Writing Rituals in the Wee Hours

I’ve read somewhere that Baroque music is supposed to stimulate creative brainwaves, and that’s all nice and very good. But what dials me into that beautiful frequency in my brain, where everything flows and the idea boxes fly open is, and will always be, Duran Duran. Their origami lyrics, synth arrangements, and cinematic music videos were synergetic with the creative machinery inside my head.

With the awarding of the Canada Council grant, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my writing self (and my writing rituals) these past 48 hours or so.

The years 1984 to 1992 were my most prolific and varied when it came to writing.  I would stay up late, drink litres of Diet Pepsi, and crank out short stories in single sittings. I won two national short fiction awards (1990 and 1992) in that era, actually. (Fun fact: CBC’s Duncan McCue, who was at King’s College at the time, won the poetry award one of those two years, and we were published side-by-side in Canadian Author and Bookman.)

I can no longer drink Diet Pepsi. It’s been more than six years and I miss it terribly even now. But I can still fire up the Duran Duran and immediately be in my creative happy place.

My favourite Duran Duran video isn’t, in fact, by Duran Duran; it’s by Arcadia, a side project from band members Simon LeBon, Nick Rhodes, and Roger Taylor in 1985. Arcadia’s one and only album has been called pure ear candy, and I couldn’t agree more. And it was so obvious that the boys were having fun — so much fun that Duranies were a bit afraid they might not come back.

Watch for the John Taylor cameo. It’s priceless.

An Ecstatic Announcement

Eleven years ago today, I stepped off a curb and into a crosswalk. I was hit by a car, bounced into a truck, and sustained a complex and serious brain injury that took years to settle to the point I could manage it, and by which I am still affected to this day.

This morning, eleven years to the day later, I learned that I will receive a $25,000 Canada Council for the Arts grant to write Crossing the Street — the memoir born in that life-changing moment. And this grant will, fittingly, be life-changing for me.

I am beyond grateful to the Canada Council for this opportunity and eager to focus on this project and see it to fruition. At a point in my life where I’m too functional to be disabled, and too dysfunctional to be “able”, there is no way I have been able to work on this book while trying to be employed AND manage my illness. This is the only way this book could possibly be written, and my emotions are still super-bouncing all over the place, landing on “gratitude” and “awe” most often.

For every person who sits on the side of the bed, trying to figure out what’s wrong, when they can’t put their pants on after their shoes, or hears the wrong words come out of their own mouth, or feels dizzy and nauseated at the grocery store because the lights, the sounds of the carts, and the number of colours and letters in the soup aisle are just Too Much At Once… This book is for you. This book is for the thousands of people who sustain traumatic brain injuries every year.

I am writing the book I wish someone could have handed to me and Doug eleven years ago, with the reassuring words, “No, Karen, you aren’t going crazy,” and “Doug, this is what the world looks like to Karen right now.”
Brain injury is something you don’t “get” until you get one. I’m going to show you what it’s like without you having to incur the pain.

Thank you to everyone who has been, and continues to be, in my corner. I’m going to make you proud.

And now, for the first time … drum roll please …

* I acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts! *

Writing Resolutions for 2022

Tonight, in TeachWrite’s Time to Write Zoom gathering, it was announced that the January Challenge was to post our 2022 Writing Resolutions, and that caused me to really think.

You know, I have been putting words down on paper since I was eight years old (Thank you, Mrs. Reece, for the encouragement!), and I don’t think I have ever made resolutions about my writing.

It’s about time that I did.

(Of course, when I went to load the photo, I noticed that I was so excited to write my “h’ — my favourite fauxligraphy letter — that I spelled “Twitch” wrong.  But one of my other resolutions is to cut back on my perfectionism, so — even though it KILLS me — I’m not redoing it!)

This year I am going to concentrate on my development as a professional writer, so a set of resolutions not only makes sense, but is practically a necessity.  I am glad that someone poked me to do it.

What about you?  What are your writing resolutions for 2022?



This post was created as part of Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Challenge

You can view other writers’ contributions via the comments here.