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Great Canadian Books about Writing
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Great Canadian Books about Writing

By Angie Abdou
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Must-reads for anyone interested in pursuing the writing life.
Workbook

Workbook

Memos & Dispatches On Writing
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

A fresh and provocative picture of what it means to create literature, this collection of Steven Heighton’s notes to himself as he writes peeks into the mind of an acclaimed author. The short pieces reveal Heighton’s pointed, cutting take on his own work and materialize the musings and meditations that come to him as he scribbles. Offering new perspectives and insights into the creative process, this wholly original book shows what lies outside the pages of the bestsellers written by this Ca …

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Excerpt

I am not bored at the moment, though it might be better if I were. Boredom might mean I was lagging and loafing my way slowly toward a fresh jag of creative work, creative excitement—a poem, a story, the opening lines of a novel, lines that might lead anywhere, into the expectant offing, off the edge of the storyboard into a sandbox as vast as the Sahara. (I chose writing because I saw no reason that adults should ever cease to play.) Instead I‘m expending another day as a compliant, efficient functionary—earnest secretary to my own little career. (If you’ll excuse me, another email just blipped into view. I’m going to have to click and skim over, so I can glean that small, fleeting fix of satisfaction that comes from purging the inbox. A sense of accomplishment!—the ensuing narcotic calm!—that deeply licit, Lutheran drug our time–ridden culture starts pushing on us in kindergarten, or even sooner.)

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I’m afraid that boredom, at least of a certain kind, may be disappearing from the world. And this potential truancy has me worried, partly for the sake of my daughter and her generation, but also—how unsurprising—for myself. Myself and other writers. I mean, the minute I get bored now I check my email. There’s often something new there—maybe something rewarding, a note from a friend, some news from my publisher. And if there’s nothing there, there’s the internet. For almost all of my writer friends it’s the same: like me, they constantly, casually lateralize into the digital realm. Some of them also have cable TV (I don’t), so if email, YouTube and other web excursions fail to gratify, they can surf a tsunami of channels. Or else play video games. Whatever. The issue here is screen media. The issue is that staring into space—in that musing, semi–bored state that can precede or help produce creative activity—is impossible when you keep interposing a screen between your seeing mind and the space beyond. The idea is to stare at nothing—to let nothingness permeate your field of vision, so the externally unstimulated mind revs down, begins to brood and muse and dream.

What a live screen presents is the opposite of nothing. The info and interactivity it proffers can be vital, instructive, entertaining, usefully subversive and other good things, but they also keep the mind in a state of hyperstimulation. All the neurological and anecdotal evidence backs up this claim.

The twenty–first century brain may be verging on the neural equivalent of adrenal collapse.

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Just as an hour of boredom—of being at loose ends and staring into space—can serve as precursor to a child’s next spate of creative work/play ("work, " I write, because a young child’s profession is to play), so an adult’s month of brooding can open into a year of purposeful creativity.

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Boredom is the laboratory where new enthusiasms ready themselves, beakers and test tubes bubbling quietly over Bunsen flames no larger than pilot lights, spectral figures in lab coats moving among them, speaking in hushed voices. Not one of these figures has the bored dreamer’s own face—the face the dreamer wears during the day.

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A Passion for Narrative

A Passion for Narrative

A Guide to Writing Fiction - Revised Edition
edition:Paperback

This book is not intended to persuade you to take up writing novels or short stories – “It’s going to be a lot of work,” Jack Hodgins warns. Nor will it tell you how to market your stories. But it will take you through the problems facing any fiction writer and show you how some of the best writers in English have solved them.

The chapters are clear and comprehensive: Finding Your Own Stories; One Good Sentence After Another – on the skills of writing well; Setting; Character – how to …

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Poets Talk

Poets Talk

Conversations with Robert Kroetsch, Daphne Marlatt, Erin Mouré, Dionne Brand, Marie Annharte Baker, Jeff Derksen, and Fred Wah
edition:Paperback
tagged : poetry

Seven poets of diverse region, gender, sexual orientation, race, and generation. Seven poets linked by experiment and opposition. Robert Kroetsch discusses postmodernism's history, Fred Wah talks about ethnic hybridity, and Dionne Brand muses on postcolonial struggle and community. Erin Mouré encourages "excessiveness" while Daphne Marlatt speaks of "salvaging". On writing, poetics, and culture, Marie Annharte Baker and Jeff Derksen share their personal perspectives and experiences. Poets Talk …

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