Posts Tagged "commentary"

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 of pre-orders, the book will be published through a professional publishing house, but I’m still the one directing the progress. I have developed an audience through Hub City Survival, which will help me with my campaign, and, in my opinion, can be a useful way for other writers to gauge interest in their projects. It is my hope that one day I will be able to professionally publish one of my books through a well-known house, but I don’t want to treat my little “misfit” projects like they’re inferior. They’re still projects I worked hard on and poured a lot of myself into. They still mean a lot to me. That’s Mushroom and Anchovy, that’s Hub City Survival. And that’s why they get self-published...

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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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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 is this: I would never have interacted with these guys on a normal day. I rarely interact with people I know if I can help it, let alone strangers. I have gone on 2 AM Poké-hunts with co-workers and ridden in a car alongside a friend in PJs, and have simultaneously done a hostile takeover of gyms in Albert County with my friend while he was on his delivery route (Team Mystic for life). PoGO has led to some amusing and often impromptu social situations. For someone who resists spontaneity, this has been a refreshing change of pace. It has diversified daily outings with my daughter, and we’ve had some unique family outings Knowing that Centennial Park was a nest for Machops was reason enough to go, but the fact that...

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Okay, 30. I’m ready for you.

Posted by on Feb 26, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

It’s 9 PM on a Monday night in early June. The baby’s in bed, and Brad’s home, so I take a walk down by the bridge that leads to the university. The weather is perfect: it’s a bit warm for this hour, but with a cool breeze. I bought a bottle of apple juice at the store, because why not? On top of it, my new favourite album–Endless Forms Most Beautiful by Nightwish–is blaring in my headphones. It’s a nice night, and one of the few chances I get for a few minutes to myself. After a half hour or so of walking to the bridge and taking the long way home, I stop by the park on our street and sit on a swing. It’s not the first time I’ve done this. I reflect on the past few years as my legs push the air forward and pump back, my body a pendulum in the night air. 30 was such a daunting number a few years ago. “Late twenties with nothing to show for it,” I would lament to myself in the years prior, a bottle of beer in my hand as I scrolled aimlessly through Tumblr. I had an unfinished degree that I should have completed several years before. I didn’t complete any of my creative projects. I was still working retail, which I’d wanted to get out of for a very long time. My twenties were an incredible decade in my life. I learned so much about myself. I learned that I operate best when under my own schedule; I learned ways to treat my growing anxiety. I accomplished things I never thought I would, such as returning to school and finishing my degree. I made the best friends I’ve ever had. I sang onstage. I acted. I had a baby. It wasn’t all positive. I remember as I was in the midst of my early twenties, my mom said to me “your twenties are really for figuring yourself out and making mistakes”. I definitely made a few. I lost friends and alienated people. I worked a job I hated because I thought I needed the money. I dropped out of university because I couldn’t handle the pressure.  I still don’t have my driver’s license. On this, the eve of my 30th birthday, I can look back at the missed opportunities of my twenties and feel at ease. Nobody gets every goal they want done at this point in their lives. In some ways, I’m not as far as I would have liked to be, but in others, I’m a lot farther. Let’s do this, 30. I’m...

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#AngloswithAcadians

Posted by on Aug 21, 2015 in Life in Writing | 7 comments

I posted a rant on Facebook on August 15th, la Fête Nationale Acadienne,  It got a lot of attention–currently, it’s sitting at almost 2,000 shares and nearly 3,000 likes. On the evening of August 14th, I saw a post by Beth Lyons. I’d been thinking about this issue for a long time. Growing up in Albert County, I saw one side of the argument: the majority’s side. Lately, after seeing vocal “anglophone rights” and “anti-bilingualism” groups, my urge to say something grew. Seeing Beth’s post on the 14th sparked something in me. I woke up on the 15th and said “today’s the day”. My rant followed. I’ve long been interested in New Brunswick’s bilingual population. When I was approaching middle school, I was given the opportunity to take immersion classes in Hillsborough. Being from a small community, the idea of going to a school an hour away was a little daunting, but I really wanted to improve my meagre French skills. This was important to both me and my parents, considering neither of them spoke French and they felt that I should be connected culturally to both official languages. I stuck it through and graduated high school as Intermediate in French, which was enough to gain me acceptance to Université de Moncton’s groupe pont (bridge group)—a program for anglophones. I took a 5-year break in between to practice my French in a practical setting: working retail in Champlain Place. I couldn’t tell you what level my French is at now, but I worked very hard to get there. I went through years of anxiety, and it was anything but easy. This doesn’t really matter, but I think it’s relevant to illustrate my background as an anglophone. My quinze août rant was intended to be a public statement of recognition, from an anglophone to the francophone community, that some of the silent majority recognizes that the minority is suffering. By making this statement, I’m not ignoring the fact that unilingual anglophones might have a hard time finding a job in New Brunswick. The problem is that anglophones are in the majority in our province, and these growing anglo rights groups are speaking over francophones who are have had similar experiences for a long time. The focus shift to anglophone rights must be discouraging for francophones. I know that both sides of the language debate–how is there still a language debate?!–have problems. However, as an anglophone, I am allied, by default, to anglophones, and this is why I wrote my rant. When the majority is loud in favour of the majority, the minority is silenced. This is what I fear. Many francophones tend to hear negativity from the anglophone side, and I felt it was important to let francophones know that some of us are willing to speak up. I’m a little disappointed that, despite francophones speaking out about these issues for years, these issues are only being addressed now that an anglophone is publicly decrying them. I’m very glad that the message I wrote has resonated with so many people, but I do hope that others decide to listen to francophone voices and stand up for their right to speak and work in their language. I also find it interesting that I was interviewed by four French media outlets, and only one English one. The fact that CTV published a poll asking whether bilingualism is outdated or not on their website is proof that we have a serious problem in our province. The results heavily favoured doing away with bilingualism–this coming notably from primarily English-speaking viewers. I’m not saying our province isn’t broken. We have low literacy rates. Our unemployment rate is high. We have a failing economy. We have a slew of problems, but we’re constantly putting the blame on bilingualism and duality. This is not a black and white issue. Getting rid of bilingualism will not fix these problems. Language is a skill like any other, and it is a marketable skill. Certainly, some anglophones have unfairly lost their jobs–I am speaking of specific examples, not every occurrence thereof. While I agree that all jobs shouldn’t necessarily be bilingual by default, bilingualism as an ideal...

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