Have you ever heard of the Honest Scrap Award? I hadn’t. A writing friend, Kevin Craig, recently chose me as one of his three pay-it-forward Honest Scrap Award recipients. Which means that at the end of this blog, I get to choose three more bloggers for the same award. Stay tuned!
The award is for ‘bloggers who post from the heart’ (the award criteria is at the bottom of this post). I’m generally a pretty private person, and also a infrequent (lazy) blogger, so I’m a little surprised, but I’m going to try to do it justice. Thank you, Kevin! Ten honest things. Okay. Deep breath.
1. One of my favourite writing quotations: “I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something it can be judged” (Erica Jong). Maybe ‘favourite’ is the wrong word, but for me, this one rings true. I draft. I get feedback. I revise. Lather, rinse, repeat.
I’m never quite happy with anything I’ve written. I think that the only reason that I’ve published the books that I have is that they came with pre-established deadlines. Even before I started writing, I knew that they had to be submitted by a certain date, so I got them done. Otherwise, they probably would have been added to the ever-growing collection of manuscripts in my cupboard.
2. I’m terrified of snakes. My six-year-old daughter loves them, so I’ve learned to put up a good ‘Mommy’ front (yes, sweetie, he does have a pretty pattern, and isn’t that cool how he sheds his skin!). Still, deep inside my soul is cringing.
I remember being at a cottage with some friends, when we were in our early twenties. I was swimming when some guys on shore started shouting about a giant water snake near the rocks. I couldn’t make myself swim to shore, no matter how tired I got. I treaded water for so long that I was having trouble staying above the surface. And then my friend Janice put her feet in the water, and suddenly it was okay, because I wasn’t alone. (Janice, I adore you.)
3. I am embarrassed by how politically unaware I am, and yet I never do anything about it.
4. I don’t have a “bucket list”. Instead, I keep a sort of mental tally of things I’m really glad I got the chance to experience in my life. Hang gliding. Climbing a mountain. Visiting Greece. Swimming in the ocean and diving into giant waves. Marrying the right person and building a life together. And of course, that snake-loving six-year-old daughter that I mentioned. I think it makes more sense to do it this way, than to keep a list of wish-I-had’s. Certainly, it makes me happier.
5. My husband and I rejoice in our shared nerdiness. We love television shows with space ships: Stargate, Star Trek, Firefly, Defying Gravity, Doctor Who. Aaron has been known to refer to Sarah as the “infant Tau’ri”.
It sometimes limits my interaction with more mainstream humans. 😉 I was helping out at Brownie camp this weekend and the other moms and leaders brought gossip mags. “It’s not Guide camp without trashy magazines!” Huh. I never knew. Then there was an entire discussion that started with Celine Dion having twins and went on to include a lot of names that I didn’t recognize. I smiled and nodded and pretended I knew what they were talking about.
6. I am seriously thinking about having a cat flap installed in my office door. Honestly, Chloe. Not even your royal furry self needs to go in and out of this room three times in five minutes.
7. I get really, really crabby when I go too many days without writing. Also, I’m such an introvert that after a day of supply teaching, I usually want to curl up under my desk to unwind. I’m not (too) socially awkward; I can be friendly and presentable when required. But I really need a lot of space and quiet time to stay happy. I sometimes wish I were more of a people person, and envy my younger brother his incredible social skills.
8. It may not be healthy to have this much of an affinity for chocolate. And Cheesies. The crunchy kind.
9. I love my family. I have a lot of family. They’re incredible and wonderful and supportive, and even though we have our little family drama thingies sometimes, I still feel like I’m one of the luckiest people in the world to be connected to such an amazing group of people.
10. I’m glad I got cancer. I think it changed my life in good ways. Sometimes I’m scared it will come back, and there’s a lot of unpleasantness around the follow-up and all that, but… there’s a line in Lance Armstrong’s It’s Not About the Bike that I love. “You don’t know it yet, but we’re the lucky ones.” I truly believe that.
Of course, that’s easy to say, from this side of the fence. I remember that it wasn’t exactly a picnic at the time. And if we’re going for honesty here, I should probably own this: cancer blog. Still. I know that I do things differently, and look at things differently, because of what happened. And I’m glad I got that chance.
Okay. That’s me. Now I get to recommend three more blogs for this award.
The first is easy. I’ve mentioned my friend Cheryl Rainfield many times on this blog. If you haven’t yet visited her web site and blog to see all the wonderful writerly advice and book reviews and just plain honest sharing that she offers, you’re missing out. For example, she recently posted this video as a response to the It Gets Better campaign, aimed at offering support to gay and lesbian youth — or, I think, anyone who’s in a bad place and is thinking of committing suicide. She’s not afraid to be honest and share her story for the sake of helping others.
The second, Kathy Stinson, is another writer I’m lucky enough to know personally. On her blog, you’ll find information about the experience of being a writer and connecting with readers, about the process of writing, and about all things writer-related. She also comments on books she’s read and shares her thoughts on things happening in the world. Kathy is a thoughtful, caring person, and what she has to say is well worth reading. I especially liked her post on what gardening and writing have in common — although it didn’t convince me to take up gardening.
The third writer is someone I’ve met only online. Elizabeth S. Craig has wonderful advice to share for writers. I think I spend half my time on Twitter retweeting her. Not on purpose, but she always seems to find the good stuff. You need to visit her blog. Her posts usually have a lighthearted tone, but don’t let that fool you. There’s substance there; she’s very generous in sharing her own experience in the writing world. I’ve learned a lot from her.
So here are the links:
Cheryl Rainfield: cherylrainfield.com/blog/
Kathy Stinson: kathystinson.wordpress.com
Elizabeth S. Craig: mysterywritingismurder.blogspot.com
I also want to direct you to the blog of an illustrator I know. I’m not sure if illustrators fall into the “Ten Honest Things” guidelines, but I love the way Rina Rozsas posts picture of her work in progress. As someone who draws only stick figures, I’m fascinated by seeing the pictures emerge. And I certainly wouldn’t want to share my works in progress online, so kudos to Rina for having the courage to offer some insight into her creative process. Plus, hey, pretty pictures.
And here is the criteria for the award:
The Honest Scrap Award:
This award is about bloggers who post from their heart, who often times put their heart on display as they write from the depths of their soul. This means so much to me as that is the root reason of why and what I write about. I believe writing is your heart without a mask. My writing, whether it be a blog post, a poem, a piece of prose or a WIP is the truest part of my soul. To me writing is about honesty and truth-seeking. There is the saying that the pen is more powerful than the sword. I believe that writing is a way to challenge people and to speak often times for those who cannot speak.
Thank you, Kevin, for the award! It means a lot that you thought of me.
One final word of advice for the writers out there: Kevin Craig is the author of another of my favourite writerly quotations. This one was scrawled in chalk on the blackboard, in the midst of Muskoka Novel Marathon madness. “First draft ugly. No apron wringing.” It’s clear, it’s to the point, and it reminds me to get moving when I’m letting myself fuss over the small stuff too much. Sometimes you just need to get the story down, so you can fix it up later.
Anyone else have writerly advice to share?