Friday, April 27, 2012

I'm sorry, Internet.

>> Internet: >: |

>> Emily: Oh, it's you, Internet. Um. Hi.

>> Internet: >: |

>> Emily: Okay, okay. So I missed my own self-imposed Wednesday blogging deadline. So what?

>> Internet: :(

>> Emily: Oh wow. I had no idea you cared so much, Internet. Listen, I'm sorry I let you down. But I have a good excuse.

>> Internet: :|

>> Emily: I just got a new job. A full-time job. And it pays a liveable wage!

>> Internet: :)

>> Emily: Thanks, Internet. I'm happy about it, too.

>> Internet: :o

>> Emily: Pardon? Internet, can you speak up?

>> Internet: :0

>> Emily: What's inspiring me lately, writing-wise? Funny you should ask, Internet! I actually went to a writing workshop last weekend run by a brand new writing school called 52 Riverdale. It was held at this beautiful home in Toronto, not some soulless seminar hall, and the group was small so everyone got personal attention from the instructors. And the instructors! Internet, you would love them. My fellow writers were lovely, too, and it was so energizing to be there with them, which was a nice surprise. I mean, Internet, you know as well as I do that a room full of literary-type people can either be a boom or a bust.

>> Internet: ;)

>> Emily: Oh, Internet. Not that kind of a bust. You're terrible!

>> Internet: :)

>> Emily: Anyways, like I was saying, the workshop was wonderful. It re-energized me, which is just what I needed at this stage of my second novel. I felt really stimulated and challenged, and everyone was very supportive of one another. Did you know I was writing my second novel, Internet?

>> Internet: | - 0

>> Emily: Oh, I'm boring you am I? Fine. I've had enough of you too.

>> Internet: * \ 0 / *

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Murakami's motto and the Devil's drink

This week, I'm taking inspiration from Haruki Murakami's surprisingly good mini memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I write "surprising" because I'm (gasp!) not a huge Murakami fan and because the book is about something that I used to love to do but can't do anymore: Running. (Duh.)

For whatever reason, though, I truly enjoyed reading this little book. It wasn't about much and yet it left me feeling so very much. Happiness, sadness, surprise, nostalgia, love, peace. I was smiling and nodding my head the entire time I was reading, and what I took away from What I Talk About was perhaps the most important inspirational realization that I've had so far: To be a good writer, one must also be in good health.

"Healthy" is often the last adjective used to describe writers. Instead "heavy drinker", "chain-smoker", "drug user" and "syphilis-stippled sex addict" are more often tied to the lives of artists. But since many of my favourites succumbed to those sins in the most terminal of ways, I've decided to join Murakami's team instead. Here's what he wrote in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running that I wholeheartedly connected with:

"Basically I agree with the view that writing novels is an unhealthy type of work. When we set off to write a novel, when we use writing to cre­ate a story, like it or not a kind of toxin that lies deep down in all humanity rises to the sur­face. All writers have to come face-to-face with this toxin and, aware of the danger involved, discover a way to deal with it, because otherwise no creative activity in the real sense can take place…. To deal with some­thing unhealthy, a person needs to be as healthy as possible. That’s my motto. In other words, an unhealthy soul requires a healthy body. This might sound paradoxical, but it’s something I’ve felt very keenly ever since I became a professional writer. The healthy and the unhealthy are not necessarily at opposite ends of the spectrum. They don’t stand in opposition to each other, but rather complement each other, and in some cases even band together."

To be clear, I've always lived a fairly healthy lifestyle: an early rising, early-to-bed, "extra broccoli please" kind of girl. Lately, though, I've been slacking off and getting lazy, especially when it comes to food. So, since I can't run like Murakami because of my crap leg, I've decided to clean up my diet. As a vegan, I'm already doing okay, but I do have a "love-love-love-little bit of hate" relationship with sugar (in the form of candy and cereal) and caffeine (in the form of diet pop and coffee). I've been weaning myself off these things this week and, in their places, added this concoction:
It's called Chlorella. It's algae in powder form (mixed with juice and water here) and is supposed to be the healthiest "food" on the planet. Ugh. Whatever. If it was on fire, Chlorella would taste exactly like hell. No, really. It's that bad. It's green as a newborn's diaper and brings to mind the flavour of a well-fertilized soccer field. Since the photo above does not do the nastiness of this "food" justice, I offer you one that does:

So that's me and my Chlorella. What's inspiring you this week? Also, what do you think about Murakami's motto and do you agree with him when he says that writing novels is essentially unhealthy?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Inspiration Part Two: Jonny G. gets freaky

A popular topic with many writers in the blogosphere is music: If they listen to it when they write and, if so, what music they listen to. Personally, I can only listen to music when I'm in brainstorming or big-picture editing mode. In fact, I make a point to listen to it because I find music quite helpful when I'm trying to get my gears spinning in a certain direction. But when I'm actually hard-core writing or editing, lyrics and soaring guitar riffs are just too distracting. (Same goes for keytar riffs, but those are harder to come by.) 

I've recently stumbled upon a piece of classical music written by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead fame. Oh how those thumb-sucker teeth and beclouding bangs used to drive me wild! Guitar aside (which he plays like a cello from time to time), Jonny is also known to rock out on the harmonica, banjo and whatever the hell the glockenspiel and ondes Martenot are. And I swear, I swear that at a concert back in the mid 2000s, the man was making sweet, sweet love to a computer. Sigh. 

Um, where was I?

Oh yes. If you know classical music at all, then you'll probably recognize Penderecki in this song. Since I know nothing about classical music, all I recognize is the literary imagery for book #2 that this brain-spinning piece uploads into my skull. More specifically, scenes of a sprawling underground world that'll make for one heck of a good read.

So thank you Jonny G. and Mr. Penderecki. You two whacked-out dudes inspired my writing this week.

For more of Jonny, check out his new album here or, for some older stuff, watch the brilliant film There Will Be Blood. The music that gave you nightmares back in 2007? The stuff that sounded like violin-on-violin violence? Yeah, that was Jonny.

So that's me. What's inspiring you these days?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

WTF is that flat, circular duck thing anyways?

Since the middle of the week is kind of "blah," I've decided to turn it into something "rah rah!" by making Wednesdays all about literary inspiration. Each Hump Day, I'll be posting a photo or a link to a story or a song that I find creatively stimulating. For this week's entry, I give you:

The freakiest house in all of Toronto. 

My good friend Mel lives nearby and every time I pass this place I worry about Mel's safety. I worry that the dolls and the Santa Clauses that have been nailed to every available surface will come to life one day, pry themselves free with doll-sized crowbars and prowl the neighbourhood for souls. 

I also worry about the people who live inside this home. I mean, if this is what they want us to see, can you imagine what they could be hiding? Oh God. Like what's in the attic or the crawl space? Or rather, who's in the attic or crawl space? Maybe Jimmy Hoffa or Amelia Earhart. Or that guy I had a crush on back in 1999 who never returned my calls.

So that's me. What's inspiring you today?