The two things I like best about writing fiction

1. Witnessing my work interpreted by other artists. This spring, the Third Wall Theatre Company did a bang-up dramatic reading of the work of several Ottawa writers, including me. They read my short story “We Take Care of Our Own”, from Blood and Water. I smiled so hard at the end of the show that I honestly feared I would do some kind of damage to my face.

Visual illustrations are the cat’s pajamas, too. I really liked the illustration Darryl Knickrehm did for my recent Waylines story, Word for Word. I’m told that my forthcoming story in Postscripts to Darkness 4 will come with an illustration by MANDEM and I. Cannot. Wait. I’m also working on self-publishing a story with illustrations by an Ottawa artist.

2. Those infrequent moments when I’m sitting here (“here” being the sunroom off my bedroom, most of the time) at some ungodly hour, listening to my child and my cats snore, typing away when I’m too goddamned tired to write — and without warning, a perfect sentence lands. The perfect sentence for that particular spot in that particular story. For a few words, at least, the prose sings, themes and motifs arrange themselves, chaos sighs and settles gently into a kind of beautiful order. Those moments can’t come from planning or outlining, at least for me, anyway. But that serendipity, that muse or whatever it is, doesn’t just bestow itself. I have to winkle it out. It only happens when I’ve been sitting down to write every day, working through the tiredness and self-loathing. When I’m living with a work, to the point of hating it, of devoting some little part of my brain to thinking about it all of the time. Then, eventually, my miserly subconscious throws up a sentence that doesn’t suck.

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