Childhood Sexual Abuse, GTA, Half Dead, Half Dead And Fully Broken, Happiness, Inspiration, Lynne MacDonell, Male Survivor, Male Victims, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Sex Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Therapy, Time For Men, Toronto, Weekends of Recovery, Welcome

Real Life Heroes – Who Are Yours? And How Do You Honour Them?

I have had a few readers ask who I’m referring to in my latest novel dedication. Half Dead & Fully Broken released on January 19th. I spend a lot of time writing my dedications. Maybe even more time than it takes for me to write the novel itself. (-:

First, let me share a screenshot of the dedication with you…

DedicationWe all have heroes. If we’re lucky, we have more than one. If we’re really lucky we have more than we can count on two hands. I take my hero worship seriously.

The first in the above dedication is my late uncle. He was loud, opinionated, overbearing, at times scary, and, most of all…an amazing kind-hearted soul who would do anything for the ones he loved. I don’t know why he had such a soft spot in his heart for his nephews, but he did. And he would tell us, too. I remember that he loved me and wasn’t afraid of showing it in his way. And I remember that his laughter filled every crevice of a room. Hell, it filled the sky and the trees and the grass and the bees when he happened to be outside when he laughed. Just as a room or a cathedral could not harness his laughter, the great outdoors was also no match for it. I would do anything to hear it again. And a part of me will never stop hearing it. With all of his flaws, he was an amazingly good person. His legacy proves this. So, I wanted to mention my Uncle Don in my most recent dedication.

The first thing we should do, when it comes to heroes, is remember that nobody is perfect. Don’t look for flawless perfect people to look up to. Heroes can be tarnished and flawed…and, yet, still be beautiful.

The second person in my most recent dedication, Lynne MacDonell, is someone who has dedicated her life to rescuing men (and women) suffering the serious and life-damaging side-effects of childhood sexual abuse. Lynne is a tireless champion for men (who happen to be a marginalized group in a world that still has not fully come to the realization that boys too can be victims of sexual abuse). Not only does she run her own practice here in Toronto, but she flies across North America as part of the MALE SURVIVOR WEEKEND OF RECOVERY therapist team. And on Tuesday nights, she runs 2 groups for men. TWO! Every Tuesday. Every single Tuesday. Not one, but two.

Sometimes I think of the axiom, NO MAN GETS LEFT BEHIND, when I think of Lynne and her efforts to save male victims of childhood (and otherwise) sexual abuse. She will not rest.

From Lynne’s own website (linked above):

My Practice involves the healing of survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Although I work with both men and women the majority of my clients are men and their significant others. I offer two groups for male survivors covering topics of trauma issues, safety, healthy and unhealthy coping strategies as well as many other issues. I work with my clients in groups, in relationships and as individuals.

As a member of the award winning team of Malesurvivor.org, Weekends of Recovery, I have been involved developing training for and awareness regarding male survivor issues for OPP, Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness, Ontario Victim Witness Services as well as many others. 

I choose my words carefully in my dedications. We crave heroes in our fiction. It is to be expected that there will be at least one hero in every work of fiction. And, as writers, we try to find the right flawed-characteristics-to-heroic-characteristics ratio…in order to make those heroic characters seem real, believable, honest, true, plausible.

Lynne MacDonell defies the logic of Fictionlandia. Does she have flaws? Sure…I’m almost positive she does. If I’m going by the belief that we all do, I have to concede that she does too. Have I seen any of them? NO. This is the part where I say, “I’m not just the president of the Hair Club for Men. I’m also a client.” I’m there, in Lynne’s second of two Tuesday night TIME FOR MEN groups as often as possible. I don’t make every single Tuesday…but I certainly try.

While my characters are stumbling around in the dark attempting to help each other, to be heroes to one another, Lynne MacDonell is out in the real world…saving lives. I know this because she played a significant role in saving mine. Including her in the front dedication of one of my books? Easiest decision I ever made.

Who are your heroes? Before you answer that question, think about what HERO means to you. It doesn’t need to be someone capable of swooping down into your life from on high to save you from Niagara Falls in that crucial last second before you go tumbling over into nothingness. We should recognize our everyday heroes. Those people who, through either big or small ways, make our lives a little bit brighter. Who offers you sunlight in your moments of darkness? Who tells you that everything will be okay? Who simply goes along for the ride with you when times are trying? Who says, “You are not alone” at those times you feel most alone?

Something else to think about. Every day, each of us has the opportunity to be someone else’s hero. Every minute we have that opportunity. Just be your best self, and you never know who will benefit from that. Every moment, we have the power to effect the life of another…both positively and negatively. If you are carrying around a pocketful of heroes, make sure to emulate them.

We can be heroes…for ever and ever…

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Writers Need Community…

There. I said it.

I would love to dispel the myth that writers are solitary creatures who wince at the light of day and run from the possibility of community with other writers. The problem may well be that not all writers know this. Not all writers have a community like the writing community that I am a part of. This makes me terribly sad.

My community is the Writers’ Community of Durham Region. We are over 300 strong. And we support and nurture one another in our writing goals. Competition and jealousy do not survive within this community. We do not knock each other down to get to the finish line, to achieve our writing and publishing goals. On the contrary. We carry each other over the hurdles and finish lines. We celebrate our individual achievements as a whole. We celebrate each other as we celebrate the written word. And…believe it or not…we are NOT a cult.

We are a club, yes…but we are not inclusive. ANYBODY can join. ANYBODY can participate. ANYBODY can benefit.

I’m talking about the Writers’ Community of Durham Region because our monthly Roundtable Meeting is fast approaching. About 100 or so of us get together once a month (except for August) on an early Saturday morning to break bread and network. It’s an amazing opportunity to put on the WRITER hat and BE a writer. AND, there’s a special guest speaker at every meeting! And the opportunity to take both a workshop and a Blue Pencil manuscript session.

The best part, for those in the city (TORONTO), is that this takes place JUST east of the city. The meetings are held at the AJAX CONVENTION CENTRE just off highway 401 in Ajax, Ontario. And EVERYONE is welcome to attend. You don’t even have to be a WCDR member.

As writers, one of the best things we can do for ourselves is to treat ourselves to writerly things. Like these breakfast meetings. Like workshops. Like conferences. When we are living the writing life, we become better writers. We immerse ourselves in the lifestyle.

Check out the WCDR. You owe it to yourself. And if you’re from Toronto, please don’t do yourself the disservice of thinking you live too far away to become involved in this stupendous organization.

CLICK ON THIS LOGO TO BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY!
CLICK ON THIS LOGO TO BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY!

Watch the Youtube video about the Roundtable Meetings:

 

The WCDR Roundtable Meetings take place on the second Saturday of every month but August. Visit the WCDR site by clicking on the logo above to discover more about the organization. There are always events going on. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to live the writing life in one of the world’s most vibrant and active writing communities…

 

Ajax, Andrew Pyper, Canadian, Canadian Literature, Celebration of the Arts, Conference, Deer Creek, Durham Region, Durham Region Arts, Festival of Authors, Fiction, GTA, Inspiration, Literary, Literary Festival, Literati, Networking, Novels, Ontario, Ontario Writers' Conference, Toronto, Welcome, Writers, Writers' Conference, Writing, Writing Advice, Writing Camp, Writing Life, Writing Retreat, Writing Tips

2014 Ontario Writers’ Conference, IF YOU DARE!

The Ontario Writers’ Conference have done it again! This week they announced the addition of Canada’s Horror King, Andrew Pyper, to their list of speakers! (click on the image below to go to the OWC website’s bio of Andrew Pyper)

Andrew-Pyper

Pyper is no stranger to the Ontario Writers’ Conference stage. He spoke a couple years back. He’s charming and extremely funny, the perfect addition to what looks like an extraordinary year for the conference!

In case you have not yet registered for the conference, now is a great time to do so. With a little over a month left to go before the conference date, I’m quite sure space is filling up fast. You DON’T want to miss Andrew Pyper.

Along with Pyper, of course, you will also get to see the wonderfully gregarious and charming WAYSON CHOY, the conference’s Honourary Patron. Wayson has been with the conference since its inception. He’s a dear friend to all of us involved with the conference, past, present and future. I thoroughly enjoy my Wayson time. There is something absolutely magical about that man. You will have to attend the conference to experience it. I always joke about being a member in the Church of Wayson, but to tell you the truth…it is never a joke. I adore him completely. (Click on the picture below to view Wayson’s bio at the OWC website)

Wayson_Choy200x200

These are just two of the many amazing facilitators/speakers that the Ontario Writers’ Conference has lined up this year. You can head over to the Speaker/Facilitator page for the full listing:

ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE 2014 SPEAKER & FACILITATOR LINE-UP!

You can check out the conference schedule here:

CONFERENCE SCHEDULE

 

Treat yourself to a remarkable writing adventure this May. Give yourself the gift of knowledge and register for the Ontario Writers’ Conference. You’ll be glad you did.

REGISTRATION PAGE

Don’t forget that there’s a gala event on Friday that is open to the public. You do not need to attend the conference to take in the FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS.

I’m excited that my writing instructor and mentor from Kenya, Catherine Bush, is in the line-up for Friday’s Festival of Authors. I adore her writing, and it’s always amazing to hear the words directly from the author. I’m so looking forward to it! (Click on the image below to go to Catherine Bush’s bio on the OWC website)

Catherine-Bush

This event takes place in Ajax, Ontario…which is mere minutes from downtown Toronto. VENUE & DIRECTIONS CAN BE FOUND HERE. Hope to see you there!

 

 

10 Minute Plays, Alumnae Theatre, Canadian, Celebration of the Arts, GTA, InspiraTO, InspiraTO Festival, Ontario, Play, Play Festivals, Playwright, Playwriting, Playwriting Festivals, Theatre, Toronto

Perfect Timing – A 10-Minute Play… (from InspiraTO Festival 2013)

This is the 2nd of my two InspiraTO Festival plays. This one was performed on the main stage of the Alumnae Theatre. (please contact me at kevintcraig @ hotmail dot com if you wish to use this play. Thank you)

TITLE: PERFECT TIMING

©Kevin Craig 2013

GENRE: DRAMEDY

ONE LINE SYNOPSIS: Melissa needs to cool off while Carl just wants love.

CHARACTER LIST:

MELISSA: 40-something. Wearing workout clothes, hair in a bun…looking a bit perspired.

CARL: 40-something. Wearing incongruous dress shoes. Lonely.

DESCRIPTION: Melissa, the new neighbour, comes over to borrow an egg-timer. With Carl, she may not get what she’s looking for…but maybe she didn’t know what she was looking for.

SETTING: CARL’s apartment.

[Carl has a noose in his hands and he’s looking between it and the ceiling.]

[from offstage, knock at the door]

CARL [starts. looks at the noose and then at the door.]: [to self] Shit. This better be good news. [tosses the noose behind the couch. beat] Coming.

MELISSA: Hi. Melissa. From next door. I just moved in. Can I come in?

CARL: Um. Sure… I guess. Carl. [they shake hands]  

MELISSA: [barges in. looks around] Hmmm…interesting décor.

CARL: What can I do for you?

 MELISSA: So, I was hoping I could borrow your—oh! Argh! Oh God. Not again.

CARL: I’m sorry, what? Not again, what?

MELISSA: Don’t listen to me when I’m talking to myself. That’s personal.

CARL: Don’t talk when I’m listening. I can’t exactly turn these off [gestures towards ears].

MELISSA: Sorry. It’s just so goddamned hot in here. I can’t take this heat another second.

CARL: It’s March. We’re in the middle of a cold snap and the heat’s not working properly. It’s so cold, the landlord’s probably in violation of the Human Rights Code.

MELISSA: Your point?

CARL: Never mind. Soooo, you workout?

MELISSA: What does that have to do with anything?

CARL: Sweatpants. Hair in a bun. I recognize the uniform.

MELISSA: Not even close. Kick-boxer. Give me a reason. [darts forward, causes CARL to flinch] Two for flinching.

CARL: Hey! Settle down. Just making conversation. I don’t have a beef with you…yet.

MELISSA: You want conversation? Ask me what I do for a living. Don’t point out my sweatpants.

CARL: Sorry. I’m a little rusty. Don’t usually talk to adults. I’m a high school English teacher. Or, at least I was. What do you do?

MELISSA: I’m also in-between careers right now. Left my husband. Trying to reinvent myself. Thought I would start over here. You know… near the bottom.

CARL: And here I was depressed about my lot in life. I thought this was the absolute bottom. But today… you give me hope.

MELISSA: I’m sure this is a nice place. Ack. It’s this damn heat…makes me crazy.

CARL: Right. Maybe you’re having hot flashes? You should see your doctor. You know. “Men-o-pause” [air quotes the word].

MELISSA: You’re about six words away from a kick in the face.

rDCm4vNnuMagtfb1h6DMRXW5wDghWdBnWT3pNTdaxlYJennifer Gillespie as Melissa

CARL: Feisty. I’d try a different pick-up line, though. That one’s not really doing it for me.

MELISSA [wipes brow]: Can we start over?

CARL: Sure.

MELISSA [makes a big show of taking a deep breath, pulls folded hand down in front of her face in a show of centering self]: My name’s Melissa. I’m a personal life coach. And I’m not the least bit hostile.

CARL: Life coach, eh?

MELISSA: Yeah. I thought I would get the kick-boxing down pat before I started working on the supportive personality. Once that’s done, I’ll be ready to coach the best of them.

CARL: Maybe I’ll be your first client. Since my life has recently taken a dive into the toilet. [beat] My name is Carl. How can I help you, Melissa?

MELISSA: I came to ask if I could borrow your egg-timer. [he looks at her, somewhat surprised and she reacts] Try not to look at my gross and sweaty self, though. I was just jumping rope.

CARL: So that’s what I was hearing. I thought somebody was getting killed over there.

MELISSA: Oops. Sorry ‘bout that. I was hot.

CARL: You were hot [thinking through it], so you decided to…

MELISSA: Jump rope, yes. It was either jump it or hang myself with it. I couldn’t decide.

CARL: [looks incredulously at her mention of hanging] Well, I guess you made the right choice. [looks toward the place where he hid the noose].

MELISSA: I thought so. A little less painful on the neck. Egg-timer?

CARL [hands unconsciously go to his throat]: Hmmm?

MELISSA: Look, if you could just grab it for me I would be forever grateful. I’ll return it when I’m finished. If we don’t all melt first. Any chance I accidentally stumbled into the fourth circle of hell? I am a strong woman.

CARL: O Canada and forty Mississippis. Although, Hail Marys may also work in place of the anthem? If you’re more religious than patriotic, that is.

MELISSA: I beg your pardon? Are you on crack?

CARL: It’s easy. It works every time. Family secret. And no, I’m not on crack.

MELISSA: What works every time?! What are you even talking about? I think we got off track somewhere. I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about.

CARL: Sing O Canada and count out forty Mississippis.

MELISSA: You’ve totally lost me now. Believe me, you do NOT want to get between me and my morning eggs. Look, I know we just met, but I need you right now. An egg-timer could literally save my life. All my stuff is in boxes. I don’t own a watch and I’m going crazy without my cell phone, which I lost it in the move. I’m lucky I found a pot and my egg poacher… I need your timer.

CARL: To time eggs.

MELISSA: An egg-timer. Yes. That’s what I’m here for. Pretty sure we’ve established that.

CARL: You. Don’t. Need. One. If you were listening, you would know that by now.

MELISSA: Eggs cannot time themselves. Though if my heat is any indication, my eggs are doing a damn fine job at it.

CARL: Pay attention. This ‘heat’ [air-quotes the word] you speak of appears to be melting your brain cells.

MELISSA: Please. I’m at the end of my rope. I need—

CARL: The perfectly boiled egg comes out of the water after one sings O Canada once and counts out forty Mississippis. Works every time.

MELISSA: Well, I’m not really in the mood to trash your apartment in a hunt for your egg-timer. I may just have to try your whacked-out theory.

CARL: My work here is done.

MELISSA [looks skeptical]: Perhaps. I haven’t tried it yet, though, so don’t go getting all euphoric or anything. How does your family cook a roast? Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall?

CARL: Cute. Speaking of euphoria, how would you like to go across the street with me for a Starbucks? After your breakfast? We could talk…

MELISSA: I should have known you were a hipster. It was the shoes that threw me off the scent.

CARL: I’m not a hips—hey, what’s wrong with my shoes?

MELISSA: Far too 1940s tap for Starbucks. They’re not exactly hipster M.O.

CARL: So is this how you repay all your knights in shining armour? Insults to their sense of fashion? Maybe you should just give me back my egg-timing secret and be gone.

MELISSA: Sense of fashion? That’s what you call it? I thought you fell into the Goodwill bin and came out with those things accidentally on your feet.

CARL: Says the dripping she-man kick-boxer in sweats.

MELISSA: A she-man who could have you tasting floor in about five seconds flat.

CARL: Whoa. How did this go so quickly from me sharing an ancestral egg-timing secret to you wanting to deck me?

MELISSA: For starters, a man should never mention the M word to a lady. That’s your first fail right there.

CARL: Yeah, sorry about the hot flash comment. Probably went a little too far.

MELISSA: You think? Look. Thanks for the egg-timing advice. I think I’ll be going now. Hey, we’re neighbours. I might need to borrow an ancient family duct tape secret from you one day. No need to burn bridges.

CARL: Sure. Okay. [Looks dejected] Nice meeting you.

MELISSA: I’ll try to keep it down over there, okay. Can’t promise anything, though. What, with the dying of the light and all. [cradles her womb] I may just be in for more of those hot flashes you speak of. You know what that means.

CARL: No. What?

MELISSA: More rope jumping.

CARL: You may want to research the opposite of rope jumping, and try that out.

MELISSA: As long as it’s not [mimics hanging from a noose] you know. Thanks for the…help.

CARL : Hey, are you sure I can’t interest you in that latte? Maybe a biscotti? Anything? My treat.

MELISSA: Listen, you seem like a nice guy. I just don’t do Starbucks. Nothing personal. Really.

CARL: It’s just…I don’t get a lot of people knocking on my door around here. You know, what with it being the fourth circle of hell and all. 

MELISSA [Clues in to CARL’s advances]: Um. Oh. I’m not usually this crabby. Honest. Maybe I can I interest you in a plate of eggs?

CARL [lights up]: Sure. I can help you time them. You know, everyone sings at a different pace. It’s all about timing—

MELISSA: Let’s just take it one step at a time, shall we. I’ll go get things started. Could you maybe bring over a couple plates? I haven’t found the dishes yet.

CARL: Sure. See you over there.

MELISSA exits stage left. CARL goes off stage right, comes right back with two plates in his hand. Goes to noose, picks it up, shakes his head and throws the noose. Smiles. Goes to stage left. Before he exits, he pauses, looks down at his shoes. Slips out of them and goes barefoot. Exits stage left.

[a couple beats]

MELISSA/CARL [from offstage, in unison]: O Canada, our home and native land. True patriot love, in all our sons’ command [the singing fades out]

END PLAY