Life in Writing

Welcome to Life in Writing, a blog on everyday topics from Gaming to Gardening and everything in between.

The case for self-publishing

Posted by on May 19, 2017 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

  Self-publishing is a bit of a polarizing topic. It does certainly have some shortcomings, but I feel that a lot of good writing gets overlooked due to its perceived stigma. I self-published my novella Hub City Survival six years ago. Would I have done things a little differently today? Absolutely–I don’t think anyone can say they didn’t make mistakes in their time, especially with a six-year gap in between. There are scenes I would have re-written altogether, there’s dialogue I would have scrapped and I certainly would hired someone to smash it down with a hammer. But I didn’t, and I’m okay with that. Here’s why: Hub City Survival wasn’t even supposed to get published. In fact, it just kind of popped out one day. I started writing it on DeviantArt and quickly gained a small following. It was a short project. As it gained popularity and reached its conclusion, I decided I wasn’t done with it, so I decided to compile it and sell it. Self-publishing Hub City Survival was never intended to be anything but a limited print run. But, luckily for me, it turned out to be a bit more than that. And, in fact, I keep telling myself I’ll do “one final order” of a batch of books… but every so often there’s a demand, and I end up ordering more! In the wake of the surprising amount of attention the novella got, I decided to try and gently nudge it in the direction of a few media outlets. One of these outlets was a small newspaper with a focus on independent music, local events, and some literature, so I figured I’d be a shoe-in–but I was surprised when I was met with “we don’t really do self-published books”. Of course, this is fine–they can write about whatever they please, and my book didn’t fit their criteria. But I found the focus on independent music and local arts contrasted with their rejection. Independent creators in other media were fine, but apparently writing can only be good if it’s pre-approved by an industry professional. If you post your stories online, nobody thinks twice. If you write a blog post, nobody thinks less of you. But when you decide to put them into print of your own volition? The conversation changes. For those of us whose ideas don’t direct toward a conventional reading audience, self-publishing is a viable option. For those of us who are niche writers, self-publishing is an excellent option. For those of us who don’t want their ideas to direct toward a specific audience, self-publishing is, arguably, the best option. And some people just like the freedom they’re allowed through self-publishing. Why is there such a difference between self-marketing written work versus other forms of craft or art? Please don’t get me wrong! I am extremely appreciative of all the reception Hub City Survival has gotten over the years, and I wouldn’t change anything–rejections included. These are merely questions I ask when I see the reactions when self-publishing is mentioned. I understand minor skepticism that surrounds self-publishing, especially when it comes to editing and re-writing. But, I also feel the self-publishing market has gotten a bad reputation, needlessly. My next book, Mushroom and Anchovy, is being crowdfunded through Inkshares which, essentially, is a self-publishing platform. If it reaches a certain amount...

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Low points and grownup jobs

Posted by on Mar 9, 2017 in Life in Writing | 3 comments

All I ever wanted in life was to be a writer. Literally. I can remember being a little girl and I never had dreams of a family, never cared much about getting married, and didn’t even consider where I’d like to live. The only thing I ever wanted was to be a writer. Let me tell you about one of the lowest points of my life. I remember it vividly. I was 28, and had just gone back to university to finish my degree. I left a good job–I was manager of a growing chain store–and it was the closest to a “grownup job” I’d ever had. Leaving was a huge risk. I had a house and mortgage, and there was no guarantee that I’d be able to find any kind of comparable work after I finished university. I was about a month and a half in, and was doing pretty poorly. I was failing an entry-level required course, and was having a really hard time keeping up with such a full schedule. I was still working part-time at the same place as before and wasn’t quite making enough hours to get by. In short, I was stressed in every sense of the word. For some reason, I decided I should go to a career fair being held at the university. It seemed like a good idea at the time. As I walked in, I gave my name and student ID, and looked around at the stalls, and then I was promptly hit with the horrifying realization that it was actually a terrible idea. I knew before I set my first nervous footsteps into the area that I would find nothing that appealed to me there. That shouldn’t be a problem, though, right? You’d think I’d be so firmly rooted in my life choices at this point that I’d have been chuckling to myself, recognizing my personal need for freedom and allowing myself the knowledge that a “grownup job” wasn’t for me. But, no. Old insecurities popped up and I suddenly felt like everyone was looking at me. I felt sick. And I wanted desperately to leave. If only I’d thought this through! I tried to navigate a sea of people who were milling about, taking their time to savour the experience. Some were talking to potential employers and exchanging information. I just wanted to get out of there without being seen. Being stuck behind a large amount of people in a narrow pathway, though, only meant that I’d have to wait. I bit my lip as tears blinded me. I felt panic well up with a giant lump in my throat. And then, at last, there was a long stretch of pathway that led out of the room. I almost ran. I grabbed my coat and walked right into the women’s bathroom, and I locked myself in a stall. I felt the world around me crumble into heavy sobs. Why am I here? What’s my purpose? Do I have one? What good am I if I can’t even work so much as a desk job? What is wrong with me? All these thoughts and worse flooded my mind. I clenched my fists and leaned heavily on the stall door. I vaguely heard other students coming in and going into...

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Weathering the storm

Posted by on Jan 20, 2017 in Life in Writing, Uncategorized | 2 comments

UPDATE 11/02/2017: I found this article about 3 weeks after writing this post, and I drew parallels from its boat imagery to my own. Enjoy! Last night as I went to bed, I looked out at the night sky. Snow was falling gently, drifting past the street light and onto the ground. The world around me was in silence, despite the turmoil that was culminating elsewhere. I looked up to the night sky and I whispered, to no one, “what can I do? How can I help?” I fell asleep shortly after lying down, and I slept deeply. An interesting dream visited me not long after. I was in a ferry boat, surrounded by friends and loved ones. The captain, who was someone I actually met only yesterday, announced that a storm was coming in rapidly. We were anchored to a dock, but it would be too unsafe to leave the boat on such short notice. “We’ll be all right here,” said the captain. “Hang tight, though. It could get rocky.” The storm struck almost immediately, bringing with it howling winds and heavy waves. Our boat was strong, though. No one was tossed overboard, and no waves came over the side. I was at a comfortable spot by the payphone, where I’d set up everything I had with me. I was surrounded by friends and a few family members, and had been trying to get ahold of my mom on the phone. I saw a few people behind me who didn’t have a place to sit, so I moved all my things out of the way and let them through. My husband was near, talking to some of my family members. I looked out the window of the boat and saw other boats sailing past, going strong despite the storm, and I silently wished them luck. I wasn’t focused on the storm. I was focused on the people I loved, and the people outside of the boat—the people struggling. I was focused on strangers to whom, in that moment, I could easily give kindness. Before long, the storm passed, and we were well on our way again. There’s something we all can do: weather the storm as best we can. Ground ourselves firmly, prepare for the long haul, and refuse to be distracted from the good around us. The message I received in response to my question, how I could help, was this: more kindness. More generosity. More gratitude. Less judgment. This, too, shall pass. Around the world today—and in one country in particular–people are anchoring their boats against what may be a heavy storm. Maybe the songs we sing in celebration of one another can drown out the deafening howl of the...

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Combining past and present selves

Posted by on Nov 29, 2016 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

“If we think of Baudrillard’s division of collectors into the young and the old, we might account for the seriousness of the older collector by noting that often the nostalgia involved in a hobby is to do with the wish to reanimate an earlier incarnation of the hobbyist.” – In Defense of Hobbies I’ve been thinking about this article–and, in particular, this quote–a lot lately. It seems that my hobby is walking, and watching any animals I find. It doesn’t have to be anywhere in particular, and there doesn’t have to be a destination. If I’m outdoors, I’m happy. I especially love hikes in the woods. I always say that I wouldn’t go back to my younger days because I love the life I live now, and some aspects of my childhood were challenging. But, there are little pockets in my memory that are calm and happy. There was one fall, somewhere between 1996-2000–Dad and I can’t seem to agree on the year–that the two of us were out for a little drive through the Laverty Lake auto trail. We got out of the car when we reached the lake and we took a little look around. I heard a rustling nearby, and I turned around to see a small baby raccoon lying on its back and tossing a leaf around with its little paws. It continued to play, mostly unaware of or unconcerned with our presence, until we drove off. I named the little raccoon Meeko–Disney’s Pochahontas film had been released around this time–and we occasionally drove back, hoping to see it again. We never did. I thought about it for a long time. Recently, I took my daughter down to Alma again for a brief visit with my parents in the middle of the week, just after Halloween. Mom, Amelia, and I decided to go to McLaren Pond in Fundy Park together and walk around the little trail loop that encircled it. We got a little way in and saw a large beaver dam, and watched as four beavers started swimming and working around it. After a few minutes, a little way down the path, a massive beaver–one of the adults, we later learned–wandered into our line of sight. She grabbed a stick in her jaws and tossed it in the air until it got the correct balance, then went back into the water to continue working. We continued down the path, and the second adult walked out of the water further ahead. He turned his head to observe us, and my daughter pointed at him and said “hug!”–she wanted to go over and give the beaver a hug. Something about this entire experience brought back the long-forgotten feelings of that day by the lake, with the baby raccoon tossing leaves in the air nearby. Suddenly, I was a much younger version of myself, standing there and watching the creatures swimming around us and standing before us. The lost feelings of humanity intermingling with nature and the desire to embrace it fully bubbled back to the surface. This feeling of nostalgia that I felt that day was a visitation by my past self. It’s amazing how parenthood forces so many of us to relive our past in a new way: with heightened awareness and appreciation for experiences we may have taken for granted earlier on...

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(Re)treat Yourself

Posted by on Oct 28, 2016 in Life in Writing | 1 comment

I mentioned a few posts ago about how much I miss spending time in the forest and what an important recharge it is for me. That period of time–early September–became a turning point for me. The downward spiral I have been suffering from a period of heavy depression for a good part of this year. Essentially, it began and April and only started to taper off in August, and I didn’t even really realize it until I started feeling better and more like myself again. Most days, I could just do the bare essentials of taking care of my daughter–taking care of myself was hardly a part of the equation. I haven’t even done any meal prep since May. I haven’t posted much in this blog all year. I can’t say what brought me out of it, but I remember walking to the library in early August to talk to some kids about writing and being a writer, and it hit me that I actually felt like myself. I hadn’t felt that way for awhile. It hurt a bit. But I felt something else, too–the drive to continue on this route. I don’t even remember feeling awful, but I don’t really remember June or July at all, so that might be telling enough. In late August into September, for about two weeks, my back went out. I was finally starting to feel better mentally and my body decided to betray me! So I had a meltdown. I remember sitting on the living room floor sobbing about what a terrible mother I was because I couldn’t move (?!). I spent some valuable recharge time in Alma that week, hobbling through the forest as best I could. And then, two weeks later when I was feeling better, I started thinking about what I could do to spend more time in the woods. I had spoken to my therapist about it as well and she talked about finding strategies to take that feeling of being in the woods with me. Being in the woods is beneficial for many people, which explains why I feel so good when I’m there. The next steps I spent a whole week out and about with my daughter. We’d wake up at the crack of dawn, as we always did, but we’d eat our breakfast and then go out almost immediately. There’s a lovely little playground that’s very toddler-friendly about a fifteen minute walk away, and we often go there. We went every day that week. I packed a plethora of snacks to ensure our stay was well over an hour long. One of my co-workers had been talking about going to a horseback riding retreat, and it got me thinking about how nice a writer’s retreat could be. This led to a little mental back-and-forth of me telling myself there likely weren’t any in the area, and certainly not ones that would fit my schedule. Maybe not even retreats that would be the kind of wilderness escape I was longing for. So what was I looking for, then? Well, I told myself, you don’t have to be around other people to do it. And that was what set the wheels into motion. I started thinking about what I could do, and when. And I settled on September...

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Surprising ways that Pokémon GO has impacted my life

Posted by on Oct 3, 2016 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

The date is Sunday, July 17th, 2016, and the time is 4:30 PM. I’d been waiting all week to hear any news of the official Canadian release of Pokémon GO, having decided to wait for official release rather than download the APK file. I’m hanging out in the kitchen at work and I decide to take a peek in the App Store, as I hadn’t all day. I type “pokemon go” into the search bar and I’m shocked when I’m met with the legitimate game as the first result. All week, I’d had fake duplicates staring back at me. My excitement was probably a little unreasonable for a 30-year old mom. I’m not going to lie: I’ve been waiting basically my entire life for Pokémon GO. My love for Pokémon in general hasn’t wavered since I discovered it in grade 7. There was a brief period in my life in which I treated Pokémon Diamond as though it was my full-time job. In short: I love Pokémon. As a mom to a very busy toddler, I don’t really get many chances to play video games. That makes me a little sad sometimes, as I do truly love gaming and have a lot of feelings about video games in general. Pokémon GO shone in the distance like a beacon of light in my dark, stagnant gaming life. Finally: a game I could play while out with my daughter. There was nothing I couldn’t love about this. It was perfect for me. And it still is, 2 and a half months later. So, here are some ways that Pokémon GO has impacted me. I’m looking at my phone far less (and therefore using less data) This is the one that surprised me the most. I thought I would be using my phone more. Before GO, I would often open up my phone and browse through Facebook while out on walks, checking my notifications and sometimes making posts. Not only has GO forced me to be more aware of my data usage, but it’s kicked Facebook off my data usage list altogether, along with the similarly high-cost Snapchat. I’ve been more productive With my mind away from my phone, I’ve been free to think of other things, and those thoughts have wandered back into the creative realm after a bit of a pause. Walking gets my creative juices flowing, too. Because of these things, and because of PoGO’s ease of use, I’ve been thinking more about what I can write while I’m out for a walk. I am attributing my recent resurgence in posting on this blog to that. I really am! I’m exercising more Don’t get me wrong: I usually do exercise quite a bit and I feel I lead a fairly active lifestyle. Nonetheless, I have found that GO has gotten me up and motivated on several occasions–particularly if I have an egg that’s close to hatching. I’m bonding with strangers and friends in new ways Within the first few days of playing the game, I ran into a couple of teenage boys who both had their phones out. Since you can usually tell who is playing by a glance, they called out to me “Pokémon GO?”. We high-fived in passing, then I proceeded to utterly fail at taking their gym from them. My point...

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I miss the forest

Posted by on Sep 12, 2016 in family, Life in Writing, parenting, reflection | 1 comment

I was worried that I was starting to grow resentful of my daughter. My beautiful, intelligent, affectionate little 20-month old daughter. The thought was abhorrent to me! I love her so much. How could I resent her? For starters, I felt the pressure of being unable to sit down and write. To quietly read a book for an hour at a time. To do something other than cook, tidy up, or sit there staring at Facebook comments for 5 minutes in between all that. But it’s funny how a change of scenery, even for an afternoon, can alter perspective drastically. I was feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and physically run down. My back was out. I was tired of spending week after week just recovering from work. I asked Mom if she could take me and Amelia down home–to Alma, where I grew up–and she took us on a Tuesday afternoon. We had a late lunch when we got there, and then went up to Fundy Park for a walk in the woods. The difference in my mental state was almost instantaneous, and it was staggering. The smell of the trees. The silence–all sound beyond us was absorbed by the forest. Watching my daughter interact with nature without worrying about colliding with strangers or her running into traffic. Having both of my parents nearby, while I’m there–not giving me a break, babysitting, or helping me with chores, but the four of us interacting all together. Then I realized that I don’t resent my daughter at all: I resent the fact that I have to spend my time with her recovering, healing, and preparing for the inevitable return back to work later in the week and the repetition of the cycle. I resent throwing out my back and having to work all weekend, then spending the whole week conserving and recharging my energy so I can work again with my back still out because there’s my recovery time is short, and I can’t afford time off unless I’m, you know, dying.  I resent having to micromanage every single day to feel like I’m getting enough enjoyment from my stay-at-home mom moments. This is the life I’ve chosen–the life I want. I get to be home with my daughter 4 days of the week while working the other 3. We don’t have to sink money into daycare and I get to be as much of a stay at home mom as we can afford. On the flip side, Brad also gets a lot of quality time with Amelia on the weekends, when our roles essentially reverse. It’s a good choice, even if it means that time with my husband is limited. Last year when I was on mat leave, though, I was home every evening and weekend could slow down at the end of the day. I could go for a walk or go write at a cafe. I could spend time with my husband and daughter together as a family on weekends, and the whole day was ahead of us. I didn’t have to worry about cramming as many chores as possible into the evenings–and still wake up to a messy house–or the laundry tower on top of the dryer. At least it’s clean. It’s about ten PM, and I’m walking alone outside. The post rainfall has collected in the tall...

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Project updates

Posted by on Aug 29, 2016 in Life in Writing, projects | 0 comments

Hello! Holy smokes. It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Being a stay-at-home mom 4 days of the week and a night-shift waitress for the other 3 has left little time for much else. Except Pokémon GO. I have been trying to pick away at various projects as much as I can. Trying to do this while also doing Normal Adult Things like paying bills and feeding my family has made creative work a bit more slow-going than usual, but here’s an update on how things are going nevertheless! Retail Hell – This is certainly my most successful project to date! I’ve now been working on Retail Hell, my webcomic, for over a year with no end in sight. I’ve seen a huge spike in followers lately–over 300 since the beginning of July–so I feel the project has truly lifted off now. I’ve also switched to digital art. I’m still actively writing a comic a week and may, eventually, do more. I’d certainly like to! Mushroom and Anchovy – This is a trilogy of novels that I wrote many years ago and have pondered on ever since. I’ve never been completely sure of what I should do with them. I’ve decided to compile them into a single three-part novel and crowd fund through Inkshares! This way, I can keep the book as it is–a silly, strange oddity–and distribute it to anyone interested in reading it. I’m not really sure who the target audience is, but if you want to take a look at it, you can read the first chapter for free and without signing up for anything at the link above. At 50 followers, I’m going to begin my crowd funding campaign. Population: 1, Redux – Ahhhhh. Uhhh. Okay, hear me out. So, I’ve reached a level of massive scope creep. I blame Undertale. Pop: 1 was going to have a few endings and just be the absolute bare minimum of what I’d originally wanted. After playing Undertale, I decided I wanted to put more effort in. Now, it’s blown up and has over 15 endings, and I’m not even close to finished. I like to think this will be worth it, but I know about 3 people will actually play the finished product, so I’m just kind of hoping I feel accomplished by the end of it. Maybe. So, I’ve given up on a release date. Population: 1 will be released when it’s released. It will be unnecessarily large, but it will finally be in the form it should have been when I first wrote it. This blog – Well, I’d be lying if I said I was working hard on it. Truth be told, the blog has sadly taken a backburner to everything else going on in my life. I absolutely haven’t given up on writing in it and have a few drafts I’ve been trying to whittle away at. I’ll update when I can! Makeup??? – Having less time for writing has meant I’ve turned my creative endeavours in another direction and I’ve decided to use makeup as an outlet. If you’re curious, take a mosey over to my Instagram account. I’ve been doing themes since I went back to work to keep things fresh on the weekends. It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve learned a lot! Patreon...

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December doesn’t belong to you

Posted by on Dec 22, 2015 in Life in Writing, Uncategorized | 2 comments

The amount of people getting genuinely angry over a greeting is growing increasingly confusing to me. I’m talking about the greeting “happy holidays”. “Happy holidays” is a wonderful, all-inclusive greeting that encompasses every holiday being celebrated in December. Lately, though, people have been claiming that “happy holidays” is being used to avoid offending anyone. These same people, then, are getting offended over the avoidance of  “Merry Christmas”. This has gone from an attempt to include others, to the assumption that we are trying not to offend others, to people being offended by trying not to offend others. I can’t be the only one who thinks that progression is silly. The thing is, most people don’t get offended at “Merry Christmas”. People say “happy holidays”, not to avoid offending anyone, but rather to avoid excluding anyone. It is a courtesy. It is meant to curb the violence that is assimilation and erasure–a violence that, for some reason, we feel we are entitled to dole out just because we are in the majority. To add, there is more than one holiday around this time of year. Even if you do celebrate Christmas, the New Year is just a week after. “Happy holidays” collectively says both. Most people celebrate more than one holiday during this time. Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan and many others are also celebrated, and that’s why we get so much time off from work or school–so that everyone gets the opportunity to celebrate the holiday of choice. Christmas is almost always the majority. Saying “happy holidays” to someone doesn’t mean you’re taking away from Christmas, but rather that you’re acknowledging that many people live in our part of the world who may celebrate differently from you. If this seems like a no-brainer, that’s because it should be! Do we really need a reminder that different people celebrate things differently? Take a moment to realize that people are wishing you well when they say “happy holidays”. They are not trying to offend you; they are not trying to avoid offending anyone. They are telling you to enjoy this time of year, sometimes despite the fact they don’t know you well enough to know what holiday, if any, you celebrate. And, by the way, if you feel it’s ridiculous to get offended over someone saying Merry Christmas, then I would counter that it’s equally ridiculous to get offended over someone saying happy holidays. December doesn’t belong to Christians. December doesn’t belong to any one denomination. Canada is not a Christian country, but rather a beautiful cultural mosaic that respects people of all religions and creeds. In fact, there is no one Christian nation; there are merely nations with a Christian majority. So happy holidays to you, no matter which holidays you celebrate or recognize. And if you don’t appreciate my greeting, that’s cool too. I’ll gladly save it for someone who...

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The great taboo

Posted by on Oct 9, 2015 in Life in Writing, Uncategorized | 1 comment

I’ve always found our society very strange: the way we dance around topics, the way we condone violence but abhor sexuality, the way our “morals” allow us to unapologetically condemn others based on skin colour and sexual orientation. The way we put a taboo over something that affects 20% of Canadians directly, and all Canadians indirectly. Mental illness is a huge topic. It makes a lot of people uncomfortable, because it’s widely misunderstood. As a society, we don’t talk about mental illness well at all–we call people “crazy” and blame violence on the mentally ill, even though mentally ill people are more likely to be victims than they are to perpetuate violence. There is a seemingly unending list of non-facts and unnecessary fear-mongering. The mentally ill are thrown under the bus time and time again, used as scapegoats to avoid discussing the deeper issues. Some people are willing to speak up, thankfully. That alone can help bring about change. My name is Katie. I have generalized anxiety disorder (also known as GAD) and social anxiety disorder. I also suffer from depression, which, I have been told is directly due to my GAD. My mental illness does not define me, and does not make me a dangerous person. It explains some of my actions and, thankfully, gives me something to fall back on when I don’t understand why my brain is reacting a certain way to a situation. I try not to use it as an excuse, but it’s hard sometimes. Mental Illness Awareness Week is drawing to a close. I urge you, this week and all weeks, to consider that mental illness is a health issue like any other. Try showing some compassion, even if you don’t understand. Let’s work together to end the stigma that looms over mental health and get people the help they need. Mental health is such an incredibly broad topic that I don’t feel I can properly give it the time deserves in a cursory blog post. I felt that, on this week, it would be important to say something, no matter how...

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