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Wicca Wicca what?

“I stood staring at the bath, then she told me to get naked and get in it, so I did.”

If I hadn’t already wondered if this meetup I chose to attend was a bit on the weird side, this guy’s story convinced me.

What meetup? Well, let me tell you!

When I first moved to Victoria, I knew one person who lived in the vicinity and had just made some new friends with my coworkers at my new job. I have a pretty diverse range of interests (who doesn’t?), and I wanted to build a larger social network around them, so I could have touchpoints everywhere. My solution? I joined meetup.com, a resource that lets you find local groups based on your interests to meet like-minded people.

I was off to see the wizard

The closest upcoming meeting that piqued my interest was for a witchcraft group. I had an idea in mind about how this group would look; I imagined people my own age who were maybe dressed like Stevie Nicks, or like Brad Pitt in Interview with the Vampire, so I signed up. I’m always full of realistic expectations.

The meetup was going to be held at a fairly public coffee shop, and I made the decision to, at the very least, walk by and see what the group looked like. If everything looked okay, I’d go in. I’m not sure what wouldn’t be okay, but I’ll leave that up to your imagination.

Game time

Peeking through the window a few minutes before the event was set to start, I saw a group of four people whose ages ranged from 45 to 90 years old. They seemed harmless, so I took a deep breath and went inside.

I wandered in and acted like I owned the place (a new tactic I’ve taken to pull myself out of any social anxiety I might feel – act like you’re way more comfortable than you are and then others assume you are fine and don’t feel additional pressure to try to include you), smiled at everyone and asked if they were part of the witchcraft meet up. They all smiled, welcomed me and invited me to sit down and join them. I grabbed a tea and settled in to make some new friends.

The facilitator of the group was a woman in her early 40s, curly brown hair, warm smile, the type of person you immediately feel comfortable around. She started the conversation by asking us what drew us to the group and what our experience was with witchcraft.

We went around the room, beginning with a woman beside me who reminded me a lot of Katey Sagal as Gemma in Sons of Anarchy (I was immediately inclined to like her), and then to a white-haired woman whose age I couldn’t guess. Both of them had standard answers (as standard as you can get for discussions around magic), describing how they got involved, and created rituals for themselves that included meditation and interests in energy practices like Reiki. Next, the facilitator moved to a man who looked to be in his late 80s or early 90s.

Let the good times roll

He shared his story about discovering witchcraft in England, in the late 50s, at a time when it was still considered underground and people didn’t really talk about it. It was difficult to find any covens, and then harder still to be involved with them. He managed to do so, meeting a man around his same age at the time who said he would help him get connected.

It started with an initiation, which involved being picked up in the dead of night by a car full of men. They drove him to a house in an unfamiliar part of town and dropped him off, telling him to go to the door. He was left alone there, so he went up to the house and knocked on the door, which was answered by a woman wearing an ankle-length robe. She led him towards a bathroom where she directed him to take off his clothes and get in the bath.

As an aside, he mentioned that a bath in the 50s, with the way plumbing was behind the times in England, were usually a “fill up the tub once” type of affair, and that other people had already bathed in this particular bath during the course of the day.

After the bath, he was given a robe to put on, then was blindfolded and led into the basement.

At this point in the story, the woman facilitating the group stopped him and continued to ask the group why they were interested in joining. The only person who hadn’t responded yet, was me.

After this story, the reason why I was there seemed quite…lame in comparison. I responded, “I’ve always been interested in tarot, crystals, divination and magic and am new to town. I thought it would be good to connect with others with similar interests.”

No blindfolded, shared bathtub experiences for me.

I stayed for a bit longer, enough to hear the Katey Sagal lookalike next to me say in annoyance, “Men are stupid. If they weren’t, they would be here to meet women like us.”

Not willing to go into some weird male-bashing conversation, I chose this moment to say goodbye.

Although it was interesting tale-telling fodder at work the next week, I chose to not go to any more meetups with that group.

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Gulf Island Adventure and the truth behind Instagram photos

Victoria is a small town and if you live here, you will inevitably run into everyone that you know everywhere you go, and often. I haven’t blogged about my time here, just in case I accidentally offended someone—I put my foot in my mouth a lot—and then saw them on the street and had an awkward meet up as a result. But, now that I’m moving back home to Calgary, I think it’s safe to share a few tales about my time here on this little island. My first story is about the time I went to Salt Spring Island. It was a solo trip, so I likely won’t hurt anyone’s feelings today.

My friends kept telling me how fantastic Salt Spring Island was and how I needed to go to it and check out the artisan market while there. I googled a bit and found a few other things I could do on the island in a day and I created an adventure plan. It began with catching the first ferry in the morning out from Sidney, eating breakfast at Salt Spring Inn, visiting the market, hitting up Salt Spring Island Ales and hiking up Mount Maxwell before catching a ferry home.

All aboard

The first part of the plan went well, I boarded the first ferry over to the island and watched the sun rise over the ocean. It was breathtaking and I highly recommend getting up early for the view.

View of the sunrise over the ocean from the ferry to Salt Spring Island.

I got there so early that the Inn wasn’t open yet and so I drove around the town just checking out the layout for about an hour. My stomach rumbled and I went back to eat a decent breakfast at the Inn while looking over my backroad mapbook to see if there was anything else I’d be able to check out if I had additional time.

First to market

After breakfast, I ambled over to the market which was a block away and peeked at the various arts, crafts and farm-fresh vegetable booths. It took about 15 minutes. I was pretty underwhelmed and I wondered if I had maybe arrived too early. I took a walk around the area to do some sightseeing with the hope that when I returned, more booths would be set up. I saw a seal having himself a little sun bathing party.

I went back to the market and found no one else had set up during my time away. I figured that maybe I went at the wrong time of year. It was late August after all, and markets were probably wrapping up.

You can’t go wrong with ale

I left the market and headed to get some delicious beers at Salt Spring Island Ales. I picked out a flight, enjoyed the sun and chatted with some people I met on the patio (surprisingly, I chatted for an hour with a couple from Alberta. We’re everywhere.).

The Earl Grey Ale was the best.

And now, for the pièce de résistance: the hike up Mount Maxwell.

I am the WORST at finding my way around, to, out of, into, places. I’ve learned this even moreso during my time on the island while trying to find many different trailheads.

Following Google maps directions (always the first mistake), I drove up a winding road on my way towards a parking lot where the trailhead began. The road narrowed and I skirted to the very edge, almost riding in the ditch as I let cars pass me on the other side. One of these swervings resulted in my car getting it’s itches scratched by tree branches.

Finally after about 30-45 minutes of driving, I got to the parking lot and got out of my car to check out the trail map. It showed that I had driven to the top of the mountain that I had intended to hike up. Rolling my eyes at myself, I walked to the view point, snapped a photo and drove back down the mountain.

View from the peak of Mount Maxwell.

So great, right? No! I wasn’t willing to let this be my only “hiking” experience on Salt Spring Island. I was determined to actually hike somewhere and so I drove to another trail. I can’t remember which one I went to, but I do know that I did find the right parking lot. That was about it as far as going in the right direction though, because I managed to take the wrong turn while hiking and wandered for about an hour in the wrong direction along another trail on private land. After taking in the view while trespassing, I decided to go back to the ferry and get home where I knew where things were.

View from private land while trespassing.

I got home and posted my pictures on Instagram, which made my friend think that she was missing out by not exploring all these fine places. She quickly changed her mind after I told her the backstory of the day.

So friends, life on social media is not what it seems. Neither is life on Salt Spring Island.

Stay tuned for more Vancouver Island stories.

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From computer, to paper, and back again

There she goes, overthinking again

As you know, I’m trying to get through revisions of Deer Ethan so I can write a new book during Nanowrimo. And, as you know, I’ve been struggling through these revisions and attributed this to many different reasons, all of which are still applicable. But, I think I found a new one – because I can’t seem to shut my brain off when it tries to figure everything out in the attempt to find an all-encompassing solution.

Here’s my long-winded explanation of a solution

I love writing. I enjoy creating worlds where the forces of good and evil battle day in and day out, or just a space where we can question human behaviour, dancing along the edge between sanity and murderous madness and wonder if we would topple over it put in the same situations.

Side note: even though I have a degree in communications and write daily for work, I am not the best with grammar. I have an obsession with commas and unnecessarily long sentences. It’s a problem. I find it amusing that I’m the editor of an intranet, but am happy to have something that challenges me to overcome this issue.

I love editing – other people’s work anyway. When I edit, it’s mostly just to make suggestions for better ways to phrase things, or to identify holes in storylines, rather than for grammar.

Anywho, I was listening to a podcast which covered how Neil Gaiman (my idol) works. He writes his first draft out in long hand, and then his second draft comes from fixing it as he types it. That’s it. He doesn’t revise afterwards, other than to send it to an editor.

While I don’t believe I could get away with only writing and revising once, it does make me question my process of writing a book in 30 days, and then having to basically rewrite the entire thing, because, for me, writing fast doesn’t equate to writing well. (Note: count how many commas I had in the last sentence. See? It’s crazy.) Maybe that’s why I am having such a hard time with revisions, because I’m not revising. I’m rewriting. The whole damned book.

I know rewriting some sections of a book during the revision process is likely to happen no matter how I get the first draft out, but rewriting the entire thing is another monster.

I think for my next book, I want to try writing it differently. I’m going to try Neil Gaiman’s process, and I’m not going to stuff it into 30 days. I’m still aiming to finish revisions on Deer Ethan by the end of this month, so that goal is the same, but I won’t be participating in Nanowrimo.

I still love Nanowrimo

Nanowrimo was a great experience for me. Through it, I learned I have the ability to write a novel. Many of them, in fact. And now, I get to take that knowledge and experience and build on it to start writing great novel-length stories. I’m excited.

Murder as motivation

Bodies in the water, writing fodder

I was cycling along my regular commute to my 9-5 job, when I glanced off into the waters of the Gorge, searching for a heron. I saw an unidentifiable blob of something or other, and immediately assumed it was a body. Obviously, if there is a body in the muck of low-tide, it is put there by nefarious means. Side note: this is familiar territory for me – I also used to assume garbage bags on the highway between Calgary and Edmonton were fully of body parts dumped by ne’er do wells. Anywho, this maybe body sparked an idea for a new novel. I don’t want to give too much away, except to say that it will involve the supernatural, murder, horror, and all those delicious, juicy, gory details.

img_7159
This is the Gorge. Sometimes bodies and feet are found here.

But, how does this new idea actually = motivation?

A new idea puts pressure on me to finish my current project, so I can give it life — insert maniacal laughter and statement: It’s aliiiiiiive! Pressure is like gasoline to a procrastinator.

I also have a date when I want to start writing this new book. Every year, I participate in Nanowrimo, which is in November, and I want to write this murderous tale during that competition. This gives me until November to finish revisions on Deer Ethan, which is an entirely attainable goal. Now that I’ve got the added excitement of creating this new one to keep me going, it has to happen. I will not let myself write the new book, until this one is done. And, I really want to write this new book. And, I really want this one done. So, there you have it, murder as motivation.

Thank glorb for good friends and notebooks…

As a side note, I want to express my gratitude for all the great people in my life. Today’s shout out goes to the friend who randomly handed me a notebook on the street. I’ve been giddily filling it ever since. Of course, as a writer, I’ve got notebooks sitting everywhere. Key word: sitting. Not being used. Languishing in their forgotten prison-like cube of a bookcase. The timeliness of this friend handing me this treasure (pronounced tray-zure), was on point, following after one of my previous posts where I lamented my lapsed habit of carrying one with me at all times.

Byeeee…but first…

…I’ve come up with another idea to keep my writing on track. I may, or may not, share this in my next post. Stay tuned to see if I do! Or not. It’s really up to you. I hope you stick around though, and keep reading, commenting, rolling your eyes, whatever.

Typewriter, typewriters, writer, write, writer’s life

Processing writer’s block: What do you do when it all gets to you?

I used to write all the time. I carried a notebook with me everywhere and would always be found jotting down ideas. More often than not, I’d wake up in the middle of the night and bleary-eyed, I’d pick up a pen and the writing pad on the nightstand next to me, and write out the dream I had, or the idea that was running through my brain making it nearly impossible to sleep.

But then, something happened. I hit a block. It’s not that the ideas weren’t there, but I hit a depression that struck me so deeply, I actually felt nauseous when I tried to write. It scared the shit out of me.

While I managed to pull myself out of that dark pit, I have been working on healing a broken heart that has been a very long, slow process, one that is taking much longer than I’d like to admit. I’m uncomfortable with it. I’m struggling with it. And my writing is suffering for it.

For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t writing. Or, no, that’s not it. I couldn’t allow myself to admit that a heartbreak, or a guy, or anyone would ever affect me so much that I couldn’t do the thing that meant the most in the world to me. Are you kidding me? ME? I thought I was a ferociously independent woman who didn’t need anyone but herself to get by. This couldn’t be! But it was. And I had let it happen. I let myself get buried so deeply in someone else’s dreams that I didn’t let my own matter anymore. Side note: this isn’t any other individual’s fault. This is my own. No one forced me to get so invested in anyone else, it was my own co-dependent nature that did this to me. It is something I am doing my damnedest to work on so I never do it to myself again.

But now I find myself wondering if writing is even something I should be trying to do anymore. I love writing for work (corporate content). I love writing for Beautiful Bizarre Magazine (go check out my posts here and here). I don’t know if I love writing novels any more. I thought maybe I should just quit, and if I could let myself quit, then that would be my answer. But, my entire being resents and rejects that. I can’t quit. I don’t want to. I want to finish revisions on this book I’ve been trudging through for the past three years. I want it. I know I want it. So…the question is…what is the hold up?

I’m still healing and growing and learning, but I want to figure out how to write through the ups and downs, because life is not going to be a perfect, flat road forever, and I certainly don’t want it to be. That’s boring as hell.

I’ve got self care nailed down. I exercise regularly, get out with friends, read, sketch, take nights off to watch Netflix, play video games, cuddle the cat, you know, all the good things. But, I still have this weird feeling about working on these books. Maybe it’s just revisions.

Anywho, I didn’t write this post because I have answers. I wrote it for a few other reasons:

  1. Social media makes everyone’s life look easy. It’s a lie. We all fight our demons and I don’t want people to think my life is sunshine and rainbows all the time when it isn’t. I think that’s okay. And, I think it’s important to share that so everyone else knows that it’s okay to hurt sometimes (saying all this though, I want to be clear that I’m not looking for a hug or pity, I’m just being real).
  2. I’m searching for answers. If anyone has ideas, advice, or tips to help me get my writing back on track, please share.

That’s it. That’s all for me today.

Oh! One more thing. The focus for this blog is going to change a bit. Initially, the idea was to share short stories I was writing, but most publications consider blogs to be published work, and they won’t take published work. I’ve written a number that I haven’t shared here, so the blog has been deceptively empty. I’m going to write more about writing challenges, continue with prompted blurbs that I don’t intend to build on and share a bit more about what inspires me. Perhaps sharing these types of posts will help me process my crap a bit more, and inevitably lead me back to delving in to the writing again.

Thanks for reading!