What a time it’s been! November passed in a blur of airports and timezones and visits with nieces and nephew, mother and siblings, aunts and uncles and friends. I travelled from Halifax to Toronto in early November and from there on to San Francisco and Half Moon Bay, to oversee the gorgeous launch party for this remarkable book. Then back to Toronto for some family time before once again heading to the west coast, this time to Victoria, BC, for a company retreat, and then finally back to Toronto to see my nephew perform in a production of Seussical Jr, which was pretty much the best thing that’s ever happened to me. And then finally, two days in the car and I’m back home in Halifax, a little tired, but pretty satisfied overall.
First, San Francisco has long been on my list of places to go, and it was just so great that Katy wanted to have the launch for Movement Matters in nearby Half Moon Bay. I drove the Pacific Coast highway, ate an artichoke omelette in Pescadero, got soaked by the ocean, walked San Francisco’s streets for hours, ascended the staircase at City Lights bookstore, imagining all the hands that had held the handrail before mine, sat in the Poet’s Chair and looked out the window and thought about this life, and how every day it falls into place a little more clearly and a little more perfectly. I ate a burrito in the Mission and I sat in Dolores Park and basked in the sunshine. I made a list of things to see and do next time, and began scheming about how to make that next time happen, with Kev in tow.
Then, the retreat in Victoria. This almost-year of working with Propriometrics Press has been transformative in many ways, but the weekend we five spent together in Victoria was a whole other level of transformative. So great to spend face to face time with colleagues I hang out with for hours a week online, and to discover that we all really love each other in person. I learn so much from these colleagues, about the work we’re doing, and about the life it’s possible to lead. Plus, the Pacific Ocean was in our front yard, and we ate foraged madrone berries on our walks, and there was a cozy fireplace, and we laughed so hard we stopped making sound. It was perfect.
And of course, the family time. It was a glorious month of seeing my people just about every day, tagging along to my sister’s jewellery shows, making dinner for my mom, walking to meet my niece and nephew on their walk home from school. And the jewel in the crown of all that was the boy’s outing as Wickersham Brother 2 in Seussical Jr. The Nephew reminds me of myself at his age: a little anxious, kind of scared of everything, feeling like everyone else knows the score, a bit dreamy, a singular worldview. I buried myself in books, he chooses video games. I tried to hide being anxious and scared, he speaks of it freely, in a way I admire so hard. He told me regularly during our visits that he was scared to go on stage and perform, that he was concerned that he had missed a rehearsal in which everyone else learned the first part of one of the dances, and that he’d never had a chance to catch up. He told me on Thursday night, as I drove him to his dress rehearsal, that he had never before wished the weekend wouldn’t come. But at the theatre he was comfortable, at home, more himself than I’ve ever seen him.
And on Saturday night, when the curtain finally went up and he came on stage in his little denim vest, with monkey ears adorably askew, I started crying with happiness and didn’t stop till the final ovation ebbed. He friggin’ nailed it. He danced, he sang, he projected, he smiled with his whole heart. He overcame that fear…or he felt it and went on stage anyway. I love that kid. So much.
As for me, it’s coming up on a year since I left my work at CBC behind. I continue to not regret it for even a moment. I did not feel fear when I gave my notice, and I haven’t felt it in the almost-year since I embarked on this new life. The kind of smile I saw on my nephew’s face on Saturday night, that’s the smile I feel on my own face every day. This life is where I am comfortable, at home, more myself than I’ve ever been.
First, some business remaining from last time: in the wake of that last post, pretty much every week, someone has taken the time to google something like: stephanie domet beautiful great writer. Which makes me laugh every time. I have a thick skin — you couldn’t not in my line of work — but I have to say I love the good and open hearts that beat inside my friends. You are lovely, lovely people. I appreciate your lavish praise, and will do what I can to be worthy of it!
Now, onto that. This being September, it’s been back to business round these parts. New radio season, and a recommitment to weekly writing. It was not easy, and it was not overly fruitful, but I did drag myself out of the sunny garden on Saturday and down to the cafe to crank out some pages. Four wee ones (at this rate, the book might get finished by the time I’m fifty), but better than none. I am not stumped, or blocked or any of that bullshit. I just — I don’t know. I am terribly undisciplined. And also kinda busy. Editing two books right now. Helping to plan the Writers’ Federation Fall Into Writing Gala on September 24, which is going to be awesome, and an amazing Nocturne event, about which I’m really excited, called It Was a Dark and Stormy Night — which will basically be an interactive journey through your average writer’s personal hell — I mean, daily life. That’s happening October 15 at the Company House in Halifax. So there’s a lot going on, and that’s all great. But none of it is more important than writing Fallsy Downsies. Though most of it is more fun, let’s be honest. And with other people counting on me delivering — all that stuff FEELS more important.
So there’s that. If you feel like issuing a deadline with some kind of stern consequences attached, please feel free.
And I don’t need you to keep up the flattering google searches but… I’m not gonna tell you to stop!
And finally, here’s a little musical treat. Because you’ve been so good.
Or the other way around, or maybe both. I am on the road right now, as Kev takes living rooms and basements around Ontario by storm. He earned a Home Routes tour and so we’ve spent the last couple weeks together in the car, touring around, playing a concert in a different house each night. It’s been intense and awesome, and I’ve even managed to get some writing done.
More importantly, I’ve had that magic time in the car to let my mind wander and pick through the elements of my story that still stymie me. And I’ve had some important breakthroughs–some insights into what actually motivates Lansing Meadows, and what eventually leads to the rift between him and Evan Cornfield. And even Dacey Brown is moving into sharper focus.
I will be sorry to leave this full time artist life behind in two weeks. Though I hear from afar there are a number of juicy stories unfolding in Nova Scotia, and I feel the pull of daily radio. It’s a tough balance, the two lives, and I will be spending some of my remaining time figuring out how to balance them better. I’ll be back on the air on February 28th. The novel’s first draft won’t be finished–but at least I’ll know how to proceed. And that feels like a huge triumph. A more reasonable, achievable goal is a completed first draft by September, a completed second draft by the end of December. And if it goes my way, maybe publication by fall 2012.
In other news, it looks like Lady Hammond has received first draft funding for Homing, with Tricia Fish screenwriting. This is great news for that team, and I’ll be interested to see what happens next.
So, lots of forward momentum. And, for a taste of what I’ve been up to on the road, here’s a little video from our stop in Kanata, Ontario. Don’t say I never gave you anything.
I know, I know, I’m a bad little blogger. I have been very busy, driving across the continent (which, it turns out, is very large indeed) and thinking. Thinking a lot, about a lot of things. And getting scraps of writing done, especially on that cross-continent road trip. Soon I will be back to talk about some of the things about which I’ve been thinking. Promise.
And if you have questions, you should ask them in the comments. I’m keen to answer questions lately, for some reason. Probably anticipating a return to the daily work of asking other people questions all day. So fire away. Put the shoe firmly on the other foot.
Last night was the Atlantic Book Awards. It was packed in the room. Amazing to be among so many good writers, all from right outside my door. Shandi Mitchell cleaned up, deservedly so. My Anna Quon did not win her category, but since she was competing against Linden Macintyre, who won the Giller, and George Elliot Clarke, who’s … awesome… I think she should feel pretty goddamn great about how she did last night. She seemed alright with it all.
As for me.
Lately I have been writing every day. Not much, and not novelly, but writing, regardless. Kev hipped me to this and I am hooked. So great. I having figured out a few vital character things for Fallsy Downsies, which is wonderful. And more than that, it just clears my head of morning gack, and all day long I think, yes, writing. I like that. It feels good and right. I should do more of that. So that’s positive. It’s been awhile since I felt that feeling, to be perfectly frank.
The excellent Sue Goyette has persuaded me as well to apply for a creation grant. I think I could convince my employer to give me a month off, maybe not all at once, but surely they’d give me some time off to work on my book if I got a grant? I suppose I should check that with them first, but it seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Deadline is May 15.
And then there’s the big trip across the country by car. So excited about that, and looking forward to it for the purposes of the novel. We’ll travel through the states going out and through Canada coming back, so it won’t be exactly what Lansing and Evan do, but it’ll be close. And already I can feel the vistas opening in my head, letting me creep inside my story and hang on for dear life while it expands.
Or something like that, anyhow.
Porkpie is coming up again, finally. Thursday, May 6 at the Company House. Readers to be announced. I’ll be one of them, for sure. Stay tuned.
I got it in my hotel, at the very least. I’m in Sydney, Cape Breton for the East Coast Music Awards. My (other) radio show, Atlantic Airwaves, went live from Sydney to Atlantic Canada earlier today, with a smokin’ show featuring Coco Love Alcorn and The Joel Plaskett Emergency with Rose Cousins and Dale Murray. It was pretty intense. Five hundred people or so and two amazing bands.
And yesterday, Airwaves picked up the ECMA for Broadcast of the Year, which was pretty wild also. Totally was not expecting to win, and am utterly tickled pink. Me and my ECMA, just hanging out in Sydney on a Saturday night. No big deal.
So it’s been a great weekend so far. Kev, who’s gearing up to leave town on Monday (ulp) for seven weeks (big ulp), has had a million gigs as a sideguy, and also picked up a couple solo gigs when our friend Steven Bowers had an unfortunate bout of car trouble. Steven had to get towed back to Halifax from the highway, and he was totally disappointed not to get here to play his shows. Go buy his record, and tell him I sent you. On the positive side, Kev totally nailed the gigs.
I have to confess that the writing is going nowhere these days. I go a million miles an hour all day it seems and there’s nothing left for Lansing Meadows, Dacey Brown and Evan Cornfield somehow. I miss writing them and I wonder all the time about what they’ll do next. Next weekend, The Common is going on retreat and I have high hopes for getting a few pages done then, and sparking myself back into writerly action. And with Kev out on the road, I hope to make more time for the story.
So… same old, really.
Emerging now from the fog of a (fake early) family Christmas. Kev and I have been stewing in nieces and nephew and friends and relations, endless games of Boggle and Clue and generous amazing gifts we will somehow have to pack into our suitcases today and wheel on to the plane to go back to Halifax. It’s been a whirlwind five days in Toronto and environs (mostly environs) and I really hate to leave. It’s so hard, always always. Won’t be back till July. Sigh.
But still to come, Latkepalooza on Saturday, which will engender the frying of many many many potato pancakes and lots of good times.
A short recovery, then Real, On-Time Christmas in Amherst, Moncton and environs. Mostly, again, environs.
Then a long, cold, dark winter with lots of writing in it.
Looking forward to it all, always.
We’re going on a roadtrip! Well, as far as the airport, and then a quick jaunt by plane and we’ll all be in St John’s Newfoundland. Just like that. The first delegation leaves today, the second wave tomorrow afternoon, and the final two tomorrow night. Ryan Turner‘s (amazing) new book, What We’re Made Of, launches Monday in St John’s and we figured we might as well tag along for moral support and beers. I wonder if he will have incorporated the kids-sitting-on-lap thing by Monday night. This particular launch is in a bar, so maybe not kids. But probably still with some lap-sitting.
Among our many plans (catching up with Newfoundland members Camille Fouillard and Wanda Nolan, going for a big big hike, drinking in the bars, cheering raucously at the reading), I have plans to steal some time for Fallsy Downsies. Our retreats are not usually so … urban … so I’ll have to be pretty clever about this, but I think the way I’m writing this particular book (scraps of paper, late at night, in public) lends itself well to what I expect this weekend will bring.
And as for Ryan’s book, I read it (again, for the first time between covers) whilst in the grips of not-Swine-Flu on the weekend. It was the perfect accompaniment for hours in bed alone, coming and going in delirium. During my lucid moments, it had me more breathless than the not-flu. Seriously. If you haven’t gone to get yourself a copy yet, I’m not sure what you’re waiting for. It’s called What We’re Made Of, and it’s required reading.
Got up this morning with much reluctance, flowed like molasses in January to the table to write…and managed to get a nice little road section with Evan Cornfield and Lansing Meadows. Clear articulation of Evan’s goals and fears. Lansing crusty, as per usual. Plus, I found some writing I apparently did in June that’s maybe pretty good, and is going to get an airing tonight at Porkpie. So if you’re in the mood for some delicious fresh-baked writing, Porkpie is the place for you. The Company House, Gottingen and Cunard, 7pm. Five bucks at the door, cheap wine once you’re inside.
Just a quicky. I am reading at Porkpie Four tomorrow night at the Company House. You should probably plan to be there. There’s a pile of great writers on the bill, and I’ll be reading something brand new. So new it hasn’t been written yet! Whee! A new little chunk of Fallsy Downsies, coming your way in less than twenty four hours. Gotta go!