Category Archives: Uncategorized

To Capture the Moon –

apr_7_2012_moon8
We had a gorgeous full moon last night, and in honour of it and the thoughts the moon always triggers in me, here is today’s Déjà vu Thursday. Enjoy, and good luck in your own attempts to capture the moon, or whatever else you’re seeking. :)
- – – – – – – – – – – – –

The yellowed-ivory moon rose over the snow topped mountains in the near distance. Huge bellied and magnificent, she sat heavy in the periwinkle sky of the early spring evening, queen of all she surveyed. And I, a peasant beneath her, awed by her visage and her serene scrutiny, deserted my leaf-raking and flowerbed cleaning and ran for a camera—completely taken in: this was the night I’d capture the moon.

I fetched my camera, and . . .

Completely failed in my quest. I have seen gorgeous photographs of the moon. The people who take them are magicians. Or perhaps they too think, You call this image beautiful, breathtaking, magical? No, you should have seen the moon that night. I didn’t even come close.

I know in seeking that illusive picture of the moon, concepts (magic spells!) like aperture, ISO, and EV 1 or 2 units come into play, along with tools like telephoto lenses, tripods, and the like. I have heard that I can master them. And perhaps I will. Strive. Try.

My first pronouncement—“completely failed”—softened under her encouraging glow as the night darkened around her. I emerged instead with a lesson, applicable to my writing and so many other parts of my life. The attempt is the joy, is the success, is the purpose. The moon will never be captured fully, but she can be suggested, alluded to, conjured, imagined, dreamt. . . .

And as if to affirm that truth, I discovered that two of the twenty or so shots I took turned out . . . not bad. Though nowhere close to how beautiful the moon actually was on April 6, or how she overtook the horizon and my imagination, I hope they hint. . . .

So the aftermath of my night’s chase? Most often with words, but sometimes using picture, paint or other, I’ll keep seeking to express the beauty and mysteries that sometimes surprise us in the day or wait and appear only fleetingly at night. And most often I’ll miss the mark, not accomplish what I’m shooting for, but that’s okay. I accept the quest. I revel in it. I delight in it. And who knows? Sometimes I might come . . . close.


Lessons From Bubble Pop

Lessons From Bubble Pop.


Spring Stinks

"Early Spring Daze" - Photo by Ev Bishop

“Early Spring Daze” – Photo by Ev Bishop

Spring stinks. No, seriously, it does. All the dead plant life from fall, frozen all winter, finally thawed and rotting. The sopping wet fields and lawns release an icky, sweet, almost manure-like scent as organisms in the dirt decompose. But it’s a stench I love. It smells like possibility.

Like, regardless of whether my new year’s resolutions have already fallen by the wayside or whether I’m already behind in my yearly goals whatever they may be, it’s okay because it’s spring. Time for new growth. For planting. For milder weather and easier times.

And this year, thanks to our gentle winter, the promise of spring has come earlier than usual. (And I say this despite the fact that as I write this, snowflakes as big as my fist are falling from the sky. That’s the kind of optimism spring brings! The kind that makes me smile at the crazy, cold sky and say with great confidence, “Oh, it’s okay. It’s not ‘staying’ snow.”)

I think everyone feels it—or I hope they do: a rush of hopefulness and happiness as plans about what they want to do in the warmer months in beautiful Terrace unfurl in their minds.

I’ve been poking about my perennial beds with glee. Things are going to take off early this year—but not too early. (Nothing’s so developed that I’m worried everything will be killed if we have a late cold snap). I’ve noted that I need a new roof and my house is desperate for a paint job. (The past four or five years it was just in want of a paint job. The desperation is new.) I even contemplated an old-fashioned spring-cleaning as I looked at my walls, but thankfully came to my senses. There’s no need to get too crazy now.

But whether the walls get scrubbed or not, spring always feels like it harkens a new season of industry, one where I’ll get to all my chores—and enjoy doing so.

And this year spring is more exciting than ever because I feel like thrilling new growth abounds beyond my own yard, small gardens and personal aims. Wherever I venture in town, development is afoot.

After years where it seemed like our shops and merchants were just struggling to hold on and keep the rent paid, parking lots are filled with cars. Long empty retail spaces are filling up. And the Skeena Mall . . . well, holy Toledo, it actually looks like a mall. Maybe it’s weird to be grateful to contractors you’ve never met, but every time I look at the lovely Skeena Mall logo with its swirl of green pine, that’s what I feel.

And equally weirdly, I’m thrilled by the big signs on the corners of the mall parking lot that will one day advertise the stores that fill the mall. Finally! I never understood why mall merchants weren’t permitted to have outdoor signs. Kudos to those who enabled the change.

New restaurants have opened up and will hopefully thrive, including our very own sushi bar. Shops and companies that started out small are expanding, buying or renting bigger office spaces, building new, larger shops. Oh, Terrace, after years of dormancy, we’re growing again!

Spring. It’s the perfect time to muck in the mud, figuratively and literally—but it’s also a great time to clean up and go walk about and window shop (and also to shop shop!). In winter, we (or, at least, I) tend to bundle up and run from one place to the next on a mission to do whatever I need to do quickly. In spring, it’s time to meander and daydream.

I hope whatever you’re up to this spring finds you inspired and motivated—and that when you smell that hint of stink under the sweet fresh breeze that’s soon to bring us warmer days, you’re filled with a sense of anticipation and promise. On small and big scales, in personal and public matters, it’s going to be a great growing season.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

“Spring Stinks” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, February 27, 2013 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”


Moving Day . . .

As much as I adore *Wordpress (and I do, I really do! :D), I’ve decided to act on a long contemplated decision: I am moving my blog, Write Here, Write Now, to my main website evbishop.com.

It’s labelled, cleverly, “Blog” in the menu bar, or you can just click and find it here.

Please follow me over there because I’ll really miss you if you don’t. There’s a sticky post at the top of the page where you can sign up to subscribe to Write Here, Write Now by e-mail . . . or (top corner of screen) you can set it up as a RSS feed to wherever you best like to read the blogs you follow.

I won’t be updating this site anymore, but I’ll leave it active for awhile so that if you don’t happen by super regularly, you’ll hopefully still find me.

Thanks!

Happy reading, writing, and whatevering,
:) Ev

p.s. The whole of this blog has been exported to its new home already, and if you’re thinking of a similar amalgamation of your blog and website, but are worried because it sounds difficult, let me put you at ease. It’s really easy! You should totally do it. Think of all the time you’ll save (that you can dedicate to writing!) by only maintaining one website.

*Fortunately my blog is CMC WordPress template, so I won’t be in withdrawal or anything.


It’s all Rock ‘n’ Roll to me

This weekend, I’m going on an Artist Studio Tour. I’m sure I’ll find ideas about things I can do with my own creative space, but my real goal is to soak in others’ inspiration and water and renew my crazy inner word and thought garden.

I’ll try to share some of my impressions next week, but in the meantime I’ll leave you with this week’s déjà vu: some of my previous ponderings on other artistic forms and their affect/influence on my writing.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

My daughter has started painting. She also takes a lot of photos (digital and old school 35mm). Lately, I’ve been struck by the contrast between her two arts—and how those differences relate to writing.

Photographers strive to capture images of what’s already visible in the world and focus in on it, with the goal of revealing what exists—what is tangible, what is right there in front of us—in a new way, making people see.

And, of course, most artists wielding a camera hope to make us feel—to invoke peace, hope, or joy showing the lovely things that exist all around us. To stir up empathy or make us angry (thus, hopefully, motivated to do something about whatever issue riled us up). To kindle awe or understanding about the world around us. To make us laugh. To make us cry. But they attempt to do that by showing us what already exists.

Painters, or the ones whose work I relate to most anyway, seem to approach their work the opposite way. They start with reaction (emotion) triggered by something real and try to express how feeling looks. The results on the canvas may be realistic and identifiable—a brook, a tree, a face . . . but they just as easily might be abstract colours and shapes and form, or some combination thereof. The final piece creates something real, yet isn’t fact-based or often a literal representation.

For me, those visual processes are close cousins to writing—non-fiction is like photography. I write about what really exists, for a variety of reasons—to create a record, to encourage, to challenge, to entertain, to inform. . . .

In fiction, I start with an idea or emotion or question and explore it through story—sometimes realistic, sometimes absolutely fantastic. Every time, with the hope of stirring the fears, concerns, rages—and the dreams, worries, and hopes—of the reader. I’m not concerned with the factual at all.

Whether the setting is a modern high school classroom, the moon, or a castle in a land of fairies, what I want is for people to feel—to recognise that emotional truths exist separate from literal events, times and places. After all, there’s something surreal about being human—there’s our physical reality, but then again, something so, so much more than that, in which we live and move and have our being.

Poetry and music are like what mixed-media is to visual arts—seeking to express what almost defies expression, to give substance to what is invisible yet is also somehow the crux of existence. Oxygen to plant life.

I read a comment on a blog recently that said that “real” writers don’t write blogs. (The irony that the comment was made on a blog, by a writer made me smile—and in a large part helped fuel this slightly odd post. As much as I see differences within the forms, mostly I see connections and related pathways between all modes of artistic and creative output. I’m not sure there’s any definitive definition for a writer—except that he or she writes. And although it’s interesting and fun (perhaps even helpful, occasionally) to wax poetic on the purpose and function of various forms of writing, I don’t know if it really matters how or why or what a person writes.


Sex, violence, morality and other Scintillating-somewhat-scary stuff . . .

Déjà vu Thursday – In light of my last post, I thought I share one in a similar vein, written way back on October 12, 2009. Enjoy and as ever, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

I spent a lovely morning reading and contemplating various writing blogs. Kathy Chung (of Kathy – Rambling—a new blog I will now frequent) wrote about questions of morality that she’s been pondering because of one of her characters.

Joseph Grinton (Writing about modern romance), also newly frequented by me, had thought-provoking words in How To Write Sex Scenes.

I didn’t come across a blog post that opined on how much detail should be given in depicting violent acts, or discussed how to write violent scenes realistically, or tackled realism versus gratuity, but somehow (and not just because I think Sex, Violence and Morality makes a grabbing title) the three things seemed linked in my mind. Writing about them (and similar high-octane subjects) demands a certain bravery.

In the early days of my fiction, I realized that I was guilty of writing in the same manner that I watched scary movies as a kid. Scary music cues something Awful about to happen—swoop, blanket over my eyes. Smack, hands over my ears to tune out screaming and howling . . . I’d actually ask, “Is it over yet?” and wait for confirmation that the most horrible bits had passed before I’d peek again.

In writing that avoidance technique looked like this: Write a hook or some great invocative scene that foreshadows emotional or physical (or better, both at once) danger to character. Insert # # # to show that time has elapsed. New scene starts immediately after Event deemed too violent, too sexy, too something-scary to delve into comfortably. Often, since the reader needed to have some knowledge of the ordeal, I would do some sort of recounting, usually in the form of a conversation between the sufferer of the atrocity and his/her close friend.

“I can’t believe you went through that.”

“I can’t believe it either. I thought I would die when Joe pulled that knife on me and proceeded to—”

“It must’ve been even more terrifying because it probably triggered childhood memories of watching your own mom be killed in front of you . . . ”

“It did—but I managed to summon the will to fight, because I pictured my own daughter Macy’s little innocent face—I want her to grow up strong, to not feel like being a victim is inevitable the way I always did . . . ”

(Okay, please, please note, my writing was never really that bad—or Gah, I hope it wasn’t! But if a person avoids showing events as they happen, unnatural, stilted summary scenes become necessary—and if you’re even thinking, “My summary scenes aren’t stilted. They’re graceful and elegant,” go slap yourself and delete/rewrite the scene!)

I’m still working through what I feel is a good balance between portraying life as it is really experienced and what is too much—a completely subjective line, I realize. And I still battle with self-consciousness and worry. What will people think of me when they see the things that make up my head? What will people close to me say if my stories don’t line up with their ideas of morality? GAH—I write sex scenes and have children who read—awkward! I keep returning to the fact that to avoid writing something because it makes me (or someone else) uncomfortable is stupid and goes against the very reasons I write: to explore the world I live in, to figure out what I think, to yell into space: I am here, trying to figure things out . . . And in the end, if I offend or make someone close to me feel awkward? Well, they don’t have to read me.

So how about you? Are there topics you “don’t go”? What scenes are (were) your Kryptonite? Have you found ways to overcome your inhibitions? Should writers even try to overcome a shyness? Maybe some boundaries are good things . . .


My Grandma Nora . . .

My grandma died on Saturday and it doesn’t feel real. She was such a feisty, spirited person—I can’t quite believe she’s gone. She always seemed indomitable and maybe that’s the hardest thing about death, no matter how unlikely it seems to us, it always comes.

Talking to my little sister about it on Sunday, she said something to the effect of in some ways she’ll always be here with us and I very ungraciously blurted, “No, it’s not the same.” I hope Ellie (named after our Grandma Nora—both “Eleanora”s) forgives me. I’m a terrible person to grieve with—like an injured dog or something, snappish and horrible, best left in a cave until the worst passes. And I know my sister is right: our grandmother left an amazing legacy. I just wish she hadn’t left.

Something else wise that Ellie said (that I think/hope I was a bit more reasonable about) was that she always felt special to Grandma, that she (our grandmother) had always had one-on-one time for her. I felt the same way. And maybe that’s not something spectacular to most people, but we come from large, busy family (immediate and extended). My Grandma had ten of her own kids and most them married and went on to have two – seven kids each. I don’t know how she managed she managed to keep up a personal, meaningful relationship with each of her grandkids, but she did.

She was famous for a very strong, brisk hug. There was no soft, namby-pamby half-hearted pat, pat—you were grabbed and squeezed hard. It was very lovely and grounding. You mattered to her and she concentrated on you.

She never lost her Dutch accent and my name (Evelene) never sounded the same off of anyone else’s tongue. She was always self-conscious about the way she talked and her way of speaking and writing English (which was ridiculous, because she was adept at both), but it made me think how in some ways we always, maybe, feel our differences rather than our similarities.

She had a very sharp tongue and wit and temper (though I think us grandkids were spared the temper in a way, perhaps, her own children/husband weren’t), but she was also warm-hearted and generous, massively sentimental and given to misting up over happy and sad moments in equal measure. She was also incredibly practical.

I have written about her before and no doubt will again soon, but for right now, I just wanted to say I already miss her. I believe she is in a better place, free from pain now, quite likely, as my son says, playing Scrabble with my grandpa and visiting two of her daughters who died too young—but I am very sad she’s gone.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

About the picture: A few summers ago, I showed up to my cousin’s wedding to find out that my Grandma and I had bought and worn the same outfit even though we lived in different towns. She thought I might be embarrassed, but it was totally the opposite.

“Great minds and all that,” I said, which made her laugh and say something about not knowing about that, but okay, okay . . .


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . .

Well, here we are with only one more sleep ’til Christmas 2010. It came extra quickly this year didn’t it?

As some of you know, I’m working on unique-for-me type of story this December—a Christmas themed romance. I thought I’d just a tiny snippet from Candice’s Christmas prep, though admittedly, if you’re hitting the stores today (as I will be after work for just a few things), you’re probably going to be in a busier place than even she finds herself. ;)

The line up at the till was twelve heaping buggies deep, but the two express lanes were worse, with twenty people or more each looking like they’d taken “fifteen items” as a minimum suggestion not a rule, so Candice stayed where she was. The last Friday just before Christmas—what a stupid time to hit a grocery store!

As she stood waiting with her small basket of milk, eggs, bread, and frozen pizza—meant to hold them over to her “real” shop later in the weekend—she perused the droves of people milling about, shopping, laughing, fretting. It was kind of nice to stand still. A waste of time, obviously, when she had so many things to do, but kind of an enforced break all the same. She sipped the Eggnog Latte she’d splurged on and felt quite decadent as she played a game she hadn’t in a long while. Who was that person, what did they do, how were they feeling?

What I like about the scene (that will no doubt change immensely as it’s first draft stuff) is that even feeling stressed and cranky, Candice finds a few seconds of calm inside herself and even daydreams a bit. And that’s my wish for you this Christmas—not that you’ll be stressed or cranky at all, but that you’ll find some time to sneak away—whether you’re in a crowded place or not—to observe and ponder and feel just a bit decadent as you do so.

Merry Christmas!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,199 other followers

%d bloggers like this: