Tag Archives: writing

Time Away from Blogging

Carol A. Hand

You have all probably noticed my frequent absences recently. Autumn is always a busy time for me. This year is no exception – except it already feels busier.

The rotting board on my deck has been repaired and the deck floor has a new coat of paint. I think I’ve washed off most of the paint from my hands and arms, and under my nails.

Weeds and branches are secured in large paper bags, waiting to be transported to the local collection site. I still have many more branches to bag, though. Hopefully the bags will fit in my little car (White Pony).

Despite the heat and drought, life has been kind.

Smoky Sunset – August 2018

There are bountiful gardens to tend and harvest.

Gardens – August 2018

Another round of editing has begun for the book manuscript I’ve been working on for years. This time, I have a plan.

Soon I will have a digital copy of an original painting for the cover thanks to a dear friend, Carl Gawboy, an Ojibwe artist, scholar, and storyteller. Here’s the old photo that has now become part of my chapter one rewrite. It illustrates shifting times. Children who were once surrounded by nature and family live on reservations where the original forests were clear cut. The first generation didn’t realize the magnitude of the environmental and social changes that would follow when most of the trees were gone. But the next generation lived with the consequences of yet more losses.

A quick visit today to the on-line site for the class I will be teaching beginning on September 8 was a rather alarming reminder about the amount of work I have yet to do on my syllabus and assignments. Luckily, the new edition of the course text arrived yesterday. Of course, I will be trying something new, again. We’ll be looking at the link between access to clean water and community health. That means some research, thinking, and writing. Any suggestions you have about relevant research articles, online resources, or innovative initiatives would be greatly appreciated.

I hope you all know how much I value your presence in my life. For now, though, I will need to carve out more time to deal with these pressing responsibilities. I can’t predict how long I’ll be gone. I have an unpredictable muse who surprises me now and then with something urgent I need to write and share. Of course, I can’t post something without reciprocating visits and responding to comments (often belatedly). As you all know, that takes a lot of time. Frequently I resist posting until my muse makes my life unbearable.

With My Daughter and Grandson – August 2018
With My Granddaughter and Grandson – August 2018

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À bientôt (see you later) and best wishes to all.

***

Reflections – Saturday, July 30, 2016

Carol A. Hand

Ah, the challenge of maintaining my discipline to continue editing! I’ve been through this chapter at least twice already and I’m still finding typos, verb tense issues, and sentences that don’t flow.

Escaping to my side porch, looking up at the sky,
feeling thoughts calm as I watch from my retreat.
While puffy cumulus clouds slowly pass by
I try to envision the earth spinning beneath my feet,
the passage of earth orbiting the sun.
I’m just left feeling dizzy before I am done,
but nonetheless ready to continue this onerous task.
When will it be finished? Oh please. Don’t ask…

***

clouds

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Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Carol A. Hand

I remember my impatience
As I awaited other springs
Yet this year I wished
For very different things

“Let the snow remain a bit longer
I’ve just a little more to write
Please extend the storytelling season
For at least another night”

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Photo: April 5, 2016

As I wrote the final stories
The snowflakes fell today
My first draft’s finally finished
And neatly stored away

This draft is a humble heart-felt offering
Of gratitude to those who shared their stories
To those who spoke of times of pain and laughter
To those whose lives reflected suffering and glories

May your stories touch the hearts of others…

***

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Carol A. Hand

A task that once felt impossible
Is now almost complete
The last four chapters outlined
Yet the ending feels bittersweet

Although eager to write the final word
It means saying a poignant adieu
To a fictive version of my younger self
A faithful winter companion – sad but true

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I’ll meet her again as I edit
But somehow it won’t be the same
The distance between us has grown
I’ve even given her a different name

She took me inside another world
For that I’ll be forever in her debt
As the process of reliving the past ends I know
Each new moment has much to teach me yet

***

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Morning Insight

Carol A. Hand

This morning I realized that every word counts when you’re trying to tell a story. And perhaps, some words count more than others. They’re the links that tie things together and give the story meaning. Despite some moments of serious doubts about what I wrote the day before, I’ve continued writing without looking back. As I craft each new chapter, the story gains clarity and coherence. I realize what I need to add to my previous day’s work. Not wanting to get sidetracked by editing until the whole story is complete, I simply created a list of things I need to add.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to interweave community stories, my creative nonfiction memoire, and academic content in a narrative flow. This morning, I did go back to a previous day to add words. For me, they represent an epiphany even though they’re simple. Here’s the new ending for chapter 2 (with new words italicized).

When Thomas returned to the table, it was time to leave. As he stood at the table, he carefully folded the papers I had given him earlier and put them in his pocket. We said our goodbyes. As I was leaving, Xena called out to thank me for coming. “The center will be closed tomorrow,” she added. “There’s a community funeral so all of the offices will be closed.”

No one had mentioned this today. I feel a momentary sting of insecurity before I face reality. Why would anyone mention this or think to invite me? I’m an outsider. Even if some people in the community learn to trust me in the future, I’ll remain an outsider. My role here is as a researcher. Eventually I’ll leave. I don’t have a right to exploit their grief or traditions. I need to remember to respect community traditions and draw a fine line. It’s not about my personal needs – curiosity or meeting my needs for a sense of connections and belonging. I’m here to study families and child welfare. It may be that someday, I’ll be invited to participate in ceremonies outside of this narrow focus. I hope I have the integrity to resist and the skill to decline respectfully.

But I was grateful for a break, the chance to go back to my motel to type out my fieldnotes and spend some time thinking. It would also give me the morning to review my purpose here and explore places where I might be able to stay before heading home for the weekend.

My plan is to keep writing even though I know there are important decisions that I will need to make about structure and content for the next chapters. I’m grateful I kept writing through the fog of self-doubt.

crossroads

Image: Microsoft Office Clip Art

The challenge before me is to keep moving forward, just as I did when I entered a strange community many years ago with only a vague idea of where my research might lead.

[Please note: The names of people have all been changed in the preceding accounts to protect identity, and the names of states and towns have been removed. These stories could come from any of the states where Ojibwe reservations are located.]

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Facing Past and Future Times

Carol A. Hand

For the past few days, I’ve been preparing myself to take a trip into the past. I’ll be reliving those times during the month of November as I try something new. I’ve signed up for National Novel Writing Month. I wonder if I can turn a research project into a novel that protects people’s identities, but still remains true to the power of their stories.

It’s time. Snow will soon arrive, the time for Ojibwe storytellers to weave their winter magic. I hope I’m up for the task of writing thousands of words that make sense every day. The biggest challenge I face is figuring out how to begin…

Was I born with this as my destiny – to return to the home of some of my ancestors? Was it merely coincidence that life led me down paths I never envisioned for myself? From a childhood spent in a home with few books where I had no idea what a university even was and no notions of ever going to one? I had no idea that one day my life would be transformed by a series of events that would change my path.

I carry one particularly strange memory. It was just before I was to testify before the State legislature about Native American mascot issues in public schools. The hearing room was huge and packed to capacity. Media representatives were everywhere with cameras and microphones. It was odd, I thought. No media representatives ever showed up when I testified about life and death issues – health and infant mortality.

I felt myself panicking. I needed to go outside to catch my breath and remember why I was here. I hurried through the maze of corridors and down the winding marble stairs of the State Capitol building. Using all my strength to open the heavy ornate wooden doors – freedom! Standing on the marble patio outside, I closed my eyes and took deep breaths. And a voice spoke to me. “Don’t forget that you are one of the special people. You’re here for a reason. Use your gifts for others who depend on you.” There was no time for all the old tapes in my mind to play, “I’m no one of importance.” I needed to face the crowd upstairs.

It’s difficult for me to share this story. I worry that others may see me as “crazy,” or worse, as arrogant. But the truth is I could always see others’ strengths but not my own. I needed to learn to honor that in myself too, by trusting that I can face the challenges ahead. It’s the doing that matters, not the outcome. I don’t know what the result of participating in the NaNoWriMo will be as I prepare to take the first steps of this next journey, but I’m excited about the chance to discover something new…

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Photo: Pinto Anticipating the Winter Path Ahead – November 2014

 Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.