Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Writing Life...

As a student and teacher, I cannot escape (not that I would want to) all the writing I must do. I write evaluations. I write academic papers and presentations. I teach about writing. I write fanfiction for the fun of it. I explore the fin of writing with fountain pens. On occasion, I write poetry.

An average week looks like this for me:
- teaching and hosting discussions or rituals on the weekend
- crafting in preparation for a kids fun learning and writing program
- takes a class on Material Culture in Religion
- writing weekly papers for that class
- researching and writing a larger paper for that class
- working on lesson plans and evaluating corporate executives to whom I teach ESL (English as a Second Language)
- writing about 2-5k words in various novels and fanfiction stories I am working on
- practicing with my fountain pens to improve my penmanship... and because it is fun
- TAing (being a Teaching Assistant) a course on Cults & NRMs (New Religious Movements)

This particular week is full of all sorts of things:
- Writing a presentation on Sand Mandalas as Material Culture in Tibetan Buddhism
- Correcting exams for the ESL class
- Correcting essays for Cults & NRMs class
- planning a discussion about religious inclusion for Sunday
- transcribing 3 handwritten chapters for one novel
- hopefully writing a chapter for a neglected novel

In all of this, I am enjoying teaching my daughter to love writing with a fountain pen as well. Below are the pictures of my daughter (2 1/2 years old with a quill) and her little art work, some poetry or affirmations, and an example of the MANY pages handwritten of a chapter that needs transcribing.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018



This is a little like NaNoWriMo and was inspired by it. This happens in February and is a perfect way to beat the winter blues. Celebrate the old tradition of handwriting and write a letter each day of the month of February. It can be to anyone. Or to any of those helpfully on the InCoWriMo address book.

Not sure what to write or how? Visit the website for advice. Or visit Goulet Pens' blog for a list of ideas. It can be a formal letter, a note, a car, or a postcard. For extra fun, try writing with a fountain pen! Or even more exciting... go seriously olde skool... write by candlelight with a quill.

I promise to post a photo of my first letter on February 1st. See you then!!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Exploring Material Culture

So much of what we consider research and writing is based on written texts, literature, and written literature. When someone consiuders the visual aspect of research, they refer often to statues, paintings, and those sort of permanent visual images (or pictures of them) in conjunction to text-based research.

But there is a HUGE world of other forms of research that can enrich anyone's writing and research.

Ethnogtraphy is vital to get the oral aspect, listen to the stories and witness the practices. Go there; speak to the people, do the activities. This includes the art forms of stroytelling, music, and dance.

Material culture is a study of EVERYTHING ELSE!

It touches all the other senses! Being able to include this in researching a religion or culture expands our knowledge and understanding. If you are writing fictional work, including these details will greatly enrich what you are writing, bring it more to life, and engage your readers... captivate them even!

Material culture includes not just sight and sound, but also includes: smell, taste, and especially touch. Another aspect is that almost visceral emotional sense of having been touched internally, in your soul/spirit, making you feel moved in some way (changed by the experience).

Let's consider SIX categories (because as Westerners, we value labeling things and catergorizing them).

  • temples
  • shrines
  • walls
  • floors
Ritual Objects
  • items used on altars and in shrines
  • statuary and venerated objects
  • ritual tools
  • relics
  • statues
  • paintings
  • mosaics
  • frescos
  • wooden carvings
  • furniture
  • sculptures
  • objects in stone or metal
Books & Manuscripts
This is not at all even considering the content of the text.
  • covers
  • paper
  • binding
  • ink
  • writing tools
  • writing styles
  • interior illustrations
  • wrapping
Cosmetic Realm
  • textiles / fabric
  • tapestries
  • embroidery
  • jewelry
  • body art (painting, henna, tattoos, piercing, body modifications)
  • window art & stained glass
  • ornamentation of statues
  • trinkets & decor 
  • make-up
  • perfumes
  • musical instruments
  • instrument storage
Food & Beverages
  • cooking tools
  • ingredients
  • eating tools
  • place setting styles
  • food
  • alcohol
  • tea
  • coffee
  • other beverages
  • beverage preparation
  • drinking vessels
  • storage containers

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

NaNoWroMo starts November 1st


I am participating again this year in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This is a one-month (30-day) writing challenge to write a 50K word novel in 30 days. That is about 1700 words per day. I hope to finish my second novel in a series I am writing. At the same time, I have a grad paper to write for my course. Together, they should come out to about 50K.

I am also the ML (Municipal Liaison) or rather co-ML for Montreal. That means I am here to help Montreal writers get together and enjoy their NaNoWriMo experience. I will be hosting a write-in every Sunday from 10am to 1pm at Concordia Vanier Library, third floor, room 301-22. I hope folks come out. These will be happening in October too in order to help folks prepare for NaNoWriMo.

Sundays in November
Concordia Vanier Library (7141 Sherbrooke St. W., H4B 1R6)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Young Writers Program

I am ready and very excited to start a new year for the Young Writers Program. This is a program for students grades 4-6, but also for high school.

This is a great opportunity for students to improve reading comprehension, spelling, and grammar. Students learn all this as they learn how to write a short story (novel) and see it through the editing and publishing processes. They gain confidence as writers and reader, but also gain social confidence as leaders of their stories. They interview editors and artists, engage media and venues, and develop poise and public speaking as they host their own book launch for the anthology they will publish at the end of the school year. 

Contact me for more details or press your school to have me offer the program where your child already studies.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Words and Art

Writing is just art put into word form. I happen to love both genres and try to incorporate a bit of both in every project or class that I do.

Try taking a single word or theme (Frustration, Passion, Loss, Beauty, etc.) and paint, draw, sculpt something that embodies that word. What colors, textures, patterns, images would you incorporate? Would you use a heavy or light hand? Can you write a sentence that captures and moves the reader to feel/see/know that theme without using the word in the sentence? Can you describe the theme in a paragraph? Maybe find a poem or a scene from a book and create that in picture form.

Here is a poem I really like: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44272/the-road-not-taken

How about going the other way?

Find a painting, drawing, sculpture that is interesting. What is it that is interesting? What does it evoke from you? What does it make you think of or how does it make you feel? Write a page describing the image. Narrow down and write just a paragraph. Can you capture the essential feeling in a singe sentence? If you had to choose a single word as the theme of the image, what would that word be?

Here is a picture I happen to really like:

Wards and art go hand-in-hand. In fact, words are literally just another form of art. If you like calligraphy, words can BECOME art. Here is a calligraphic example and a graffiti example: