Mis-guided

A late night rant, that’s what this is. Rant against evil guiding hand. It’s the one thing that drives me bat-shit loony when I see it in published work.

I recently read a local, award-winning novel and was constantly slapped by its guiding hand. Here, let me explain what I’ve just shown you, and in case you didn’t know how to feel, let me explain that too. It’s all innocently done, the reading equivalent of a pat on the back. The book leads to a climactic scene, the author has set it up quite nicely, we’ve inferred what may very well happen next, but hey now let’s have the narrator tell you everything you’ve inferred.

Grrr and shame on the editor who skipped alongside, hand in guiding hand.

Lee, reaching for a New Directions, or a Dalkey Archive to numb the stinging.

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Apply yourself, young man

I sent off an application to the Canada Council yesterday, a day before their creation grant deadline. This is my fifth time applying, with my first and the last three having been rejected. Last time it stung; I desperately needed the funds, which is the story of the past year.

Perhaps the story of my life.

But I did succeed once and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I’d been living in a house for sale for eight months, paying minimal ‘rent’ and living off donated food and biking everywhere. I was lean, making music for the first time in years, and writing. I’d even let my hair grow. A few months earlier I’d started developing, on a whim, an idea I dreamed up in France in 2003 (where I wrote the first page). Man in hell, talking fish as guide. Silly idea, but the characters worked and then something started to happen as I wrote chapter after chapter. When I sent the application in I was confident.

Months later, when the results were being announced, a friend called and said she was rejected, that all the rejections were in the mail today. So I called my mother, whose address I’d used, talked to my sister and asked if I had mail. I did. Crap. Canada Council, she said. Doublecrap. I wasn’t about to bike across town to get bad news so I said open it, save me the trouble. But she read “Dear Lee Thompson were are pleased to announce…” and I laughed, laughed and nearly cried.

The day prior the house had been sold and I, penniless, given less than a week to vacate.

I moved here, this neighborhood of kidnappings, where I’ve been for the past 7.5 years. A better ending would have the novel being published, but after a flirtation by Anansi, who admired it, it was then ridiculed by Gaspereau (‘from funny to inane in a hurry’), pondered by Coach House (‘wish we could publish everything we like’) and then accepted by Crossing Chaos, but then they more or less ceased operations. So.

So yes, yesterday another application sent. And even if nothing comes of it (I have a good feeling, though?), it led to me creating a new project out of a long story I’d written for another collection but which didn’t fit that collection well. I then drafted five new stories for the synopsis. Ideas I’d had floating around. Today, regardless of Canada Council decisions, I have an exciting collection in the works and for a writer that feels great. It’s like food in the fridge.

Speaking of which, next entry I’ll write more about the granting system.