I’ve come back to my roots for a couple of days, to visit Michael and Fay who live in the town of Minden – the town closest to South Lake where my parents bought a cottage the year I was born (and that was some time ago!).
This town recently endured an historical flood and I was told by the bus driver last night that he could only just recently drop off passengers at the usual agent’s stop, because the downtown had been underwater for a couple of weeks and the roads impassable. I saw the pictures as they were posted to Facebook …
Now that the waters have receded, the damages are being estimated and it looks as though this natural disaster is going to remain in everyone’s memories for many years.
Fundraising efforts are underway, however, with a couple of events already in the works. I’m pleased to be able to help in my own small way, especially as this town of Minden was such a large part of my early life. I’ve donated copies of my book to be sold at these events and ALL proceeds will go to the Minden Flood Relief Fund. Plus, I am thrilled to be attending the first event organised for Wednesday May 15, as I reported here the other day. It just worked out so well that I could travel to Minden during this time!
(If anyone out there is interested in making a donation, please contact me at susanmtoy (at) gmail.com and I will steer you in the right direction.)
I look forward to reconnecting with the few people I do know who still live in the Minden area, and I’ve been promised a tour this afternoon that will include a trip out to South Lake to see my old stomping grounds – the best place anyone could have had the opportunity and privilege to spend their summers growing up.
I brought my new camera, too!
My book, Island in the Clouds, will be sold at the Dominion Hotel in Minden, ON, Wed. May 15th with all the proceeds going to the Flood Disaster Relief Fund! And I will be there!!!
Haliburton County Live Poets In the Pub presents
- Poetry Of The Flood
A fundraising evening to benefit those whose homes were damaged by
The Great Flood of 2013.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 7 pm
at The Dominion Hotel in beautifully dry downtown Minden.
Listen to some of the best poets in the County reading
poems of the flood, water poems, deep poems, new poems, old poems.
DOOR PRIZES and RENT-A-POET
Poets will be auctioned to the highest bidder.
The winner will engage “their” poet to write a poem on a topic of your choice.
Don’t miss this unique event! Enjoy a fabulous, fun literary evening while offering compassionate assistance to our neighbours in Minden. Bring your chequebook.
All funds generated by this event will be donated to the trust fund managed by the Township of Minden Hills. Tax receipts are available.
Thanks to Shawn Chamberlin for donating the venue for this awesome event.
For more information, email Claire Sylvan firstname.lastname@example.org
From the Blogs:
Eugene Stickland – Letter to my Daughter on Receiving a Rejection Letter to a University and Some Thoughts on Photography
Freelancing to Freedom – Writing: Art or Science?
Matilda Magtree – a moment of sameness
On Being An Author
From wordserve water cooler: Are You a Good Literary Citizen? by Gillian Marchenko
From The Writing Corp: You’ll Never Be Perfect by nesherehrman
From Let’s Get Digital: The Author Exploitation Business
From GALLEYCAT: Harper Lee Sues Literary Agent
From Seth Godin: The critic stumbles
On Social Media
From Jeff Bullas: 21 Awesome Social Media Facts, Figures and Statistics for 2013
On Promotion and Platforms
From We Grow Media: 5 Reasons RELATIONSHIPS Are the Coreof Your Author Platform
From Seth Godin: Writing tip: say it backwards
From waterserve water cooler: Why Ignoring Your Author Brand is Career Suicide by Melissa K. Norris
From interesting literature: A Brief History of Tragedy
Henri 6, “Cat Littérature” – video (new book by Henri le Chat … sort of)
I’m leaving Calgary today. Coincidentally, the last time I left Calgary, figuring I’d never again be coming back here to live or work, it was a snowy May 4th in 1996. Dennis and I were on our way to Bequia, moving there permanently into the house we’d just built. And here I am, 17 years later, planning to do much the same, having given away or stored all the belongings I’ve accumulated over these past five years since I returned.
This time, however, I really don’t plan on coming back again. I’ve discovered that I don’t belong here any more.
So, as good a city as Calgary has been to me, and also the province of Alberta – and, truly, they have been great, as far as I’m concerned … it’s time to move on, to retire from the book promotion business and concentrate on my own writing, read all these books I’ve accumulated over the years, think, cook, eat, and just enjoy my retirement. I’ll be moving back to my roots in Ontario – that will now become my Canadian residence, once again – and will split my time between there and the Caribbean. (Much cheaper to fly to Toronto from Barbados and I also lose that extra late-night flight and arrival in Calgary, too!)
This isn’t to say that I will never come back to Alberta for a visit, but that’s all my trips here will be from now on – just a visit. I will miss those mountains, however. And driving the Longview Highway.
And all the friends I’ve made here over the years.
Anyway, that’s what I’m up to today – packing, yet again, and flying out of Calgary this afternoon. Possibly for the last time.
But if I’ve learned one thing over my *almost 60-years* it’s that you should never say never. So it’s “Adieux and Aufiedersehen!” and not “Goodbye.”
And “Thanks, Calgary and Alberta, for being such a great place to hang my hat all these years.”
On the Caribbean
From my friend, Gwenith Whitford, her excellent blog about the island of Dominica,
Ti Dominik Tales (check out all the previous posts!)
From The University of Alberta Press blog, a report on their very successful Literary Cocktails event held on Tues. April 23
Joss Whedon’s Top 10 Writing Tips
and Jason Crombie with his 7 (perhaps-not-as-helpful) Tips for Aspiring Writers
From Michael Hyatt: The Secret to Becoming Awesome
On Social Media
From Nathan Bransford: Estrangement in the Social Media Era
On Blogs and Blogging
From bottleworder: On focusing the reader’s attention on your blog
On Delivering to Customers
From Seth Godin: You don’t have to pander
From Rachel Gardner: 3 Things You Need for a Successful Book
In response to my blog post of April 19th, Home and a sense of belonging, I received a number of comments. That post seemed to strike a chord with a few of you, and with Patricia Healey in particular. Her comment was so thoughtful, and though-provoking, that I asked her permission to share it again here so those who did not see it the first time would be able to read her words now. Thank you, Patricia!
“Where do you belong to?” In Newfoundland this was a question often asked of strangers to understand where they were born, where they come from. Consciously or unconsciously, it may have been speaking to something deeper – where your people were from and the influences that shaped your life. Where you were living now did not seem as relevant as “where you belonged to.” Do you always belong to the place where you were born? To many Newfoundlanders the answer to this would have been yes, they died where they lived. Many of them, outport people who made their living from the sea, never even travelled outside of their community, let alone outside the country. They were tied to the sea, they belonged to it as surely as the fish that they caught. They had a deep sense of connection to the sea, and a respect and reliance on it that was generations in the making. They belonged to the life they had created or inherited.
I have spent much of my life betwixt and between places, with no permanent home that I belonged to, once I left Newfoundland as a young woman. I have travelled the world, gypsy like, with a nomadic resistance to settling in one place for ever. How could I choose one place when there was a whole world of places and possibilities to explore? I travelled for work and I travelled for pleasure, sometimes to completely new and unexplored (for me) places and sometimes revisiting old, familiar places. Each time was like setting out on a new adventure, making my home temporarily in the place I now found myself, getting grounded there, making friends and connections. I felt like the world was my home, I belonged to it. But strangely, the place that came to feel homelike, commonplace, in all of this travel was the Air Canada airport lounge, the place I would relax and settle into if only for an hour between my comings and goings.
I feel I now belong to three places – Vancouver, Newfoundland and Bequia. My dear friend Tracy says she will not allow me any more than 3. I understand where she is coming from. It is good to have some rootedness in a place – a place where there is focused work, where you can build a sense of community and connection with people and the things that inspire you. And not to be scattered all over the place.
Vancouver is the place I have lived and worked in for over 20 years, it is the place where I have married and divorced, the place of great and continuing friendships. It is the place that nurtures my desire to grow and become more enlightened. I love it there.
Newfoundland is the place of my birth, the place I can say I belong to. It is the place where my sensibilities as a Newfoundlander developed; it is the place where most of my family, including my 91 year old mother, still live; it is a place where the landscape is raw and elemental in its beauty, and it keeps drawing me back. I love it there.
Bequia is the Caribbean dream that most people have, a small island with a big sense of community, a place where I teach Yoga, write and live for most of the year, especially during the cold winter months. It is a place, that when you leave it, keeps filling your mind so that you feel you have to go back. I have some great friends there. And guess what. I love it there, too!
So where do I belong? I think all this moving around, this seemingly untethered life has forced me to look at this question and come to an understanding, perhaps, a comfort, that I belong to the life I have created, sometimes the one I have fallen into unexpectedly, or the one I have consciously chosen, the life I am living right now. Every experience, joyful or otherwise is the tapestry of my belonging, each moment is another part of the structure of my house of belonging as David Whyte calls it (see poem below). I have learned a lot about this sense of belonging from my own practice and teaching of yoga. Through it I have become more comfortable, at ease with the house of my own body/mind, that I live in this body/mind and take it with me wherever I go. Sure, having a physical house that you can call home is important. But you can have a house and still not feel at home if you do not really inhabit the body as the real house that you live in. To be truly comfortable in one’s own skin. To also acknowledge the unique gifts and contributions that you have made to someone or something around you, no matter how small it may have seemed at the time. It is the life force in us all that allows us to do that. And to be aware of, acknowledge and love this life that is you, as likely the place that you belong to most of all. In the end any house you dwell in will be gone, but always there will be an impression, even if it is just a vapour, of the life you have lived. Live well in the house of your belonging.
David Whyte’s THE HOUSE OF BELONGING
My writing pal, Lisa McGonigle, published an article, In It For the Long Haul, in the Feb. 2012 issue of The Fernie Fix about her long-distance lifestyle. I met Lisa several years ago at the Fernie Writers’ Conference, before she published Snowdrift, and I’ve followed her travels since that time.
This particular article resonated with me because, although my travels have not been as far-flung as Lisa’s, I have maintained two residences, one in Calgary and the other in Bequia, and spent these past five years flying back and forth between the two. Most of my worldly possessions have remained at the house in the Caribbean, along with the cats and Dennis, while I’ve moved around between Calgary apartments to house-sitting situations, accumulating more stuff in an attempt to make a home for myself in the city where I actually worked. Because of the nature of my business, I was able to manage three trips to Bequia every year, usually during their off-season. I told myself I didn’t mind the Calgary winters – really – and I was able to build a good business as well as an extensive network of friends and colleagues that always made me feel “at home” again every time I returned to Canada.
Unfortunately, my circumstances changed in the fall of 2012 and I decided to return to Bequia – at least for the winter months – and reassess my business and my life. I gave away most of what I’d accumulated over those five years, stored the rest in a locker as well as with several friends, and flew off at the end of November. (I have Vincentian citizenship, so I am allowed to stay there indefinitely. And the immigrataion and customs agents usually say, “Welcome home!” upon my arrival. I never hear that from Canadian officials.)
The plan was always to come back in April, because I had committed to giving a presentation at a Calgary library on the 12th. I’m also planning on attending my high school reunion in Toronto in May. I figured 7 weeks was lots of time to see everyone I needed, and wanted, to see and to visit with family.
The reality is, though, that Thomas Wolfe was right: You Can’t Go Home Again. Or once gone, easily forgotten? I feel as though I no longer belong in Calgary. People are too busy; appointments and dates are being cancelled; all plans I made previous to the trip have suddenly dissolved. It’s left me wondering why I’ve come back.
But then I never felt as though I belonged on Bequia either while I was there over the winter.
So now I really wonder where home is for me. Sometimes I think it’s in the air, on a plane, somewhere between Calgary and Bequia. If I were Lisa’s age (which is about half of mine), I would consider a new start in a brand new place, creating a new life for myself. New horizons, new possibilities.
But I find I’m too old for that now, so I’ll have to be content to live vicariously through Lisa as she continues on with the adventures of her own life. And create and invent reality in my mind by writing stories.
… when you remember that You are the author of Your own Life story, You enter into the beautiful process of becoming, as You should be, the author of Your own life, the creator of Your own possibilities …
On Platform, Promotion, Publicity
From We Grow Media: Platform is Craft
From wordserve water cooler: “Would You Like To Meet the Author?” by jandunlap
From GalleyCat: Book Promotion Strategies That Actually Worked
From Six Pixels of Separation: Fascinating Perspectives On the Future of Media
From terribleminds: Self-Publishing Is The Blah Blah and Floo-De-Doo and Poop Noise
From The Washington Post: Book experts weigh in on the publishing industry’s revolution
From Writer Unboxed: Five Things I Wish I’d Known Before Publishing a Book by Sarah Pekkanen
From The Guardian: The novelists of 1993 had it easy. How will today’s young writers publish their work?
On Crowdsourcing and Funding
From The Saskatoon StarPhoenix: Local startups increasingly banking on crowdfunding
On eBooks and ePublishing
From Publishing Perspectives: German Readers Finally Embracing eBooks, Self-Publishing
From GIZMODO: Why Do We Keep Making eBooks Like Paper Books?
On Blogs and Blogging
From The Writing Corp: Blogging Styles: Don’t Paint Yourself Into A Corner by DCMontreal
From Commas, Characters and Crime Scenes: Verbs for Carrying Dialogue: “Said” Versus the Rest
From The Writing Corp: What is a Writer? by nesherehrman
From wordserve water cooler: Have I Arrived? Defining Your Expectations as a Writer by Kimberley Vargas
On Print Books
From mental_floss: 10 Terms to Describe the Anatomy of a Book
From HuffPost Books: Mailbooks For Good: Send Used Books to Deserving Causes – video
On Celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the publication of Le Petit Prince!
Cool commemorative stuff to purchase …
To forget a friend is sad. Not every one has had a friend. And if I forget him, I may become like the grown-ups who are no longer interested in anything but figures …