Don’t expect a cathedral. Expect a brick.

stacked-stones

Remember when I wrote about putting my novel aside for a few weeks because I was going to be leading a retreat in Italy? And how I hoped my index cards would make it easier to pick it up again when it was time to turn my focus from teaching back to writing?

That time came.

But I put it off. For a week at first. I told myself I had jet lag, and I should take it easy. The barn

Then life happened – lots and lots of life. Ryan and I bought this old barn! We sold our house in Toronto. We are moving to the country in a week, and we are converting this barn into our new home. It has a big loft space on the top floor, and I am dreaming about bringing writers there for small, in-person Sarah Selecky Writing School retreats.

As you can imagine, there has been a lot of excitement and chaos and dreaming going on right now.

But weeks were passing, and I wasn't writing anything.

I told myself that I'd get back to my novel after the move, once I got settled. And so I packed my novel – multiple spiral notebooks, index cards, and my three page outline that's covered in fluorescent sticky notes – in a cardboard box. That felt strange.

I was telling myself I was too busy to write, but the truth was that I was afraid.

Shannon Alberta, who is featured in the spotlight below, has excellent advice for anyone who's feeling blocked, scared or alienated by their own writing.

“You know how only a really good friend will come over and help you unpack your things after you move?” Shannon writes. “Similarly, only a really good friend will help you unpack the things in your story that are still in boxes.”

Like Shannon, I write solo, and I have a few writing friends who are vital. They remind me that this process isn’t straightforward. That I can’t know if it is good or not, and that the only way to write it is to go through writing it.

Sometimes we need someone to remind us about what we already know.

It felt terrible to put my writing in a box. I needed to unpack it, literally. But my resistance was a forcefield. It’s so hard to get started again after taking a break! So I called one of my trusted writer friends for help.

“How do you do it?” I asked Miranda, who is even more busy than me.

“I wake up before everyone else,” she said. “I set my alarm. I make coffee. I write before breakfast.”

The next morning, I got up with my alarm, before the sun. I made myself a cup of tea. I lit the candle on my desk. And I took my novel out of the cardboard box.

And you know? It wasn’t so scary.

In the early morning everything felt more possible. I was excited to see it again. I spent a quality hour with my novel, before the first birds began to sing and the sun came up.

If high expectations or fears are keeping you apart from your writing, I urge you to read Shannon’s piece right now. I was very grateful to read it when I did, and I think you’ll love it, too.

Shannon is one of my wise Story Intensive TAs this fall. Oh! Those lucky Intensive students!

Note: There are wonderful writing partnerships and groups coming together in the Story Course community. If you want to meet other smart, unpretentious writers and build yourself some of those vital writing friendships, start there. SSMinders are some of the most remarkable writers I’ve ever met. And I’m not just saying that.

Warmly,

Sarah Selecky



Meet Shannon

Shannon Alberta Bio Pic April 2015Shannon Alberta is the winner of the 2014 Eden Mills Writers’ Festival literary contest. She has short fiction forthcoming in The New Quarterly and Joyland. She is hard at work on her first collection of stories, as well as a screenplay. She lives in Toronto where she is forever petting cats and eating burritos.


Handwriting or computer?

Both.


Page count or time count?

Time count.


First drafts or revision?

Revision! Usually it’s only through revision that I unearth the germ. The thing that makes my heart go THUD.


Writing solo, writing partner, or writing group?

Solo, then I have a few writing friends who are absolutely vital. You know how only a really good friend will come over and help you unpack your things after you move? Similarly, only a really good friend will help you unpack the things in your story that are still in boxes.


Earplugs/quiet or headphones/music?

No music. Background noise preferred.


Don’t expect a cathedral. Expect a brick.

As a kid I wrote constantly, and at age 9 I won a story contest. From then on, I identified as a writer. Once I got to high school though, I began to hear romanticized narratives about the lives of prolific writers. Being a “writer” suddenly felt like a label reserved for people with more special brains/geographies/experiences than me. Eventually I stopped writing.

Years later, when the urge returned to me, I stalled, fixating on the proper “writerly” traits and practices so I could safely use the label again. I carried a Moleskine. I brooded in cafes. I wrote a bit, but mostly I checked off as many writerly prerequisites as possible, so that one day the universe would endorse me as a true writer and endow me with a story. Which is how I believed stories were born.

I waited. I’d read somewhere that Hemingway would spring from his sleep in the middle of the night and sprint to his typewriter, and I’d think, “Dammit, why am I sleeping so well?” The grey cement of discouragement hardened around my heart, and more years passed. Sometimes I’d think I was being endowed with a story, finally. But it was never a complete offer. It was a single brick, not a cathedral.

Then a gift appeared. From my partner. It was a certificate for Sarah’s course. Right in the first lesson, I felt the cement in my chest start to crack.

There’s a famous saying in Improv: Don’t bring a cathedral. Bring a brick.

Though used differently for acting, it lends itself to writing. With a slight tweak, I give you: Don’t expect a cathedral. Expect a brick.

For years, I’d been waiting for a cathedral to be lobbed my way. But I’ve since learned that, for me, when it comes to writing stories, all there are is bricks. Different shapes, colours, weights, textures, and sizes— but just bricks nonetheless. I had wasted so much time tossing them out windows, and behind me on the sidewalk while I walked. I hadn’t wanted a brick. I wanted a cathedral.

Writing your story is building a cathedral, brick by brick.

From what I hear, almost no writers have entire cathedrals fall on their heads. Maybe I’m wrong, but anecdotally, it seems that even our most cherished writers are generally stuck collecting bricks like the rest of us.

So my advice is: catch your singular brick when it is hurled at you, as though it is a swaddled newborn! Cherish each one. Don’t be disappointed. Don’t stand there thinking how it’s a stupid, irrelevant brick. You may be confused by the odd shape, or the rough texture. It may make you feel alone. But you’re the opposite of alone. You’re in a long lineage of people who find time in their busy lives to collect their bricks and then build exquisite cathedrals for the world to enjoy!


Tell us about the excerpt you're sharing today.

Eileen, the founder of a litter-picking club at her retirement community, is knocked off-kilter by a mutiny. She is determined to regain control of the situation— provided her sidekick, enemy, crush, or dead husband’s ghost stay the hell out of her way.

Excerpt from "Eileen feeds the good wolf", by Shannon Alberta

It’s 4:00 a.m. and Eileen is lying in bed. Her eyeballs are dry and bobbing around in their sockets. She is thinking about the note. Typed. All uppercase. Slipped in the crack of her front door. She’d almost missed it in the low-ceilinged dimness of dusk.

She gnaws on the familiar spot inside her right cheek, even though she knows it will whine with ache tomorrow, and even though the water will be hopping up at her crotch like a stupid puppy as she lowers herself into the pool for AquaFit in 3.5 hours.

EILEEN,

WE ARE WRITING TO TELL YOU ONCE AND FOR ALL THAT NO ONE ELECTED YOU PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSE, OR EVEN OFFICIAL PRESIDENT OF THE LITTER LADIES FOR THAT MATTER.

CONTRARY TO YOUR BELIEF, WE ARE NOT DUMB. WE KNOW YOU SAVE THE BEST ROUTES FOR YOURSELF. EXAMPLE: WHEN’S THE LAST TIME YOU DID THE BROOK? ANSWER: NEVER. YOU’D NEVER LOWER YOURSELF TO SUCH LOWNESS AS THE BROOK. YOU’D NEVER PICK LITTER WHERE THERE ARE BROKEN BOTTLES AND SOMETIMES USED CONDOMS WHICH COULD BE FULL OF A.I.D.S.. (WE HAVE GRANDKIDS, YOU KNOW!!)

ALL YOU DO IS STICK TO THE MAIN COURTYARD SO YOU CAN WAVE AT ALL THE PASSING CARS LIKE YOU’RE THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND AND THE WHOLE RETIREMENT COMMUNITY.

AND YES WE SEE YOU WAVING AT DWAYNE. HOW COME YOU DON’T EVEN CARE THAT HIS MARCY HAS ONLY BEEN GONE THREE MONTHS???

YOU FILL ONE BAG FOR EVERY FIVE WE DO AND WE ARE SICK OF IT. IT IS TIME TO LET SOMEONE ELSE DICTATE THE ROUTES AND SOCIAL OUTINGS BECAUSE LIKE YOU WERE POLITELY TOLD, NOT EVERYONE HAS A CONSTITUTION THAT CAN TOLERATE SPICE! NOT THAT YOU CARED WHEN YOU BOOKED THE PARTY AT WACKY WINGZ BECAUSE YOU KNEW DWAYNE LIKED BUFFALO WINGS AND YOU THOUGHT HE MIGHT COME.

WE GOT INTO COMMUNITY BEAUTIFICATION TO BEAUTIFY THE COMMUNITY. AND BREATHE FRESH AIR. WE DID NOT GET INTO IT SO YOU COULD LORD OVER US OR WAVE AT DWAYNE WHILE MEANWHILE MARCY ROTS ALONE IN THE GROUND WITH BUGS IN HER EYES.

STARTING TOMORROW, THERE’S A NEW GROUP. WE’RE CALLED GARBAGE GALS, AND WE WILL ACTUALLY BE FAIR AND FUN. YOU CAN KEEP LITTER LADIES.

Eileen stands at the counter, watching the coffee percolate and trying to not think about words like ‘insubordination,’ or how it would feel to hold Flavia’s smug head under the water at AquaFit. Only Flavia could have written the note. Plus, she has access to a printer because her grandson works at Staples. She probably bullied the other girls into going along with it, the way girls of any age do.

The phone rings.

4:15 a.m. Odd time for a call.

When the phone rings at Tina’s house, even if it’s daytime, Eileen watches how Tina nearly faints from fear about a dead husband or children or grandchildren.

But Eileen is calm reaching for the phone. Leonard’s already dead and anyway, there are no children.


Note:These monthly spotlights showcase Mysterious Middle Drafts (MMDs). That means they are somewhere between first drafts and final drafts. This is a challenging stage! Emerging writers bravely share their work-in-progress here for discussion, but this is not a book review or critique: this is a venue for the appreciation of Mysterious Middle Drafts. Thank you for making this writing space safe and supportive.

Discussion:

  • What remains with you after reading Shannon's work?

  • Can you articulate what’s working in this excerpt — and more importantly, why it’s working?

  • How is your own writing practice like Shannon's? How is it different?

Please leave a comment below. And thank you, Shannon!  


What does "show, don't tell"; really mean? Part 1 of 2.
What does "show, don't tell"; really mean? Part 2 of 2.

38 comments

Mary Nicholson

Shannon- you are HILARIOUS!!!! Such a funny and original piece. Sarah & Shannon- I appreciate the advice from both of you on writing, how to fan the flames after you have put the writing away for a while. Not even a week ago I made the decision to switch provinces for work and I packed my favourite journal away- actually my friend did, she just put it in a box. It hurts to be away from it! But I know when I get back into it, it will be a little at a time. And I have a great group (all SSMind alumni, including several TA's!) to support me. Oy, back to the moving boxes... Mary xo
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a mutiny is a good thing, especially amongst retired older women. do retired older women swear? i noticed the eyeball details (2) that bookend the piece. they function to remind the reader that these characters are dealing with death every day without telling the reader "these characters are dealing with death every day". i'm very interested in Dwayne. what does Eileen think of him? great character names.
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Exactly what I needed to read today. Also, it is hard to get back into a novel after time away.
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Love this excerpt and the advice. I am totally one who is walking around half expecting to blink and be at once, spontaneously, within my cathedral. I could hash out an excuse from many angles, my most trusted being the disjointed urges springing from my mental health, but, okay, instead, I am remembering again how absolutely inspired I felt entering The Story Intensive last fall. How Sarah's invitation felt exactly for me, so too does this one. I've got my palms up ready to be grateful for the bricks that come, to stop smashing windows with my negligence and rather peer into the worlds being offered to my imagination. I am ready to practice building. Thank you Sarah & Shannon
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I definitely would like to read more after this excerpt. I think the truths embedded in the piece are very effective, the clicks or groups present with women of all ages, the struggles to be accepted, the superficial vs the truth of who we are and what is presented to the public, and the fear that is described in those strange off hour phone calls. I loved the humor. I also feel the internal dialogue was well written, engaging and felt true/believable. I enjoyed reading this! Thank you for sharing it. My own writing practice...I am constantly side-railed by the pursuit of additional "tools" to make me a "good writer". I have a lack of confidence in my ability which is contrasted with an inner sense that I could do this. I am trying to find the balance between actual writing, time spent reading/learning about the craft, and reading. It seems all of these aspects are important to the writing practice and will help me notice the brick when it lands at my feet! Thank you for that analogy, it is perfect!
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I have to thank Shannon for sharing her MMD. The mysterious letter seems to be the focal point here although Eileen's feisty character shines through and the reader is sure to look for more. I have a question about writing in the present tense - is it supposed to sound more forceful if a story is written this way? I have had some short stories published and now working on the second draft of a novel so would love to know the answer.
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Pam Johnson

Thanks for this Sarah! I love the "brick by brick" mantra and how Shannon points to the ideas we all have of what it is to be a "real " writer. Unexamined assumptions and comparison are killers! The more we trust our own steps, the more the bricks will appear. I too am coming back to my ms after leaving it dangling for a while. Feels good and a bit scary, but as you say Sarah, not as scary as my mind would have me believe. It's all about baby steps! Love the barn!
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I needed to read every single word of this post. I have been stuck stuck stuck. Thank you!
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Shannon, You have the vibe of a senior's building down to a tee!! The petty, hurtful drama that ensues over garbage collection is completely believable and told with such clipped grace, yes -clipped grace - and extraordinary humour, that I found one giggle subsiding just as another giggle began to surface as I read paragraph after paragraph of the Garbage Gals letter. As is often the case, the humour is born out of the raw pain that sits under the surface of your words. I can't wait to read the rest of your story. Thank you so much for sharing! Best Susan
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What a delightful post (the brick idea is worth posting up above my writing desk), and a brave, enjoyable excerpt! The tone is what remains with me, true to life (girls of any age, indeed!), and the details, like how she'd "like to hold Flavia's smug head under the water at AquaFit" - having that last word, AquaFit, is like icing on the cake, or the humour to top off the raw emotion. One of the many things that is working here is the framing, 4AM, 4:15AM, these time-markers or time references, and the letter in block in the middle. What works about this is that it's one unified piece on one topic, the mutiny of the girls over the litter-picking club - adorable and vicious, I love it! - but separated out, organized, in a way my imagination can latch onto it, to see all of this before and present action, what has already happened, without explaining too much, but also seeing what's at stake. So fun! Thank you for this. To add to my writing practice: each scene, each image, is one brick. I might even place on on my desk, at my elbow.
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This writing excites me! I love that it takes a while to figure out what is going on. It keeps me reading, and the letter provides one picture of the character that contrasts with Eileen's own version of herself, and I am totally with her, not sure if she's the hero or antihero but I'm definitely willing to plunge in on her side. Engaged and wanting to move forward into this cauldron of spite and revenge.
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Hi Mary! I'm so glad you found Eileen funny! I find her funny too, even if she is a bit crusty. :) I hope the move goes well, and YES-- you'll get back to that journal soon! Isn't it amazing how once you force yourself to go back to the writing, in no time at all it feels like you never left? XO
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Hi Rea! Thank you so much for your comments. You know, I never even realized that the eyeball details 'bookend' the piece! This is why sharing our work is so important. We don't always see what's significant, or what's patterned, and therefore we don't get to think about WHY stuff keeps popping up in our work. I'm very interested in Dwayne too! He's a very nice man, known to share his sandwich crusts with the squirrels. Currently, Eileen is very fond of him, but conflicted about those feelings. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Your insights were immensely helpful!
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YAY, Alexis! Thank you SO much. I know how it feels to read "exactly" what was needed in that moment, and I'm so happy I was able to do that for you today!
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Oh, Kelsey! How beautifully you said it: palms up, grateful, no longer willing to smash windows with negligence. Gorgeous! Thank YOU for taking the time to tell me that it resonated with you. It means the world. Good luck with all your bricks and the writing adventures that come with them!
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Hi Kerri, Thank you so, so much for your feedback on my excerpt. I'm so glad that those elements resonate with you! In terms of balancing the writing/learning about craft/reading: I'm right there with you. I don't think there's any one way to structure it. I think once you find a ratio that works, you can sort of feel it. And I also think it changes all the time. For example, I personally LOVE reading lots of fiction when my resistance/fear is strong. Sometimes all I need is a page or two and I'm back at my desk, ready to keep plodding on, come what may. Oppositely, I find I often avoid reading too much fiction if I'm really on a roll with the writing. I worry about other voices being crowded into my head, and drowning out the character I'm so attuned to at that time. So I think probably being kind to yourself, and being fluid in the expectation for how much reading/writing/studying you do makes the most sense. At least it does for me. Good luck with all your beautiful bricks! :)
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Hi, Purabi! Thanks so much for your kind words about my excerpt. "Feisty" is a great word for Eileen, I'm glad that came through! I know what you mean about writing in present tense. Did it come across as forceful? I ask because I've played with tenses a fair bit in this story, and for some unknown reason [until maybe now] I haven't quite known why present tense felt right for it. But I think you may have nailed it: there's something a bit urgent about present tense? Does that make sense? I'd be interested in hearing more about what you think... Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!
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Thanks, Pam! I love how you said it: the more we trust our own steps, the more the bricks will appear. I couldn't agree more. And YES to the fear never being as toothed or clawed as we'd believe!
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Yay yay yay, Laura! I know EXACTLY how it feels to be 'stuck' and I know how it feels to read something that "unsticks" you and I am SO happy I could be that person today! Thank YOU for taking the time to share that. It means so much!
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Susan, thank you!! I'm so happy that you feel it embodied the "vibe" of a senior's community. That means a lot to me. I've spent a fair bit of time in them, but it's always nice to know that it actually spills out on the page. "Clipped grace", my goodness is that ever a scrumptious way to describe it. I can't tell you how much it means for you to take the time to tell me that you enjoyed the excerpt. I'm still new to sharing my work, and this whole experience has been so validating. And YAY to Eileen giving you the giggles! Thank you, Susan.
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Hi Carrie! Thank you so much for taking the time to share what you enjoyed in the excerpt! I really appreciate how detailed your feedback is (e.g.: the physical organization of the excerpt). That's the story of stuff I obsess (read: stress) over, so it's lovely to hear that the way I've done it actually WORKS for someone. YES to adding a brick to your desk! I've got one on mine. :) Thank you again for taking the time to share what you thought. It means the world! Best of luck with all your bricks! :)
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Thank you, Leslie! I'm SO excited to hear that you're heading into the story on Eileen's "side". It's funny how different people respond! I don't think everyone feels so positively about her. To me, she's both the "hero" and "antihero". In fact, the title is a slight wink about that very matter. (Which will make sense when/if you ever get to read the entire story.) I'm so happy it makes you want to read on! Thank you for taking the time to share that. It means so much!
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Love Shannon's piece! Read it a few times, love the tone and the pace and the humor. I needed to read the 'brick' part too - taking that to heart, might need to write it at the front of my writing planner. Invigorated and inspired by both of you today - thank you!
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Shannon, this is such a great piece! I would love to read the rest of it when it's done. The letter is sheer brilliance! I also love what you say about expecting a brick. I can relate to that SO much. I've been working on a novel since September that was handed to me as one small brick. And maybe not even a brick. It was more like of a drop of mortar, but I took it anyway because it was a gorgeous drop of mortar (and a total gift). Thank you for sharing this perspective with us -- it really resonates!
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I'm a beginner writer and feel the need to educate myself on how to write. Sometimes I catch myself spending a lot of time and energy on this process, but am missing the real activity of writing. This was a great reminder of getting it done, write it down, and focus on not just the education but the writing. I thought the piece above was entertaining. I loved the use of letter typed in all caps. Maybe later the guilty party can admit they didn't know how to turn the caps lock off. Struggled a little with the intro- some of the descriptions were off for me. Did like the "hopping water up the crotch" detail. Above all I appreciate your thoughts because they are honest. "Expect a brick" - great line!
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Oh, thank you Julie! I'm so glad that you enjoyed the excerpt. And thank you for being specific about which elements really stood out to you. That really helps me, as this is very much a work-in-progress. And I'm tickled you enjoyed the letter too! Best of luck with all your future "bricks". :)
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Thank you so much, Kristin! I'm so excited the excerpt makes you want to read more! Is there anything sweeter for a writer to hear?! I'm so glad the brick metaphor resonates with you! (And I love the "drop of mortar"-- beautiful!) Best of luck on your novel, and thanks for taking the time to share your feedback. It means SO much!
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Stephen D. Forman

Resonant imagery. Exquisitely told. Damn inspirational, too.
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i was dubious. went back to your photo and thought "how could someone so young dare to write about some old biddies?" (i am perilously close to seventy.) but i read your excerpt, eyes spectacled with scepticism, and howled for delight. cheered to the point where i decided to stay put at my machine and fiddle with another brick. many thanks.
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This is a fantastic story Shannon! I love Eileen, the letter and all the intrigue. You made me laugh and want to hear more. Thank you for sharing it. Louise
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Hi Natalie! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your feedback. I'm really happy that my letter resonated with you, and really hope it helps! Good luck with all your future 'bricks'!
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Oh my, thank you Stephen! That means so very much to me. And I'm so happy to have inspired you a bit. Best of luck with building your cathedrals!
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Oh, Jane! That is a compliment of the highest order. Thank you! I can't tell you how much it means to have you take the time to share your feelings. YAY for fiddling with your bricks. Best of luck with all the beautiful cathedrals you build out of them!
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Okay, I am hesitating even as I write this, because I harbor so many doubts about my own writing and do not feel equipped to comment on yours. But I am new to SSM and this is a first step for me, so I want to follow through. I really liked your story. I found it engaging and funny and I want to know who is calling! One of my favorite lines is when you express that Eileen is trying not to think how it would feel to hold Flavia's smug head under the water at AquaFit. It's not just that that line is so evocative--it is--but I read it as her trying to be the better person since she is trying NOT to think about that. Just that small detail added so much to Eileen's character for me (although I suspect Eileen, try as she might, does not believe Flavia deserves this restraint). I also really liked your opening description, that she is going to try to regain control of her situation "provided her sidekick, enemy, crush, or dead husband’s ghost stay the hell out of her way." I love that her obstacles are all things she can probably put out of her way, if she will. I really identify with that. Which brings me to my last (and possibly somewhat narcissistic comment) about your story: the setting, the characters, the situation all resonated with me and made me realize I do have story ideas, my own bricks, that can eventually build my story cathedral. I keep getting started and stalled, and I'll wonder what makes me think I have anything to say that other people would want to read. Your story immediately put me in mind of the everyday things that really are interesting. It makes me believe I can draw from life, brick by brick, to create a world others might want to visit. Thank you for sharing; it has given me the encouragement I was seeking. (I've signed up for The Story Intensive this fall; maybe I'll meet you there!)
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Elisa Waingort

Shannon, I love Eileen, but I'm also sad for her. She's a likeable character even though the note she got makes her out to be a horrible, egocentric kind of person. It made me sad to read the last line about Leonard (her husband, I presume) being dead and that there are no children. How many lonely people are in nursing homes, or even just living in their own homes who, in public, present a different self than who they really are? I think that is what stuck with me from this "middle draft". I really want to read more, though. I hope you publish more here.
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Thank you so much, Louise! I'm so glad you enjoyed Eileen. I'm still trying to figure her out, but it's so heartening to hear she's being enjoyed by folks. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, I really, really appreciate it!
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YAY, Jeanne! And you're darn tootin' you've got stuff to say! Your experiences, your perspectives, how YOU see the world is inherently interesting. I think it was hugely liberating for me when I realized that I could write about the beautiful/mundane experiences of every day. You may find this interesting: http://www.shannonalberta.com/blog/2015/4/16/tracy-chevalier-on-putting-a-frame-around-small-moments. "Putting a frame" around the small moments is exactly where magic comes from, or at least that's always my favourite stuff to read! I wish you all the luck and encouragement as you continue to collect your bricks, and I *know* that whoever you end up with this fall will be a wonderful support for you. The Intensive is where things really picked up for me in my writing. It gave me the validation I desperately wanted, and left me feeling like I had the "right" to write! Thank you so much for such a thoughtful response. I can't tell you how much it means to hear that something I've done brought you some entertainment or encouragement! All the best! Shannon
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Thank you so much for your response, Elisa. I am *so* happy that you were able to discern Eileen's layered self from the excerpt. She is sharp, yes. She does not suffer fools gladly, no. But she is also deeply afraid. I'm thrilled that you picked up on this, as it becomes more important as the story progresses! Thank you so much for your thoughtful feedback. I'll definitely let people know where they can read the story when it's finished/has found a home! You can subscribe to updates on my site: shannonalberta.com if that's of interest! Thank you again, and best of luck with all your bricks!
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