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Thursday, September 5, 2013

MG/YA Writing With Vanessa Barger

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If it’s one MG and YA author that has a lot on the go with many exciting things coming up, including the launch of a new novel, it’s Vanessa Barger. This woman is so talented, and if that’s not enough, she’s really sweet too! In today’s interview, Vanessa discusses how to develop a strong and believable YA voice, how she edits her work, and her tips on landing an agent.

How do you develop the YA voice in your writing? What do you do to ensure your characters are believable?
Developing YA voice, to me, is trying to write as if you were a teenager again. You have to put yourself in that situation and think of what you would have done (or wish you would have done) in that situation. To make sure my characters are believable? I work in a high school, so I always have case studies to look at. But really, it’s about running it through critique partners who are great for catching it when you might be trying to fudge something.

In your MG mystery, Superfreak, how did you ensure the use of pacing would create a page-turner?

Superfreak was difficult for me because I had to outline. I’m more of a punster type writer, and I balk at the idea of any outlines. But it was necessary to make sure that I had the clues and mystery all in place, as well as ensuring that just enough happened in all the right places to make sure I kept the reader interested.
What is your revision process like? 

I’m one of those weird people who actually enjoys editing. I like cutting things out and then re-reading and realizing how much better it is. That being said, I often go back and edit as I go, depending on how the actual flow of writing is going. If I’m having a lot of trouble, I edit more. Sometimes going back over what I already have helps to jog my brain. Past that, I edit, send it to critique partners, then edit again, and send it in to the agent and see what she thinks.


What are the fundamental differences between YA and MG? What is the writing process like for each demographic?

I think the fundamental differences are generally what you’re writing. For me, (and it isn’t true for everyone) MG is all about adventure and growing up a little. YA deals with discovering who you are, and what becoming an adult might be like, as well as other more meaningful topics. Not that you can’t do that in MG, but I’d rather have more fun at that age.

How did you land your agent? Any tips for writers getting together their sub packages?

I got lucky! I submitted Superfreak to Literary Counsel and promptly forgot about it. Six months later, when I’d given up on that story entirely, they called and wanted to chat on the phone. BEST birthday present ever!

Tips for other writers? DON’T SEND IT UNTIL IT’S READY. I’m the first to admit I did this more times than I care to count. Wait. Let lots of people critique it. Wait some more. Write a great query letter. Let people critique that. THEN, when you’re absolutely positive it’s as good as you can get it, send it. Not before.

Also, everyone says this, but don’t let a rejection get you down. Move on. Send another. Publishing is a subjective business. Sometimes it’s just about getting the right manuscript on the right desk at the right time.

Learn more about Vanessa, her books, and her writing adventures here!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Going Solo: Q & A with Tracey Erin Smith

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Ever wanted to write and perform a solo show? Artistic director and award-winning solo performer, Tracey Erin Smith, is back on London Time… this time, she’s sharing exciting news about Toronto’s inaugural SoulOTheatre Festival happening at the Red Sandcastle Theatre from May 23-26. Featuring a series of hilarious, touching, and original solo shows, as well as workshops with experts teaching the public on how to put on a one-person show, this festival is sure to inspire the performer in all of us!

Read on for some tips and insight on writing and performing a solo show, getting over the fear of being on stage, and how to find your voice.

What inspired you to create the SoulOTheatre Festival?

I love what I do and I wanted to have even more fun! Solo theatre is an art form where one person steps out of the dark into the light in front of many other people who remain seated the dark.  What is amazing about this solo act of courage, is the passionate community that forms around it.  My goal with our festival is to grow that community in Toronto. 

What can people expect from this festival?

We have seven amazing solo shows, from award-winning performers.  We also have five fantastic workshops and panels where people can learn how to use their passion and skills to create this work themselves.  Solo theatre is an art form that is there for anyone who wants it and we are on a mission to give you the tools to do it yourself. You can hear some of Canada’s best solo performers and directors talk about how they create their work and what it takes to tour and perform in festivals around the world.  

How can writing solo shows influence someone’s voice and style as a writer?

Writing a solo show has countless benefits to the writer/performer.  It will reveal to you what your unique voice and style is.  In every solo show that I have helped create, each one was completely different.  In the process, the artists discovered two things that were uniquely her own; her story and the way she tells her story.  Whether through song, dance, giving a speech, eating Nutella from a plastic knife or wrapping herself in LED lights and reciting poetry about Paris.  There are endless ways to express yourself and share your journey and discover your soul’s style.  You walk away knowing more about yourself, your life, your voice, than you ever knew before.  You really do get to know and share your soul. That’s why I call it SoulOTheatre. 

Writing can be very private and personal. How can introverted writers benefit from writing and performing a solo show?

The genre of the solo show is so versatile that an introvert can comfortably select from many forms of delivery that will suit her private and personal style. I have watched introverts blossom as they gained confidence by sharing their story. I like to say that this work is about coming out of the closet as a human being. I see their sense of self expand when they take the empowering risk to share themselves and their story on stage.  It is amazing to watch. 

Do you have any tips or advice for those who want to write and perform a solo show?

Make a list of ten turning points or a-ha moments in your life so far and then do a ten-minute timed writing about each item on your list.  Just keep the pen moving, not worrying about spelling, grammar or even making sense all the time.  You can build a whole show that way, just ten minutes at a time. 

Also, think about what you’re passionate about and use that as the main metaphor for your life story.  For example, if you’re a baseball fanatic, use that nine-innings as a metaphor for your life so far, such as; what inning are you in now, when did you ‘strike out’?  Do you feel you were recruited to a winning or losing team?  What position do you play? Have you ever been ‘traded’? 

Or, if you love cooking, cook something on stage and talk about whether you follow a recipe in your life, or just wing it.  How have you or your life been ‘cooked’ by the fires and heat you’ve been through, how did those hard times make you tastier, what kind of feast have you prepared for yourself and others by the kind of life you live?  What wisdom can you now serve that you didn’t have when you were younger? 

Take a class!  It’s always great to have supportive people around you while you create a solo show. It helps you to keep going and they may give you just the idea or suggestion at just the right time. 

Next SoulOTheatre course is a Weekend Intensive, May 31 and June 1, 2. 
Apply to: info@soulo.ca


SOULO FESTIVAL SCHEDULE


THURSDAY May 23

9:00am-12:00pm
- Master class with Tracey Erin Smith

8:00pm
- Festival Gala: Chris Gibbs in Antoine Feval
The story of Victorian London's most overlooked detective.

British-born comedian Chris Gibbs began his performance career in 1991, working as an acrobat on the streets of London. He's toured extensively as a stand-up comedian and improviser, written and performed five award-winning one-man shows, was a regular guest on NBC's comedy series 'Howie Do It', has played at the Just For Laughs and the Winnipeg Comedy Festivals. He performs every Wednesday with the Canadian Comedy Award-winning The National Theatre of the World.

9:30pm
- Gala Party - LOCATION TBA

FRIDAY May 24

9:00am-12:00pm
- Master class with Tracey Erin Smith

7:00pm
- SoulOTheatre Grad Showcase: Briane Nasimok, Martha Chaves & Jorge Moreira

9:00pm
- Daniel Stolfi in Cancer Can't Dance Like This

With comedy at its core, this solo show uses larger than life characters to vividly portray Daniel's experience with cancer. Told mercilessly with a thrill and lust for the finer things in life, Cancer Can't Dance Like This recalls the pain Dan endured during his treatment while embracing his own saving grace - the fine art of comedy. Canadian comedy award-winner Daniel Stolfi selected theatre, film and television credits include: Cancer Can't Dance Like This, A Really Bad Play (FroMast Productions), The Dinner (Jason Murray).

SATURDAY May 25

9:00am-12:00pm
- Master class with Tracey Erin Smith

1:00pm-2:00pm
- Panel discussion: Creating & Performing One-Person Shows
with Precious Chong, Rick Miller, Chris Gibbs and Haley McGee

2:30pm-3:30pm
- Panel discussion: Directing Solo Shows
with Anita La Selva, Adam Lazarus and Tracey Erin Smith

4:00pm-6:00pm
- Workshop: Self Promotion for Performers with Shelley Marshall

7:00pm
- Diane Johnstone in Desperate Church Wives

Desperate Church Wives is about unconditional love and is based on the bible story of Prophet Hosea and his harlot wife, Gomer. What would you think about a Holy Man, Minister or Rabbi, marrying a prostitute? Especially if she went back to the stroll! Church women are upset! That ho got to go!

Diane L. Johnstone, a native of Fairfield County, Connecticut, resides in Toronto. She experienced a life of sex, drugs and the Holy Ghost, naively praying her way out destruction. Now an ordained Minister, pursuing her joy of acting, she has trained with The Second City, David Rotenberg and Hollywood actress, Tasha Smith (Tyler Perry's, For Better For Worst). Stage credits: Da Kink in My Hair (Toronto and Atlantic Fringes), her solo-shows Bourgee-Bush Woman, (Pick of the Hamilton Fringe 2008 - "A performance you don't want to miss" - VIEW and 4NNNN & Critic's Pick).

9:00pm
- Charlie Bethel in Beowulf or Gilgamesh, You Decide! CANADIAN PREMIERE.
U.S. solo theatre star Charlie Bethel has crafted each of the centuries-old epics "Beowulf" and "Gilgamesh" into rich, entertaining one-hour presentations.

Charlie Bethel is a theatre artist from New York. He's performed his solo works in nearly every state, a few Fringes and many regional theatres across the U.S. His other solo shows are Tom Thumb, or the Tragedy of Tragedies, Seven Poor Travellers and The Odyssey. In preproduction these days are solo versions of Eros and Psyche and The Kalevala.

11:00pm
- Alex Dallas in Goddess
Goddess is a funny and poignant coming of age story set in 1970s London and Cyprus. Sandra, at 17, uncovers family secrets that question her sense of self and her relationship with the strangers that make up her family. A hilarious journey through adolescence and sexuality, Sandra wonders where her real roots are and who the mysterious Uncle Mike really is?

Alex Dallas was a member of the infamous female comedy troupe Sensible Footwear for 18 years. Goddess is the first in a trilogy of autobiographical one-woman shows, and was aired on CBC Radio's DNTO.

SUNDAY May 26

9:00am-11:00am
- Master class with Tracey Erin Smith

11:00am-12:30pm
- Master class showing - 6 students present their work

1:00pm-2:30pm
- Workshop: SoulOTheatre Teaser Workshop - The public is invited to come out and try it!

3:00pm-5:00pm
- Panel: The Healing Power of Solo Theatre with Tracey Erin Smith, Andrea Thring and Sage Tyrtle
7:00pm - Sarah Murphy Dyson in Naked Ballerina
The Naked Ballerina: _naked [ney-kid] adj. unclothed; defenseless; unprotected; exposed.

Discover the darkness behind the curtain, as a ballet dancer brings you backstage into her world of blood, sweat and secrets. Illusions of perfection onstage and off are shattered as she seeks the courage to expose her truth to herself and to the world. The Naked Ballerina was honoured for Outstanding Performance and Outstanding Direction at the 2010 Toronto Fringe Festival.

Sarah Murphy Dyson, a former Royal Winnipeg Ballet first soloist, is a Gemini award-winning actress whose career includes television, film, stage, stunts, and a past life as a professional ballet dancer.

9:00pm
- Precious Chong in Precious, like the Adjective WORLD PREMIERE
With a counter culture drug icon as a father, two older half sisters that are black, a Chinese grandfather, and a mom who is young and sexy, Precious tries to answer the question: what was it like growing up a Chong?

Precious Chong has performed her solo shows off-Broadway, in Los Angeles and across Canada. She most recently starred in the Canadian premiere of Theresa Rebeck's solo show Bad Dates at MTC's Warehouse and toured it through Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. She performed her hit solo show Zdenka Now! at the Toronto Fringe 2009.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Illustrating Children's Books: Debbie Ohi Dishes About I'M BORED

 
Debbie Ohi is a rockstar. Not only is she a writer and illustrator, but she is an extremely involved member of the kid lit community. As the founder of Inkspot and Inklings, one of the very first online writing communities, Debbie has a fresh voice and a wonderful sense of humour (check out her webcomics!).

With the recent launch of her very first children’s book, I’M BORED, Debbie somehow managed to find time to answer some of my pressing questions! Read this interview to discover how this rejected manuscript turned into a book publishing deal, how writers and illustrators work together, and what Debbie learned during this collaborative project.

What was it like working alongside writer, Michael Ian Black? Any advice for writers looking to collaborate with illustrators?


Picture book illustrators don't usually interact with the authors, so although I was working closely with Michael's editor and my art director at Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, I never interacted directly with Michael during the process. It was only after the book was finished that Michael and I have had some contact, and I've found him to be always supportive and enthusiastic. I had so much fun working on his story!

Advice for writers looking to collaborate with illustrators: Be warned that in most cases, publishers prefer to choose their own illustrators. You can submit as a team if you'd like, but you may be hurting your chances of getting published. Some great advice here.

Did you discover something about PB writing and yourself while working on this project?

It's easy to write a picture book. It's much more of a challenge to write a good, unique picture book that stands out in the marketplace.

Do you have any writing and publishing advice for those who are getting ready to submit their PB manuscripts?

If you're one of those people that think “hey, I can whip off a picture book on the side for some easy money,” then you're on the wrong track.

My strongest advice: Go to your local bookstore and library, and read as many picture books as you can. Read older picture books, newer picture books. For the picture books that you enjoy the most, analyze why you like them so much. Look at how the illustrations and text complement each other, and how neither would be as strong on their own.

Also, when writing a PB manuscript, leave room for the illustrator. I've found that early attempts at PB manuscripts often read like short stories rather than picture book texts.

Not only is I’M BORED Debbie’s first children’s book, but it was rejected two years before publication. To find out how she overcame the rejection blues and turned this into a book deal, click here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Creating A Great Setting: An Interview With Susan Dennard

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One of the best parts of reading is being shown a new world. Setting can often serve as its own character in a book. When I think of my favourite settings, I think of The Chronicles of Narnia, Jane Eyre, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Kite Runner, and To Kill a Mockingbird. All these settings are dynamic, as they are constantly evolving and ultimately, helping to unfold the story and re-shape the characters involved.

When I heard about debut author Susan Dennard and her book, Something Strange and Deadly, I just had to contact her for an interview. Read more about how Susan used an original setting to create and develop her plot and characters.

In your YA novel, Something Strange and Deadly, you created an interesting setting, as the story takes place in 1876 Philadelphia. How did you go about developing this setting?

Well, I started by doing a ton of research (I mean weeks and weeks and months). Since Philadelphia is, you know, a real place, I wanted to make sure I got everything right in terms of locations and scenery. But on top of that, I really wanted to get the year right--what did 1876 feel like? How did a young woman behave? What would she eat for breakfast and wear to dinner? I found all those little details, and then as I wrote, I dropped them in.

One thing that historical writers will tell you is that you always do way more research than you actually use--if I had dropped in everything I learned, I'd have bored the reader to death. There's a very fine balance between not enough detail to paint the scene and so much detail the story gets bogged down.

How did the setting influence your plot?

One of the reasons I actually chose 1876 Philadelphia was because I wanted to have the Centennial Exhibition as a backdrop to my story. I honestly thought: how horrible and terrifying would it be for this giant celebration--the first American World's Fair in which people came from all over the world to share their countries' latest technological advances and artistic endeavors--to be crashed by walking corpses?

Additionally, I really liked how much conflict the time period would automatically add for a girl like Eleanor. She wouldn't be able to leave the house with a chaperon; she would be expected to behave a certain way at all times; she'd probably be very sheltered and stifled. On top of that, corsets are no laughing matter--can you imagine outrunning zombies when you're ribs are constricted so much you can barely breathe? I loved that there were all these layers of conflict already inherent to the time period. It gave extra obstacles for Eleanor to hurdle.

How did the setting contribute to the development of your characters?

Because girls of high society were so protected and so restricted to certain behaviors/clothing/ambitions, Eleanor was at a pretty big disadvantage from page one. She'd never had much need to think for herself, and she'd certainly had no exposure to people outside of her social circle.

Her setting made her the naive character that she began the book as, but because she's also curious and brave to the point of stupidity, she was able to step outside the confines of her society and experience other walks of life (or death--haha!). Of course, stepping outside and accepting outside aren't always the same thing, and it takes Eleanor the course of the book to really find her place in the world.

For many writers, especially science fiction and fantasy writers, setting is crucial to story and characters. What advice do you have for them when creating setting?

There's a balance between story and setting--whether the book is historical, mystery, or whatever. You might have created the most amazing fantasy world ever, but if you spend too much time describing it, you're going to bore your reader no matter what.

The key is to only show the parts of the setting that matter during each scene.
Oh--your character is running through a graveyard with zombies hot on her trail? We definitely don't need to know the history of the graveyard or why that big monument in her path is significant to the local town, but we do need to know there's a big monument in her path. We also should probably know the character's familiarity (or lack thereof) with the place. Is she stumbling and lost or does she know exactly where she's going because she visits her mother's grave everyday?

Setting is more than just what the world looks like or its history--it's also a critical tool for showing character and developing plot.

Learn more about Susan and her writing here.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Romance Writing: What I Learned From Adriana Trigiani

Although one of my favourite books is Jane Eyre, I don’t read romances very often. I did, however, recently read Adriana Trigiani’s The Shoemaker’s Wife and fell in love with her writing. It had been a while since a romance pulled at my heartstrings, making me swoon over characters and setting. Here are three things Trigiani does exceptionally well in her romance, The Shoemaker’s Wife.

The sympathetic heroine is strong, resourceful, and kind.

Enza comes from a hard-working family who has strong beliefs in angels, Catholic prayer, and honesty. While Enza’s religious beliefs help her through many hardships, particularly emigrating from Italy to America, it is her strong moral compass that is so intriguing, amidst characters at the turn of the 20th Century, who seem to be losing faith in both religion and humanity.

Enza uses what she has to achieve her goals of starting a family, leading an honest life, and relying on her design skills for her livelihood. The relationship she has with Ciro Lazzari, who she meets at her sister’s funeral has never been easy. But it’s with Ciro that Enza is most content, especially later on in America. With Ciro, she finds comfort as he represents her home in Italy.

One of the most memorable pieces of dialogue that Enza says to Ciro:

“And I want—more than anything—to see my sister again. So I’m going to try my best in this life so that I’m sure to see her in the next one. I’m going to work hard, tell the truth, and be of some use to the people who care about me. I’m going to try, anyway.”

To me, this seemingly ordinary dialogue between Enza and Ciro reveals her true character. She is brave, good-natured, smart, and independent, a refreshing mix of qualities in a romance heroine. And it’s this mix of qualities that helps her survive.

Timing is everything and is the intangible, powerful thing that affects romance.

Enza and Ciro meet as young teenagers in the Italian Alps. They share a kiss—Enza’s first—which remains in both of their memories until they both reach America. They reunite in an American hospital shortly after, but the reunion is not satisfying:

“She tried to walk away quickly, but she found that the steps back to her  room were painful for an altogether different reason. There was no doubt: Ciro Lazzari had fallen in love with someone else.”

When Enza is discharged from the hospital, she loses touch with Ciro and tries to forget him. Enza moves to New York City and becomes a respected seamstress for the Opera while Ciro grows to be a talented shoemaker. They reunite again, but it may be too late. That is, at least, what you’re supposed to believe as the reader. Timing has never been favourable for either lover, as it separates them and reunites them, with the reunions so fleeting. Even as the two eventually marry and raise a family, timing once again, interrupts their romance.

Setting fuels romance.

In The Shoemaker’s Wife, the story begins in the Italian Alps, boasting a lush landscape and vivid colours. One of my favourite passages in the book describing the Italian setting is:

“Primavera in the Italian Alps was like a jewelry box opened in sunlight. Clusters of red peonies like ruffles of taffeta framed pale green fields, while white orchids climbed up the glittering graphite mountain walls.”

In these two sentences, Enza describes her home in the mountains, which she continues to long for as she travels to America. Her deep attachment to the majestic beauty of the Italian Alps is moving with the use of poetic and dreamy language.

While the setting in New York differs, romantic imagery continues:

“Trumpet vines cascaded down the drainpipe in shots of bold orange and soft green like fine silk tassels against the freshly pointed coral bricks. Purple hyacinths spilled out of antique white marble Roman urns on either side of the black-lacquered double entrance doors of the Milbank House at 11 West Tenth Street in Greenwich Village.”

At this point, Enza has finally left her awful factory job and terrible living conditions in Hoboken, New Jersey to begin an exciting life in New York. This very house becomes her first real sanctuary away from Italy. It’s one of the first passages that describes beauty and serenity in an American setting, signaling that the romance between Enza and Ciro is not over.

Two Italian peasants meet as teenagers whose destinies continue to intersect throughout their lives. It’s a basic premise, but it’s the sensual imagery, vivid characters, and chaotic timing that unfold a beautiful, moving, and heartbreaking romance.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Four Fiction Writing Prompts for Plot

If you’re currently working on a story outline, first draft, or even in revision mode, and are experiencing that dreaded plot drought, check out these four writing prompts. I hope they inspire you to shake up your story a bit and keep on writing.

Introduce a new character
If you’re a bit tired of exploring the stories, conflicts, and moral dilemmas of your current characters, why not introduce a new villain or unsung hero? This might help alter a plot point that needs some revitalizing.

Put your character in a new world
Get your character out of their comfort zone and immerse them in foreign experiences and obstacles. This could be as major as another spiritual world or as simple as relocating to another town, city, or country.

Create the ultimate competition
Have two characters fight over a coveted prize, whether it’s something tangible like land or abstract like vengeance. Who is fighting and what are they fighting for? What’s at stake in this competition? What can be gained or lost?

Initiate a disaster
Inflict a disaster for the characters in your story. Have them face a town flood, a murder in the family, a mysterious illness that has killed thousands…
When you create disaster, your character must go through psychological stages including fear, anger, and acceptance. This is a great prompt for both thickening your plot and for exploring the internal mind of your character and how they react to disaster and tragedy.








Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Writer's Mind


We are all busy. Sometimes, even the thought of devoting a few minutes a day to meditate seems far from reality. There’s so much going on in our daily lives, that we risk losing a deeper connection with ourselves. As writers, we are constantly creating, re-creating, thinking, re-thinking, writing, re-writing…

Sometimes, we may feel so disconnected from our minds and bodies that our work may suffer. I had the pleasure of interviewing Katie Marshall Flaherty, a Toronto-based poet who leads poetry sweatshops and writing-as-a-spiritual-practice workshops. Read more to learn about her insight on mindful writing!

Thank you so much for being with us today, Katie! I have some questions for you…

Why did you begin the Writing From Within Workshops?

I began the Writing from Within Workshops because I found that having prompts, such as reading a poem, listening to music, smelling cinnamon, meditating on the breath, or recalling a childhood snapshot brought incredible images to mind. And I found that if we just wrote without editing, just let the words flow, and just entered the feelings that arouse with the prompt, that lovely poetry-from-within poured out.

Most participants were astounded at the beautiful images, words, and the deep emotions that came out. Often, a participant would read her own work aloud and say either, “I can't believe I wrote that!” or “This writing brings back such a flood of memories and sensations!” I began these sessions because I could see how therapeutic and affirming it was for people to realize their own writer within, their own inner poet.

What is involved in a typical workshop?

A typical workshop begins with an "emptying exercise" where the participants just write free-flow, beginning with a statement such as "what keeps me up at night" or "before I forget" or "a list of things I need to put down". This exercise lets all the thoughts and concerns of the mind release, sets the mind free to write, and clears the path for writing.

Then we have prompts that often invoke the senses. I might have participants close their eyes while I bring lavender around for each to smell and then they write free-flow as soon as something comes to mind. Or, I might read a poem by Rumi and have them write a "river of words" as I read the poem, allowing some words to evoke others, and some perhaps to be recorded.

After each exercise, participants are invited to share a small gem from their writing, or the entire piece. The rest may comment constructively about what moved them from the writing, or what images were powerful, or how the writing made them feel. There is always one meditation as a prompt, as this allows things to come up from deep within. We end with a little forum on what contests, readings, events, or articles are out there for aspiring writers.

How can writers benefit from meditation and breathing techniques?

Meditation connects us with our true self, with the divine light within, with our inner artist. When we centre the mind and relax, subconscious truths emerge, images appear, memories surface, feelings can bubble up. The breath is the way to bring us to a relaxed state, to calm the body, and still the mind-- the breath, as Ghandi said, is our best friend. By attending to the breath, we leave the clutter of the world behind, and we can enter into that mystical place of creativity.

What are some things writers can do to approach their writing with more clarity?

- Read, read, read! Let your mind marinate with other writers’ words and images.
- Keep a notebook with you at all times to record any and every thought.
- Keep a notebook by your bed for dream fragments that stay upon rising.
- Practice attending to the breath before writing.
- Create puzzles, prompts, and exercises for yourself to surprise your inner artist.
- Practice describing a smell, sound, taste, feeling, sight, and seeing where it leads.
- Listen to music.

What are your favourite tips on achieving a mind/body connection for the busy writer?

Learn to do a body scan, where you can go through the body asking each part to relax. Learn to find a breathing practice that calms the mind (witnessing the breath, alternate nostril breathing, counting four in and four out, or having a mantra such as breathe in/breathe out or hum/sa or one/breath for each inhalation/exhalation). Massage your own temples as you breathe, letting your mind relax as your face does. Practice a few yoga poses, concentrating on integrating the breath with the pose.


Katie has two sessions in Meditation and Mindfulness and two sessions in Writing from Within on Saturdays at St. Michael’s College Continuing Ed at U of T this 2012/13 year. For class details, email Katie!