Thursday, 28 May 2015

Why I Write

This post has been a long time comin’.

I say that only because I was invited to participate in this blog hop about … I don’t know … 7 months ago?
Yeah. Kind of ironic given the title of this post, but I digress.  So pardon the tardiness. I have no excuse other than the ranking of my priorities. My novel Lucidity always came first, but now since that’s ready to be sent off to literary agents, it’s time for this.
Such a finite concept for something so vast. But it’s something we as a species need. We have to wrangle something that is untameable, like the lightning from the sky that became the fires at our hearths. Like the mysteries of the heavens, we gave them names. We made them gods.  
From the dawning of humanity’s existence, we have needed more than just fire’s safety and warmth. Besides our bodily needs, we have always gravitated to sustaining our imaginations too, whether we realized it or not.
Nights spent gathered around the fire had storytellers. Those who elaborated on the unknown, who strove to explain the wonders of the world and beyond; those who spun cautionary tales and parables. From entertainment to lessons, the storyteller provided knowledge, comfort, and hope.
My childhood was lonely. I didn’t have many friends and my home life was wanting. I’ve always been introverted, but my situation seemed to especially push me into an unavoidable seclusion. So I spent my time with storytellers.
I read many books, but the first series I fell in love with was Goosebumps by R.L. Stine. I picked up my first book, The Ghost Next Door, in Grade 2 or 3. I remember struggling with some words, but gradually becoming a better reader. The achievement I felt when I could get through pages with ease was monumental. Besides making me a stronger, passionate reader, that series helped influence my tastes. It was a gateway.
I found myself watching horror movies. Not only those, but B movies of all kinds, too. I remember when Video Update was a thriving chain and you could rent VHS movies for $0.50 each. Many of my weekends and summers were spent watching just about everything I could. I delved into ‘80s pop culture through film. Any genre was on the table. And then I found other decades and eras to enjoy. More than that, I came to know directors and writers through their work.
When I became older I took interest in videogames. My preferences leaned heavily toward series like Parasite Eve, Final Fantasy, and Silent Hill. They were a mix of my three staple genres – horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. Better yet, they were interactive story. I wasn’t a passive bystander. I could engage with the characters and environments. It made the experience not only more enjoyable, but more impactful, as well. This is where I have to tip my hat to Silent Hill especially, the series that taught me the value in symbolism, subtlety, and treating an audience with intelligence. R.I.P. Team Silent.
Being immersed in story, it made me want to create, too. At a young age, I had a strong understanding of the language and a big imagination. That was all I really needed. All anyone needs. But I didn’t realize I had a knack for spinning tales until Grade 4.
There was a girl who tried to pick on me. Well, not try. She did. Rather successfully. One day I had enough. On that day, I decided I’d get back at her. She just needed to hear me out. And she did.
I told her about the ghost of a little boy who haunted the school. He was hurt awful bad, a walking blood-soaked mess. He was watching us (but mainly her, of course) through vents and cracks in the bathroom stalls. The ghost wanted to live again. He needed to possess someone (but mainly her, of course). He’d come after us at night and the next day, one of us wouldn’t be the same again.
She looked horrified.
But I figured she took the news well.
The following morning she was jittery and wide-eyed. She told me she didn’t sleep at all. She kept expecting the ghost to get her. She’d even taken to watching heating vents to make sure nothing was looking back. I don’t even know how she managed to use the bathroom.
I was thrilled! It went beyond my expectations. Amusingly, she was haunted by the ghost, but via her imagination. I just planted the seed. And it flourished.
It taught me a couple things.
First, I’m a prick I was capable of telling great stories. Second, words were powerful. They could infect like a disease or inspire like a sermon, they could linger with you during the dark hours of the night, and they could take on a life of their own.
Later she told her mom, who in turn told our teacher, and I had to write a letter of apology. I made that pretty believable, too. I still have no regrets because I am a horrible person.
I spent the following years writing in my family’s office. Our computer was an old machine and we didn’t have internet. I made a lot of use out of Notepad and Solitaire. Primarily Notepad. I would spend hours in it, writing whatever came to mind. Stories came quick and full-force without the internet as a distraction.
It was an escape from the mundane, giving life to characters and giant epic universes. Hours of entertainment came from creating. I wasn’t lonely or sad. I was instead embraced by whatever story I was in the middle of.
Today, I feel the same. Writing lifts me up. Gives me confidence and the means to express myself. It teaches me discipline and defines true dedication. By being my own storyteller, I’ve come to realize that the medium which supported me was really just me learning how to support myself. But I’m not lost to the magic of it. Words have a wonderful way of being whatever we need them to be.
With that, I come to the point of this post:
I write because I have found sanctuary and joy in imagination.
I write because being someone else’s storyteller may be just what they need.
Above all, though, I write because I’m a writer.
And the world needs story.

Now to get to the good stuff! Right down below are a couple of the most talented and supportive storytellers I've stumbled across.
Behold! Eric Syrdal! This poetic Planeswalker is a plumber by day and epic wordsmith 24-7. His poetry is well-thought, meaningful, and substantial. Whenever I read his work, I know it's genuine and heartfelt. With his amazing prose, he can even take you to another time and place with ease. Who needs a 1985 DeLorean, amirite?

Next we have J.D. Estrada, the insightful author of Only Human. His imagination and philosophical views always entertain and leave you with something to take away. With novels, poetry, and blog posts galore, there’s something for everybody to enjoy! Not to mention, his motivation to keep writing through the daily grind is an inspiration to all writers. Or it should be, dammit!
Check these guys out! You’ll love what you come across.

Thanks and take care!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

June 2015 in Alberta’s Capital

Check out these awesome events to get your season heated up! Get ready for a fantastic month ahead! And it only gets better and better as Edmonton revs into the Summer of Festivals it’s so well known for.
The 24th Annual Brain Injury Awareness Month Kickoff Breakfast
Location: Chateau Lacombe Hotel
When: June 5th 7:00 am – 8:30 am
This event supports the Brain Care Centre, a Canadian registered charity. The BCC offers free programs like counselling, occupational therapy, community rehabilitation, and more for absolutely no charge to adults to who have sustained a brain injury. Support this great organization by having breakfast at the beautiful Chateau Lacombe. Individual tickets run $45 each, tables of 4 are $180, and tables of 8 are $360. Please see here for more details.

The 3rd Annual CDI College Charity Massage-a-Thon
Location: North Town Centre, 9450 – 137th Ave, Unit #104
When: June 5th 9:00 am – 7:00 pm
Relax with this soothing event! CDI College’s Massage Therapy students will be giving 20-minute massages for a minimum donation of $10. There will even be a barbeque lunch, bake sale, and silent auction. All proceeds will be donated to “A Safe Place,” a local shelter with a 30 year history dedicated to assisting abused women and children. Visit this page for further information!

FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015
Location: Commonwealth Stadium
When: June 6th – July 5th
Join 24 teams from across the world for one of the biggest football championship tournaments around! Edmonton will be serving as one of many Canadian host cities, featuring 11 games at Commonwealth Stadium. To kick things off, march with fellow Team Canada fans to the stadium! The east side of Borden Park (73rd Street & 112 Ave) will have a City of Edmonton tent to collect all your Canadian merch before the games start. Opening ceremonies will be at 3:40 pm before the Team Canada China PR match. For ticket details and game dates, visit this site.

Edmonton Pride Festival
Location: Parade - Whyte Avenue between 109th Street & 104th Street
        & other events in various locations within the city
When: Parade - June 6th at 11:00 am
    Festival days June 5th – June 14th
This 10-day event-packed festival is to celebrate and bring together Edmonton’s lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans-identified, queer community and its allies! Relocating to a new location on Whyte Ave, the Pride Parade starts things off with a colourful bang! Remaining days will feature dozens of events such as the Pride Wedding Event at Naked, Pride in the Park, the 1st Annual Women & Trans March, the Mojito Golf Tournament, Pride Picnic at the Devonian Botanic Garden, and so many more!  Go here for the full event schedule!

Dark Matters: Adult Night
Dark Matters
Location: TELUS World of Science
When: June 18th at 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
The TELUS World of Science gets adult with this 18+ evening. Featuring a naughty theme, bar, cafĂ© menu, and music from DJ Thomas Culture, it’ll be night of biology you won’t want to pass up. Tickets are only $14 in advance or $20 at the door. Purchase a combo ticket and you can also check out the Dinosaurs Unearthed exhibit! What’s foxier than science, amirite? For more revealing details, visit this site.

Edmonton International Jazz Festival
Location: Various spots in the city
When: June 19th – 28th
Come on down and listen to a myriad of local artists entertain you with their passion! Not only will jazz be featured at this musical festival, but so will funk, Afro-Cuban, bebop, contemporary, swing, R&B, and other genres, as well. Bring a date to an intimate club show, watch cabaret, take in the free outdoor concerts, and even international touring acts! Go here for further information!
Enjoy the warm up to a great summer, Edmonton!