Feeling bookish

There are so many bookish events coming up in the next few weeks. What a great way to usher in the season of curling up under blankets to read and write.

On Tuesday night I’ll be giving a talk at Mount Saint Vincent University. They’re celebrating writing next week, with many fine events. Here’s a link to some highlights. My colleagues Carsten Knox and Ryan Turner are taking part in one of the panels… and I wish I could go, but my damn day job generally keeps me desk-bound (and it only becomes my damn day job when it gets in the way of something I want to do.)

Then on Thursday next, it’s Porkpie Four at the Company House, featuring a pile of good writers as previously mentioned.

On November 3, Anna Quon is launching her beautiful book Migration Songs. I’ve been asked to read and speak at that event and I just cannot wait. That’s happening at the Company House as well. Busy spot!

Later that week, Zach Wells is launching his new book. I think his launch is on November 5 if I’m not mistaken… and possibly also at the CoHo. All I can tell you is that I’m glad that place is stumbling distance from my house, as it looks like I’ll be spending a lot of time there over the next two weeks.

Then Ryan Turner‘s book launch (can’t wait can’t wait can’t wait) is happening at the CoHo on Friday, November 13.

And then I collapse under a stack of delicious new books.


After a weekend of houseguests and much cooking and laundering and organizing, I figured I might as well do a little digital housekeeping as well. I have a small stack of events coming up this month, so the Out and About page has been updated accordingly. Hope to see you…out and about, as they say.

Fade in: INT. House – Day

So I think I’m finally figuring this thing out. I wrote a second draft of the treatment for Homing: The Movie… and it didn’t suck! And I wrote two full scenes…and I’m pretty sure they didn’t suck either! So that’s very exciting. In fact, I am beginning to feel real enthusiasm for writing this thing, which is great.

Up till now the enthusiasm has been intellectual. As in: Hmmn, interesting challenge, I wonder if I can figure out how to make a novel into a film. And then that feeling was interspersed with lots of despair and aggravation and boredom at what felt like simple retelling of a story I’d already written and moved past years ago.

But, having immersed myself fully in trying to solve the story’s problems as it moves from novel to screenplay, having watched a zillion movies a week, having read the screenplays for Dead Poets’ Society and Rushmore (both films I’ve watched ad nauseum), I actually feel like not only CAN I do this… I really, really WANT to do this.

Hurray for that! And also, having completed the treatment, some character studies and two master scenes in time to meet a couple of funding deadlines…I just may be able to steal back a bit of time to work on Fallsy Downsies. Bring on the winter, I say, with its short days and quiet mornings and husband on tour–all perfect for getting some serious writing done. I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to winter before. I must be growing up.

Getting the treatment treatment

Soon I will embark on Homing: The Movie Treatment take two. Notes are beginning to come back to me from those who know more than me (hell, you probably know more than me, why don’t you send me some notes, too?) Over the last twenty four hours, I’ve been presented with a number of questions about the story-as-a-movie (so very, very different from the story-as-a-novel. Oh, so different), and my mind is busy chewing those questions and forming them into answers. I am cautiously optimistic about the likelihood I will knock it out of the park on my next go-round. I would very much like to do so because then I think there’ll be a certain amount of time in which nothing further will be required of me, and I can think about Fallsy Downsies some more.

Because the winter is approaching and there is nothing like winter for getting novels written. Ideally, I should live up north where it is dark twenty hours a day. That way, I could turn in for the day around 7pm, sleep till about 4am, write for four hours in the quiet dark and bang out a novel a year. Ha ha, like that’d happen. I’d be the executive director of the local lantern festival by the end of my first week, and would spend all my spare time strewing twinkle lights ahead of me wherever I went.

Till now, Fallsy Downsies has wanted to be written in loud public places. But I am feeling the pull, as the days shorten and crispen, toward early morning hours of quiet, just me and my head and the stillness of the house, spinning sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into pages, and pages into a bound item you can hold in your hands and enjoy. Christ, if I could outsource the writing of it, I surely would. I think I am going to require a mini-retreat, during which I get fifty pages done. Yes please, and soon.

Fall fever

You never hear of anyone coming down with that, and I wonder why. Spring fever, absolutely, but no fall fever.

I get it every year.

Maybe because my birthday is at August’s end and seems each year to usher out the summer, even though officially summer has several weeks left to spend. But the summer mindset, the headspace of summer, it goes by the first of September. Then it’s all sharpened pencils and too-hot sweaters and stew, even though the weather stays summery.

In an effort to buck that particular trend, I agitated forĀ  a trip to the beach this afternoon. We ate Dragon’s Breath blue cheese, and local peaches and got sand between our toes… and wore scarves with our sunglasses. I stepped into the ocean for the first time this year and damn, it was cold. But good. My feet still feel unusual. They know they’ve been in the surf.

On the way we stopped at some big box housewares store, because we have a sudden yen for a Crossley turntable thingy. Thought we might find one there. We did not. But being in there stoked my fall fever, which always manifests as a desire for new lamps and ottomans (ottomen?) and a new rug. And some boxes to put things in. What things, and then where will I put the boxes? Please don’t bother me with your petty concerns, I am attempting to treat my fall fever.

The other thing that’s going on, quite suddenly, is a desire, a deep, deep desire, to be writing Fallsy Downsies. So far, I’ve pushed it away, my usual laziness, or lack of willingness to give everything to writing. But I can’t hold it off much longer. The fall is a sure time for writing for me. The dark wraps right around, and I dream people and things up. So.

The complicating factor right now is the screenplay. Tomorrow night I have a meeting, at which I will be furnished with notes on the treatment. I know it’s broken, and I hope to figure out how to fix it. More with the birds, for sure. Plus, cut out two thirds of what happens in the book. Ah, but which two thirds? And how to show Nathan alive and interacting with Leah, without making a four-hour movie? These are questions to which I hope to have answers this time tomorrow.

Where I’ll be tonight

At Pier 21, at 6:30, to help celebrate the launch of Under This Unbroken Sky. It’s Shandi Mitchell’s debut novel and it’s been keeping me up at night this week. I am just at the point where the story starts to unravel, everything’s going to hell in a handbasket, and I want to finish reading it SO VERY BADLY. But unfortunately, my day job requires me to… work. Sigh. Anyhow, come down to Pier 21 and let Shandi blow your mind with her talent tonight.

Bill is in the mail

Well, Hurricane Bill was barely worth getting out of bed for. The sun is already out in southern Nova Scotia after fierce rain and wind this morning. Still grey here in Halifax, but the rain has basically stopped. We were without power for an hour or so. We shared a cheese-tomato-homemade pesto sandwich. Had a vodka and soda. Sat in the living room near the window and read. It is the most relaxed we’ve been in months, and that includes while we were on vacation. More tropical storms and hurricanes for me, please.

I am reading Which Lie Did I Tell, and it’s awesome. I am learning tonnes about movies from it. Plus, it’s super entertaining. Kev is reading Shakey, the book about Neil Young. Kev is now fast asleep. Speaking of relaxed.

Sadness yesterday. Frog Hollow Books locked its doors for good. I’d been trying to go in there for two weeks to say goodbye, but I just couldn’t make myself do it. Managed to get my act together ten minutes before closing. Went in and had a good cry with Heidi, drank canned wine from a Tim Horton’s cup, bought three books I don’t even know what they are, just to buy them, cried some more, and got the hell out. I will miss that place, and I wish I’d thought to go in there every single week to spend thirty bucks. If there’s an independent bookstore where you live, go there. It makes a difference. My book was always on the shelf at Frog Hollow, but I’ve never seen a single copy in Chapters. At Frog Hollow, they read my book, they loved my book, they put my book in the hands of hundreds and hundreds of readers. At Chapters, I’m just someone who might spend eight bucks on a roll of wrapping paper. Frog Hollow gave me my first job in Halifax and kept the wolf from my door. Then they recommended dozens of good books to read over the years, and finally, they hosted my book launch when Homing came out, and did the aforementioned hand selling that is so very vital to any author’s success. And I will miss the hell out of that place. So don’t delay. Go see your local independent bookseller today. PS: Costco is not an independent bookseller.

A Shelburne state of mind

It is festival season round the Domet-Corbett household. The weekend just past, we were in Lunenburg for the excellent Folk Harbour Festival. Kev released his brand new record, Son of a Rudderless Boat, on Thursday night on the Festival’s mainstage. It was awesome. He received a huge, rolling, standing ovation (not that standing-Os are rare round these parts, but this one seemed to go on and on. And then all weekend long, he was getting high-fived everywhere we went. It was super cool.

The weekend coming up is the second annual Shelburne Writers’ Festival. I’m hosting the proceedings, and will be reading, as well. Maybe from Homing, but more likely from Fallsy Downsies. I am excited to be sharing the stage with writers like Donna Morrissey and Kenneth J Harvey among many others. Kev will also be playing… he’s the live music portion of the open mic on Saturday night. It’s going to be a fun weekend.

It’s also going to mean our garden remains unweeded for another week, but such is the life of the would-be cultural power couple. Ha.

So come on down to Shelburne. It’s a lovely little town on Nova Scotia’s south shore. We had a blast there last year, and are looking forward to a repeat performance. See you there?

The Homing stretch

So, there’s writing, which I find not particularly hard. Then there’s rewriting, which I hate and fear, but am trying to learn to embrace (remind me to talk more about that some time). Then there’s taking something you’ve written, rewritten, re-rewritten and had published and…writing it again.

That’s a real feat. I’ve been wrestling with the treatment for Homing (the movie) for some time now. Lots of reading and thinking and making notes and writing and thinking and rewriting and thinking and then rewriting again. Oh, and some movie watching too. I finally finished the process yesterday around 5pm. I felt roughly the way I did upon finishing the writing of the novel in the first damn place. Triumphant, relieved, terrified, totally tapped out.

What an odd experience to write that story again, same but different. Many things stayed the same, but a surprising number of details changed necessarily. At this point, it still feels very much like Homing the book. I understand that things may yet change in future iterations of Homing the movie, but I feel okay about that at this point. I may have more to say about this some time in the future. For now, I’m just glad I can move to the next phase… sending the treatment to the producers, and chilling out for a bit.

So, you know, mission accomplished, thus far.

Working holiday (wait, is there another kind?)

If there is, I don’t think I’ve ever had one.

It’s been an incredible push the last few weeks to get here, to this auberge in Montreal, by an open window, Kev on the bed behind me reading Steve Earle’s autoiography. We are busy people, but the level of busy-ness the last few weeks/months has been unprecendented.

We delayed our road trip by a day so Kev could spend one last afternoon in the studio, tweaking Son of a Rudderless Boat in order to be fully, completely happy with it. And it was so super worth it. It’s a really great record, and I can’t wait for you to hear it. Release date, god willing, August 6th.

As for me, I finished the final copyedit on Migration Songs and sent it off to be typeset. I’m really happy with where it ended up, and I hope Anna is too. She did great work on that book, and I can’t wait for you to read it. Release date October 15th if I’m not mistaken.

And I had a couple of meetings about Homing: the movie. And then I had a minor freakout about whether I can actually figure out how to adapt the book for the screen. And then we got in the car and started driving and I let my mind unfurl and before I knew it, I’d figured out at least one way to start it. I have notes for the first probably ten or fifteen pages. So that feels pretty good.

But before we could even get on the road, there were errands, and house cleaning and food prep and last minute details to take care of, and a wedding to go to. And it all got done, somehow, miraculously, except for planting the last two tomato plants. That did not get done, and they likely won’t survive. I may ask one of our garden sitters to just put them in the ground for us without much ceremony. They were supposed to go into a container, but it needs holes drilled and at the end of the day, you know, something always has to give. And this time, it was the heritage yellow cherry tomatoes. It kind of breaks my heart as I type that, but oh well.

So at last here we are, in Montreal. Big free rock steady reggae show last night in the street, and then we sat outside the auberge with our friends and ate cheese and crackers and apples and cheese.

And it was great.

And then this morning we were awakened by a fire alarm that stopped the second we were on our feet.

So, thus pulled from sleep, I finished reading Lawrence Hill‘s beyond-excellent Book of Negroes. The most perfect and affecting book I have ever read. As soon as I finished I felt both utterly satisfied and tragically let down. I have brought other books along to read, but none will be as great as The Book of Negroes, and so I am a little bereft.

I guess I’ll cleanse my palate with Robert McKee‘s book, Story. Reading for screenwriting purposes. Treatment is expected by the end of July, so that’s my work during this holiday. Meanwhile, Kev will be arranging the artwork for his record, finding a place to have it mastered, looking after all the last minute details of layout et cetera.

But at least we’ll be doing it all by the pool.