Waking Up In Canada

Time Out Just To See

I got nothing… December 29, 2011

Filed under: writing — wakingupincanada @ 9:17 pm
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I sit here tonight with nothing, no etch of creativity, no angle. I am between Christmas and New Year’s, my traditional time for hibernating, and really, barr the essentials that is all that I am doing. I read. And read and read. And eat. A lot.

One of the things I need to decide is, when 2011 ends and this Post A Day Challenge with it, what happens to this blog. Now, I know it isn’t good to talk about process, but this blog is my meandering musings about taking time away from my normal life, and this blog is part of the time away.

So, I sit here, 2 more days to go until the bells, and wonder, what becomes of Waking Up In Canada? I know it will continue. This page allows me to write, no, more, it encourages, motivates, inspires, challenges, freaks me into writing. I am grateful for it. I want to become a better writer though and, just like the Novel Writing Month, writing every day is more about seeing it through, about consistency, about routine. I now want to see how I can look at quality, and I think that may mean posting less, although writing more. I want time to draft and redraft, tweak and delete.

I am not sure. Again, I find more questions that I have answers for right now.


December 1, 2011

Filed under: NaNoWriMo,writing — wakingupincanada @ 8:15 am
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I suddenly have a lot of time on my hands. I have just had an extra hour in my warm, cosy bed, which may be the ultimate item of a life of luxury.

When you are struggling to fit something new into your life, try fitting in another bigger project for a few weeks. When the bigger project ends, suddenly the smaller project can have a lot more time devoted to it. I sit here writing thinking of how little writing I need to do today. Even the days that I didn’t write, at every free moment, I knew I could, and should, be writing.

Instead, today I am going back to the hills. My rental skis are outside in the door waiting for me, and I am determined to spend more time on my feet this time. I look forward to yoga tonight, having given up 2 sessions already this week to focus on writing. Tomorrow, I plan on hitting the treadmill hard, not to recover from skiing, but because I have missed running. In my head, the sign “resumed normal service” has been posted. I will read again. My books are sitting waiting, lonely and hurt at the neglect. My alarm clock will go off an hour later from now on.

Somehow, sometime, I will look at how I can give a little more to writing. A little more time and energy, a little more criticism and review. I still read words and wonder how beautiful a collection of jumbled letters can be, how small little words can hold meaning and inspiration, love and motivation. I wondered if writing 50,000 words in one month would crush my love of words. This would have been a worthwhile lesson in itself, but no, instead it re-affirmed my love of story-telling and sentence building and letting my imagination go. I will stop writing about writing for a while.

Life resumes on December 1st. It resumes from a prouder point, a higher level, a happier spot.


WINNER! November 30, 2011

Filed under: NaNoWriMo — wakingupincanada @ 7:34 pm
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Today just before 3pm, I completed my Novel writing challenge. He carried her off to bed and I crossed the 50,000 word mark. I never thought I could do it, but reminding myself that it wasn’t about being perfect, it was just about hitting 50,000 helped me keep going. So it is done, it has been validated and I never have to open that file again. I might take a look in a couple of weeks.

Sometimes we give up because we aren’t perfect. I am not a perfect traveller, my adventurer streak still isn’t as strong so as to have amazing stories of the places I just managed to end up in. I am far from a perfect skier or a perfect beginner but I am going back on the hill tomorrow to try again. I am not a perfect runner but I love to run.

Doing what I love as often as I can seems to be a perfect way to live my life. Long may it continue.

[Today’s blog is shorter than usual. I apologise. But I am going to celebrate being a NaNoWriMo Winner and that I ma going skiing tomorrow and that it is my last night out with another beautiful friend, and simply because I can]


Loving NaNoWriMo November 19, 2011

Filed under: NaNoWriMo — wakingupincanada @ 7:49 am
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So it is day 20 of the NaNoWriMo challenge. This is the Novel Writing Challnege co-ordinated by the beautifully named Office of Letters and Light, an office I am sure that is designed with floor to floor book shelving of every book known to mankind, as well as those not known. These neatly packed book shelves are interspersed with full-length glass windows, perhaps with a view of the mountains or the sea, or a heavily populated metropolis that allows one to cast a glance among the myriad of human relationships reflected in the books. The office is populated by well-spoken, witty, intelligent employees who gush and quote and voice monologues. There are no villains in this office.  Simply put, it is the best place ever in the world. It may not be, but in my imagination it is, and my imagination wants to keep believing it.

I will admit, on Day 20 out of a 30 Day Challenge, I am slightly behind in my word count, only slightly. Do not fear. I am determined, nay, I am positive, I will reach the 50,000 mark in time. I sit at my computer often. I write well at times, or at least fast. There has been moments I have written something, a line, a phrase, maybe just a word, and I have liked it. To be honest, for the most part, it is not well written. The plot is decent enough. The idea, I believe, is a winner. The writing is the kind I would be disappointed with if I were telling it to my niece as a story as we sat on her bedroom floor. She can, and actually has, done better including a tone of raw excitement, using words to show this is the scary part, allowing the characters to walk where they must, even if into the mouth of the shark.

At this stage, I am allowing my protagonist to walk her own way. did try guiding her, but it failed. Sometimes though I throw in an obstacle, as if laughing at her, and showing her who is boss. I am not really laughing though, just learning what she is made of. I blew up the cinema on her once, but oddly she acted quite calmly, concentrating on getting the children to safety. I think her brother is in trouble, but there is a little work to be done before we can go investigate what happened.

I write in spare moments at work, and huge tracts of the morning. I write well after a run, and love writing in my favourite coffee shop after yoga. I sometimes write on slips of paper. I am not sure what I did with my time before using it to write. I once wondered where I would get the time to write a bog every day until December 31st. Look at me Mum, I am juggling, and I can still talk to you while I do. I have also met other people who like to write, just to write.

I love it. I love a challenge but more so, I love immersing myself in something I love. Just like I am not, or rather was not, any good at running, I still loved the act of putting one foot in front of the other and doing it. It’s the same with writing. I learned that in running, you can sprint, do hill repeats, tempo runs, long runs, slow runs. Similarly, in writing there is the same variety of exercises to strengthen you, re-energise you,  pace you. It has been fun, and I am still enjoying it.

I do it not because I have skill. I keep at not because I am committed. It is all out of love.


3 months November 12, 2011

Filed under: Travel — wakingupincanada @ 9:36 pm
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3 months ago tonight I arrived in Toronto alone. It was a beautiful, hot, summer evening. Looking back now, that night seems somewhat surreal. I see the Toronto streets I walked to find a supermarket, my white hotel room, the music outside on Dundas Square awaking me at 9pm. Tonight, it was dark and cold as I left work at 5pm, with a light smattering of snowflakes and I sat at my kitchen table, chatted to my housemate, drank wine and laughed.

3 months is a short time. It is summer holidays in Ireland for most secondary students. It is a probationary period in a new job. It is a season. I’ve seen a lot and done a lot in 3 months. From Casa Loma to the Niagara Whirlpool, the Museum of Civilisation to Banff’s National Museum, hot chocolate on Rue St. Denis to vegan dark chocolate tart in Wild Flour, it has been a journey I didn’t know I had in me. I have loved more and hugged less.

And the people, the wonderful and strange people I have met; the kind lady on the train bound for Ottawa, the customer who lived through communism in what is now the Czech Republic, the older couple who bought gifts for their grandkids gushing a love usually reserved for teenagers, the anthropologist-becoming-a-nurse I shared a dorm with, the Australians of Banff, the 8-year-old girl who told her aunt I was nice, my Runclub, my yoga instructors, the 2 boys who sat beside me on a seven hour flight while I went from smiling excitedly to crying recklessly.

I’ve been down to the banks of Niagara and to the top of Sulphur and am looking towards skiing the Rockies. I’ve run my fastest ever. I’ve missed 2 weddings, a graduation and a first day at school but I got letters, photographs and a Skype account. I dressed up for Halloween for the first time as an adult. I made new friends and, fingers crossed have held tightly to the ones across the Atlantic. I have written. A lot. I have met my second cousin and my best friend’s brother-in-law. I’ve smiled and laughed and cried. Once, I got bored.

Looking forward, there are a few new friends moving on that I will have to say goodbye to. I will learn to ski. I have to finish the novel-writing challenge in 18 days and I am 4000 words behind. I need to learn how to do returns and shipping at work. I also really want to do a handstand. I get to ice skate outside. I have only ever skated with the young people I worked with before, and now I have to learn to do it without them. I will celebrate Christmas in Canada with my heart in Corcreggan. There’s a lot to do.

3 months was what I promised I would give Canada. If I didn’t like it, I could go home, after 3 months. I guess I don’t hate it. Canada is no longer on probation. Let’s raise a glass for the next 3 and wish for love, laughs and learning!



NaNoWriMo October 31, 2011

Filed under: NaNoWriMo,Uncategorized — wakingupincanada @ 6:27 am
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To most, my title may look like a jumble of letters, which was what I thought a few weeks back. It is actually National Novel Writing Month, planned annually for November by The Office of Light and Letters. This is the kind of place I would love to work. Firstly, they work for an organisation that JK Rowling may have named. Secondly, their job is to use letters to light up people’s lives or, put a different their own way, to co-ordinate events to inspire people of all ages to write.

I came across this when I began the Post A Day Challenge. I nodded in appreciation and moved on. I then came across it in a magazine this week, and thought, why not? I am enjoying dipping my toe in the literary waters and immersing myself fully excites me to my very soul. I have signed up. I am full of energy since my decision to say yes, so I take that as a good indication I am doing the right thing. If I fail, if I cannot take the time and take my character on her long, long journey of 50,000 words, well, so what? Only my character will die. No harm will come to any individual or animal or plant.

This is the excitement phase. Writing begins tomorrow with the aim of 1667 words a day when I may enter overwhelmed phase. I am preparing: I am developing my own schedule, my own goals. I am getting to know my character within my mind, and taking her out for a first date already. I like most of her, but she does a few things that annoy me. She has a name and a hometown. The information on the NaNoWriMo website is first class, and I feel comforted by the huge volume of people also saying yes with positivity and courage. We are not to edit, we are to write, write, write!

Please do not worry that I am launching myself on the publishing world: Another aspiring writer dreaming of making it big. This is about indulging in my passion, my preferred drug. Last year I ran a marathon which is approximately 55,000 steps, depending on the runner. I ran it slowly, at my own pace, and my goal was to cross that finish line. This November, I am doing a similar project. It will be words not steps. It too will require commitment, faith and support. There may be times I wonder why I signed up but I know I will not even consider dropping out. I will be tired. Just like the marathon, the result is simply for me to be able to say,”I did it”. Perhaps come December 1st, I will click save and my Novel will sit in my folders never to be opened again. The thing is, there will be a Novel.

I was going to tell nobody about this. I am too excited to keep my mouth shut. Plus by putting it out there, by letting people know, I am tying myself in more, raising expectations, allowing people to support me to reach my goals.

So as I embark on this project, I ask for understanding from those around me, for being overly-excited, distant,  elated, tired, grumpy; the myriad of feelings that are coming. I will be back to normal on December 1st. Perhaps my normal will be a few notches higher.