From the heart- a 15-day journal exercise Part 5

I dedicate today’s post to my soul-sister Patti Henderson and to our deep HEART chats.

I am re-reading Stephen Levine‘s A Year to Live- how to live this year as if it were your last as a personal exercise schedule to take time to slow down and truly listen to my heart.


Part 1: Catching Up with Your Life

Part 2: Practice Dying

Part 3: Preparing to Die

Part 4: Dying from the Common Cold

Part 5: Renewing Evolution

1. CREATE freely.  Do what you love.  What relaxes you?  For me, it is drawing and embroidering.

I recall a piece from 3 years ago:







The inverted detective story approach.

Huge thank you to Patti Henderson who encouraged me to consider the inverted detective story approach on Molly- a true crime analysis.  I thought I needed to restructure my rough draft fully when she suggested this Columbo style, but as I review my manuscript, I realize only minor tweaks are needed structurally- especially the opening sequence.  All along, I have been using the inverted detective story approach— not a surprise, I was OBSESSED with Columbo as a kid.

An inverted detective story, also known as a “howcatchem”, is a murder mystery fiction structure in which the commission of the crime is shown or described at the beginning,  usually including the identity of the perpetrator.  The story then describes the detective’s attempt to solve the mystery.   There may also be subsidiary puzzles, such as why the crime was committed, but those are cleared up along the way.  This format is the opposite of the more typical “whodunit”, where all of the details of the perpetrator of the crime are not revealed until the story’s climax.  SOURCE


This is absolutely the approach that works for me.  Interestingly, it was somewhat alluded to in the “rejection” letter I received from a publisher the other day:


Katarina’s project is fascinating, but the feedback I got was that even though it investigates a mystery, Katarina has essentially solved the case [well- that certainly remains to be seen] and answered the one question that needs to be answered…

In the meantime, I keep snooping…


Ok- I have been at this kitchen table since 10 AM and it is now 5:20 with no break.  Time to transfer myself to the tub.


First line… let’s go.



I sit now surrounded by my manuscripts, references, inspiration and pressing fingertips to keys and (re)typing.  (Re)COMMITMENT!  This version will be from the pelvis.  First chakra shit.

Yesterday, I posted:

Start again. Put China markers and socks and threaded needles down. Write, bitch, write.


There is no beginning.  I’ve tried to invent one but it was a lie and I don’t want to be a liar.  This story will end where it began, in the middle.  A triangle or a circle.  A closed loop with three points. – Janna Levin, The Madman Dreams of Turing Machines

My dear friend, Matthew Roy, who is on the third edit (mind-blowing, beautiful edits) of his EXTRAORDINARY novel (a work of speculative fiction)- sent me a tip:

Set a timer for one hour. Start writing. When you get stuck look at timer. Sit with it. Then write some more. Repeat until timer rings.

The first draft is just you telling yourself the story. – Terry Pratchett

My brother, Fredrik Thorsen, writer/filmmaker, uses the following rule: AATC. Apply ass to chair.  Here I am, at the kitchen table, in my bathrobe, in need of a shower, bottomless coffee, Sunday early aft, ready to (re)start.

And to start, my mind goes to the first line.  I wonder what the final-first will be in the end.  I.e. In the end, how will my book have started?

Edna Buchanan covered the murder for the Herald– there are policeman in Miami who say it wouldn’t be a murder without her- and her story began with what [is still regarded] as the classic Edna lead: “Gary Robinson died hungry.”  – Calvin Trillin Covering the Cops- the world of Miami’s top crime reporter, The New Yorker, February 17, 1986

A SAMPLING OF FIRST LINES: pulled randomly from my personal library


The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call “out there.” – Truman Capote, In Cold Blood

Here is the house. – Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

I, TIBERIUS CLAUDIUS DRUSUS NERO GERMANICUS This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as “Claudius the Idiot”, or “That Claudius”, of “Claudius the Stammerer”, or “Clau-Clau-Claudius” or best as “Poor Uncle Claudius”, [A.D. 41] am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the “golden predicament” from which I have never since become disentangled. – Robert Graves, I, Claudius

Some kids found her. James Ellroy, My Dark Places– an L.A. crime memoir

June 17, 1972. – Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward, All the President’s Men

Going to Ford’s Theatre to watch the play is like going to Hooters for the food. – Sarah Vowell, Assassination Vacation

“Home again!” Nancy Drew spoke as she stopped her sport maroon roadster before the walk of her own house. – Carolyn Keene, Nancy Drew Mystery Stories- Nancy’s Mysterious Letter

How do people get to this Clandestine Archipelago? – Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

The teens are the most colorful years of life. – Harold Shyrock, M.A., M.D., On Becoming a Woman

My father and mother should have stayed in New York where they met and married and where I was born. – Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes

The first thing I remember is being under something. – Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye

It must have been a Thursday night when I met her for the first time- at the dance hall. – Henry Miller, Sexus- the Rosy Crucifixion I

Fat Curt is on the corner. – David Simon, The Corner- a year in the life of an inner-city neighborhood

In early times, say the Icelandic chronicles, men from the Western Islands came to live in this country, and when they departed, left behind them crosses, bells, and other objects used in the practice of sorcery. – Haldor Laxness, Independent People

Not very far from Upton-on-Severn- between it, in fact, and the Malvern Hills- stands the country seat of the Gordons of Bramley; well-timbered, well-cottaged, well-fenced and well-watered, having, in the latter respect, a stream that forks in exactly the right position to feed two large lakes in the grounds. – Radclyffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness

When my mother was angry with me, which was often, she said, ‘The Devil led us to the wrong crib.’ – Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Out of the gravel there are peonies growing. – Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace

Dear Anyone Who Find This, Do not blame the drugs. – Lynda Barry, Cruddy

Ah, inspired by authors I am happy to write that I am (re)writing and transcribing- in a new more personal approach to the project.

After much discussion and feedback, the more personal is key.

E.g. A review of Deborah Baker’s The ConvertThe story is so engrossing it’s too bad the writing has a disorienting quality. There’s a stiffness, an academic detachment, about the history and cultural criticism authored by Baker. On the flip side, Jameelah’s letters are swift, gossipy, confessional. If only the book contained more of those.  SOURCE


This post is dedicated to my writing companion Patti Henderson.  We have committed to meeting regularly for check ins, encouragement, inspiration, brainstorming, writing.  Our latest meet up was a delicious afternoon at Finch’s in Strathcona.

Finch’s a 501 East Georgia

The meetups, even though sometimes we don’t actually write and type, are essential- for we bring our work is with us, we physically hold it, stroke it, organize it, share it, TALK ABOUT IT!  And move forward.


Happiest of birthdays to my sweet soul sister who has seen me through some of my darkest times, who lifts me beyond measure, who fiercely demands to live life to its fullest, who embodies the creative spirit, who laughs loudly, speaks her mind, the ultimate aunt to my children, my Dad’s walking companion, an archetypal storyteller, a heron, my dear comrade. Love you, Patti

We write every day, we fight every day, we think and scheme and dream a little dream every day. Manuscripts pile up in the kitchen sink, run-on sentences dangle around our necks. We plant purple prose in our gardens and snip the adverbs only to thread them in our hair. We write with no guarantees, no certainties, no promises of what might come and we do it anyway. This is who we are. ― Tahereh Mafi



Ponderings on the “idea.”

As a creative, I find it as important to make time for input as well as make time for creative output.

And allow myself some stupor time- doing nothing— doesn’t happen often.  Tried today.  To just stop for a bit, but instead I was distracted by my thoughts- thoughts that have been swirling in my head for a while around the concept of the IDEA.

“Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.” ― Marie Curie

I often wonder where and when the project MOLLY truly became MY IDEA.  And why not somebody elses?  And why an illustrated book and not just a simple presentation?


Post on November 14, 2015

Molly tapped me on the shoulder on Level 5 at the Vancouver Public Library at Georgia and Hamilton  in late 2003 as I was searching through microfiches.

And January 21, 2016

But as I listen to Irish Folk Songs, like this favorite rendition of Molly Malone, I wonder if I didn’t instead run into Molly’s ghost wandering- since 1947- along Georgia Street.

The concept of the IDEA has been coming up in my readings and research lately and in the shows I watch.

For example, Jerry Seinfeld addresses the concept in his latest episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee:

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You can’t really make ideas.  Create ideas…  All ideas are the same.  They just wander by.  It’s like, if you have mice.  If your house has mice, you never know when they’re gonna show up, or how, or in which room.  And great ideas are the same.  They’re like mice.  It’s just a mouse.  A mouse in the house.  And you step on its tail and go, “Hold it buddy.” – Jerry Seinfeld


I was gifted Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic- Creative Living Beyond Fear from my soul-sister, Patti Henderson.


This book is an easy and delightful read, and actually all about the IDEA.

I believe that our planet is inhabited not only by animals and plants and bacteria and viruses, but also by ideas. Ideas are a disembodied, energetic life-form. They are completely separate from us, but capable of interacting with us – albeit strangely. Ideas have no material body, but they do have consciousness, and they most certainly have will. Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human’s efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual. – Elizabeth Gilbert

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“Behind this mask there is more than just flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea… and ideas are bulletproof.” ― Alan Moore, V for Vendetta




“Fear No Art” Documentary. A 20 year inquisition w. filmmaker Patti Henderson


I am so honored to be working with filmmaker Patti Henderson as we revisit a project started twenty years ago.

“Fear No Art” Documentary. A 20 year inquisition.

by Patti Henderson


The documentary will address protests that occurred back in 1991 and my reflections on my art 20+ years later.  We are diving in now (with camera by Julian Bowers) and I LOVE working with Patti and witnessing her creative process.  We are comrades in the feverish need to create.

Patti Henderson
Patti Henderson

Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purpose through him. As a human being he/she may have moods and a will and personal aims, but as an artist he is “man” in a higher sense— he is “collective man”— one who carries and shapes the unconscious, psychic forms of mankind.

― C.G. Jung


For more on the protests go to:

20 years ago my art was protested

Post no bills: can free art change the world?

Stay tuned for NEXT STEPS!


A visit to the @policemuseum #creativeprocess #graphicnovel #Vancouver


MOLLY- the graphic novel

Video courtesy of Vancouver Filmmaker, Patti Henderson

This video is a ‘sizzle reel’ of DARK PASSAGES that Patti co-created and directed, featuring Karen Lam and DJ Ashba.  The show proposed to follow the hosts as they travel to different countries, exploring death rites and rituals, thereby allowing us, the audience, to explore how we choose to live our lives, based on our views of death.

In this video, they visit the Vancouver Police Museum and we catch glimpses of the window display that focuses on the Babes in the Woods (the cold case featured in my graphic novel, Molly)!

The items on display at the museum (from my notes during the 2004 visit with the task force):

Photos courtesy of Patti Henderson:




Thank you, Patti!

Patti Henderson

Patti’s bio:

As a writer/director Patti Henderson’s first drama, UP THE WALL (1997), was the FIRST Digital Video – 35mm project to be shot in Canada and financed by B.C. Film, while her Art Video entitled, FEAR NO ART – An Inquisition, had rotation on BRAVO!

Patti’s feature length, female action script, BENEATH THE SURFACE, won one of three prizes given through the Praxis Screenwriters and I.A.T.S.E. local 891 script competition.

For CBC, Patti directed and edited, SALMON CHANTED EVENING. A magic realism drama with a ‘touch of reality’ selected from over 350 scripts and produced in association with CBC and British Columbia Film; the film was nominated for seven 2002 LEO FILM AWARDS.

Patti has attended The Women In The Director’s Chair Workshop at The Banff Centre, as one of eight emerging women directors selected from across Canada.

Most recently, she Directed a ‘sizzle reel’ for a documentary series called ‘Dark Passages’ for Executive Producer Karen Lam, and is being pitched to broadcasters by Lynn Booth of Make Believe Media Inc.

Currently, Patti is putting in funding applications for her Dramatic and Documentary projects, working on her feature film script, MOVING MOUNTAINS, and applying to direct lifestyle/Documentary programming.

Patti is also a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local 891’s Script Supervision Department and Editing Department. A few select credits as Script Supervisor include RV. With Director Barry Sonnenfeld, EIGHT BELOW, for Director Frank Marshal, FRINGE, SUPERNATURAL, SMALLVILLE, DARK ANGEL. A few select credits as Editor include Feature Film DREAMING OF JULIA with Harvey Keitel, THE SPACE BETWEEN, Directed by Chad Lowe, starring Hilary Swank. Comet Post Production. Credits include such projects as, Hard Core Logo, Kitchen Party, Taillights Fade, Twighlight of the Ice Nymphs.

As a result, she brings creativity and understanding of all aspects of production to all her positions.

Patti lives and works in Vancouver, B.C., Canada


art, broadcast, directing, editing, features, film production, journalism, newspaper, photography, production, publicity, research, television, writing,

Many have been asking if they can still contribute to the graphic novel project.  That’s wonderful!!!  The rewards will stay the same as on Kickstarter.  Take a look at the rewards on the Kickstarter site.  You can do donate via PAYPAL here: DONATE

Thank you for making my dream come true via KICKSTARTER!