Monday, August 28, 2006

I Got a Job

Actually, I got two.

No, I haven't abandoned the novel, and I've crossed the 100-page mark, which gives me the confidence that I WILL finish the bastard. But I have found that I'm not writing enough to be alone all day every day, and I think that six months was enough to come to an accurate conclusion. Plus the guilt and solitude was making me crazy. I've never not worked fulltime since university, and when I don't write for many hours each day, I feel awful. I'm also the kind of person who gets more done the busier I am, so I've been trying to find a job out that is a good balance with the writing - something parttime. And not crappy. And I think I found it!

But first, I took a temporary job with the Toronto International Film Festival, so for the next couple of weeks, I'll be organizing film buffs' tickets and hoping not get to yelled at when something is sold out. Because everything at the film fest gets sold out. That's why I haven't gone in ages, except for last year when some producer bribed me with gala tickets when I worked at the AGO and allowed him into Turner, Whistler, Monet at the last minute on the last day. The movie, Arsene Lupin, sucked, and I don't think it even got released here.

Anyway, I'm hoping it's fun, and I get some free tickets, so I'm aiming to see the Borat feature. The hours are crazily long, but the money is okay for a temp parttime gig. I may not even get to see many flicks, but that's okay. I don't really care about seeing celebrities either, but if anything really crazy happens, like Ice Cube says "Yo, LoveGrove, I read your books and I dig your poetry" then I'll post it here. Please don't hold your breath on that one...

But more importantly, today I got what I think will be a good permanent parttime job. It's at the University of Toronto with Hart House Theatre. The managing director of the theatre, whom I've been talking with, seems pretty nice, as does the manager I'd be assisting. I like that one of my interview questions was something like "What is a recent theatre production that you've been particularly moved by?" and I got to talk about absurdist theatre, Ionesco, and parallels between the post-war mood when The Chairs was produced and our current political climate. And they seemed to not only get it but appreciate it. I thought, hmm, this seems to be going well. And the building is of course beautiful there, and I enjoy the theatre environment, and the pay is good for parttime, and there are benefits, and access to the Hart House gym and pool. And I will still have time to write. So I am optimistic about this change.


Team Green Kicks Ass!

Well maybe "kicks ass" is a tad hyperbolic. But we won our final game 6-1 which was our best game all summer! We had a lot of fun, skated hard and enjoyed the free beer afterward.

The regular season at Bill Bolton Arena begins in a couple of weeks. Rumour has it that the administration is looking into adding two more teams, if goalies can be procured. Apparently, the waiting list is massive this year; women's hockey just keeps growing exponentially.

Here's a shot of our team after the game, and at the bar afterward.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Parkdale Arts & Crafts Festival

I'll have a table for Soap Scum this Saturday, August 26th at the Parkdale Arts & Crafts Festival.

There will be Toronto artists and crafters, music, food, entertainment, a sidewalk sale, fun for the kiddies, and all sorts of good stuff.

Come out and enjoy locally made indie goods, and hopefully some sun!

Here is a sample of the soap I'll be selling:

See you there!


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Writing Tip

Try writing to "Dominion" by The Sisters of Mercy. Oh yeah!

Despite years of resistance to writing while listening to music, I've just discovered that it may not be such a bad thing after all.

Lots of writers I know have no such hang-ups, and on the contrary thrive by writing wearing headphones. I've always been really paranoid of "diluting" stuff or unduly influencing what I'm attempting, or other such crap, and am just discovering, albeit goofily late, the joys and energy of writing to music one loves. I mean, that I love.

The Eagles of Death Metal's song "Flames Go Higher" is pretty good writing music too. Anyone reading this dig this band? I saw them open for Peaches last month, and I'm hooked. Pretty rockin'!


Writing Exercises

Thanks to all of you who wrote in with suggestions for writing exercises! I've accumulated a very diverse and interesting batch from online research and from your comments. I'm going to try them out. I've put together a list of what I think are ten promising exercises, some of which are adaptable to both poetry and fiction.

1. Choose a story or poem you wrote in the past and rewrite it from a different character or persona’s point of view.

2. Were you ever rushed to the hospital? Write about that, whether it be narrative or imagistic - it's a context rife with tension. Then write about it from the person who accompanied you and/or describe the waiting room experience.

3. Take one of your characters (or yourself) and write a scene of that person getting ready for their own 80th birthday. What are they thinking about? How do they feel about the situation? How do they feel physically? What age do they feel inside? (Thanks to Marnie for this one, it's worked well for me)

4. Pick an object, a found object, anything around you, and write about it for 20 minutes without stopping. (Thanks Todd)

5. Write about the most embarrassing thing that happened to you (or to a friend if you can't think of anything) in high school. Try it in first person, then third.

6. Write about everything you knew about sex and death at age 14. (Thanks Hugh! that sounds like a fun one)

7. Generate a list of 5 words (randomly from the dictionary if you want to be objective), then pick an emotional theme and write a scene or poem using the combination. I find this one inevitably effective.

8. Slow motion writing – pick an action (drowning, falling asleep, sweeping floor, catching a ball, etc.), slow down the description of it, write each moment by moment – good to get you focussed on sensory details. (credit to bloglily for this one)

9. Describe one of your character’s bedroom (or your own) – messy, neat, what does it say about them, activities, furniture, colours, fabrics, objects, etc. A good way to get to know a character.

10. Take the first and last line of a poem or story by someone else and write your own in between. When you're done, you can either keep or abandon the initial first and last line; I recommend omitting the recycled opening and closing lines. This is a popular exercise with poets, and thanks to Brenda for suggesting it.

Okay folks, I want everyone to try one of these every day! If only I could take my own advice...


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

West Coast Book Buying

I've just returned from a trip to Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia. It was primarily social (lots of restaurants), but we managed to hit a few used bookstores, like Albion and MacLeod's in Vancouver, and Sorensen Books, Dark Horse Books, Russell Books, Books on View, Fairfield Book Shop and Snowden's Bookstore in Victoria.

Here's what I picked up:

Why Don't You Stop Talking by Jackie Kay (short stories)
Writings to an Unfinished Accompaniment by W. S. Merwin (poems)
Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson (novel)
Looking for the Possible Dance by A. L. Kennedy (novel)
Now That You're Back A. L. Kennedy (stories)
Everything You Need by A. L. Kennedy (novel)
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (novel)
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (novel)
Robinson by Muriel Spark (novel)
Memento Mori by Muriel Spark (novel)
The Ballad of Peckham Rye by Muriel Spark (novel)
Theory of the Loser Class by Jon Paul Fiorentino (poems)

Sure it made for a pretty heavy bag in lengthy airport queues, but it was a good haul and well worthwhile.


ABC by The Jackson Five