Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Candlelight and Waffles

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I am sitting by a candle at my kitchen table at 5:00 in the morning. I've lit the candle and sat at the table, already aware that before I sat down to write this, my first line would be about sitting at my table, by a candle, at 5 in the morning.

I've been wrestling a lot with consciousness these days.

Tonight I sat with a close friend at Addis Ababa on Queen Street. He told me that when in the company of others, he often finds himself getting overly-conscious of his interaction, and only while alone can he relax into something more lucid. I told him that I was the exact opposite, as I am in fact a very social animal, and my more lucid states seems to happen amidst the company of a good conversation. Consciousness begins to loom mostly in the wake of 5 a.m. insomnia-filled nights. I suppose this is why I can SOMETIMES get some writing done at night. Not that I'm doing much writing these days. Mostly just thinking. And I sometimes wonder when too much thinking gets in the way of writing. Is that what writer's block is?

I am an undisciplined writer. I am not naturally drawn to sit at my computer and write. It is always a painful process, where I find myself wishing to be in the company of someone else. Which is also why I seem to get a lot of good writing done in coffee shops. In the company of other people.

Or perhaps the truth is that writing makes me feel lonely. Or reminds me that I am alone. Which is not true, really, at all, and so I wonder where these ideas stem from. In the day-time, in coffee shops, I am, physically, not alone. And so, then do I feel like I can write. Do I? No. I play on facebook. Or maybe the truth is that we are, in fact, alone, and writing, or art-making in general (facebook), happens because of loneliness. I know some writers who feel their most happy when they are writing. I wonder why that is too.

I've hit exhaustion now, but I'm still writing. I'm not sure that anything I'm saying actually makes sense, but it feels ultimately more satisfying to air these thoughts of loneliness in a place where I know someone will be reading them, which, in turn, makes me also believe that I am not alone. And so maybe, the next question is whether or not writing and art happens because of our need to share and communicate to others that we do exist, and, in turn, make us feel less lonely.

Or maybe this answer can only be answered by the individual.

The recognition of the absence of universals is sometimes breathtakingly painful, and at other times profoundly comforting.

But I digress from my digression.

Tomorrow begins Performance Creation Canada. It happens twice a year, and is usually connected to a performance event. This year it is the Images Festival, which, I humbly admit, I have never before attended. This year that will change. I have also never attended Performance Creation Canada.

Performance Creation Canada? What is this that you speak of, dear Michael? Well, let me tell you. Please enjoy the following CUT and PASTE from the PCC Website:

Performance Creation Canada (PCC) is a nationwide network dedicated to the nourishment, management and study of performance creation in Canada, and the ecology in which it flourishes. The meeting is aimed at creating a discussion between artists in dance, theatre, music, film, and visual arts who are interested in the well being of Canadian performance creation. The conference is designed to open conversation, and open minds.

Okay. So, its a mini-conference. There are events tomorrow, including a Keynote speech from Jillian Mcdonald, who I know very little about, but am excited to tell you more when I learn. Also, there are a few panels, one that I have curated called "What Has Changed". It asks the question of the role of the artist in relationship to the major changes of the world. If it sounds like a broad question, it is. The goal, or, more specifically, the hope of the panel is that there is somehow an entry into the more existential question of what the hell an artist is. We all know what Stephen Harper has to say about Artists and Regular Canadians. So, if Artists are not Regular Canadians, what are we?

There are also a series of other performances, and tomorrow morning is a WAFFLE BREAKFAST. Ahhh. Waffles. It seems that I may not be making the Waffle Breakfast, as its now 5:15 am, and I have not yet slept.

How often do people actually get to eat waffles though? They seem so indulgent. I always want to order the waffle breakfast, but there's that little voice in my head that keeps telling me that "waffles are a desert, not a breakfast, Michael". When did waffles become a breakfast meal anyways?

Wow. I'm really falling off the intelligent wagon here.

If I were to write a personal blog, it would probably be something like this--though perhaps more stress on irrational thought, and less pondering on conferences and attempts at intelligent thought about writing and, I suspect, theatre.

Alright. There is blog number two. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the first bit of irrationality, as I clearly have no clear ones of my own.

But, like in my previous post, I will simply argue that clear conclusions makes for uninteresting writing.



I don't know if this is the place to post about the "is writing lonely" post from Twitter. It is extremely hard to admit something so personal, to admit that you're lonely is perhaps almost as taboo as admitting you're an alcoholic or that you sniff women's underwear -- it's just not said, nonetheless, I decided, at least for a nano-second (is this a real term?)to admit that writing, and pretty much everything else I do during the day, is isolating and lonely. I feel like I live life in a grain cylo where nobody can see or hear me. Yet, I can' help but say that it is at times very comforting and empowering because in a sense I am watching over myself, something I didn't have as a child or much of my adolescence. (I'm actually smiling as I write this). So, there I said it, whew!

Have a nice day,

Why is it so difficult to admit to loneliness? I agree that it is. I'm not sure I would tell someone to their face that I was feeling lonely. But, we all do, don't we? Sometimes I wonder if all constructs in the world are simply an antidote to loneliness.

Your response was great. Thanks.

How strange...
Scrolling back through a sea of Tweets, I was directed here, and invited to comment on loneliness and writing. I actually met you while basking in the beautiful company of our mutual friend Lenni this past weekend. And here you are, again.

This year has been revolutionary for me, and the kindling for the fire has been rediscovering the written word as a means of self-expression. Loneliness has been a companion for most of my life, in some capacity. Whether it was because I "spoke funny and used big words" on the playground, or because I see the world just a little bit differently than the other kids, I've always felt just a little outside the circle. This is something I've come to embrace. I started what is most certainly a very self-indulgent blog last April before my maiden voyage to Paris. What was initially a travel journal has grown into a regular place for me to vent, muse, and just doodle about how I see the world around me. The most beautiful part of all of this is that I frequently get comments from both friends and strangers thanking me for expressing things they have also felt. So, this tool in working through my loneliness has become a means of relating to strangers, and uniting us in the articulation of common experience. Not so lonely at all, really.

Just like bumping into the same person two or three times both in a giant city, and in the vast universe of the Internet. Hmmm....



Regular or not, I love your post. Very refreshing. Thank you Michael.


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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Michael Rubenfeld

Michael Rubenfeld is a writer, director, actor and producer. His plays include Present Tense, Spain and My Fellow Creatures.

Go to Michael Rubenfeld’s Author Page