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Saturday, May 12, 2007

MY NOT-SO SECRET LIFE

"Some writers take to drink, others take to audiences."
Gore Vidal "Interview in Paris Review" 1981

Sam has tagged me for this latest meme. So here I go spilling the beans about my not-so secret life.

Eight things about 'Ego'! (that's 'me' in Greek)

1. Wynn is not my real name but I like it enough to keep it. It is a derivative (Welsh) which I chose from my first name Winifred. Bexton is my mother's maiden name (Saxon, I think) and her first name was Winifred. My other name is Ruth, but my Greek friends call me Ruthaki and my Latino friends call me Ruthita.

2. I'm a Gemini - that means I have more than one persona. Gemini is the twins (Castor and Pollux in the Greek myths) But actually I have perhaps three sides. I'm a Gemini (twins) with an Aquarius rising and moon in Cancer. I usually read both the horoscopes for Gemini and Aquarius. But sometimes I can behave like a Cancer too.

3. I'm the Chinese sign of the Dog. I happen to be very fond of dogs and used to breed and show Yorkshire Terriers as well as own a number of other breeds. One of my favorite dogs after the Yorkies passed on was a little black poodle-terrier cross named Sappho. When I moved to Greece in 1983 I wanted to bring Saffy with me but fortunately my Auntie's little dog died and I let her take custody of mine. Good job I did. Saffy would have had a terrible life and it wouldn't have been fair to her at all. As it was, she had an excellent life of dog luxury living with my dear Auntie. And speaking of Chinese: I enjoy throwing the I Ching coins and recording the hexagrams which I find are useful guidelines to my sometimes hectic life. I once practiced Tai Chi regularly for 2 years (sorry I gave it up) and I love reading poetry of China and Japan.

4. I enjoy hiking, walking, sometimes riding my bike, going to the gym and especially swimming although I'm not an expert swimmer. I love going to the beach and floating around in the sea -- especially the Aegean or Mediterranean Sea. And I love walking by the beach here on the Pacific Coast. I am also very fond of dancing. Used to love disco dancing but now my favorite is salsa. I like Latin American and Cuban music because it's got such a happy sound. I also enjoy listening to classical music and especially jazz.

5. The thing I like to do more than anything is write. I am a historical fiction novelist and travel journalist. I have also started writing a few memoirs. And I teach writing classes both for the school board and privately at home. Lately I'm doing a bit of editing on the side too. I started writing when I was very young, worked in a newspaper editorial office after high school until I got married, and now I am writing full time. It's hard to make a living free-lancing travel stories so teaching classes at Night School validates my writer's life. (so does the gov't pensions!)

6. I am a gypsy. I'd love to be on the road 95% of the time. If I hadn't got evicted from my old apartment and had the good fortune to be offered this really beautiful place to live, I'd be packing my stuff in storage and going to Greece for the next six months. But I will settle for six weeks, five of those days will be in Venice and the rest of the time I'll be in Greece, visiting my old friends and haunts in Athens and cruising around the islands.

7. I love hanging out in my favorite bistro on The Drive which is called The Latin Quarter. I've been going there regularly for over 15 years and have made a lot of friends there including the owners and staff. It's a safe, pleasant place for a single woman to hang out and what makes it excellent is the Latin music on the weekends. Another place I like going to on The Drive is the Libra Room where I usually go on Wednesday to hear a fine trio of young musicians playing jazz. My friends and I also sometimes go to the LQ on Wed. to hear the jazz singer there.

8. I need to be more disciplined with my exercise regime. I have been attending Weight Watchers (more or less) for over a year and frankly haven't made any significant headway with the weight loss even though for the most part I am very good about sticking to my required points. What I need more of is exercise, such as the fitness centre and swimming and bike riding. The weather has been so poor this winter, and now I have to take an extra bus to get to the gym, so I have been very negligent an attending to my regime. However now the nice weather has come and I can walk over there I will try harder to make it more than a once-a-week visit. I also need to start doing more stretches at home and would like to find a yoga class. Sitting at a computer for hours on end has wrecked my back!
Speaking of diets, I do like good food and rarely eat junk food. I am not so inclined to have a sweet tooth as I enjoy savory stuff like popcorn with lots of butter on it. I like cooking and having dinner parties but even when I'm dining alone I try to make interesting meals. I've been using the Atkins, South Beach and Weight Watchers menus now for quite awhile and find they are tasty and appealing. One of my favorite dishes is lamb cooked Greek style; I like ethnic foods, especially Greek, Moroccan and sometimes Indian. (Italian too, of course!)

I tag: Scott, Gabrielle, Daisey, Adrian, Megumi, Marie, Deb, and Martha

"Round up the usual suspects"
"Casablanca"
spoken by Claude Raines.

"The pen is mightier than the sword, and considerably easier to write with."
Marty Feldman


OK, this is my last blog before departing. Think of me next weekend as I float down a canal on a gondola. Tralalala... And keep track of my adventures on my travel blog
http://travelthroughhistory.blogspot.com





Thursday, May 10, 2007

FITNESS TIPS FOR WRITERS

"Those who aim at great deeds must also suffer greatly."
Marcus Licinius Crassus 70 BC from Plutarch, Lives, Crassus ch.



I've been lucky to attend a couple of excellent writer's events over the past two weeks. The first was a weekend in Victoria on Vancouver Island where I attended the Federation of B.C. Writer's A.G.M. and a workshop on writing memoirs.

The keynote speaker at the A.G.M. UVic professor and author Lynne Van Luven, presented an interesting lecture titled "Hints for Heavy Lifting: How to Maintain Writerly Stamina." She likened writing a "a cerebral gymnasium" and gave some very useful "fitness" tips for writers. Just as a work-out at the gym increases strength and stamina, so too does daily practice in the craft of writing.

SHOW UP. SWEAT. REPEAT. INCREASE LIFT LOAD AS YOU PROGRESS.

She used weight lifting as a metaphor for writing: As in weight training, self discipline and willing to 'show up' day after day is important. DISCIPLINE. REPETITION and FOCUS are important for a writer. Put your work first and don't give up. Eventually your passion and persistence will pay off.

The second day of the FED weekend I went to a workshop for memoir writing hosted by Pauline Holdstock, author of a collection of literary and reflective essays Mortal Distractions and a novel Beyond Measure which was short-listed for the Giller Prize in 2004.

As I am planning to begin assembling the memoirs of my life and travels in Greece, I found this workshop very informative and useful. Memoirs are different from autobiographies. They are like a photo album of life, stories told and shaped around a theme or event. Memoirs deal with emotion and truth. One thing to remember when writing a memoir is to give yourself license to play around and alter the truth. Don't stick rigidly to facts. She suggested reading Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir Writing by William Linsser.
As I instruct a memoir writing group I found this workshop extremely useful and motivating.

Last weekend was another enriched writer's event, the annual B.C. Association of Travel Writers' Gala. I helped with some of the planning and set-up for this and it was a very enjoyable day spent with many travel writers, even a few who attend my classes. The keynote speaker was Daniel Wood, a renown travel writer who teaches travel writing at Simon Fraser University. His lecture was titled:How to Look a Rhinoceros in the Eye: A survival guide for the wayward travel writer.

I learned a lot and took careful notes of the highlights of his talk. Some of the main points were : Get involved, get inside the story, take risks and go to the edge.

As I set off on my next grand adventure (six more sleeps!) I am well prepared for the new discoveries that await me. Going to Venice has been a long-time dream of mine. I have done my research, know what I want to see and what stories I want to pursue, and I'm ready to discover and experience whatever comes my way.

"Put your shoulder to the wheel."
Aesop 550 BC "Hercules and the Wagoner"