It’s been a busy year

danceA big thank you to everyone who volunteered to take part in my case studies this year for the Essential Oil Therapy course. I learned tons about the amazing medicinal properties of herbs and passed with flying colors. It was one of the many things on my bucket list of things I’d like to learn more about. I’m an avid gardener with lots of lovely herbs in the garden. Thanks again dear friends for helping me out. Happy to report: Everyone lived!

Of course this means I have put my writing on hold this year, doing this course and working my day job, but I loved the break. Change can be good for the soul. Still, I am looking forward to scribbling again come Fall. I finished the novel “How to be a Psychic” so it will be time to roll up the sleeves and start editing.

Enjoy the summer everyone!

Designing the garden and novel

I sat out on the deck and did my Morning Pages (Julia Cameron’s Artist Way) and then, after admiring the geraniums blooming  creamy pink amongst the catmint, began reading “Beautiful by Design” a book on gardening by Tara Dillard. It occurred to me that the points she was making about learning plant design applied to the art of fiction writing:

 “What I learned from my Garden (fiction writing):

1. Gardens (fiction writing) require patience. A garden (novel) doesn’t happen overnight.

2. Striving for beauty in the garden (writing) is part of garden (novel) design.

3. Less can be more. Sometimes what is not there makes what is there more important.

4. My garden (fiction) continually teaches me new ideas.

5. I have to unlearn old ideas that no longer serve my garden (novel). Gardens (novels) are ever-changing–so should be my knowledge about my garden (writing).

6. An important rule of garden (novel) design: Simplify. The placement of focal points…is one of the most important points of garden (novel) design. I had to learn what is the right style of ornamentation for my garden (writing). Simplicity is a virtue.”

  

“Kathy-Diane Leveille observes the ties and binds of working class lives in lucidly evoked rural settings….her settings and especially her characters–their hopes and fears, verbal and behavioral tics, even their smells–are keenly observed and full of sensual presence.” The Globe and Mail

Is a wet blanket haunting your writing?

All the writers who’ve attended my retreat Answering The Call, know I’m an avid fan of Julia Cameron’s Artist Way books. Her writing never fails to ground me when I become overly anxious about the creative process.  I used to lug a ton of her books there in a duffle bag and hole up with a fistful of pens, hot green tea, Paula Red apples and reams of foolscap.  Let the Shadows Fall Behind You was birthed in a tiny unadorned room containing a single bed at the end of a silent hall on the second floor. A statue of the Virgin Mary stood outside the door, which I found comforting when one of the nuns who runs the Villa told us it was haunted. I spent hours propped against pillows gazing out the window that overlooked an ancient evergreen, whose dark branches slowly rose to the foreground, gaining inky definition each night as the sun slipped behind the hills.

 

Last week I met with my friend Sara to talk about getting together after Christmas to discuss Walking in the World one of Julia’s new books, as we each start a new project. The novel I’m writing now is set in the 1930’s and, of course, the critic inside my head keeps harping that I shouldn’t be writing about an era of history I didn’t actually live in, and that I’ll probably get it all wrong.  Coffee with Sara was just the spark I needed to accept that voice and get back to the drawing board anyway.

 

Do you have a wet blanket haunting your writing? If so, you might enjoy this snippet on YouTube of Julia Cameron speaking at Wisdom House February of last year.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__0XbfkOXVc

 

 

 

Good-bye wet blanket.

Best

Kathy-Diane

 

Confessions of a Green Thumb Writer

The first in the conga line of tropical storms brought heavy winds to the east coast this weekend and a heavy downpour. I walked through the garden yesterday assessing the damage, and collected an armful of dahlias that the wind had knocked over. Every year I think I’m not going to bother digging the bulbs up anymore, lugging them inside to pack away in boxes of peat moss and carting them into the pump house. Then, as soon as the leaves start to turn, I find myself wielding the pitchfork and doing it anyway. After a long winter, I’m always grateful I did. I can hardly wait to fish each bulb out, like prizes in a cracker-jack box. They look shrivelled and sad, void of any sign of life.

But then I pot them up and, amazingly, slim green shoots appear. I think I started with three plants, and now have two dozen. This is so illustrative of my writing life. Every fall when it’s time to start a new novel I decide this will probably be the last project I’ll do; that surely it’s time to move onto some other creative pass-time: spinning wool or painting. But every year, after I’ve fallen in love with a new character that’s given birth in my imagination, and burn pot after pot of boiling water because I’m lost in a daze wrestling the story onto the page, I could no more stop writing than I could resist piling the bulbs into boxes for another long cold winter.