We, as a society, are on a streak of consuming content based on totally imagined, impossible-to-relate-to worlds. Indeed, this is us, a human race that's fully accepting of bug-eyed, slimy aliens. And yet... a story that involves a different culture or a different skin colour is simply a little too..."out there?"
We're not in medieval times. A time when only monks held the ability to read and write and monasteries housed the majority of the free world's books, handing the Church of England tremendous power over the everyman and everywoman living in poverty and voluntary ignorance. A period in history when you could only craft words skillfully -- or at all -- if you possessed status and wealth.
I would never be so arrogant to say I have all the answers and of course the topic of "What makes someone a writer" is incredibly subjective, but in my experience, there are many signs informing you that you are indeed destined to to string words together during your time on this blue and green orb. Here are seven of them.
I first meet Ryan North, creator of Dinosaur Comics, co-editor of the Machine of Death series, and author of To Be or Not To Be: That is the Adventure, at a recent Toronto reading. North was presenting the sequel to TBoNTB: TitA, a second choose-your-path Shakespeare novel titled Romeo and/or Juliet.
Canggu is a visually stunning paradise where rice paddies meet ocean. Like most of Bali, it is full of kindness, and very relaxed. Out on the roads, cars, trucks, buses and scooters press up against each other, snaking through black exhaust in an unhurried manner, everyone just emanating this "we'll get there eventually" vibe.
Five books a week? Many of my friends are shocked that I can get through so many. "I wish! I simply don't have the time," many of them say... If you've binge watched even one Netflix series, you've had time to read. If you've been on Facebook scrolling through posts from a month ago, you've had time to read.
Want to know a little secret? My novel focuses on sex, violence and money so it's near impossible for me to publish it without offending someone. So I thought, f*ck it. I'm going to write whatever the hell I want, and once it's out into the world, I let go of the outcome. Criticism, praise, or worse, crickets -- I'll take it all on the chin. As long as I know I've written what I wanted to, that in my mind equals literary success.
At one time, I figured it would be easier to write a book of short stories. I don't know why I thought this. Writing multiple stories when you can't write one story is obviously much harder. But I like coming up with titles, and for a while I had some real crackers. My thinking behind creating a title first is that it's a bit like "fill in the blanks."
With thousands of people fleeing conflicts around the world, Lawrence Hill's words could be straight out of a headline from one of today's newspapers. Prescient as the novel may seem, there's no way Hill could have known the magnitude of the refugee crisis when he started writing over five years ago. Issues of identity and belonging are, quite simply, the things he's passionate about. And, as he says, it's his duty to write about the things he cares about.
From my earliest moments as a new mother, I'd longed for my daughter to experience the same enjoyment from reading and falling into a good book that I'd felt in my youth. I pictured us walking in tandem in our mutual appreciation for stories, unpacking plots and characters for each other as we bonded in conversation.
What if narcissism isn't what we assume it is? Yes, narcissists project an über-confident, egotistical image but most researchers believe this is merely a smokescreen to disguise extremely low or even non-existent self-esteem. I thought why not demonstrate it because actions speak louder than words.
Rooming houses and cheap basement apartments in my neighbourhood are full of people like that. One day, some of them just don't get up. This happens. Every day. But I made a choice a long time ago. I'm not going down without a fight. This past year I've tried to re-invent myself as a writer of a TV drama series.
Thanks to a new partnership with the Writers' Trust and The Banff Centre, all three Fellows will also receive a two-week, self-directed residency in the Centre's exclusive Leighton Artists' Colony, a place dedicated to giving artists and writers the time and space to create in a solitary retreat environment.
I drank while taking care of an infant. I was full of fire, ready to tell my story. The book got published; it became a bestseller; I received lots of praise, but also lots of criticism and even the occasional death threat. One of the most challenging and interesting gigs that Drunk Mom brought on was ghostwriting somebody else's memoir. We recognized each other beyond our differences. We were both addicts.