Wishing you . . . chutzpah!

Happy New YearWhew, another year is almost behind us. Crazy. It feels like a week at most since I last sat down with my Year-At-A-Glance calendar and laid out what I wanted to accomplish in 2015, complete with a symbol key—but it’s time to do it again. And time to nag you to follow my lead, regarding whatever it is you want to do this year. Lucky you!
 
I was talking to someone recently about my writing life. She commented on my “dedication” and “organization”—and added, “You are so disciplined.” Even reflecting on her words makes me want to duck my head and deflect the compliment. Dedicated and organized? Who me? Nah. Disciplined—ahahahahahahaha—good one.
 
Except that it’s time—maybe past time, actually—that I face up to and accept this part of myself. I am dedicated to things I want to achieve and I love to work. I derive huge amounts of joy and satisfaction from what I do (whenever I’m not simultaneously overwhelmed by neuroses and insecurity, that is!), and I believe that whenever possible we should pursue those things in life that make us uniquely us and make us happy.
 
I used to worry this was selfish of me—but now I don’t believe it is. I’ve spent a lot of time around deeply unhappy people and . . . it’s sad and awful and takes years to recover from. Hopefully, I’m modeling something worthwhile to my children and miscellaneous other people. You don’t have to live between the lines drawn by other people; you can create your own.
 
And you don’t have to fly off the rails, quit your job and move to Mexico either. It really only takes small changes to start working on the secret dreams and passions that burn in your belly.
 
The person also asked if I had any tips or “secrets” about accomplishing what I set out to. I do, in fact. Three of them—and they’re all you’ll ever need. (Well, plus a magic feather, but those are more difficult to come by.)
 
1) Permission. If you need a formal okay, look no further: I give you permission. In fact, I insist. Take that class, do that practice, write those words, join that club, plan that new business venture, do that thing, whatever it is. And don’t worry about what your spouse, parents, kids, or friends think. Even if they’re resistant or resentful at first, they need you to be your most authentic self, too. They just don’t realize it yet. **Note: This permission bit is a trick. You really only need permission from yourself. Stop being so mean. Give it to yourself now.**
 
2) A 15-minute commitment at least three times a week. You can find fifteen minutes per day, no matter how busy you are. Yes, you can. (And if you won’t, you have to ask yourself if it’s really something you want to do or if it’s an old dream that you need to replace. It’s fine if it’s the latter. Don’t beat yourself up over changed goals. Embrace something new!)  

3) Resiliency, or as my parents used to call it, bullheadedness. Someone, or a lot of people, will say you’re wasting your time or kidding yourself. Worse, your own fears, insecurities, and guilt complexes are going to try to shut you down. Don’t give in. Practice, run, write, draw, sing, play through it. Resistance is the strongest and the negative voices are the loudest before you start for the day. Once you settle into your task, they’ll shut up and slink off until next time.
 
That’s it. No magic—but honestly, you don’t need magic. You just need desire, stubbornness, and the knowledge, hard as it is, that no one else cares if you do the thing you really want to do. Only you do. It’s not because they’re awful or because they don’t love or understand you. . . . It’s because some things are purely personal; no one else can truly know what you need to do. It’s up to you. Do it. 

Wishing you a wonderful New Year full of daydreams that shape reality, steps that become a path, and enough chutzpah that folks around say, Wow, what’s got into you?
 
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“Wishing you . . . chutzpah!” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, December 30, 2015 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”
goals for 2016

In the Shadow of the Mountain

Hello, all!

Just a short post today. This past Friday I had the delightful fun of taking part in a live radio interview with the wonderful and talented Sheila Peters. I was sooo nervous beforehand, but once we started talking it felt just like having coffee with a kindred spirit, discussing my favorite things. I could’ve gone on much longer–not that that surprises any of you!

I’d be honored if you poured yourself a warm (or warming!) beverage and had a listen. I hope you enjoy it, if you do! The podcast version is here: Ev on Sheila Peter’s “In the Shadow of the Mountain.”

Have a wonderful weekend,

:) Ev

Gorgeous Hudson Bay Mountain, casting the shadow the radio show is named for. :) Photo by Major James Skitt Matthews. Click the image for more info.

Gorgeous Hudson Bay Mountain, casting the shadow the radio show is named for. Photo by Major James Skitt Matthews. Click the image for more info.

April is national poetry month – thoughts and a workshop

April is national poetry month and since poetry has always been a great help and boon to me emotionally, I celebrate it.

When I was twelve or thirteen or so, I discovered Zibby Oneal’s novel A Formal Feeling, a title borrowed from the first line in an Emily Dickinson poem that goes by the same name and casts light on the story’s themes. (It’s a wonderful book, by the way. I highly recommend it to YA readers, young and old . . . I mean, er, older. :D)

After great pain, a formal feeling comes—
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs—
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?

The Feet, mechanical, go round—
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought—
A Wooden way
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone—

This is the Hour of Lead—
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow—
First—Chill—then Stupor—then the letting go—

– Emily Dickinson

My dad had a love for Irish poetry and songs and old English verse, plus I was a fan of Robert Louis Stevenson’s verses for children, but Emily’s “A Formal Feeling” was the first poem (that I remember anyway) to strike a chord of recognition deep within me. By then I was already acquainted with sorrow—and for me, her words captured a truth that was difficult to put into words. She conveyed what sadness felt like and expressed a process I was learning.

I don’t know how many times I reread the poem as a teenager (or have done so as an adult), but it continues to be one my favourites.

Another piece that meant more to me than I can probably explain without a lot of melodrama is “First Ice” by Andrei Voznesensky.

A girl freezes in a telephone booth.
In her draughty overcoat she hides
A face all smeared
In tears and lipstick.
She breathes on her thin palms. Her fingers are icy. She wears earrings.
She’ll have to go home alone, alone
Along the icy street.
First ice. It is the first time.
The first ice of telephone phrases.
Frozen tears glitter on her cheeks-
The first ice of human hurt.

I suspect you, having read it, know the phase of life I’d entered—first love, first heartbreak, yes . . . but I always felt the poem spoke to something bigger than one isolated break up. It was the disappointment that resonated with me: the girl, for the first time, recognizing that people weren’t always what they promised—and/or weren’t as honest or straight forward as she was.

I could share many, many more poems that influenced me or comforted me (or just made me laugh; not every poem I love is sad!), but I’ll spare you for now.

I suspect you have your own poems or songs (and what are lyrics if not poetry?) that, no matter how long ago you came across them, still have profound meaning to you. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that you’ve even penned a stanza or two (or more), whether you consider yourself a writer or poet or not. Most of us have. There’s something in the human spirit that yearns to give voice to the emotions that move us and the passions that make us us.

It’s definitely true for me. Despite all my affection for essays and letters and my love of fiction, when overcome by happiness—or weeping, wordless sadness or white-hot coiled rage—I turn to poetry to help me vent, express, or attempt to make muddled sense of my mad joy and intense pangs and desires. Perhaps you do, too? If yes, I’d love to hear about it. (Or better yet, share a poem you love—your own or someone else’s—here. Please!)

Now circling back to it being national poetry month—and my desire to celebrate it.

If you’ve written poetry before but stopped for some reason, or if you never have but would like to—or if you’re a prolific pro looking for ways to invigorate and refresh your muse, honour those stirrings. Join me and Joan Conway this Saturday (April 25th) for an afternoon of poetry exercises and inspiration.

Spring Stirrings

Reading at Prince Rupert Library, Thursday, April 16, 7:00 – I hope you can come!

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been invited to take part in some super fun events over the next few weeks: An author reading at the Prince Rupert Library, Spring Stirrings – a Poetry Workshop (that I’m co-facilitating with Joan Conway), and an Authors for Indie Bookstores event at Misty River Books. I’ll post full details for each in the days to come, so keep a kind eye out if you’re interested.

Kicking off the three, I’m calling for all Prince Rupert, B.C. readers and writers. The Prince Rupert Library has invited me to do a reading and question and answer session, Thursday, April 16 at 7:00 p.m. I’ll be focusing on BIGGER THINGS, but will also have copies of WEDDING BANDS on hand. It should be a fun, thought-provoking evening (and there are great door prizes, lol). I hope to meet you there!

P.S. Please like and/or share this post if you have friends or family in the Prince Rupert area–and if you have any questions, ask away. :)

Bigger Things Reading Poster PRINCE RUPERT

Celebrate BIGGER THINGS! (And please share. ;D)

Well, I’m freshly back from SiWC 2014 and it feels absolutely perfect to round off my wonderful conference experience and kick start new project enthusiasm with an official launch party for BIGGER THINGS.

I’m beyond touched that Misty River Books and The Terrace Public Library are throwing this event, and hope you’ll join me tomorrow night (Wednesday, October 29) at 7:00 p.m. at the Terrace Public Library. The more the merrier! It will be fun. :) Please spread the word.

Bigger Things Launch Party

Hello Pulp Literature 4 and SiWC 2014 road trip!

Pulp Literature 4It seems lovely and fitting that the day before I embark on a road trip (Yaaaaay, one of my favourite things!) that will culminate in my annual enjoyment of SiWC, I get a treat in the mail*: Issue 4 of PULP LITERATURE, a fantastic gem of a reading treasure and the brainchild of, you guessed it, a lovely group of author-editors who frequent the conference regularly.

As most of you know, I’m a huge fan of short stories (as I discuss here), and I’m super stoked about the work Pulp Literature brings into the world, the treat that it is for readers, and the way it supports and nurtures writers of short tales. I can’t recommend it enough, and to wish its creators and team of editors, designers, proof readers, etc. a very happy 1st Anniversary, I entreat you: please buy your own subscription, gift it to someone in your life who loves to read (or receive mail, lol), and/or support their Kickstarter initiative.

And while you do that, I’m outta here. I need to gas up my car, pick up a few things, and make sure I’ve stowed my latest Pulp Literature along with a myriad of other book-goodies for road trip reading.

I’ll be gone a few weeks, so until I’m back, happy reading and writing. May you enjoy a surplus of uninterrupted hours of book bliss!

Warm regards,
Ev

*And have I said before how much I like to receive things by post that aren’t bills? Yes, I believe I have, but seriously getting my copy of Pulp Lit every four months has been sooo fun. Totally makes the subscription price worth it. I haven’t been so stoked about mail since I was a member of the Columbia House Record club and would receive new rock cassettes every month. (Oops, my age is showing! :D)

Calling all Terrace and area writers!

I’m beyond excited to announce the birth of a new writing group, organized by the Terrace Public Library. It’s open to writers of every genre, form, and level of experience–from aspiring newbie to pro. Come out, make connections, grow in your craft, glean inspiration and motivation, WRITE. :) (First meeting is Wednesday, October 15th.) TPL_Terrace_Writers_TAB_1