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:

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.”

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.

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.








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.

Boulardarie Island Press

I’m pleased to be added to the editing roster of Boulardarie Island Press. The press, run by author Douglas Arthur Brown, falls into that evolving area between traditional publishing and self publishing, and could be described as “assisted, professional-quality self publishing” offering e-book conversion, editorial services, printing services, promotional advice. The preference is to work with authors who have already had a trade publication. Some of those authors, like myself, tire of waiting for the second or third book to be picked up, or have seen little financial benefit in traditional publishing.

The Boulardarie Island Press editing roster (drum roll… er, link roll….):

On not-plotting

I have begun a new piece of short fiction that’s an exaggeration of what I taught recently: don’t overplot, sketch out your story loosely, invent. In my notes for this story, of which there are only five small points and one name, I wrote “needs to take surprising turns, write blindly”.  It takes a while to get to this point in story writing, though. It takes a while to trust your voice, your creative process. I have only the vaguest of ideas where this story is headed, but I’m excited to write it.  Were I to plot it, develop every nuance of the characters, I would not write it. In my mind, I guess, creation is superior to construction. Were I to build a house it would be a meandering maze of surprising spaces. This is why I love such oddball works as The Journal of Albion Moonlight, Maldoror, Tristram Shandy.

If this new story works out, it’ll be – I swear- the final piece in my collection. It might not work out, but that’s part of the risk and I’d rather, as Melville says, fail in originality than succeed in imitation.


My mind, a list

Like  a boat in bad seize, perhaps. Upon waking, we:

Worry about bills. Since leaving a job I held for five years which paid the bills but did not allow me to save much (nor afford the time to do extra work) (and what little I saved stayed in Elba, though I was never really able ere), I have been freelancing, sort of, mostly editing.  300,000 words of it.  I have also sold fiction, accumulated per diems, ran a workshop and done minor web work and proofing. Work for a communications company looms. I’m organizing an event, as well.

Ponder fiction new and old. My most recently written novel is with an agent who was recommended by a publisher who was alerted by a writer friend who took a liking at a reading. The agent is also waiting for an earlier manuscript which I need to clean up. I ear the agent throws great parties. The story collection has been alerted to imminent excursion. Then there’s the arctic novel, the dam novel, the ghost story and the slow loris story, all to be written. The first one scares me, the last one excites me.

Think about Banff. Think about Banff means worry about funding, which is not in my hands. Fate is like a ball thrown back and forth between strangers in lightless room.  Two months.

Think about songs. If you do not write them they will not come. Lyrics are truculent little trolls. I hate them.

This is not really a list, is it? It’s a capsizing.

Think about reviving Galleon, the boat that floated but has been drydocked for years. This region needs another journal like it needs a hole in its bulkhead. That’s not true; I’m just stuck in this metaphor with you.

Think about starting a small press. Why why why why?

Think about not wasting time in the morning, such as…

What’s fierce, short and downloadable?

20726769Thought I meant ‘me’ until you saw the download part, didn’t you? Today sees the publication of my e-book/story “Diary of a Fluky Kid.” When I was approached by Fierce Ink’s Colleen McKie about writing one of these (this is the 18th Fierce Short they’ve released) I didn’t have to think too hard, since I’d already been considering a story for them. The real challenge was to produce something not just readable, but good during a hectic time (xmas, snowstorms, trying to earn a living freelancing). Thanks to my writer friends for the feedback (Beth Janzen, Kerry-Lee Powell, Jeff Bursey, Elizabeth Blanchard, Andre Touchburn) and to Colleen and Kimberly Walsh at Fierce Ink.

For more on the story, what it’s all about and of course to download it, see this link: