Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Sheniz J's blog

The Writing Desk

The creative mind plays with the object it loves. - Carl Jung

After this weekend's heart heavy post, I decided to lighten the mood with a series:

On The Writer's Desk.

Throughout the week, I will be asking Canadian authors and poets one question:

What is on your writing desk or in your writing space?

When I was enrolled in the Creative Writing MFA at the University of Guelph, David Young was teaching playwriting. He told our class that he kept a chunk of amber on his desk to focus his mind and inspire him during the writing process.

Over the last few weeks, I've been purging my room and unearthing random objects and papers- but I haven't touched by desk.

Some of the things on my desk:

A Moment Against Silence

Writers are often selfish. It's part of what we do. We need to have privacy and silence to craft the perfect line or envision the perfect scene. We ignore dinner plans, phone calls, doctor's appointments and anything else that may get in the way of writing.

But sometimes, we look up. We walk the streets. We hear the spray of gunshots. We re-read the newspaper until we are sick with sadness or moved to tears.

Some of us write to escape the world.
Some of us write because we can't change it.
Some of us write because we want to change it.

And some of us write to write.

To write because there is nothing else we can do. There is no adequate response, no grand gesture, no display of grief that can possibly match the sorrow that makes our hearts burn.

Letting Go

Letting Go

Writers are often forced into corners by editors and publishers. We're told to cut our lines in half, remove our adverbs, "kill our darlings" and tighten our writing. The craft of editing has become just as important as writing itself. We're constantly honing our work until it is polished and perfect...or as perfect as it can be.

Travel Necessities for Writers

Travel Necessities for Writers:

1. Laptop & charger

2. Pen & Notebooks. In case your laptop runs of out of battery and you forget your charger, or it freezes, or you're too lazy to lug it around the city/town/country you're visiting.

3. Books. It's so tempting to take the five books you're currently reading, but let's face it- you probably won't read them when you're visiting ancient ruins and walking around Paris.
One or two will suffice.

Hoarding With Caution

Sometimes writers are hoarders.

We hold onto that little red shell we found at some beach somewhere.
We find a purpose for a pencil without lead in it.
We keep the scraps of paper with one or two illegible lines written on them.
We keep an empty coffee tin on our desk in the hopes that we'll fill it one day.

It's important. To keep. Crap.

I started to clean my room the other day (spring cleaning is fashionably late when you're a writer- procrastinating is one of our greatest talents).

I found a crystal paperweight with a bull sculpture suspended in it.
I rediscovered my neatly written notes (and the doodles that accompanied them) from a university lecture on the Canterbury Tales.
I re-read a brilliant attempt at a Spenserian sonnet.

Emotional Allergies

Allergy (n): 1911, from Ger. Allergie, coined 1906 by Austrian pediatrician Clemens E. von Pirquet (1874-1929) from Gk. allos "other, different, strange" (see alias (adv.)) + ergon "activity"

Last night I attended a magical horse show. You know, the one in the big white tents you can see from a mile away? It was as inspiring as I had hoped it to be.

But within 10 minutes of getting there, I felt my throat tighten. My nose became stuffy. My eyes started to water. Hives cropped up on my neck.

I discovered that I am allergic to horses.

How to Prolong Writer's Block

Most writers want to get rid of writer's block. It's understandable. No excuse to ignore family, forget to eat, drink excessive amounts of coffee, go for long walks, stalk strangers, talk to yourself, show up late for work....

What's not to love about writing? But sometimes it's more fun (and less painful?) to have writer's block.

Here are some tips on how to prolong yours:

1. Get a job. If you have a job, keep it. No daydreaming.

2. Read brilliant books. They'll discourage you from writing (caution: they could also inspire you to write. Choose carefully)

3. Spend the morning googling "The God Particle".

4. Write about writing instead of writing.

5. Answer your cell phone. Have a full conversation. Don't pretend that you're under a tunnel or on the TTC.

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