Tag Archives: Greater Toronto Area

A November evening that led to The Unpublished City

The Unpublished City line-up

The Unpublished City (Toronto: BookThug, 2017).

Where to begin? Some things, I believe, happen for a purpose, a reason. Happenstance, I like to think. Se-ren-di-pi-ty.

Last November, I had the privilege of being a part of a small group of writers sharing living room space with Dionne Brand. Discussing our current projects, our aspirations, our roadblocks. It wasn’t the best time in my life, but I am glad I made space for that evening. Something about that evening and its conversations opened a floodgate in (the writer) me. I came away, alive.

Line-up

17 of us (minus Katheryn Wabegijig) being introduced by Dionne Brand, Harbourfront Centre, 22nd June 2017. Photo: Catherine Coreno/@cthrn_c, from Twitter.

A part of the privilege came with knowing Phoebe Wang, who has been/is/and possibly will be nothing short of invincible when it comes to creating a much needed community for BIPOC writers. I don’t say this lightly. I don’t say this because I have come to value her friendship. I say this because it’s true. Because very few can do as much as Phoebe does in filling the much needed gap in the Toronto lit scene when it comes to recognizing multiplicity of identities; or, as it’s more easily understood, creating a space for “diversity” to thrive.

And so it was my knowing of Phoebe that led to that evening in November, and that evening that led to an opportunity to submit to an anthology curated by Dionne Brand, The Unpublished City. The anthology is an initiative of IFOA (International Festival of Literary Authors)/ Toronto Lit Up to promote diverse writing in Toronto. The anthology features 18 writers from the Greater Toronto Area.

I have a short flash fiction piece in it, “Mars in Scorpio”, a piece just shy of 600 words. It was the first creative piece I wrote this year. It was the first piece I wrote in a long time. It was the first piece of fiction that poured out of me. I credit it to that evening in November. (I also credit it to my partner who suggested I use a personal story to write this one, and the more I say about how lucky I am to have someone like him, it will never be enough. It is also happenstance in so many ways, our meeting, our being together, but that’s another story for another time.)

5 questions with IFOA

Self explanatory.

Now, almost six months into this year, I have more such pieces since. Pieces that have similarly poured out me. My friend, Heather Olaveson, says, they were waiting. All I needed was a push.

Here’s a toast to that November evening.

My five questions about writing with IFOA can be read here.

A little something on the anthology in Quill and Quire can be read here.

The anthology is available through BookThug here.

Doyali and I.

Before the event at Harbourfront Centre. With Doyali Islam, whose poem “43rd Parallel” is also in The Unpublished City. June 22 2017.

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Filed under event, fiction, Thinking Aloud, Writing about writing

The Proof is in the Proof-reading

The importance of being a good proof-reader is summed up in this Oscar Wilde quote: “I was working on the proof of one of my poems all morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back  again.”

Being a freelance writer for a community newspaper and a novelist “in progress”, I have often wondered about what makes a really good book or article. Is it the cover? The title? The topic? Or, the writer? In my belief and experience, these are small factors that play equally small roles in the success of the finished product. The main ingredient (as I have noticed time and again) is how well you proof-read the write-up.

A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to be the first one to review Saborna Roychowdhury’s debut novel, The Distance. The book had potential and the writing style screamed of individuality. But what prevented the book from becoming a masterpiece were the many grammatical and factual mistakes I came across. Similarly, there are many community newspapers in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) but the quality of the papers is questionable. The reason? Again, lack of thorough proof-reading.

Having to write atleast 3-4 articles per week, I have an urge to take shortcuts. Shortcuts usually entail not paying attention to a comma, or exact quotes, or even facts. It’s an urge that goes back to my essay writing days at York University where a well-written essay with short-cuts would gain me a B or a B+. However, a well-written essay that had been proof-read atleast 2-3 times would entitle me to an A, always without fail. It is a deadly urge that can bring the demise of any aspiring or promising writer. I do believe I belong to the former category, while family and friends like to attribute my writing to the latter. The trick to avoid this urge is to promise oneself to always be a writer with integrity (the importance of which will be the topic for another blog post).

proof-reading

It usually takes me three hours to write a 600 words article because I spend two hours on proof-reading. However, do not mistake me for a writer sitting on her high-horse criticising other writers out there. I am just pointing out a flaw that I have noticed. And, if you spend as much time proof-reading as I do, you will know exactly what I mean.

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Filed under Writing about writing