Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

smfowles's blog

Self Care, Or Being More Honest About How Awful It Can Be

A few days ago, a friend joked with me on Twitter that the words “SELF CARE” would make fantastic knuckle tattoos. I may have actually considered the idea for a second. (But I promise, just for a second.)

Missing and Not Missing Fiction

It occurred to me the other day that Infidelity is the last piece of fiction I’ve written. There hasn’t really been anything since. I mean, I know that seems obvious, but I actually “finished” the novel years ago, the mechanisms of publishing so excruciatingly slow, an exercise in patience that refuses to offer any quick and easy gratification. I haven’t started a novel or tinkered with a short story or even scrawled down some ideas since I finished a draft for submission. That moment of completion while stowed away at the Banff Centre during an unusually cold September in 2010 seems so far away now.

Recommended Reading: Comic Book Writer Matt Fraction on Depression

Last week, writer Natalie Zed graciously pointed me in the direction of this piece and it has been on my mind ever since. In it Eisner Award-winning comic book writer Matt Fraction magnificently responds to a difficult question from a reader about suicide and depression.

“Can't there be someone out there who genuinely is tired and doesn't want to continue?”

Fraction’s response is amazingly candid—not the usual shallow self help platitudes about how there’s “so much to live for” or “how it can’t be that bad,” but instead an encouragement to hold close to one small, seemingly absurd thing, and to summon a feeling to care about its outcome.


Noah had recently begun writing numbers on the backs of things with a blue ballpoint pen.

It had started with paper—receipts, coupons, five-dollar bills that he would find on countertops and in drawers.

The numbers always seemed random, pointless, meaningless. The doctor told Tamara and Charlie to expect randomness in his behaviour, that it was nothing to worry about. It was normal, or rather normal for abnormal.

Success As A Moving Target

I always wanted to be a writer. There’s a part of me that hates saying that, because it feels cliché, like I’m trying to prove my right to be here—perhaps to myself, perhaps to other people. In fact, I recently saw an online interview with an author who said the very same, and I wanted to punch the answer through the screen. Thing is, writing can be such a painful, ridiculous and unprofitable pursuit, rife with rejection and discouragement, that it actually makes sense we’d have these kinds of stock phrases, systems and mechanisms for proving it’s a good idea.

“So, where did the idea for the novel come from?”

"I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means.”
-Joan Didion

One of the most common questions that gets tossed around when someone puts out a book is “So, where did the idea for the novel come from?” Genesis seems to be an important narrative for people—the need for it to be explained showing up in so many interviews and Q&As, and most writers having lovely, well-rehearsed answers about their impetus and their inspiration, their plans and process in the initial stages.

Me? I have no idea. None.

Write Every Day, and other lies

I read from Infidelity for the first time at Word on the Street at the end of September this year. After I was done, I sat down at the signing table, and a girl—about eleven or twelve years old—came up to me and asked if she could interview me about “being a writer” for a class assignment. She was nervous yet professional, with a small spiral bound notebook in which she scrawled my answers furiously.

After we had gone through a few of her questions, my practiced responses coming easily, she asked, “What do you do when you can’t write? When you’re blocked?”

The Long Dark: Saying Goodbye to Baseball

Most people crave autumn, but August’s finale guts me. Always the heartbreaking close of summer, no matter the weather, always the beginning of the end of baseball season, which is the beginning of the long dark.
-Holly Wendt

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