One of my favourite first lines in a book starts “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” The line from the Dickens classic goes on to continue with its incredible contrasts such as “…it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…” I am thinking about buying the shirt with this quote on it, as it sums up what 2021 was like for me…
I’d have to say that my life is on the upswing though. The wind is whispering of new beginnings and a new direction. I see the cracks of light as my seed starts to find its way out of the earth.
I’m not sure what my blog will look like next year, but it will be a different format. But for now, onward to my monthly report.
Here’s my wrap up for the month:
Read 24 books this year for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.
I really have not been doing well in this challenge. I don’t believe I will be able to complete it this year.
Read 12 nature related books this year to enhance my horticultural therapy study.
I didn’t read any this month.
Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.
I did start reading more though, particularly in this category.
“Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say” by Kelly Corrigan
I thought I wasn’t going to like this when I started to read it, but the more I read the better I liked the book. Totally relatable and so many truths. I love the phrases that she is learning to say—I could use more of these phrases in my life—and my favourite chapter is “I love you”.
On the phrase “I love you”:
“The first time the words pass between two people: electrifying.
Ten thousand times later: cause for marvel.
The last time: the dream you revisit over and over and over again.”
“The Book of (Even More) Awesome” by Neil Pasricha
This was a score at a little library, and I brought it home intending to read it to cheer me up during my down times, but oddly it only made me feel good if I was already in a good mood. Also I found it was geared towards a certain audience. Still there was some good stuff in there like the chapters that begin with “The sound of water lapping against a dock” and “The sound of snow crunching under your boots”.
“Every day is a poem” by Jacqueline Suskin
This is a book I will be returning to again and again for sustenance. The book is filled with Suskin’s observations about poetry interwoven with her own poems. Several poetry writing exercises are included. Here’s a video of Suskin reading her stunning poem about her own poetic purpose.
“Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts: Seventy Poems by Wisława Szymborska”
Suggested by more than one person at the “How Three Women Use Science in Writing” webinar. This is a translated book of poems by the winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize for Literature. Some truly stunning poems here. My favourites include “There But For The Grace”, “The Terrorist, He Watches”, and “Life While You Wait”. Two of my other favourite poems from this book (“Utopia” and “The Joy of Writing”) can be read on this page along with three of her equally exquisite poems.
I would like to write a poem like the structure of her “Possibilities” poem, which begins every sentence with “I prefer…”, e.g., one line is “I prefer Grimms’ fairy tales to the newspapers’ front pages.” Me too, Ms. Szymborska, me too.
“moms” by young-shin ma
Though this graphic novel about a bunch of unconventional Korean moms, who are all in their mid-fifties, doesn’t technically fit into this category, I loved it so much that I’m giving it a mention. The author actually had his mom write down her memories of her and her friends’ lives and then based the book on them. The story is very complex yet still easy to follow.
Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.
I did work on my writing, including getting back to writing my novel, but not every day.
Read related literature to my novel writing.
Not so far.
Analyze two creative nonfiction essays per month.
I have become fascinated by “hermit crab” essays, and so I am focusing on them.
“!Fast and Easy! A Short and Sweet Guide to Making a French-Canadian Favourite: Pâté Chinois” by Joni Cheung
A fantastic hermit crab essay. The structure is a recipe, which juxtaposes with a discussion of anti-Asian racism.
“What’s Missing Here? A Fragmentary, Lyric Essay About Fragmentary, Lyric Essays” by Julie Marie Wade
A couple of observations I appreciated:
“…the lyric essay asks you to do something even harder than noticing what’s there. The lyric essay asks you to notice what isn’t.”
“I think lyric essays should be catalogued with the mysteries.”
“Frances Hodgson Burnett Really Loved Gardens—Even Secret Ones” by Marta McDowell
I had to share this, because I found it so uplifting! An excerpt from McDowell’s book called “Unearthing the Secret Garden”.
“As long as one has a garden one has a future, and as long as one has a future one is alive.”
Analyze what I like about two picture books per month.
“We are Water Protectors” by Carole Lindstrom; Michaela Goade
-winner of the Caldecott Medal
What I like about this book:
-how water is seen through a spiritual lens
-personification: the black snake
-alliteration: “Tears like waterfalls stream down.”
-fabulous back matter
-eye catching floral motifs
“Kits, Cubs, and Calves: an Arctic Summer” by Suzie Napayok-Short; illustrated by Tamara Campeau
What I like about this book:
-it’s longer than a traditional picture book, making for a more satisfying taste of life in the Arctic
-the seamless weaving in of Inuktitut
-the glossary of Inuktitut
-modern day life is explored—they even have an underwater sound recorder
-secondary story of the beluga whales
“The Beatryce Prophecy” by Kate diCamillo; illustrated by Sophie Blackall
A lovely friendship story for ages 9+. This video sums it up beautifully.
Submit one story to a contest per season.
I’ve already done this.
Attend one writing webinar per month. (flexible)
November is always a great month for writing webinars. I watched five this month!
“Quantum Physics, Biology, Genetics: How Three Women Use Science in Writing” (Wild Writers Literary Festival, hosted by Erin Bow)
“From Plants to Pages: Helen Humphreys on Field Studies” (Wild Writers Literary Festival)
“Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Trees as Participants in Theatre and Performance (University of Guelph Arboretum)
Megan de Roover is the inaugural writer in residence at the Arboretum. This article gives you a taste of what she talked about.
“The Dressmaker of Auschwitz—A Talk with Lucy Adlington” (Idea Exchange)
“Hiding the Mona Lisa—A Virtual Talk with Laura Morelli” (Idea Exchange)
Work on one lesson of a writing course per month. (flexible)
I didn’t do this.
Attend a writing group session per week. (flexible)
I did this.
Blog at least twice a month.
I didn’t do this.
I wrote four.
100 day challenge:
I do this sporadically.
How have you been weathering 2021? I already have a couple of new things in the works for 2022 including our own version of “In my Backyard”, which I’ll be doing with my critique partner Bev, as well as participating in the “Kindred Readers Book Club” that she is co-facilitating. Stay tuned to read about these events next year.
Stay tuned also to read about what my “Word of the Year” will be in 2022. Have you chosen one?
Wishing you a peaceful, joyful, and harmonious holiday season.
Shoe’s Seeds & Stories
@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler