Today is December 6th and every year on this day I like to take a moment to reflect and remember what happened on this day 23 years ago.

On December 6 we commemorate the anniversary of the Montreal massacre, at L’École Polytechnique de Montréal.

On that terrible day December 6 1989  these 14 innocent young women were gunned down in a senseless act of violence against women.

Please take the time to say their names aloud or read them slowly in your mind.

The women’s names were:

Anne-Marie Edward, Anne-Marie Lemay, Annie St Arneault,
Annie Turcotte, Barbara Daigneault, Barbara Maria Klucznik, Genevieve Bergeron
Helene Colgan, Maryse LeClaire, Maryse Leganiere, Maud Haviernier, Michele Richard,
Nathalie Croteau, Sonia Pelletier.

I don’t want the world to forget their names. Today I am not mentioning the name of their killer. It’s their names I want to think about.

As you go about your daily  life today, please take the time to remember them and allow their tragic deaths to remind us that Violence against women and girls continues to be a massive global problem.

When we think of the 14 young women who died on December 6 we can reflect on the continuing violence around the world against women or really any gender based violence– and think hard about what we are going to do about it.

You could go here and donate if you don’t know what to do. These folks have some good things figured out.

Dispatches from the Road less travelled

“Life is complex.

Each one of us must make his own path through life. There are no self-help manuals, no formulas, no easy answers. The right road for one is the wrong road for another…The journey of life is not paved in blacktop; it is not brightly lit”, and it has no road signs. It is a rocky path through the wilderness. ”
― M. Scott Peck from The Road Less Travelled

If you have stumbled on this blog–
or if you are someone who has decided to
subscribe to it–

I want you to tell you how happy I am that you have decided
to visit.

The reason I write here is to encourage myself–
inspire myself–support myself– and otherwise
keep myself dedicated to my art practice

and hopefully–maybe- do the same for you.

I have nothing in particular to offer you
nothing to teach you–
nothing to sell you
nothing to give away–
other than–
my own commitment to keep going–

along my unpaved and often rained out–

artistic road.

Here I am in the middle of blogland

with my dream hanging out

for all to see-

encouraging myself to be fearless.

And hoping you will be fearless too.

And even if my words fall into
the empty void–

I will keep writing and painting and growing my artistry.

I have been building a dream for the past couple of years.

It’s not one that will offer me instant rewards or recognition.

There are other things–

that I could do–

that would give me more of that.

I am taking the hard road.

The rocky and unpaved path.

The road less travelled.

I may be too weak, too introverted,

too obsessive too perfectionistic,

too fearful, too shy, too melancholy–

I may even be delusional–

I am not young and fresh and new at any of this.

I have gone unrecognized and undiscovered

for so long that many might think I should give up.

But I don’t.

I can’t.

I wont.

I am compelled to continue–

despite waves of despair and hopelessness–

Despite the choking fingers of self doubt-

Despite the pain of being ignored–

I do not quit because what I do–

is what I love.

The journey of imagination is what

feeds me and delights me and challenges me.

And I keep going with the hope that

dedication and discipline and fierce devotion–

will allow me to one day create

a work of art that inspires and astonishes

and heals and challenges and transforms

and all those other things

that art can do.

I am writing a play right now–

with the determination

to dig in deep

to live in the difficulty–

to roam and fall into the hollows–

to cope with the endless mud of the work

to write and write and stay writing

without recognition and reward.

To look hopelessness and fear

square in the eye–

And to persevere without compliments or

rave reviews or agents jumping to represent me.

To ignore the defeatist messages I send myself.

And to press on. Regardless.

This is my road.

Hope you are somewhere on yours.

What are you working on?

What is it that you want to create?

What is it that you are avoiding?

Lets talk about it.


This painting is called Waiting. It’s autobiographical.

I posted it here because it’s about my creative imagination

and how sometimes I have to just sit still and wait-

for the images to come out of the dark.

I am writing a new play.

The working title is Ladder of Angels.

It is a work of imagination. Fiction.

I am finding the story as I go along.

It is a bit like catching butterflies at night.

My writing community Wet Ink Collective

right now is deep in a ten week writing intensive.

We have all set ourselves the challenge of

completing a draft of a play in ten weeks.

Crazy yes! Scary? Yes. Exciting. Yes.Yes Yes!!!!

!2 writers meet once a week and spend three hours

reading and discussing each others new pages–

with the idea of everyone emerging at the end with a completed

script in their hot little hands.

It can be a rough draft, a second draft whatever?

It doesn’t matter. The goal is getting it done–

and not chickening out along the way.

We are all swimming across a wide lake of our own creative dreams

and some of us are already gasping for air–

But we are there for each other–

keeping each other afloat.

Its all about being fearless and trusting

that the creative imagination will open up

and the words and images will flow out– if we allow them.

And– to tame the inner critic enough to keep going.

I am not one who believes that the inner critic is my enemy.

When my critic sticks with sensible though ruthless commentary about

the authenticity of my characters, or the flow of a scene– she can be very

helpful. It’s only when she makes it personal and starts telling me I am not worthy

and can not rise to the task or that I will never achieve my dreams–

that is when she must be sent to her room.

So now I challenge/encourage/invite you– my readers– to set the goal–

to complete a draft of something–anything–in a designated period of time

and find some one, or a group, to hold you to the task.

Is is a short story that you would like to set down for a writing contest?

Is it the family story you want to write? Is it the book

that you have been thinking about for years and years?

Set a goal. Make a deadline– and grab some creative supporters

who will keep you honest and accountable. Do it.

Defeat resistance. Face your fear. Keep that promise you

made to yourself. Be fearless.

Last days of summer

“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood”
Tom Robbins

Some people say that Labour Day marks the end of summer,

but not for me. I hold on to the beauty of this season

until the autumn equinox.

Maybe even longer.

I have resumed my morning ritual of painting in bed.

I pull all my supplies and my journal into the bed

and just begin.

It helps me remember that the raw dread I sometimes

wake up with is just a feeling.

Caring for my mother is difficult.

As silly as it sounds I am still afraid of

her. Afraid of displeasing her

Afraid of awakening her rage.

My fear is old and carved into my brain

like a mountain road is carved into the granite.

How many explosions does it take to cut through

a mountain– or a kid?

And she’s just a little old lady

frail with Dementia–and sweet

most of the time.

But still she can fill me with terror.

I have learned–well I am learning–

to have compassion for her and for myself.

I have hired a care giver again.

Four hours a week.

We will see how it goes this time.

She has already started to complain.

I think the thing is to not give in.

I think the thing is to hold my ground.

I have never been able to do that with her.

Now I have to grow up and be an adult,

and I think the best way, is to connect

with the child in me–

and have my happy childhood now.

So painting in my art journal is part of that.

I write down my sadness and then I paint over it

and it is surprising how my spirits

lift and my view of things shifts.

It is amazing how spending a little

time diverting your imagination from

endless ruminating on impending disaster

can transform my whole inner world.

If you paint it’s hard to think resentful thoughts.

If you splash colour around it’s hard to have all that

mess in your mind.

What are you longing for?

“What you seek is seeking you.”
― Rumi

Today I am sharing an intuitive painting.

Just for fun I added a little digital magic to the painting this evening.
Click on the picture below and see if you notice a little bit of extra magic.

Not everyone can see it.

This painting emerged when my soul asked me to paint it.

Of course I didn’t know that my soul was talking to me.

I didn’t know what I was painting. I just held the brush.

Our imagination will speak to us–send us messages from deep within ourselves and tell us what we are longing for.

I know what I am longing for when I look at this painting.

The Magic.

Which of course is art.

Dabbling with magic is a risky business.

One must be fearless to face the potential disasters

disappointments and possible failures.

But yet magic is calling me.

I know this.

How about you?

What is calling you?

Deeply and truly what is calling you?

A conversation with famous writers

“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning,
and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.”
Oscar Wilde

I can so relate to this Mr. Wilde.
I have agonized over one line and fiddled with it until it didn’t make sense any more.
I have cut lines and put them back. It is an arduous process but necessary.

“Nothing you write, if you hope to be any good,
will ever come out as you first hoped.”
Lillian Helman

I know exactly what you mean Lillian. When I start to write a play there is a point where it starts to write itself and I either get out of the way or it all just shuts down. I have to give up on what I thought I wanted to write and give in to the mysterious powers of the creative process. I have tried to force the issue but it never works. There is a point where the play reveals itself and tells you what it wants to be.

“You must write every single day of your life…
You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders
to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads….
may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days.
And out of that love, remake a world”
Ray Bradbury

Oh Mr Bradbury I love when you talk like this.

“The first draft of anything is sh*t.”
Ernest Hemingway

Well in my case that would be true. As a matter of fact I secretly call the first draft
the sh*t draft and sometimes I will have sh*t draft number three before I actually start writing the actual first draft.

Well I guess I should stop having imaginary conversations with famous writers and actually
start writing. I must say though that connecting with these brilliant writers through their words
is like connecting to some kind of amazing magic. I feel the spark ignite.

Just start.

When it comes to the commitments we make to ourselves– things like I will write for three hours a day on my novel, play, screen play, short-story—-some of us inevitably break the promise as soon as possible because some part of us is trembling with fear and doing it’s best to protect us from the cruel possibility that maybe we can’t write.  Some of us prepare to write, by researching ourselves to utter exhaustion and end up with more information than we could ever need,  and others simply decide cleaning a closet and having lunch with a friend is more important. The secret to all this is to start with what you know and get it down on the page even if it is rough and weak and scant and inconsequential.  Abstract Painters know that they have to splash some paint on the canvas or make some marks or shapes or lines that may actually never be part of the painting but that lead to the painting.  I sometimes begin with writing words in a water colour crayon randomly or pick a colour and a brush and apply some painterly scribbles and doodles that lead me to whatever is next in the painting. My mind will respond to the marks and a conversation with colour and line and shape and texture begins. Sometimes an argument occurs and a choice is made and it’s the wrong choice– but it can be scraped off and painted over. Same with writing. Get thee to your computer is my advice– and start writing a few things you know about the character, the setting, the plot. Start.  Be random. Be a beginner. Be awkward. Write badly. You just have to start. And be willing to make a mess–that’s all. Because the part of you that wants to write will rise up and figure it out. Maybe not immediately but it will. So start with what you know and then you will have kept your promise for another day and pretty soon something in your brain will shift and a door will open. Just start and don’t quit.


First steps in a new direction.

Today I went to the first meeting of a writer’s group.

Five of us gathered on this dismal cold and rainy Saturday morning for the very first time.

Everyone was excited and confessed their fears.

We spent the first hour discussing what we wanted to achieve in the group.

We all agreed that being accountable to each other was important

to our own creative process.

We discovered that we are all the kind of writers who need deadlines.

Left to our own devices we would just do other things.

I have never been part of a serious writer’s group before–

and I am so happy to have this opportunity.

I want to allow myself to be encouraged and to expose myself to hard and honest critical feedback from the other writers.

But maybe I can’t write plays

. Maybe I am just full of myself and my ego is telling me lies about all the plays I am dying to get down on the page.

I find that people are not comfortable giving or receiving truthful feedback–

especially the tough kind–and so this is going to be part of our adventure together.

I hope we will be learning to expose ourselves to both encouragement, and  criticism without dying on the vine.

Maybe that metaphor is a little precious but–

I want to learn how to both accept and reject critical feed back.

Both are necessary. Sometimes advice or direction can be damaging and confusing.

You have to know when to say thank you but ignore what ever was said– I hope I can do this.

And You have to know when to accept the criticism because it is useful and reveals something to you.

I think all artists are fearful of perceived judgement. I am anyway.

We fear the thoughts of others.

What someone thinks of us really has no real weight in our lives.

Yet  we cringe at the thought of it. We hide from the possibility that we wont be acceptable to someone.

We often interpret criticism to mean we are not good enough.

The actual judging is something we are doing to ourselves.

Criticism given in the right spirit is not judgement at all,

but a kind of collaboration in the forward movement of the work.

At least it can be.

I also want to constantly remind myself that the desire to write comes

from a deep love of the written word.

It’s a joy that we experience.

We see how the world is illuminated and made to shine

because of the way someone has written about it.

And we want to do that same thing.

We don’t realize the extent of the effort and struggle that is involved.

We aren’t prepared for the loss of faith in ourselves or the challenges that arise.

I think we worry too much about our ability and our talent or the lack thereof.

I have decided to be unconcerned about whether I have talent

and just focus on the work.

I want to fuel the work with my passion for the work.

And to constantly remind myself about my love for it despite the pain.

I want to keep writing–

even badly if necessary–

to get to where I can write well.

I am here for the long haul.

Now, on to staring down the blank screen.

On to the task of defeating my self-doubt one more day.