slow progress

me, writing

After an hour and a half of reading my novel draft, making notes, and doing research, my eyes look like that. I take breaks to look out of the window of the coffee place, noticing how many people seem to mutter to themselves on their way to the subway. I try not to audibly exclaim over how good my chai latte is. Sometimes I feel weird about things like writing “chai latte” on my blog, but you know. Life.

I’ve been scribbling corrections and notes in my little novel printout, but not as many as I was expecting. If I’m being honest, I find it a little strange. This is my first novel – everything I’ve heard has made me believe I’m supposed to think it’s junk, put it away and never look at it again, shudder when I think about it. I mean, I know it needs work. I need to develop certain characters and delve more deeply into some things. But I actually like it. I don’t feel I need to forget it ever happened.


my novel, printed

I got my novel printed out today – not printed printed, but just printed. Clear as mud?

In truth, I’ve been sort of avoiding working on it since December. I’ve peeked in here and there and made some tweaks, but what I really need is to hold it in my hands and read it cover to cover. And as much as my Kindle-loving husband has convinced me e-books have merit, I need to read my work printed out to fully understand it. I’m a bit terrified of reading it, but I’m also excited to get in there and start scrawling all over the place.

I picked it up from the print shop and carried it home in a brown paper bag, protecting it from the falling snow. The guy at the print shop read my mind and side-stitched it (it’s been years since I’ve had to use binding terminology, so I wasn’t able to tell him what I meant over the phone). I walked home and clutched the bag to my chest and emitted a low “Eeeeee!” squeal to get it out of my system. Someone saw me, but you know. This is Toronto. People squeal to themselves sometimes.

morning tracks


Not very terribly exciting photos today, but picture-taking is difficult with a sleepy dog who needed at least seven more hours before being even remotely ready to play in the snow.

I’ve been thinking lately about a lot of the books I liked when I was younger. I had a few favourite books, but the ones that I think about the most, years later, are the ones with some big adventure at the centre. I especially liked the ones that had girls in them – like Homecoming and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. (I wonder now how I would feel about the girls in these books, especially The Lion, etc.) It made me sad that, as I grew up, I found fewer books like these with female characters in them that I could relate to. And video games – even rarer. I still read the books, but always wondered why there wasn’t just even one girl there, drawing up the map, setting up the tent, doing the rescuing.

Do you know of any books or movies where girls or women go on adventures or journeys, navigate, make big decisions, even fight if they have to? It doesn’t even have to be a kid’s book (Oh, and I know about the His Dark Materials trilogy – I liked it!).

so i’ve finished nanowrimo

nano_10_winnerIt’s a humble PNG image, but to me it’s the most exciting one I’ve seen in a very long time. Today I finished NaNoWriMo. I wrote a novel. I almost want to put an exclamation mark on the end of that last sentence, but I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. To me, my novel is just 28 little documents living in my computer and in my brain, nothing more.

I might have mentioned here that I’ve written two “novels” before, when I was a teenager, but they were short and awful and one basically ripped off The Outsiders (which I was obsessed with in Grade Eight). I don’t mention it to show off, but only to hopefully illustrate how different, how real, this novel feels. The other two will never see the light of day, but I put so much into this one. So much thought and consideration. And I even kind of fell in love with every single character and thought about them as I was falling asleep. This novel was hard and frustrating and exhilarating and fun. At first, I didn’t think much would come of it, but over the past few days I’ve decided I’m going to continue working on it in the following months, to make it into something that I hope people other than my mother will enjoy reading.

Mostly, it feels strange to be released from the constant, internet-tracked obligation to write at least 1,667 words a day. It feels strange that tomorrow, nobody will know how many words I’ve written, or if I’ve written anything at all. It feels strange to be able to work on other things. I had coffee with my friend Amy today, when I had 999 words to go, and was telling her about a short story I’d started in October, before NaNoWriMo. It feels like years ago that I was thinking of these three characters in this wee situation they were in. Oh my god, I just realized that I can go back to writing short stories, where 5,000 words is considered close to the limit. Will it be strange to write short stories again? Will I still love it? Will I write another novel, ever?

For now, I’m going to watch Walking Dead with my husband (who has supported me incredibly during this process and has always believed I could do it, even when I wanted to give up) and wash some of these dishes. Maybe I’ll write a novel about it when I’m done. ;)

good morning other world

If I can’t sleep, one thing I like to do is to look at webcams of cities where it has just turned morning. Sometimes nobody is out of bed and sometimes people are already having long chats outside in the dark. Sometimes the spaces look so eerie without people.

I always feel like I should preface this by saying “I’m not some weirdo,” but can it be weird to watch the world wake up in public spaces?

Anyway. Here are my favourites from last night/this morning.


I also enjoy these ones, from Dublin. I’ve been looking at this site forever, for years, I think! I used to dream of going there, to visit the Not to Worry! store.

in praise of vintage books

I finished this book on the way back from Montreal. It was the first time I’d ever read it (I know, I know). It was found in a laundromat by a family friend and given to my mother. Look at the gorgeous cover! Old book design is unmatched, in my opinion.

Old books are great, especially when they’ve been used by a student in a mixture of relevant class notes and future invention ideas.

I almost didn’t want to give this back to my mother when I returned from Montreal!