Recycle, Reuse, Read

Every year at the onset of the holiday season my department at work gets together to share our ‘favourite things’ in the fashion of Oprah or Ellen DeGeneres. We are not nearly as extravagant as our talk-show host compatriots but we each bring 25 of our ‘favourite (inexpensive) things’ to share with the team. The end result is a fabulous little goodie bag of tea bags, stories, candy bars, seasonal decorations, song lyrics, mechanical pencils and airline size liquor bottles. It is such an amazing way to show our coworkers how much we appreciate them and strengthens our team spirit.

This year I faced the task of coming up with 25 inexpensive, yet meaningful expressions of myself, on the heels of publishing my newest book. I sat pondering at the desk in my now very crowded office-turned-shipping-and-receiving-area, surrounded by stacks of discarded draft manuscripts. Stacks. The amount of paper it takes to edit a book is staggering. I intended to recycle the reams of paper - as a Canadian I am fully versed in the recycling art - but had been deterred by the sheer volume. Or perhaps it was, in part, that I was not ready to let go of the work I’d completed over the four months prior - an unexplainable attachment issue.

I removed the top piece of paper from one of the piles and started folding it; wondering if I could reuse the paper to make festive holiday cards, or cut it into elaborate holiday decorations or, more realistically, kindergarten daisy chains. I could shred it for stuffing. My thoughts then wandered to whether or not I should acquire a hamster? Can they live in shredded paper? What would I do with a hamster? Should I be in charge of the keeping and care of another of God’s creatures? I can barely care for my goldfish and don’t even get me started on the Betta fish - I have buried 3 in the past year and the row of popsicle-stick-crosses in the back garden is visible from space. No a hamster would not fare well at my house.

After my dismissal of the idea of rodent ownership I looked down at my hands and the piece of paper therein resembled the white origami knight in the ‘Nailed It’ catalogue.

Not bad, I thought, remembering my desire to become an origami genius a decade ago during an ‘I need to be more Zen and what a better way than origami?’ phase. Turns out origami is not the better way and I have absolutely no aptitude for anything more complex than the Origami Simple Box - key word ‘simple’. Then it hit me. Simple boxes made from my manuscript pages!

Most of the pages will be traditionally recycled, but some of them will be reused to convey seasonal M&M’s to some of my favourite people during this holiday season.

PS. Simple boxes ARE quite simple. Well named Origami, well named.

The Joy of Self-Publishing

I have used the word joy in the title because that is the word that first comes to mind as I sit here with the hard work behind me. Of course, the joy has just settled in. My self-publishing journey has been many things, none of them joyful.

I started editing my third novel (which I completed 2+ years ago) in July – dedicating my entire summer vacation to the part of writing I dislike the most. It was not joyful. Editing makes me crazy. Antsy. Frustrated. Irritated. Editing makes me want to do something else - anything else. I’d start off strong each morning; sitting at my desk pen in hand, editing. But then, I would suddenly find myself scrubbing kitchen cupboards, organizing my storage room, making handmade gift cards or cutting the grass. Doing anything but getting down to the business of editing. Drifting away from the book was easy and I did it on autopilot. Forcing myself to return to the book took internal brute force and discipline I did not know I had. I looked to the heavens and moaned a lot in July. When August rolled around I returned to work and had to fit editing into my spare time and there was more moaning, but I won’t lie to you, my cupboards and storage room looked amazing!

Fast forward two months, edits finally complete. Yay! But then I had to begin the all-new-to-me process of self-publishing – cover design, title research necessitating a title change, then 100s of titles later arrive at a new title, ISBN registration, barcode purchase, arrange financing, printer research, ‘how to make an ebook’, purchase and learn the program to create an ebook, learn how to make and manage my own website, create aforementioned website, ponder marketing ideas and on, and on - each task seemingly impossible and with its own treacherous waters to navigate. The learning curve was steep, and frustrating and I wanted to quit every day. I am, however, tenacious and refuse to fail. So, with the help and support of amazing friends and family – who all simply ignored my moans - I somehow managed to muddle my way through, overcome the obstacles and survive the climb.

With a brand new shiny copy of The Influence of Now lying on my desk beside me, I am tired but I feel a sense of satisfaction and joy that can only culminate after months of hard work, dedication and self-discipline. The thrill of completion and satisfaction of a job well-done far outweigh all the frustrations and trials along the way. I am filled with joy.

So, when you find yourself on your own uncertain uphill path, stick with it. Believe me, if you survive the climb, the view is spectacular.

Magic of Music

Blogging. It is not something I ever imagined myself doing and yet, here I sit, typing. I cannot say if this will be something I will do regularly, but when something strikes me as noteworthy, or magical, or confusing, or amazing I do feel inclined to share my musings. So here I go.

Today I woke up fascinated by the "magic" of our connected world. Our uber-connection has its downside, don’t get me wrong, I am sure there are many mid-twenty-somethings sitting at their 9 to 5 jobs, right now, regretting what they posted online as teens. But if you love music, there is no better time to be alive.

About a month ago, one of my co-workers mentioned that one of her favourite bands, Current Swell, would be playing in our hometown on November 10th and had I planned to attend? I had not even heard of them – Current Swell hails from Victoria, B.C. - but I love music and discovering new bands (well, bands new-to-me).

Had a similar conversation occurred prior to April 2003 (the inception of itunes) I would have googled the band, but found few results – probably an article or two - but no easy access to a band’s sound (videos online were scarce and youtube didn’t exist until 2005). I would have had to find my car keys (or subway pass, I was living in TO prior to 2003) put on my coat and head downtown to the record store, hoping my local store carried that band in question. Upon arrival at the store some 45 minutes later, my enthusiasm would be dashed when I was told that my local Southern Ontario record store does not carry Victoria-popular bands but they could order it for me. I would then place my order and be told to come back in a week. I would make my 45 minute trek back home, depleted. One week later, I would dutifully return to the record store with my $9.99, pick up the long-awaited disc, pop it into my Discman and finally get to listen to the recommended band.

In 2015 access to music has transformed. In a matter of minutes – 18 to be exact - I googled the band, watched a couple of their videos on youtube.com – they had me at their self-deprecating video for Rollin’ - liked the sound, clicked on itunes, searched Current Swell, sorted by most popular songs, purchased the top 16, started listening while I burned a CD to play in my car during my daily commute, and fell in love with an amazing band!

The November 10th Current Swell show was amazing. Philip Sayce opened – another very talented Canadian-raised artist, previously unknown to me – and Current Swell rounded out a perfect evening of live music.

I marvel at the ease in which music can be shared / discovered / enjoyed across the continent. If you have not heard Current Swell, they are well worth the 18 minutes!