Thursday, October 1, 2015

Whatcom Artist Studio Tour and "Songs of Ourselves"

It's that time of year again, fall with it's lovely warm days, chilly nights, and blazing fall color.  This morning, sunshine burned through a bit of fog.  So pretty.  And how about that full moon eclipse? Beautiful!  We won't see another until 2033. Imagine that!

I'd like to invite you to visit me in my studio: Morgan Block Studios, 1000 Harris, #6, from 10-5, this weekend, Oct 3 & 4 and next--Oct. 10 & 11.  I have an amazing amount of artwork for you to see: cards, prints, and poetry books too.  Everything is available for purchase.  In addition,  I will have a piece at both Dakota Art and a Jansen Art Center opening this Friday, Oct. 2.

The other great news is my journal entries from early 2000s will be published and coming out in a beautiful anthology this fall titled: "Song of Ourselves; America's Interior Landscape".  For more info go to  It's going to be a great book published by Blue Heron Bookworks

Hope to see you soon,
Nancy Canyon

New Work: Eastern Washington Landscape

Thursday, September 3, 2015

On Truth in Memoir

My recently passed mentor from graduate school at PLU, Judith Kitchen, taught us that truth in memoir is essential.  Of course we all know the story of James Frey and how exaggerating got him in a heap of trouble, but did you know Annie Dillard didn't have a cat? Where did those bloody paw prints come from?

Judith's suggestion for using fiction in memoir, which I've adopted, is as follows: Fictionalize when it builds dramatic tension, but inform the reader of your intent.

Here's an example of this technique using my words: "I grew up in Spokane, Washington in a middle-class home, my step-father being a successful entrepreneur, my mother a stay-at-home housewife.  If my mother had remained with my biological father living by the freeway in Portland, then walking the school halls with the slutty girls from the wrong side of the tracks would have suited me well.  I would have learned to pilfer change where I could, standing on street corners scantly dressed, angry eyes circled in kohl, waiting for a date. My name wouldn't have been Nancy, it would have been Jeze, short for Jezebel. I would have smote all who looked down on me. As it was..."

You can use other lines as lead-ins to fictionalizing: I imagine or I don't remember, or I may have said..., 

Keep writing every day...great going everyone!
Nancy Canyon

P.S. If you are interested in reading more about Judith Kitchen see

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Working Chapter Titles for Your Memoir

WhaMemWriMo: Whatcom Memoir Writing Month

As I write my memoir, I title each chapter with a working title.  I like to put an action in the title so I know what is happening in that chapter without rereading it.  For instance: My Brother Hitchhikes to the Lookout Tower to Visit; Something's Wrong Inside: A Visit to a Lewiston Doctor; The First Lookout Tower We Hiked To.  

Once you title a chapter or scene, highlight it and give it a Heading Style.  I use Heading 2 in Word. If you know how to use the mapping panel (check the box), each of the scene titles with a Heading Style will show up as a list to the left of your document.  In most Word programs, you can move a scene to a different location by highlighting it and dragging it up or down in the list.  This saves time and confusion when rearranging scenes in your memoir (or novel).

In addition, with highlighted titles, you can build an Table of Contents.  Again in Word under References, click Table of Contents and choose a format.  It is easy to update your table as you continue to write your manuscript.  Your scenes must be titled with a Heading Style in order for them to show up in the table.

Most likely you will write a number of scenes before you start moving them around.  But you never know and this makes the process really simple. And if you can read the titles like a story, you will see where you need to add scenes later.

Have fun!
Nancy Canyon  

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Day 30: A Day in the Studio

It's never the same, the painting process--
sitting before an easel or standing across
the room to scrutinize the stroke you've just
made. Some days, concentration's acute and
what they call the muse assists the process.
Everything's brilliant. Colors bright, composition
crisp. Other days you walk away feeling the
world's greatest dullness. It's slow going, hard
to get organized, worry nags, insisting
that really you're doing all this for naught.
Then a shift. Enlivened, stirred inside, almost
like the joy you feel as a sunset blooms. It's
then that you know you can do anything.
Creativity's fickle, the process never the same.

Chinese Dragon Over Mountain

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Day 29: Ginko

We scampered the arboretum,
studied the oaks, maples, &

the oldest living fossil teacher
called the Ginko.  At home, Dad

said, No it isn't.  I said, But teacher
knows.  He didn't understand.  I

know now that what he thought,
like himself, the tree itself is a fossil.

Of course she meant, when we find
fossils, the Ginko is of the oldest plant

discovered.  Now I press the leaves in
my journal for good luck.  They always

remind me that life goes on & on
& on for a very long time.

Nancy Canyon