While cleaning out the study today I found this list that I made when we were leaving our rented space in Calgary to come back to Toronto. It's kind of a ridiculous list because we brought a lot of the items from Toronto so although we did buy them at some point we didn't buy everything on the list in Calgary so the title is misleading. Also, I don't think I actually would have forgotten anything anyway, but perhaps it made me feel like I was getting organized, made me feel a bit more in control for a little while during the time before the move.
I went to Newfoundland in September of this year for a wonderful writing workshop called The Piper's Frith. It was a unique experience and thanks to Joan Clark and my group I learned not only what needs to be tweaked in my story but also why it needs to be tweaked. I've counted the tweaks the story needs (thirteen) and I've set it aside until I feel like tackling it again. If you get a chance to go to the workshop held at the Kilmory Resort on the Burin Peninsula, go. I also learned some other things while I was there. Here's the list in no particular order:
1. I don't know how to cook cod properly. It still tasted good but was a bit dry. If a native Newfoundlander offers to cook your cod for you, take them up on it rather than doing it yourself.
2. For some unexplained reason, I had no hot flashes the entire time I was in Newfoundland.
3. If you're careful, it is possible to carry a couple of cuttings of dogberry all the way home in your pocket without squishing them. They're still in a jar in my kitchen, a nice little reminder of my trip.
4. Black flies still think I'm tasty. Apparently I'm especially delicious while standing still, trying to talk on my cellphone.
5. I sleep better in the dark. It was very dark in my lovely little cabin.
6. Sometimes it takes quite a long time on the beach to pick the perfect small round rock to bring home.
7. When busy concentrating on workshopping and critiquing and writing, lunch becomes a grilled cheese sandwich every single day, sometimes with soup. (Perhaps a grilled cheese sandwich a day is a cure for hot flashes.)
8. I don't know what a bear outside at night sounds like. I thought a raccoon was making the huffing and scratching noises, but apparently there are no raccoons in Newfoundland. The next morning the whole place was buzzing with news of the previous night's bear sightings. We looked around for signs of the bear but only found a chocolate bar wrapper. I thought that was a sure sign but the others walking around with me outside my cabin said it wasn't conclusive.
Last week, CBC Books, in partnership with Toronto's Luminato Festival, ran a contest called the Strong Beginnings Twitter Challenge in which you had to post first lines to as-yet-unwritten short stories. I've been away so I just now found out I was a finalist! Sadly, right after that I also found out I didn't win, but I'm thrilled all the same. So here are the tweets that got me closer to having an iPad Mini which was the prize for the contest. I thought they might be useful as writing prompts.
1. I didn’t mean for anybody to get hurt. Honest. I just wanted to build something really really big out of popsicle sticks.
2. Clarisse knew she’d soon be looking for another job when she saw the new sign her boss had posted. No swearing. No glitter.
3. Alice leaned on the doorjamb of her closet, trying to figure out what to wear besides a slathering of hydrocortisone cream.
4. The colour her sister had chosen didn’t flatter any of the six bridesmaids. They looked like yams wearing feathery hats.
5. He’d doubled the amount of liquor in the recipe. Luckily the eggnog was served in small cups. Luckily I’d worn my slippers.
6. I can’t understand why I chose this wallpaper. It’s covered in rabbits and I hate rabbits.
- old tattered Penguins (books, not birds) the ones with the number at the bottom of the spine
- Volkswagens (toys, not full-size although I did have a 1968 royal blue Beetle many years ago that I still wish I hadn't sold)
- two kinds of tea towels - souvenir tea towels with places on them and Royal Wedding tea towels (just ones of William & Kate for now as my Charles & Diana tea towel is too worn out to use)
- lists found in parking lots or shopping carts or on the sidewalk. I try to figure out what kind of person had written the list (this one grosses out my daughter as she can't believe her mother is picking up other people's used pieces of paper)
- flying pigs and other impossibilities like figurines of obese ballerinas and odd-shaped birds who have wings but could never fly
- cookbooks. I use some of the recipes but often what has attracted me to the cookbook is the stories behind the recipes where it seems like the author is in my kitchen talking to me. I feel like I get to know the author a little bit rather than just following along as the recipe tells you to do this and then do that.
- quotes, conversation scraps, sayings or facts that attract me like a magpie to something shiny. "I'm not sleeping so well and I'm typing like a drunk ferret." David Mitchell; "Every princess needs a peasant." overheard, said by a man on a payphone; "mad as a box of frogs" part of a headline in the Globe & Mail; Agatha Christie's pet hates were marmalade pudding and cockroaches, agathachristie.com
- old postcards, not for the photos, but for what's written on the back (I have a whole bunch written by a man named Pearce who was very stingy with his words)
- round rocks of all sizes. There's a bowl of small ones on the coffee table, a couple of large jars full of them and there's some larger ones edging part of the garden.