photo

A Bird In Flight, A Poem, and a Short Talk About Sleeping Pills

 All I can do is marvel at animals that are capable of flight, the one thing in the world I have found makes me the most happy and energized

Scroll down past today’s poem for today’s blog entry

 

Winter Poem

By: Leif Gregersen

 

As the days slip by so fast

It often seems that nothing lasts

 

Not our love or our generation’s song

Our time to rejoice and play is gone

 

If things only lasted long enough for me to feel

That the loves I once had were real

 

Just as real as all the days

Sadness came to me in waves

 

I have regrets that my only way to cope and deal

With my pain was to take a pill and just not feel

 

Feel either good or bad just dead

But not trapped inside my own head

 

When I was not quite yet a man

From commitments I always ran

 

Not understanding how love grows like a flower

Gaining beauty, gaining power

 

I wanted so badly to be free

I masked and hid the love inside of me

 

Now I’m both lonely and alone

Never quite feeling like I have a home

 

Deny it, but I say we still can have a chance

As long as there is one more dance

 

Though I think you understand the fact

Time is slipping by for us to act

 

There is also one thing I wish you knew

I hate myself for hurting you

 

I also think something else is true

You get sad and lonely too

 

So take my hand and come with me

Knowing that love still can set us free

 

November 14, 2017

 

Good day dear readers! I have been so encouraged by the increasing support and exposure I am getting for my blog that I have decided to do more entries than I usually do. Either that or I have found that working on this blog is one of the best cures for insomnia I have this side of sleeping pills.

Perhaps the whole idea of sleeping pills is a good issue to discuss today. For the past four days I haven’t taken anything to get me to sleep and I feel better for it, but not 100% yet. I should tell some of the back story, I have a lot of commitments from working for the Schizophrenia society to teaching creative writing and other things and I really need to be rested to do these things well. Lately I have been trying a few different sleep aids to help with this and they seem to do more harm than good. I thought maybe if I talked about them here that people would be able to avoid some of the pitfalls. To start with, I have my Psychiatrist’s approval to use melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that can help balance out a person’s sleeping habits. It has some funny effects though, one of them is that if you (or at least in my case I have, I am sure other people have had different experiences) take it for a while and start to tolerate it, the pills can do something much worse than help you sleep, they can cause extreme restlessness that amounts to a type of seizure of legs and back muscles/bones. It is a very disturbing experience, one I have only ever before had in the psychiatric hospital when injected with a serious tranquilizer because I was “bad”. I still take melatonin now and then, but I am very careful about how frequently I use it. The other problem I have found with it is that it can make you very drowsy the next day and leave you with a desire to sleep a very long time.

The next pill I sometimes take for sleep is one that is called clonazepam or rivotril. I take it in the 0.5 mg orange pill. It looks a lot like the average gravol tablet and is very powerful. It is a tranquilizer along the lines of valium, but without some of valium’s more serious side effects. This is a prescribed medication and I am only given a few every couple of weeks which I use sparingly. This pill seems to be highly addictive because when I take it I feel very relaxed and soon drift off to sleep and feel better for the next day, but if I don’t take it for a few days I start to get edgy.

Those are the major ones. There is a pill called imovane, a blue little football shaped pill that I suggest people avoid. It is extremely addictive. I also want to warn people that sleeping pills in just about any form I have encountered them end up being a crutch and can seriously affect a person’s memory. Time and time again I have found that the best sleep aid is to get out and get plenty of fresh air and exercise. In my own daily routine, if there isn’t something for me to do that requires a long walk, I think of something. I seem to always be able to find a reason to get out of the house like walking to the warehouse grocery store a few miles away or walking to the post office. I used to like to bring and iPod with me when I did this, but lately I have just enjoyed walking as a form of meditation. I have to say that in the past short while I have been getting a bit lax about my walks and exercise in general and I have felt much worse as a result, physically and mentally.

The final thing I wanted to mention today was that if you find yourself sleeping days and staying up nights, there is a cure, which can only really be done in the summer. You need three weeks and not much else. What you do is go out camping, leave behind all of your electronics and get up with the sun each day. In three weeks your biological clock will naturally reset itself.

Best wishes dear readers!

Leif Gregersen

Advertisements

Riding the Wave–“But I get the most work done when I’m manic!”

 

Click this link and find out here if a home based counsellor is able to help you

best-full-moon-ever

            Shot of the moon using my Nikon D3300 and a Nikkor 55-300mm lens, touched up with Lightroom by Adobe

Mania, depression, and delusions. What can pills help, and what do you need to watch out for yourself? (poem to follow this blog)

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/how-do-i-find-a-therapist-near-me/

So it is the worst time of the year for just about everyone. Kids have to go back to school after just a 2-week taste of freedom and being lavished with candy canes and gifts by family. People who work in sectors like trades find that most of their customers spent all their money on Christmas and there is a big slowdown. The worst part? Suicides. Some may think that Christmas is the worst for suicides, but I have uncovered some information that may prove that January is the worst month for suicides. I can see why. I have been doing well in my recovery from mental illness for some time now, I was able to take some college courses, I took a University course last year and actually finished it. I have set up jobs and public appearances and have been working for the schizophrenia society. I sometimes wonder if I’ve been a little manic. I haven’t had delusional thinking much, but I have been finding myself increasingly troubled with sleeping memories of being in the hospital, likely because I now live in an apartment building rather than a house and I never liked the people who used to come around in the hospital and shine a flashlight in your eyes to see if you were sleeping. The flashlight almost always woke me up.

What I have been noticing is the early signs of depression creeping up. I don’t know about other places, but where I live there is only about 8 hours of daylight this time of year and sometimes lately if I have nothing to do or if it is oppressively cold outside (as it almost always is, -22 right now) I will sleep all night and then sleep all day. Then, at times like this when by all rights I should be going back to sleep, I get up and work on my writing. Today I was taken away from this pursuit because I learned the moon was full, and so I hauled out my camera and took the above picture among others. I don’t really know what to do about my depression. It has to do with a lot of things I am sure, including the diminished sunlight, the fact that I have a lot of time on my hands and that I have been isolating myself too much. My doctor has offered to increase my anti-depressant and I think I will call tomorrow to get an appointment and do so.

I am also thinking that with everything that has been happening, it is time to bite the bullet and go and see a counselor. For months I have been looking at the wall in the office of my apartment building and there is a list of free counselors there. What it all comes down to is taking care of myself. If I leave things too long I will pay the consequences. Just like needing a dentist or an optometrist, and going to them before you are in pain or blind, I really want to try therapy. From what I understand, therapy can be very effective for people with mental illnesses, though it is important that one stabilize their condition with proper medication before going to it. One of the things that makes me feel worried about what has been going on is my departed mother. When she died at 63 she still hadn’t gotten a handle on her mental illness and it was very severe. My mom had done so many things, from being a credit union manager to nearly getting a full scholarship to University. She tried so very hard and kept getting beaten down by one thing or another. I can see my mom in my brother and sister and myself in many ways. It really was a sad thing that her life had gone so poorly for her, and even at the end she struggled with her medications, moods and psychosis. One of the things she did back then was to see a psychologist and I learned to my surprise that she often talked about her mother, who had passed away about 20 years before my mom did. In many ways I feel pretty lucky that there are medications that help me deal with my own psychosis and mood swings, and do a pretty good job of it. With that, I will leave you with a poem and wish you all another week or so of good health and happiness, which is about the amount of time that will pass before I blog again.

 

Last Best Chance

My love I am always thinking of you

And how I have feelings that are true

I just don’t know how to say them out loud

 

In the dark deep night my mind begins to race

As I worry, fret and pace

Nothing seems to please me anymore

 

The first time I ever saw your face

Even my loneliness could never erase

The loveliness I saw deep inside your eyes

 

Each day that passes finds me here

With no friends or lover near

The only one I have to blame is me

 

There were many loves in my younger days

And I pursued them in my own weird ways

Never understanding I could ever end up alone

 

Plus I had so many true, close friends

On whom I always thought I could depend

But hard times took most of those away from me

 

I’ve been desperate and depressed

Sought forgiveness and went to be blessed

But found out it came down to not loving you enough

 

From the first day my life had begun

Fate made you the only one

I could have ever asked to be my true soul mate

 

So I ask if you could read these simple words

And not feel sad, scared or disturbed

I know you care for me just as I care for you

 

Things happen to each and every one

But you were always so loving and fun

Please forgive and take me in your arms again

 

I won’t make any promises to you

Except that each day will feel happy, fresh and new

Please tell me if you will, I just can’t wait

 

Too many years have already passed

You’ve always been the first and last

Give your love to me we’re each other’s last best chance

 

The Beauty of a Changing Perspective

DSC_0220

Got this great close-up of a Common Aerial Yellowjacket Wasp yesterday

Today’s poem:

Garden Crescent

 

Each day of my youth on those crisp cold winter nights

I could see each star, all the stars afforded the place

Where I grew up; a gift of living in the north

 

While walking home from the store; finished with

My noisy spaceship fantasies imaginings banged out

On computers encased in wooden boxes to which

 

I would feed quarters.  There was the big dipper

I was blind to Mars and Venus, Jupiter; even my own

Sign; not the dawning of Aquarius but Saggitarius

 

The big dipper was the only constellation I knew

I almost saw it as one thing, not stars as far from each

Other as they were from me.

 

Often on those days the dancing sheets of light

Would come to amaze amuse astound

It was only one block home but in a young boy’s mind

 

It was a billion light years travel time

And everything seemed so real, so much more alive

In the insignificance of my own existence

 

Stars by the millions light travelling over eons and decades

Some gone before I was even born so I could

Catch their light at the precise moment it reached Earth

 

I wonder then as I wonder now

How so many celestial bodies could exist

Just far enough away to barely see them

 

And not see them in the day

Night was my time then as it is now

This poem my guide into darkness

 

 

Leif Gregersen

May 10, 2016

 

Hello and good morning to all those who like to follow this blog.  I had the most amazing experience today.  I went to teach my Monday creative writing class, and I felt an incredible connection to the adults with mental health issues I was working with at the mental health club where the class takes place.  There was one young man who is brilliant in many ways and always participates in exercises.  He also has a great reading voice.  The sad part is that he lives with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and it has been a huge barrier to living for him.  He told me that he wished the class would go on permanently every Monday not end in a few weeks.  There is a woman in the class who is a bit shy though very mature who didn’t think she could ever write anything worthwhile and in the first class I taught we had a mini poetry competition, and her poetry won.  She has been coming ever since and today brought three pages of beautiful rhyming poems to show me.  The class went incredibly well; I felt like I was really in command of the subject and that we were doing something that benefitted all of us.  It made me want to call my sister who has a Master’s in Education and teaches in Toronto and attempt to describe to her how great teaching makes me feel, but I think she understands.

Things seem to be happening so fast lately.  In just a few more weeks I will be on a plane to London, England.  Next week I will be working on the setup of an outdoor Beyonce concert to pay for my trip and then there is something that I am stressing over a bit, I am going to head to a Junior High School and lead a poetry workshop.  I think I have prepared enough to handle the event, but still I feel a bit nervous.  I have been doing so many public talks and teaching jobs that it really shouldn’t be a problem, I think I will even have fun with it.  I am conscious though of the possibility that I am taking on too much at once.  It really is getting hard to sleep.  Today I got my bus pass and London map in the mail.  At 11:30 pm I got out of bed just to google the Hostel I will be staying in to see if they have lockers.  I think though, that all I really have to do is act like Santa Claus for anything that stresses me like classes or trips or anything.  Make a list, and check it twice.  Then do something I learned from the wealthy people in my hometown.  If there is any kind of a problem, just make sure and throw money at it and make damn sure you have enough.

Aside from all that, I did do something that I think was really helpful.  I needed to get a few things, and I have been thinking a lot about how ripped off people are when they live in inner city areas and need to buy their things at private drug stores, cash their cheques at rip-off finance outfits, and buy their food at convenience stores.  It can be really expensive to be poor in this world.  So I elected to hop on the bus which I knew would take an hour to get to the discount stores and just brought a book.  It was one I bought some time ago that I had put down but not because I didn’t enjoy it.  It is a book about Buddhism called “Wherever You Go, There You Are” and it was such a nice feeling to get away from all distractions and just sit on the bus, the blocks rolling past as I enjoyed looking at my own thoughts and actions from a different perspective.  Reading really is such an amazing, healing process.  Writing isn’t far behind.

LG

 

There Were Beaches To Be Taken

DSC_0113

Today’s Poem: (scroll down for blog and a second photo for today)

 

Insanity Poem

I am the shore; the beach

And I see endless waves capped by headless demons

Each with an issue of blood, a smell of death

Demons riding gentle sloping water mountains

Always coming

Waves that carry Satan’s surfers

Deep in the recesses of my soul and mind

I thought only Christ could walk on water

No, not in my head

If I knew my brain would do all of this to me

What once could I have done to it?

 

When young; so many things undone

 

I thought then that life would be peaches, roses

All at once complete

And happy

Happy as the minute the clock ticks away

Finally making it to the 3:30 bell

On that last day of school

Before short precious summer days of sun and fun

Those days were not so fun

When school ended for all time for me

And life was still newly begun

 

Leif Gregersen

February 10, 2016

     Good morning Dear Readers:

Well, I don’t really have a lot off the top of my head to say, but I suppose I can still manage to rattle of f a bit of stuff.  I had a very cool job interview today for a temporary position as the teacher of a writing class and I have to admit I am feeling pretty good about it.  I will be helping adults to develop their writing skills and though it is part time, the hourly wage isn’t too bad.  I am really looking forward to something that is my own idea, I want to try and take my class on a field trip to the amazing Edmonton Public Library and show them some of the many resources available to all citizens of our great city.  Most of these people will be adults with mental health issues which makes me feel even better about the job.  I have always really enjoyed working with people who are at a disadvantage, whether it be an issue of their age or mental state or physical state.  For some time I volunteered at a veteran’s extended care hospital and I really loved some of the wonderful old men that were there.  I got some good story ideas from it and made good friends with the hospital chaplain who in more recent times has been a great supporter of my writing efforts and a wonderful guy.  I know what I do isn’t volunteering, but I would encourage anyone dealing with a mental health issue who has gotten beyond the initial difficulties of establishing housing, medication and a routine to volunteer their time in projects like this.  It can only help you get regular jobs further down the line, help you to meet people and keep busy, and be an amazing learning process.  I always encourage people in Edmonton to contact the volunteer network, but in many cities there are places where a person can be put in touch with volunteer opportunities.  The neat thing is that you can basically choose your job.  I knew a young woman with schizophrenia who was able to get valuable accounting experience using this idea.

One of these days I wouldn’t mind going through a couple of book reviews.  I wonder what some of the favorite books of my readers are.  My favorite book of all time is Robert M. Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” in which he tells the story, a true memoir in a way, of a trip he takes across America with his son and two best friends on a motorbike.  As he drifts down the highway he has these talks with himself and thinks through a lot of stuff in his life.  This book was one of the first books I read that talked openly about mental illness, I think I have read it numerous times, it was so good.  The same author also wrote a sequel to this book more about sailing called “Lila”.

There is another book that had a great influence on me called “The Richest Man in Babylon” but I won’t get too deeply into that now.

I suppose I could talk a bit about growing up and friends.  One time I was discussing friends and friendships with my Psychiatrist, and he told me that he doesn’t have that many friends, and has no problem functioning at a high level.  I had some times when I was young that I desperately wished I had friends, anyone to play with, talk to, get into trouble with.  From as young as seven to even just a few short years ago I was very alone.  One of the worst summers of my life was when I was sixteen and I spent the whole summer with no friends at all, deep in a depression working full time, driving around with no one to talk to, no fun things to do.  What was odd about it was that just before school let out that year I had a lot of friends and even went on a few dates with some very attractive young women.  Then, seemingly just as school ended everything kind of went to shit.  I have played these times over and over in my head and I have never been able to understand where things went wrong, what I might have done to shun these people from me.  A couple of years later when I was severely mentally ill I had such a hard time understanding why so many people seemed to be against me.  It had seemed that all my life I had only contributed to the community, done good things.  Maybe I will never understand.

The only thing now that I really understand is that it feels good to be a hard working, giving person and to have many friends.  I also know that I would be in serious trouble without my daily medications, especially the one that stabilizes my moods and Prozac, my anti-depressant.  I have been so content lately most of the time, much more so than in previous years.  I really like being an adult and attending church, having neighbors who are good friends and supporters.  I often associate all my good fortune partly to quitting drinking, gambling and smoking some time ago, and in a much larger way to publishing my first book (I have now published 12 and have 10 in print).  What is takes is just a little concentrated effort, with a goal in mind, a destination, just a little effort each day towards that goal be it big or small, and I honestly feel dreams can come true.  For many years I dreamed of being a writer and now I can honestly say I am one and that I likely have a great career ahead of me.  Anyhow dear readers, I have made a decision to put out a blog with a poem a little less often, but still keep checking back for a new one once or twice a week, and as always, please feel free to contact me or to post comments to this site.  viking3082000@yahoo.com

DSC_0049

Finding Inspiration: Stealing a Little Here and There

DSCF1156I was drawn to this building because of all the lettering.  My Dad was a sign writer most of his life and made a lot of really cool signs in his shop.  The worn down and abandoned look to this building reminds me that even our heroes in this world are subject to impermanence.

     Hello Dear Readers!  I am fiddling around with the format of this blog a bit, I hope you don’t mind.   As usual I am more than happy to receive comments on my personal email if anyone has questions or wants to see something different.  It is of course, viking3082000@yahoo.com and I still haven’t gotten one single email from anyone!

Well, I guess there is a lot to discuss here.  Saturday night I was feeling pretty crappy.  I had the crap kicked out of me by working a very difficult job in the hot sun on Friday for 7 solid hours without a break.  (I love unions!)  Still, it was a great experience in many ways.  I think the biggest way it was a good experience is that when I do a union show, very rarely does what I do last.  99% of my work seems to be setting up concerts, which have to be torn down and reloaded onto trucks the minute the show is over.  Kind of frustrating, but still there are many opportunities to learn.  What I did on Friday was help put up the boards for a rink in the community I live in.  It is a great resource for the disadvantaged kids that live in the area, a lot of them really rely on being able to come and borrow skates and a stick and play in the winter.  I wonder sometimes when the land the rink is on will be devoured by urban sprawl.  I was paid for the work, but it still feels good to work towards something positive.

Saturday during the day I had a couple of photography assignments for the newspaper I volunteer for.  The neatest part of that was that when I got to the Italian Senior’s Centre where they had the even I was shooting, they had the latest newspapers out on a table and a photo I took was on the front cover in brilliant color.  I also got a fantastic meal out of the deal and had a chance to learn more about my Nikon camera.

So anyhow, I was trying to talk about Saturday night and address the topic of creativity.  As mentioned, I wasn’t feeling all that great but I had enough pep in me to think up an idea for a short story.  I don’t want to tell too much about it, I have some people reading it and I am hoping to include it in a new collection some time soon.  The neat thing was the way I wrote it.  I took events from my life that were real, and used some of them, flipped around and changed a bit in the story.  Some girls I knew from my days at school became some kind of secret group of models and rich girls.  I took a friend I had and changed his name and had him change the plot of the story.  The neat thing was that just about all of the story came from real events, made unrecognizable by chronology and connections.  I once heard someone say that bad poets steal, good poets borrow.  I wrote a poem tonight that appears below and I have to admit that the hardest lines to write (the first ones-always the hardest for me!) were inspired by a Dylan Thomas poem.  One day when this blog gets more popular and I can get some interaction out of people I will be noting things like this and having giveaways to people who can name the poem I was inspired by and so on.  Something to keep in mind.

Well, I think that is enough talk about writing.  I am going to be facilitating a writer’s group soon (Wednesday) and I am strongly hoping it will go well.  I guess I have taught classes before, even much larger ones (in Air Cadets).  I think it should go okay.  Right now I am kind of having a problem and I know the solution, I am just having a hard time putting the changes into effect.  The problem is in two parts, (a) getting to sleep at night and a linked problem (b) I drink too much caffeine.  My previous Psychiatrist has warned me a number of times about the dangers of caffeine, but I have often felt that it was the thing that got me off cigarettes.  I even listened to a lengthy audiobook once about the dangers of caffeine.  I had a friend at work tell me once that he had once drank so many energy drinks that he became allergic to caffeine.  It would be so hard for me to quit, but I am starting to fear 100% abstinence is my only solution.  One of the problems I have is that I tend to reward myself with coffee.  If I play a fun video game and do well on it, I see drinking coffee as a reward.  If I went without spending too much money and actually end the day with money in my bank I reward myself with coffee.  For a while I was drinking only tea, but I was unable to keep that up.  It is funny what gives us addictions.  I started drinking tea, and actually got quite serious about having a quality cup of tea that I spent a lot of money on specialty teas and teapots and had all kinds of teas and brands and all that.  The tea phase in my life was started because I read a fascinating book by a man with the pen name Andy McNab who was once Britain’s highest decorated soldier and had been a key member of the SAS, a unit that has fascinated me for a long time.  How did I get addicted to coffee?  By attending 12-step groups!  They poured out the coffee by the ton, and soon I was drinking it just for something to do with my hands.  Now I am at the point where I need a cup of coffee to get me to sleep, my Dr. said that it means I have a certain level of caffeine that needs to be topped up or I get withdrawls.

All pretty grim, but the main problem really isn’t the coffee.  The main problem is that I am a person with Bipolar Disorder and not being able to stay calm and relaxed can be quite detrimental to my health.  Recently I started taking a tranquilizer to help me sleep and I am near the point of asking for a stronger one but I hate what that would do to me.  Every new pill has side effects, and as it is I try to take the tranquilizer as little as possible.  It is just that there are times when I really need to sleep and if I go to bed without help in pill form, it will often take me two to three hours of lying still to calm down enough to sleep.  Although I have been told not to take naps, it seems that is the only way I can continue to function.  I often take a nap before and after supper, and when I am in the middle of a serious writing project I will often sleep until it is near midnight, then load up on coffee and try to put out a reasonable word count.  It is funny because I don’t notice these sorts of things in myself, but when I wrote my first novel, “Green Mountain Road” my Dad actually told me it was hard to watch me killing myself to write this thing.  What I did then was to grab my laptop, head to an all-night McDonald’s and drink coffee or pop until I put out 5,000 words.  Literal craziness.  Anyhow, that is my rant, I don’t know if any of this helps, but I would sure like it if people would comment or even friend me on Facebook, I really like to discuss these sorts of things with other people with Bipolar Disorder, it can be very instructive and beneficial.  So if you like, friend me on Facebook at Leif Gregersen, and if you like my poetry, I also have a poetry page on Facebook called “Valhalla Books”.  All the best Dear Readers, stay real, and don’t forget to scroll past the below photo for today’s poem.

DSC_0064                  Here’s a photo of a very talented musician and kind human being named Bill Bourne who performed at a winter warmer event that I took pictures for this past winter. 

 

Changing, Growing

 

I often wonder what is the power that pushes upwards a flower

On and on until it becomes a bloom

And what is the divine force that guides a human life through its course

And like clockwork spins the phase of the moon

 

I once thought that if I gave all of me until the fall of me

Towards all things that seemed bold, noble and true

That the day would soon come while I was yet still young

That I would no longer feel so lost and blue

 

The fact is sometimes as it sits, single middle-aged life is the pits

And as time passes I often mull over all my love lost

Yet still there may be a chance to meet ‘the one’ and ask her to dance

But right now our paths have yet to cross

 

Though I am happy I guess and in some ways pretty blessed

When it comes to human bonding I am truly inept

Even as a young man with the world in the palm of my hand

I can remember sad times when I wept

 

But I kept the hope deep in me that one day I would be free

Of the chains that bind the nervous and shy

And then fate screwed with me bad and I lost all that I ever had

It was just like falling from miles up in the sky

 

I’ll admit though I got a good deal of it back when I changed my tack

By living clean, healthy and respectful of everyone

And what was so odd it seems that by letting go of my dreams

I still got to lay on the beach in the sun

 

Away on a far off shore I was able to relax recharge and explore

And I had some quality time to sort out my mind

Far away it didn’t matter that once I was mad as a hatter

All new friends only cared if I was giving and kind

 

So I stayed on those far off shores until people were sick of my snores

And I felt I could return with peace in my heart

Being away felt so good but I had to return to my neighborhood

It was there I had made a fresh start

 

Since then there have been wonderful days good in so many ways

All because I gave from deep down in my soul

Now I don’t need to be rich anymore, I just need to love and adore

My new friends and family that care and let me feel whole

 

Leif Gregersen

June 1, 2015

More About Writing, Less About Poetry

DSCF5641                                              SUNRISE JUST OUTSIDE MY BACK DOOR

Hello dear readers.  It has been a couple of days since I posted anything and I don’t really know what to write at first.  I had a long talk with my sister, who has her Masters Degree in Education and she has been encouraging me to focus more on short stories and magazine/newspaper articles rather than poetry.  I don’t really know how to take this, for some time I have felt something lacking in my poetry.  One thing I do know is that if I want to publish poetry or have any success getting a book sized collection going, I can’t use anything I post here.  I think from time to time I will try and post some poetry though, but while I am in this thinking stage I am going to refrain.  I find though that I really love taking pictures (I just purchased a brand new $500 camera) and so I have no problem continuing with those efforts.  I also can put together blogs without any worries of copyrights or publishing problems, so I want to go on with that.  I think I should start writing in themes though.  One of the things I would most like to do is to help other writers who may be starting out, so to that end I am going to put after the second photo for today a copy of an article I wrote which was turned down, but still has some very useful information.  I would love feedback on what anyone thinks of it.

Perhaps one of the themes I could work on could be some of the interesting people I have met.  For some odd reason I am reminded right now of a 28 year-old African American I met while traveling the United States at age 19.  I had been living in truck stops, trying to hustle a ride from anyone who showed any sign or indication that they were going North to Vancouver, BC or anywhere in Canada for that matter.  I was outside enjoying a cool, crisp morning and looking out at the sand colored mountains of Southern California when I started talking with this guy (damned if I can’t remember his name) and he told me that he had thought of pursuing a career as a minister.  He seemed like a good guy to count as a friend in an otherwise unfriendly place, so I decided to hang out with him.  Him and I went to a shelter in the nearby town and got a meal, some clothes and an offer of a place to stay and work to be had.  For the most part my new friend was extremely entertaining, he told me stories that nearly made me split my gut laughing, but then out of seemingly nowhere he started to talk about a rape and a murder he had been an accessory to and it really freaked me out.  One of the scary things about big American cities is that by weight of sheer numbers a lot more people slip through the cracks of what is considered normal in Canadian cities and can end up being pretty scary.  I really wanted to get away from this guy, but I didn’t see any potential harm in hanging around with him for a while though the bells should have gone off way earlier.  Those were strange times, I remember when I got home from that horrible trip that I had two blisters each the size and thickness of a silver dollar on each foot thanks to the boots I was wearing.

Well, I am going to leave off things there.  Anyone who finds this little bit of a story interesting is encouraged to read more about this and other misadventures I experienced in my two books, “Through The Withering Storm” and “Inching Back To Sane” which are under the heading, ‘books’ in the menu of this website, both paperback and e-book formats.  As mentioned, I am putting an article I wrote below the photo, please leave any comments you like

IMG_4893

 

ARTICLE ON WRITING:

Writing is simple. Pen a document, print it up, send it away and get rich. Sorry, nowhere near that easy. Stephen King once said that if you can write something, get it published, get paid for it and the check clears, you are a writer. Cool! But where do you start?

 

Perhaps you are just starting out. Start with a good computer. I prefer a Mac Mini that I use only for writing and I have Microsoft Word on it, whick is considered the industry standard. An option is to download a program called OpenOffice which is compatable at www.openoffice.org for free.

 

Where do you go from there?   “The Writer’s Market 20–” is essential. Check it out at www.WritersMarket.com where you can sign up for their newsletter and get other information. The book, at around $30.00 US contains query letter templates, advice for writers, and tons of addresses of everything from agents to publishers and many magazines. It gives you almost all the facts you need, from who to address your query to, right down to how to get back issues (always try to read a publication before you submit to it) and what the magazine pays.

 

Now that you have the essentials, or are able to beg, borrow or use other creative methods to utilize them, start reading. Read, read read! Look for ‘short story’ stickers on fiction books in your library and check them out and devour them. Read magazines, literary and otherwise (read them in the library to save $$). Sometimes I will take a bus route that adds an hour to my morning commute just to have the time to tune out and read.

 

Magazines can be a great way to start your career. I started making money with magazines simply by browsing through a copy of Writer’s Market and coming up with ideas to query them with. Not all of the magazines took my offer, but I can safely say I have added a few thousand to my bottom line just from part-time freelancing.

 

Something important is to start getting your name known, and start getting your list of publications growing. I still love volunteering for my community newspaper for free because I have fun doing, it connects me with my neighbors and it gives me more clippings each month to add to my growing pile. Not to mention I feel the experience makes me a better writer. Don’t worry that at first you will get low paying or non-paying work, it all benefits you in the long run.

 

Something else I do is sit down and write a short story when I feel moved, or a poem. Every few months I these together into a book and have them printed up at www.createspace.com which is an imprint of Amazon. For the cost of a few hundred dollars for 50 or 100 copies, I get the extreme joy of seeing my name in print on a real book. I take copies to independent bookstores, I set up signings at places as varied as Farmer’s Markets and Hospital Gift Shops. It’s all on a small scale, but as time goes by, my list of guaranteed customers grows and presently, two of my books are being evaluated by distributors and another is being considered by a publisher. Will either of these make me rich? Not likely, success can be a long journey for a writer, it may never come, but I can assure you that the path is a rewarding one financially, emotionally and in a general feeling of happiness of having accomplished something truly worthwhile.

Reflections Upon Approaching The Age of 100

Well, today has been a great day to say the least.  Last night I went out with my Dad and watched a movie that was based on a popular book called “The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared”.  The movie was literally a non-stop laugh riot and I think in a way it made my Dad, who is only 23 years away from 100, feel good about himself.  The movie was Swedish and had a lot of subtitles, but much of it was in English.  It followed the adventures of an old man who had been put into a home for having the odd hobby of blowing up things, and I think I could best describe it as a Swedish Forrest Gump.  I thought it would be kind of cool to put in a photo of one of my best friends who is getting up there, but not quite near 100 yet either.  I used a black and white setting on my camera and I think it comes up with a pretty nice rendering of what Walter is like.

DSCF1014

Aside from all that, I sat down today and wrote a poem.  I have been having misgivings lately about putting poems up on this website, because in all reality, it doesn’t do me much good and although I get a lot of hits on this page, I don’t sell any books.  The fact of the matter is, in order to make any money off your writing, you need to get a following first and convince them that your writing is worthwhile (or so I hope it works that way).  After a couple more pictures which are in sharp contrast to each other (one is the winter skyline of Edmonton, and the other is of a shark I took a picture of in the aquarium in Hawaii), I will put my poem in for you to read.  Thanks for being a part of my website, I welcome any comments anyone would like to leave.

IMG_4366

IMG_7932

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cold Winter Nights Still Have Their Delights

 

Can it be; can it be true

That this very place will be my tomb

This, my warm writing room

Outside it’s so cold

Somehow the howl of the wind

Beckons my soul

I can see from my window

The shimmering curtains

Of deep winter lights

Off in the sky, that deep northern sky

I keep wondering why

It must blow so chill and so harsh

The snow, the snow, the shimmering snow

In the streetlight’s glow

Doesn’t it know

I will never go

From this place, the only place that I know

The snow, the snow being driven by wind

Finds me sealed inside

My furnace guarding me; keeping me warm

Free from all harm

But still there beckons a charm

That northern clime charm

Inside my chest beats a heart

That was made for this place from the start

That longs to make snow angels

Snowballs to throw

Ice castles to show

Get a toboggan or an inner tube

Get to a powdered-up hill and cruise and cruise

Inside my chest beats a heart

That was made for this place from the start

That needs to head to a mountain

See those grandiose sights and purely natural sounds

Those peaks that seem to not know any bounds

To take up my skiis and my hopes

To blast down their slopes

Run myself ragged and cold

Then hide away in some small bustling chalet

With all of my friends who come out on these days

Sip on some chocolate laced with a marshmallow floating

Look at the athletic young women and their young boyfriends gloating

Some say that this season makes all of us sad

Some say that down south there is more adventure to be had

Oceans to swim in and beaches to inspire

But I can’t leave this place, this place of which I never will tire

Or the warm wood-fired glow of gathering in front of the fire

Too much adventure, too much to be had

Too much to sit in the dark

Of my tomb

In my writing room

Writing more poems

Of things I wish I could do

 

 

Leif Gregersen

November 28, 2014

http://www.edmontonwriter.com