my thanks to Shaun Hunter for asking me to join in this virtual tour of writers. it’s a kind of relay that proposes four questions to Canadian writers about their writing life/habits/obsessions. links to others in the relay appear at the bottom of this post.
and i double-dog dare Lori Hahnel to answer these questions.
what am i working on?
okay, i moved house this summer and i haven’t been writing but apparently i’m writing a novel titled BLANK. it’s a story about an investment banker and is set in Hong Kong. here’s a sample:
At the quay, I search for the wooden junk called ‘The Wild Orchid’ and, when I locate it, am unable to board, the boat is not yet prepared. Never mind. I wander up the promenade. The seaside is busy. There are small craft crowding the docks, selling an assortment of fresh fish to the locals. A colourful floating market of fruits and vegetables motors quietly alongside the larger fishing boats anchored farther out, stopping periodically to sell to the fishermen and their families who live aboard.
My cellphone rings.
“Is it ready?” asks Jerry, who is riding with the analysts on the bus.
“Not yet. Shouldn’t be long.”
“Check the stereo, will you? Last time the speakers were busted.”
I purchase a bottle of water from a vendor on the promenade and find a place to rest in the shade of a palm tree. That’s when a man with a large facial tumour the size of a small melon ambles up and rests on a nearby bench. He is accompanied by his elderly parents who sit on the wall behind him, and his mother hands him a Hello Kitty hand towel which he holds to his face, covering his growth. One of his eyes is stretched open by the tension of bulging tumour and cannot close properly. Occasionally, he dabs at his weeping eye with a corner of the towel.
The people on the promenade give the man with the tumour a wide berth, crossing to the opposite side of the walkway, pointing and staring. I cannot stop glancing at the man with the tumour and rationalize that he must be accustomed to staring. Repetitively, I force my gaze away only to find it swing back. Still, the man with the tumour sits quietly, even contemplatively, watching the people walking along the promenade while his parents sit turned away.
When a small boy kicks a soccer ball close to the bench, the man with the tumour retrieves it and hands it back to the boy. The boy refuses to touch the ball and bursts into tears. The boy’s parents say something harsh to the man then usher the boy away quickly. The man with the tumour carries the ball back to the bench and rests it gently beside him. He readjusts his towel over his face. The man’s parents remain in their seats on the wall. Unmoved.
currently i’m writing a short story titled ‘The Goalie’. here’s a sample:
It was one of those rainy days in June when everyone sat around and said, “I need to train more.” You’d hear it on the busy bike paths along the River, joggers struggling to pass one another in the daily pursuit of a personal best, hear it on the lips of middle-aged women at the coffee shop, hear it over the bridge table at The Glencoe Club. Even the old employed personal trainers.
“I need to train more,” said John Barrett.
“I’ve trained too much for the ultra,” said Sarah Johnson. “My toenails fell off and I can’t find another pair of my lucky trainers—the race is next week.”
“Always buy trainers in pairs,” said John gravely.
This was at the edge of the Johnson’s porch, overlooking the Elbow River. The river, intermittently fed by the Glenmore Reservoir, was muddy. It had rained heavily for four days straight. The sky dragged with fat-bottomed clouds. Across the river, a rain-slickered family of four stood on their deck, alternating between pointing in the direction of the dam and staring at the swirling river water.
Gary Schacher sat with his back to the river, one hand on the white railing, the other around a bottle of light beer. He was a small man, surprisingly small for a professional athlete but the smallest guy always plays net. And goalies are expected to fall quickly. But he’d had to rely on speed and reflexes. And he’d fallen until his hips and knees weakened, and he retired and landed on the golf course. Twenty years in goalie pads. Falling.
how does my work differ from others in its genre?
i think voice is the only differentiation in writing so i’ll go with voice. i’m a short story freak writing a novel, so i don’t know what genre i’m in. i’m a writer. i write literary fiction. how’s that?
why do i write what i do?
i have no fucking idea. it just comes out. i don’t try to second guess or over-analyze. that’s for someone else. i recognize that i focus on greed. many of my characters are unpleasant. i don’t believe in social working my characters into something they’re not. people are complicated and flawed.
how does my writing process work?
i start with a piece of dialogue or an image and go from there. when i have a first draft, i create a series of recipe cards that function as an outline. shuffling these cards around happens next and then i rewrite. a lot. i have one faithful reader who provides me with feedback. then i rewrite and rest the piece.
check out these other writers in the relay:
Shaun Hunter Samantha Warwick Cassie Stocks Ali Bryan Leanne Shirtliffe Bradley Somer Janie Chang Theodora Armstrong Kathy Page Lorna Suzuki Barbara Lambert Matilda Magtree Alice Zorn Anita Lahey Pearl Pirie Julie Paul Sarah Mian Steve McOrmond Susan Gillis Jason Herou