Jingle All The Way

by Diane Lowman

“They’re called jingle shells.” My mother held her palm open to show me the iridescent yellow coin-sized round ridged shells. “I’ve been collecting them—they’re all over the beach down here. I’m filling jars and making paperweights with them.” So like my mother, known by her preschool “kids” as Miss Barbara.


 After she died, the glass jarful gave me and my sister pause as we cleaned out her Florida apartment. Another exclamation point in our long sentence of grief.

“Leave them,” I said. “We sold the place furnished. They are part of the décor.”

I wanted to add, “this sucks,” but that would have been stating the obvious.

I don’t pick the jingle shells up on my own beach walks in Connecticut, although I see them everywhere, like she’s traveled up the east coast to say hello. I collect beach glass. But one day recently I was at the beach with my former husband, his wife Samira, and their son. Samira’s cousin and his family were in visiting from Santa Barbara. I asked their 7-year old daughter Sierra if she’d like to take a shore walk with me. She was smart and witty, and, although I have two sons, they rarely take this stroll with me anymore. I was overjoyed that she wanted to join me.

I was scavenging for sea glass, trying to explain it to her, when she picked up something.

“What’s this?” she asked. “We don’t have these in California.”

“Ah, those,” I said. “Those are very special. They’re called jingle shells. You know, like jingle bells, but shells.”

She turned it over in her little hand, while the waves tickled our feet and the breeze tousled our hair. She ran her fingers over the ridges, looked up at me, and smiled. “They’re special?”

“Yes. My mother used to collect them and make special art projects with them. Pink, yellow, peach, white…Maybe you’d like to do that with them?”

She mulled this quietly for a moment, still looking at the shell, before she decided decisively and smiles at me. “Yes. That’s a good idea.”

“Good. Then let’s find some more.  Do you know the word for the way they shine?” I asked.

She shook her head.

“Iridescent,” I say.

She brought a baggieful back to the blanket.

“Wow! We walked a long way,” she said to her mother as she revealed her treasure. “Mom, these are ear-ri-deh-sent jingle shells.”

Her mother smiled.

The next day I walked the beach again, alone this time, and collected jingle shells along with the beach glass. I dropped another bagful off for her before she headed back home.

Samira recently sent me a text “from Sierra,” with a photograph of a fist-sized stone covered with jingle shells. I could not help tearing up, thinking how pleased Miss Barbara would be to see the tradition continue.




Diane Lowman is a single mother of two young adult men, living in Norwalk, Connecticut. In addition to writing about life, she teaches yoga, provides nutritional counseling, and tutors Spanish. She looks forward to writing the next chapter.

You can find her on Instagram, Twitter, and her websites [My Life On The Post Road, Lotus Haiku, and The Shakespeare Diaries]



Are you interested in being a guest blogger on Blank Spaces? We are open to submissions that fit into any of our regular categories. See the blog submission guidelines in our sidebar.

Our September Gold Medal Winner

We are so pleased to announce the winner of our first contest!

Congratulations to Geraldine Mac Donald from Kingston, Ontario on her winning story, 'The Clubhouse Blues'. Using the provided image of a woman and a dog sitting at a counter, Geraldine constructed an engaging 'Film Noir' styled tale that impressed our judges. As a reward, The Clubhouse Blues was published in our December issue.

When we contacted Geraldine with the good news, she responded by saying, "Wow! You must know how incredibly pleased this makes me. Thank you for such a fun photo prompt challenge. It's the first time I've ever done anything like this, so winning is such a thrill. Amazing. Please thank your judges for their comments. I was totally going for that gansta' noir vibe so I am happy they felt it in the story."

What the judges had to say about Geraldine's story:

"...story flowed smoothly."

"Great use of language to take the reader into the era depicted in the photo prompt."

"...a classic 'Film Noir' approach. I loved the old school gangster vibe...The voice and tone used were right on point."


The photo prompt:

SNEAK PEEK:

THE CLUBHOUSE BLUES
I was down at P.J.’s the night that Frankie opened. He’s got some good pipes that fella. The way he croons is golden.
So there I was just minding my own business, like enjoyin’ the music, when I hear a sob.
The smoke had already cleared so I could get a better look at the dame sittin’ beside me. She was a classy broad. You can always tell when the paint on the lips matches the fingernails. She was the kinda dame who’d look good on the arm of a fella like me, I thought, so I took the chance while I had it.
“What’s a nice gal like you doin’ in a dump like this?” I asked, givin’ her as much Cagney as I dared...

If you want to read the rest of the story, CLICK HERE to order your copy of the December issue.

Geraldine Mac Donald is a graduate of Queen's University, a former registered nurse, a medical/scientific translator; a writer, published author, and mother of four. One favourite memory of childhood was when she discovered that town libraries were public and anyone could get a card! It was a life-changing day. Her first novel for young adults has recently been released to rave reviews. Her second novel will be released in 2016. Besides translating medical stuff she writes fiction and creative non-fiction. Geraldine lives, works, and plays with her family in Kingston, Ontario. 

Are you interested in entering one of our contests? Just click HERE and learn what we're running right now!

Happy Second Issue Release Day!

happy release day

From the Editor
as shown on page 5 of Blank Spaces Volume 1, Issue 2 - December, 2016 

Cheers to the Second Issue!
http://blankspaces.alannarusnak.com/p/meet-editor.html
The short existence of Blank Spaces has been a whirlwind of discovery, excitement, and fear. From my initial announcement (which was only in May!) to this moment now when I find myself writing a blurb for the second issue, life has been filled to the brim with a blurry ‘is this even real?’ kind of feeling.

I wish I had adequate words to express the moment I actually held the first copy of Blank Spaces in my hands. I was recovering from a dream I’d had in which my shipment arrived printed on tissue paper and bound with staples. It terrified me. I felt the pressure of all those trusting contributors and all the beautiful people who pre-ordered sight-unseen—what could be more devastating than crushing my own dreams as well as theirs with a less-than beautiful product?

When it finally arrived, live and in colour and not in my dream, I was so overcome with relief that my hands shook as I flipped through the pages. It was just so pretty!

I envision a long and lovely future for this magazine but that’s only because of the positive response it’s been rousing. Nothing thrills me more than receiving letters from readers and contributors, thanking me for the opportunities provided by Blank Spaces. There are a lot of literary arts magazines out there, but it’s my hope that Blank Spaces sets itself apart as a publication built on the values of encouragement and empowerment.

There’s room for everyone at our table. Consider pulling up a chair!


        Alanna Rusnak—Editor in Chief



To purchase the December issue, click the link below:

Blank Spaces - December 2016
Blank Spaces Magazine: Blank Spaces - December 2016
Volume 1, Issue 2 of Blank Spaces is a celebration of Canadian talent, featuring the work of artists—writers, painters, photographers, poets, etc.

I Understood Heaven Because His Voice Was Like Thunder

Volume 1, Issue 2 - December 2016

I Understood Heaven Because His Voice Was Like Thunder and Grade School Bathrooms Have Incredible Acoustics by Alanna Rusnak

We had three types of clothing: school clothes (clean, buttoned, presentable), play clothes (stained, torn, patched), and church clothes (all the pretty dresses). Church clothes were the most sacred because looking adorable was the way we fooled the little old ladies into thinking we were wonderful children.

"Such lovely, well behaved girls you have, Carolyn." We would smile sweetly and sway with demure charm, making our dressed swish against our knees as they patted our heads and congratulated our mother. We knew her humble thanks his her true response of "you should see them at home in their grass-stained overalls, digging for worms and wielding sticks like swords!"...


Alanna Rusnak is an author, editor, and publisher, and is still connected to the very same church where she's now employed as their online manager and graphic designer specialist (she made those titles up herself!—her actual job title is Creative Communications). With three publications under her belt and one on the way, Alanna dreams of a life where writing is her only career obligation.



PURCHASE THIS ISSUE & READ THE REST OF THE STORY

Blank Spaces - December 2016
48 pages, published 11/22/2016
Volume 1, Issue 2 of Blank Spaces is a celebration of Canadian talent, featuring the work of artists—writers, painters, photographers, poets, etc.

Do Your Planet Proud

Volume 1, Issue 2 - December 2016

Do You Planet Proud by Amos Shelley

The hatch swung open and I drifted into the white capsule marked Landing Pad. My time had come. Two years of preparation and hour months sitting in a private shuttle built for me. My mission was almost complete.

'Pod pressurization commencing,' the computer said. 'Please hold.'

From the portal window the earth hung like a marble in the black...


Amos Shelley is a Children, Youth and Families Pastor in Hanover, Ontario. He and his wife, Faith, have two children and a big dog named Bhear. He likes to draw pictures in his spare time and he tells stories for a living.

(Amos is also featured as our cover artist in this issue!)



PURCHASE THIS ISSUE & READ THE REST OF THE STORY

Blank Spaces - December 2016
48 pages, published 11/22/2016
Volume 1, Issue 2 of Blank Spaces is a celebration of Canadian talent, featuring the work of artists—writers, painters, photographers, poets, etc.

Lessons I Continue To Learn As A Debut Novelist

Volume 1, Issue 2 - December 2016

Lessons I Continue To Learn As A Debut Novelist by Ann Y. K. Choi

I'm flying over Thunder Bay. The sun is blinding but the woman sitting by the window doesn't want to draw the cover down. My debut novel, Kay's Lucky Coin Variety, has been out just five months and I'm on my way to the Vancouver Writers Festival.

I need to sleep. The event that I'll be attending later runs from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. which is 11:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Toronto time. I'm trying to manage my anxieties much like a new mother might her baby on a plane. How I ended up on panels with superstar authors like Emma Donoghue, Peter Robinson, and André Alexis is beyond me...


Ann Y.K. Choi, Canadian author
Originally from South Korea, Ann Y.K. Choi immigrated to Canada in 1975. She is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers and the Creative Writing Certificate Program at the University of Toronto. Most recently, she completed an MFA in Creative Writing at National University in San Diego, California. CBC Books and The Globe and Mail have named Ann a "2016 Writer to Watch". Her debut novel, Kay's Lucky Coin Variety, was a finalist for the 2016 Toronto Book Awards.




PURCHASE THIS ISSUE & READ THE REST OF THE STORY

Blank Spaces - December 2016
48 pages, published 11/22/2016
Volume 1, Issue 2 of Blank Spaces is a celebration of Canadian talent, featuring the work of artists—writers, painters, photographers, poets, etc.

A Better Life This Time

Volume 1, Issue 2 - December 2016

A Better Life This Time by Sue Corke

The Kathouse was a cheap hostel set in a natural landscape on the hippie trail in Katmandu, Nepal. Jamie and I were about as middle-class-post-sixties as you could get, but we had a vision of ourselves as free of materialism and worldly obligations. We were playing at being hippies. We were quasi hippies. We were English kids headed to Aussie; the only country that would take us, Canada having politely demurred. And we had family in India—or at least Jamie did—who would give us hospitality and a base for our wider travels. We were using the money my father had given us on our wedding day to put down on a house. We didn't believe in mortgaging our lives away—or at least Jamie didn't.

Many things happened while we were in Katmandu. I kept a daily journal, written in that peaceful garden...


Sue Corke is a retired public servant who has wanted to write since she was twelve, and now, finally has the time. Her favourite subject for her stories is her strange old life. In the past three months she has written over thirty-five memoir snippets, but will need to change the names if ever they are to be published! Some of them should never be shared with anyone! Primarily Sue is writing for herself, and if it amuses others, that is a lovely thing! She came to Canada in 1972, met a good man, and has Canadian children and grandchildren.



PURCHASE THIS ISSUE & READ THE REST OF THE STORY

Blank Spaces - December 2016
48 pages, published 11/22/2016
Volume 1, Issue 2 of Blank Spaces is a celebration of Canadian talent, featuring the work of artists—writers, painters, photographers, poets, etc.

Our September Silver Medal Winner

Second place writing contest winner, Amy PepinAmy Pepin loves horses, and loves to write. She lives in Saskatchewan with her parents and three younger sisters.  Ever since she was young, Amy learned about horses and spent much of her time with them.  Black Friesians are her favorite!  She started writing in high school when she was fifteen and continued learning through creative writing classes and lots of practice!  She has a Wattpad account as amy-horse and frequently writes and reads on there.  Amy is finishing her school for massage therapy and hopes to write much more in the future!

What the judges had to say about Amy's story:

"Nice. A bit cliche - 'spark of life', but overall good."

"I like the approach, and structurally it was well written. The ending felt a little rushed and would be more believable if drawn out more."

"A nicely written piece."

"A unique take on the writing prompt that worked very well." 


The photo prompt:


The (unedited) story:

SPARK OF LIFE
by Amy Pepin

There was pain when she thought about it and numbness when it was free from her mind. Kathryn had managed to survive three weeks, but her torturous current existence was not improving. Her husband was dead. Nothing could change that.

Kathryn stopped eating the day he died. She had stopped living, too. Friends had called on her and attempted to console her, but their attempts were futile. Her heart was now crushed and destroyed forever. Nothing would ever be the same, and that was probably the reason why she never shed a tear.

This was the day of his birthday. Kathryn meant to go to the place where she met him before giving up her will to live altogether. One more cold memory might be resurrected before dying like an ember fluttering from the fire only to be embraced by the cold ground.

Kathryn dressed in her usual colour of black. It was a simple dress with a V-neck that her husband had once adored. Along with it she chose a black covering for her head with soft netting over her face. She adorned her hands with black silk gloves, hoping they would hide her shakiness.

For a moment she stared at her face in the mirror in the entry way. She did not recognize herself in her cold eyes. A chill wracked her body. She had simply become a horrid sight in her inescapable nightmare. Life no longer resided inside of her shell.

Kathryn straightened her shoulders with a reverberating sigh and exited the door, careful not to trip on her black heels.  The eerie hollow click of them on the sunlit sidewalk followed the steady beat of her heart.

She chose to walk to the little café down the street.  That was where it all began, and that would be the last place she visited before it all ended.  Kathryn continued to somberly amble her way to the entrance.

Gentle saxophone music surrounded her as she went to open the glass door.  She would have blindly entered, but a whimper met her ear, and she froze.  Her heart beat quickened as she pivoted to take in the sight of a chubby, shorthaired black and white dog.  His beady little eyes widened as he captured her gaze.

Kathryn shook her head and once again moved towards the door.  What was she to do with a dog?  She would soon be gone, and the creature would once again be left alone. 

Alone like her.

The thought haunted her, and her face drained of any colour that was left.  Her head began to spin.  A pounding headache threatened to take over.  Summoned by unknown forces, Kathryn stepped forward to the door and held a hand out, ushering the animal inside.

Despite the many stares, Kathryn marched to a stool at the counter and plunked herself down.  The dog proceeded to sit at her feet and wag his little black tail.  Kathryn noted the pleading in his brown eyes as the once beady pupils swelled with life as she reached down to pat his head.  Upon seeing his prancing paws and perked ears, she set her gloves on the counter in front of her and touched the seat beside her.  The dog leapt up as if he were once again a pup.

“I’ll take a cream soda,” Kathryn said softly, refusing to take her eyes away from the strange creature beside her.

Seconds passed and a pink, bubbly drink was placed inside of her cold hand.  Kathryn gazed at the dog.  The first time she had consumed this drink was when she was thirteen and a boy had graciously bought it for her after accidentally knocking her books to the ground.  That was many years ago, but the moment was as vivid in Kathryn’s mind as if it were playing before her.
 
As she had done then, Kathryn extended her drink.  Her hands shook uncontrollably, and a few drops splattered on the ground.  Taking a deep breath, Kathryn aimed the straw at the dog.  A curious smile played upon her lips.

The dog stared at her expectantly, and as he licked the drops at the side of the glass, a tear streaked down Kathryn’s face.  He reached into the cup with his long pink tongue, and as the soda drained, more tears leaked from her eyes.  They refused to stop as she collapsed onto the ground and allowed all of the emotions that she had bottled up to explode like the cream soda.  She covered her face, and the dog went from the drink to her face, showering her with slobbery kisses, and she found her will to live slowly return.  Her stained face turned to the silver front of the counter.  A gasp left her as she realized that there was a spit of life in her dull eyes.

“I think I’ll call you Spark,” she whispered, “because you have given me a spark for the fire within me, and have encouraged me to live.”


Use the comments section below to encourage Amy in her writing journey!

Learn about our next contest here and consider entering a story of your own for the chance to be published in an upcoming issue of Blank Spaces!

Black Friday Sale - Save 25% Off Print Copies!

Black Friday Sale
This sale is now over. Thanks to everyone who placed an order! You can expect it to arrive by the second week of December!

Did you miss the pre-order sale? We're sorry, but we are offering another opportunity to save!

From today until Monday, November 28 (at noon), we are offering 25% off the print issue of your choice.

If you missed out on our September issue, this is your chance to grab yourself a copy for just $19.50; or, if you missed the pre-order sale, this is the next cheapest way to enjoy the great content we offer in our December issue, due for official release on December 1!

OR, grab them both for $37.


Taxes and shipping are included in the price.

If you are ordering from outside of North America, contact us with [Black Friday Sale] in the subject line and we will issue you a invoice containing the additional shipping fee ($5)

Our September Bronze Medal Winner

Kevin Jackson is a 39 year old writer from Northern Saskatchewan. He's been jotting notes and story ideas for over twenty years and has an old shoe box filled with sketches, drafts, and inspirational quotes. Brainstorming has never been the issue for him! Currently, he's working on two different trilogies and associated writings. He enjoys writing poems and short stories and is also quite the hobby enthusiast which might be what keeps him from getting the larger projects done.

Current works in development:
-Rifters Trilogy & Related Works (3 Volumes & 7 Short Stories)
-Star Wars – Rising Tension Trilogy (Extended Universe)

When we contacted Kevin to reveal his medal standing in the Flash Fiction Contest he responded with humility, saying, "I’m excited to find out that I placed at all in the flash fiction write prompt challenge. I wrote and submitted the story only for fun."

Well Kevin, we're glad you did and hope it inspires you with a little push to keep chasing after those writing dreams!


What the judges had to say about Kevin's story:

"Cute and clever."

"Confusing at first but it's clear the story pivots on the twist ending. Interesting interpretation!"

"There was a wonderfully natural flow in this story that allowed the read to be enjoyable and engaging. Intention and plot were clear and the written images spoke well of the character in the photo."

The photo prompt:


The (unedited) story:

A PINK POTION
by Kevin Jackson

“As with every superhero story, it all began with a series of curious events and a woman. A red haired woman in a quaint café to be specific. She was dressed in all black, from her small feathered hat to her pointed heels. She sat alone, watching the street, eyes moving back and forth as she stirred a strange pink liquid with a straw. I approached her with a soft greeting, her eyes fixed upon me and she smiled. She invited me to sit with her and I obliged, seating myself on the bench beside her.

“She spoke in a foreign language but her eyes and the language of her body were easy to understand. She wondered if I was hungry, and I yipped a confident, ‘Yes!’ Roaming was hungry work and it was well past lunch time.

“She laughed and stroked my cheek and ran her fingers through my hair. Her order arrived shortly. A nice eggy truffle for her and a small spiced loaf of meat for me. We ate and she spoke her strange language. I watched her eyes with curiosity. She presented me with a glass of pink liquid, a schooner half empty, with a white straw sticking out. She held it up to my nose for inspection.

“The smell set fire to my nostrils, and my mouth watered as my mind tried to place the scent. What was it? With no regard I lunged at the schooner.

“I drank deeply, trusting the woman in black's smile. I made a mess of myself as it dribbled down my cheeks, pushing the straw aside, unable to get enough. What was this pink, sweet stuff? She laughed as I continued, and she stopped me in no way. Then I could feel it taking over me…

“It started small, and before long my heart beat its drum intensely in my ears. My vision sharpened to a razor’s edge. I felt as though my skin was tightening. My muscles suddenly filled with strength. I jumped from the seat and ran away down the street, away from the woman in black, unsure what to do with myself. What had she done to me?

“I ran down the avenue toward the train station. In moments I was coming alongside a speeding blue and red train. I tried with all my effort to run faster than the train. If only somehow I could get to the safety of the other side, I could leave the woman in black behind forever.

“I had never outrun a speeding train before, and my muscles pulsed and flexed with ease. Perhaps it was an effect of the pink drink… come to think of it, why did that train have a white face?

“Anyways, I continued to run, and it came so easy. My muscles were powerful and strong and then I saw it. A nice house with a red corvette in the driveway. The commonplace two story home was a split design, though oddly this house was split vertically rather than horizontally.

“It should be easy enough, I challenged… and then I leapt. As I cleared the peak of the house, soaring in the air, I glanced down to see a generic looking couple; the woman blonde and the man brunette. They gasped in shock as the neighborhood’s newest superhero bound off in unhuman leaps as I continued down the block. I was off to find a nemesis worthy of my valour. I heard it then, an alarm, a shriek in that foreign language.

“I ran with all my might around the wrought iron fence, down the block several meters and around the concrete grassy embankment to the front of the local jewelry store. I saw a man there with a gun, pointing at the people, he waved his arms frantically. He was shouting in his language. I shouted back to him that everything was going to be alright, that he should surrender, and that it’s not worth the danger. I repeated myself about twenty times but he did not understand."

“The police arrived and surrounded the building. It was a standoff and many bystanders had gathered around the sides of the adjoining buildings down both sides of the block.

“The Policeman in charge was speaking over his large speaker and the two yelled back and forth for a few minutes. The jewel thief made threatening gestures with his gun towards one of the hostages. It was time to act! Without hesitation, I bound from my hiding place, darted across the parking lot and leapt at the bad man. Aiming for his arm and the weapon in it, I used all my might and gripped down on his wrist. He yowled in pain, a language anyone can understand.

“The jewel thief was unarmed; in a flash the police were on the man.

“My job done, one of the policemen kneeled to me to see if I was alright. He patted me on the back and congratulated my heroism. I was tired now, drained, the pink potion wearing off. The intense situation had drained me. I needed to rest. I found a close by patch of grass and laid down...”


“Is that the last thing you remember, Dad?”

“Yes, Son, I returned to the café many times looking for the woman in black. She never returned.”

“What about the pink potion?”

“Well, my boy, that’s why I brought you here. They have it. They have a lot of it. Stored in bottles. If only we could get our paws it, we could be super again!

“How are we going to get into that sealed case, Dad? It looks like it’s well protected. The man watching it never ventures far.”

“I’ve sat here day after day wondering that exact same thing, Son, and I can only add this,”with a smile I continued, “I suppose this would be easier if dogs had thumbs…”


What Kevin had to say about his story: 

My attempt at playful suspense and comedic timing culminated in a simple story of a dog trying to find his next sugar buzz. Unwittingly, he connects the effects of a pink liquid drink with the spontaneous development of super powers and adventure ensues. I’ve added some non-specific jokes within the text to see if readers catch them, attempting to keep the reader from realizing the spoken words are from one dog to another.

Although I’m an amateur author, I’m attempting to get over the hurdle of shyness when it comes to presenting my work. Small projects such as this build momentum for my larger works.


Use the comments below to encourage Kevin in his writing journey!

Flash Sale

Thanks for your interest. Unfortunately, this sale is now over; however, you can still grab a copy for a great price here.

flash sale issue 1 blank spaces
You deserve a treat!

From now until Friday, November 18 at 7:00 pm, we are offering a digital copy of our first issue for only $3.50

Enjoy all the great articles and art for a fantastic savings of 30% off!

Our digital version can be read in any type of PDF viewer, including the Kindle App and iBooks! Get your copy today and add it to your digital library.

Once you've made your purchase, your order will go into our queue and you can expect to receive your digital download via email within twenty-four hours.

On Being a Writer

by Michelle McLaughlin

Sometimes staring at a blank page disheartens me. The words I thought I had in me before I sat down have vanished. I have nothing to offer. The blank space, sitting empty, taunting me to fill it up, is as intimidating as standing before a crowd of people and feeling I am paralyzed to open my mouth. My fingers sit poised over the keyboard but I cannot strike the keys. I cannot string together the individual letters that will form words into sentences to convey my ideas. There is nothing.

thoughts on being a writer


It's a difficult conundrum. To write is the very act of...writing. It should be simple really—make words flow together into sentences to express an idea to share with others.

But writing, that is something entirely different. When writing is something born of yourself, created in your imagination alone, and something others may (potentially) read, it takes on a whole new significance. It becomes not just words and sentences expressing an idea, it becomes a piece of your soul exposed to the world. Even if no one else ever reads the words put into print, once it is brought to light, the writer becomes unshielded.

Displaying my own vulnerability by writing, then sharing it through my blog, leaves me feeling naked. Thoughts formed in my mind and shaped by my words are available for others to examine and judge. Every time I hover over the post button, I pause, feeling a wild moment of panic. As much as I desire to share my writing, my desire to keep what I compose private is stronger.

Blogging has moved me forward in my journey as a writer. Joining a writers group has motivated me to quit hiding. I enjoy weaving words and expressing myself in ways I would never achieve verbally.  I have journeyed through, apprehensive at first and gaining boldness along the way. I'm finally embracing writing as one of my passions and owning it. I can call myself a writer and not feel I need to justify why quite as strongly as I did at the beginning. I feel I have proven to myself that I do have something worth sharing.



Michelle McLaughlin makes her home in the Ontario countryside with the love of her life and best friend where they are raising five young boys, an overgrown puppy and a cat that rules the roost. She grew up in the country as the youngest of four, often finding her many unusual pets to be her best playmates and great fodder for her imagination. She is still prone to daydreaming while tending the necessary but mundane tasks of motherhood. Recently she has rediscovered her love of writing, trying to make space for it as it is a needed reprieve from the piles of dirty laundry and tummies that are forever hungry. When she isn't tending her garden or whipping something up in the kitchen, you'll find her sitting on her back deck on warm days or by the fireplace when it's cold enjoying a cup of tea with a favourite book or a good friend. 

You can find Michelle hanging out at her blog, Simple Bounty, or on Twitter @simplebounty


Are you interested in being a guest blogger on Blank Spaces? We are open to submissions that fit into any of our regular categories. See the blog submission guidelines in our sidebar.

There Are 10 Days Left To Pre-Order Our Second Issue!


Orders for our second issue must be placed by noon on November 20, after which we will be accepting pre-orders for our third issue. Prices are subject to change so get it while the price is right! Shipping & taxes are included in the price—this is the absolute cheapest way to enjoy a print copy of Blank Spaces!


Visit our pre-order page to place your order and be enjoying our second issue as the calendar turns to Decemeber!

Why pre-order? Because it saves you money! After November 20, the price of the magazine jumps to $26 instead of $15. Crazy? Maybe, but do you know what's crazier? Not getting in on it when the price is right!

Order your copy now!

We Now Offer Gift Certificates!

We believe Blank Spaces is a good thing and good things are meant to be shared! That's why we've set up a little Gift Certificate shop where you can buy the gift of Canadian literary arts for a friend or family member—hey, even for a complete stranger if you want...we're not going to stop you!

http://blankspaces.alannarusnak.com/p/gifts.html


Of course, it's always an option to just buy a physical copy of the magazine and wrap it up all pretty but that's not always feasible or cost effective—especially if your loved one lives across the country.

With our gift certificates, you can print it off and send it in the mail along with a lovely letter or card, or just pass it along in a friendly email. However you do it, we're just happy to know Blank Spaces is extending its reach!

Announcing our September Flash Fiction Write Prompt Challenge Winner!

With the release of every print issue of Blank Spaces you will find a new challenge posted inside the back cover—an image-based Write Prompt Flash Fiction Contest! We try to choose images that might inspire stories that could go in any number of directions. One of the most exciting things about this challenge is seeing the different ways people interpret the same image—we love diversity!

Thank you to everyone who faced our September challenge and sent along your hard work! 

And special thanks to our team of volunteer judges, for your honest feedback and donation of time!




We are so pleased to announce the winner of our first contest! Congratulations to Geraldine Mac Donald from Kingston, Ontario on her winning story, 'The Clubhouse Blues'. Using the provided image of a woman and a dog sitting at a counter, Geraldine constructed an engaging 'Film Noir' styled tale that impressed our judges. As a reward, The Clubhouse Blues will be published in our December issue.


SNEAK PEEK:
I was down at P.J.’s the night that Frankie opened. He’s got some good pipes that fella. The way he croons is golden.
So there I was just minding my own business, like enjoyin’ the music, when I hear a sob.
The smoke had already cleared so I could get a better look at the dame sittin’ beside me. She was a classy broad. You can always tell when the paint on the lips matches the fingernails. She was the kinda dame who’d look good on the arm of a fella like me, I thought, so I took the chance while I had it.
“What’s a nice gal like you doin’ in a dump like this?” I asked, givin’ her as much Cagney as I dared...


If you want to read the rest of the story, CLICK HERE to order your copy of the December issue.

Geraldine Mac Donald is a graduate of Queen's University, a former registered nurse, a medical/scientific translator; a writer, published author, and mother of four. One favourite memory of childhood was when she discovered that town libraries were public and anyone could get a card! It was a life-changing day. Her first novel for young adults has recently been released to rave reviews. Her second novel will be released in 2016. Besides translating medical stuff she writes fiction and creative non-fiction. Geraldine lives, works, and plays with her family in Kingston, Ontario. 


For information on our latest contest, please visit out CONTEST page.

Rose Campion

by Diane Lowman

Suzanne and I kneel, Japanese tea ceremony-style, in a field of velvety, sea foam green stalks up to our shoulders. A delicate deep fuchsia flower tops each stem, nearly grazing our chins. She, five, sports blond hair cut in a short Dutch Boy bob and sparkly blue eyes. I, eight, grin with brace-worthy, tangled teeth and thick wavy brown hair tamed in a pony tale. My mother must have just cut my too-short bangs. We look amused and slightly impish. I remember my mother taking that picture in the tangle of weeds, brush, and wildflowers behind our tiny lake cabin in Upper Greenwood Lake, NJ.



We enjoyed endless adventures in that patch of nature behind the porch. We hunted for berries and spotted stones. We played house, ‘cooking’ with leaves and branches and grasses, or ruled our imaginary kingdom; I, the queen, and my sister the princess. We wiled away lazy summer days.

At the same time each season – maybe mid-June – these diminutive, vibrant blooms atop long, thin, spindly stems would proliferate and overtake our space. We petted their sturdy but downy-soft stalks, and marveled at the blossoms of a colour so deep and unique that we’d never seen before; certainly not in nature.

My mother took an animated delight in this unexpected and bountiful gift right in our own back yard.

“Come on girls! Just sit for a minute. I want to get a picture of you in these flowers. You know they are my favourite.” She held my father’s Konica in its beat up brown leather case in her right hand, and tried to corral us like a pair of baby chicks with her left. We dodged and rolled.

“Not now, mom. We’re playing!” we said. But she persisted and it was easier to acquiesce than to continue to protest. So there we sat, giggling at nothing, with the carefree abandon of two young sisters sitting in a field of wildflowers on a summer morning.

That photograph became iconic in our family. It spoke of innocence, carefree times, and a place we all loved. When my father, and twelve years later, my mother died, we cherished it even more. They both found a peace at that lake house that they found nowhere else.

I am not much of a gardener. My defcon-1 level allergy to poison ivy keeps me away from not only the three-leafed menace, but also anything that might have come in contact with its urushiol.

But when, at my home, I had a small patch of soil right in back that cried out for colour, I thought of those flowers. I had no idea what they were called, nor any idea of how to find out. I tried all sorts of Google searches: light green tall stems fuchsia flowers; furry green stems deep pink flowers. Nothing. I asked friends who garden. I asked my sister. “I have no idea,” she said, “but if you find out, let me know. I want to plant some out back, too.”

I went to our local nursery and herb garden, figuring I had nothing to lose, and again described the coveted flora in question. I began to relate the characteristics to an aproned, middle-aged man working in the greenhouse. Before I even finished, he started to nod.

“Oh, sure. You’re looking for Rose Campion.” He said. I was? “They grow like weeds. Seeds blow all over the place from the dried pods. You’ll have a field full before you know it.” Bingo! Just what I wanted.

He directed me to the seed packets and I grabbed three.

“You may not need that many,” he said, they really spread fast.”

I thanked him profusely, explaining the origin of the search.

“And the extra packet is for my sister.” He nodded and smiled.

Indeed, in short order, the blossoms swarmed our respective backyards. Neither of us dared ask that our kids pose poised in them. They’re too old for that; and anyway, by the time we slathered them with sunscreen and sprayed them with DEET to prevent Lyme, West Nile, Zika, and other bug-borne threats, the flowers and the children would have wilted. But we do both smile just to see them. Mom would be very pleased that they make us feel like kids again.



Diane Lowman is a single mother of two young adult men, living in Norwalk, Connecticut. In addition to writing about life, she teaches yoga, provides nutritional counseling, and tutors Spanish. She looks forward to writing the next chapter.

You can find her on Instagram, Twitter, and her websites [My Life On The Post Road, Lotus Haiku, and The Shakespeare Diaries]




Are you interested in being a guest blogger on Blank Spaces? We are open to submissions that fit into any of our regular categories. See the blog submission guidelines in our sidebar.

Creativity: The Art of Happy

by Amy Oestreicher

Art is everywhere but where it needs to be.

There are crafty tutorials, creative lesson plans, and learning-centered art projects floating around the internet, in parenting magazines, printable worksheets and children's toy stores. Everyone is looking for a way to make learning fun for their kids. If you're not a parent, teacher or kid who's taking the initiative, odds are, you're not spending your day making arts and crafts...unless you're an artist, art teacher, or crafter.


cure boredom, make art


 

Creativity: The Art of Happy


Art and creativity can cure a problem we all share at times - boredom. I'm not just talking about commercial breaks, a meeting at work that never ends, or traffic-light-kind-of-boredom. Creativity is a mind-set, a way of seeing the world. Creativity puts the magic back in life, so not only are we never bored, we are constantly inspired, present, empowered, and - dare I say it - happy.

I’m going to assign you an “art project”. Don’t be scared. The gluesticks and crayons are only required if you want them to be. This project teaches you how to see.

Let me explain with a little story about my younger self…


As a kid, I always used to complain to my older brother, “I’m bored!” Even when I was little, I was always darting about from activity to activity. My mind was racing and I was antsy with ideas.
His response was always, “Why are you bored?”

I didn’t know.

I’ll never forgot what he got me as a birthday present that year. His card was a simple little hand written post-it note that said, “This is so you’ll never be bored again.”

I opened it, hoping it was some kind of toy or exciting little gadget. But it was just a soft-cover activity book for me to fill out. I had that natural let-down when you get your hopes up and really just get…a book.

No! Not a book!

I looked at the cover and it said “Things I Can Be Happy About.” It was a workbook for me to fill in. It was filled with a bunch of blank, numbered lines, broken up into categories like Outside, School, Friends, Activities, etc. I don’t think I ever filled it out, but I got the idea.

The no-fail cure for boredom…


My brother was trying to teach me my first lesson in gratitude. If you realize what you can be happy about, it’s hard to ever get “bored". Instead of getting “bored”, he wanted me to get “appreciative”.

A lot of times when we’re bored, we’re just unhappy. And it might just take too much energy to think about what we should be happy about. So I have a little exercise I like to do. I also think it’s a great idea to try with kids, who tend to tire of things quickly, or might not always remember how much there is to be happy about.

And then on the other end, sometimes kids are the ones who remind us to be happy about the simple things. Kids can be miniature wise-adults, and grown-ups can have the fearless abandon of a child. That’s how we all balance each other out.

Creating excitement…


So with that in mind, this is my exercise for kids, adults, and the kid-adult in all of us.
 Today I invite you to see things differently. All it takes is a little mind-bending. We’re never too old to create fantasies. These are some out-of-the-box ways to view any ordinary, boring moment in life and bring it to a completely new dimension.

When we elevate the everyday, we can’t get bored. We’re struck by every laughing tree, every popping color, every breath of sunrise.

And even better, that whimsical fascination with the world around us might even inspire us to create…and with a project to do or an idea in our heads — how the heck can we get bored???

These are some ideas to view the world differently. Try each one on for size, then share it with someone else!


How to use creativity as a mindset:


  1. View the world as an artist studying a scene to paint a picture from, like everything is made of a different fabric
  2. Imagine every object is actually alive and talking to you! what would it say?
  3. Spot the biggest risk you could do in that specific moment!
  4. Do something totally spontaneous right there, don’t plan anything
  5. Pretend like you are in an adventure movie, fleeing from a monster, but trying to keep your calm composure to the outside world.
  6. Breathe in experience, breathe out poetry
  7. How is what I am seeing before me a microcosm of the whole?
  8. How am I like the objects I see before me?
  9. See the human face in everything — does that tree trunk remind you of a friend’s face?
  10. Be curious: ask childlike questions about the world around you like what makes the sky blue or the clouds look like that?
  11. Be a poet and describe the world around you in haikus!
  12. Take a walk and only make left turns — a lot of them!
  13. View everything solid as liquid and everything liquid as solid. How does it feel to walk on liquid grass?
  14. Put a word to every sound you hear — every gust of wind or squish in the dirt
  15. Imagine the world is a giant gingerbread house and everything is edible — is that eggplant on the roof shingles?

I could go on and on with ideas, but go ahead, create some of your own! Do it just for the sake of adding a spark to your day.

Share it with a friend to give them a reason not to ever be bored — I’m sure they’ll fire back with 15 of their own ideas!

And…if it comes naturally…see if it gives you an idea that inspires you enough to create — anything! Art, music, an idea, a conversation, or a moment — every moment is a chance to create something new.

That’s the greatest part about being alive. We have as many blank canvases as we see before us.

It’s really the ability to give back, and to have my work serve as a lens, a mirror, a window that others can look through, or look into, and see themselves or whatever they need to see at that moment. To feel whatever they need to feel. That’s how I connect with my world — that is my aliveness. As a member of this human race, it’s how I can contribute. Isn’t all we ever want to make a mark on the world? Cause a ripple, maybe even a chain reaction?

Art empowers me with the ability to create a ripple of happiness. As a human who can make “art”, I know that I have the power to make this happen every moment, with even the smallest of gestures. Art is how we tell our stories.
 A random act of kindness, a tender word, a brush stroke — whatever works.

How will you make your mark on the world?

Start with a scribble…





Amy Oestreicher is a PTSD peer-to-peer specialist, artist, author, writer for Huffington Post, speaker for TEDx and RAINN, health advocate, survivor, award-winning actress, and playwright, sharing the lessons learned from trauma through her writing, mixed media art, performance and inspirational speaking.

As the creator of the Gutless & Grateful, her one-woman autobiographical musical, she's toured theatres nationwide, along with a program combining mental health advocacy, sexual assault awareness and Broadway Theatre for college campuses and international conferences. Her original, full-length drama, Imprints, premiered at the NYC Producer's Club in May 2016, exploring how trauma affects the family as well as the individual.

To celebrate her own “beautiful detour”, Amy created the #LoveMyDetour campaign, to help others cope in the face of unexpected events. "Detourism" is also the subject of her TEDx and upcoming book, My Beautiful Detour, available December 2017.
 

As Eastern Regional Recipient of Convatec’s Great Comebacks Award, she's contributed to over 70 notable online and print publications, and her story has appeared on NBC's TODAY, CBS, Cosmopolitan, among others.
 
She has devised workshops for conferences nationwide, and is this year's keynote speaker for the Hawaii Pacific Rim International Conference on Diversity and Disability. Learn the art of navigating beautiful detours and sign up for updates at amyoes.com.


Do you want to know how you can be a guest blogger on the Blank Spaces blog?
See our sidebar for blog submission guidelines.

Swans, Stones, and Spots

by Diane Lowman

“If you can come back in some way and let us know you are there, promise you will,” I said to my mother, about three days before she died.

She smiled. She nodded. She squeezed my hand; it was still so strong. “Of course I will, my honey, but I don’t think there’s anything after. Just dark, underground” she whispered, weakened at that point.

“Well, there’s that way of looking at the afterlife,” and I squeezed her hand. “But promise anyway.”

She nodded.

I smiled at the steady, pragmatic woman, who never asked that we call “when we got there.”

“If something happens to you I’ll hear,” she’d say. And when I asked — terrified and teary, just before I moved, alone at age 23, to Los Angeles — “what if I hate it?” She squeezed my hand in the same way and replied, “then you’ll move back.”

Maybe she was right. Maybe it’s all just darkness. I don’t believe in heaven, per se. Don’t believe that she’s floating, gossamer and satin-clad in a cloud somewhere. But I know from high school science that matter is neither created nor destroyed. Her bones may be in Fairfield, Connecticut, but she is everywhere. 

where do people go after they die



Swans


I visited my friend Liz at her place on Martha’s Vineyard. My mother was there awaiting me. Swans were her avian talismans. A couple (they mate for life, unlike I) would return to the lake in front of my parent’s cabin on Highland Lakes, New Jersey, every season to birth and nurture their cygnets. They brought my mother great joy, and she surrounded herself with images of swans. I still have an intricately carved wooden basket, its handle formed by the long necks, beaks joined in a kiss.

I saw swans and their offspring everywhere in MV. No, that is not unusual. But one in particular made me reconsider if she were really swathed in eternal darkness as she predicted, or if she were, instead, watching over me. A lone female sat on her nest, alert and observant, across the pond from the two-mile path Liz and I would walk to the beach each morning. There she sat, awaiting her babes. She watched me with the eyes of a portrait that follow you throughout a room, until we crested the dune and walked out onto the sand. On our return, she again eyed me until we were out of sight. Liz says she hasn’t seen her since.


Stones


When I’d ask what I could bring her from a trip or get her for her birthday, she’d say, like many moms, “nothing at all. All I want is for you to be happy,” and the Jewish mother addendum of: “and a call or visit now and then.” But there was one thing she asked for: Rocks. She collected them from all her travels – Argentina, Russia, China – and always asked that I bring her one from mine. I hadn’t thought about this for a while, but as I walked the shore at Menemsha beach in anticipation of a stunning sunset, I felt compelled to pick up the smooth sea and sand worn stones at my feet. As if I were about to prepare stone soup for supper. While I studied their surfaces I thought of how much she’d love each one. Especially the heart-shaped ones she put in my path. And I thought about how much she loved me, too. I brought two heart stones home for my boys.


Spots


My mother was an early advocate of the power of positive thinking. She took a class called “Silva Mind Control” when I was a little girl. It sounds sort of cultish now, but it was the forerunner of The Secret, and The Power of Now. She believed that her studies and focus imbued her with a special powers, that she called “hodging.” For positive outcomes. She accepted big challenges, like good health and college acceptances, but one of her specialties was parking spots. If you gave her enough advance notice, she could guarantee one anywhere. My father appreciated this, especially in New York, where they were hard to find and he was too cheap to pull into a garage.

“Barbara,” he’d say, “we are going into the Museum of the City of New York tomorrow. Can you work on a spot?”

And without fail, one would appear where we needed it, when we needed it. If he asked on the way in, she’d say, “You know I need more time,” although if she concentrated really hard we’d find one.

In the summer, Martha’s Vineyard is overrun with people. And their cars. Way too many for the spots in the crowded towns. But all weekend long, much to Liz’s amazement, people consistently pulled out of prime (I call them “birthday spots”) parking real estate as we pulled up in need of it. I’d explained my mother’s gift to her early in the trip, and in Edgartown, Aquinnah, and Oak Bluffs, she saw proof of it. Liz asked if I could lodge a standing request for spots the rest of the summer.

These are all just signs. Just symbols. That we can choose to make something of, or not. That we can interpret, as we will. She may not be anywhere. Her bones may be in the ground in Fairfield, Connecticut. But for me, she’s everywhere.



Diane Lowman is a single mother of two young adult men, living in Norwalk, Connecticut. In addition to writing about life, she teaches yoga, provides nutritional counseling, and tutors Spanish. She looks forward to writing the next chapter.

You can find her on Instagram, Twitter, and her websites [My Life On The Post Road, Lotus Haiku, and The Shakespeare Diaries]




Are you interested in being a guest blogger on Blank Spaces? We are open to submissions that fit into any of our regular categories. See the blog submission guidelines in our sidebar.

Taylor Swift Who? (or What's In A Name?)

When Blank Spaces was in the earliest stages of gestation, it was literally that: a blank space.

As I navigated thoughts surrounding the potential of a magazine, I wasn't close to finding a name until I asked myself:

Why start a magazine? What did I hope to accomplish?


taylor swift, blank space, blank spaces, magazine, what's in a nameMy answer came quickly and painlessly: I wanted to help fill the gaps left by major players in the print industry with art that might otherwise go unnoticed.

There are a bajillion artists out there (that's a real number - I looked it up!) — writers, painters, poets, crafters—and until they've built a name for themselves, prestigious titles won't give them the time of day.

A preposterous tragedy!

So the tagline came to me before the name: FILLING THE GAP WITH STORY AND COLOUR.

And what describes a gap better than a blank space?

So, against what I can only imagine is all the marketing and small business advice in the entire world, and with an astounding (and perhaps embarrassing) lack of familiarity with the pop sensations of our current musical climate, I named my baby while she was still in utero; I introduced her, showed off ultrasound photos, bragged about the BIG IDEA that ultimately knocked me up.

"Oh, like Taylor Swift?" someone asked, when I tried to cast my vision-net upon them.

I laughed like I knew what they were talking about and said, "Phht!" Then I ran to Google and typed in [Taylor Swift] [Blank Spaces]

Of course, the wonder that is the internet took me directly to Ms. Swift's critically acclaimed song, Blank Space. 

Oops...

But then I thought about all those mothers who named their babies Britney in 1989 (I looked that up, too!). The abundance of a shared name never lessened the love any of them had—at least not until they started emulating Britney Spears and her outfits...

So, thanks to all those Britney's, I can shrug off the shadow of Taylor Swift's 1989 Album (see what I did there? I didn't even plan that! Blank Spaces is obviously touched by the Nine Muses) and I can proudly own the early choice I made. (And for the record, I'm not about to change my outfits or style to emulate Taylor, even though she's basically all-that-and-a-bag-of-chips — I'm more of a eat-a-chocolate-bar-while-wearing-yoga-pants kind of girl!)

Blank Spaces is still a name that boasts what I stand for and ultimately, that's the purpose of a name. And there is that line in the song..."I can read you like a magazine," so perhaps it's providence.

I just wish 'Blank Space' didn't dominate Google with such aggressive overpowerment. (I invented that word. I know because I tried to look it up as well. I've poured a lot of research into this post. You're welcome!)

From conception (WHEE!) to birthing pains (groan) to holding that fully baked, glossy babe in my arms (*sigh*) Blank Spaces was, is, and will remain fully mine—no...fully ours. Because without you, I'd just be staring into a big black void and there's nothing very inspiring about that now is there?!

Taylor can have her Blank Space. We're about all the other Spaces!

A name is only as important as what it stands for, and I'm confident in saying that Blank Spaces (with an 'S') stands for something pretty amazing!

Want to see how we've filled the gaps for September? Grab our first GORGEOUS issue right here

Want to be part of the crazy? Submit your work!  

I've got a blank space, baby.
                       I'll write your name.

 
Blank Spaces - September 2016
Blank Spaces Magazine: Blank Spaces - September 2016
Volume 1, Issue 1 of Blank Spaces is a celebration of Canadian talent, featuring the work of artists—writers, painters, photographers, poets, etc.






  Alanna Rusnak is an author, a blogger, and a seeker of the extraordinary. Living with her husband, three children, and an overweight cat (who's kind of an idiot), on a small patch of untamable land in Southwestern Ontario. Trying to do it all with some measure of grace.
(She is also the founder and Editor-In-Chief of this pretty little magazine!) [author website, twitter, facebook, instagram]

Writing To Find Me...

by Andrea Scoretz

A lot of people have hobbies they use to escape from the stresses of everyday life. I default to writing when stressed, but I don't consider it a hobby, or an escape. 

 

I write to find myself.


using writing as a tool for self discovery

I've struggled with intense bouts of anxiety since childhood. (Referring to it as "bouts" makes it sound like it was intermittent, so I'll be real here: it was constant.) I worried about everything, to the point that I felt consumed by my thoughts. I was always considering the worst case scenario, peering around the corners of my mind with dreaded expectations of trauma. And I was told I was "too sensitive," which was funny, because the people who labeled me could have benefited from being a little more supportive and sensitive themselves.  #justsaying ;)

I have a brain that craves logic.


A lot of the scenarios I watched play out during my childhood didn't make sense to me. There was a whole mess of illogical stuff going on all the time, and it stressed me the **** out! Because I have a brain that craves logic. I desperately want to fix things that don't make sense, which is an impossible feat at times. I've heard it said that I care too much, which sounds quite negative, but there have been times when I wish I didn't care at all. Still, to this day, I'm learning how to manage this dynamic mind of mine.

As a kid, I had no clue how to manage my anxiety. No one talked about stress or anxiety back then, we just put on the "everything is cool" front and hoped we would fit in (FYI: I am sick of trying to be cool; its soul-stifling work.) What I did do was write, as it was the only thing that slowed down the mental roller-coaster I was constantly riding.

Writing was my loyal comrade.


I had a stash of poems, essays, and journal entries under my bed and in my closet. I wrote every night. If I had a particularly bad day I wrote more than usual. Writing was my loyal comrade, because when I wrote I felt safe and in control, two things I rarely felt during my forced, day-to-day activities. And I was proud of what I wrote. In my heart I knew my writing was worth something, and that there was something special going on in those notebooks.

Writing gave me a fragment of confidence big enough to keep me going when the depression set in.


But then came that one fateful day, when I met alcohol.

I'm not going to get into all the details of what happened next as it's unnecessary. Instead, I'm going to attempt to be succinct and tell the truth, which is this: escaping from your problems instead of facing them is a poisonous plan. You will suffer. Your loved ones will suffer. Every single aspect of your life will suffer if you do not face your pain.

You don't have to do what everyone else is doing: if it doesn't suit your soul, leave it where it lay and move forward.


If you are suffering in any capacity and find yourself reaching for outside sources to numb yourself (drugs, alcohol, shopping, eating, etc) dig deep. Start reading books that inspire you, and open your mind to other ways of existing. You don't have to do what everyone else is doing: if it doesn't suit your soul, leave it where it lay and move forward. Find some new friends. Stop trying to fit in. Consider the idea that you being you is a good thing (because it is!). The sooner you accept yourself, the sooner you can learn to love yourself (which, let's face it, most of us need to learn how to do).

Writing helps me exist on a more peaceful plain.


So now I'm here, with a more positive and productive outlook on life, after many years of struggling. I still deal with anxiety on a daily basis, but I've got a better grasp on that thanks to a meditation practice, and of course, my writing. Writing helps me exist on a more peaceful plain, and brings me back to myself when I get caught up in all the craziness that goes on in this unpredictable world.

 

Writing makes me a better person.


Writing is not a hobby or an escape for me, it's a zone that I get in, every day, to some degree or another. When the thoughts spill out onto the page, the only word to describe it is magic. I'm not sure where the words come from, they just appear, and something inside tells me I need to write them down (funny enough, this often happens as soon as I start driving). Writing helps me make sense of the things that trouble me. It's also helped enhance my ability to be compassionate, particularly for people I'm not sure are capable of compassion. Overall, writing makes me a better person.

I'm hopeful...


I am very grateful that I was able to come back around to my writing practice. There were scenarios and situations I went through that, if played out differently, might have kept me from being here today. I'm grateful to be here, right now, sharing my journey with others. And I'm hopeful that my words will inspire others to push through the fear and let themselves be known and shown.



Andrea Scoretz, western Canada writer and poet
Andrea Scoretz is a writer from Vancouver Island, BC. Writing since childhood, she took a minor detour from her passion for poetry and self-reflective essays by way of studying computer science and technical writing in college. After working as a technical writer for many years, she decided to return to her creative roots, beginning with the creation of her personal blog, mustlovecrows.com, where she shares stories, poetry, and insights on life. She guest blogs on occasion, and when she’s not writing, reading, dancing, singing or cooking, she’s working as an office manager at a local architectural firm.

You can follow Andrea on twitter @andreaswrites and on Instagram @andreaswrites.

Andrea has an article (Confessions of a Reformed Hater) published in our premiere issue. You can grab your copy here and read how she overcame her anger, encouraging positive living and forward choices through her words.

Do you want to know how you can be a guest blogger on the Blank Spaces blog?
See our sidebar for blog submission guidelines.