Self, applied

A blog post! That must mean something worth sharing has happened, or that I have some time on my hands (laugh, please).  It’s a happening, and more momentous than any M. Night Shyamalan flop. Sixteen months ago I wrote a blog post – Apply Yourself, Young Man – chronicling a new project and my hopeful grant application. I had a good feeling. Well, that was all a bit rushed, my application was a mess and no surprise it was not successful. But. Yes, there’s a but.

And you know, I thought I would have finished the project by now, but in those 16 months I’ve written only three of the stories (nearly 30,000 words, mind you). A writer friend with a day job asked, “But does money really help you write?”  Oh yes, it does. For one, you can relax. For two, you can relax the next day, and the day after. And by relax I mean not worry, because for me, at least, worry is what gnaws through the cord that lights any stick of creative dynamite.

So yes, this time the Canada Council came through. I resisted opening the envelope for five days. Please don’t ask for an explanation of my behaviour, though if you do want to psychoanalyze me I suggest you buy my book of dreams.  But please don’t judge me. Anyway, a friend, a fine, fine writer friend with an amazing book of short fiction coming out this spring, a friend who was also grant-positive, said, when I explained the virgin envelope, the size, shape, colour and smell of it, “Open the goddamn envelope!”

Thank you, jury. I shall write, and write well.

Turning an old idea inside out

I have plans, many plans. Plans involving writing, mostly. And music. But this is about the writing plans. Beyond some edits and sending the Three out again (one currently is under consideration which may simply mean under a pile of other unopened envelopes) there are two novel projects: an ambitious northern novel based on my story “North of Fury” (Ellipse Mag 77-78) and the other I’ve begun to outline.

The other is an old idea made new. What I thought would be a surreal, hyper-poetic, sensuous, deep dream-state story – which I could never get more than a couple of chapters into before the language began to mock itself (I had been reading Dow Mossman’s The Stones of Summer when I started, and mix that with a love for William Goyen and James Joyce, well welcome to unreadable…) – is now, as I redraft it, a YA adventure novel narrated by a 15 year old. Now I’m not thinking Hunger Games and MONEY but that the central idea is simple and a simpler approach is better. More Lord of the Flies in terms of appeal and accessibility. Jesus, and it might even  have an ecological theme.

I love complex sentences and I love play in fiction. I doubt those things will entirely vanish. But I also love plot, adventure. We’ll see where it goes.