Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

depalmer's blog

The Last Post

It’s hard to believe that the entire month of October has gone by and this is my last post as Open Book Writer in Residence! I've enjoyed and respected the experience and it’s certainly given me new respect for bloggers and daily columnists who need to produce, not fiction, but a developed opinion every day. In this, the 31st post on October 31, I’m glad to say I met my self-set goal of posting every single day. My WIR file contains 27,000 words, or about some 900 words per day. If only I could do that all the time with my own work!

Wouldn't you love to know?

Saturday’s closing day of the IFOA made for some extraodinary readings and some very busy folks. While most writers dream about what it would be like to ever be nominated for even one literary award, ever in their lifetime, this year three Canadian writers, Esi Edugyan, David Bezmozgis and Patrick deWitt, all still young with their full careers ahead of them, have had the overwhelming honor to be nominated for several. Saturday was indeed a day of congratulations and celebrations.

The Top Ten Tips of a Writer's Routine

I’ll be spending all day at the closing events of IFOA, but this morning I thought I’d address the one question I’m asked more than any other: “What is your writing routine?” I’ll admit that at first, I balked. I wanted to say everyone has to find their own routine, based on their physiology, their work, family, and commitment schedules. But I’ve also discovered that regardless of the time of day, there are some things I routinely do to build my writing mindset. Here are the Top Ten Tips to avoid the distractions of a busy daily life, to maintain a train of thought and make writing time more profitable.

Piggy Logan's Dolls

On Wednesday night, I attended the IFOA reading of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize Finalists. In welcoming ambiance, the Brigantine room at Harbourfront was transformed by café tables and candles. As at Monday’s GG Awards, I was again struck by the sheer range of the works, but also got an answer to a new question, “At an awards reading, what should we hope for besides literary excellence?”

Consider the the diversity of life and language, of time and place, of character and style, in this list of finalists:

The Meager Tarmac, by Clark Blaise
The Beggar’s Garden, by Michael Christie
The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick deWitt
Half Blood Blues, by Esi Edugyan
The Quiet Twin, by Dan Vyleta

Alissa York Answers These Questions Three

The ongoing discussion here in my blog of the possible role for literature in a world that desperately needs empathy, began almost a month ago now with one of my first posts about my trip to the Eden Mills Writers' Festival with Alissa York. I’m thrilled that despite her mega-busy schedule traveling to France and Banff and being nominated for the Toronto Book Awards, that she has kindly also found the time to answer These Questions Three.

With Coffee and an Explanation in Hand

With great respect for the time and care they took, I'm devoting today’s blog to the readers who posted to my earlier entry, In Search of Coffee and Bad Writing. I truly believe the pressing question of the role of politics in literature needs to be discussed openly and often. I respect their willingness to do so exactly because, first and foremost, it is a debate. The question is neither over nor answered. Every reader and writer has input and a voice worth hearing.

Surveying the rich field of the Govenor General's Literary Award

Last night I had the pleasure of attending an IFOA reading of the Governor General’s Literary Award finalists: David Bezmozgis, Marina Endicott, Alexi Zentner, Patrick deWitt and Esi Edugyan, all warmly hosted by CBC's Shelagh Rogers. In retrospect this morning, I am struck not just by how richly diverse this field we call Canadian Literature has become, but also that such depth and breadth of change has occurred in my lifetime.

A Thank You to Bharati Mukherjee Twenty-five Years in the Making

Twenty-five years is a long time to repay a kindness, but being able to finally publicly thank Bharati Mukherjee is something I’m very grateful to be able to do at all. In Calgary, in 1986, I took a workshop with her that I still think about, one that gave me sustenance for many years and taught me something essential about teaching.

I had a Vice Principal years later who believed that teachers are their student’s first books, that students learn as much from teacher role models as from books; they learn about character, fairness, kindness, respect, good judgment, industry, and curiosity. I would absolutely say this was true in my time with Bharati. There are two moments I remember so clearly.

In Search of Coffee and Bad Fiction

Yesterday afternoon, with friends both old and new, I attended an IFOA roundtable discussion, Individual in Society, moderated by Carol Off, with Lauren B. Davis, Johan Harstad and Bharati Mukherjee. This event was unequivocally intelligent, informative and smartly entertaining. It produced some great sound-bites on writing. In retrospect, however, I find myself with questions about Canadian politeness and wondering how to ensure that roundtables live up to the potential of their billing.

Brown Paper Packages Wrapped up in String...

In The Sound of Music, when Julie Andrews sings that one of her favourite things is “Brown paper packages,” she doesn’t mean a blog, but I do. Niranjana Iyer’s blog Brown Paper is indeed one of my favourite packages of literary insight, no strings attached. When I open it, I can always find books that may be missing from elsewhere and can always count on hearing a refreshingly unapologetic feminist voice. My thanks to her for These Questions Three.

1. When we first met a few months ago, I was fascinated by your back story. Can you please explain a little bit about how you got to there from here? Please feel free to define “here” and “there” in any way you wish.

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