Category Archives: Non Fiction

Post-Thesis Blues and How I Became a Job Ninja

trendsSome artists find creative fortitude in depression. Some people make themselves upset on purpose in order to produce the sad self-reflection that devastation can bring about. These artists have offered up their insides to the world. Lovely people like Joni Mitchell, Hemmingway, Joan Didion, Paul Simon and Chopin wrote break-up songs and love letters that created a shared space for the human experience.

It’s important to be where you are and to appreciate being alive enough to feel big feelings and then to use those insights to open your mind to better empathize with our collective human experience.

I wish I was one of those people, brave enough to dance with my own demons, but I’m often not. I thrive on momentum and inspiration. And though I know that the down and dark parts have to be experienced, that they won’t go without a fight, I am not prone to embracing them. I try to avoid them.

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E-Readers. Get used to it.

Remember when film cameras were being replaced with digital cameras? I distinctly recall feeling super uncomfortable about that. I’d had digital cameras in my house since they started (my mom worked for a dot-com before the bubble burst). Our first one was a bulky device that took giant photos and saved them directly to a floppy disc that I could then insert into my computer to upload six photos, which took twenty minutes. The idea that those intangible cumbersome ideas of pictures would replace the thrill of pointing, clicking and waiting for your film to develop was such a bummer.

That sickening bout of nostalgia was quickly relieved, however, as cameras got better rapidly and the making and sharing of photography became practically free. I can’t imagine that there are any practically minded people out there that are still mourning the reign of the film camera.

***Remember: there will always be purists and nothing is ever really gone forever.

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Reluctantly Yours, The Artist.

Only children actually want to be artists – children, rich people, and boring people who are afraid of being exposed as boring people. Most of us grow up, and either learn that we aren’t interested/talented/crazy, and we move on because we are intelligent/responsible/hungry. The rest of us are either rich people/children/boring or reluctant artists. When I was a kid, I didn’t want to be an artist, I wanted to be an astronaut. And I often blame my mom for my not becoming one.  She refused to send me away to Space Camp. But really, I was never going to be an astronaut. She knew from the start what I was.

Artist is a nebulous term that I don’t have a definition for exactly, but so far as I understand, here are some of the symptoms:

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Un-Friend All of Your Writers

Don’t make friends with writers. I am a writer and I have a bunch of friends. I’m not bragging, I’m just telling it like it is. The fact is, I think I should have fewer friends.

My friends are nice friends. They love me and tell me that I am talented and they go to my readings and proofread my atrocious grammar and spelling. They are there for me when I need to quit my job, again and again. They validate my unjustifiable laziness and unsuccessfulness. They do this for me because I encourage it and I am entertainingly embarrassing at parties.

Little do they know that I’m a whining, way less than prolific, self-righteous, know-it-all with a Goddess-complex (maybe they do know this and wonder why I keep coming around).

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The Day Job vs. Bliss

It happens from time to time that a tortured artist toils and bleeds for her craft, only to die before it means anything to anyone. It also happens that an artist toils and bleeds for her craft and no one reads or cares about her work, dead or alive. But hopefully, the artist is dead by then and, presumably, doesn’t care.

No one likes to think about these things, but it’s true. Sometimes, the thing you love doesn’t love you back. Just like a girlfriend who doesn’t love you back, it so happens that, a person can follow his “bliss” (just as Joseph Campbell tells him to), and nothing comes of it. Sometimes people get hit by Mack trucks. It’s not personal, it’s physics.

So, in the mean time (the space between being a raging success and the Mack truck), you’ll probably need to get a job. You’ll want a job for the moneys that keep writers in mac laptops, gluten-free muffins and five-dollar lattes. But, what should a writer do? Isn’t a job selling out?

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“I only read Non-Fiction” and other arbitrary dogmas

I’ve never understood why people feel better about themselves when they tell me that they only read non-fiction. It’s as if they think of themselves as less silly than the rest of us “dreamers” or “artists”. Whenever someone tells me that, I am immediately offended. It’s as if they’ve just told me to get a real job.

Much to the horror of some of my colleagues, I have been known to say that I don’t believe in Non-Fiction. And even though, all of my super serious, seriously funny, and extremely adventurous NF writer friends have already written me off, I have to say, I love Non-Fiction genre books. I do. Does that sound like a contradiction? No, I guess it doesn’t. It sounds like a semantics argument. It’s always about semantics, isn’t it?

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The CCWWP: What on Earth is a Writer’s Conference like?

 Before I left on my trip to the CCWWP in Toronto, people asked me, “What exactly do you do at a writer’s conference?” Though I made things up, I didn’t actually know.

I figured we’d talk about the state of the publishing industry or the fate of the Creative Writing Program in Canada. There would definitely be lots of talk about the frontiers of poetry. Believe me, no one really wants to hear about the theoretical frontiers of poetry (even poetry lovers, like me), but people love to tell you about them.

Here’s how it went:

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Things You should know about Stephen King and 11/22/63

I have planned on writing a review of Stephen King’s new book, 11/22/63, for a while now but I just haven’t been able to get around to it. I think what has been holding me back is the fact that I haven’t been in the mood to entertain snotty comments and harsh judgments about Stephen King. I didn’t want to hear about how people “don’t read horror”, “have books they have to get to before King” or whatever boring argument that people who have never read anything by King come up with. But, today, an article crossed my path (which you can find here) that put a fire under my tush and now I’m going to let you all have it

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How is Writer’s Block like a Pop Star?

 So, I might have Writer’s Block. But, I don’t have any of the Wikipedia symptoms. I haven’t run out of ideas or inspiration — at least then I could do something else. So far as I can tell, the reason that Writer’s Block is so uncomfortable is because I know what I have to do but, I can’t seem to figure out how to do it. I could recite volumes of ideas and reasons to compose them but I cannot for the life of me write them down.

This conundrum has led me to a few sweeping generalizations about the affliction we call Writer’s Block. For one thing, how can you be sure you really have Writer’s Block? I have come up with a more comprehensive and realistic list of symptoms and tell-tale signs to look out for. They are as follows:

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How to Write an Unimpressive Author Bio

Before I began to think seriously about writing, it hadn’t occurred to me that the ultra-flattering,  commanding write ups that appeared in magazines, book covers and magazines were written by the author. The idea of writing my own freaks me right out – not because I don’t think highly and deeply about my work but because I don’t want to tell anyone about it. Yeesh, I’m a Canadian for goodness sakes. I subscribe to a cultural rejection of self-righteousness. It repulses me, like any other respectable Canuck, to simply spell out the ways that I am so great.

I’ve had to write an author bio exactly three times and each one was a disaster.

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