Skip to main content

bacon, beavers, tim hortons and me


some of you (mainly those who know me ex-blog) are aware that i recently finished a draft of a first novel. this was quite unexpected, since it started life initially as something quite different. in fact, some day i'll probably find a way to make the story of the creation of the novel into a work of fiction, thus allowing me to get the maximum impact from every idea that runs through my overtaxed little brain.

the next evolutionary step in my progress as a writer has been to start researching different avenues by which i could get this published. this is tricky (ironically, so is the name of the novel) at the best of times, but i've discovered that i am working from a peculiar handicap. i'm geographically incorrect.

being a canadian, it occurred to me that it would be easier for me to start researching publishers in canada for my magnificent octopus (if you don't get that, you need to watch more blackadder). turns out, this may have been a bit of a mistake on my part.

it turns out that canadian publishers are not interested simply in works by canadian writers. in order to be considered by most publishers in this country, a book must have the appearance of being canadian. that means that it should be set in canada, should feature canadian cultural icons, that it should reference canada in more than just the author's bio. and my novel doesn't do that.

what i wrote is set in san francisco, with a few cutaway scenes in salt lake city. there are a lot of reasons why i chose to do this, all of them important to the structure of the story. most importantly, the contrast between these two places, culturally and geographically, is important to the theme. i chose them specifically for this reason. i could have tried setting it in vancouver and rural alberta, but it doesn't have the same meaning. i've been to both cities (one for work, the other for enjoyment and if you can't figure out which is which, there's something seriously wrong with you) and felt comfortable writing them into the story as it went along.

unfortunately, my choice of setting seems to have disqualified me as a canadian in the publishing world. a setting is apparently more important than an author's actual ethnicity when it comes to the written word. maybe some of these publishers would actually enjoy what i've written, or maybe they wouldn't. i can't even cross that hurdle, because i don't meet the qualifications they set out as proper canadiana, so i wouldn't be up for consideation.

it's a weird feeling, suddenly having your sense of nationalism amputated in this fashion. i've always identified fairly strongly as canadian, but not necessarily with the icons of canada. i'm not a big hockey fan. i think tim horton's coffee tastes like chewing on day-old grounds. in a country with the second largest expanse of f**k all in the world, i am more at home in the city. the thing is, i've always understood my national identity to be a more subtle thing, something that reveals itself when pressed, but does not advertise, sort of like superman (a canadian creation himself). i wasn't aware that this made me sub-standard.

the ironic thing is, i would have a better chance of getting published in canada if i had set the story on the moon, or in some mythical country whose name i cobbled together from ancient sumerian legends, because once you decide to completely abandon the realm of the real world, all bets are off. if you're not specifically stating that your story is set someplace else, you are canadian again. if you're writing about vienna or london or buenos aires or san francisco, you'd better be doing it from the point of view of someone from small-town canada who's aching to go home.

i have another idea for a novel, one that i had actually started working on a long time before, but which has proved a struggle to finish, that's set in montreal. some day, i'll take that book to a canadian publisher and be recognised as properly canadian. until then, i'm checking out publishers in the us and my canadian identity will have to remain a secret...

Comments

as long as you're here, why not read more?

jihadvertising?

i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:



am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

mental health mondays :: the dangers of diagnosing

when you take a look at any reputable online source of information about mental health, it comes with a warning that anything you read on the site should not be considered a substitute for evaluation by a medical professional. so why are so many people jumping on the bandwagon to diagnose donald trump?

it's not uncommon for people to make glib judgments about the mental health of others, because we think that we understand what disorders entail. when i was working in offices, i noticed a lot of this: an immature and garrulous employee being labeled and partially excused because others were certain he had adhd, or a moody and indecisive boss dismissed as bipolar. [as you can imagine, that one struck me as particularly ignorant and, since i was the audience, ironic.] but in the case of trump, even professionals are weighing in on the subject. no fewer than twenty-seven psychiatrists have collaborated on a book called the dangerous case of donald trump. up to now, it's been unde…

making faces :: a winter tale

so this is it. we've reached the final season in our colour year. so far we've looked at spring, with its heart of citrus yellow, summer and its symphony of cool blues and autumn with its spicy bronzes and golds. and i'm still not sure i've found a good place to rest my face. i've chosen seasonal winners in each category, but are they really me?

it's a bit of a rhetorical question, of course, because i already had an inkling that my precocious childhood self might have been onto something when she declared herself a "winter". not that she knew what she was talking about, of course, but sometimes even fools say the right thing without meaning to. even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day. [unless you're in europe and use a twenty-four hour clock, which actually makes a lot more sense.]

as with all the other seasons, winter is divided into three parts, the true winter at the centre, flanked by neighbours who carry a hint of the adjacent …