This is a bit of a long post for me, but it’s been a while, so I want to get everyone caught up and share some gratitude.
In October, I posted two episodes of Stories from the Dark to celebrate the spookiest of months, including a story titled The Devil that is exactly 666 words long. I also had an amazing opportunity to be interviewed on The Writers’ Block with Mike Deregowski. We talked all about how I love to scratch a pencil against a piece of yellow-lined paper to calm the voices in my head. It was made more special as it aired on Halloween morning. In case you missed it, you can find it on the Sound Sugar Radio website, look for episode 51. Thank you again, Mike!
November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which means ALL THE WRITING. This year I’m participating in an unofficial manner. That means no to-do list, no weird projects, only writing, plotting, and editing. I’ve teamed up with a few other members of the Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society in a sort of accountability group. The goal is not word count, but to write every day, and to support each other in the process. I’m only keeping up with one of these things, and even there I’m struggling.
I finished the first week at just under 8,000 words. Not bad. I’m already behind on my current work-in-progress, and now it’s looking like it will be shorter when finished than I hoped. These things are renting a lot of space in my head, which slows down the whole process even more. The current bright spot in my writing life is a short story I’m working on to submit to Pulp Kings Eight from Stray Books. So far, it’s come together quick, and the edit is going well. Good thing because the deadline is this Saturday.
Speaking of submitting stories, I have exciting news in that regard. Late last year, my story Identity was accepted for publication in WonderShift, the Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society’s 40th Anniversary Anthology.
This past Friday, I got to read Identity in front of a room full of actual people! I am beyond honoured to be included with many other talented local writers and poets. I speak about it as often as I can, but community in any creative endeavour is important. Unfortunately, I’m terrible at making these connections because I’m tired and cranky most of the time and would rather hide from the world, but I am grateful to be a part of this wonderful group, even in a small way.
Identity isn’t the only story I’ve had accepted recently. Lampblack Books put out a call for submissions earlier in the year for their new anthology, The Planchette Vol. 1, and my story Remember was accepted! The launch was postponed due to health restrictions, but I know the Lampblack team is working hard on getting the anthology ready for release. I’ll update as soon as I know more.
I understand how fortunate I am to have had these opportunities come my way this year, but they weren’t always my focus. When I started my writing journey, a huge part of my goal as a creative freight train was to show that anyone can do the things I do. We can all follow our dreams, even if the steps we take are small. The potential for this hit me hard at the WonderShift launch on Friday when I looked down at the book sale table,
Yes, so many amazing books by local authors and poets, plus, mine are there too. But that’s not all.
I started Pencil on Paper late in 2018 so I could publish my books. I had no idea what I was doing but was fortunate to have close friends that were able to help me bring my very specific visions to life. When I left my day job early in 2019, I convinced one of those friends, the one and only Kaleigh Kanary, to jump on board to help me grow the business and truly live our best creative lives. Wonder Twin powers, activate!
Nothing looks the same today as it did three years ago, that goes without saying. Out of all the bullshit and loss we’ve had to put up with, here’s something positive to focus on, something that inspires me more than I can put into words.
In the last three years, Kaleigh has created seven published or soon to be published book covers (shown in the picture above are Uncommon Grounds by The Espresso Poetry Collective, WonderShift, and the two with my name on them). She completed her Professional Editing Certificate from Mount Royal University and has, to date, finished five full book edits. She has designed websites, created all of PoP’s marketing materials, and a million social media posts. If asked, she’ll say she isn’t a poet. If you go to her website, kaleighkanary.com, you’ll see that she most certainly is. She is a testament to what throwing a middle finger up to what society says we should be, and following your heart, can look like.
I’m sharing this with you as more than an example of what is possible. I want to be very clear that while I am the dancing monkey in this publishing endeavour, the entity playing the organ is Pencil on Paper, and Pencil on Paper is a team. I am grateful to be Kaleigh’s business partner and proud to be her friend. This journey hasn’t always been easy, but I know when I look back it will have been worth it.
Thank you for following along. Until next time, I hope you are well.