Unnecessary Violence- random archiving of my Shadow Work Journals 1986 to present. Sample 8: Oct 23, 1995

This daily archiving series is about organizing and dating my journal collection, as well as acknowledging the self-directed violence as important therapeutic shadow work. Processing my projections and darkness. There is much joy in the pages, as well, and certainly in the daily life “behind the scenes.” The blood and guts of family life.


Unnecessary Violence Project Explanation and Sample 1 Oct 21, 1992

Sample 2 Date Dec 15 1994

Sample 3 May 16, 2000

Sample 4 August 14, 2002

Sample 5 June 13, 1990

Sample 6 August 23, 2019

Sample 7 December 17, 1995


Today: Journal Start Date October 23, 1995



Sample Pages



Sample Writing

October 28, 1995

Here I start – writing down the meat, the stream – cleansing words will come pouring out – some lost before my physical hand has a chance to catch them… I advocate all day for my children’s needs, maintain the household, deliver and pickup and in the midst maintain my art. My mind is full with images that want to be created. Fin-de-siecle, medieval alleys, dark castles, dripping blood and velvet. Women lay chaste and exhausted, yet wide awake eyes… 

October 29, 1995

It is now Sunday evening and I have not had 2 seconds free today to read, sew, draw, sit, let alone write down “the map of my interior.” We are about to watch the Simpsons Hallowe’en special.

October 30, 1995

Monday morning. Kids at school. Cleaning and laundry to be done. Carbella behind me on the couch watching the sunny cold world outside the living room window.

I always think these thoughts should be deep and profound. Gems of insight that make the reader applaud in recognition, despair, hatred, love, understanding. But fuck all that. These journal entries are simply my own. For me. As pen moves on paper, I enjoy watching the ink come out of the tip… these simple lines put together in simple patterns can convey emotion, life! The human mind is truly a miracle in it ability to communicate such complex, abstract concepts. Today, I would like my shoulders to be free of tension, free of migraines neuralgia, free of thinking, free of worry. I do not need to worry! It doesn’t accomplish a goddamn thing!

The sun is streaming through the window casting light and shadow onto this page. It is also peaceful. I pick cat hair from my black shirt. Feel my toes – always cold. My bowels gurgling. My intestines aren’t up to par these days. I feel the innards reflect a state of mind, and their gurgling is desperately trying to tell me something.

How grateful I am that mom and I have a new bond that is positive and happy and seems unbreakable, that IS unbreakable… the sourness in my stomach is simply that. A sour stomach that need no have reasons to exist. Need only be acknowledged and dealt with. To detour.

November 1, 1995

My mind needs a break, to slough off the influences of the day. A mind free of all the women in my “out there” life – teachers, mothers, peers, principals, etc etc women, women, women… No wonder I want to draw sleeping women, dead women, collapsed women – – quiet women.

November 2, 1995

Boy, this is really quite a dull, unpublishable journal. Will Anna and Julian or their kids open this 20 plus years from now and think – “Good Lord! What a bland person!”?

To be entirely alone with just my own thoughts is very difficult. I find it very hard to just stand and wait, sit and wait somewhere without a book in my hands. The panic of letting valuable minutes disappear.

November 3, 1995

It’s 8:22 PM. I am so tired that I’d like to head to sleep right now. But then again, part of me would like to leap out of bed, whip the kids out of theirs, turn on all the lights and party down on Friday night. It is very quiet in their rooms. Should I really break their silence and chance for a good night’s sleep? 

… The voice that flows through me comes from something far greater than this little event pattern called Katarina Thorsen.

November 6, 1995

A very exciting evening last night at the Grizzly game. Surreal atmosphere with 1 minute and 30 seconds left. 20,000 people were screaming. Anna and J____ with them dancing and cheering. The game was very close and exciting, and Julian was in the middle of it all with a migraine attack. I was catching his vomit in a plastic bag – then we escaped to the bathroom, then watched the rest of the game on the monitor. Julian lay asleep in my arms. Fireworks, cheerleaders, bear coming down from the sky, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Jackson Five music, basketball players, seats on the floor, Tom Arnold, Arthur Griffiths, etc. Through J_____’s talent and music, we were in the midst of it all! Anna was in love with all that is America and now dreams of being a cheerleader.

November 7, 1995

Sitting at VPL Main Library. Gerbil babies were dropped off this morning. What a vicious thing to have to do. To purposefully separate children from their parents. But hopefully they will find good homes. Next step is to separate the parents. What a tragic cataclysmic day for all of us! But it is also with a sense of relief. More gerbils in the world will not be fair to anyone – especially gerbil children who would have to go to the pet store. 

Painful UBC days were brought up at lunch

The greatest gift we can give Anna and Julian: the instinct, desire and courage to follow their hearts. And hopefully, we will make it easy on them when they do? To accept their decisions with respect and acceptance and gentleness. 

November 12, 1995

I am not pleased with my relationship with this book. It reeks of conservative approach and seriousness. My personal creativity is inhibited. But perhaps that is what these pages are pulling out of me. The inhibition. It demands to be heard and dealt with. I am tempted to put this monstrosity away into the shelves downstairs…

Artist’s Way

I tried it… but didn’t get very far.


… no, didn’t get very far.


Sample Drawing




Sample Quote

“Dissatisfied with everything, dissatisfied with Myself, I long to redeem myself and to restore my pride in the silence and solitude of the night. Souls of those whom I have loved, souls of those whom I have sung, strengthen me, sustain me, keep me from the vanities of the world and its contaminating fumes; and You, dear God! grant me grace to prudence a few beautiful verses to prove to myself that I am not inferior to those whom I despise.” – Charles Baudelaire

Shaping non-fiction characters.



What was initially to be a short volunteer research project into a Vancouver cold case to support a theory championed by a retired homicide detective, became, for me [and continues to be], a 17+ year personal journey “to restore to now dead people the fullness and degree of complication of their lives. To restore their humanness back to their lives.” 

“That’s our work. To restore humanity to the human being that went before that don’t speak for themselves… You have the possibility of willing them to life; you have the possibility of waking the dead. You have to liberate your characters to their full human dimension whether they are historical or not… The characters exist in a historical reality… that makes our work a kind of 3-D chess game… To make the characters real, you have to permit a darker side.” – Ken Burns




Photos by Julian Bowers

The distinction between life and lifeless is a human construct. Every atom in this body existed before organic life emerged 4000 million years ago. Remember our childhood as minerals, as lava, as rocks? Rocks contain the potentiality to weave themselves into such stuff as this. We are the rocks dancing. Why do we look down on them with such a condescending air? It is they that are an immortal part of us.

JOHN SEED, Thinking Like a Mountain


My writing/art project (the one I have been working on for 16 and a half years) is unfolding in new, fast and lovely ways. The ghosts are happy and all is locking into place.

The creative process has been a windy, strange and incredible path through a dense and dark forest until now. All of a sudden that path is straightening, flattening, welcoming me to the field- a sunlit meadow of flowers.

I had a stress dream last night that I lost control of the project again. I woke up in a sweat and ultimately a sense of relief that I am the gatekeeper – secure, older, wiser – and the ghosts are safe with me.

I have made a commitment to them to not agree to any new collaboration that feels wrong. To enter into the sharing of the project with open heart and delight. To not agree to anything that does not align with my spirit and with the narrative I have been entrusted to tell.

Pulled an angel card just now and lo and behind- these two popped out.

Staying in process…

Just when I think– Oh shit, I put myself out there, and now I am all vulnerable and shit and feeling old pangs of, oh shit, what am I doing, where is this going, how will I get there, will it go anywhere, what is this creative career bullshit, shit – a flood of creative process infuses every cell and I am back at the drawing board, literally drawing and working because I never left…  Even though there are times I feel lost and off the rails regarding my creative process, I am starting to understand that my insatiable habits of writing and drawing every day, no matter what the technique is– be it copying a quote, scratching out a doodle, sewing a stitch– is working, keeping me on track, even if my inner critic tries to convince me otherwise.


Bears repeating:  “Start writing. I don’t mean to sound dismissive, but START WRITING. There is NO SUCH THING as “too late” in the arts. Trust me. START.” – PATTON OSWALT


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“Ted Hughes gave me this advice and it works wonders: Record moments, fleeting impressions, overheard dialogue, your own sadnesses and bewilderments and joys.” – MICHAEL MORPURGO


Homework- writer’s group: close your eyes…

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Journal entry:

If I close my eyes, what age do I go back to?

Usually I go back to age six.

But today as I close my eyes, I am 22, alone, crying, New Year’s Eve, 1984.  Though— not quite alone.  I am pregnant with Anna.  I am scared, crying, in a fetal position on the mattress on the floor.  It is midnight and I hear fireworks.  By making a choice to keep my child, I have created chaos in my family. And I am alone, in a weird room in a weird house with roommates I don’t know.

Though not quite alone.

The color yellow is prominent.

The color yellow helps activate the memory, encourage communication, enhance vision, build confidence, and stimulate the nervous system. [source]

I believed then that by being myself, I hurt people.

What I say to that 22 year old, alone but not quite alone, on the mattress in that dark room now is—


You made the right choice.  By yourself.  You don’t need to thank anyone.  You don’t need to be indebted to anyone.  YOU made the decision.  A decision that made your mother stagger…

Trust yourself.  Somehow you survive.  The impossible is not impossible.  I’M POSSIBLE.  Inside you is the greatest gift.  A child that grows to a young woman who is deserving to live a life untethered.  

Anxiety, fear– all is survivable.  And those times you have felt done with life- you were not done but simply evolving.   You were so young, with no tools.  The child inside you will grow up to be celebrated for her decisions…  

[I want my children to be free FREE FREE FREE of guilt for living their chosen lives.]

Her grief became your guilt.  Your grief can be her release.  


Writing exercise.

1. Put the timer on for 10 minutes.

2. Write stream of consciousness about whatever- whatever comes out of the pen onto paper.  Keep the pen moving.

3. Review your writing- read it out loud.

4. Circle the main words- the words that stand out for you- try for about ten.  Ten key words.  Trust your gut.

5. Write the words you circled.

6. Trim them down further.

7. Read your final selection out loud.  Does it ring true?

8. Repeat daily.

Journal entry p 1

Journal entry p 2

My results:

Trust myself.  Trust me.  Trust Mom.  Her letters.  Her pain.  Her addiction.  My heart.

Journal entry p 3

I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were. Joan Didion, On Keeping a Notebook

My narrative.

Something new is brewing.  

This new thing will require that I dig deeper, reveal more and share some things previously unshared.  

But in order to do that– I need to prepare…


Hold on…


I just deleted a massive amount of verbosity and ramblings. I don’t need to PREPARE.  I am already prepared.


I own my own narrative.

I own my narrative.

My narrative.

Something new is brewing.




Reclaiming the act of creating…

I could sit and wait.  Ask myself: how I will get back to that beautiful, exhilarating buzz of creative process and my soul’s work?  But why wait?  

I MUST simply work.  Reclaim the act.

How?  I mind map.  I attempt to draw and throw out the results.  I return to my crafts.  I allow the freedom to draw whatever makes me meditate and hear in the distance that buzz approaching.  I just do.  It is not the buzz that is essential.  Commitment is.

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I get up, I plan and write.


Automatic writing to tap into the creative process.

Automatic writing, automatic drawing and mark-making all help me stay in or (re)enter the creative process.

Automatic writing is generally defined as the process, or product, of writing material that does not come from the conscious thoughts of the writer. The writer’s hand forms the message, and the person is unaware of what will be written. It is sometimes done in a trance state.  Other times the writer is aware (not in a trance) of their surroundings, but the actions of their writing hand. [source].  

Automatic writing is sometimes referred to as psychography– a claimed psychic ability allowing a person to produce written words without consciously writing. The words purportedly arise from a subconscious, spiritual or supernatural source. [source]

Automatic drawing is a method of art making in which the artist suppresses conscious control over the making process, allowing the unconscious mind to have great sway. [source]

If I find myself in need of (re)entering the flow of the creative process when the flow has been interrupted by life markers, I don’t wait for inspiration to hit me.  I don’t allow “writer’s block.”  I put china marker to paper and allow what needs to be expressed, be expressed– without judgment.

As long as I take the time for the daily step to unroll the paper, clip it to my drawing board, grab my box of china markers and just automatically move my hand across the page, I stay in discipline.  It can take as long as it needs or however large my window of time is.  5 minutes… hours…

There is something quite tangible and lovely about allowing the magic.  No matter what (dis)beliefs we hold, the process can be quite universal for any project.

Check out:

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1. Start each automatic writing session with ‘My Spirit Guides or My Higher Self’ or ‘My Angels’ as the first line.

2. Just start writing and don’t worry about what you’re writing at first.

3. Setting a timer while you do it can be helpful

4. Create the right conditions so that you can lose your inhibitions about what you’re writing

5. Don’t allow your mind to interpret the information while you’re getting it


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Is this where they’ll find me?


Is this where they’ll find me?  In the tub, laying back, my neck resting on the edge, my face covered with a book?

Is this where they’ll find me? Seemingly asleep, one hand holding tight the book that covers my face, hiding the cheap reading glasses that have slipped a little, eyes closed, the mouth slightly open?  The other hand, dangling over the edge?

Will they find me in a tub of cold water, a cold cup of coffee on the edge beside a large bottle of bubble bath with its $2.99 sales sticker, the tap drip dripping that one drop every twenty seconds.

Will they find the parrot, seemingly asleep, but oh so still, eyes closed, head resting against my fingertips that hangs over the ledge, his claws clutching tight the edge of the laundry basket that has been placed next to the tub?

Will they stand, gloved hands on hips, furrowed brows, scanning the small bathroom, the dollar store shower curtain, the child’s plastic tea set strewn on the floor under the parrot, the PineSol in the toilet, three rolls of toilet paper at various sizes, the quiet stillness of the body in the bath, the silent little bird on the ledge, the dripping tap.

Is she dead?

Looks like it.

Call it in.

The curious, mindful, insightful one will pry the book from her stiff fingers.  And he’ll see the indent from her nose, and read out loud…

At last I’m with you again.

And he replied: 

“Keep a good hold round my neck, my flower.”

“Yes,” she whispered.  “Always– as long as I live.  Your one flower.  The flower of your life.  And I shan’t die awhile yet; no, not for a long while yet.”

Then they went on their way. *

Is this where they’ll find me?  In the tub, laying back, my neck resting on the edge, my nose literally buried a book?  Content to die from the artistry of words.  Breathless.



She is filled with secrets. Journal exercise.

In honour of Laura Palmer, central character in Twin Peaks, who disappeared on the night of 23 February 1989 after a date with her boyfriend, we revisit an old journal exercise:
Post Card Secrets.
She's filled with secrets. Where we're from, the birds sing a pretty song, and there's always music in the air. - Twin Peaks
She’s filled with secrets. Where we’re from, the birds sing a pretty song, and there’s always music in the air. – Twin Peaks (Laura Palmer, china marker on newsprint, 2015)

I have found that by being honest with my audience, I can be honest with myself and also forgive myself for imperfections- or more accurately, celebrate my imperfections.

Here’s a good template for your exercise:

On postcard write a secret [or many] about yourself.  Something so secretive, you’d feel really uncomfortable sharing it with the world.  Write it out.  You don’t need to show it to anyone.  It’s your choice.  Be brave.


Glue the written side down in your journal.  The secret is there- but it’s simmering underneath.

Then on the message side, write a message to the world.



PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard. 

Celebrating 95 pages with a vulnerability hangover…

I am workshopping my graphic novel through a weekly online serial.



So far…

we have been witnessed a crime:


Looked at the original headlines:


I’ve introduced my involvement (more to come):


And travelled to Ireland to get our first glimpse at the main character:


Molly’s and The Babes in the Wood timeline are now starting to twist around each other.


So I need to celebrate

I am 95 pages in— 95 pages in 4 weeks!  Or looking at it another way, 95 pages in 13.5 years.  Yes, I must celebrate this.  But instead, I am struck with creative insomnia!  A buzzing, busy brain.  Is it excitement to keep going?  Is it fear?  Is it a

Vulnerability Hangover?

Of course it is.  Holy shit.  I am putting it out there, doing it for me, for Molly, for my supporters, for storytelling.  Holy shit.  I am doing it.  And accurate to the way the creative process works and the inner critic whispers, I am struck with nervousness.  I have been struggling so long after so much life change to just live a day a time. And now here I am, planning 46 weeks of instalments.  Planning my life.  Professionally, creatively.  Thinking ahead… thinking past tomorrow…

I’m past patiently waitin’. I’m passionately
Smashin’ every expectation
Every action’s an act of creation!
I’m laughin’ in the face of casualties and sorrow
For the first time, I’m thinkin’ past tomorrow

  • – Lin Manuel Miranda

After years of 5 minute living, a way to get through the rollercoaster of life-


I am sitting here with a full calendar and giant lovely to-do’s and I admit, I am a little bit scared.  But loving it.  Deep into it.  Experimenting.  And trusting Molly.




Part 1A: The Crime

Part 1B: The Headlines, 1953

Part 2A: Why Me?

Part 2B: A Child is Born

What Lies Ahead?

Next week (Feb 12) we dive into the 1998 DNA test results.

On Feb 19, Molly’s mother is front and centre.


© Katarina Thorsen 2017

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.


“I put myself back in the narrative…” and ugh- LOG JAM. #innercritic #onwriting

On the gross creative process, the ugliness, the inner critic, the log jams, the writing…

Log jam.  Log jam.  After feedback FEEDBACK from multiple sources that I should be in the story and I try and try but log jam log jam— Why does the creative process halt when I do that?   I place myself back in the narrative and use first person but get triggered and the inner critic wakes up.  AWAKES.  And I feel gross and numb.

I transcribe a video from 2004- 12 years ago now-

and I am reviewing my research to that point sharing WHAT and HOW I found out what I did- and hey, it’s fascinating as to HOW—


— but I am gross.  Inarticulate. BORING.

Molly– if you are leading the way- HELP ME TRUST AGAIN.  Why can’t I trust that?  I can take the time I need?  But there is no more time.

I put myself back in the narrative… I try to make sense of your thousands of pages of writings.  You really do write like you’re running out of— time. – Eliza, Hamilton the Musical (Lin Manuel Miranda)




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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



That is a step on which… #creativeprocess

I was working on my Molly project today— contemplating a slightly new format, to reconstruct the prologue.  The idea came out of the first weekly mini writer’s retreat that I started last Monday with my soul-sister, Patti Henderson:


Patti encouraged me to attack the material in a new way.

I love how collaborative dialogue can push, pull, inspire.  Afterwards, perseverating on the ideas that were brought up, the magic begins as one idea flows into the next, and the creative process leads as opposed to being led.  The dots connect and coincidences become more than coincidences…

For example,

I was on the ferry headed to a wedding on Friday when suddenly, in my mind’s eye, I saw the prologue unfold in a series on visuals with a particular focus on the character’s eyes.  We see the children see…


I wrote some notes and continued to mind map when I got home today.


I put an episode of Charlie Rose on in the background…


I heard Kenneth Branagh quote a moment in Macbeth… That is a step. On which I must fall down, or else o’erleap… He emphasized and mused on the word o’oerleap and how in the context it meant the choice of murder.  I was intrigued by the word, by his take on it and how it worked well in the context of Molly.  So I looked further and searched for the moment it appears in the play:

The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step
On which I must fall down, or else o’erleap,
For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;
Let not light see my black and deep desires:
The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be,
Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see. (1.4.55-60)


Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see… how wonderful!  By seeking more on o’erleap, I find a quote related to my new vision for the prologue.  Coincidence?


And so, that is a step on which… I build.

A certain preface this way comes. 

Writing for me often happens in stolen moments.  It is easy for me to plan time for and execute illustrations.  It is easy for me to plan for and to execute mind-maps as well as write down structural and technical details.  It is TOO easy for me to plan and execute and get lost in RESEARCH.  (I LOVE RESEARCH).  And don’t get me wrong, my creative writing portion can also be planned- unjammed by a 10 minute journal exercise.  But I am not a writer.  I am a visual artist, a researcher, a reader, a journal keeper.  And writing scares the hell out of me.  I’m not good at it.  But I love it.  So often, my writing of the Molly manuscript just comes when it comes.  It can happen on a train, or at 1:30 AM when the household is asleep, or in the tub when reading something unrelated.  And I have to respect that.  Therefore, I carry a notebook with me at all times.  


And so came the preface for Molly.  An unexpected memory and a-ha moment.  Eureka!

The illustration came first.

The words much later.

Stay tuned.


“The truth sticks in our throats with all the sauces it is served with: it will never go down until we take it without any sauce at all.”
― George Bernard Shaw, Saint Joan


“Hey over here- over HEAR!” Bathtub musings. #journal


This that this that

I throw you the unknown

This that this that

Hey over here, over- HEAR!

Cart on a cup over rocks in a bird’s stomach

Soaring crashing

Overview- over this view, so over this view

But not you and you but them.

Not this not- this right here.

Clear clear I love this. This! Right here.

Hysterically, she courts: Here Hear! Hear me!

Yes, yes, I hear right here.

But sometimes- sometimes I am so over this (over)view.

Released from… congrats.

Now what? I still wait. Weight wade wade into the shadow,

through the muck that smells deliciously mouldy.

Eyes just at the surface blink slowly slowly blinks winks laughs and takes in air

and algae and bird turd and chokes and bloats and bides-

Bides time until there is just enough. Just enough. Say… ten lousy dollars.

Let’s just say, ten lousy dollars. Enough-

Enough to buy a bun, two buns and two cups and a french press and time.

This this right here. Hear!

It’s good now. The shadows are good now.

Lay the hand on the moss. Sink the cheek into the moss.

The moth and the moss- in time.

In time, the root overtakes the bone and pulls it down, past the moss

and the rock and the roots and the decay. Away and overlay

and the sun through the leaves offers pockets of hope,

and the shoot and the root crush under the boot.

Here… Hear. HEAR! HERE!


Writing is usually a process of elimination until… I don’t know- nothing is really there.

When walking my dog, I usually carry a book. Sometimes I read the book voraciously as Tobey walks at will. Sometimes I just carry the book- reassured that should Armageddon occur, I will find myself seated amidst the chaos- casually reading- because now I have time. Sometimes I just read a sentence or two- inspired by words that I feel are exactly the ones I need for whatever writing I’m doing at the time. Those words will then be mulled over as I complete the walk. And I’ll end up writing them on large pieces of paper and see where it goes. It’s usually a process of elimination until… I don’t know- nothing is really there.

Today I came across the phrase: persistent anxiety.

It resonated with me in regards to explaining the main character of my graphic novel. I entered some notes on my phone and then jotted down a variety of combinations on newsprint.







I ended up with:

The ground rushes towards her and through her, the once dream-full life now extinguished by necessity. The darkness illuminates this child of circumstance. Drowning from within, she chokes on thick secrets. Her star, once glimpsed by stolen sideway glances, died long ago.

But seriously, as I look at it, I should really just write:

 Her Catholic childhood was fucked up. She had TB. She committed suicide.


“Samson found it hard to wonder about the war.” 2084- a novel.

Author Matt Roy and his main character, Samson.
Author Matt Roy and his main character, Samson.

Indiegogo campaign:


From the campaign page:

This campaign funds two very important things.

[One] While I’m confident my novel is publishable, any writing greatly benefits from (nay : requires) professional editing. I’m raising funds to participate in an editing program in which I’m paired with an established (re : published) Canadian author, who will provide detailed editing notes geared toward publication. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to improve my craft. Oh, and get published!

[Two] Illustrations! I want to commission graphic artist Kat Thorsen to illustrate my novel. I don’t know about you, but I really miss illustrations in adult fiction, and I’d like to see it make a comeback! Kat is a talented Canadian artist and her illustrations will complement my novel perfectly.

– Matt Roy

Read more



The author and his main character. 2084- a novel in need of editing and illustration

Author Matt Roy and his main character, Samson.
Author Matt Roy and his main character, Samson.


Recommended reading:


“What is the use of a book without pictures?” wondered Lewis Carroll’s Alice, and anyone raised on illustrated classics like “Charlotte’s Web” or “The Phantom Tollbooth” might secretly feel that she has a point. Writers may still demur, reasonably concluding that they are only accountable for, in Henry James’ words, their “would-be-delicate and to-be-read-on-its-own-account prose.” But the interplay between art and text is rich with possibilities that few fiction writers have even begun to explore. Illustrations are fun. Giving up on them sacrifices real pleasures for a needlessly narrow conception of literary purity.

Matt’s Indiegogo campaign:


From the campaign page:

This campaign funds two very important things.

[One] While I’m confident my novel is publishable, any writing greatly benefits from (nay : requires) professional editing. I’m raising funds to participate in an editing program in which I’m paired with an established (re : published) Canadian author, who will provide detailed editing notes geared toward publication. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to improve my craft. Oh, and get published!

[Two] Illustrations! I want to commission graphic artist Kat Thorsen to illustrate my novel. I don’t know about you, but I really miss illustrations in adult fiction, and I’d like to see it make a comeback! Kat is a talented Canadian artist and her illustrations will complement my novel perfectly.

– Matt Roy

Read more




“… its alarm will sound.” 2084- a novel in need of editing and illustration






Matt’s Indiegogo campaign:


From the campaign page:

This campaign funds two very important things.

[One] While I’m confident my novel is publishable, any writing greatly benefits from (nay : requires) professional editing. I’m raising funds to participate in an editing program in which I’m paired with an established (re : published) Canadian author, who will provide detailed editing notes geared toward publication. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to improve my craft. Oh, and get published!

[Two] Illustrations! I want to commission graphic artist Kat Thorsen to illustrate my novel. I don’t know about you, but I really miss illustrations in adult fiction, and I’d like to see it make a comeback! Kat is a talented Canadian artist and her illustrations will complement my novel perfectly.

Read more



“He is one feeling.” 2084- a novel in need of editing and illustration

On Dec 4, 2010, Matthew Roy asked me to read part 1 of his manuscript and requested some feedback…




I was so impressed, moved, wowed by Matt’s writing…


We have since become very close friends and colleagues- united in our love for literature, art, street art, food, family, china markers etc.

Cut to today.  I am honored to announce Matt’s Indiegogo campaign:


From the campaign page:

This campaign funds two very important things.

[One] While I’m confident my novel is publishable, any writing greatly benefits from (nay : requires) professional editing. I’m raising funds to participate in an editing program in which I’m paired with an established (re : published) Canadian author, who will provide detailed editing notes geared toward publication. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to improve my craft. Oh, and get published!

[Two] Illustrations! I want to commission graphic artist Kat Thorsen to illustrate my novel. I don’t know about you, but I really miss illustrations in adult fiction, and I’d like to see it make a comeback! Kat is a talented Canadian artist and her illustrations will complement my novel perfectly.

Read more



He is one feeling.  He is one feeling his fingers.  He is one feeling a familiar feeling…

[Preserving is also the embryo’s existence, as it converts safely from from an embryo into a fetalbeing. The eight centimetre mass consisting of one third head and two thirds body, fingertips with fingertips, beating heart, functioning kidneys, lanugo, and not a care in the world, floats languidly inside yet anonymous womb.] – Matt Roy

When I struggle with Critique vs. Criticism, it’s time for Critical Thinking

[Images from quote books from my art shows in the early 90’s]

Ah, the artist dilemma.  Or really, the human condition.   The struggle with taking critique but not treating it as criticism.  Juggling the constructive and the destructive.  Be it from friends, family, community, clients… mainly OURSELVES!  By slowing down and pulling out some tools, we can change our perspective and thought patterns and take it as a chance to grow internally.

From Writing Alone, Writing Together; A Guide for Writers and Writing Groups by Judy Reeves: The Difference between Critique and Criticism:

  • Criticism finds fault/Critique looks at structure
  • Criticism looks for what’s lacking/Critique finds what’s working
  • Criticism condemns what it doesn’t understand/Critique asks for clarification
  • Criticism is spoken with a cruel wit and sarcastic tongue/Critique’s voice is kind, honest, and objective
  • Criticism is negative/Critique is positive (even about what isn’t working)
  • Criticism is vague and general/Critique is concrete and specific
  • Criticism has no sense of humor/Critique insists on laughter, too
  • Criticism looks for flaws in the writer as well as the writing/Critique addresses only what is on the page

Critical thinking…the awakening of the intellect to the study of itself.

From Brief Conceptualization of Critical Thinking: Critical thinking is self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way.  People who think critically consistently attempt to live rationally, reasonably, empathically.   They are keenly aware of the inherently flawed nature of human thinking when left unchecked.  They strive to diminish the power of their egocentric and sociocentric tendencies.  They use the intellectual tools that critical thinking offers – concepts and principles that enable them to analyze, assess, and improve thinking.  They work diligently to develop the intellectual virtues of intellectual integrity, intellectual humility, intellectual civility, intellectual empathy, intellectual sense of justice and confidence in reason.  They realize that no matter how skilled they are as thinkers, they can always improve their reasoning abilities and they will at times fall prey to mistakes in reasoning, human irrationality, prejudices, biases, distortions, uncritically accepted social rules and taboos, self-interest, and vested interest.  They strive to improve the world in whatever ways they can and contribute to a more rational, civilized society.   At the same time, they recognize the complexities often inherent in doing so.  They avoid thinking simplistically about complicated issues and strive to appropriately consider the rights and needs of relevant others.  They recognize the complexities in developing as thinkers, and commit themselves to life-long practice toward self-improvement.  ~ Linda Elder

The unexamined life is not worth living

“What other people think of me is none of my business.” -Wayne Dyer