Category Archives: Writing

On Retreat: Stealing a Moment

Yesterday marked the end of my annual writing retreat. I’m not actually home yet—that happens tomorrow. And whilst playing “Where in the World is KT Now?” is fun, I am looking forward to seeing my furry little weirdo.

But retreating went very well, thank you. Over the course of five writing days, I wrote five complete short stories. I also used the midweek “break day” to make a sizeable dent in my interactive fiction novel.

On the whole, I’m very pleased with my output. January/February were so consumed with long-form projects between the Beer Magic Novel and Six Stories – the 3D Adventure, it felt good to sink back into short fiction.

I’ve written before about what this retreat means to me: the camaraderie, the fellowship, the love. It’s also one of the most productive weeks in my year. Most of the short fiction I’ve sold has originated here. So that’s all great.

But I’d like to tell you about a particular moment I had. It was on the retreat’s final day. I finished up my story in the late afternoon, with plenty of time before our evening readings. So as per my wont, I hopped in the hot tub.

It was nearing the golden hour, sunlight spilling over the mountains. The sky was endless, cloudless blue; the woods rang with the singing of birds and frogs. I settled into the hot tub with a book. My beer rested beside me.

And sitting there—sated with finished stories, dear friends typing inside, spring unfolding across the mountains—I could think only:

Enjoy this now. It won’t always be like this.

You see, we hit the ground running hard once I get back. Then the deadlines return, and the worries, and the scrabbling. And it doesn’t ever really stop, that scratching and hunger.

But in that moment, there was only contentment. For the first time in a long time, it felt like I could take a breath—stealing a little moment amidst everything else going on.

They’re important, those pockets of peace. They give us a chance to rest and prepare for the next section of road ahead. I leave this retreat feeling so grateful.

Now the race begins again. But I’m ready, I’m rested. I hope you’ve got your peaceful waystations as well!


What I’m Listening To This Week

Another ballad! An encounter between troll-maiden and knight! I love seeing how some of the lyrics mesh with Old English cognates (“innan solen upprann” comes to mind). This was pretty much my main jam for one of my stories, alongside the “Rolandskvadet” of a few weeks previous!

Beer-Magic Playlist

So the big news this week is that I finished the Beer Magic novel. It was as exciting and exhausting as one might expect, and now my plate feels strikingly lighter. We also forged ahead with our callbacks for “Six Stories – the Neo-Wagnerian Opera.” Plus a whole host of various and sundry projects.

But Beer Magic. That’s the point of this post. It was such an odd novel for me to write. First off, it took a comparatively long time. I think I started midway through November? For me, three months is definitely on the lengthier side. Partly, there were more false starts than usual; this surviving draft was the fourth after a series of gut-and-revamps.

Beer Magic required some very important research.

And it’s very different than any other novel I’ve written, which probably contributed to the hesitation and self-doubt.

But hey, we’re done for now. At this point, it goes into the deep freeze (because ahahahaha March is nearly as busy as February). I’ll likely pull it out in April, take a whack through, and then send it to betas.

That’s the plan, anyway.

But one thing was consistent in this process! The Beer Magic novel had a pretty solid soundtrack, with a shortlist of songs that contributed in some way. Some helped me understand character; some set mood; some just made me want to work on this story.

So without further ado:

The Beer Magic Playlist!

Hunter (Heather Dale)

Dacw ‘Nghariad (Welsh Traditional)

The City (Ola Gjeilo)

Look What You Made Me Do (Taylor Swift)

The Reproaches (John Sanders)

Homecoming (Thomas Bergersen)

Together Again (Evanescence)

Once Upon a Dream (Lana del Rey)


I See Fire (The Hobbit, via Celtic Woman)

Three Ravens (English Traditional)

Stabat Mater – Introduction (Pergolesi)


An eclectic mix for an eclectic book! Warm fuzzy feelings abound at the moment…though I shan’t rest on my laurels for long. A writing retreat beckons!



What I’m Listening To This Week

This piece got me through the past-midnight marathon session that saw the novel nearly finished, particularly underpinning the climax. Another piece by Ola Gjeilo, I especially like the back-and-forth between the two upper voice parts. And Christina Rossetti poem is lovely, of course!

State of the KT

This was another hard week, at least in terms of my feeling like an effective human being. And so in lieu of a real post, here’s a quick State of the KT.

Six Stories, Doing Its Best: Rewrite’s trucking along, albeit with a tough knot to untie in the middle.

Apex Magazine Podcast: Both episodes recorded and scored, awaiting intro and show notes from me.

Auditions for Six Stories, Shouted by Day: The first round happened this past weekend, callbacks are this coming weekend. That is a blog post in itself, pals.

March Break Tomfoolery: DONE.

Beer Magic Novel: Currently sitting at 81k. Expecting this draft to hit 105k. Scrambling to finish before my Smoky Writers’ retreat.

Smoky Prep: I have gathered a collection of short story ideas and plots that will be interesting to explore through the week. I really want to do shorts again because I know if I don’t write them at Smoky, I likely cannot think about them until April.

Choice of Games: Removed from my February worrying. It’ll be tight, but I have a plan.


Mysterious Contract: Trucking along. In all honesty, it’s been a nice palate cleanser.

Gangway! Theatre Co. Shenanigans: I feel guilty that I’ve been less present than I would like, but Blythe seems fairly blithe about it all. (It’s funny, because it’s a pun.)

Henry Wallis, “Chatterton” (1856).

And so we go. It is entirely possible that I have bitten off more than I can chew, and as I’m looking at the calendar…the Mysterious Contract wraps just after Easter. I think I shall take the week between that and dayjobbery resuming to have a real, long, actual rest.



What I’m Listening To This Week

I like Ralph Vaughan Williams’ work. He went around collecting and adapting folksongs from around the British Isles – some of his output is sacred, some secular. This is a secular piece, one of those classic “I will love you until the seas boil and the rocks melt” kind of songs. But it is very soothing and lilting and lovely.

Tending my Garden

The Imposter Syndrome was hitting hard this past week. Hard enough that I didn’t particularly want to blog anything. But I had an affirming chat with my dear friend Aly Grauer and also I have an epic-beyond-epic song for “What I’m Listening to this Week,” and so here we are.

It occurs to me that Imposter Syndrome strikes me when I’m at my most tired and stressed. It’s like all the little soldiers on my mental ramparts drop off, their guard slips, and then the Anxiety-Dragons swarm my castle walls.

“Alexander Battling Beasts and Dragons,” from the “Historia de Alejandro Magno.” (15th c.)

However, one must carry on, Imposter Syndrome or no. I’m increasingly recognizing the need to protect myself, to stop the mental guards from slipping in the first place. Sometimes, that means Getting Sufficient Sleep, or Cooking Large Batches of Food to Freeze So I Always Have Something Healthy to Hand, or Taking a Daily Constitutional.

But more, I think I need quiet right now. For me, self-protection is really about protecting the inner life. I keep thinking of a garden surrounded by castle walls.

It’s is an interesting image to play with. Cultivating, growing, but also some solitude, a respite from the chaos of the outside world. For likely related reasons, I’ve also been musing on the idea of hermits. Also, the Lady of Shalott. And monasteries. Anything withdrawn from the world, anything where the focus turns inward to process and mission.

“I am Half-Sick of Shadows, said the Lady of Shalott,” by John William Waterhouse (1916).

When certain images and preoccupations keep emerging like this, I think it’s important that we listen. The subconscious communicates its needs in peculiar ways, after all.

I think I’m a bit tired.

I think I need to focus on my work.

I think I need to return to the roots of my own practice. It feels like a lot of deadwood has sprung up around my art and craft. By tending to my own little garden, I hope to clear some of it away.

Semi-intentional echoes of Voltaire, here—let us cultivate our garden. I’m also hearing the inscription above the chapel at my church—come ye apart and rest a while.

It all sounds like terribly good advice. And so, I’m trying it. Working hard, yes, but tending my garden all the while. After all, my annual writing retreat is coming soon: I want to be as well-prepared as possible.


What I’m Listening to this Week

This song comes courtesy of my friend Fiona, who said, “Would you like to hear the Ballad of Roland in Norwegian???”

To which I responded, “HECK YES.”

So here it is. It is an incredible piece: driving and epic, with some amazing harmonies. However, my favourite part is the soaring soprano line around 1:18, and again at 1:52. As Fiona pointed out, the line essentially takes on the role of Roland’s oliphant.

I can’t get enough of it!




Catching Comets: Ursula K. Le Guin

I was getting ready to go out when the news of Ursula K. Le Guin’s passing broke across my Twitter. An odd little noise slipped my mouth—somewhere between an “Oh!” and a gasp. Then I burst into tears.

I rarely cry at public figures’ deaths. (The Queen is an exception—I guarantee you, I will cry when the Queen goes to her rest.) But Ursula K. Le Guin is different. She isn’t just a “public figure,” or even just “an American novelist.” She was one of the greats: a lodestar around which to orient.

Over the past week, many people have written many touching tributes. I can really only flail and sputter, “But—but—but—Le Guin!” But I’d like to point out something interesting about this whole writing thing.

You can apprentice with any damn writer you like. Putting your words—your brain-stuff—into print creates a certain kind of immortality. And if you’ve got an author’s words, you can learn from them. In an odd, beautiful way, we can dialogue with the dead.

“Gossip,” by George Agnew Reid (1888). (

This is what people mean when they ask, “So who are your influences?” Who shaped you, who spoke to you, who made your heart sing, who taught you?

Who are you arguing with?

Who are you writing back to?

Who do you secretly (or not-so-secretly) want to impress? To connect with?

Over time, I think, we build an inner gallery of teachers. Sometimes, we’ve actually worked with them (I have internalized several Stonecoast mentors’ voices—hi, Jim!).

But sometimes, we’ve come to know them through their words alone. I never met Le Guin. In the back of my head, I maybe hoped we’d one time stand in the same room, but it seemed kind of like hoping to catch a comet.

So I read her fiction and loved her fiction. It made me look at things differently and re-evaluate not only my writing, but my life, my baseline assumptions about the world’s workings. Like all good teachers, she challenged and prodded and pushed me further than I thought we’d go.

But beyond her fiction—it was this particular book.

The Language of the Night is a collection of essays about science fiction and fantasy, theory and craft. It is one of my personal Foundation Texts, underpinning the way I understand fantasy.

Consider this:

Now, the kind of writing I am attacking, the Poughkeepsie style of fantasy…is a fake plainness. It is not really simple, but flat. It is not really clear, but inexact. Its directness is specious. Its sensory cues—extremely important in imaginative writing—are vague and generalized; the rocks, the wind, the trees are not there; are not felt; the scenery is cardboard, or plastic. The tone as a whole is profoundly inappropriate to the subject. (Le Guin, “From Elfland to Poughkeepsie.”)

Or this:

When the genuine myth rises into consciousness, that is always its message. You must change your life. (Le Guin, “Myth and Archetype in Science Fiction.”)

Or this:

For fantasy is true, of course. It isn’t factual, but it is true. Children know that. Adults know it too, and that is precisely why many of them are afraid of fantasy. They know that its truth challenges, even threatens, all that is false, all that is phony, unnecessary, and trivial in the life that they have let themselves be forced into living. They are afraid of dragons, because they are afraid of freedom. (Le Guin, “Why Are Americans Afraid Of Dragons?”)

You see it, right? In her essays, she’s doing precisely the same thing she did in her fiction. She is challenging us. She is pushing us past the solar system’s last orbit, into the vast wealth of interstellar space beyond; from the shallows to the open sea; to what feels comfortable to what is Truth.

She did that not just for us writers individually, but for the genre as a whole. She lifted speculative fiction to what it could and must be; the thing we were too timid to dream until she showed us how.

So now we’ve lost our lodestar. But we have her map, in the form of her words. There’s only one thing to do, really. Keep going. That’s what any teacher wants, in the end: for their students to drift free and explore past the edges of the map.

Thank you, Ursula K. Le Guin. You will always be our teacher.


What I’m Listening to This Week

I love Vivaldi, and I’m absolutely fascinated with this piece. The title’s a total spoiler, but I was researching female tenor/basses for reasons, and I can’t stop listening!




In the Swamp

I’m beat.

Alas, I think this is a state of being that’s likely to continue until at least the end of February. My secret is that I’m actually TERRIBLE at multitasking. However, I am excellent at pulling ridiculously long hours to get something done in three days, so that I can move along to the next task.

It’s not really cramming, because every project gets a very carefully appointed spot on the calendar. More like strategic slogging, I suppose. This month has mostly been eaten by the interactive fiction game, another Ontario Arts Council grant application, and the Six Stories, Told at Night stage adaptation (with some Apex Magazine podcastery thrown in there). Amidst all this, I keep poking at the novel because the constantly-breaking momentum is wrong-footing me.

This isn’t how I like to write novels. I like to write them over intense bursts that last four-to-eight weeks. Back in December, I was hoping to finish Beer Magic by the end of January, but it looks like I may finish it during my February writers’ retreat.

Such is the writing game, sometimes. As they say, “You can’t always get what you want.”

So what do you do, in these cases?

Honestly, I think there’s only one thing to do. You take a straw, and you suck it up. As I’ve always said, paying work and contracted work gets done first, work with hard deadlines comes next, and then you figure out the rest.

(Excuse me whilst I balefully poke at the novel a little more.)

“Jo Seated on the Old Sofa,” by Norman Rockwell (1938).
I feel an immense kinship with this painting…

But paradoxically, sometimes when I’m overwhelmed the best thing I can do for myself is…not write sometimes. Otherwise, I can drive myself into a tizzy. So…reading. Baking. Drinking adult-type beverages with friends. Going to choir and post-choir hangouts. (Honestly, I think choir is the thing that keeps me the most grounded.)

That sounds like a contradiction. Suck it up—but also don’t worry, go have fun!

Okay. Sometimes, yes, you have to be a writer first.  Strap on your Grown-Up Boots and stomp through the swamp of unwritten words. But we’re also humans, and if we neglect that side of ourselves, what will we be good for writing, anyway?

I firmly believe it all comes down to scheduling. Everybody has twenty-four hours in the day. It’s up to you to decide how those hours get filled.

The swamp is good, in the end. It means there’s a lot of really cool stuff on one’s plate. And besides, it’s excellent practice. Writing is hard, after all. Theatre is also hard. Doing both?

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Anyway. I hope you have an excellent week. Carry on!


What I’m Listening to This Week

I’ve been listening to this piece, but I’m not sure how I feel about it. Byron’s “She walks in beauty” is one of my favourite poems, and this choir is lovely, but I feel like I wanted more melody to match the metre, less preoccupation with moving chords.

Still listening while I figure my opinion out.


Useful and Beautiful

I think the pre-Raphaelites are my off-season thing. Here we are, two weeks into January, and I’ve already put several books on hold at the library. I mean—I’ve been thinking about creative relationships, which got me reading again about Rossetti and Lizzie Siddal…and Janey Morris…and Fanny Conforth…

“Proserpine,” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1874).
Janey Morris modelling. This is hands-down one of my favourite paintings.

Complicated relationships, complicated art. Those are ponderings for another time, though.

But in the course of my wanderings, I stumbled across this quotation by William Morris:

Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

Which I quite like. I think it’s a little more forgiving than Marie Kondo’s axiom that all our possessions should spark joy. Many of mine do; concentrating on joy helped me purge many more.

But in the end, I also need a screwdriver in the house, and a screwdriver is very useful. (Which is a kind of joy, I suppose? In the end, I think both writers are saying the same thing; Morris just resonates with me better.)

Now, Morris’ quotation is timely for two reasons. Reason the First: the garret is looking a little cluttered. When I moved up here, I purged a TON of stuff. A full garbage bag came out of my desk drawers alone. There really isn’t that much space up here, you see, and there’s nothing like moving to help you decide what’s necessary in your life.

But stuff creeps back in over time. Christmases and birthdays can’t quite match pace with the rate of purge. Also, I got a cat, which is basically like having a furry toddler—he comes with a lot of paraphernalia as well. The toys, my friends. The toys are everywhere.

He’s pretty cute, though.

So decluttering. Focusing on those things useful and beautiful. Cool.

But it’s not just the garret. Here is Reason Number Two. It occurs to me that “have nothing that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” is a pretty good compass for life and fiction in general.

I’ve been asking myself this as I move through the Beer Magic novel. “Why is this here? What is this scene doing? Where is the conflict? What did these paragraphs accomplish in the overall story?” Already, I know I’m going to have to purge a lot of words. My best guess is that Beer Magic’s first draft is going to run about 110k—I’d like the final draft to hit 100k.

Reading what I’ve got thus far, my prose is cluttered. Extra scenes are gumming things up; some words are neither useful, nor particularly beautiful.

That’s fine for now. It’s a first draft. But I’d like to keep that in mind for the rest of the process: useful and beautiful. Ideally, every particle of our fiction should be both. Each word should punch above its weight; the best prose does three (or four) things at once; you’ve heard this all before.

But if it’s not useful or beautiful—

Why is it here?

“Der Arme Poet (The Poor Poet),” by Carl Spitzweg (1839).
Actual scene from my garret.

Things to ponder, as I charge forward with the draft and sort out my apartment.



What I’m Listening to this Week

I suspect I will not have time for much short fiction until after Beer Magic and the “Six Stories” stage adaptation are done. But the first movement in Gustav Holst’s “Seven Part-Songs” is making me itchy.

Full transparency: on hearing it for the first time, I may have uttered an expletive. The text is just so evocative and entirely my aesthetic.

The other songs are lovely too—it’s always nice to find pieces arranged specifically for women’s voices. I particularly liked the round arrangement of the fourth song (6:10, “When First We Met”).

The Parsecs and Me

The news has filtered through the internet by now: SIX STORIES, TOLD AT NIGHT has won the Parsec Award for Best Small Cast Story (Novella). It’s an incredible honour, I’m very pleased, and I want to show you a picture:

This is the 2012 Parsec Awards at Dragon*Con. It’s blurry because my hands were shaking, even worse than usual.

I was very young. Sitting alone, at the fringes. I was awkward and incredibly nervous. And also overwhelmed by the fact I’d made it to Dragon*Con. Guys, for 2012 KT, this was like attending the Oscars. My favourite podcast celebrities were all there. I’d been hanging out with some of them through the weekend. This was mind-blowing.

I remember feeling so uncomfortable, though.

Uncomfortable and hungry. God, I was so hungry (metaphorically speaking). After the awards, Pip Ballantine nodded to the big screen, saying, “Maybe one day, it’ll be your name up there.” And oh, I wanted that so much. Even then, I was gingerly feeling around the dream’s edges. Podcasting means a lot to me—I’ve always believed in the art form. I always wanted to create something beautiful with it.

In 2014, my short story “Under Oak Island” made the finalist round. So yes, my name was up there. It didn’t win, but it was a huge honour nonetheless.

Coxwood History Fun Park didn’t make the finalist round. Honestly, that was Okay.


I’ve said before: SIX STORIES is the first time I’ve sat back after production and said, “Yes. Yes, I have produced the podcast that justifies me.”  It is not a perfect podcast, but it contains all of my heart and all of my ability, and it is exactly the way I wanted to go out.

From the start, I knew it was my last kick at the Parsec can.

One last story. One last shot.

And we did it.

And it feels—okay, well, honestly, it feels incredible. This is a dream I’ve had since I was eighteen years old. It was a long, long road—eight years!—which makes it all the more poignant. I have learned so much whilst podcasting, I’ve made so many friends, and I’ve grown so much.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m LOVING my tenure producing the Apex Magazine Podcast. But in terms of producing my own fiction, writing my own intensive audio dramas…

I’m good. Parsec or no, SIX STORIES said precisely what I want to say. With this story, I’ve done what I set out to do.

The Parsec is a wonderful symbol of that. I can scarcely describe how it feels to have a story that means so much to me, recognized with an award that holds such weight for me.

But I stand on the shoulders of giants. My utmost thanks to the many talented podcasters who came before me, inspired me, mentored me, and laid the foundation of the audio fiction canon we see today. My thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for providing the funding that made SIX STORIES possible. My thanks to Alex White, Starla Huchton, and Ellen McAteer for their contributions to this podcast. And of course, my thanks to Blythe Haynes for a beautiful performance.

It’s been an incredible ride, and I could not be happier.

But it’s not over. Not yet, not with SIX STORIES hitting the Toronto Fringe in July.

So thank you, all, for believing in this little podcast that could. I’m truly touched.

All best,


What I’m Listening to this Week

I had a bunch of choral pieces, but I cycled back to Kevin MacLeod’s “Long Road Ahead.” This was the piece that concluded Hapax, and it feels especially apt for this week…particularly the final movement at 1:40.


A Kinder Year: 2018 Post

It’s a brand-new year. As is my wont, I’m writing this from Virginia, where I’ve passed the year’s turning in the company of some very dear friends.

So: new year, new opportunities, a vast expanse of untrodden snow.

“Winter Morning, Charlevoix County,” A.Y. Jackson (1933).

Where do we go from here?

Well, finding out is part of the fun, isn’t it? This feeling of standing on the precipice, leaning over the blank valley below—I think that’s why we love the idea of the New Year so much. It’s all possibility; all potential.

For myself, I have written my usual yearly goals on an 8.5” by 11” sheet of paper. I’m excited by the projects lined up for this year, but I’m also approaching it with a lot more humbleness than I did last year. If nothing else, that was a hard lesson learned in 2017.

In addition to those yearly goals, here’s what I would like for 2018.

I would like 2018 to be a softer year, a gentler year. I would like to nurture more joy—in my work, in myself, in my relationships. And above all else, I want 2018 to be a kinder year.

In the end, we can always use more joy and kindness.

So wherever you are today, however you are spending it, that’s my wish for you. Enjoy this feeling right now: gazing out to the horizon, with nothing in the way but spreading whiteness and light. The hard parts come later; this is the first swoop as you launch yourself skyward. So revel in it. Today’s for soaring. Wrap yourself in love, joy, and kindness.

“The Magpie,” by Claude Monet (1869).

And have a very Happy New Year.


What I’m Listening to this Week

I’ve been searching for a recording of “And as I Wake” for ages! It’s a delightful setting of Milton’s “Il Penseroso” by Canadian composer Stephanie Martin. The text always makes me think of the dim stained-glass light of the University of Toronto—and that interplay between choir and organ starting around the 2:30 mark is sheer joy.

What I Did in 2017

I didn’t really want to write this post. This is supposed to be the cumulative, “What I Did in 2017” post. You know, where we check in with that black-Sharpie list I made on New Year’s Day. But see—the thing is—

“Mother Among the Thorns,” Kay Nielsen (1924).

I feel like I didn’t do much.

But that’s putting it mildly. Coming off the insane ride that was 2016—the year everything seemed to go right—this year has left me feeling fairly ineffective. A failure.


However, I do want to remain honest, always. And I think this year, while deeply unpleasant, was necessary.

So let’s get the main event over.

What I Did in 2017

“Her Hands Like Ice” came out in Bracken Magazine.

“Search History” sold to/came out in Daily Science Fiction.

Gave my “Fantasy Author’s Guide to Beer” talk at Boskone, the Nebulas, and Can-Con.

“La Corriveau” was shortlisted for the Sunburst Award.

“Six Stories, Told at Night” is currently a Parsec finalist (idk when the awards are being given—does anyone?)

Wrote and submitted a lot of stories. Some of them got very nice rejection letters.

Wrote a final draft of the Creepy Play, provisionally titled, A Canticle of Stars. It’s being produced in the spring.

“Six Stories, Told at Night—LIVE ON STAGE” got into the Toronto Fringe Festival. I probably will not add “LIVE ON STAGE” to the final title, but no promises.

Started writing the Beer Magic Novel. It’s currently about 25k. It needs a good solid whack with a stick before I can continue, but I’m having fun thus far.

Contracted with Choice of Games to write another interactive fiction game. It occurs to me that I never mentioned this publicly. But I’m totally doing that. It has dinosaurs in it.

Researched/began plotting a new play with Blythe.

Schemed quite heavily on other theatre things with Blythe. I can talk about them more in the New Year. The secret is slipping out, but I must be coy a while longer.

Took over as the Apex Magazine podcast producer. Which—whooo! I didn’t realize how much I missed podcasting until I was back in the saddle. This is the best arrangement, and I’ve loved working with the Apex team.

I also made a lot of new friends (waves at Twitter), wonderful thing happened to my friends, and I read a LOT of good things.

Which…okay. I look at all that, and I have to concede that perhaps I am not a total failure. I’m just not living up to my own expectation. It’s silly, and I know that writing doesn’t work this way, but I fell into the trap of assuming that last year’s streak would just…continue.

Except it doesn’t always.

Except that writing—like anything—happens in cycles.

Except that you have to keep going, even when it feels like you are the Absolute Worst.

“At Dawn,” by John Bauer (ca. 1913).

This year—yeah, this year, I failed. Not totally. But I did. And if one is going to survive writing, one has to learn how to survive that. 2017 shook me to the roots—and while I cracked a little, I’m still standing.

Terri Windling has interesting thoughts about this, actually. Quoting Jane Champagne, she says, “…sometimes the old artist has to die before the new artist is born. And the “death” part takes as long as it takes. It doesn’t care about schedules and deadlines.”

This is comforting, because it addresses another difficult aspect of this year:

It’s been hard to write. I feel clumsy. I feel inarticulate. I feel like I have laryngitis: the same frustration in expressing myself; notes once so easy, now out of reach.

After this long, I know: throwing myself into a long-term project always helps rekindle the fire, so I’m very glad for Beer Magic. Even if it needs a good whack. (It’s a weird one, my friends. Fun, but weird.)

“Village Tavern,” by John Lewis Krimmel (ca. 1814).

So the important thing for 2018 is to keep moving onwards. Write more, write better. And more importantly, write with more joy. I realize now that was often missing from my 2017 writing. That may have been part of the problem, actually.

Well. Hmm. That’s something to chew on. I’m glad we had this chat, friends.



What I’m Listening to this Week

Aptly, a piece I literally just discovered, Daniel Schreiner’s “Fear Not.” There are some incredibly beautiful dissonances here—and those droning, held tenor/soprano notes give me goosebumps.