Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wednesday's Words for January 7, 2009

Here we are in January, and somewhat back to normal. The tree has been undressed and put to bed for another year, the Christmas music CD slid back onto the shelf, and we are all left trying to remember to write 2009 instead of 2008 on all our checks and other documents.

Normal is just what you get used to, but normal changes over time. A year and a half ago, normal in the Ashbury household was just my beloved and myself, with the occasional evening filled with one or two grandbabies. Now, normal can be the usual four of us, or six or seven or more of us, gathered around my dinner table. And I had just gotten the hang of cooking for only two again when our numbers increased.

Normal, weather-wise, doesn’t exist in winter in Southern Ontario. Two years ago, winter began on January 15th. I remember the day exactly as we had an ice storm that day. On January 14th, we’d gone to the grocery store in light jackets and one gentleman I saw there was wearing his shorts—largely, I imagine, because he could. Now, in the next week, we’re supposed to be getting freezing rain and around a foot of snow. And the cold that I so abhor is settling in for at least the next two months.

Last night we had a full house, with the ones who live here, and my two youngest grandchildren and their mother. We ate pizza and chicken wings, and sat around the television and watched Mamma Mia. I’d looked forward to seeing this movie. I’m not ashamed to say I’m a huge Abba fan. But there’s nothing like an eight-going-on-twenty year-old granddaughter for keeping your feet planted firmly on the ground.

Me: Hey, the audience is supposed to sing along to the songs, aren’t they? I heard they do that in the movie theatres.

Granddaughter: No, Grandma. No singing. We’re just supposed to hush and watch the movie.

Me: But I know all the words! I want to sing along!

Granddaughter: (silent, patronizing stare, followed by brief closing of the eyes and sad shaking of the head).

I tried to sing, but was met with too many protests. So I decided to lip-sink instead. For the record, I do sing better than Pierce Brosnan, but not nearly as well as the original artists.

Normal for me is going to work every day in my pyjamas. I’m computer savvy, I understand that multi-tasking means doing dishes in-between my e-mails. I love my job. I love sitting down at my computer each morning, knowing that I am free to create a world of my own. Some days are a struggle, because while I usually know where I’m going, I’m not always certain how to get there. And some days, it’s as if the characters are dictating the story to me, and my fingers have a hard time keeping up.

Then there are those other times, those rare occasions when I find myself traveling down roads I never thought to visit, telling stories I’d never imagined I ever would. Those are the moments I love the best, those moments when an idea takes hold, and I set out on a journey of discovery, not entirely certain where I’m going to end up. I love those stories because I know that as I write, I grow. As I struggle to understand, to find what I call the ‘heart’ of the tale, I achieve a level of understanding I didn’t have before. It is in those moments, and with those stories, that I take the next step forward on my own personal life-odyssey.

I’ve just recently finished such a story, and I’m proud of how it turned out. Yes, I am aware that I write erotic romance, and that there is s-e-x in these novels. I’m also aware that some people think that’s all they are. But there’s so much more to them than that, and that’s what's at the heart of my love of writing: for I use the genre and the vehicle to explore some of the challenges we must meet, and to celebrate the people we are, and the people we can become.


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