On Writing and Reading in 2011

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2011 is coming to a close, and I’m in year-in-review mode. 2011 was a quiet year, a foundational one, I think, but I’m ready to launch into 2012 and leave this one behind.

My only writing-related goal was to work on my novel, and I did a lot of that. But how exactly do you measure whether or not it’s been a good or bad year for your own writing? I didn’t publish anything new (just a reprint of an older story). I wrote a lot, although it was front-loaded; I’ve barely written anything in the past two months. But, I did work hard in the first half of 2011 – Sunday afternoons at the kitchen table, typing and rereading and marking up drafts. It was satisfying and I’ve been missing that feeling and am looking forward to establishing a routine like that in the new year. And I had so many other great writing-related experiences: the QWF Mentorship, some fun readings, an evening at the Danuta Gleed awards. I’m happy to be represented by the HSW Literary Agency, which is something I didn’t think was possible a year ago. 2011, you weren’t so bad!

My favourite things I read were Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It by Geoff Dyer (or any of his books, really), The Keep by Jennifer Egan, 8 by Amy Fusselman (why didn’t I write about this book here? It was amazing), The Chairs Are Where the People Go by Sheila Heti and Misha Glouberman, all those issues of The New Yorker that I read in the food court at lunch time, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, It Chooses You by Miranda July, The Wife by Meg Wolitzer. And all of that Laurie Colwin. Sigh.

I was also inspired by so many of my friends this year. Lesley published her first book of poetry and started making serious headway on a non-fiction book. Samantha let me read the first draft of her novel, and I’m excited for the rest of the world to read her words. Soraya, late in the year, decided to get started on a memoir and has blown me away with how dedicated and productive she’s been, even if she doesn’t realize it herself. Leesa started getting published all over the place and knows exactly when to send me stories of hers that break my heart in the best way. Liz and Laura wrote a book about the Beatles and then published some of the essays as zines that are just… mind-blowing. I read one of Darcie’s new stories and it made me cry. Lindsey finished her MFA thesis! Kat always had wise words about the writing process, and Esme wasn’t afraid to let us into the hard parts. I am grateful for these ladies, to witness people I know slogging it out with words and not giving up and supporting each other.

Scrapbook #23: A good weekend.

Some weekends are better than others, and the one that just passed was one of them. It started with a night at an arena watching some favourite bands. It was the kind of show where, at the end of the night, they cut the mics and the entire arena sings along to the last song. Like this:

And then there was some baking. Crack Pie and a Red Velvet cake. These were then brought to a Christmas party in the evening and devoured by 10 of us. Everyone contributed something to the meal, so there was rack of lamb and two kinds of potatoes and roasted beets and smoked salmon and cheese and wine. Some fruit too, for good measure.

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There was a good brunch that involved breakfast sandwiches with two types of sausages and perfectly fried eggs and hash browns made with fingerling potatoes. And coffee:

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It was somebody’s birthday. (Hint: not mine.)

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There was a little bit of decorating for Christmas, the kind where you don’t really have room for a tree, and you won’t be there on Christmas Day anyway, but at least you can stick some branches with red berries in a vase to make your home feel more festive:

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And then, after all of that, there was a Christmas concert, but not just any Christmas concert, one put on by the Wainwright-McGarrigles where they sang Christmas songs and quasi-Christmas songs and ended the night with a group sing along to Silent Night.

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December! You are always a good month.