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  • Nov 19 - Writing Rogues & Rascals - One more chance to get some work done with the Library's 2014 Writer In Residence, Rosemary Nixon
  • Nov 5 - Come Write In - At home where the Wrimotaurs roam
  • Oct 31 - One Book - Marcello Di Cintio launches One Book One Calgary this Saturday
  • Oct 16 - Pre-NaNo Planning - Saturday, October 25: Dig your fingers in for 50,000 words
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    Loft 112

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    If you pay attention to Calgary's writing community, you've likely already heard of the exciting new center for writers almost ready to open in the East Village, Loft 112. Even before the official grand opening the loft is well on its way to becoming the creative hive it's designed to be. The 'Nook blog recently had an opportunity to connect with Lisa Murphy-Lamb, leader of the Loft team, and we asked some questions...


     

    Lisa Murphy-Lamb
    derek beaulieu
    Scrawl-A-Thon

    NOOK: In Calgary, the concept of a center for writers and artists of all kinds to meet and develop ideas seems long overdue and essential. What is it about Loft 112 that allowed you and your team to make it a reality?

    LISA: The idea has percolated in my mind for about four years now. I used to be a classroom teacher and when I left the CBE I missed having a space of my own to work with students. I have felt welcomed in Calgary’s coffee shops, libraries and independent book stores like Pages and Shelf Life, but sometimes noisy discussion or asking students to take chances needs a less public space. I often got requests to help nonprofits or other teachers find spaces to hold events that didn’t cost a lot to rent. During a CADA discussion about Calgary’s creative spaces a few people talked about opening up a community writing centre, a private donor stepped forward and a few months later Loft 112 opened its doors (unofficially). We will have a grand opening when the place finishes some renovations like an accessible bathroom and an apartment within the loft for visiting writers and artists and we get an official sign on the exterior.

    NOOK: I’m a big fan of derek beaulieu’s work and saw in Loft 112’s schedule for March that something called a ‘Typing Pool’ was coming up, with details not yet released. Very curious. Any chance we can have an exclusive teaser?

    LISA: As part of derek beaulieu's ENGL214 class at ACAD, he has gathered antique typewriters from all over the city. Students have been exploring the poetic possibilities of outdated technology in poetry and prose, text art and assignments. On MARCH 9th, a number of those strange old devices will be available for exploration. Derek proposes by using dead technology we are in fact learning how we interface with the tools we have now.

    6-8 typewriters (manual and electric) in working order will be set up at LOFT 112 for writers to use from 1-3pm. Go to derek beaulieu's wordpress site for complete details, and check out derek's books at the Library.

    NOOK: The upcoming Scrawl-A-Thon fundraiser sounds like a lot of fun - basically a writing marathon with pledges coming in for this summer’s WordsWorth writing residency. How can Calgarians get involved?

    LISA: We have writers who have signed up to participate in this fundraiser for The Writers’ Guild of Alberta summer youth writing residency. These writers, in order to participate in the Scrawl-A-Thon need to each raise $200 in pledges. On March 15 we will write for six hours in support of this fine youth residency. The public can help out in these ways:

    Go to our bio page and pick a writer (or 15!) and support their efforts through pledges.
    We need food and drink to keep us fueled. If you want to sustain the writers, please contact me at lisa.murphylamb@writersguild.ab.ca to make arrangements.
    Inspire us. Ideally I’d like a poet, musician, tap dancer, juggler, masseuse .... to inspire us on the hour every hour. If you would would to provide inspiration, please contact me at lisa.murphylamb@writersguild.ab.ca
    Learn more about the Scrawl-A-Thon. We even have room to take on more writers.
    Send a young writer our way. Find out what WordsWorth is all about and who our instructors are this year.

    A 'Nook tip - stay in touch with all of Loft 112's busy action by joining their Facebook page.

    Interview With A Wrimotaur

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    It's a busy time for anyone involved in November's NaNoWriMo, especially the amazing volunteer Municipal Liaisons who work their tails off to create a special experience for writers in their region. MLs are veteran Wrimos who organize in-person meet-ups and parties, send out regular pep-filled emails, answer questions, and generally serve as the cheerleaders for the region and beyond. Here in Calgary we are lucky to have the leadership of two MLs: Naiya Azurewater and Xanateria.

    Click here for Calgary's regional website (www.calgarynano.ca).

    Xanateria recently took the time out of her busy schedule to enlighten us on the expansive, welcoming world of NaNoWriMo, in Calgary and beyond...

    _________

    WRITER’S NOOK: The basis of National Novel Writing Month seems straight-forward, to produce a short novel in the month of November with the support of hundreds of thousands of people, but in its thirteenth year NaNoWriMo has grown to become much more. Can you tell us why the project has been so successful?

    XANATERIA: One of the great things about NaNoWriMo is that it means so many different things to participants. But, the results are about more than just words on a page. As a municipal liaison, I’ve seen teens find the sheer joy of writing for pleasure, and develop a real love of the written word. The structure of NaNoWriMo allows many participants to finally let go of the idea that what they write must be perfect. Stripped of the ability to be their own worst critic, participants who honestly believe they aren’t creative at all get to experience the magic of telling their story. That can be a powerful mechanism for change. And that’s the biggest benefit of all, I think. Crossing the NaNoWriMo finish line is often a huge confidence boost. For a person who didn’t think they could manage 5000, managing 50,000 makes them ask, if I can do that, what else could I accomplish? And that confidence spills over to all areas of life, not just creative endeavors.

    WN: Last I checked there were 2,489 members signed up in the Calgary region, which seems like a strong response (even though Edmonton is beating us, per capita, yikes!). What can Calgarians look forward to by getting involved in their regional NaNoWriMo group?

    XT: Writing is often seen as a solitary undertaking. For NaNoWriMo Calgary, nothing could be further from the truth. We have a core group of die-hard regulars, with more enthusiastic newcomers every year. We welcome any person who wants to attend, regardless of the challenges they face. All our in-person events are held in venues accessible to people with disabilities, and you will never find participants who are more welcoming and friendly.

    The Office Of Letters and Light, the organization that runs NaNoWriMo, only requires us to host a Kick Off Event, a Thank Goodness It’s Over (TGIO) party, and one in person write-in per week.

    Due to demand from our members, we take things a bit farther. There’s Newcomers Night (held in October to help lessen panic and confusion for first-timers), a Midnight Kick-Off held on Halloween Night, a Midway Bash, 2 in-person write-ins per week, and a Marathon Write-In (at least 8 hours). For those who can’t make it to in-person events, there are also 2 virtual write-ins per week, held in the regional chat room.

    Needless to say, my co-municipal liaison and I don’t get a lot of sleep until after TGIO. But, even after that, our members enjoy our in-person events so much; we now meet once a month year-round. Our members have formed lasting friendships, even a few romances, but more importantly, we support each other every step of the way. For example, a few years ago, one of our members was already behind, and then lost a big chunk of work on the final day of the month. Upset and discouraged, he logged into chat to share that he had given up. His fellow Wrimotaurs lifted his flagging spirits and took turns cheering him on. He’d come to enough events that people knew how important finishing NaNo was to him. Those in the chat recruited each new arrival to help until he crossed the finish line a winner. Quite simply, they wouldn’t let him quit.

    The same is true at in-person events. Any time you are stuck in a scene, someone has ideas how to help you get out. If you are lacking motivation, someone will help you find more (and probably hand you caffeine).

    WN: Libraries are the ultimate place to write… The leisure and domestic distractions of home are eliminated, the calm-yet-lively atmosphere nurtures focus, and you surround yourself with all the glorious material you could ask for in terms of research and inspiration. Is there anything else about the library that makes it the perfect place for participants of NaNoWriMo?

    XT: It’s true that the library means you have fewer distractions and plenty of research material (though some of our participants would say researching is the ultimate distraction), there are a couple of other good reasons Wrimos write at the library. For one thing, like our participants, there are library branches all over the city. Branches are accessible, and come with friendly staff who can help you put your hands on the right material much faster than many of us can on our own. And unlike some other venues, libraries are filled to the brim with people who love the written word, so are much less likely to minimize, or even ridicule, your fantastic literary undertaking. As much as I love NaNo, I’ve seen how hard it can be when friends or family just don’t see the value in trying it. The library gives you another option to find a supportive environment.

    WN: What is the difference between a Wrimo and a Wrimotaur ?

    XT: Wrimo refers to any person, worldwide, who participates in NaNoWriMo. The regional group here in Calgary chose a mascot who is a cross between a writer and a Minotaur. So, our participants are known as the Calgary Wrimotaurs.

    WN: What do you have to say to stubborn, old-dog type of writers who are going to write their brains out all month long regardless of November and would rather not get distracted by the goal of a 50,000 word count? What will I miss out on?

    XT: Well, for one thing, you would lose the chance to meet the most dynamic group of writers I’ve ever been privileged to meet. But as one of their leaders, you might think I’m biased on that score. Seriously though, the true benefit of NaNoWriMo is not the 50,000 word goal. Rather, it’s the idea that in order to meet it, you must lock up your inner editor, put writing first (for at least the month), and put the words on the page. In fact, many of our Wrimotaurs set goals both below or far above the 50,000 mark. NaNo is a self challenge, so any number that challenges you personally would do just as well. We have some members who do a double NaNo, and pull off 100k, and others move up to triple and beyond. Others, who have multitudes of jobs, school, or children set their goal to 10k, or a half NaNo and are perfectly content with that.

    During NaNo, what you produce might not be literary gold, but the lack of pressure to be perfect can pave the way for higher productivity. Experts say it takes 30 days for an action to become a habit, so if you participate in NaNo you will hopefully have made writing every day a habit. Even if you plan to write all month, it can still be very difficult to make writing a priority in an already busy life. The magical thing about NaNoWriMo is that it gives you an easy way to explain why you have put writing ahead of all the other obligations. Granted, your friends might forget what you look like and your laundry pile might be mistaken for a mountain, but in the NaNo world, that’s considered normal.

    __________

    Xanateria (who also answers Josie or Josiah on Facebook) first attempted NaNo in 2005, but didn’t log her first win until 2006, when she discovered the hugely supportive community in Calgary. When she’s not helping pull NaNo together every year, she works as a home support worker for seniors and enjoys spending time online reading far too much fanfiction. For those of you who have yet to meet her, she is easy to pick out: just look for the mobility assistance service dog in the bright red harness next to her. Look as much as you want, but please don’t touch: Declan is adorable, we know, but he is working and needs to be left alone.

    Food for the Gods—our interview with Karen Dudley

    by Janice - 0 Comment(s)

    Calgary-born and raised Karen Dudley is coming to our fair city to read from her fifth novel, Food for the Gods. Karen graciously took some time out of her busy schedule (and from recovering from the flu) to answer a few questions for the Nook.


    WRITER’S NOOK: Karen, you are an established mystery writer with four titles in the Robyn Devara series. Why the departure from the mystery genre with Food for the Gods? (and what genre is that one anyhow? historical fantasy mystery?)

    Karen: I've always loved the sci-fi/fantasy genre, but as a writer, I was a bit intimidated by it at first—all that world-building seemed so daunting and I didn't think I couldn't do justice to the genre.

    Fast forward four mystery novels and I was feeling a lot more confident about myself as a writer. Then one day, my husband and I were reorganizing our books. When I finished doing mine, I stood back and looked at them all. I had three full ceiling-to-floor bookcases of sci-fi/fantasy and a half a shelf of mystery. My husband came up behind me and stood there for a minute, then asked, "So...why are you writing mystery exactly?"

    In actual fact, when I started writing Food for the Gods, I thought I was writing a mystery. I had about 50 pages written when a friend of mine read it and told me, "Karen, you're writing a fantasy." I was shocked. I was a mystery writer! How could I be writing fantasy? But once I defined it as such, it was absolutely liberating and all kinds of weird and wonderful things began to happen. Food for the Gods is technically an historical fantasy, though it's also very humorous which is uncommon for the genre.

    NOOK: How was your writing (or researching) process different with Food for the Gods than with the Robyn Devara books?

    Karen: I've always loved the research end of writing, so I have always chosen projects that required a lot of research. I think the obvious difference in the research I've done for Food for the Gods versus the Robyn Devara novels is in the scope of it. When you're writing historical fantasy, there is a certain onus to get the historical details right. For me, this meant researching the entire culture of Classical Athens: the society, the politics, the fashions, the lifestyles. What was popular back then? What was considered rude or ominous or funny? What foods were available and/or popular? What cooking techniques were used? How did people behave at dinner parties? How did they behave in public places? What did Athens look like? I had to research all this as well as the mythological elements. It was a lot of fun!

    NOOK: Your online bio refers to your background in archaeology and Classical Studies, which obviously helped inform this new book. How much did this help with writing Food for the Gods?

    Karen: I minored in Classical Studies at university, and obviously that stood me in good stead for this project. In fact, the spirit of Food for the Gods was heavily influenced by my Greek history professor, Dr. Buck.

    The man really brought the Classical period to life for me. Whenever he talked about the reasons behind a war, he always started off by saying something like, "Well, when someone steals your women and cattle, you're liable to get a little cross about the whole thing." He wouldn't just give us dates and places for these armed conflicts, he'd act them out, marching up and down the classroom like a hoplite, talking the whole time about how 'cross' they all were with each other. He did tell us things like who won the Battle of Salamis and why, but he also told us about stuff like Alcibiades and the incident of the Theban dancing girls. He made it real. And when I decided to write Food for the Gods, I knew I wanted to make it real in the same way that he had.

    NOOK: How did you accomplish this?

    Karen: I didn't want my readers to feel the distance of history. I wanted them to feel like they were in the story, in that world. Like the characters really aren't that different from themselves. One of my favourite movies is A Knight's Tale, and so I decided to use anachronisms much in the same way that A Knight's Tale did. My characters speak with modern accents and use modern idioms. They have contemporary sensibilities. You can slide right into their lives and it doesn't require a shift in thinking.

    Another challenge for me was how to get across certain information about the society and culture without slowing down the narrative. My solution was to incorporate a series of interstitial chapters throughout the book. There are recipes, advertisements for products, even excerpts from self-help scrolls. They're very humorous, but they also impart some rather crucial information about life in Classical Athens.

    NOOK: Speaking of recipes: you've included some in this in book...do you have a favourite?

    Karen: Ah yes, the recipes! There a couple of recipes in the book. My main character, Pelops, is troubled by a rival chef named Mithaecus (The Sicilian), and I've included one of Mithaecus' recipes in the book. It's not a very good recipe (of course—he IS the rival chef, after all!), but what's interesting about it is that it is one of the earliest surviving published recipes. Mithaecus of Sicily was a real person—and a famous chef of his time.

    My favourite recipe in the book, however, has to be Pelops' Fig and Goat Cheese Appetizers. Mmmm...fresh figs stuffed with goat cheese and mint, wrapped in prosciutto and grilled ‘til the prosciutto is crispy. Then you drizzle 'em with honey. Oh man, my mouth is watering; I have to go and cook now...

    NOOK: What's next for you?

    Karen: I'm currently working on the sequel to Food for the Gods. It's even more fun that the first book and I'm finding myself laughing out loud (which rarely happens when you write!). I love the book, I love the premise and I love the title: Kraken Bake. It's due to for release in early spring 2014.


    A huge thanks to Karen for answering our questions. Be sure to go to one (or both!) of her two upcoming Calgary readings along with author Chadwick Ginther (reading from Thunder Road):

    November 19th at the Sentry Box at 7 pm

    November 20th at 7 pm, Louise Riley Library



    Interested in Karen Dudley's Robyn Devara mystery series? Check them out below:

    Nine Questions for Garry Ryan

    by Tyler Jones - 0 Comment(s)

    With each new book in his Detective Lane series of mysteries, Garry Ryan's readership and reputation has grown. The quality of his writing combined with the realistic portayal of a homosexual protagonist earned him the prestigious LAMBDA Literary Award in 2007. While many readers comment on how a novel allows us to travel to far-off locales, the books of Gary Ryan offer an even more rare opportunity to Calgarians; the chance to see our own city through the eyes of another.

    Visit Garry at his website: http://www.garryryan.ca/author.htm


    This past September saw the release of the fifth book in your Detective Lane series of mysteries. I am curious to know what you have learned about writing since you began writing the first one. Is there something you know now that you had wished you knew then?

    Two things. One is that I really need an editor. I miss mistakes when proof reading/rewriting and need another pair of eyes. The second would be marketing. It’s an entirely different field. With Malabarista I hired a great publicist who works in Calgary. She really helped to get the word out.

    Calgary, despite being home to over a million people, is not the setting for a great many works of fiction. Do you think there is something special about Calgary that readers outside our city will find interesting?

    Definitely. I’ve lived in Singapore, visited cities like Toronto, Red Deer, Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa, New York, San Diego and Guadalajara. Calgary has a unique culture and some quirky habits. It’s those quirky habits and characteristics that make it interesting. And there are some really good coffee shops in this city!

    You were born and raised in Calgary. What changes have you noticed in the writing community here through the years?

    It’s getting bigger. WordFest is becoming a remarkable event. There are incredible independent bookstores in the city. Pages is the one I like to frequent.

    What was it like to win a LAMBDA Literary award?

    Going to New York was something I never really expected to do. Finding out how friendly New Yorkers are was a very pleasant surprise. Winning the award was a huge surprise and then an even bigger responsibility when I learned what the people of LAMBDA had overcome and accomplished.

    How much of writing is inspiration and how much is perspiration?

    That’s a tough question. In some ways it’s like a job. A writer learns by writing and it’s work. It’s also fun to be able to enjoy that fictional imaginary world. That and the fact that some of my inspiration comes from walking the dog. There’s something about the rhythm of walking that gets the imagination going. The walk brings perspiration and inspiration.

    Has anyone given you advice that has been particularly helpful in your writing?

    Stephen King’s On Writing, Simone Lee, W.O. Mitchell, Meron Chorny, Samantha Warwick, Clem Martini and Cheryl Fogo. Each of them has said something that turned out to be an essential truth about writing. Meron Chorny taught me that bullshit baffles brains. It’s really important in writing to be able to separate the chaff from the kernels of wheat – to get to the essential truths.

    Is writing something that has always been part of your life?

    It’s kind of like breathing. Something I always had to do. You know how the air tastes different in different places but tastes especially fresh the closer you get to the Rockies? That’s probably not the answer you were expecting. It wasn’t the one I was expecting either. And that’s why I like to write. It’s full of little and large surprises.

    Is it important for you to follow a certain schedule while you are writing? Do you always write at a certain time or in a certain place?

    I think so. Mornings work well for me. I write in a cluttered office in the basement away from whatever else is going on in the house. It’s necessary to be away from as many distractions as possible.

    Then there are the contradictions. I bought and iPAd and use it for writing when I’m on an airplane, at an airport or just away from home.

    What do you do if the words don’t come?

    Walk the dog. Read. Think. Go to a movie. Try and be patient. Trust in the fact that the ideas are percolating and wait. That is very easy to say and very difficult to do when the words are slow.

    7 Questions for Naomi K. Lewis

    by Philip - 0 Comment(s)

    The library’s current Writer-in-Residence Naomi K. Lewis recently took time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions for the Nook. Remember that if we didn’t ask the questions you might have asked her, there’s still time to submit a manuscript and book your own one-on-one consultation. Now here’s our little interview…

    To get some nuts & bolts out of the way… when, where, and with what do you write best?

    I write in fits and starts, especially when it comes to fiction. For long periods, I’ll have a few projects I’m thinking about. I write in a notebook when ideas occur to me, and do research, and let things brew at the back of my mind while I’m doing other kinds of work – the kind that pays the bills. Then I’ll become obsessed with one of the ideas I’ve been thinking about and will work on it eight to twelve hours a day for a few weeks, dream about it, wake up every morning and run to my computer to keep working.

    Who are your favorite writers? What are your favorite books?

    This changes for me all the time. I love short stories and I read a lot about psychology and philosophy. My favourite novels, that I never seem to get sick of, are probably Pale Fire by Nabakov, and Invisible by Paul Auster. I also love Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel The Unconsoled, which most people seem to hate. But my own writing is nothing like those, really. I’m probably not smart enough to write something that resembles my favourite books.

    You’re stranded on a deserted island with only one book to keep you company, what is it?

    Wilderness Survival for Dummies, of course. And a blank notebook with pen, so I can make notes for the book I’ll write after I’m rescued.

    If you are working on fiction for a long time do you find it difficult to go back to a non-fiction project? What about non-fiction to fiction?

    No, I don’t find it hard to switch between genres. I like to have multiple projects on the go, so when I burn out on one, I can work on something else. I like them to be as different as possible. That said, I actually find that writing non-fiction is remarkably similar to writing fiction – though much easier. In a way, I don’t really care what I’m writing, as long as it’s something I can sink my teeth into. Coming up with ideas is always much harder and agonizing for me than actually doing the work.

    Click here for the library's Writer-in-Residence program.

    Click here for Naomi's homepage.

    As a teacher, editor, consultant, ghost-writer, and of course, writer (and Writer-in-Residence at the library), I was wondering if you might have any time management tips for the busy writer?

    I think everyone’s different in this respect, but I find it helpful to write down what I’m going to do every day and take regular breaks instead of trying to power through. I need plenty of exercise, or I get anxious and spend hours staring at my screen in a panic. I have a close friend who’s a professor and so also very self-directed, and we often start our days by setting goals together over Skype. Sometimes, when one or both of us is having trouble focusing, we set 20-minute goals and keep reporting back to each other.

    Here at the ‘Nook, I like to say that Writers’ Block doesn’t exist, because the cure is the library – a place for research, inspiration, and guidance – but hypothetically, if writer’s block does exist, how do you handle it?

    Work on something else. For a couple of years, I was trying to write my second novel and had terrible writers’ block – but in the course of procrastinating, I wrote enough short stories for a collection, and ghostwrote a memoir. It’s funny, because the whole time I was miserable, saying things like, “I’ll never write again,” because I wasn’t working on that one project I’d decided was going to make or break me. I’ve never experienced an inability to write anything at all, but if I did, I’d see at as a sign that I needed a break. Maybe I’d get a job doing something else for a while, and try not to worry about it. I know a lot of people say you just have to force yourself to keep producing, but I really believe we’re writing even when we’re just thinking, or walking, or staring into space. If you’re not actually putting words on paper, your brain’s just gearing up, chewing things over, somewhere in its recesses.

    What’s the best advice you can offer to Calgary’s aspiring writers?

    Read a lot. Write a lot. Listen. Carry a notebook. Go to places where writers hang out. Take a creative writing class. Don’t expect to ever make any money at writing. But especially, read a lot and write a lot. This seems obvious, but I think it’s worth saying repeatedly – the more you write, the more skilled you’ll become.

    Click book cover to find Cricket in a Fist in the library catalogue.

    Upcoming Writer-in-Residence programs & events:

    November 5: Bringing Your Characters to Life: Teen Writing Workshop

    November 8: Tuesday Night Write: Stretching your writer's voice

    November 17: Finding Your Voice (Workshop)

    A Secret Interview with Will Ferguson

    by Philip Rivard - 1 Comment(s)

    For me the hardest part of writing is simply sitting in front of this blasted computer and punching these rotten buttons. Turning my thoughts into coherent sentences is a difficult task and to be honest I’d much rather be walking the dogs…or staining the deck…or getting a tooth pulled. More months ago than I care to admit I agreed to contribute to this blog. I thought the commitment would force me to overcome my writing laziness. Hah! Weeks and months have past and I have grown guilty over my lack of contributions to the blog, but never has my shame gotten so great that it forced me to write.

    Many people say finding the time to write is a problem. I disagree. We can all find time to do anything we think is important enough – the real trick is forcing yourself to write when it is just so easy to spend the time surfing the internet, watching t.v. or just about anything but button punching. Finding the time is not the problem. Using the time to write is the problem.

    As I was walking into work today, thinking about all the resolutions I have not achieved, I saw my friend Will Ferguson sitting at a picnic table reading. I walked over to chat and found out he was waiting for his son to finish soccer practice. I asked how he was and he said he had been crazy busy. A “perfect storm of writing deadlines” was the phrase he used. “I’m such a procrastinator!” He said “I always wait until I absolutely have to write to actually do it.”

    We made the typical small talk. He had been so busy that his family had barley gotten out of town at all this summer. “It must be easier for you with no kids,” he said, “You and Sara can take off anytime at the drop of a hat.” I had to then make up some lame excuses about my wife and I being really busy at work, but Will was smart enough to see through it. “You have to get away, if even just a day trip to Canmore or something. You have to force yourself to do it.” Because I can get away almost anytime, I never have made myself actually do it. It was, Will observed, the same thing with writing. “When a deadline is far off I feel like I have lots of time, so of course I don’t do any writing - it’s only when time is running out that I make myself do it.”

    Well, I’m no dummy. I suddenly realized that if I can get Will Ferguson, author of many Canadian best-selling books, to talk about writing then I’ve got myself a blog post! Trying to sound casual, I ask in an off-handed tone, “It must be difficult to get started with a project. Have you learned any methods to make it easier?”

    “The tough thing is organizing your ideas so you can then work with them,” he said. “One thing that really helps me is that I dictate my ideas into a recorder and have them typed out for me. Then I have these blocks of writing (he mimes grabbing invisible objects in the air) that are literally like the building blocks. I just rearrange them (hands now shifting invisible objects every which way) any way I want. It really makes it much easier to organize.”

    “Hmm. Very interesting. Would you recommend this to anyone having trouble getting started writing?”

    “Huh? Sure. I have told lots of writers to do this.”

    It was at this point in our conversation that I remembered running into him on the street about twelve years earlier. At the time he told me he was going to a hotel room he had rented to write in. He could have written at home, but found there were far too many distractions so he thought he would be more productive if he had a dedicated writing space. I asked Will if he remembered that.

    “Oh, yeah. I had this idea that I’d be incredibly productive if I knew the room was costing me money. The only problem, of course, was there was a television in the room. The first day I just sat there (now he mimes a remote in his hand, his thumb furiously pushing buttons) for hours. I got nothing done. So I called down to the desk and asked to have my cable disconnected. They must have thought I was some kind of crazy artiste, but they said they would do it. I came in the next day and guess what? Someone had just unscrewed the cable from the back of the set! So of course I re-attach it and (the invisible remote is back in his hand, thumb furiously pushing buttons) another day shot. So I have to get them to actually remove the television from the room, which is not easy because the thing is bolted down, but they did it and from then on I could write.”

    This stuff is gold! Will has practically written my blog for me!

    “So, Will, would you say that it is important for the aspiring writer to have a dedicated work space, free of distractions?”

    “What? Well, yeah. That’s the point.”

    The soccer practice was wrapping up and I had to go to work. We shook hands and went our separate ways. At the first chance I got I sat down and wrote out the episode and now you are reading it.

    Now if I could only arrange some time off work before the snow flies.

    Click here to place your hold on Will Ferguson's forthcoming "Canadian Pie", set for release on October 22, 2011.