Through the looking glass...
When I was about eight or nine, I self-published my first book. The story is a bit vague - although it was definitely Alice in Wonderland-related as I was fairly obsessed over it at the time. But I remember the purplish-blue construction paper I used for the cover as well as the pale blue ribbon woven through holes on the side that tied the whole thing together. It was a beautiful thing to look at, proving even then how intuitive marketing and presentation was. I'm fairly certain no one else was ever allowed to touch it, especially my older siblings. But it was enough for me to feel my career as a writer was launched.
Fast forward many, many years and not much has changed. I've been writing most of my life - with breaks here and there, sometimes with modest success and other times with gut-wrenching failures. Anyone involved in a creative life knows it is an endless roller-coaster of joy, disappointment, fear, struggle, self-doubt, rejection and euphoria. I've experienced all of this and more. But it's worth it and if you have this spark inside, you know to deny it is to be untrue to who you are.
I started out writing short stories and poetry as many young people do (some of the better ones are featured on the Books page) and got just enough published to keep me motivated and give me bit of confidence. It seemed easy to turn to non-fiction and I began writing short pieces on everything from women's health to humour to travel, again with a modicum of publishing success. There were a few years of freelance work but life and reality (read money) got in the way and my writing was more off than on. A move to a small community led to newspaper work where for the first time I got paid to write day in, day out. Stressful, but exciting, I found my passion fulfilled in journalism and was saddened beyond words when it ended with the closure of the small weekly newspapers I had been with. I am proud of the work I did, telling the stories of the community, and will be forever grateful to learn the discipline of daily writing and the opportunity to improve and hone my craft.
While working at newspapers I began my first novel, a historical fiction with a psychological twist. After 10 years of research, writing, rewriting, editing, rewriting, editing, (again and agin), I'm ready to begin the process of sending it out into the world in the hopes of having it published. If you're interested, there is more information on the Books page.
So let me get back to Alice. Sadly, I don't have that purplish-blue book I created in my childhood but I do have a collection of Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass and other Lewis Carroll classics. What is it that makes these mid-19th century characters so endearing? Why do they endure the test of time and still hold such appeal?
As a child I loved the rich imagery, songs and poems that adorned my hard cover copy. The illustrations are masterpieces in themselves and I poured over every detail of Alice’s dress, the tea party china and the life-like details of hedgehogs, cats, rabbits and other animals. As an adult I believe the appeal of these books is partly the fantastical elements and Victorian symbolism scattered throughout. Are the Mock Turtle, Mad Hatter and Queen of Hearts really just simple characters or do their deeper allusions create a richer texture of meaning? There are also philosophical issues, such as the nature of time and the essence of logic. Then too there is the story of the author whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and the real Alice for whom the stories were created. The multiple layers of these books, the fantasy world and the peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures, have made them a lasting treasure hugely influential in popular culture and literature. It's no wonder the Alice books attracted me as a child and still do today.
But most of all, what matters most is story. This is what fascinated me then and interests me now. A good story, peopled with characters in all their weird, surprising, and endlessly fascinating incarnations. Why do they do the things they do, what motivates them, what do they fear, what truths do they hide, how do they shape themselves as they want to be seen by others? Give me a good story with interesting characters, place them in a world my imagination can envision and you've got me hooked.
If you’re still reading, I’ll assume you too like a good story, complex characters and a window into someone else’s world. This blog, hopefully, will be written for you. We'll discuss writing, my own and other people's, books, authors and anything else that interests the literary community.
I love to cook and will talk about that, as well as movies I’ve seen, music I’ve heard, things I’m up to, and maybe the odd social commentary. I’ll try really hard not to be political but I make no promises on that front. I do after all, have opinions and our times are interesting if not downright troubling.
My goal is to bring you a blog that’s engaging, lively and worth your time. Once a week, that’s all. Along the way, if you’re so inclined, tell your friends, family, and neighbours about it too. Feel free to chime in with book or author recommendations, comments you disagree (or agree) with, or other topics you’d like me to cover. Tell me about your passions, interests and talents. Tell me what you look for in a blog, book, movie or story and hopefully we can connect and share with others. A community of readers and book lovers of every stripe.
Finally, bear with me. I’m new to this blogging world and may stumble around a bit. The world is tough and getting rougher - let’s be gentle with each other.
All the best and here’s to good stories!