Hello Pals Near and Far, Met and Unmet, In or Out, Ready and Unready, And and/or Or,
I’m going to start with my pen, because everything beyond my pen (in the realm of both the personal and the political) is feeling so strange and sorrowful and sometimes wonderful these days… I am glad for spring, which keeps teasing us with blossoms, and I am glad for my pen.
I love this pen. I love its colour, its shape, and how it writes. And I love that it is called the Stabilo worker. I used this pen to write two weekends ago while staying at the Bon Eco Suites in Tamworth, Ontario. It was a welcome break from teaching and parenting routine, a chance to reconnect to my writing self. Then it ran out of ink and I was so sad.
Here is a great thing that Lynda Barry said in her book What It Is. It is a good thing to remember about life and about writing. Lynda Barry is really good at helping me remember important things:
I finished reading Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. For a book that is mostly about the woes and worries, the stories and sayings of the post-dead, the prose is full of aliveness, of gorgeous, gleaming word combos, and of a deep, wide understanding of what it means to be human. I loved it and will return to it for inspiration and respite. Here is George Saunders talking about letting a story be itself.
On April 4th, I got to read as part of the Toronto Review of Books spring party with writers Rebecca Rosenblum, Mark Sampson, Jessica Westhead, and Antanas Sileika. It was a really fine way to come out of hibernation, and I got to hear from some of my talented peers and share a new piece I have been working on — a personal essay on what it means (and whether its possible) to transcend the tricky notion of social class.
And yesterday, I got to don my bookseller’s hat as part of Authors for Indies. My favourite and most excellent Indie bookshop is Another Story Books on Roncesvalles Avenue. I love Another Story for its awesome staff, comfy chairs and welcoming nooks, and commitment to showcasing diverse voices. Plus — and this is key to my loyalty to any place of business — they always let my kids use their basement bathroom. And this time around, I got to hob nob with Mylan Allen, a YA author who is himself a YA. He has agreed to possibly cut class (he’s a high school student) to come talk to the high school students I teach. It is a lovely thing when my author and teacher selves get to commune in this way!
Also — I am so looking forward to teaching this year at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. I will be leading their Introduction to Creative Writing Class. If you have always wanted to write but are terrified of the very prospect; if you have been keeping ratty, beautiful notebooks squirrelled away for years, if you once wrote a love letter or a poem that made you a friend or an enemy, if you have already tried pottery and jiujitsu and found them wanting… Sign up! We will write together.
Here is a multi-selfie of me. You will notice I look as though I am at the bottom of a dark pit. Really I am just in a messy kitchen, which is sort of the same thing as a dark pit. If you can smile through either of these things, and reach up into the light, then it could be you’re doing okay.