of the way, even when you know what comes next. I was delighted.

There is also something to be said about being in the room while a story is being told. A recording cannot capture the energy of an audience waiting with bated breath to find out what happens next. Tension is nearly tangible, silences and dramatic pauses ring out, it’s magical.

So the novel has been set aside for a moment, but there is still a sizable stack of pages on my desk and they aren’t going anywhere. I’ve taken a break before and been able to get back into the voice this book needs. I just need to look over the outline and read the latest chapter and I should be able to carry on from there.