Scrapbook #2: Time


Too many consecutive late nights at the office over the past two weeks has made me preoccupied with time. Namely, not having time to write. How did people do it, I wondered: work and write? It was too hard to do it all! It wasn’t just hard; it was impossible.

(I know, cue tiny violins.)

A good night’s rest and a Saturday afternoon doing lovely weekend-y things has given me perspective. I’ve always done the working and writing thing; it’s something I can do. It’s just a matter of getting back into the habit again. Which means: back to Sundays at the kitchen table, back to printing pages out and reading them over at the foodcourt at lunch, back to typing on my laptop in bed on weekday nights, even just a little bit. Back to remembering that writing isn’t such a precious, precarious activity. Write like a motherfucker.

And I’ve found time to enjoy other things these days. Loudon Wainwright III’s Album I, the first season of Downton Abbey, Shame, Patrick DeWitt’s The Sisters Brothers. Today I saw photos from Taryn Simon’s series, An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar. It’s so great: “an inventory of what lies hidden and out-of-view within the borders of the United States” and includes portraits of inbred tigers, a braile version of Playboy, sunken nuclear waste and more. (If you don’t trust my opinion, maybe Salman Rushdie will convince you?) If you live in Montreal, you can see these photos for free at the DHC.

So there is time. It’s just a matter of organizing it.

Two things

I got some nice responses to my first Scrapbook entry of 2012, and I really appreciate it. Sometimes it’s funny having a blog and not knowing who’s out there, so it feels good to get little notes from the Internet world letting me know that there are real people out there reading these words. Thank you.

Two unrelated things:

1) Just wanted to point you in the direction of Carin Makuz’s blog, Matilda Magtree, where she was kind enough to interview me. Carin and I go back to the Humber days. Her site is worth keeping in your bookmarks – thoughtful and beautifully written with great photos as well. And she picks a perfectly appropriate meal to accompany my book.

2) When I was in Toronto over the holidays, I picked up a bunch of my old zines. I’m going to scan some of the less embarrassing pages for an experiment I’d like to do this year to teach myself the basics of e-publishing. In the spirit of the recently released Magnetic Fields song, here’s a sample of a page from melt the snow #5, created at the height of my Magnetic Fields fandom (click to get a larger image so that you can actually read the teeny tiny type).

Scrapbook #1: Marginalia.

I’m a sucker for marginalia, notes, scraps. I like reading acknowledgements, bibliographies, lists. I’ve always enjoyed the Culture Diary series at The Paris Review where writers chronicle various things consumed over a specific time frame. I try to keep records of this stuff myself because it’s helpful when I’m writing and in need of examples of whatever mood I want to conjure, but also because it’s a way to remember my own days – a diary by association. Then I realized I was kind of doing that with these scrapbook entries. So here’s to another year of them. In Jeanette Winterson’s memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, she says, I have noticed that doing the sensible thing is only a good idea when the decision is quite small. For the life-changing things, you must risk it. Good advice, Winterson. I’ll remind myself of this in 2012.


The first book I read in 2012 was I Married You For Happiness by Lily Tuck, over the course of New Year’s Day, and it was beautiful and sad. On New Year’s Eve we watched Hannah and her Sisters and also fireworks, which were across the city but the biggest, flashiest explosions could be seen from our balcony.


A set of 6 plates bought for $18 from an antique store in Burlington, Vermont, just the right size, with perfect scalloped edges and a pretty green design.

Went to the Musee d’Art Contemporain de Montreal to see the Quebec Triennial and was reminded of how modern art can make me cranky, bored, snarky and ecstatic within a short period of time. It’s exhausting. My favourite exhibit was called LOVELAND by Charles Stankievech, a video of a giant purple cloud of smoke in a big white room.

As of this afternoon: 3,519 draftiest of first drafty words of a new novel.