Monthly Archives: October 2009

Sweet agony

I’m reading Andrew Pyper’s The Killing Circle. In Part One, the reader is introduced to protagonist Patrick Rush, a “recently widowed journalist and failed novelist,” according to the blurb. 

In one of the best expressions of a writer’s envy I’ve ever read, Patrick explains why he got to hate reading the New York Times Review of Books:

“The reviews themselves rarely mattered. In fact, I usually couldn’t finish reading the remotely positive ones. As for the negative ones, they too often proved to be insufficient salves to my suffering. Even the snarkiest vandalism, the baldest runs at career enders, only acted as reminders that their victims had produced something worth pissing on. Oh, to awaken on a rainy Sunday and refuse to get out of bed on account of being savaged in the Times! What a sweet agony that would be, compared to the slow haemorrhaging in No Man’s Land it was to merely imagine creating words worthy of Newspaper of Record contempt.” (p. 20-21, Seal Books, August 2009).

Before his life goes to hell in a hand basket—as lives do in thrillers—Patrick joins a writing circle. Da da…DAA!

Perhaps my fellow Restless Writers would like to pick up a copy. I also recommend The Wildfire Season by the same author.


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Filed under Books and stuff

Writing and reading(s)

I loved reading this article in last Sunday’s Toronto Star about how writers write—or not. I enjoyed getting a glimpse of the various procrastination tactics these successful and celebrated authors employ. Some might chide me for all the ways I avoid writing—this article makes me think I’m not such a slacker after all.  There’s a whole community of procrastinating authors out there!

The article is part of a series of pieces written to promote the International Festival of Authors, taking place at the Harbourfront Centre from October 21 to 31. Authors are also venturing out into suburbia and beyond for special events in Barrie, Burlington, Don Mills, Midland, Orillia, Parry Sound and Uxbridge.

Information about the event in Burlington in partnership with a different drummer books can be found here.


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Filed under Author events, Inspiration

The view over Lake Manitouwabing

Muskoka_ChairsMy parents have a cottage outside McKellar on Lake Manitouwabing, just east of Parry Sound. Thanksgiving weekend seemed a great opportunity to test out the cottage’s capacity as a writing retreat.

There’s nothing that feels more Canadian than a trip to the cottage in the fall. My favourite activity is a morning walk along the gravel road under arching canopies of red and gold leaves. If you’re lucky, you can spot a deer by the hairpin turn at the causeway.

It’s a rustic spot with most of the mod cons but reminders that you’re just encroaching on the wilderness outside. There’s ceramic tile in the bathroom and HGTV by satellite, but you can’t drink water out of the tap and you can’t leave garbage out in the open for fear of bears.

My first thought was that there was no comfortable writing spot. No expansive pine desk positioned to get the best view of the lake, and definitely no ergonomic chair. Just the kitchen table or the patio furniture on the deck. If she’s not careful, a person can succumb to the nostalgic charms of the Moose FM or the stacks of old Harlequin novels moldering in the basement.

It was quiet, though. While my mom and dad were taking the old kitchen cabinets to the dump, I sat peacefully on the deck in the pale afternoon sun, listening to the loons.

The peace brought a gentle revelation. A sense of place—of being embraced by the permanence of the rocks of the Canadian Shield. A couple of crows flew against a rising breeze. A bank of evergreens swayed gently. The incessant lapping of waves against the tied-up dock gave my afternoon a rhythm. There was a thrum that couldn’t be attributed to traffic on the roads. Could it be a heartbeat?

Fall is a magical time in Ontario’s near north. It’s when the land shows its bones. Leaves are stripped bare. Summer’s haze dissipates and a sharpness outlines the land’s dips and hollows. A brief snow flurry reminds me that autumn is a transitional time here, the calm before the hard slog of winter.

I grabbed what I could of that restful afternoon. I thought about Jospeh Boyden, of Giles Blunt, of Andrew Pyper. I thought about Sloan and Big Sugar. I thought about how some of my favourite authors and songwriters seized the essence of this great land.

I picked up my pen and tried to capture my place in the world.



Filed under Inspiration

Getting ready to pull an all-nighter—pajamas optional!

Burlington Public Library is hosting an All-Nighter Short Story Writing Contest. Participants have from 6:01 p.m. on Friday, October 30 until 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 31 to plan, write, edit and submit a short story. There will be some great prizes and a recognition event in January—along with bragging rights for having survived the contest. Get Up

It’s been a while since I pulled an all-nighter, but I’m sure I can handle it. So what if I’m usually asleep before the credits run on House? Bring on the coffee and the 5-Hour Energy drinks—I’m in!


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Filed under Awards and contests