BWS 10.01.18: Mayank Bhatt

Mayank

At an age when most people contemplate retirement, Mayank Bhatt immigrated to Canada, and when most newcomers look to earn more, he spent his first five years in Canada writing fiction. His debut novel Belief, published in 2016, shocked him by how warmly it was received. Being foolhardy, he’s working on another book.

In an updated version of a piece published in Write (Vol 44, Number 4, Winter, 2017), Mayank tells us about his incredible journey into writing and having his first novel published. It is indeed, a tale about belief.

The Terrorist, the Security Guard and the Emergence of a New Voice

The ancient Greeks told us that those whom Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. That may have been true in the ancient times. These days, the Gods turn them into novelists.

Writing a novel for the first time is guaranteed to drive anyone crazy. It was plain stupidity that made me embark upon this misadventure. It all began during the graveyard shifts at a condo in Toronto where I began working as a security guard soon after I immigrated to Canada in 2008. As a security guard, you mostly sit around and do nothing. But doing nothing for prolonged periods of time is boring. I decided to write a short story.

The idea for the story came from my apartment building at Keele and Lawrence, known colloquially as Gujarat Bhawan (Gujarat is a province in India, and Bhawan means a building) amongst the South Asian immigrants of the area. They were like me – qualified, experienced and doing survival jobs. It was entirely conceivable that the absence of tangible success could easily lead them to getting embroiled in unsavoury misadventures.

I began to explore the theme of immigration and linked it to terrorism. My purpose was not to get into a polemical argument. I was keen to explore terrorism’s impact on an immigrant family. Young people make mistakes and sometimes these mistakes drastically alter their lives and the lives of their families. I wanted to understand how a family would cope (or not cope) with a son involved in a terror plot.

I began to write sometime in December 2008 – my first winter in Canada. I showed the story to a resident, who suggested I enter it in a short story competition. That’s when I came across Diaspora Dialogues’ short fiction mentoring program. Diaspora Dialogues promotes diversity in fiction, poetry and drama.

Surprisingly, I was selected and MG Vassanji, one of the finest contemporary novelists in the world, became my mentor. I had the privilege of working with him for three months and the short story was published in Diaspora Dialogues’ TOK 5: Writing the New Toronto in 2010.

I should have stopped here and gone back to living my life.

But no, I decided that my story was good enough to be turned into a novel. I enrolled into the writing program at Humber School for Writers. Days turned into months and then into years, and I struggled with my manuscript. Whoever claims that writing is fun is a congenital liar. A former good friend advised me to abandon the idea of completing the novel. I almost abandoned him, but continued to work on my manuscript.

Finally, when I could do nothing more to the manuscript, I began to look for agents because I was told that agents could get better deals. I wrote to an agent and she promptly asked me to send the manuscript. I did so and didn’t hear back from her, ever. Then I wrote to another agent. She responded within a day. No, she said, we’re not interested. I gamely struggled for a few more months, and then gave up. The manuscript languished for a couple of years.

Eventually, a friend suggested I send the manuscript to Mawenzi House. I was reluctant considering MG Vassanji had mentored me and Nurjehan Aziz, the publisher of Mawenzi House, is MG Vassanji’s wife. The friend assured me that the publishing house would take a professional decision. With some trepidation, I sent my manuscript.

It was accepted.

A process that had started soon after I landed in Canada came to fruition in September 2016 when the novel was finally published. It looked stunning. The cover image is a self-portrait by Charles Patcher, the renowned Canadian artist, and Ali Adil Khan helped me get the requisite permissions to use it as the cover for my book.  Many of my friends, members of my family, total strangers have helped me in the writing this novel, some, such as Farzana Doctor, by evaluating the manuscript critically, others by providing me with the right passage from the Qur’an, some others by providing legal background.

As I was busy informing my friends and acquaintances of my novel, I heard from Antanas Sileika the former head of the Humber School for Writers. He said he had read a review in Quill and Quire. I rushed to the nearest bookshop to buy the magazine. It was a brief but good review. I wasn’t sure how well or badly the book would do. But its publication and a good review are more than I ever imagined for it.

Last November, I read from the published book at the condo where I worked as a security guard, and where I first began writing the novel. It was one the most exhilarating moments of my life. That Sunday afternoon, many residents who had helped a security guard and his family settle in Canada were eagerly listening to an author talk about his experiences. This was overwhelming, and every bit worth the effort.

Mayank Bhatt visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street, Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Mariam Pirbhai, Rod Michalko, and Canisia Lubrin. Our special guest speaker will be announced soon!  

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Brockton Writers Series 10.01.18

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 – 6:30pm

Brockton Writers Series presents readings by

Mariam Pirbhai
Mayank Bhatt
Rod Michalko
Canisia Lubrin

Special guest speaker to be announced shortly

Glad Day Bookshop

499 Church Street, Toronto

The reading is PWYC (suggested $3-$5) and features a Q&A with the writers afterward. Books and refreshments are available for sale.

ACCESSIBILITY INFO
The venue, including its bathroom, is fully accessible. Please refrain from wearing scents.

Many thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for their support.

OAC_REVISED_NEWCOLOURS_1805c

And to the Canada Council for the Arts for travel funding!

 

READERS

Mariam-Pirbhai-2-colour (3)

Mariam Pirbhai is the author of a debut short story collection titled Outside People and Other Stories (Inanna 2017), praised by award-winning novelist Shani Mootoo for its “clear-eyed compassion, generosity and literary brilliance.” Her short fiction has also appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals, including Her Mother’s Ashes, Vol III (Mawenzi), and Pakistani Creative Writing in English, jaggerylit and the Dalhousie Review. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, and the President of CACLALS (the Canadian Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies), which is one of Canada’s largest literary associations. She lives and works in Waterloo, Ontario.

 

Mayank

At an age when most people contemplate retirement, Mayank Bhatt immigrated to Canada, and when most newcomers look to earn more, he spent his first five years in Canada writing fiction. His debut novel Belief, published in 2016, shocked him by how warmly it was received. Being foolhardy, he’s working on another book.

 

 

Rod 7

Rod Michalko is a blind disability studies theorist who has recently retired from teaching at the University of Toronto. His books and essays are known internationally. He has now moved into the realm of short story writing, and Things are Different Here is his first collection. He lives in Toronto.

 

 

 

 

Lubrin_Canisia_Sept3_2016_

Canisia Lubrin is a writer, critic, teacher, and a community arts administrator. She has written for Room MagazineThe PuritanThis MagazineArc Poetry MagazineThe Hamilton Review of Books, The Unpublished City anthologyandThe Globe & Mail, among others. With contributions to podcasts, anthologies, conferences and more, she has appeared on TVO’s The Agenda, CBC’s The Doc Project and was recently named to CBC’s list of 150 exemplary Young Black Women in Canada. Lubrin holds degrees from York University and the University of Guelph, serves on the advisory board at Open Book, the editorial board of Humber Literary Review, and Buckrider Books, and teaches at Humber College. She is the author of Voodoo Hypothesis (Wolsak & Wynn, 2017) and the chapbook augur (Gap Riot Press, 2017).

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BWS 08.11.17 report: How to Write a Novel in 10 Years: Total Rewrites, Massive Scrap Piles, and Persistence Through the Long Haul, with Heidi Reimer

Heidi_Reimer_event.jpg

Heidi Reimer is close to finishing the novel she’s been working on for the past decade. Last week at our eighth anniversary event, she shared with us a few of the challenges inherent in writing the same novel for 10 years:

The world moves more quickly than your writing process.

You’re forced to rewrite scenes because, in the time since you started this book, answering machines have become obsolete and giant multi-million dollar construction projects have rearranged the landscape in which your story is set. Three hundred kilometre highways blasted through rock are built more quickly than you can write.

Other people might think you’re delusional about the merits of the book you persist in writing.

Closely related: you will fear that other people think you’re delusional about the merits of the book you persist in writing.

At literary events you have to account for yourself with “Yup, still working on the same novel. I’m almost done! For the eighth time.” Fellow writers with whom you once walked side by side will pull ahead to achieve completion, a literary agent, a book deal, a second book deal. When they say, at these literary events, “Wow, you must really believe in this book,” your mind will hear, “Wow, you must really be deluded about this book.”

Over a decade-long process of striving for and failing to achieve a goal, your own insecurities and the struggle not to compare yourself to others will on occasion ambush and derail you.

Being still in the process of writing a book at the 10-year mark—no matter how much you’ve learned through it, no matter how the book has deepened and grown, no matter how grateful you are that you didn’t publish the 2-year or 5-year or even 9-year version—can feel more like failure than success. If you consider writing to be your primary purpose and identity and if it is the only thing you have ever really wanted to do with your life, and you have also written other books that you didn’t finish or publish, you will feel, sometimes, like you have nothing to show for your very hard work, your dreams, and your existence on the earth.

A few reasons it could take ten years to write a novel:

You are not writing the book in a vacuum.

You must earn money, a necessity that sucks up the prime hours, energy, and brainpower of each day. You might have a life, which could involve marriage, divorce, houses, children, births, deaths, and a myriad of crises in between.

Anyone who truly wants to write will make the time. But also, anyone who has tried to maintain a consistent, productive writing practice while (for example) working 40 hours a week at a day job while freelancing on the side while parenting two young children while having a partner who works outside the country for months-long stretches knows that “It’s hard to make the time” is not merely an excuse. It’s pretty damn real.

It takes time to learn how to write a novel, and it takes time to learn how to write the particular novel you are writing.

This can mean full drafts that are almost nothing like the one(s) before. It can mean hundreds of fully fleshed-out pages going to the scrap pile. Characters and plot lines developed extensively, over years, with arcs that span the entire book, in scene after scene meticulously envisioned and set down and revised and finessed: scrap pile.

You can have a stupendous inspiration in Year 2 and just know that the right thing to do is leap back in time to your characters’ childhoods and then you can write and develop that for years and it can become the deepest and truest and most beautiful part of your book but it can not belong, not at all, in this particular book that you are writing, and you can chop it all out one night at 4:00am in Year 7 because you have finally admitted to yourself that it stalls the momentum of the book and that you kind of have no idea how to create forward-moving plot. Then you have to go back to the beginning to figure out what is your story, if that’s not your story.

That can happen.

Writing a novel can be a cyclical rather than a linear process.

Each pass reveals another layer. You’re peeling an onion. You’re plumbing the depths. You’re sculpting a slab of marble—only first you have to make the marble, then you get to sculpt it.

It can take half a dozen drafts to arrive at the heart of a scene, a plot, a character, a relationship between characters. It can take years to see that actually she doesn’t just go to the door and listen, she opens the door, she walks through the door, she makes the terrible decision, she’s plunged into the results of the terrible decision.

How to write a novel in ten years:

Believe in it.

Love your characters enough to stick with them, care about their dilemmas enough to keep following them, and hold onto that inner flame of knowledge that this story is worth telling. If you don’t believe in it, abandon it and find a new novel that you do believe in. (And don’t be ashamed of this choice; it can be the correct choice.) Or, find something to do that is less excruciating.

Experience the process as its own reward.

You and the page and the story unfolding under your pen: this is the best part. If you don’t feel energized or moved or challenged or fulfilled by the process, if you don’t at least sometimes feel that you’re doing what you came to the earth to do, you probably gave up long before the 10-year point.

Receive enough genuine encouragement to bolster you when your inner belief-flame dims.

Share it with trusted early readers, other writers, and eventually some agents and editors and publishing insiders who will probably, if it isn’t ready yet, reject your novel but might give you invaluable insight into what is working and what isn’t and why. They don’t hand out positive comments just for fun, so if you get some you will feel that you are not delusional, there is value here, and it is worth it to keep going.

Write and publish smaller pieces.

The satisfaction of completion and the affirmation that comes from someone else’s stamp of approval will make you feel like you’re an author, not just a wannabe, and will help sustain you through the long haul of your novel. Winning contests and receiving grants works too.

Bonus Tip:

Buy The 90-day Novel. Keep it on your shelf like a gleaming reward and a promise of another way…for when you’re finally free to start writing your next book.

As we head into our ninth year, we look forward to presenting you with more thought-provoking and engaging writers with interesting stories and diverse voices. Watch this space for features on our upcoming guests appearing at our next event on Januray 10, 2018, 6:30pm, at Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St., Toronto!

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BWS 08.11.17: Heidi Reimer

Heidi Reimer

Heidi Reimer‘s short stories and essays have appeared in ChatelaineThe New QuarterlyLittle Fiction, Literary Mama, The M Word: Conversations About Motherhood, and Outcrops: Northeastern Ontario Short Stories. She is (still) working on a novel. Find out more at www.heidireimer.ca.

Over the past month we’ve been listing our favourite books in celebration of our upcoming eighth anniversary taking place this Wednesday. For those of us who took part, it was a challenging process to pick only eight titles among the many we’ve read. The selections, thoughtfully put forth, represent unique voices telling diverse stories. But how did these books come to be? Behind each one is an untold journey of creative process. This Wednesday, guest speaker Heidi Reimer addresses this topic in her talk, “How to Write a Novel in 10 Years: Total Rewrites, Massive Scrap Piles, and Persistence Through the Long Haul.”  

Heidi also stopped by our blog to share her top eight reads:

Middlemarch: George Eliot

State of Wonder: Ann Patchett

The Poisonwood Bible: Barbara Kingsolver

Americanah: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Clara Callan: Richard B. Wright

Unless: Carol Shields

American Wife: Curtis Sittenfeld

Wild: Cheryl Strayed

We hope you’ll join us this Wednesday to celebrate eight years of our literary series. With prizes, treats, and lively discussions, it’s an event not to be missed!

Heidi Reimer visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street, Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Dorothy Ellen Palmer, Spencer Butt, Jia Qing Wilson-Yang, and Puneet Dutt. 

 

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BWS 08.11.17: Dorothy Ellen Palmer

Palmer-Dorothy-768x768

Dorothy Ellen Palmer is a disabled senior writer, Mom, binge knitter, retired teacher and improv coach. Her first semi-autobiographical novel, When Fenelon Falls, (Coach House, 2010), about a disabled teen freeing a bear from a cage in the summer of 1969, was long-listed for the ReLit Award. Her work has appeared in NeWest Review, Little Fiction/Big Truth, and Don’t Talk to me About Love.

Dorothy’s memoir, This Redhead and her Walker Walk into a Bar, will be published by Wolsak and Wynn in 2019. Ahead of her November 8th appearance at our anniversary, Dorothy shares with us an excerpt from her memoir!

RUN, GERALD, RUN

From the knees up, Gerald was the cutest boy I’d ever seen.

California Surfer Boy cute. Blue eyes. Unruly blonde hair a still-respectful tad too long. And a slow, crooked smile. He had a Muskoka cottage, was President of the Debate Team, and had been to Paris, France. In 1971, when I was sixteen and he was eighteen, he lived up the hill from me on Delma Drive, in our Toronto suburb of Alderwood, where all the mothers loved him.

Even mine. And she didn’t love anybody.

When Gerald passed our front porch, when he stopped to chat up my mother, I glimpsed what my father must once have seen in her. She smiled. She laughed. Sounded smart and sassy. Gerald relaxed her in a way I never could. Watching him converse so effortlessly with the woman who seldom spoke to me felt like comfort food, like home should be.

But when Gerald smiled at me, I puked.

In September, the first time he knocked on my front door and asked for me, I flushed the toilet, climbed out the bathroom window, vaulted a hedge, and vamoosed through three back yards. I refused to acknowledge, I flatly denied, I could not risk, any kinship or solidarity between us. I had to be seen as a normal teenage girl. I needed to believe I was one.

And you can’t be normal with a gimpy albatross around your neck.

You won’t pass for normal if someone spots a gimp then stares at you. I’d prevent that scrutiny at any cost. With effort, I could mask my limp. And thanks to teen years that saw the undisputed reign of elephant-ear bell-bottoms, my shoes didn’t betray me. Like a cloak of invisibility, my pants fanned out over my feet to scrape the floor. I told myself nobody knew I crammed stunted nubs of feet into boy’s orthopedic oxfords, reinforced black leather: size two.

Bell bottoms would always be in style. I could hide my deformity forever.

If friends and neighbours remembered my operations and childhood crutches, I told myself they wrote it off like a skiing accident, as something from which I’d fully recovered. I’d never been teased in public; that was the barometer. I gave no credit to the fact my father was the Akela of Alderwood’s thriving Boy Scout troop, and thus held the badge and camping fate of my male peers in his hands. I equally dismissed what was likely an even greater deterrent: my mother had the most cutting tongue on the street and sharpened it there daily.

I told myself only this: I walked to high school with my friends. I belonged.

Dorothy Ellen Palmer visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street, Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Spencer Butt, Jia Qing Wilson-Yang, Puneet Dutt and special guest Heidi Reimer who will discuss, “How to Write a Novel in 10 Years: Total Rewrites, Massive Scrap Piles, and Persistence Through the Long Haul.”

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BWS 08.11.17: Puneet Dutt

PDutt

Puneet Dutt holds a MA in English from Ryerson. Her chapbook PTSD south beach was a 2016 Breitling Chapbook Prize Finalist. Her poetry has appeared in a number of journals and in Imaginarium 4: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. She is an editorial board member at Canthius and a creative writing workshop facilitator with the Toronto Writers Collective. Her poetry collection is forthcoming with Mansfield Press in October. She lives in Toronto with her husband. 

Our anniversary event is almost upon us! This past month, our authors have been celebrating our upcoming event by sharing their favourite reads. In an animated video posted to our Facebook page, Puneet took us on a tour of the books she most relishes.

From, Sounds of a Cowhide Drum by Oswald Joseph Mtshali, “a little known South African poet that deserves much much more attention,” to Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, which she would memorize if she could, here are her selections:

Angela’s Ashes: Frank McCourt

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders: Daniyal Mueenudin

Medea/ Hecabe/ Electra/ Heracles: Euripides

Memoirs: Pablo Neruda

Sounds of a Cowhide Drum: Oswald Joseph Mtshali

The Alienist: Caleb Carr

Metamorphosis: Franz Kafka

The Vegetarian: Han Kang

We would love to hear about the books that are at the top of your list! Post and share with us or better yet, discuss them with us at our celebration. There will be book giveaways, two Glad Day Bookshop gift certificate door prizes and sweet treats!

Puneet Dutt visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street, Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Spencer Butt, Jia Qing Wilson-Yang, Dorothy Ellen Palmer, and special guest Heidi Reimer who will discuss, “How to Write a Novel in 10 Years: Total Rewrites, Massive Scrap Piles, and Persistence Through the Long Haul.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BWS 08.11.17: Spencer Butt

Spencer_Butt

Spencer Butt is a writer and poetry yeller based out of Toronto. He has been a featured performer at such events as Wavelength Music Series, AGO First Thursday, Art Bar Poetry Series, Laugh Sabbath, Sophisticated Boom Boom!, ROM Friday Night Live, The Vancouver Poetry Slam, and Long Winter TO. His newest book, Slouching the Dream, is available through Now or Never Publishing and can be found wherever books are sold.

To mark the eighth anniversary of Brockton Writers Series, Spencer went through the painstaking task of choosing his eight favourite books. In his video, which can be found on our Brockton Writers Series Facebook page, Spencer says the criteria he used for his selections was based on how each book made him feel after he read it for the first time– “it just made me go wow! I didn’t know a book could do that!”

If you’re curious about what kind of books could elicit this reaction from him, here are Spencer’s top picks:

Will Storr vs. The Supernatural: One Man’s Search for the Truth About GhostsWill Storr

Subduing Demons in America: Selected Poems, 1962-2007John Giorno

House of LeavesMark Z. Danielewski

Barrel Fever: David Sedaris

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius: Dave Eggers

A Wrinkle in Time: Madeleine L’Engle

Black Hole: Charles Burns

I Want A New Gun: David Lerner

We hope the growing list of great books being selected by our followers and readers will inspire you to add more titles to your reading list this season. Visit our Facebook page to see what other books have made the grade. Also, it’s not too late to create your own list.  Remember to tag eight of your friends and share your post to our page!

Spencer Butt visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street, Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Dorothy Ellen Palmer, Jia Qing Wilson-Yang, Puneet Dutt, and special guest Heidi Reimer who will discuss, “How to Write a Novel in 10 Years: Total Rewrites, Massive Scrap Piles, and Persistence Through the Long Haul.”

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Brockton Writers Series 08.11.17

Wednesday, November 8, 2017 – 6:30pm

Brockton Writers Series presents readings by

Dorothy Ellen Palmer
Spencer Butt
Jia Qing Wilson-Yang
Puneet Dutt

with special guest speaker

Heidi Reimer

Glad Day Bookshop

499 Church Street, Toronto

The reading is PWYC (suggested $3-$5) and features a Q&A with the writers afterward. Books and refreshments are available for sale.

ACCESSIBILITY INFO
The venue, including its bathroom, is fully accessible. Please refrain from wearing scents.

Many thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for their support.

OAC_REVISED_NEWCOLOURS_1805c

And to the Canada Council for the Arts for travel funding!

GUEST SPEAKER

How to Write a Novel in 10 Years: Total Rewrites, Massive Scrap Piles, and Persistence Through the Long Haul

Heidi Reimer

Heidi Reimer‘s short stories and essays have appeared in ChatelaineThe New Quarterly, Little Fiction, Literary Mama, The M Word: Conversations About Motherhood, and Outcrops: Northeastern Ontario Short Stories. She is (still) working on a novel. Visit www.heidireimer.ca to learn more.

 

READERS

 

Palmer-Dorothy-768x768Dorothy Ellen Palmer is a disabled senior writer, Mom, binge knitter, retired teacher and improv coach. Her first semi-autobiographical novel, When Fenelon Falls, (Coach House, 2010), about a disabled teen freeing a bear from a cage in the summer of 1969, was long-listed for the ReLit Award. Her work has appeared in NeWest Review, Little Fiction/Big Truth, and Don’t Talk to me About Love. Her memoir, This Redhead and her Walker Walk into a Bar, will be published by Wolsak and Wynn in 2019.

 

Jia_Qing_Wilson_Yang

Jia Qing Wilson-Yang is a transsexual writer living in Tkaronto on dish with one spoon territory. Her work can be found, now or in the near future, in Room Magazine, Poetry is Dead, Ricepaper Magazine, and Carte Blanche. Her first novel, Small Beauty, won the 2016 Lambda Literary award for Transgender Fiction.

 

Spencer_ButtSpencer Butt is a writer and poetry yeller based out of Toronto. He has been a featured performer at such events as Wavelength Music Series, AGO First Thursday, Art Bar Poetry Series, Laugh Sabbath, Sophisticated Boom Boom!, ROM Friday Night Live, The Vancouver Poetry Slam, and Long Winter TO. His newest book, Slouching the Dream, is available through Now or Never Publishing and can be found wherever books are sold.

 

PDutt

Puneet Dutt holds a MA in English from Ryerson. Her chapbook PTSD south beach was a 2016 Breitling Chapbook Prize Finalist. Her poetry has appeared in a number of journals and in Imaginarium 4: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. She is an editorial board member at Canthius and a creative writing workshop facilitator with the Toronto Writers Collective. Her poetry collection is forthcoming with Mansfield Press in October. She lives in Toronto with her husband.

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BWS 08.11.17: Jia Qing Wilson-Yang

Jia_Qing_Wilson_Yang

Jia Qing Wilson-Yang is a transsexual writer living in Tkaronto on dish with one spoon territory. Her work can be found, now or in the near future in, Room Magazine, Poetry is Dead, Ricepaper Magazine, and Carte Blanche. Her first novel, Small Beauty, won the 2016 Lambda Literary award for Transgender Fiction.

This year marks the eighth anniversary of Brockton Writers Series! To celebrate this occasion, some of our authors are sharing with us their eight favourite books. We invite you to do the same by creating a short video or a writing a post on Facebook. Tag eight of your friends and Brockton Writers Series! This is also a great way to update your seasonal reading list!

Jia Qing shared her list of favourite books with us. In no particular order, they are:

Kiss of the fur queen: Thomson Highway

A Safe Girl to Love: Casey Plett

Lilith’s Brood: Octavia E. Butler

Before Night Falls: Reinaldo Arenas

When Fox is a Thousand: Larissa Lai

Winter Love: Han Suyin

Autobiography of Red: Anne Carson

I Saw Ramallah: Mourid Barghouti

Jia Qing Wilson-Yang visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street, Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Spencer Butt, Dorothy Ellen Palmer, Puneet Dutt, and special guest Heidi Reimer who will discuss, “How to Write a Novel in 10 Years: Total Rewrites, Massive Scrap Piles, and Persistence Through the Long Haul.”

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BWS 13.09.17 report: What a Blog Needs, with Kerry Clare

kerryclare

A blogger since 2000, Kerry Clare‘s debut novel, Mitzi Bytes, was published in March. In her blog, she writes about books and reading at PickleMeThis.com. At our September event, Kerry shared with us her journey from blog to book and gave some great pointers on what a blog needs to become successful.

If you’re thinking of starting a blog or have already begun the journey, here are Kerry’s thoughts on what a blog needs:

Give your blog space to grow and room to wander

If you’re starting a blog and you don’t know what you’re doing, that’s perfect! The best way to figure out your blog is to write your way towards the answers. Don’t get hung up on perfection—a blog is by nature raw and unpolished. Just keep writing one post after another, and don’t stop.

Write like nobody is reading

This is the easiest rule ever, because so often nobody is reading. It means that you are free to do away with self-consciousness and indulge your own fascinations and preoccupations. This freedom gives you the opportunity to create the kind of authenticity that will engage readers. Remember that metrics, comments and social media responses are fickle things and that you should gauge your success by what you can control—the quality of your ideas, your writing, your storytelling and how they improve over time.

Make sure that your blog delivers a profit

This is not the same as monetizing your blog; although, if you can figure out how to do so without compromising your work, then congratulations! But for the rest of us, it’s important to determine other ways for our work to pay off—Does your blog teach you things? Will it help your writing to improve? Does it challenge you and encourage you to get out into the world? All these questions are useful to help you find a way to make your blog serve you better.

If it’s not working, change it

Blogging should never be a chore. If you’re finding your enthusiasm lagging, if you anticipate writing blog posts with dread, then you need to switch up your routine. Don’t be afraid to change your focus. A blog needs space to grow and room to wander. If you’re finding the journey unsatisfying, then don’t be afraid to quit; blogging is not for everyone, and a blog doesn’t have to be forever.

Don’t blog to get somewhere, blog to be somewhere

From post to post, blogging will inevitably take you places—perhaps out into the world in pursuit of adventures to write about, and, if you’re lucky and keep at it, to professional and creative opportunities. While each of these is an excellent endeavour, the very best reason to blog is to create something artful, creative and interesting. Blogging is about immediacy, noticing what’s going on around you, and being in the moment. Always remember that a blog is a work in progress, just like life.

This year is the eighth anniversary of Brockton Writers Series! We’ll celebrate this milestone at our next event with fun surprises and a new panel of authors to inspire your senses. Guest speaker Heidi Reimer will discuss How to Write a Book in Ten Years and fellow authors Dorothy Ellen Palmer, Jia Quing Wilson-Yang, Puneet Dutt, and Spencer Butt will perform readings. In the following weeks, watch our space for special, anniversary-themed blogs and to learn more about how you can join in the fun!  

Mark your calendars for an event not to be missed on November 8, 2017, 6:30pm, at Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St., Toronto!

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