Mis-guided

A late night rant, that’s what this is. Rant against evil guiding hand. It’s the one thing that drives me bat-shit loony when I see it in published work.

I recently read a local, award-winning novel and was constantly slapped by its guiding hand. Here, let me explain what I’ve just shown you, and in case you didn’t know how to feel, let me explain that too. It’s all innocently done, the reading equivalent of a pat on the back. The book leads to a climactic scene, the author has set it up quite nicely, we’ve inferred what may very well happen next, but hey now let’s have the narrator tell you everything you’ve inferred.

Grrr and shame on the editor who skipped alongside, hand in guiding hand.

Lee, reaching for a New Directions, or a Dalkey Archive to numb the stinging.

Apply yourself, young man

I sent off an application to the Canada Council yesterday, a day before their creation grant deadline. This is my fifth time applying, with my first and the last three having been rejected. Last time it stung; I desperately needed the funds, which is the story of the past year.

Perhaps the story of my life.

But I did succeed once and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I’d been living in a house for sale for eight months, paying minimal ‘rent’ and living off donated food and biking everywhere. I was lean, making music for the first time in years, and writing. I’d even let my hair grow. A few months earlier I’d started developing, on a whim, an idea I dreamed up in France in 2003 (where I wrote the first page). Man in hell, talking fish as guide. Silly idea, but the characters worked and then something started to happen as I wrote chapter after chapter. When I sent the application in I was confident.

Months later, when the results were being announced, a friend called and said she was rejected, that all the rejections were in the mail today. So I called my mother, whose address I’d used, talked to my sister and asked if I had mail. I did. Crap. Canada Council, she said. Doublecrap. I wasn’t about to bike across town to get bad news so I said open it, save me the trouble. But she read “Dear Lee Thompson were are pleased to announce…” and I laughed, laughed and nearly cried.

The day prior the house had been sold and I, penniless, given less than a week to vacate.

I moved here, this neighborhood of kidnappings, where I’ve been for the past 7.5 years. A better ending would have the novel being published, but after a flirtation by Anansi, who admired it, it was then ridiculed by Gaspereau (‘from funny to inane in a hurry’), pondered by Coach House (‘wish we could publish everything we like’) and then accepted by Crossing Chaos, but then they more or less ceased operations. So.

So yes, yesterday another application sent. And even if nothing comes of it (I have a good feeling, though?), it led to me creating a new project out of a long story I’d written for another collection but which didn’t fit that collection well. I then drafted five new stories for the synopsis. Ideas I’d had floating around. Today, regardless of Canada Council decisions, I have an exciting collection in the works and for a writer that feels great. It’s like food in the fridge.

Speaking of which, next entry I’ll write more about the granting system.

Short Fiction at Numero Cinq!

It’s up now:

http://numerocinqmagazine.com/2014/08/09/a-serpent-fiction-lee-d-thompson/

It’s only the second time I’ve had a story published online, because I rarely (only twice) submit to online journals. Can’t be denied though the readership is there, waiting, growing, and the story should be available for years to come.

Thanks to NC editor Douglas Glover for liking this story. Loopy, I think, was one of the words he used to describe it.

Fascinating, too, that it’s published on the birthday of the ex girlfriend who inspired Chiara.

Loopy, even.

Numero Cinq Preview

Douglas Glover’s online oasis Numero Cinq will be publishing a story of mine in the upcoming August issue. I am thrilled. It’s a fine group of people to be with and “A Serpent” is one of my favourite stories (finished last year after returning from a vacation in Elba).

“… Lee D. Thompson pens a strange and charming story —”A Serpent” — about difficult love and a sea monster.”

http://numerocinqmagazine.com/2014/07/27/carved-in-stone-the-august-issue-preview/

This makes me feel writerly again. Banff did that too, but what a mess of work and other issues I’ve had since returning.

Must get a collection in print.

Where thanks is due

I’ve been home for three weeks now, editing work that I was contracted to do before leaving for Banff and St. John’s. One must pay the bills and sometimes the work is fascinating, as is the editing process. It does turn a sharper eye toward my own work as well.  While in St. John’s, realizing (read worrying) that I was heading home with hardly a cent to my name, I received good news: the provincial arts board had, after all, awarded me a grant for Banff. Why? Unused funds and the fact that the grant had been recommended by the jury the first time through.

So. Great news. Not sure how I would have taken the news, however, had I cancelled Banff. I would have declined the grant, of course. But as it is, after having spent two weeks  raising funds through Indiegogo, and being unable to work for the five weeks between Banff and St. John’s, I was broke, and it saved my bacon.

Over 40 people funded my trip to Banff, funds that not only covered immediate expenses in Banff, but left my lights on and rent paid back home. Thank you. That was humbling.

And thank you artsnb.

Banff: Three

I could spend my days taking in the sights here, and by that I mean taking them into my camera. There was discussion yesterday about the camera robbing one of the experience of seeing (tourists flocking to a sunrise, 2000 cameras out), but I felt that wasn’t fair, at least not to all who wander with camera. A counter argument was made that the camera asks you to see, to stop and frame and focus. I agree with the latter, of course.

Bow River

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am here to write.  Do the images (does the landscape) help my writing?  Quite likely, but this isn’t an essay on seeing. Below this window is a story waiting words.  I did wonder, during yesterday’s discussion, what taking photographs and my desire to write have in common, what thing am I trying to achieve/attain/accomplish with each.  I like the ooh and the aah factor. A deeper part of me says, quietly, something about illuminating the nature of being. See the here while we’re here and see it in new ways.

DSC06660

 

 

 

 

 

 

One week left to take more pictures and try to write.  Photos are easier. Talking about writing, art, philosophy is easier. I’ve edited “One for the Master” (sheep novel), made minor changes throughout, and have passed it along to Dionne Brand. I will read from it on the 20th.

Banff Springs Hotel

Banff, Two

At Banff I’ve been going over my sheep novel with Tamas Dobozy and this has been fruitful. The goal is to retain the spirit but to transfer the soul. Actually, the goal is to make it a little more reader friendly. Meanwhile, it is raining in the pines and snow is on the way (falling on cedars, right?).

Banff as seen from on high.

Banff from Tunnel Mountain.

Shuffling off to Banffalo

Yes, I am, in 36 hours, and how quickly I’m realizing four weeks is little time to work on anything.   The blog should blossom, and Galleon should see wind in its sails during that time. But I’ve plenty to work on:

The Slow Loris story – a long story, a work in progress.

My sheep novel, for which I’m there for (which forever needs a tweak or two).

My fish novel, the Council-funded once-contracted weirdo that needs to be in print years ago.

Multiple wanting short fictions, near misses that would raise the collection from damn to dayumn.

And a first foray into my northern novel, which exists in short form.

 

Meanwhile, I’ve had a story (A Serpent) accepted by Douglas Glover for his fine online venture Numero Cinq (which has published several of my favourite authors, including Joseph McElroy) and looming publication in an anthology to be released later this year.

More soon, mountain time.

Indiegogo west, young man

Banff, the great artists’ colony of Banff is calling. I was accepted to the Writing Studio in January and hey what a thrill that was. A month to write? And when not writing to take photos or write songs? Hello?  And all that was swimming along perfectly until my first request from artsnb was turned down despite the jury recommending funding. Around that time the Canada Council supplied just enough cash for a return ticket. Great! So I tried the arts board one last time, thinking surely if it was recommended the first time… but no.  Thanks, guys. And now I have less than a month, a ticket purchased, and $2000 to raise.

Here’s the indiegogo link:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/banff-writing-studio-residency/x/6515282