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Authors Authoring Our Lives

"If, seated on high, amidst the authors of our destinies, we could read the book of our life. Which is written. Already written, finished. But we shall never know our story. We are only characters in it. And to think that there will be readers of our book. They will open it. And they'll make fun of the murkiness of our night. Says the author~" Helene Cixious, "Stigmata."


Nothing grand like positing a Divine other as author of our lives, or even ourselves: history is the author of our lives. History creates the book of our lives, where we only live as a character, and even then a character in what becomes our own story, a story that we can never fully know, either. If we remain anonymous bearers of history, our lack of individuality is our story. And nothing is ever 'settled,' the process of revision after revision continues. Perhaps history is an author who never finishes the story that is written and rewritten with each successive generation. There is n…
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From my novella-in-progress, "The Move"- sections 50 & 51. Click on the image for a larger, readable size. Suggestions are always welcomed.


Section #50

A man who she met at a garden party, talked to all evening in his kitchen, and went dancing with late in the night at a bar with a jazz band and a toy railroad all the way round the ceiling with a tiny train chugging continuously, that new friend took her to the slough. She should have been packing. She wanted to meet his friend who lived in the wetlands on the Fraser River and wrote books by hand.

Walking on boards placed on the rich vegetation of the rain forest, a pathway opened into another world. She entered a lush and overgrown secret place where creativity flourished directly out of the imagination. Kaja, statuesque and beautiful, like a Germanic goddess, welcomed her. Tall, sensual, curly chestnut hair pulled up and tied, her legs bare and long in shorts, her green eyes shone with vibrancy and mystery. The magical wo…

What am I most grateful for?

Having spent the greater part of my life serving others and trying to fit into, I don't know, their conceptions, or conceptions I had of their ideas of how I should be, I have to say I'm grateful for whatever intelligence and talent have clung to me through it all and sorry that I haven't honoured either but I am trying to rectify that. You all, in the blogosphere, are a big part of this process of coming-into-being...

I'm grateful for the flock of angels who fly with me every day; for feeling as if I can cope, that I am strong; for being able to learn from my experiences in a positive and healthy way; for not being bitter or pessimistic. I'm grateful for my ability to see and feel the world around me; I'm grateful for the brilliance in everything...

And for the delicate smile at the corners of my beautiful daughter's mouth when she tells me she got an almost perfect mark on a major project that she worked for weeks on (she dropped out of school & I ended…

To post or not to post?

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Well, sending you to my website to read the first 11 pages was perhaps daunting, and who has the time? Many thanks to Jean and Laurieglynn for their very helpful comments! This section, from page 99, is perhaps not polished enough, and probably way too long to post as a blog entry. I'm not sure if I should leave it up or pull it. It's about the vast field of interconnections between us all and the many small miracles that happen continually in our lives. I think this section might be central to the theme of my novella-in-progress, The Move. It's perhaps a more theoretic section, and I think it has, I dunno, perhaps too Buddhist an edge to it (all that talk of no arrogance, although I don't actually say non attachment) that I have to scrub and polish out (it's non demoninational, though may have an underlying Buddhist philosophy, oh, heck, that's where I've learnt the most spiritually), and this section is in the midst of sections that are about happenings, …

NaNoWriMo?! Oooh, yes, & now the work begins...

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50627/50000 words

Okay, so the word count is 50627 by NaNoWriMo's unofficial count. Have I been writing up a storm? Nah. Oh, I've been sweating it, you have NO idea; I've been working with feverish incessant continuity, yes. I've been eating and sleeping this book. Lots of new writing, and lots of old writing. It's autobiographical in the 3rd person, go figure, and interweaves life and fiction, and so I've included many blog entries and emails as I tell the story of the last 8 months of my life. It's all been done in little blocks of writing that criss-cross each other, resonate against each other, dissent or assent, unfolding a story through events and metaphoric and symbolic images. There is huge, mungo HUGE editing to do. It all has to flow with a poetic voice, and that's not easy to create and maintain. I've got to put connectives in, discipline the narratorial voice into a consistent level, add the philosophical dimension of ambiguity and unknow…

Has there been a breakdown of morality this century?

From an article in Arts & Letters today:

Whitney Harris: I am totally convinced that Adolf Hitler was only a name that symbolized the absolute and worldwide breakdown of morality in the 20th century. It started in 1914 with World War I when everyone killed everyone and no moral standards remained. Revenge was the order of the day and any excuse was permissible. And afterwards? What did the communists do in Russia? And the Japanese in China?

Sixty years ago on Sunday, the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial got under way to bring leading Nazis to justice. Whitney Harris was one of the principle figures for the prosecution.

Read the interview, "I Hadn't the Slightest Idea of the Scale of Genocide."

The other day I met an old aquantaince in the park. We were both walking our dogs; there was a light dusting of snow; I recognized her, even in her ankle length wool coat, by her handmade felt hat. Her son had taken a year off between high school and university and with some money he in…

On the problem of concepts of equality...

The central problem with the concept of equality is that it presupposes a unitary subject to which all other subjects must adhere. If that prime subject is a white, upper middle class male, as it is in Western European culture, then we can see it is extremely problematic for women and those from so-called 'minority' groups. Women, for instance, have babies. This makes women, and women's issues and needs, fundamentally different to that of the unitary male subject which underlies the notion of equality. It also makes the diverse needs of ethnic peoples problematic. If we are all to be the same, how can we celebrate our differences? Personally I favour Parity over Equality, parity being a system that allows equality in difference, that recognizes and respects difference, sexual difference being a fundamental aspect socially and which, under Equality Theory, prevents a woman from attaining true equality with her male co-workers, but under a political system of Parity would gi…

From my current NaNoWriMo project, "The Move."

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From my current NaNoWriMo project, "The Move."

AUDIO recording...(4:28min) I am rather 'melancholic' at the moment, and recorded this 4 times, eventually going with the first practice session... Oh, and I've used one of my own photographs too.

Lo-fi: Uncertainty…
Hi-fi: Uncertainty…
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This is rather intense, but I can live with it (isn't that ultimately the only criteria?). The character is at a low point in the turning...


In the uncertainty of every moment, where the fragile knowing rests on unknowing, how do we push through the collisions of the days? The overwhelming propensity of the world bears in on us. It is vast and unfathomable and mysterious and yet we must. Go into the darknesses and wrestle with the disappearing light, call the dancing angel back, carry what is ethereal and impossible to grasp. Is it always a question of light, bringing ourselves to consciousness? Of evolving into who we…

In the Uncertainty of Every Moment

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From my current NaNoWriMo project, "Parchment of Roses."

AUDIO recording...(4:28min)

Lo-fi: Uncertainty…
Hi-fi: Uncertainty…
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The character is at a low point in the turning...


In the uncertainty of every moment, where the fragile knowing rests on unknowing, how do we push through the collisions of the days? The overwhelming propensity of the world bears in on us. It is vast and unfathomable and mysterious and yet we must. Go into the darknesses and wrestle with the disappearing light, call the dancing angel back, carry what is ethereal and impossible to grasp. Is it always a question of light, bringing ourselves to consciousness? Of evolving into who we are. And of healing the splits, the wounds, the places where the shredding, that couldn’t. How to move from a state of deliquescence to the harmony of integration. Where the ground of being is apparent. When integration itself is only a process that is superceded b…

Self-portrait on the edge of

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I'm not sure whether to post this photopoem, its extreme Hamlet-like self-referentiality. When did I compose it? Maybe a month ago? When Kyra, my daughter, saw the photopoem where it is reproduced twice, she told me it was an awful picture of me, that it didn't look like me at all, that if she'd seen it she would never have guessed it was her mother, and absolutely not to post it. The eyes, yes, she she said that was the only part that looked like me. Take that off the computer screen, she said. My fierce little editor....

Yet, on this rainy cold and broke day, I return to it, wondering. My manuscript is being written, yes, the artist is alive, so is the mother, but for how long without a job? This portrait was composed on the edge of.

Even I don't know who that woman is. Even I have never seen her before. She must be a literary figment...












It clicks to a larger and readable size, but you probably already know that...

Which is not large enough for some readers, oh Blogger…

How to fathom...

From The Move, my current writing project...

How to fathom the poetic metaphors of our lives? Where does art come from? What layers of our being do images arise out of? And how do they reveal our lives in their unfolding, and in what ways are they prophetic? It seems as if we already know the truths of our interactions with each other, and she is not sure how that is.

Her life was an artwork where a collection of images had clung to her.

The Aviator blessed as Shefi, butterfly spirit...

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A Mazahua Indian chief, "Margarito Sánchez Valdez, bathed the aviator in incense, wreathed his neck with marigolds and blessed him in the name of Shefi, a butterfly spirit, and Mysyohimi, the Mazahua's supreme deity."

The journey began "on Sept. 6, when Mr. Gutiérrez flew his ultralight, Papalotzin, an indigenous word for the monarch, over Niagara Falls with a cloud of butterflies beneath him."

From there he "traveled more than 4,375 miles from Montreal to Michoacán State, following the butterflies at low altitude. He logged more than 90 hours of flying over 72 days." Last Thursday, "Mr. Gutiérrez wheeled his ultralight plane painted like a monarch over the butterfly sanctuary...and brought it swooping in to land on a stretch of mountain highway."

His extraordinary journey made to publicize the plight of Monarch butterflies, who are vastly thinning in numbers, whose future as a species is precarious.



NYTimes Article: To Save Endangered Butterfl…

Photos my daughter took today...

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My daughter's into the digital camera (finally)... here's a merge of moi, from this afternoon, now how self indulgent is that? Nothing like those rich carpets of gold leaves... we are in an older neighbourhood with many beautiful trees, they are massive and wise and soothing, and often I reach out and touch their trunks, the knotted bark, and caress leaves as I pass by...

All images ©2005 Kyra Clews

A NaNoWriMo month...

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If anyone doing NaNoWriMo this year would like one of these nifty counters for their website - I've put mine in my banner - go here: National Novel Writing Month Progress Meter. Last year I swear seeing the little pointer move incrementally around the dial kept me going until I jubilantly huffed across the finish line with 50,000 words on the last day... (this from a woman who's got many unfinished manuscripts littered about, pieces here and there, until, that is, NaNoWriMo, a marathon writing month when you join in with tens of thousands of other insane writers around the world and convince your muse to take the worded trek, and to travel with you, offering you ambrosia and nectar and good kicks in the butt when needed, writing a first draft of a book of novella length by the end of the month)...

Shadows On The Wall - photopoem

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Our Doggie...

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Our dog, Keesha, taken today by my daughter (who doesn't like digital cameras, prefering the SLR, but, oh, Keesha was so cute...)




























A writer's dog?... flaked out after a day of heavy writing? You can see our minimal conditions at present: yes, that is my desk, which is also my couch, and my bed (shhh, it's actually very comfortable).

Keesha is a purebred Springer Spaniel, not the show dog though, the one bred for hunters. She's very domesticated. Very cuddly, sleeps mostly, loves any kind of treat, dog treats, people treats, droppings from cats (where she keeps small children's sandboxes in the park clean to my discomfort), organic recycling bins, bones, and sticks are good to chew too. She never walks anywhere, but pulls whoever's walking her (usually me) like I was a toboggan and she was a sled dog. When she's off leash, which is mostly if we're not crossing too many roads, she races from house to house, or field to field, or bush to bush, sniffing and ex…

3 - BOD (Book of the Dead), continuing the story...

Posting some sections of my NaNoWriMo novel, BOD (Book of the Dead) from last year. This time I'm including a little of the narrative of the woman's day-to-day life...


She checked the phone, and there was a message. It was from Jarret, "Hi, something's come up. I'm putting the children on the train. They have enough money for a taxi, so don't worry. They should be home around 6. I'll be back later, maybe tomorrow."

Nothing more, no explanation of why he wasn't coming home. She felt herself crumbling and began to cry. Why did women always cry when they felt overwhelmed or helpless? She cried deeply for a long time. It helped to release the tension inside. Where was her husband? Was the woman who had answered the phone really with him that morning? She sounded like a one night stand, since she didn't seem to know the name of the man she was with. Could it really have been her husband?

It was nearly six o'clock. She went to the bathroom and wash…

2 - BOD (Book of the Dead), continuing the story...

Posting some sections of my NaNoWriMo novel, BOD (Book of the Dead) from last year. Some other things happen between what I posted yesterday and the continuation of the story here which leave her rather frazzled, one of which is a 'crank caller'...


The phone rang again, and absent-mindedly she answered it. “I have been trying to reach you for hours,” said a deep male voice. The connection wasn’t good and there was static on the line.
“What do you want? Why are you calling me?”
“I wanted to tell you that there is a body in the graveyard, in an old and untended section…”
She hung up the phone and began screaming, loudly, hoarsely, and then sobbing. When it rang again, she picked it up slowly, “What do you want?!”
“To tell you that it wasn’t a dream. An old, homeless woman died in the cemetery where you worked. Her body is still there. You must find it and give her a proper burial.”
The line went dead. Shona shivered deeply. She felt suddenly cold, a sense of dread overcoming her. If …

1 - From BOD (Book of the Dead), for Halloween...

For Halloween, some pages from my NaNoWriMo novel last year, "The Book of the Dead," and I did post this section last year, and will add 3 more sections of this story over the next couple of days...

Her fingers and toes began to grow warm, tingling, even as they were freezing. She is losing feeling in them. She cannot move her toes, nor her fingers. They do not feel like they are part of her. Her legs feel numb. She tries to roll, and cannot move. Her cheeks, exposed, are like stone slabs, weighted and heavy on her face, etched with ice, and then she no longer feels her cheeks or nose or chin or eyes. She can't open her eyes. They are encrusted. It feels as if her scalp has been pulled off her head, a terrifying feeling, and then nothing. Her skin feels like a shell, an exoskeleton, but soon she can't feel the ice her body is ensheathed in anymore. She is still breathing, slowly, painfully. Breathing is laboured, like a huge weight is pushing down on her chest, and sh…

One Hundred Million Sperm A Day

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The original drawing, albiet with photoshop lighting, from a drop-in, non-instructional lifedrawing session at the Toronto School of Art.




100 Million Sperm A Day

100 Million Sperm A Day, ink, pencil on paper, text a digital layer, 11"x14", ©2005 Brenda Clews

Sassure and the biological referent...

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(Update: added a sketch drawn not on paper but with a stylus and tablet on a screen from a few years ago when I was writing a paper for another ARM conference... there's a counterpoint interplay and vision between the two images that I hope is evident.)

In response to the last post, entitled, "Passion, like a flame... or a semiotics of sexuality, or an anatomy of desire..." A little something on semiotic theory...

Hi everyone- I'm not saying that we as individuals want or don't want to have children, or even think about them if we're past child-bearing age, not at all, only that that biological reality is there in heterosexual unions in ways that aren't in homosexual unions.

So it can be looked at semiotically in Sassure's sense, where the "referent" is an object in the world, or a relation to the material world, rather than a concept of it. Sassure's work as a linquist revolved around signs. The sign is created by a signifier (material or …

Passion, like a flame... a semiotics of sexuality, an anatomy of desire

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From the September drop-in non-instructional lifedrawing session with the male model:










"Passion, like a flame..." ink, pencil on paper, text a photoshop layer, 11" x 14", ©Brenda Clews, 2005.

The drawing, when I'd finished it, seemed to speak about homosexual love, queer love, same-sex desire. The way it entraps, because of the culture, the struggle with it. For someone gay, it's not just, 'Are they potentially interested,' but, 'Are they gay, or could they be, too' - a double question. So he is... pulling back, thinking, yet crouched, his body alive with desire, his libido flowing towards the object of his desire. Whether who he desires is even aware of him is not indicated in the drawing.

As I worked on the drawing, I started thinking about whether sexual orientation configures the experience of desire. This profile of desire has no procreational element in it; it's pure sexual desire. Meaning it's different to heterosexual desire wher…

ARM Conference today...

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I am at an Association for Research on Mothering (ARM) conference at York University this weekend.



Good thing I finally splurged on an internet connection - I thought the conference was next weekend, and so missed 2 days of it! I volunteered yesterday, and sold journals...

More about these amazing conferences later, gotta run...
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Update: When you're working, you don't get to go to many panels. My view of the conference therefore very limited. It's mostly in the chatting between panels where I meet wonderful women doing most interesting work. But over-riding everything is a flow of mother-love, acceptance of each other, nurturance. It's hard to explain how fulfilling these conferences are emotionally. It could be Andrea O'Reilly too, who founded ARM, who's got a fun social side, heck, she's a party person, and not just a prolific writer of books, of which she publishes at least one a year. Leaders really do put their individual stamps on group…

Drawing Down the Muse

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Drawing Down the Muse, ink on paper, 8.5" x 11". These sketches are from a lifedrawing session in Vancouver last July. They were 3 minute poses and I drew three of them on one page. The model had a tatoo of a black cat on her back. By adding the lighting, and creating a literary title, I've turned it into a coven of women in a dramatic setting. They are bathed in what is essentially stage lighting (via photoshop), so a representation of the moon, its shining...
Drawing Down the Moon is the title of a book by Margot Adler. When this ritual is enacted during a full moon, there is a powerful influx of energy. In my drawing I have played on the title, drawing from and connecting to Adler's book, but added a reference to the Muse, or inspiration. I am interested in creativity, our visions and the ways we express them in artistic or literary or musical form. The moon is a very ancient and rich symbol for this process.
It's all in the white moonlight that pulls the ocean …

On-line again, at last...

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Finding accessing the internet through the library very limiting, and ultimately frustrating, both for posting my writing and art, and especially for the close reading I like to give posts, and the comments I often leave after a day of carrying words with me, I finally got on the phone and called around about internet options. The house in which I am living doesn't have internet or cable. I use a cell phone. And I need to keep my costs way down. So installing a land line was out. It turns out that the cable provider for this area, Rogers, has an "ultra lite" internet service, which they claim is 5 times faster than dial-up, for $20./month, flat rate, no installation fee, no modem rental fee. It took the guy an hour and a half to install it here. And I am ecstatically on-line again. In the intimacy of my living space. Accessing you all in the library was strange, not just because of the time limit, but because reading in a public space over a public computer lacked the in…

A spark...

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Currently Reading
Poems of Paul Celan: A Bilingual German/English Edition
By Paul Celan, Michael Hamburger
see relatedLove lies on my heart. Like a sheaf of love letters. Or the eclipsed body of my lover. Hours endlessly relentless. Do I dwell in the silence of the soul? Do I even believe we have a soul? A spark of being, that's all there is. A blazing little spark forging through life. And it lies on my breast tonight, love in my heart, beating, expanding, contracting. The pulse. Love is the pulse. My spark is dim tonight, faint._image:http://www.playafoot.com/photos/pages/651.html

The Move- a section somewhere

Somewhere in "The Move" (re: novel-in-progress, or extended meditation, or whatever)- blurring the edges between fiction and life.....


On the edge of calamity, there seemed only a choice between returning to a house where she had unwittingly become a target for projections of her landlord's shadow sides, and had been physically threatened, or a woman's shelter. Unable to find suitable, if temporary, housing, she let go.

She let go of the struggle to find housing. She decided to play a game and find her way, not by the map you carry in your mind, what you've understood about life and your place in it, the route you've traveled, its familiarities, but by intuition. By not thinking you know what lies around the corner; but navigating, instead, by trusting your instincts.

The letting go expanded her vision. Streets took on a luminous glow. The early morning world became welcoming in ways she'd forgotten. As she closed her notebook filled with ads scribbled from …

SunMan, Oh Apollo

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Original sketch with photoshop lighting.










"SunMan, Oh Apollo," ink, pencil on paper, 11" x 14", from a lifedrawing class September 2005. The energy of light, of a confident male sexuality...

I rather like him in the 'glowing edges' Photoshop filter... so then he's called "SunMan, Oh Apollo Night," and if it's a little contradictory, well whoever said Greek gods weren't.

The library system has been down most of the week. Even today it's taken more than an hour to upload this post. I feel estranged from you all and am missing the community here more than I can say.

My son just visited for a few days- we hadn't seen each other since mid-July -which was wonderful. After he left, being turned away by 2 internet cafes, where it was claimed that my uploading would slow everyone's games down, sigh, I managed to upload the life drawings that I've finished where my brother works...

Much love to everyone- I think about you all, you'…
I've moved- into a much, much happier place (I hope). Just temporary, but a rather roomy basement apartment with 2 southern windows, which is nice, and I've been able to turn the kitchenette into my bedroom by hanging a piece of canvas as a curtain giving my daughter the bedroom, which she is happy with. Seems to be a nice house where our dog is more than welcome; it has far more space than where we were living (a one room garden house) for a much better rent, and in the cache area for my daughter's school. No internet, however. So I'm writing this at the library. The CD ROMs and floppies are all disabled in the library system. I shall have to see how I can upload images some other time. I am doing a little tutoring in student's homes, and I've had students so far from Gr 2 to College, and am enjoying it. Not enough work though. My 3-bedroom house of furniture is still in storage. My son is still waiting to rejoin us as soon as I get financially settled again. …