Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

NatalieZed's blog

A Public Life

This morning, I had the pleasure of speaking to an English class at Ryerson, led my instructor Sarah Henstra. The course was about writing about the arts, an attempt to present becoming a (freelance) writer and critic as a viable career option. I jokingly titled my talk, "How You Too Can Work At Home In Your Underpants Covered In Cheeto Dust." 


I've always had an addictive personality -- not for substances, but activities and subjects. When I was a kid, I watched my classmates drift through interests, picking things up and putting them down again. They'd be enrolled in multiple sports at once, quitting and starting new things constantly as they and their parents searched for something that would stick. Kids around me had phases, periods of intense interest that they would soon shed.

First Blush

I started writing a novel this weekend. Even typing that sentence is enough to make me feel both giddy and utterly terrified.

I'd been nursing the idea for a while, at first just a word that gradually grew into a baby universe. For a long time, I was almost ashamed of the idea. Anything that you really love is always faintly embarrassing, because it reveals so much about you and what you care about. As time passed, even if I was a little shy to share it, the pressure of the idea, the solidity and realness of it, kept tugging at me.

Talking It Out

Neil Gaiman wrote a fantastic post once about asnwering the question "Where do you get your ideas?" In particular, he talks about the resistance that is often offered to the only real answer he can give: "'I make them up,' I tell them. 'Out of my head.'" He has some great ideas about fielding these sorts of questions, but my absolute favourite part of the post is the bit where he addresses the problem of people approaching him, as a writer, and offering to share their Great Idea with them.

Becoming Nocturnal

I've had a lot of jobs in my life. Many of them have been great, and a few of them have been hilariously terrible. I've been a bank teller, a research assistant, a copy centre employee a/k/a xerox whisperer, the managing editor of two literary magazines, a cheesemonger, the events coordinator for an incredible bookstore, a high school english teacher, a writer in residence in a Catholic school, and a copy writer for a porn company. I've worked in office environments, classrooms, refrigerators and outdoors. I've had bosses who were wonderful and bosses I was convinced kept a chest freezer stuffed full of torsos in their apartment. I've had co-workers who would be my lifelong friends and one who I detested so much that I once hid her phone in a pumpkin.

Growing Wings, and Penance

In my latest collection of poetry, DOOM, I include a poem about Penance. Penance is not, really a villain, or at least not a long term villain. The characters civilian name is Robbie Baldwin, and for most of his career he is known as Speedball. His powers are based in kinetic energy, and so the more energy he absorbs, the more powerful (and potentially destructive) those powers become. He's a middling hero, involved with the New Warriors, and then suddenly find himself playing a pivotal role in the Civil War storyline, one of the major shakeups in the Marvel Universe.

Robots vs. Bleeders

I am wrapping up an interview with an artist; it has gone to some unexpected places. My subject intended to be very reserved in his answers, but instead opened the floodgates. I asked very few questions, mostly listened, only offered a few guiding statements. The torrent of words that spilled out of his was unfiltered, thick and vital as arterial blood. I could barely keep up, only offer my repeated thanks at his being so candid, so honest with his statement.

A Clumsy Thing About Love

I'm reading tonight at Q-Space, with Jeanette Lynes and Open Book Toronto's very own Grace O'Connell. There's a Facebook event if you want to see what it's all about, and perhaps come. When I was asked to read on Valentine's Day, I said yes immediately, without a moment's hesitation. It honestly didn't occur to me that my partner might have something to say about that until he started teasing me for not having a single romantic bone in my body.

He's right, of course. I joke about having a dried up little apple core for a heart, like the Grinch. I forget about markers and gestures. I know only very vaguely when our anniversary is (summer, right?). I joke that I don't like things that make me experience feelings.

On Plagiarism

I plagiarized a creative paper in the tenth grade.

Writing that sentence literally gave me anxiety hives, itching red welts on my legs and crawling up my armpits. Admitting that, when I was fourteen years old, I copied several paragraphs, verbatim, and submitted them for an assignment as my own, makes me want to shrivel up with shame. It was a *creative* paper to, something that I could have just made up and gotten a fine mark on, but the truth of the matter is I couldn't be arsed to come up with anything. So I grabbed a few monologues from comic books I was reading at the time, tied them together with a few ugly sentences, slapped my name on it and called it a day.

Self Care

My partner made me watch Warrior last night. It's an excellent film, well-acted and intelligently written. There is a lot about it that I should like, primarily the fact that it contains Tom Hardy looking like a chiseled god and represents Mixed Martial Arts in a far more realistic and less sensationalist way than I have ever seen on film before. It is, however, a drama, and a deep one, about the rift between two brothers, the damage al alcoholic father has sone to his family, one son's desire to save his own family from financial ruin and a damaged man's broken quest for healing.

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