Thursday, December 29, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Now that our water is clear enough to bathe in, my troubled laptop replaced, and all Christmas-related giving/receiving (remote control, air-swimming shark included) has come to a close, I'm finally able to dive back into my book. That's right, people: there's still work to be done. You're shocked, aren't you? You're all like, "Wha? But she plays with punctuation like a DJ spins records! How can SHE need to revise anything?" Firstly, that example was weak. Do better next time. And secondly, you have to be realistic. Most writers, even semi-colon mavericks like me, have to do revisions before their agents can do their thang.
Friday, December 23, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
I'm down in the dumps about writing today. I got two more rejection letters from the Writers' Reserve granting program via Taddle Creek and some other literary journal that I can't remember the name of because that's how fast I threw out the letter. Blech. That's exactly how I feel. Blech. And then THEN I hauled my butt all the way to the worst mall in Toronto (Lawrence Square) to look for ugly Christmas sweaters and I found nothing. What? The shittiest shopping centre in the city suddenly got standards? What a crappy day.
I always feel like burying my work in a time capsule after I get rejected. I also like to eat candy. But because I forced myself to be all about the promotion of mental and colonic health today, I ate a salad for lunch and decided to post some writing here.
This sample is from a new short story called Brunch! that I'm working on. It's still really rough. Like the stubble on my legs rough. I could go on, because all asshole writers can go on about how bad something is before they share it. It's a sad, sorry sickness.
Emma sleeps light. She wakes at the slightest noise or movement, she always has. She’s never needed an alarm clock to wake her for work. The cars zooming by on the street, the refrigerator humming, the downstairs neighbour’s bulldog farting—that’s always been enough. But that’s not all. Emma’s never told anyone this before, not even Ken, but Emma (and her mother and her mother’s mother) can hear the sun rise. What it sounds like is a balloon being blown up—picture it—as though the sun is stretching the horizon to its limits. Emma hates that sound so she’s programmed her brain to wake up very early. Before the sun struggles and then pops.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
Monday, August 8, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
“I fell for this hot Witness chick," he said. "She was hot, like really hot, and she told me that Armageddon was coming. And this was right around 9/11, you know? I mean, there were bodies falling out of buildings falling out planes falling out of... Shit, what was that phrase she used? Hegemonic world order. The skies had opened up and reigned down, she said, the final sign before the end. And I bought it. She got me all riled up saying that was the final straw and did I know what team I was playing for because God was coming. She even knew I was into sports and she used it, you know? How’d she know that? Anyways, I’m still here, the world is still here, the girl is gone and so is all my stuff. She said she gave it to some fucking pioneers in the Middle East. Pakis maybe, or Indians. All I know is I got screwed and I gave her permission. What kind of pussy does that make me?"
Goodbye, Anton. I won't miss you one bit.
Friday, July 15, 2011
Monday, July 4, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
In fact, although I’m 30 years old and I’ve managed to make a living as a writer, to this day it is my mother’s greatest wish for me that I “go back to school and learn a trade.” Yes, my mom wants me to be a plumber. Please understand, I am not dismissing this trade or any other. It is highly skilled and well-paying work. But a plumber I am not.
This being the case, every six months or so, when she throws plumbing into the conversation, I feel the need to remind my mom that writing is a real job, too. And that, as a matter of fact, the two careers have much in common. So, when my mom figures out how to use the web cam on her computer, here is the poster I will show her the next time trade school comes up.
(For those of you who check it out, I have no idea why some of the letters near the Atwood photo have disappeared. Guess I should have gone to design school, too.)
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
I’ve been so hot and heavy with TV writing lately, that I completely forgot to blog about the freelancer! You know, the editor I hired to look at my manuscript? Well, we met up over a month ago and here’s what went down.
She liked it, mostly. Although she didn’t get it, mostly. At least until the end. She said I need to drop more hints throughout about what’s to come, about what’s the point. She said I need to make the fantastical realism a little more fantastical so the reader doesn’t confuse it with what’s actually real. She said I need to change up the way I write certain elements of dialogue because an “experiment” I was toying with just didn’t succeed. She compared the whole thing to Edible Woman. She said it was “brilliant.” (Okay, that last one sounds amazing, but don't get excited: she’s British and they throw that word around a lot.)
All in all, having a non-friend, seriously-credible pro edit my book was very useful and well worth the $400 bill. She was very honest and brutal and generous at the same time. She answered all the questions I had been posing only to my overly agreeable Nacho Libre bobblehead for the last two years. And even though she thought I was wrong sometimes, she made me feel right. Because, turns out, I knew what was wrong all along.
I left our meeting with far fewer wounds than I anticipated. Today, I feel only empowered by her feedback, fully aware of how I’m going to address certain areas that need work, and more confident about the ones I stood up for. In the end, of course, my opinion matters most. But after five years of toiling away, someone else’s is nice, too.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
After years spent dishing out loads of money for advice from various sources—writing schools, freelance editors, magazines, exorcists, how-to books—I’ve come to the conclusion that the most efficient and economical way to learn how to write a proper novel is to read book reviews. To save you the effort and the New York Times’ blistering online subscription fees (how dare they?!), I’ve assembled my favourite book-review ripped-off writing tips (click on the links for references if you question their veracity) and presented them as they were never intended to be in…
The NYT’s Unofficial, Vaguely Elitist, Often Baffling, Yet Maddeningly Invaluable Guide to Writing a Best Seller*
1. To be a successful novelist, you must have an investigatory gene; you must know that every man has his reasons.
2. Write in the first-person plural and compose a collective narrator—an exotic trick play of a device done so successfully as to make the narrative of Jeffrey Eugenides’s “Virgin Suicides” feel anesthetized and distanced.
3. Everyone in your book should feel real, sometimes more real than they might feel to themselves.
4. Your book must be about the facades of the chattering class — with its loves, ambitions and petty betrayals — but it also, more profoundly, must be about a wholesale collision of values
5. Through dialogue and smartly crafted hints of eavesdropping, be sure to fill the reader in on your character’s world without heavy hands or clunky exposition.
6. Your book must be very long but very fast, a great whirly ride that starts out sad and gets sadder and sadder, loops unpredictably out and around, and then lurches down so suddenly at the very end that it will make your stomach flop.
7. Your book must not heave with poetic angst.
8. When writing from multiple POVs, hand off the narrative from one protagonist to another in a wild relay race that will end with the same characters with which it begins while dispensing with them for years at a time.
9. More than the main characters must come to life. If you excel at miniatures, you must also be fantastic at micro-miniatures.
10. Your book must be long, crude, manic and have cheap vodka on its breath. It also needs to be smart, funny and, in the end, extraordinarily rich and moving.
11. Write about a cokehead music producer who demands oral sex from his teenage girlfriend during her friends’ band’s performance. Then narrate another chapter from the perspective of the above girlfriend’s best friend, standing at the same performance on the other side of said producer.
12. Strive to deploy the quotidian fripperies of our laptop culture to devastating fictional effect.
13. Fill your novel with moments like this: closely observed, emotionally racking, un-self-consciously in touch with how we live now.
14. Your prose must float and run as if by instinct, unpremeditated and unerring.
15. To plumb deep, your book must be anchored deep, in a system of natural imagery as tightly organized as that in a cycle of poems like Ted Hughes’s “Crow.”
16. Your main character may talk to cats, yes, but their conversations should always begin with polite chitchat about the weather.
17. Your writing must further lighten the load by exulting in the multicultural stew of your milieu without turning it into course work in Multiculturalism.
18. Write in the urgency of poverty and failing health.
19. When you tell us that a character drinks Diet Pepsi or wears a New Balance cap it must not to be in order to sketch a withering little portrait of this person's social class and taste, but to describe exactly what he or she drinks and wears, creating a small tether to a shared reality.
20. You must never lose your own serious moral compass or forsake your pursuit of the transcendent.
*Hey! Freeloaders! Click on the referencing links with caution. The New York Times gives you 20 free pageviews per month and that's it.