art / artist / editor / Managing Spoons in 2020

Managing Spoons in 2020, featuring April Laramey

Editor’s note: As promised, this Fall season brings us a new series called Managing Spoons in 2020. It’s been a heck of a year for many of us, so I decided to ask fellow Spoonies how they’ve been handling it.

ID: Deep purple background. Text reads: Managing Spoons in 2020 Week Four: April Laramey. (The zeros are the tops of spoons.
This week we are featuring artist, writer, and sensitivity editor April Laramey!

Thanks for doing this! Please let our audience know a bit about you, your sensitivity editing work, and what you create!

Well, I’m a 42 year old disabled, queer, Indigenous woman who started her life in some rather difficult circumstances. So I spent a lot, A LOT of time reading and writing. I devoured books and wrote from the time I could hold a pencil. In Grade 1 or 2, I stole blank notebooks from my classroom so I could write more, lol.

For a long time, that was it. But four years ago my mother died, and my ability to write seemed to abandon me. I don’t necessarily think it’s direct cause and effect, but it did certainly happen around the same time. And one day while I was at the National Gallery with my friend, she mentioned that watercolours were very forgiving. I bought what I now know is a completely crap set of watercolour from the gift shop, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

I now paint every day. I have upgraded my supplies since that day in the Gallery gift shop, and I have painted over 1000 works. But these paintings always have words or quotes of some kind. Words have never been far from my heart.

As for editing, it was through friends of friends of friends that I managed to meet a bunch of the folks at Renaissance, and some of the regulars at the very awesome Can*Con annual event. That’s how I came to be a sensitivity editor first for Nothing Without Us—more specifically, for Indigenous content. Which is more difficult than you’d think. We are not a monolith after all. One nation’s traditions are certainly not another’s. But clichés and stereotypes abound in writing, particularly from white people. I love you all, but it’s true.

What has 2020 been like for you? Have you noticed a change in how you manage spoons?

Of all odd circumstances, 2020 has been really good to me, from a mental health point of view. I work from home now, which helps me manage my anxiety.  I have never felt more peaceful. 

On the physical side, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. I have cerebral palsy and managing my pain and the fatigue that comes along with it is difficult in the most everyday situations. This year has changed that in both directions, in that I get much more rest now and have many more spoons.  It’s been life changing in that regard.

But I am also very isolated and finding it hard to get out and get moving.  Moving is vital, so I don’t get incredibly stiff and have yet more physical problems. Am I less tired because I’m not moving?  It’s hard to say. 

I own one of your art pieces and love it. Has it been easier or harder for you to create this year?

Thank you! I love that you have been one of my earliest supporters! It’s been infinitely harder for me to create this year. I think that has a lot to do with the isolation of the pandemic. I live alone, so I rarely see anyone.  There are no more events, museums were closed, no theatre, it’s been hard to find inspiration. There’s only so much Pinterest one can deal with. I paint very intuitively, with almost zero plan. Which is the complete opposite of how I write. As a writer, I’m a planner. As a painter, I’m a pantser. And frankly, sometimes the internal well of inspiration runs dry.

What has been your biggest challenge during the pandemic? Your greatest achievement?

Biggest challenge: the isolation for sure. But it’s lead to my biggest achievement, which is really giving my body a chance. Less drinking, better food, more water. I’m not trapped in an office for eight hours a day, so it’s much, much easier to control/manage my health.

More and more things have gone virtual this year. How do you feel about that?

Words cannot express how much I love this. It’s phenomenal. There’s just so much more access for disabled folks. I don’t have to drain myself just getting to a venue. I can’t drive, so I generally miss out on anything I can’t take the bus to, and taking public transport is a huge challenge on any day.  Being able to sit comfortably in my own home while still participating has been life changing. I know I’m heavy on the hyperbole, but I really hope virtual events continue.

Back to managing spoons. What are you doing for distraction these days? Any recommendations?

Youtube and Skillshare are my giant time-sucks and distractions. I watch every art video I can get my hands on on either source. But they both offer many creativity choices, if that’s what you’re into. And I do have a recommendation: the youtube channel “Dad, how do I?”  It’s run by a man who grew up without a father who now creates videos for people who grew up without a father. He shows you how to change your oil in your car, he reads Oh, the Places You’ll Go! and has Dad Chats where he talks about things like integrity.  I love it.

How can people find out more about you, your work, and where to connect with you?

I have a very basic website at aprilfirstart.ca. You can also find me at aprilfirstart on Instagram. And of course by email at 10thmuse @ gmail dot com.

Thanks so much for doing this. I learned new things about you!


ID: Headshot of April Laramey

Despite her day job as a bureaucrat, April Laramey is an artist and a writer who dabbles in photography, spends too much time on the internet, paints, and occasionally gets some exercise. Her favourite colour is green, she wants to work in a bookstore when she grows up, and when she dies she wants her tombstone to read “To Be Continued…”

April is also a sensitivity editor for Indigenous content. She edited stories in the the Prix Aurora Award nominated anthology, Nothing Without Us anthology. You can read more about her at alaramey.com or find her on facebook or twitter.

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