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Showing posts from January, 2006

the great escapism

all writers live somewhat vicariously through their writing. it's an easy thing to fall into. after all, when you're writing, you can perfectly script each part of the lives you are constructing, each facet of their experience and you can give it meaning. most people i know are pretty far from achieving that in their everyday life. most people i know spend a lot of time obsessing over parts of their lives that they want to change, but can't figure out how to change. i struggle with road blocks in writing, too, but the difference is that i know i can figure them out. i'm never so sure when it comes to life off the page. however, even if you want to dedicate as much of yourself to writing as possible, there must come a point where you have too much of a good thing. so exactly when does creativity become pathological?

i have substantial relationships with the people whose lives i've created. more substantial, for instance, than my relationships with people i talk to …

raise a glass

it's robbie burns day. the day to remember scotland's (questionably) great bard and honour his legacy with a meal of haggis and a wee dram of scotch.

once you've had your dinner (and, more importantly, your scotch), read this out loud, phoenetically (excerpted from the man's "address to a haggis". he was talking to the food, so it stands to reason he was wasted. so honour him well.):


Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

silencing your outer critic

a few months ago, i did something my younger self would have considered powerfully lame. i found a quote on line that seemed to sum up the greatest dangers to me as a writer- namely, the danger that i will cower in fear for the rest of my life and not accomplish anything- and i printed out and stuck it to the wall next to my desk. it’s a sort of inspirational cudgel, urging me to overcome my insecurities because the alternative is more frightening.

among other things, it reminds me of the dangers of giving into the power of what most creative people refer to as their “inner critic”, that annoying voice in your head (yeah, i know i’m imagining it) that tells you that you aren’t good enough, that you don’t have what it takes, that you aren’t accomplishing anything by sitting around writing things for your blog... you know the voice. the inner critic is a nasty bastard and it’s a real battle keeping him/ her/ it down.

in recent years, i’ve come a long way towards finding ways to avoid …

ten reasons why it's ok to be happy about the election

hate the idea that we just elected a right wing government whose leader supported the american war in iraq? angry that no one seems to have the seats to control what's going to happen? confused? afraid? need a hug?

ok, i can't help with the hug, but, for once in my life, i woke up the morning after an election not feeling like i'd been beaten with something. there are a surprising number of things people should feel happy about in this election (and this is coming from someone who finds the new government a wee bit creepy).

1. the ndp are back- the country's most left-wing party to win seats in parliament won more than they had in the previous four elections and came close to winning a number of others. anyone who thinks that the election results indicate that canada is shifting to the right isn't looking at the numbers very carefully.

2. you have to play nice with the other kids- the wonderful thing about minority parliaments is that they force politicians to wo…

nag nag nag

if you're in canada, you should be aware that there is a federal election that is happening on monday. unlike a lot of elections, this is one where the outcome is unsure, which makes it all the more important that people who would be inclined to sit at home and ignore what's happening to get out and figure out which candidate, if any, they support.

there are lots of ways you can make this decision. you can vote because you like the platform of a particular party. you can vote for a particular candidate because you think they are a well-informed, principled person (having those around is a good thing, no matter what party they come from). you can even make a point of spoiling your ballot (as long as you don't eat it, because that's illegal), if you feel that you've studied the parties and their candidates and really cannot find a decent one among them to support.

the important thing is to participate. because the easiest way for politics to become/ continue being …

happy birthday in a morose kind of way...

...to edgar allan poe, always in our thoughts and on my bookshelf. (i have him stuffed, complete with black cat and raven.)

politicaliterature

politics has been a thing with me for almost as long as writing. when i was seven, i literally dealt with conservative crap, as i helped out on a candidate's bid for office by cleaning the toilets in the campaign office. to me, politics was interesting (aside from the toilets). it was really exciting to be allowed to stay up late to watch voter returns coming in. i'm not joking. such are the dangers for a child raised in a hyper-literate family of journalists and political observers.

you'd think that given my interest in both politics and writing, that i might enjoy books that combine these two elements. unfortunately, most political writing leaves me dry.

first of all, most writers who choose politics as a subject are political junkies above all. the writing is just a way to exercise their real passion. there are a lot of novels focused on the world of political intrigue, many of them far more popular than anything i write will ever be, and the ones that i've read a…

my personal ad

wanted: date for this saturday in los angeles. must have good ear plugs and good sense of humour. not startled by loud noises. not generally afraid of rampaging machines heading in your general direction. not afraid of women with really, really bizarre tastes in entertainment. must consider intensive care unit a decent end to the evening.

but is it art?

music review::dean gray- american edit

i thought of posting this one earlier, like, say, when everyone including mtv was talking about this project, but i decided to wait, because i didn’t want to talk about it in order to build its hype, i wanted to actually review it as music (as opposed to a media event).

first of all, if you don’t know about dean gray go here before reading on.

as a listener, i’ve always considered mash-ups a technically charming art form, but not much else. the magic of the mash-up is twofold; 1. you feel clever when you’re able to name all the sound sources and 2. it is the epitome of pop music. think about it: the perfect pop song is one that makes you think you’ve heard it before. mash-ups are entirely made up of music you HAVE heard before and, as in this case, usually the most recognisable parts of it. (if you don’t believe me, ask madonna. her latest single is anchored on a repetitive sample of an abba song embedded in the popular conscious decades ago.)

stop me if you've heard this one before...

i'm beginning to think that the liberal party of canada is taking competitiveness to a new extreme. just when they finally had their chief opponents caught in a bit of a scandal, they manage to do one better. the conservatives dumped a candidate who's up on smuggling charges earlier this week, but now the liberals have dumped a candidate of their own, because he tried to interfere in the election by offering his new democratic opponent a job if he would quit the race and support the liberals. it's like they were afraid that the tories had taken the spotlight off them with their scandal and felt compelled to regain their title as the campaign's leading arse-heads.

sometimes, when a party is down, it seems like they really can't do anything to get back up. everything they try just makes it worse. the conservative party in 1993 was like that, culminating in their boneheaded attempt to convince canadians that, regardless of policies, they shouldn't vote for the li…

too much information

writers are often advised to write what they know. there’s a good reason for that: if you write about what’s famailiar, even if it’s a detail buried completely out of context, your connection to the material comes through, something that readers can usually spot (even if they’re unaware of it) and relate to. however strange the setting, from whatever far reaches of the imagination your characters are drawn, if it’s done properly, the reader will identify with the real.

while i never had a problem inserting incidental elements of things that happened to me or that happened to other people i know into a story, i had until the last couple of years avoided putting anything beyond an incidental mention because, like most people, i had subconsciously never thought of what happened in my life as being tale-worthy.

i won’t say the pendulum has entirely swung in the other direction, but at this point pretty much everything i write has at least some moments that are based not just on a belief…

first chance to see

no democracy was ever hurt by having more voices included in it. regardless of whether or not you agree with their politics, the green party of canada has shown that they have a substantial and growing base and there is no reason they should be excluded from the remaining debates scheduled for monday and tuesday.

please take a moment and sign their petition to have them included in the remaining debates.

thanks.

they now officially have my attention

the academy of motion picture arts and sciences, ever eager to try to prove that they're not a bunch of out of touch millionaires who have no clue what's going on outside los angeles, have managed to show that they're a bunch of out of touch millionaires who occasionally find out what the world outside los angeles is doing, by signing jon stewart to host their annual love-in, aka, the academy awards.

honestly, there was a fair likelihood i was going to watch anyway, since i feel that this year has had a better share than most of decent films (although i'm deeply disturbed that jarhead hasn't been receiving nearly the award buzz it deserves), but now it's a definite. i have a certain amount of trepidation about this, because i hated seeing the "chris rock lite" on last year's show, but i have my fingers crossed that jon will find a way to shine through.

i don't make a secret of how much i admire stewart, and i admire him for a lot of reasons, n…

hope springs eternal

courtesy of fark

fish or cut bait

writing is something i've done my entire life. well, excluding those first few years when i was still learning to work the pencil. i remember when i was five years old, i wrote my first short story, about a horse named chestnut and his life on the farm. it wouldn't win me a pulitzer, but it gave me an early start at the one thing that i’ve consistently loved.

and i continued. i was always writing something, vainly trying to start books, or short stories that weren't very short after all, or just little vignettes, for which i planned to find a home, eventually. there were long periods where i wrote very little (and nothing of consequence) and there were periods where i seemed incapable of writing or typing fast enough to get everything in my head out before it disappeared.

the last year, or more specifically, the last seven or eight months (since i finally took a stand and left the job that ate my life) have been good to me creativity-wise. i've completed a number…