I have been reading a lot recently about how many creatives are feeling scattered and unproductive. It’s not a surprise considering that the situation we are facing with COVID-19 is new to everyone plus there is no knowledge of how long this situation will continue. Be gentle with yourself at this time.
I am glad that I made a schedule at the beginning of the year, because for the most part it’s what is keeping me going these days.
Here is what I did during March, despite the major obstacles:
You can click here to read what books I read for the Mount TBR challenge.
I read two memoirs from the library.
“Birds Art Life” by Kyo Maclear, which I blogged about in this post.
During a difficult time in her life, Maclear decided to start tagging along with a musician who watches birds.
I feel a kinship to Maclear perhaps because she was raised similarly—an immigrant mother who was embarrassed by her lack of English fluency, for example. As well, she writes this about her father: “Prepare your mind for the worst, my father taught me, this is how you stay alive”. My father taught me the same philosophy. Maclear has a way of articulating so many things I think.
I am going to buy this memoir and read it again and—something that I don’t normally do—put notes in the margins.
“My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family’s Nazi Past” by Jennifer Teege and Nikola Sellmair
This memoir was not technically published within the last five years, but it is so good, I decided to include it.
Teege, who is adopted, discovered that she is the granddaughter of Amon Goeth, whom many may know through his depiction by Ralph Fiennes in “Schindler’s List”. After her discovery Teege went on a search for her history including finding out more about her beloved grandmother and reuniting with her mother.
Sellmair wrote about Teege’s journey after doing her own interviews and research. Sellmair also included a lot of background information, such as what happened to the relatives of several very famous Nazis.
I wrote more than 250 words five days a week.
A lot of what I wrote was how my life has changed and continues to change since COVID-19 and social isolation.
Five days a week I will limit my social media: 15 minutes maximum for Facebook and 15 minutes maximum for Twitter.
This was a challenge, and I didn’t always adhere to this outline, e.g., on the days when I needed to find out more about social isolation. I have cut back again, and, in fact, I am even going to spend some days like today social media free.
Read 5 creative nonfiction essays per week.
These are my favourites:
“Still Life” by Georgina Blanchard
Blanchard writes about the stillborn birth of her son. She and her husband had to make the heartbreaking decision of whether or not to carry their child to term despite the risk of serious disability; in the end, she and her husband decided to “set him free”. Blanchard writes about when they found out, decision making, and the aftermath of support and sympathy.
“They Call Him a Ghost” by Emily Urquhart
This essay is an excerpt from her book “Beyond the Pale”, which I am currently reading. Urquhart has a daughter with albinism, and in this chapter she writes how albinos are treated in Africa; specifically this is one story of what happened to a tween boy in Tanzania.
“After two decades on antidepressants, who am I?” by Emily Landau
Landau muses about her identity. Is it the same as it would be if she hadn’t grown up on antidepressants?
“The Silent Spring of COVID-19” by Michael Enright
Some of my favourite lines:
“It is the random inconsistency of the thing. It is nowhere and everywhere.” and “From the blizzard of reports, here is what we know: essentially nothing.”
“Widespread contagion has become our greatest unifier” by Michael Enright
Enright touches upon many truths regarding COVID-19: how hard it is not to touch our faces; how war analogies are used; how there are momentary splashes of colour.
“Life in Lockdown” by Laura Bain
Bain, a Canadian journalist, reflects on her current lockdown in Italy but also her previous ones in Turkey and Sudan.
Read 5 picture books per week.
These are my favourites:
“The Legendary Miss Lena Horne” by Carole Boston Weatherford; art by Elizabeth Zunon
Weatherford writes about Lena Horne’s life from birth to old age. The pictures are as amazing as the text is.
“Straw” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; illustrated by Scott Magoon
As the cover says, “First there was Spoon. Then came Chopsticks. And now the last…STRAW”.
Rosenthal is one of my favourite authors, and this book, published after her death, is as good as her others.
Straw always wants to be first until one day he gets brain freeze. Then one of his glassmates teaches Straw that some things need to be savoured. It’s chock full of the fun puns that Rosenthal did so well.
“Salma the Syrian Chef” by Danny Ramadan; art by Anna Bron
I love this book!!
Salma and her mother are both from Syria, and Salma’s mother has lost her smile. Salma wants to make her mother laugh again, so she decides to make foul shami. She gets a little help from her friends from the Welcome Centre, who come from all around the world.
The heartwarming book is set in Vancouver.
“My Heart Fills With Happiness” by Monique Gray Smith; illustrated by Julie Flett
This book celebrates Indigenous culture, but all kids can relate to it. It was the TD Grade One Book Giveaway in 2019, and those lucky kids who received it got an edition with Cree as well as English or French.
“Be You” by Peter H. Reynolds
Reynolds is another of my favourite authors. Listen to him read the book in the video below.
“The Good Little Book” by Kyo Maclear; illustrated by Marion Arbona
A boy finds the good little book, and they become companions, but then one day the boy loses the book. He searches for it, but when he cannot find it, eventually his heart is opened to other stories. When he sees the good little book with someone else, he lets it go, and he realizes that it stays in his heart.
Attend 12 writer’s events, whether these are workshops or writing circles or talks.
I attended three:
-Sally Armstrong’s talk on International Women’s Day at the Kitchener Public Library, which I blogged about here.
-“Voice: The Most Elusive Skill Every Memoirist Can Harness to Become a Better Writer” hosted by Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Myers
On May 1 Warner and Myers will be hosting a memoir event, which includes Elizabeth Gilbert.
-“Writing Through Tough Times” hosted by the Writing Barn
Several creatives gathered together and shared how they are coping with the current situation. It helped to listen to what others are feeling (as I mentioned, many are also feeling scattered and blocked) and to know that I am not alone.
Bonus: Did you know that SCBWI is hosting several free webinars? Click here for more information.
Bonus: I have been listening to Sheree Fitch’s podcast. Click here to access it.
Spend one hour a week working on one of my many guided journals.
I have spent more time than that, as my daughter is currently home from school, so we work together on some of the prompts.
Blog one time a week except if I am on holidays.
Feel free to read some of my previous entries.
Write about 10 objects for my “Cabinet of Curiosities” object diary per month.
I am learning a lot doing this.
Did you know that there is a Gerz beer stein library? Click here to access it.
Shoe’s Sunday Stories
@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler