So long, farewell, Auf Weidersehen, goodbye…

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I suspect almost all of you are now singing – with the Von Trapp Family Singers in your heads – this song from The Sound of Music. That’s how I feel about leaving Black Ink, White Paper behind – sad but in a musical, nostalgic kind of way.

I’m not sure if that makes sense, but maybe I can make it a little clearer with another musical quote, which comes from Ecclesiastes via Pete Seeger and The Byrds: to everything there is a season. And now you’re singing that song. I promise I’ll stop right there before you end up with a dozen elegiac songs in your head, each one battling for supremacy.

To everything there is a season…

Black Ink, White Paper has been a joy for Lisa and me. We’ve met the most wonderful people – both the people who belong to the BIWP blog – and those who have dropped in to read and comment.
So thank you all for being a part of this endeavour. Thank you for joining us while we celebrated and mourned, while we explored the world around us and the worlds in our heads.

To make finding us at our individual hangouts easier, we’re providing links below and the blog, while inactive, will remain in stasis for a few weeks if you want to revisit favorite posts or search our members out on the web.

Thanks so much for being part of our journey. We hope you’ve enjoyed the ride as much as we have!

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This blog was made possible in part by the web wizards at Jar O’Marbles. We’d like to thank Annette for her cheerful presence, great photos and hard work. No writer could ask for a better virtual assistant, so if you’re in the market, keep her in mind!

 

JAR O’MARBLES

 

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A Blessing

We’re almost to the end of 2012 and the end of Black Ink, White Paper, so my final blog is a blessing to you all for the coming year. I’ve had such a wonderful time blogging with all of you over the last year and a half. It truly has been a pleasure and I wish you all nothing but success and happiness in the years ahead.

May blessings rain down upon you from the Old Gods and the New
May good health follow you wherever you may roam
May your friends be plenty and your enemies few
And may your joys always outweigh your sorrows
Even though our paths may part, our hearts are still together.

Ana Ramsey

Thank You BIWP

It’s my final post here at BIWP, and it’s going to be short and bittersweet.

I finally met Kate Austin who invited me to be part of this collective and provided valuable advice when I started writing. She came to Toronto and we had dinner with Nancy, the friend who introduced me to Kate almost three years ago.

The evening was filled with laughter, and Kate was every bit as lovely in person as she’s been in the virtual world.

To everyone who made up this diverse group—it’s been a true pleasure writing with you.

Big hugs to all, and best for 2013 and beyond,

eden

nancy, kate, me

It’s the Night Before Christmas

and all through the house…

Many creatures are stirring…

And a whole lot of the creatures stirring in my house are memories, memories of my childhood Christmases, memories of the food we ate that I no longer make, the songs we sang which I still sing, the fun we had. It’s still fun, it’s just different.

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Christmas – and the traditions that go along with it – change over the years. We certainly didn’t have pizza elves when I was growing up. Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, Christmas pudding were the foods on my grandparents’ tables and then for many years on mine. Oh, yeah, and I forgot the brussel sprouts which were often the cause of food fights – because almost no one liked them but we all had to eat at least one.

Christmas used to begin on the weekend before the big day when we put up our Christmas tree and would end precisely after breakfast on New Year’s Day. The season lasts longer for me now.

The pizza elves are from a dinner with friends in Toronto in early December. A week after that, I ate Italian food with a bunch of workmates. I’ll have a vegetarian Christmas with my sister in Victoria where they’ve come to escape the Christmas deep chill in Edmonton. My brother is coming for Christmas dinner and we’ll drink beer and Prosecco, eat a table full of Persian food and nibblies, and laugh until we make ourselves sick. We’re having friends over on Boxing Day for Spanish wine and some more Persian food.

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We’re meeting two different sets of friends the first week in January for two more Christmas dinners. Those ones are likely to be at a restaurant and we’ll drink wine (some of us – not me – will drink vodka, I expect), eat, and share all the things we’ve missed with each other over the past few months.

But for all of us, we somehow maintain the connection to our childhood traditions. We have the chocolates we had as children (always from Purdy’s), we have the Christmas oranges in our red and green stockings (though we no longer have a fireplace on which to hang them), we have the tree and the poinsettias (though this year mine is white rather than red), we still give gifts to our friends and families, we still listen to the same carols, watch the same old movies.

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I guess what I’ve learned over the years is that tradition isn’t about the trappings, it’s about the love and the connection and the warmth of the season – and that’s what I wish for all of you.

Kate

It’s All in the Timing

In 1986 I finished the first draft of a fictional story about a woman carpenter.  Actually, there wasn’t a lot of “fiction” to it; it was my own story about fifteen years in construction but I wasn’t about to tell people that.  I was still “on the tools” and didn’t want to be that exposed.  The writing itself went quickly, done in about six months of concentrated effort.

But I knew, when I read it over, it was no good.  The characters were boring, the plot lagged, the language was stilted, so I put it away.  Over the next twenty-five years I continued to rewrite that story – though I tried not to.  Telling this tale was too hard, reminded me of events I’d rather forget.  But it kept coming back, in dreams, ideas, notes.  After about five years it switched to non-fiction.  I started fresh, wrote another draft.  No good.  Another.  I’d made a vow to myself at the beginning, that if I was going to write the story of being a woman in trades it was going to be honest or it wasn’t worth doing.  One draft was too cheery.  The next was too academic.  Then there was the draft that reeked with preachiness.  All of them I threw away, swearing I wasn’t going to – didn’t need to – write this book.  But a few months later, another dream, another idea, maybe just a few pages…..

In 1978, soon after I’d started work as a construction labourer so I could pay for a Masters Degree at university, I’d done a thesis on women in what we then called non-traditional work, that showed the number of women in trades in British Columbia was two to three per cent.  In 2007, I had the opportunity to revisit that research and found out the number of women in trades was still two to three per cent.  It so shocked me that in thirty years, in spite of Human Rights legislation, role models and courses for women, nothing had changed, that I decided this book had to be written.  In order to understand why there aren’t more women in trades, people had to know what it was like on a day-to-day basis.  Suddenly I wasn’t writing this book for myself, I was writing it for every young woman who wasn’t getting an opportunity to do work she might love as passionately as I had.

So did that make the writing any easier?  I wish.  There followed the four hardest writing years of my career but I kept writing. I even went to a therapist.

When the book was finally finished, we couldn’t find a place to launch it until a friend stumbled on the Canadian Memorial Centre for Peace.  On November 9, 2012, that’s where I finally launched Journeywoman: Swinging a Hammer in a Man’s World. I’d never felt so vulnerable, so revealed, in a book, but response from women as well as men, has been deeply gratifying.  “Finally,” one of the first emails said, from a woman who’d worked in a northern mine and copper smelter.  “Finally someone has told our story.”

In hindsight, a Centre for Peace for bringing this story to rest, was perfect.  So was its long and difficult gestation.  If I’d published that first poor work of fiction, or the lecture notes, or the preachy version, it would never have had the impact this book has already had.  The story needed time.  I needed time.  I wasn’t ready.  I hadn’t processed the experience enough, hadn’t learned to understand, to forgive, to see the bigger picture.  Time has made it a far better, wiser book. I wonder what will come next?

Kate Braid

Let’s Not Say Goodbye, Only Farewell

As you’ll see from Wally’s blog today, Black Ink, White Paper is winding up. We’ll be done as of December 31. We’ve had a terrific time with all our readers, but it’s time for us – for all of us – to move on to something new. So if you’ve enjoyed any one of us, or all of us, please follow us on our new endeavors. At the end of the year, we’ll leave you with all our personal blogs, websites, Twitter, Facebook, and whatever other social media we subscribe to.
 
We’ll enjoy seeing you during December – and elsewhere after that.
Kate and Lisa

 

When I heard the news that Black Ink White Paper was going to be retired at the end of the month, I was filled with all sorts of emotions. Sadness, relief, anger (at myself) came rushing in to harass me, assail my psyche. Why you might ask? Anyone who knows me will tell you I am neither self-deprecating, and I certainly don’t think of myself as a victim. I guess my first thought was the shutting down of the blog was a sign that it had failed, we, the writers, had failed, I had failed. Which, after I quit beating myself up, I realized was as far from the truth as one could possibly get.

Black Ink White Paper managed to grow and prosper for 20 some months, providing an insight to the life of the writer, from the perspective of an eclectic group of writers, poets, playwrights, screenwriters, essayists, short story writers, word smiths and yarn spinners who create a profusion of stories in plethora of disciplines: short fiction, poetry and novels / women’s fiction, magic realism, paranormal, erotica. /non-fiction adventure thriller/ YA fantasy, YA novel, science fiction/screenplay romance, and fantasy. We gave the blog readers a look into the “Writing Life” and a glimpse into our souls.
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But first and foremost, we, the writers, became friends, friends I will never forget, friends I cherish as much as I cherish family. People I will miss sharing with on a daily basis. The blog was a direct connection that I will miss.

I have promised myself to make every effort to stay in touch with all the writers, no matter how crazy life gets. And I hope they will all do the same. I know I have gotten to know some of you better than others, but you are all in my thoughts and I don’t want to lose any of you. And that goes for the readers, too.

Let’s stay in touch, share our victories and achievements and if time and fate allow…

…a wee dram of good scotch whisky

Wally

Morning Brush-off

Because I am working in two disparate locations—Santa Fe, New Mexico and Portland, Oregon—I am constantly rewarded with unique experiences.The oscillation between arid juniper savannah and verdant river valley, between wide open spaces and dense urban metropolis, keeps me off-balance and receptive to unexpected delights.

Portland’s decrepit Sellwood Bridge is undergoing replacement, a process that will take two or more years. For me, it is an unavoidable bottleneck that frequently backs up the morning commute. As a countermeasure, I depart my digs early and hope for the best. When I mistime the congestion, I often duck into the Starbucks on SE Tacoma, grab a coffee, read my mail, phone my wife and tweak a chapter. That’s usually enough for the traffic to ease.

December 2

In early November I was returning to my car when a novel sight plastered a grin across my face. Two plein aire artists were encamped on an intersection island applying oil to canvas as if ensconced in a field. Always the photographer, I was yearning for my camera when I remembered I was packing my iPhone. What a kick! I began shooting and it was not long before the gentleman handed me a card “so you will know who you are photographing.” Good move! I learned I was capturing two of Portland’s finest: Anton Pavlenko and Brenda Boylan. You will find their work featured, among other places, in Plein Air Magazine and at http://www.outdoorpainter.com/   I am so glad I stopped. They are far from withdrawn. We enjoyed a great couple of minutes before they returned to their work and I to mine. Anton and Brenda have been kind enough to supply images of two pieces they created that day. If you would like to see more, paintings they produced in Sellwood are on display at the Caswell Gallery in Troutdale (opening Dec 7th). If you are in the area, drop by and check them out.

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You can find Anton’s Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Anton-Pavlenko-fine-art/153612281322495 and his website is http://www.antonpavlenko.com/

Brenda’s web address is http://brendaboylan.com/ and her blog’s URL is http://brendaboylan.blogspot.com/

In fact, her November 4 post shows the pair at exactly this location.

“Pause On Sellwood” by Brenda Boylan

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“Quick Painting in the Middle of the Street” by Anton Pavlenko

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Raymond

Holiday Magic

A few months ago I learned that my nephew was getting married, and he was planning a “destination wedding”. He loves Disney World, and he and his fiancée had decided to get married there a week before Christmas.

Initially, the idea of traveling 3000 miles for what will amount to a long weekend the week before Christmas was exhausting. I mean, who needs a major trip right in the middle of the holidays? Then I started to think about it.

I confess, I really love theme parks. I visited Disney World when it was just the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, and Kissimmee was a little town. I remember staying with a friend and picking oranges in the backyard, right in the middle of town. When I visited a few years ago with my family, things had certainly changed.

But the magic is still there. I love the idea of entering a place where you suspend disbelief. A theme park is like a book in that way. You know none of the illusions are real, but you really don’t care, because you’re there for the entertainment.

So I did some research and discovered that there are special decorations, and even a special Christmas Party with Mickey and his friends. I planned my trip so I can visit Universal Studios too, because there are new rides around Harry Potter, in the same park as all the Dr. Seuss characters.

So, what initially had sounded like a disruption to all my holiday planning will be a short vacation. I’ve heard the weather is lovely, (72 degrees is tropical to those of us who live in the Northwest). Best of all,

I’ll see my Mom, sister, niece, grand-nephew and my nephew who is getting married.
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I just hope he doesn’t object to the Minnie Mouse ears at the wedding! Have a Happy Holiday!

Deborah Schneider

On Staying the Course

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Back in the 1980’s when I first met my future husband, he taught me to sail. I’d never set foot on a sailboat before then, but I loved it from the very start. The rocking of the waves against the hull, the pressure of the wind filling the sail, the flapping of telltales. Being on a sailboat is a delight for the senses. But it is also a universe with its own rules, language, and skills.

Navigation is a great example of this. There is something odd and counter-intuitive about navigating on a sailing vessel. For one thing, you can almost never go precisely in the direction you want. And you can never ever sail directly into the wind. Then, you have to understand that turning the wheel might mean little if the wind and current aren’t with you. Even if you do everything right, sometimes the wind dies and you end up drifting.

What I learned from sailing, I’ve been able to apply to my writing as well. There are elements of my writing career that are under my control. I can study my craft, practice, seek and apply feedback, but just as it’s impossible to force a boat to head directly into the wind, I cannot control the direction of the publishing industry.

Right now, it seems like every book on the young adult shelves is either a dystopian narrative or a paranormal love triangle (or sometimes a combination of the two). If I want to see my books in the marketplace, I have a number of choices to make. Assuming that my writing is good enough for publication, I can either write what I already see on the shelves or I can write the stories that have resonance for me. If I chose the former path, then I’m sailing using yesterday’s weather report or forcing my vessel to go against my personal tide. Either way, I’m not going to get where I wish.

If I choose the latter, then I pick a course that may not take me directly to my destination, but it may be the best course wind and weather will allow. It may take a zig zag path, but if I trust in my navigation abilities, staying the course may be the only way through the doldrums.

For all of my fellow travelers on this writing journey, may you find your smooth sailing, fair winds, and following seas.

–LJ Cohen

(Photo by pwcrockett, used with attribution, cc license)

Rain is a many splendored thing

1In Vancouver, rain can change in a single moment. In one day, it can require a full suit of wet weather gear, then a light jacket, then an umbrella and knee high boots, then the ability to laugh at the few drops that hit the street. The sky can be a brutal grey bruise against the mountains, a pure white overcast where I can almost imagine the sun hiding behind it, or a blue sky scattered with clouds.

The moisture from each of those skies is different.

We live with rain in Vancouver. It doesn’t matter what season it is – we have precipitation to suit every month of the year.

Summer rain can roar through the city, moving from the ocean to the mountains in a single raging downpour, leaving foot high puddles in its wake, and all of us laughing with joy at the experience. We can go a week or two, sometimes even three, without a single drop of rain and all of us scared to speak of the lack, believing our words might bring it back.

Autumn is the season of surprise rain. It shifts from sun to shadow in the space of a commercial break. It rips leaves from trees and blocks drains. Cars race through the puddles and soak passersby at each corner. Walking to work is an adventure, wielding an umbrella like a defensive shield.

Winter is autumn amplified and because it’s cold, we add sleet to the mix. It might snow in Vancouver, then the next day it’ll melt, leaving lakes of messy, cold half-rain, half-sleet at every corner. On those days, waist-high waders or a sick day phone call are the only possible answers to the walk to work.

And then there’s the soft, sweet rain of the spring. It’s easy to use that phrase in December – the spring deluge is months away. But that deluge brings early blossoms – Japanese cherry blossoms always the earliest harbinger in January, then the tiny green shoots of crocus, the tall spears of daffodils and tulips, the soft yellow fuzz on the willow trees.

When you live in Vancouver, you learn to enjoy the rain, to buy a new umbrella whenever you see one on sale, because for sure you’ve left your umbrella somewhere you aren’t. Raincoats become fashion statements, and I’m willing to bet that few other cities can sell such a variety of boots.

Rain. Rain. Splendid rain.

Kate