The Afrikanner by Arianna Dagnino is about as surprising as any contemporary post-colonial novel I could imagine. Though it's been many moons since I studied postcolonial literature during my undergraduate degree, I had an idea in my head about what this novel could be about: either a scathing condemnation of colonial power and abuses, or a narrative of apology for those abuses. The Akrikanner is neither.
Is translation an art or a science? Do translators feel pain when they see results generated by the Google translate function, or are they really just dictionary-thumbing automatons? Can anyone really find a suitable synonym for 'muggle'? These questions - and more - explored by our resident linguistic interloper, Lauren Lewthwaite.
I've been on all sides of the granting process - an applicant, a juror, and a grants officer. My advice is, show the writing that most vividly illustrates the challenge of your project. This doesn't necessarily mean writing that is done. What I look for as a reader is something that's really crackling, that's alive with questions, experiments, potential - even if it's rough.
Writers whine about the left-brain practices, but realize we’re no different from any other businesspeople out there. I’m sure plumbers don’t love doing the paperwork that comes along with all of the above, but they do what they have to do. The advantage they have is that people don’t offer them the chance to sign their pipes rather than pay them.
Dear Mr. X, I hope you can understand if I decline your offer. You see, I feel it is sort of like asking Meryl Streep to audition for a Sharknado sequel. I'm not saying she wouldn't agree to do the movie - I wouldn't dare to speak for Meryl - but asking an actor of her experience and caliber to audition for a film her repertoire shows she is clearly capable of handling is just poor form.
For most people who write for a living, it’s not all sonnets and short stories; you’ve got to sell a bit of yourself. Or a lot of yourself, depending on the project. Is it worth it?
I've started a little series where I ask writers about the writing life. Author and artist Diane Schoemperlen starts us off with some insight into the importance of routine.
Q: How important is it to you to set a scheduled time to write?
A: I am a wreck without my routine! It has developed over thirty years of writing and without it, I don’t think I could function. I am a morning person and every day (including weekends) I get up early and do some reading with my coffee. Then I must get right to work. If I don’t, I find I am exceptionally good at frittering the whole day away. I am at the computer by 9:00 a.m. at the latest. How long I actually work depends on the project. It can be anywhere from four to six hours at a stretch. On an ideal day the work period is then followed by a nap. But this doesn’t happen very often. Usually it is followed by errands, chores, and tending to the business of writing (as opposed to the actual writing.) I often work seven days a week. I only work in the evening under duress as that is my time to relax and recharge so I can do it all again tomorrow.
More about Diane...
Diane Schoemperlen is the author of twelve books, including three novels, one non-fiction book, and several collections of short stories. In 1998 she won the Governor-General’s Award for Fiction for her collection of illustrated stories, FORMS OF DEVOTION. In 2008 she received the Marian Engel Award from The Writers’ Trust of Canada. In 2012 she was writer-in-residence at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. She is currently on the faculty of the Humber School of Writing Correspondence Program. Her most recent publication is BY THE BOOK: STORIES AND PICTURES, published by Biblioasis (Windsor, Ontario) in September 2014. She is currently working on a memoir to be published by HarperCollins Canada in April 2016. She lives in Kingston, Ontario. You can find her on Facebook and she has a website coming soon at www.dianeschoemperlen.com.