Thursday, 24 January 2013

Post-soltice awakening

It was just after three last Sunday afternoon. From the warmth of my living room, I faced east, gazing out at our front lawn. Memories of amber and turquoise played on the snow like a misplaced aurora borealis. A quick glance over my right shoulder found the cause, beaming west-by-south-west through the hard winter air around cloud and bare branches and frozen roof lines. Moments like these remind me why I live here; only through bitter cold can one glimpse such ethereal beauty, and solely near the death of the year.

The light was barely clearing the bungalow across the alley, but was noticeably higher than this time of day only the week before. I started supper early that day, giddy at the prospect of playing prep cook without artificial glare emanating through our kitchen's overhead fixture. Much to my surprise, over an hour went by before I was forced the flip the switch. We may be done with candlelit dinners sooner than I thought. After so many weeks of seemingly unchanging darkness, my part of the world is whirling ever quicker back into the embrace of the sun.

Thanks to my daughter's schoolbus schedule, my days begin well before the dawn. I fumble my way downstairs to the bathroom, flicking on every light I pass, announcing to myself and my household that, despite all evidence to the contrary, it is indeed morning. The reward for this onslaught of electricity comes later: once the sky's indigo fades to blue (or often to white), I pull back the curtains. Soon after, the return of natural light allows me to extinguish its replacements, one by one. I grudgingly turn them back on again a few short hours later, for some chores just cannot be done well with a candle. With the solstice at last well behind us, those most needed bulbs get to rest a a little longer each day. Bit by bit, the night is getting shorter. And this year, I've noticed it's exit sooner, and bid it farewell from both ends.

Monday, 21 January 2013

A proper writer's book

It's taken nearly a decade, but I've finally returned to the wisdom of the physically written word and, with it, the creation of first drafts. It's a practice I'd abandoned as soon as my typing skills surpassed my ability to write legibly at speed. Since then, I've ignored many a recommend through many a medium to change my ways. Be it my grade school English teacher, upper-year liberal arts students, professional writers' tips on the internet, or practically any aspiring writer in any novel I've ever read; no matter the messenger, all advice fell short to the temptation of the backspace, the copy/paste, and those niggly lines of as-you-type spell-check. The tools of computer composition provide the possibility of perpetual editing, of interrupting the flow of words at any moment a better idea strikes, and without all the mess of scribbles and arrows, of words squeezed in between the lines and whole phrases crammed along the margins. It's all too easy to forget that writing is an inherently messy business when all mistakes are wiped away with an invisibility that puts liquid paper to shame.

Not only does computer writing appear neater, it's most accommodating too. Thanks to internet access, any reference material a writer could want is also at one's finger tips: thesaurus, dictionary and encyclopedias are all just a mouse-click away. This convenience, of course, is also the computer's Achilles' heel: infinite interesting yet irrelevant articles, amusing but distracting archived web comics and blog posts, and the endless black holes of tumblers and social media are just as easily accessible as all those practical writer's aids. For all the time I save in scribbles, scouring bookshelves, and flipping pages, I lose a hundredfold to internet diversions.

And so, much as I'll miss the kinetic touch of keyboard composition, I've gone and bought myself a proper writer's book. It's a neat stack of blank, lined pages of comfortable weight, bound in an embossed cover with a design reminiscent of an Edwardian first edition. It even has a crimson ribbon bookmark - far too serious to be filled with grocery lists, email addresses, and random reminders. It's solid enough to allow writing without a table top, light enough to carry on one's person, small enough to create the illusion of prolific composition, yet large enough to not fill up too fast. I'd like to imaging it's the kind of notebook Woodsworth might have taken on a ramble in the country, lest inspiration strike him unprepared, or perhaps what L. M. Montgomery's Emily Starr might have recognized as a Jimmy-book. An old-fashioned typewriter may have been a more fitting, given my fondness for pianist-like dexterity, but it would be quite the investment for a little hobby blog. And, short of learning stenography, portability would remain a problem. My fingers will just have to settle for interpretation over creation.

Will my antique tool inspire actual prolificity? Probably not. Naptimes continue to come at a premium, and there are only so many movies I'll allow my toddler in any given week, much as I love the silence it buys me. I may, however, indulge in a higher volume of archaic words and phrases. Mine tome, entombed in parchment hue, hath appoint├ęd it.

Yay verily, but for the grace of type, write I.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Back to blogging

Another season is upon us, and my little hobby blog has lain neglected again. While I've never given up on it entirely, I've refused to let the extended silence bother me too much.  It's one thing to be stressed by leisure in a group setting, where the commitment of others depends on your own; it's quite another to be vexed by a solo activity, especially such a one without schedule, quotas, or accountability beyond the dictates of my own conscience. At least, that's what I keep telling myself when the doubts creep in: the world will not end if I go another month without posting.

There has been many a thought bouncing around these last couple months that I've considered recording, but little that fit the confines of my front-garden concept. And with regular naptimes all but disappearing, if I'm to carve out the time to write, it better be for something I feel is safe to say.

For herein hides the discipline in my unfettered blogger's existence: stay in the front yard. The trophy room, the bedroom, and the confession booth all exist in my mind, but they're hardly fit for public consumption. An occasional trip to the kitchen is allowed, and perhaps the bathroom (it's an occupational hazard of minding toddlers), but certainly not the soap box. I'm not exactly sure how I set up that reality-TV- style rant station, but that thing has got to go. My mind's house could use a little renovation; maybe a lock on the computer room door and trails of jelly beans leading me to the library - not to mention the prayer corner.

I'm not saying that there isn't beauty to be found behind closed doors, or merit in exposing more of my less-than-fabulous moments. I say only that I'm wont to share them out of the context of real-time conversation. It's that immediate feed-back of questions and comments, those facial and vocal reactions, and the chance for reciprocal sharing that shift my perspectives, redefine my experiences, and keep me from obsessing over whether I misspoke.

So I'll stay mainly in the public-domain lovely, and wax poetical from time to time on the blues and golds that sift through refractions in the snow. If you're hoping for something a little more gritty, you'll just have to come over for coffee (and skype coffees totally count).

Happy various and sundry holidays of fall and winter past. I will write again.