my tragic right hip

Busting out bad joints all over the place

September 11th, 2007

Are You Calling Me A Superromance?

Okay, so I have a confession to make. My mother loved to read Harlequin romances. We often made trips to the mall with her to peruse the romance section of the local Coles so she could pick up one of her books. I couldn’t tell you what the attraction was for her as I was still a teenager when the car accident happened and never got to ask, but I do know that I sure as heck read a lot of them over her shoulder growing up.

I mean what pre-teen girl didn’t read Sweet Valley High and its equivalents? And if was I was feeling particularly brave, I’d dig out the one I half wrote in Grade Eight while I should have been doing math. It’s hilarious. Seriously. And then I got all snotty and stuff, did two fancy pants degrees, discovered all kinds of different books in my adolescence and never really looked back.

So when a friend of a friend kindly put forth my name for freelancers to write some marketing copy for one of the 1200+ books they put out during the year, I sort of jumped at the chance. I mean, my mother would be so proud of me, and sort of tickled pink, I think. And I’ve handed in my first assignment, which went okay. I’m working on my second right now and I know that a third is on the way. Fingers crossed I can balance out the throbbing loins with the love of their lives enough to entice people back into the fold. All in all, it’s the most fun I’ve had writing for pay in ages. I enjoyed the heck out of it even if I’m still sort of stretching my fingers in terms of getting the right tone and quality of copy.

Come on, confess, you’ve read at least one in your lifetime, right?

August 18th, 2007

Morning Bells, Awkward Spills And Writing What Not

The bells on the church just behind our house just rang out. It’s an odd sound to hear in this day and age, and it always makes me think that I’m living somewhere else where church bells still ring for specific reasons. As they went off at 9:39 AM, it’s hard to say, but I’m assuming they’re just testing out the bells for some sort of celebration or for tomorrow’s services.

Anyway, I half-fell off my bike on Thursday morning on the way to work, and it was more of a shock to my system than anything. And, as much as I complain about the idiotic people in cars downtown when you’re a biker, this time, this almost-accident was entirely my fault. I was going the wrong way up a one way street when a car came roaring around the corner, not expecting me, who was biking a bit too far away from the curb as well. I live in a quiet (for the most part) neighbourhood and it’s rare that any car turns on to that street for the two minutes I’m actually on it before getting to College Street. Regardless, I had to slam on my brakes, and it’s a slight downhill so I was going really very fast, and almost toppled over my bike. I slammed my arm on the handle bars and skidded my feet to stop myself from crashing into the back of his car. But what hurt the most was I jammed my poor tragic hip so hard that it brought tears instantly to my eyes. Oh, it hurt.

I limped while peddling the rest of the way to work and then was sore all day and most of the night, and then didn’t bike yesterday, which was okay because I had things to do after work. But after so many months of not being in pain, it’s still a shocker when my tragic hip wakes up and says, “Whoa, don’t do that to me, come on now!”

However, I’ve certainly noticed how much stronger I am this summer compared to last. I am doing restorative yoga once a week, swimming like a fish all weekend at the cottage, jumping on the trampoline at least once per weekend, and then biking during the week. I still haven’t lost a pound, nuts or no nuts, but I can feel myself have more energy, especially with the swimming. Where I could do one lap in the lake (halfway to the little island and back) kicking with the noodle three weekends ago, I’m now doing two or three, and even floatation device free for one of them. I can make it up bigger hills in the city now, and have more confidence in my step now that my legs aren’t so wobbly. Small victories, right?

We’re not up at the cottage this weekend, much to my chagrin, but it’s also probably for the best. I’m a bit behind in my latest abridgment, and do need to get cracking before my September 1st deadline. I’ve taken the last week of August off to spend up north with that manuscript and my own story, and I’m thinking about which classes to take this fall at U of T, before I can apply for the Humber School for Writers again in the winter.

It’s a long life, this writing life. There are days when it seems forever just to write one sentence or get caught up here, on the blog. I finished my first new freelance assignment, which I’ll expand upon once I know it’s been accepted, approved and another one’s coming. While it wasn’t hard per se, it was certainly different, and I’m worried that my tone wasn’t quite right and that I haven’t done a good job—which are always the concerns when you put virtual pen to paper for someone other than yourself.

Oh, wait, it’s even worse when it’s for yourself: you’re utterly convinced that it’s sh*t.

March 25th, 2007

Shhhh

I am kind of excited because it looks like I’ll be writing another Classic Starts this year. After I’m finished, I’ll have written eight of the abridged classics for kids for Sterling. I’m not sure if they’ve been announced properly so I won’t mention the title, but suffice it to say, it should be a world easier than the last two I wrote.

March 5th, 2007

Write Around Town – March

This month’s column is up on Experience Toronto. I was lucky enough to interview Ben McNally about the city’s independent bookstores.

February 6th, 2007

Write Around Town Debuts

Lots and lots to update on, not the least of which is one more book down from the 1001 Books list, Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote, a visit to the spa, a night of 24, and two movies (Music & Lyrics and Children of Men).

But for now, if you’re at all interested in literary events in Toronto, I’ve started to write a monthly column for Experience Toronto called Write Around Town. It’s the first one, so it’s a bit rough around the edges, but I’m excited about it and am looking forward to having something fun to write every month for someone other than myself!

January 13th, 2007

The Soundtrack Of Your Life’s Work

One of the suggestions that my mentor came back with in her first comments about finding your voice and getting really into your characters and their story, is to find a piece of music that truly suits what you’re writing—something to get your mental juices flowing.

The only thing is, I don’t even know where to start. I mean, I’ve got music, lots of it, that I find inspiring, but nothing that suits the piece. It’s set in Ontario at the turn of the century and there’s not a single song that screams: “This is your character! Pay attention to me.”

In my mind, the closest I’ve come is Neil Young’s “Helpless.” I wish I had a list of traditional Irish ballads, that might work, or even if I had an idea of what kind of music was popular in New York City at that time, I could find something that might keep the characters firmly entrenched in the period they’re supposed to be existing within.

So now, I’ve got to do some research on what I should probably find inspiring even before I get inspired to re-write the stories I’ve already recorded on the page.

January 6th, 2007

On Setting Aside The Ego

Well, the mail carried with it the first of my mentor’s comments for my Humber Correspondance program. Daunting would be the word I use to describe it; and even though I know it’s necessary to break down every last bit of the work in order to build it back up again, I can’t help but feel a bit defeated. Which then pushes me back into thinking about my interview with Wayne Johnston, who said that there’s no shame in discovering yourself a reader and not a writer.

And now I’ve got to spend the rest of the day revising my Classic Starts. Something that’s taken me far, far, far longer than it really should.

December 5th, 2006

Brushes With Greatness

Okay, so I’m going to do a six degrees of separation type post, which is not really exciting for anyone, but, well me:

1. Today Madhur Jaffrey is in our offices. She is lovely, delightful and kindly signed some books for me. I am dying to read her memoir Climbing the Mango Trees, which is now on my giant to-be-read pile toward the top right after I finish Before I Wake (am one subway ride away from being done) and after I read Consumption. Anyway, she was a supporting player in last year’s sweet Prime with Uma Thurman and Bryan Greenburg (whom I will always refer to as Jake! from my time recapping One Tree Hill for TWoP), which means I’m one degree from both of them, cool eh?

2. Yesterday, my stepmother was sworn in as the Councillor for Ward 10 in Mississauga. It was a very prestigious ceremony with Hazel McCallion, “Madame Mayor” herself in attendance, natch, which means I’m one degree from her as well. In her opening address she laid out her plans for her term: deconstructing the region of Peel, stopping the tax payouts to Toronto (never mind the whole idea that how many Mississauga residents use Toronto roads, Toronto highways, Toronto services while they’re at work, but whatever), and continuing to have the cleanest, crime-free city in Canada. You go Hazel; you’re a right-winged spitfire of a woman, and even if I don’t believe in your policy 100%, I certainly admire your honesty, dedication and servitude.

3. Also yesterday, my online book club had a chat with author Steven Hayward about his first novel, The Secret Mitzvah of Lucio Burke. It’s a great read, and my full review is to follow, but when asked if he had a hard time re-writing the novel in a different way (he changed it from first to third person), he said, “The re-write was easy, the write was hard.” And it made me heart the book (and its author) even more. It also gives me hope, because the write of any first draft is so difficult at least it’s good that once an editor or someone else sees the potential, the hard work of creating the characters and doing the first draft isn’t lost time.

4. I have an ARC of Gemma Townley’s latest book on my nightstand at this very moment. I bet you are ALL jealous. I have also completed Shopaholic and Baby and Forever in Blue from our spring lists, with full reviews to come once the books are on sale. After reading all three, plus seeing The Holiday, I might be surprised if I don’t grow even bigger boobs because of all the estrogen in my system.

November 8th, 2006

Aphra Behn

Is it strange to say that a 17th century woman is one of my heroes? That my goal has always been, just like Behn, to be a woman who makes a living by her pen. And these past few weeks something has actually been happening on that front. A royalty cheque arrived for the first three of my Classic Starts (Little Women, Frankenstein and Robinson Crusoe), and yesterday a cheque arrived from Taddle Creek for my poem “April” that appeared in their last issue.

Getting paid for poetry is awesome. Getting paid for writing I did five years ago is also kind of thrilling. But being able to pay for my Humber course without going into debt? Awesome.

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Girl with titanium hip will rock. Girl with titanium hip will write. Girl with titanium hip will read. Girl with titanium hip will battle crazy-ass disease called Wegener's Granulomatosis. Now stuff that in your spelling bee!

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