What I’m Writing & Reading

Writing

Flat

Above is my working title for my latest short horror story set in Saskatchewan.  It will capitalize on one of the criticisms leveled against my beloved province: that it is flat and boring.  This flatness and boringness will be used, to great effect, I hope, to dispatch a couple of unhappy protagonists!

A song for Dorion

Recently, a friend of mine was attacked as she walked down the street.  She turned the tables on her attacker with her mad judo skillz, knocked him over, and captured him until the cops arrived.  She says she’s okay.

I have heard the phrase “toxic manhood” a lot recently, and I think it’s a very apt term.  I hate that women have to constantly assess their safety when they are alone with a man.

What can I, a lone troubadour, do to help this situation?  I’ve chosen to glorify Dorion’s deed with a song.  It’s not much, but it will be worth it if just one woman hears it and remembers that she can fight back if she’s attacked.  Or it would be worth it if just one asshole decides not to force himself on a woman.  But most of all, it will be worth it if Dorion hears it and knows that she is powerful, and what she did was heroic.

That’s the idea, anyway.  I hope this song turns out well, because it’s important to me.

Rory Dall’s Port

I just downloaded some freeware music notation software.  It’s called MuseScore 2, and it’s fantastic.  I once used music notation software regularly, back in the 90s when it was my modest ambition to be the next Beethoven.  In those days, I used a program called MusicProse.  By contrast, this freeware is insane.  I love it.

To learn how to use it, I’ve started transcribing an old Scottish tune for Mac Talla called, “Rory Dall’s Port”.  It feels great to be writing music again, even if it’s just a transcription.

My Icky River Story

Yesterday, I started work on a new short, one which has been burning in my head for a long time. It’s about undertow in the Saskatchewan River. We’ll see how it turns out.

Also, I got to try out my IBM typewriter. It’s a buggy old thing, but there’s something really satisfying about producing a page of actual hard copy that I can look at and feel. It feels more productive than using a computer, somehow.

Novel!

A few years ago, I wrote a supernatural novel set in World War I for national novel-writing month. Despite the great haste in which it was written, it’s actually pretty good! For the last few years, I’ve been honing it. I’ll let you know when I have a title.

Reading

Burr by Gore Vidal

I watched a documentary recently called Best of Enemies.  It was about the rivalry between Gore Vidal and William Buckley, and their famous television debates.  It reminded me how much I love Vidal’s writing, so I decided it was time for another of his novels.  After hearing that a character in his novel, Burr, was based on William Buckley, I knew this was the one.

So far, it doesn’t have the immediate interest that his novel, Julian, sparked in me, but I am still enjoying it.  Gore Vidal’s gift was inventing striking phrases that appear suddenly: striking both in their beauty and the brief kernels of truth they contain.

Burr

The Pyrates by George MacDonald Fraser

the-pyrates

This book was recommended to me by my friend Max, and I purchased it a few years ago.   I have enjoyed the George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman series immensely, and I was interested to see what Fraser writes like when he writes pure comedy.

So far, it’s fantastic.  The writing is still impeccable, and the turns of phrase are funnier-than-hell.  I knew I would be hooked after reading his description of Captain Avery, the hero of the book, in which the narrator gets lost in praising his cliche virtues, then ends with an “etc, etc.”  He gets lost in praise again in the next paragraph, and apologizes.

Knowing the broad strokes of history helps the enjoyment of this book, as well as a healthy sense of humour.  Love it so far.

Baptism of Fire by Nathan M. Greenfield

Baptism of FireI only got to skim this one a year ago when I was doing research for my novel, so it’s good to actually read the whole damn thing. Nathan M. Greenfield’s account of the Canadians at the 2nd Battle of Ypres is gripping and easy to understand.

Julian Comstock by Robert Charles Wilson

julian comstockMy friend Kevin gifted me this book, and it appears the title-character is based on Julian the Apostate. (note: I hate the phrase “the titular”, so I didn’t use it in that last sentence. For the longest time I thought it meant “the sexy, but sassy”, so now, whenever I read “the titular”, I feel dumb). Julian the Apostate was the star of one of my favourite novels of all time, Julian, by Gore Vidal. Also, it’s set in a future after oil, and humanity isn’t doing so awesome. I think the future State of Athabaska, where the action starts, might be in Saskatchewan or Alberta. Neat.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

the big sleepThe mystery genre has never been one of my favourites. All the more reason to investigate it further. And If I’m going to do it, it should be by one of the masters. Chandler practically invented the hard-boiled detective, so I know I’m in good hands. My sister Kristan gave me this one.

The verdict: Great novel. It has the sparseness of a Hemingway novel, but unlike Hemingway, the narrative takes you someplace exciting.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This