Of Red Mittens and March Madness

The lull after the closing ceremony of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics was temporary. Less than two weeks later we welcomed the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games and out came the red and white flags and our red mittens again.

We’re told that the audience for the Paralympics drew an international audience that set records for both winter and summer games thanks to the fact that organizers were the first to jointly promote the Olympic and Paralympic Games together. A record number of gold medals were achieved in both. Of the Paralympians, VanOC CEO John Furlong said, “You have been remarkable ambassadors of the human spirit.” It’s been a wonderful experience to follow the extraordinary accomplishments. The final curtain came down on all this athleticism at last night’s closing ceremony. The 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will be held in Sochi, Russia. Then I’ll be glued to my television once again, but it won’t be the same. The 2010 Games have been spectacular.

In other accomplishments unrelated and incomparable to the Olympics, I mentioned at the beginning of the month that I was accepting Denise Jaden’s invitation to join in March Madness – a month-long endeavour to reach individual writing goals. My goal was to revise at least one chapter of my novel each day for a minimum of five days a week. On day #22 of the month I have completed 33 of the 36 chapters! That wouldn’t be a remarkable achievement for everyone, of course, but it is for me. I’m delighted with the progress so I’m bragging a bit. You’ll allow me this tiny bit of celebrating, won’t you? I promise to get back in the traces tomorrow. There are still three chapters to go and they require some major re-writing. I’m keeping my red mittens out as inspiration.

Expressing Emotion

A new week. A new month. No more winter Olympics to preoccupy me. <sigh>

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This Olympic experience wasn’t what I expected. The anticipated enthusiasm was replaced by something so much greater. Television cameras continuously scanned the faces of both athletes and spectators. There was exhilaration, jubilation and euphoria. And I cried in shared pride.

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After THE hockey game Vancouver’s downtown filled with 150,000 revellers who didn’t set fire to garbage bins or break windows but danced and sang in the streets, hugging and high-fiving perfect strangers who shared their elation. And I cried again.

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There was so much emotion. I felt it, but it’s hard to describe in words.

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That’s true in real life, and also in our writing. We don’t use descriptive words to express emotion in our novels… or do we? Isn’t “show, don’t tell” supposed to apply?

🙂 😀  😦 😮

How do you express emotion in your writing?

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The Last Medal

It may not be the most important thing in the world, but national pride has Canadians from the north, east and west coasts (and wherever else they may be in the world) celebrating their fourteenth Olympic gold medal. Nobody really dared to believe it could happen, but here we are. We’ve broken the all time record for the most gold medals won by a nation.

Congratulations, Canada! Congratulations to the U.S.A. for winning the most medals over all. Congratulations to all the participating athletes who trained hard and performed well. It’s been a fabulous seventeen days!

View the vancouver2010.com medals’ table

Which Award Would You Value Most?

While we will never exceed the United States’ total number of medals, Canada is exulting in its highest-ever number of Olympic gold medals. Gold is the ultimate achievement… or is it?

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A special status has been awarded to two Olympic athletes that have been named joint recipients of the Vancouver 2010 Terry Fox Award. Neither of them won gold, but both pushed themselves to excel despite overwhelming circumstances.

Slovenian cross-country skier Petra Majdic and Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette experienced physical and emotional blows immediately before competing. Petra suffered four broken ribs and a punctured lung during her training run but carried on to compete in four races and win a bronze medal. Joannie suffered the sudden loss of her mother and went on to skate for her mother and win a bronze medal.

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In the words of Terry Fox’s mother, “This year marks the 30th anniversary of my son’s Marathon of Hope. Watching Petra and Joannie and their determination to carry on and triumph is something Canadians and the world will not forget. They represent the best of us and what we can accomplish ― just like Terry.”

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And then there was the Canadian women’s hockey team who won gold and proceeded to blemish the occasion by reveling on the ice with beer, champagne and cigars while still wearing their jerseys and medals and while cameras continued to roll. They played a great hockey game but I think as a Canadian I value what Petra and Joannie did far more.

What do you think?

It May Be Winter, But….

Sixteen degrees!* That was the temperature as we returned home to the Fraser Valley on Saturday from our eighteen days in the Okanagan and East Kootenay areas of BC. We drove 2,000 km and never once drove on snow.

Hoodoo Mountain

East Kootenays

Columbia River

East Kootenays Snow

Kicking Horse Mtn. Resort near Golden, BC

Near Rogers Pass

We did see snow, of course, but here at the coast the spring crops are already greening. At the moment my DH is washing the truck in the sunshine and thinking of mowing the lawn later this afternoon.

Fraser Valley Farmland

Fraser Valley Farmland

Fraser Valley

Fraser Valley

It’s not exactly ideal Winter Olympics weather but it made for great travelling. And after last year’s long snowy winter, I’m not complaining one bit!

[* 16 C. = 62 F.]

News ‘n Notes

I’ve been galavanting for the past few weeks, enjoying visits with family and friends in BC’s Kootenays and Okanagan. Precious times and lots of good memories, but it’s good to be home again.

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Ten days ago there were grey skies and lots of clouds, but a blogging award from Joylene Butler definitely brought sunshine to my day.  We often speak of writing as being a very solitary pursuit. Blogging provides opportunities for feedback but even then we never really know how much (or how little) impact our words actually have. When someone surprises us with an award for being inspiring that in itself is inspiring, so thank you, Joylene, for sending the Sunshine Award my way. I’m smiling! 🙂

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Tonight the star-studded Vancouver and Whistler Olympic Victory Ceremonies Concert will feature Trooper and Loverboy. I’ve heard some of it will be shown on CTV but it will also be broadcast live on MuchMusic from 8:00-9:00 p.m. PST. You can bet I’ll be watching! I may be family but I’m also a dedicated fan. Yay, Trooper!!! Timeless rock ‘n’ roll, for sure!

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And now I’m off to watch the Olympic Canada-U.S.A. hockey game. It may be just a preliminary game, but I’m boldly waving my red and white.

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Keeping Track of Achievement

After four days of the Olympics, Canada has four medals. That’s not a great number but it’s significant for us. The following table will help keep track of the totals as they accumulate.

View the vancouver2010.com medals’ table

The first gold to be won by a Canadian in Canada was hugely celebrated… and is still being celebrated, almost to the point of ignoring the other medalists, which I think is wrong. Their achievements are equally important but are being overshadowed.

It has me wondering how new authors feel when their debut work is released by the publisher at the same time as a large number of other titles. Does the hype surrounding the big names leave the work of newer authors in the shadows? Or do they benefit by being included and swept along with those of the more celebrated authors?

If you could choose, would you wish your newest title to be released by itself, or at the same time as several others?

It’s Gold!

We knew it would come. The first gold medal to be won by a Canadian Olympian in Canada – Alexandre Bilodeau won the men’s moguls today! That was so exciting!

But what brought tears to my eyes was the reaction of Alexandre’s older brother, Frederic, who has cerebral palsy. Alexandre says Frederic has always inspired him.

Sometimes success in any arena takes more than determination. It takes passion fired by a special source of inspiration.

What is it that inspires you… what builds your passion for writing?

O Canada!

I admit it. I love the Olympics. Yes, too much money is spent on them (but then I think too much money is spent on professional sports and entertainment, too). Still, the Olympics do something that nothing else has ever accomplished. For seventeen days they bring the world together in peace, focused on the single goal of excellence.

The official opening ceremonies for the XXI Winter Olympiad were last night in Vancouver, Canada, and my family and I were glued to the television for the duration. There were 60,000 people in BC Place listening to introductions, speeches, and great Canadian entertainment complete with awesome special effects. But, as always, the lighting of the Olympic cauldron was the highlight for me. I’m emotional about it. That flame coming to us all the way from Athens, Greece via 45,000 km of Canadian communities in the hands of 12,000 torchbearers symbolizes so much.

There are places on the Internet where you can find all the details about who participated, read about the tragic death of Georgian Luger Nodar Kumaritashvili during a practise run, hear commentaries about how the fourth beam of the cauldron’s support structure malfunctioned, and check the results of today’s events. At this moment, however, I’m looking at what all the dedication, determination, and perseverance has achieved, and what it could mean if applied to our writing.

If we had that kind of dedication to our goals, if we were determined to write our very best, finish what we started, work with single-mindedness towards publication, might we fight past the obstacles instead of letting them defeat us? Would we discipline ourselves to utilize better work habits, and refuse to be deflected from precious writing time or be discouraged by repeated rejections?

If you approached your writing with the attitude of an Olympic athlete in training, focused on success, what difference do you think it would it make?

[Image photographed from TV coverage courtesy of TSN]

One Month to the Olympics!

The XXI Olympic Winter Games begin exactly one month from today, February 12th, in Vancouver. There will be approximately 5500 athletes from 80 countries participating in 86 events involving seven sports.

This official logo is named Ilanaaq the Inunnguaq . Ilanaaq is the Inuktitut word for friend.

Just thought you might like to know all that. 🙂

[Information and logo from Wikipedia]