Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’


Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Hello, friends. I’ve been thinking this week about life’s important, meaningful, and really unglamorous lessons. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about that Thomas Edison quotation: “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” Or, as John Ruskin put it nearly fifty years earlier, “I know of no genius but the genius of hard work.”

This all came to mind because at Kingston’s WritersFest this coming Sunday, I’ll be hosting a writing workshop given by Tim Wynne-Jones. Part of the hosting gig involves writing an introduction, and so I began reading a little more about Wynne-Jones. I don’t normally research authors; I’m more interested in their work. But maybe I should change my ways!

What struck me most forcefully is Wynne-Jones’s sheer output: by my count, he’s written 3 novels for adults, 17 picture books, 3 collections of short stories, and 9 novels for young people. (And that’s just the fiction. Wynne-Jones engages in critical writing, too!) If you think about how much practice he’s had in shaping a compelling story, it’s no wonder that he’s such an accomplished storyteller. He didn’t just have a gift for words or a particularly inventive mind: he took those talents and never stopped using them.

His is the kind of energy and dedication that might seem daunting, some days. Today, I find it deeply inspiring. I’m early in my career, a relative novice. So: persistence and practice. Those are my by-words this week.

How about you? What are you learning this week? What other unglamorous lessons should we think twice about?

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Scenes from a suburban adolescence

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Hello, friends. Yesterday, I read Amusingly Horrible Things Moms Have Said at The Hairpin. It’s fairly amusing; certainly not the best thing I’ve read on the internet, but it must have stirred something in my Brain Soup, because early this morning, I remembered two things I’ve not thought of in many, many years:

1. From age 14 to 18, every time I went to the corner store (only a couple of times a year, since I was raised to believe that Buying Things at Convenience Stories is Wrong Because Said Things are Overpriced and Probably Stale. Occasionally, I went to get cigarettes for my uncle – but let’s not mention that to my parents, okay?), the owner stared at me for several seconds too long, then asked if I wanted to meet his son.

Questions to self: Does he ask that of every teenaged girl who comes into the store? Does he realize he’s asked me this before? Many times? And if so, does he think his 5 years of persistence will eventually pay off?

Closure: Never. I went away to university, and then my parents moved house. I really should have just asked him all those questions, shouldn’t I?

2. One summer, I worked at a coffee shop. One day, my boss said to a regular, “Has anyone ever told you that you look just like Karla Homolka [a convicted serial killer]? I mean, you guys could be twins!” When I registered horror, my boss said, “What? What? It’s a compliment! She’s really hot!”

Questions to self: Why didn’t I quit my job? This was a sign of things to come, with that boss. Also, why didn’t I say to the customer, “I don’t think you look like a serial killer”?

Closure: The customer came back a couple of weeks later (I guess she was less appalled than I was? Or was really desperate for this indie coffee shop to thrive?), and I got a chance to tell her that she didn’t look like a serial killer, to me. Then I gave her a free drink. Also, the coffee shop folded a couple of months later. Literal closure!

Why am I bringing up all this now? As Victorian novelist Frances Trollope once said, “Of course I draw from life – but I always pulp my acquaintances before serving them up. You would never recognize a pig in a sausage.” One day, both these incidents will probably make it into my fiction. If you spot them then, you’ll know just where they came from.

What bizarre or uncomfortable teenaged memories are rattling around in your brains? Have you fictionalized them, yet?

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