Zsolt’s Heroic Pepper Plant

This is a short story about Zsolt’s heroic pepper plant.

We have been waiting and waiting to grow peppers. We have a very special variety of yellow peppers that are quite sweet and refreshing, and remind us of Hungary. So, it all started back in March. After so much delay, we finally found some little seedling planters and the big man planted the seeds. Except he didn’t quite plant them . . . he more or less flooded them. The instructions read “sprinkle with water,” and instead he “poured a jug of water” over the whole thing.

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For weeks we waited. I kept saying, “throw ‘em out and replant the seeds. We’ve drown them.”

But Zsolt had faith.

Then one day they began to sprout. One after the other, after the other! This was a miracle unto itself. And so Zsolt tended the plants, very carefully watering them, leaving them on the radiator, moving them into the sun.

One particular shoot was doing really well. It was the one you’d point to and think, “yep, it’s coming along.”

Except one day, after having left the plants outside to toughen up (Z is always trying to make them really tough, for some reason), our prize pepper plant somehow broke right in half.

Disappointment was felt. No way would a plant recover from such a bad break.

The next day, Z put the seedlings back outside, including the broken plant since they were all in one big seedling plastic thing. (I should win a prize for that amazing bit of description, eh?) They stayed out all day long, and then in the evening we brought them inside.

Lo and behold! The little broken pepper plant had fixed itself! Right where the bit had broken, there was a sort of swollen area, and the plant was fixed far more upward than it had been earlier.

The next day, it stood even taller.

And the next day, even taller.

Now that really felt like a miracle. Just when we had counted it out – the little guy proved its resilience and stood back up!

And now, way over in August, it has the biggest pepper of them all. Okay, sure, the peppers are all little and have a ways to grow – but it’s our resilient plant that is leading the charge!

Zsolt calls that plant his little hero. I think the meaning of this scenario goes way, way further than simply growing a plant. Obviously. Do I need to explain it? Probably not, I think.

Heroic Plant

That little paprika pepper means a lot to us. And when the day comes that we get to actually eat the pepper, I plan to make an entire meal around it – potato layer with sour cabbage on the side, maybe even a little wine, and some wonderful Liszt in the background while we eat.

Sometimes the little stories make the biggest different. This is one of those times.

~Catherine

The Slow Movement & Small Thinking

My girlfriend and I were chatting at the Bridgehead this evening around expectations set for writers, and how we feel about those expectations. I reckon this is a story we have all experienced before, many times with references to J.K. Rowling, since that’s most people’s point of reference in the world of book publication. Anyhow she described a story that went along the lines of this:

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She’d been chatting her novel with a co-worker, and the colleague was quite excited for her. So excited, that he was throwing out ideas about how she could hit the mark and sell thousands of copies of books. He showed her an article in the newspaper that that very day reported on a self-published author who had hit it big, and was now being sold nation-wide and had a strong following.

This caused some anxiety in my friend. She loves to write. She is totally a writer. But . . . she really isn’t into marketing, promoting, and all the stuff todays aspiring authors often need to be.

In that moment, as the newspaper was displayed as an example of where she could be a year from now – it wasn’t inspiring, or encouraging, or invigorating . . . for her, it was anxiety causing. She worried about it quietly in the back of her mind. She thought about it on her way back home. She talked with her partner about it.

And he reminded her that it was never about the selling of books. Her love was in the writing of books. To write, to print, to share and then to write again. Simple as that.

And I related.

Oh, how I related.

Let’s be clear, I’d be thrilled if Claire Never Ending was picked up and launched far and wide into the world of readers. But holy hot dog, do I not enjoy the expectations that often come with a dream. There are the expectations of blowing it up huge, or selling tons of copies, of creating a business.

It’s truly knackering. And while I do see all kinds of merit in building that career as a writer – I like what my friend brought up next, which was this idea of “slow marketing

Slow Marketing is a term that emerged from the expansion of the Slow Movement into the arena of marketing and advertising.” ~Wikipedia

Basically, slow marketing is about taking your time, doing something well, and not worrying too much about that very big, big, big picture. It’s about the long journey rather than the rocket ship ride.

Maybe that is too abstract. I guess it’s mostly about doing what you love, devoid of expectations that don’t fit your real desires.

Personally, I feel a little torn. It makes me quietly ache when folks with excellent intentions ask if I am writing another book. No, I’m not. I’m not writing too much these days. And the other day I had a realization: that is okay. It is okay for me not to be writing at this moment. It is all okay. I am doing just fine putting my creative energies in other places.

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When I realized that – that I didn’t really feel like writing another book right now – the pressure suddenly lifted. It felt okay to focus on writing-related project that actually don’t involve creative writing. My mind is curious and engaged. My book is alive and well, which was always a deep drive inside of me. And I will continue to market it in small but persistent waves of effort. . . when I can, as I can, and with pleasure.

Soon I’ll go back to developing the new cover. Isn’t that exciting? I think so. I look forward to it. And once done (if they’ll have me), I look forward to throwing more bookmarks at innocent bookstore shoppers.

And I love social media. Of course, it is a world of “marketing, conversation and sales (a side of things I also like very much. Seriously, if I went back in time, I would have taken a degree in marketing – it is fascinating and so fun). So yes, it has that element, but even more importantly, it is a world of conversation and community. I find out the weather from this Ottawa fellow named Kyle who is soooo fast to report atmospheric changes, and advise whether you should cancel or continue the BBQ. I see what my fellow authors have been up to, and where they are in their writing and accomplishing their big dreams. I listen in on the local Vanier conversations – and who has spotted what in the last few days. I following along the #BCSM conversations, and click through to read the latest news in cancer research.

That’s my form of slow – it’s real & genuine engagement with my community.

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This evening I said to my friend, “I always think small, and that can be to my detriment.”

But then I corrected myself.

“Or maybe . . . maybe it’s to my benefit? Maybe the detriment is judging the way I operate as being wrong. Who am I comparing myself to anyhow? And why bother comparing at all?”

And she said to me, “Some people think big, and they do it really well. Some people think small, and they do that really well too.”

So we sipped our tea and felt quite satisfied with our resolution to this conversation.

What do you think? Big, small, slow, fast? What pace of ambition suits you best?

Does anyone relate to this, or are we crazy?

~Catherine

(And this is where I had planned on ending the post. But a second look & quick revision has caused it to keep going on . . .)

 

P.S. Did you notice I’ve inserted some seemingly random pictures from Star Trek in this blog post? That’s right! I did it cause I felt like it, and because it was fun. Wasn’t that fun? My goodness, watching Star Trek again from an adult perspective has made it even better in my mind.

P.P. S. I’m cooking  up a series for writers on crowdfunding. It will involve 1) a long & pretty infographic. 2) TWO podcast episodes – one where I chat with another author who crowdfunded, and one where I chat with Kevin about why it’s hard to ask for help from others. and 3) A FIVE part youtube series called “Crowdfunding for Writers” where I break down things to consider if you are launching & want to crowdfund your project.

If you want to get all of this delivered to your inbox in a handy, summarized and easy-to-reference manner, just click the picture below to find your way to my mailing list sign up page.

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P.P.P.S. I’m burying this becuase I don’t want it to be a big deal. It’s been just about 1 year since I was diagnosed with metastatic fucking cancer. So there’s that. But also, it’s been over a year since I’ve given up wearing a bra. Maybe for the rarest of rare occasions I will put one on… but otherwise – NO BRA. It stared when my chest had intense pain and I really couldn’t wear one . . . and now . . . meh, it’s not really on my mind.

1 year, no bra.

and yes, I’m still here, still creating, still living, still loving  . . . and still very much alive. Thank God.

 

 

 

 

You might like this, and, “SPIDER CRISIS!” Another post written late at night.

Oh my goodness, it’s getting late! You know what that means? Time for another rambling middle of the night blog post!

Except this week I’m keeping it very short, and possibly sweet if you enjoy this sort of thing. So, obviously Bumpyboobs is my little home on the internet. Many people reading this blog have their own little homes on the internet. We know how important these spaces are – these are the spaces in which we can say what needs to be said, find support, bring our own take on hot topics, begin conversations and much, much more.

Sacred spaces. :)

Oh blogging, I do love you.

Anyhow, this week I want to share another project that I think we can really relate to. Over at my new second home online . . .or would that be my third home after facingcancer.ca and fourth after SisterLeadership and fifth after twitter . . .

Hmm. ..

Anyhow, my new thing is OttawaWrites, which isn’t truly focused just on Ottawa. It’s a podcast for writers, simple as that. And this week I had the loveliest interview about creating social change through writing. And what better community to share that conversation with than BLOGGERS?! OR, those who read blogs and quietly think “I’d like to share my story too.”

The nice thing here, is this interview is about an Alternative Media Assembly workshop – writing for social change, and that is going to be live streamed on Saturday. You can catch the streaming here from anywhere in the world: http://psfaltmedia.tumblr.com/livestream

(In the meanwhile, here’s the podcast chat about writing for social change)

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In this interview, the lovely Alexis Shotwell explains how she wants to make writing accessible for everyone. She also talks about writing for change – and so importantly, how an advocacy piece of writing isn’t simply a rant, but will leave the reader with takeaways to consider, be it questions, or suggestions, or guidance, etc.

So I think this might be perfect for many of you writers (and to-be-writer) who have a message to share. Therefore, I’ll link in the podcast, and if you like go giver ‘er a listen.

Enjoy!

(P.S. I am in the forest this week at a retreat. We’re reworking a client’s website/blog and focus, so went away from the world to really slow down and focus. Zsolt is alone at home fending for himself in terms of food. Thank goodness for takeout, otherwise I think the man would starve! MMUH to my man, if you are reading this post! )

Oh lord, now it’s 11 pm and the room may…. be spinning…just a little. So, this post is over. I’m tired.

Back to bed!

P.P.S. I’m staying in the basement of this cottage, and there is a really big spider on the wall right by the bed. OH MY GOD, it just flew through the air toward me! OPERATE ELIMINATE SPIDER IS ON!

P.P.P.S. It was a fly. I wasn’t wearing my glasses. In any case, it’s been taken care of. eep.

Good night! (Don’t forget to listen to that podcast if advocay in writing is your kinda thing. Even if you aren’t in Ottawa, they will be live streaming the talk this coming Saturday – so everyone can catch it.)