Monthly Archives: April 2009

Choosing What to Write?

Random T writes:

The topic is quite hot in the net right now. What do you pay the most attention to when choosing what to write ?

Well Random T,
It’s a good question and it made me think about my whole writing process. How do I chose what to write about? Here’s a little secret: When I am at a loss for a new topic for a book, I usually spend a few days of angst convinced that I have nothing left to say. Once I am over this big insecurity (and 99% of writers can relate to this), there are several things I do to get the ideas flowing. Here they are in order of preference, although at one time or another, all have worked for me.

    Put on my Ipod, without actually powering it up, and go out into the world to eavesdrop on people’s conversations. This is especially effective on buses, in cafes or other public places. People always assume that if one is wearing an MP3, their conversations will not and cannot be overheard. I’ve got tons of ideas this way. Best overheard sentence: “I can’t buy you a ring, but I can steal one. What’s your favourite stone?”
    Music. For some reason, the louder the better. I don’t use my Ipod for this. I’d be stone deaf. Instead I turn up my speakers to maximum and I dance and I sing like a fool. This unblocks me and the ideas flow.
    The beach. I love the beach. If it’s a warmish day (I hate being cold), I hop on my bike and go to the beach. It’s about ten blocks from my house — downhill all the way — which means the return trip is brutal, but worth it. Stuff happens at the beach all the time. Once I rescued a duck from the beak of an American Eagle. Well, I didn’t really rescue it. The duck weighed too much for the eagle to carry while flying, so he literally dropped it at my feet. It was a Surf Scooter and did survive its ordeal.
    Freewriting. Every author worth his or her salt knows the benefits of freewriting. I do this on a regular basis and it has never failed me yet.

Once I have a few ideas, I ponder them. Eventually the creme rises to the top and I go with the idea that most appeals to me. Sometimes I worry that I am a bit focuses on the darker side of life, but I am interested in struggle so that’s what I usually write about. In the beginning, I did try to write as per guidelines — happy stories, adventure stories, romance stories… but I was a complete failure.

So, that is a long-winded answer to a great question. Thanks.

The Beach

The Beach

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Earth Day – What Can You Do?

Every day is “Earth Day,” around our household. We do loads of things to encourage a healthy environment. People often ask me “What can I do?”

Here’s a simple thing: We all have old electronics lying around: TVs, monitors, desktop computers, notebooks, faxes and printers. Too often, when I am walking the lanes of my neighbourhood on garbage day, I see these items in the pile of garbage waiting to be picked up.

Instead of chucking your old electronics, why not recycle them? Vancouver has electronic recycling depots, where you can drop your scrap free of charge, as do most cities in Canada. Some of the depots even offer pick up.

So, don’t throw it out — recycle it and Happy Earth Day.

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Young Authors Conference – Williams Lake, April 27/28/09

On April 27th, I will be running a workshop for the Third Annual Young Authors’ Conference in Williams Lake. The next day I will be work-shopping in Nesika Elementary School, also in Williams Lake. I have a love for the Cariboo-Chilcotin – my daughter, Jennifer was born in Hundred Mile House, so I am excited to spend time in one of our provinces most beautiful regions.

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Do Everything You Can to Protect British Columbia Bears

Once again, the trophy hunt is on and the bears in the Great Bear Rainforest are at a terrible risk. Tonight on Global TV News, this video will be aired this video featuring Deepak Chopra.

Tell your friends and family to watch it, or direct them to the link if they’d prefer to view online.

British Columbians go to the polls on May 12th. This is a great time for you to let leaders and potential leaders of our province know your opinions on trophy hunting. The provincial liberals have done little to protect our magnificent bears — let them know how you feel while they are in a position where they have to listen.

Together we can change the world.

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Studies in Motion — Eadweard Muybridge

In what seems a lifetime ago, but is actually only two weeks, I went to see the Electric Company’s Studies in Motion — The Hauntings of Eadweard Muybridge at the Vancouver Playhouse. I went with my daughter and my mother-in-law — the former in her twenties and the latter almost eighty-years old. I fall somewhere between on the age spectrum. It is a rare thing when a live performance, a movie or a piece of music appeals to all age groups, but Studies in Motion achieved this with ease. All three of us left the theatre with the same sense we get when we finish a great book: “Why did it have to end so soon?”

My daughter said, “Mum, of all of the plays we’ve been to, that was by far the very, very best.” I couldn’t agree more.

In the last fourteen days, I’ve lost two friends — one to breast cancer and the other to a violent and unfathomable attack in Pacific Spirit Park. Up until today, I have felt too numbed by shock to open my computer, but on this Easter Monday with the sun pouring through my front window and the plant world springing to life in my garden, I once again feel the urge to tentatively share my thoughts with all of you — my mostly unknown blog followers.

I am not a professional theatre critic. I have no idea what makes a live performance good, bad or even exceptional. I judge my experience on whether or not I am completely engrossed on what is being presented before me, or if I can’t wait for intermission and the next chocolate almond and Pinot Grigio. Yeah — I know, not too sophisticated, but there you have it. So what was it, I ask myself, that made Studies in Motion so memorable and enjoyable? The incredible dancing? The set? The lighting? The acting? Of course, all of those, but for me, I think it was the idea that it is the small moments in life that, when connected, make for the overall experience. It is these small moments; the smile of a friend, the hands held, the experiences shared, the laughter and the tears that, when added up, become the fabric of a relationship.

Muybridge, in his brilliance and in a very clinical and scientific manner, looked at motion as a whole, for example a horse galloping or a woman walking, and then broke that movement down into separate parts of the whole. When I look back on my experiences with the people I have lost over time, I realize that it was the small things, the often overlooked things, that I will miss the most. I will not think, “she was a great athlete, or “he was a great actor,” or “she wrote beautifully,” rather I remember the little things — the quick smile, the encouragement, the whispered asides, the shared jokes and all the other almost imperceptible signals and actions that create a shared understanding between two human beings. That shared understanding is called friendship. It is the most precious thing we can ever have.

i re-read this and think that perhaps I am a bit premature in getting back to the keyboard. Perhaps, but I don’t care. My world will continue to be mixed up for a while longer and that is the way it goes. So, I will put down in words what we all know, but what we sometimes need to be reminded of: Cherish those fleeting moments. Tell your friends, your family, your pet that you love them. You don’t have to do it in words. It can be a simple motion — a hug, a smile, a hand extended. It doesn’t matter how many muscles you use to raise your lips or nod your head — but it is interesting to note that it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile.

For those of you who would like to learn a little more about Studies in Motion, I refer you to the photographer Alex Waterhouse-Hayward’s blog. He has posted a much more concrete review of this play. Better yet, go and see it yourself. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

I’m off to emote 🙂
Julie

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Emerging Writer Awards — Call for Entries

‘The Emerging Writer Awards was established to honor the best undiscovered writers in the English language.

Whether it’s poetry, short stories, literary fiction or unpublished novels, we want to help you step out from behind the shadows.

Submit Your Manuscripts for the 2009 Emerging Writer Awards NOW!

Thanks to suite101 writer Alicia King for bringing this to my attention.

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Associate Editor Position — Vancouver

Suite101.com is looking for an Associate Editor. Interested candidates should visit our careers page here.

Applications by email only and candidate must be Vancouver based.

Visit suite101.com for the latest book reviews and literary news, as well as helpful writing tips and more.

As editor of Reading and Lit as well as Writing and Publishing, I am very proud of my multi-talented writers. Check out their amazing articles and you will see what I mean.

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