Friday, June 17, 2011

Tonight: Green Door Cabaret

My writing teacher, Richard Scarsbrook, is celebrating his 2011 White Pine Award win for The Monkeyface Chronicles tonight at the Lower Ossington Theatre with his amazing Featherless Bipeds Band, MC'ed by yours truly. The show gets underway at 9:30 - click here for tickets!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Silly Little Bit of Encouragement, for the Downtime

Proof was recently found in a Book City store in The Annex, in Toronto, that people are (theoretically) exchanging money for a litmag featuring one of my short stories ("Osvaldo's Guitar"). Neato! Don't live in Toronto? Click here to find out where you can get a copy!

Don't worry, reader. The purpose of this photo, and this trip to the bookstore, was not to tell you yet again how to get my work; it, and to an extent, this whole post, are mostly for my own encouragement as I linger in this odd place where I find myself. I'm calling it downtime.

It's not like I have nothing to submit. I'm waiting on responses on two stories right now: "Comets," which features some of the same characters as "The Expiry Dates," and the very first thing I wrote in Richard Scarsbrook's creative writing course at George Brown College, an extremely short story called "Respect."

And it's not like I'm not working on anything. At the moment, I'm nearly finished "Ode," about a dead young man's oldest friend and new-ish girlfriend reluctantly collaborating on his eulogy, and I've long been working on "Projections," the frustratingly hard-to-finish title story of my collection, about a small-town guy who moves away for university but comes back to re-open the town's movie theatre. Plus, I recently added two new stories to the group: "Hang-Ups," about a fractured family spread across Canada that takes place almost entirely in phone conversations (thanks, Braydon Beaulieu, for the recent edit), and another called "The Walk" (for now), about a father's misguided attempt to teach his son a lesson.

Downtime is a funny concept for a writer, but I think it applies here. Most stories I've been working on since 2009 are finished, some await publication, and as a result, I'm mired in that period of sporadically picking at several stories at once, flailing around in half-finished or frequently-abandoned drafts for the one that finally breaks through. My process is such that I don't fully commit until a story shows some promise; and when it does, I work only on the piece in question, obsessively, banging away until it (and I) can take no more.

Until Sunday, "Ode" was nearing that point. I was going back to it more and more often, and I was into the fourth round of revisions of the week. And then, while reading Sherman Alexie in Christie Pits, and getting a sunburn as I sort of watched the Maple Leafs baseball team get routed, the seed of "The Walk" came to me. Next thing I knew, I had an 800-word "memo" in my Blackberry - the first quarter of the story - and it was enough to bump even the almost-finished "Ode" out of focus.

So, suddenly, the downtime is back. It's ok, though. Any excuse to go to a bookstore.