Wednesday, December 2, 2015

IWSG: Wednesday, December 1, 2015 ~ Lurching Forward

It's the first Wednesday 
of the month ~ 
the day when members of the
Insecure Writer's Support Group
share their writing struggles
and offer their encouragement
and support to other members.

To visit the IWSG website, click here.

To become a member of the IWSG, click here.

Our wonderful co-hosts who are stepping up to help 
IWSG founder Alex J. Cavanaugh are:  Sandra HooverMark KoopmansDoreen McGettigan, Megan Morgan and Melodie Campbell.

Visit them and thank them for co-hosting.
I'm sure they would appreciate an encouraging comment!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

My exasperating memoir lurched forward this month. 
In the middle of a flat-on-my-back medical setback,
an unexpected thing happened
that pushed me past a standstill.

My wonderful friend Cheri 
was visiting for several days, 
and all I could physically do was talk.

No problem!
Let me tell you, the two of us 
could talk circles around Oprah
when we get together.

We talked about my memoir 
and I bombarded her with a barrage
of information, books, maps, photos, and frustrations
from under my blanket on the couch.
I couldn't find a way to pull everything together
into a coherent whole.

The next morning over coffee (for me)
and tea (for her), Cheri said,
"I was thinking about all you said last night,
and I had a thought.  What if ... ."

Bam!  Slam!

Suddenly the answers 
to all the questions 
I had about what on Earth to do, 
how I should handle this 
metastasizing morass of a memoir,
what organizing principal should I use,
snapped into place.
It was a surprising, but duh moment!

Sometimes you can't see what is staring you in the face.

It's like you're trying to find even two pieces 
of fossilized bone in a pile that fit together.
You try combination after combination 
that looks right, but it's not; 
and suddenly there is that magic instant 
when two pieces lock together 
and you know they belong.
And you know you're going to solve the puzzle
of what those fossils are.

A Cozy Place to Write Near the Fireplace

My memoir takes place in Lansdowne House 
deep in the northern Ontario bush over fifty years ago.
It's been a tough go from the beginning.

I've slogged through difficult memories to be able to write, 
and I've learned how to balance my father's voice with mine.

And now, thanks to Cheri, I've figured out a way 
to handle my family's personal story 
in the historical context of the Canadian North.

My Brother and I 
Lake Attawapiskat, 1961
Photo by Donald MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All rights Reserved

I continue to dig into
Charles Bishop’s insightful
The Northern Ojibwa and the Fur Trade:
An Historical and Ecological Study.

I'm still having a blast tackling my research,
and the Ever-Patient Terry is still asking if I'm having fun.
He shakes his head and says it looks like work to him.

Human Refuse
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rghts Reserved

But I am having fun!
No more coffee-fueled desperate all-nighters.
Those university days are long gone, 
Instead I'm laughing at the memories 
as I lurch forward with my memoir.

Still Fueled by Coffee, but Less Desperate

I'm not feeling insecure this morning;
I'm excited and relieved!
After floundering endlessly, I've found my true north.


  1. That's awesome your friend inspired a light bulb moment and it all came together! Sometimes it just takes an outside view.
    Really sorry you were miserable for her visit, though.
    And glad you are having fun now. Makes you wonder how school made research and stuff so un-fun.

    1. Hi Alex! Those lightbulb moments are like mana from heaven! Fortunately when my friend was visiting, I wasn't miserable, just terribly weak from blood loss. Also fortunately, even if I could only sit up for short periods, I could still talk and laugh lying down. By the end of her visit, I was somewhat on my feet and fired up!

      Part of the problems with research was me. It was only in the past few years that I realized I have had serious time management issues throughout my life and still struggle with them. I have many classic ADHD characteristics, so much so, that my siblings had nicknamed me the "ADHD One" among themselves. When I found that out several years ago, I was shocked, but began to realize that they might be on to something. So many of those all-nighters were my own fault, because I couldn't seem to get my act together in advance. Sometimes I was thrilled with what I was learning, but the writing was agonizing (still is). I think now that the structure of impending deadlines gave me the focus I needed to complete the task.

      And even just before midnight on Wednesday, I messed up publishing my IWSG post. I managed to publish an earlier draft that still contained parts of November's post. I was aghast when I realized that last night. But I was desperate to post before midnight and managed to put up a wrong version by, I can only guess, hitting the wrong tab after my final edit.

      Oh well, it's fixed now, and very much the optimist, I still believe I can change for the better!
      Sorry about the long reply ~ I'm "processing" what happened as I write.
      Thanks for all you do with the IWSG! I am grateful to be part of such an inspiring group.

  2. Will I hope your memoir will be fascinating! Go on with writing, researching and of course writing that wonderful poetry things you do in this post!

  3. Congrats on your breakthrough! And yay for Cheri's "fresh eyes" on the project -- sometimes a different perspective is all that's needed. I'm excited for you!

    1. Thanks, Debra! There are few things in life that beat a special friend who has known you for decades! Have a happy Friday!

  4. Sometimes things can sure happen out of the blue with another's perspective. And enjoying it is all the better.

    1. Those intuitive leaps and mysterious happenings in writing are what make writing so fascinating! Have a great weekend, my friend!

  5. I am so glad about your breakthrough, Louise!!! Love your photos, and your kitchen is beautiful!!! :)

    1. Thank you, dear Linda! You always lift my spirits! Have a lovely weekend!

  6. You came out the other side. Congrats! I love the pictures. Thank you for sharing your process.

    1. Thanks, Adrienne! It was an amazing moment when things fell into place! Now to enjoy the holiday season without my writing and research falling seriously behind. Have a great weekend!


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