Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Should You Test The Waters Or Take The Plunge?

Gee whiz! There are crickets around here. I promise though, the lack of posting has not been because I've gotten lazy. On the contrary, dear friends. I have been so crazy deep in project land, I've barely come up for air. Big things are in the works and I am over-the-moon excited about them—not so much because I think they're amazing {even though they are!} but more because it's wildly invigorating to toss your fear to the wind and go all in on something that's been tugging on your heartstrings for far too long.

test the waters or take the plunge?
When I was a child, we swam at a place called The Varney Hole—though we more lovingly called it The Beach. It was a sludgy, brown-watered pond, fed by a little stream that ran behind. There was a high wooden dock, painted to match the colour of the water, and I would watch 'the big kids' launch themselves from that platform—legs kicking, screams echoing—into the slimy depths below. 

I remember thinking, 'if only I was that brave...'

I would ease into the water slowly, sucking in my stomach and walking on my tiptoes as if that would save me from the cold water lapping against my belly. If only I was brave enough to jump off that dock and get it over with quickly...

I would get in. Eventually. But so much time was wasted testing the waters that I limited the time I had to enjoy it. I lessened my fun by rejecting bravery.

Bravery, however, is a funny thing; because, in some instances, it can be associated with stupidity.

Why would you jump off a dock? There could be sharp rocks at the bottom! You could slip at the end and hit your head! What if someone jumps at the same time and pins you to the bottom?! YOU COULD DROWN!

But let me tell you this: you can't drown if you're not living.

Months ago, an idea took root in my head. I wrote some things down. I spent hours researching and I even designed a logo — only to shake my head in despair and say: who in the world do I think I am? I am nobody. There's no way I could pull this off!

How small and sad fear makes us.

I let my idea drop.

But, instead of landing on the ground beside me so I could walk away from it, it landed in my shoe—a painful annoyance that ground at my sole {and my soul} and though I fought and fought to pretend it wasn't there I still felt the scab of its presence, digging itself deeper, repeating the frustrating mantra of TRY. TRY. TRY. TRY.

And I was all like, GET AWAY FROM ME!

And it was all like, TRY, YOU SISSY!

On the May long weekend, I pulled up my leadership socks and went with a group of our church youth to a retreat. {Yes, I was pretending to be 16 again and yes, even grownups can find richness in an event geared towards high school kids.} One of the speakers drilled her words straight to my core.

I came away with this:

My ideas are beautiful and sacred. My dreams are worth chasing after. The only failure there is, is in not trying. No one ever changed the world by listening to their fear.

And so, that idea? It is in motion and already gaining momentum and I really really really want your support in it. Are you ready?

drum roll please...

I am starting a magazine!

And yes, it's insane and crazy and stupid BUT every good idea EVER was insane and crazy and stupid on some level.

I'm following the stirrings of my heart and my heart is telling me to create something that champions other creatives like me who feel stuck and unheard. My heart wants to be the voice of the fearful, to coax out the closet writers, artists, dreamers, to build something from the ground up that will put a little beauty into the world.

Am I scared? Yes.

Will that stop me? No.

What if I fail? Who cares! Living is in the trying.

So watch out. I'm jumping off the dock and I plan to make a splash, so either back up or come join me. And I do hope you'll join me! Swimming is no fun alone.

learn about Blank Spaces magazine
Want to know more or learn how you can be part of this new venture? Click here to read the mission statement. Click here to make a financial donation towards my pursuits {this is NOT a free endeavour unfortunately — nothing is, is it?} Click here to learn how you can see your name in print in the premiere issue!

I can't wait to see where this thing goes and I would be thrilled if you came along with me to find out!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Does A Newsletter Really Matter In The Long Run?

I have a newsletter.

Yes, I know, it's very vain and on-trend of me.

It's also a laborsome toil to put it together every month and it brings forth very little reward.

{Heaven help me if you should think I'm trying to belittle those beautiful, faithful subscribers I have amassed BUT to say their numbers are few would be an embarrassing truth I don't really wish to impart..though ACK! I just did...}

does a newsletter really matter?

What is it about newsletters anyway??? I started mine because Every Single piece of advice to writers I've read has said: start a newsletter, build your email list, it doesn't matter how many Twitter followers you have—what matters is who lets you into their gmail accounts.

Bah Humbug!

I have less subscribers than weeks I've had a newsletter and I am loathe to think this should be some universal declaration—that because I have small numbers my influence is therefore inconsequential.

Because you see, darlings, my obvious goal is to change the world. With words. And my wicked wit.

And yet 'the experts' tell me I am invisible without an email list.

So here's where I'm at: I am putting all those know-it-all's into a bowl. I will mix them with a wooden spoon until they are not but thick meringue and then I shall throw them like snowballs onto the barn roof where that nutty squirrel will come and get sugar-drunk on their condescension.

In the interest of full disclosure {and because I value honesty above all else} I don't really mean a word of it. Well, I do, but not to the degree my grumpiness is pouring out of me. It's just one of those moments that happens upon a writer every so often...when we drop our pen and cry up into the silent sky: WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN??!! AND IS ANYBODY EVEN LISTENING??!! And if you've been with me at all this week {following along in other social media platforms} IT HAS BEEN A WONDERFUL WRITERLY WEEK for me and I have no business having such a public and embarrassing fit of insecurity. 

{Also, I'm reading Jane Eyre right now and it's very possible she's the one typing this through me right now...yeah, that's it...I feel her snappy attitude swirling through me like a hot soup.}

So. In conclusion, I declare before this sweet assembly of lovely eyeballs who do see me, that newsletters are only important to the people they are important to and I refuse to fold beneath the pressure to measure my success by a list of strangers. 

I don't want numbers. I want friends. I want readers. I want relationship.

I'm not quitting my newsletter. I'm just not going to write another one until I feel like it.

And that could very well be tomorrow because I plan to wake up far away from this funk, remembering that I write because it satisfies my soul, that the only fan I need is myself, that words are a balm that calms all worries, AND THAT I HAD AN EBOOK REACH #1 THIS WEEK in the Amazon Kindle Store!!! 

Dear Reader, I beg your forgiveness for this graceless rant but I also remind you that I only ever promised you the truth. So, you're welcome. 

And if you need to discuss my mental break, please do it in a hushed manner, behind cupped hands, with junior high whispers and rolling eyes so that I might go fully over the edge, move into my barn and live out my days, a recluse with a typewriter, staring madly out the suicide door.

Oh, the tales they would write about me...

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Would You Be A Peach & Grant Me This Momma-Brag Moment?

Mail isn't exciting like it used to be. Mail is bills and advertisements and bills and post cards from the MP reminding us how lucky we are to have him in our corner and bills and notices that garbage prices are going up again and bills...

BUT, once in a long while, something will come in the post that makes you want to do a little dance in the kitchen.

Like when a personal invitation arrives. From a university. For your fourteen-year-old son. To attend a math camp at their campus. To which only 32 hand-picked students in all of Ontario are allowed to go!

I mean...

I don't know where this kid came from. We always knew he was smart but it wasn't until we sat in the gymnasium last June at his eighth grade graduation ceremony and watched him cross the stage to collect the proficiency award that we realized he's not just smart - he's really smart - top of the class smart - like when I walked into a parent/teacher interview during the first semester of ninth grade, his geography teacher said, "I don't even know why you're here. I don't have one concern."

He's killing school. Murdering the average. Slaying the slacker-dragon and feeding "good enough" his genius dust. It's not uncommon for us to get a little notice home: Zander is currently sitting at the top of the class or Zander just got a 98% on the test almost everyone else failed.

I was a good student. But I was no Zander! {Obviously...there's no way I could pull off a fedora like he does!}

And maybe you're thinking, Math Camp? That's boring! But if you'd seen his face when he saw this invitation...

And what's boring about getting to spend long hours with the esteemed Professor Ian Vanderburgh* on the campus of a post-secondary school that's trying to woo a ninth-grader to their math program?

I wasn't expecting to be sending a cheque to a university yet. I figured I had a few more years before they worked hard to bleed me dry BUT, if math is what gets that kid excited, you can bet I'm not going to stand in his way!

photo by Steph Rusnak
 

*are you picturing Dumbledore? Because I sure did!