No. 1 >> The Beginnings Issue: Start with shoes.

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MAKING THE WORK // Now In Shoes

This is what happens. I wake up, A. blinks at me from his pillow and says, "Who are you?" like he does every morning, then I say my name, but not my real name, my cutesy name that anyone else would find sick-making.

I'm no longer allowed to drink coffee so I get in the shower right away in the hopes that the extra oxygen molecules will wake me up. By the time I'm out, I'm usually getting hangry so A. will remind me to have breakfast before I start bull-breathing.

So, I sit in my chair in my robe and read while I eat my granola and have a cup of tea that's not coffee.

Now here comes the important part because it's new. After breakfast, I GET DRESSED. I've started writing at a co-working studio, which means I can no longer work in my day pajamas. I get dressed like I have a real job, or sometimes like I'm going to a party—lipstick, everything. And because I have to walk to the studio, I PUT SHOES ON and as a consequence, I also now write in shoes. Whatever you do for a living, if you normally wear shoes, try working without them. And if you normally don't wear shoes, put them on. It really changes things.

So, I put on my shoes and a backpack that doesn't go with any of my outfits, but is the only functional way to transport a big laptop, a neurotic number of notebooks and pens, and a manuscript hefty enough to have to be held together by a thick rubber band that once corralled broccoli. 

I walk to the studio and pass ugly and beautiful things. Like, last week, there were these lunch-plate sized peonies blooming in the old Portuguese lady's yard and after I'd stopped to admire them, I went a few more paces and accidentally stepped on the tail of a petrified rat (dead and dried out, not scared).

The studio is big and white and has lots of natural light and when I get there sometimes my amie ecritures are already at their desks and these gals make me as happy as seeing those peonies. Also, as one of them put it, "It just seems more reasonable to do what we do when others are doing it too."

So, then I sit down and open up my folder for the novel and begin again.

 

READING // Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

Whatever need I have for evangelicalism is being filled at the moment by discovering Austin Kleon's new book, Show Your Work. I wish I could buy a copy for everyone I know who is making work of some sort that they want to share with the world.

Show Your Work is Kleon's sequel to the also-excellent Steal Like an Artist. It calls bullshit on things like the "destructive myth of the lone genius." The book is built on a list of ten principles (I love a good list) including things like: "Think process, not product" (No. 2) and "Open up your cabinet of curiosities" (No. 4).

Kleon writes and draws and you can visit this tall Texan drink o' water's website here. There's also a good primer on Show Your Work here. And buy/borrow the book!

 

IT’S A SIGN // When Affirmations Fail

A block from where we live, there's an old brick building with the words "YOU'VE CHANGED" painted in humongo white block letters on the side. The building borders a park on Queen West that belongs to The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). There's a whole lot that goes on in that park. I myself have cried in that park. If you must cry in public, the mental hospital park is a good place to do it.

According to the Cooper Cole Gallery who represents Jesse Harris, the artist who created the mural, the phrase "comments on the rapid gentrification and changing face of the West Queen West neighbourhood", as well as "provides a positive message to CAMH patients" who are trying to make new beginnings in life.

This is what I saw the other day: a man who looked like an old school rubby, standing facing the sign, with a poutine container in one hand, a plastic fork raised in the other. His pants were down around his ankles and he was looking up at the sign and shouting at the top of his smoker's lungs: "SUCK MINE!"