As someone who works a day job at a desk staring at a laptop and as a writer who spends many of my non-working hours sitting in bed or at the kitchen table staring at my laptop, I take frequent breaks to read miscellaneous things on the Internet. Aside from the usual social networky suspects, many of those sites are listed on your right under “Inspiration, etc”, blogs written by people I know and like a lot or that I just simply think are inspiring, etc. For 2010, I resolved to update my blog more often rather than simply surf aimlessly, which is why I’ve updated 3 times in the past week, and I think other people felt the same way because there’s been a marked increase in the number of posts for me to read in my Google reader. I wanted to bring to your attention a few of them.
What Looks In is written by Darcie Friesen Hossack. In 2006 I enrolled in the Humber School for Writers Program. It’s a correspondence course where you work one on one with a mentor, sending your writing to them and getting feedback and suggestions in return over a period of about 6 months. Because it’s a correspondence class, everything is done via snail mail and email. What you get out of it depends a lot on what your mentor puts in, and results can sometimes vary. I was lucky to have Michael Helm as my mentor, and he was wonderful – kind, but challenging, and he gave me the best reading suggestions. The other hard part of doing a correspondence course is that you miss out on the interaction between your fellow students. But, again, I was lucky, and discovered that this didn’t have to be the case. I met Darcie, along with a handful of other great ladies, via the Humber message board and to this day we keep in touch, regularly sending emails, celebrating each other’s successes or commiserating if necessary. I’m excited that Darcie’s first collection of short stories, Mennonites Don’t Dance, will be released by Thistledown Press in Fall 2010. I’ve read a few of her stories already and they are staggeringly good; her writing is luscious and evocative and I can’t wait to read the entire book. Anyway, she has started a blog to talk about writing and her upcoming book, and you should read it.
Girl on Wine is written by one of my best girls, Lesley. She’s my literary partner in crime, and whenever I go to a reading without her, someone will ask, “So, where’s Lesley?”. But, she’s also an aspiring sommelier. Until now this has meant that whenever we go out to eat, we’ll hand her the wine list and make her pick, or we’ll get her to help us figure out what wine to buy. For instance, this past Christmas, we had a big dinner with friends, and everyone bought a specific wine (a cabernet sauvignon from Chile, California or Bordeaux or a riesling from Alsace or the US) and we tasted each one. We didn’t do a proper tasting (let’s face it: when you have that many bottles of wine among a small group of people, things start getting a little… rowdy), but we tried, and it was a good opportunity to truly distinguish differences in wine, especially for someone like me, who often gets lazy and is satisfied with dep wine. It’s nice to have an excuse to drink something better. Her new blog has good information about wine for beginner winos like me, and more specific, detailed recommendations for those with a more refined palate.
Samantha Garner is a freelance writer and editor in Calgary and we’ve known each other for a loooong time, did a litzine together (I liked all of them, but Pinpoints #1 is one of my top 3 zines that I’ve ever been involved in, period), and this past year she did something very brave and started concentrating fully on her freelance work. If you’re in Calgary (or elsewhere) and need a freelancer, use her. But she also writes about language and grammar and literary things on her blog, so even if you don’t need her services, you should read her posts.
LalaLindsey is blogging more too, and that’s awesome, but what I want to tell you about is her book, You Are Among Friends: Advice for the Little Sisters I Never Had. This started out as a zine, and then she used Kickstarter to turn the zine into a book, which she’s distributing to women’s shelters, Planned Parenthood clinics and schools. You can buy the book too, and I strongly suggest you do. Sometimes I think about what life was like when I was in high school, how difficult it was to figure stuff out, to trust people or to stop myself from trusting people too much. Discovering zines, the Internet and indie rock helped me out a lot, but it was mostly indirectly. I saw girls in bands and thought, hey, I could learn how to play guitar. I read Sassy magazine and thought, wow, it’s cool that these models are a little different from the models in YM. It would’ve saved me a lot of trouble if I had Lindsey’s instruction manual, so if you have a little sister or cousin or neighbour who could use some advice on how to grow up as a girl in this world, buy it for them. Personally, I bought the book for myself. I mean, the advice she gives is directed towards teenagers (there’s lots of good information about sex, budgeting, what to do when your best friends starts dating a dude and ditches you), but the whole tone of the book inspires me, a thirty year old woman, and just makes me feel good about myself, so of course I would like it on my bookshelf. Sheesh, thank you, Linds. Many people were posting photos of themselves holding the book, so here’s my Internet meme of myself holding YAAF.