Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

SNIP SNIP, haircuts: The Third Day Book and Deepa Mehta's Heaven On Earth

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In the "Director's Comments" for the DVD of Ed Burn's Sundance Award winning first feature film, "Meet the Mc Morran's," Burns admits that because of budget restraints (he borrowed the money from his dad, used free actors, and came in under fifteen K) he had to pre-edit the movie.

SCARY; any of us addicted to film knows that editing is a very important componant. Artful snipping can make or break the suspension of disbelief that takes us into other worlds and then brings us safely back to our own.

Burns said he "visualised" the scenes before he shot them, and wasted no fim. That is almost unheard of.

I wish I could work that way. I am sure there are writers that get it right the first time, but I am not one of them.

As a writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, I find different genres present different challenges.

Non-fiction editing is pretty much about fact checking and chasing those typos. If Dennis Reid and Cathy Ford are successful in getting more money for writers, I am going to invest in a pair of real glasses instead of the readers I've been depending on.( I think I saw coiffure spelled cioffure in an earler blog). Please forgive me for posting the Ghaffer review in triplicate. I thought my computer wasn't sending.

A poem will very likely pop out in one sitting, and that is good for the music. I never let a poem of the leash without reading it out loud. Too many words on the good ship poetry can sink her. Hearing as well as seeing the poem is critical.

Because I am a poet,and less is more in a poem, I am inclined to let my garrulous inner beast out to chatter when I write fiction. In other words I write like I talk, incessantly, my husband would say, but he should talk. I tend to wander, digress, let the lateral brain take over. In movies, this can work because there is living image and sound to fool around with.

If we were to compare writing with filmmaking, I would say I was in the Altman school. That is, stream of consciousness impressionism with many sidebars.

No no no, my editor says. Snip snip snip. The only direction is forward.

Today we went to see Deepa Mehta's new film about abuse of Indo-Canadian wives. It is harrowing. Even as we left the theatre, people were saying. "Wasn't the editing amazing." In the disturbing narrative, Mehta's bride bifurcates dream and reality, her only defence against the tyranny of a dislocated family. Her dream reality is an Indian folk tale, which brings redemption.

We have been Mehta fans since Sam and Me, was it twenty years ago? In the late nineties, we met the director at the Victoria film festival and she agreed to be interviewed for my book The Broad Canvas, Portraits of Canadian Women Artists. Sadly, she became ill and had to be hospitalised, then went directly to India to shoot the temporarily ill-fated Water, her moving narrative about Indian widows. I have interviewed hundreds of artists and she is the one who got away. Darn.

There is so much to be learned from Mehta's films, about character, culture, artistry and, yes, editing.

I am about to get the final edit for The Third Day Book, which I have already changed from the first to the third person and put in chronological order instead of relying on the protagonists memory (flashbacks).

"Don't be alarmed by the blue pencil with exclamation marks," my editor said. Oh golly.

The funny thing is, this edit won't be as hard as it looks. I thank the people who invented PC's for that. Snipping is much easier for us than it was for our literary antecedents. Can you imagine? No wonder they had amanuenses.

Snip! My editor has this is in common with my hairdresser, who once said."If you don't top walking around with your head down, talking to imaginary people and ruining the line of my cut,I am firing you."

Look up!Go forward! It's all a matter of posture.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Linda Rogers

Linda Rogers is the author of the novels Say My Name (Ekstasis Editions, 2000), Friday Water (Cormorant Books, 2003) and The Empress Letters (Cormorant Books, 2007). She has also published several collections of poetry, including Love in the Rainforest (Exile Editions, 1996), Heaven Cake (Sono Nis Press, 1997), The Saning (Sono Nis Press, 1999) and The Bursting Test (Guernica Editions, 2002).

Go to Linda Rogers’s Author Page