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?

dj kali & mr. dna @ casa del popolo post-punk night

last night was a blast! a big thank you to dj tyg for letting us guest star on her monthly night, because we had a great time. my set was a little more reminiscent of the sets that i used to do at katacombes [i.e., less prone to strange meanderings than what you normally hear at the caustic lounge]. i actually invited someone to the night with the promise "don't worry, it'll be normal". which also gives you an idea of what to expect at the caustic lounge. behold my marketing genius.

mr. dna started off putting the "punk" into the night [which i think technically means i was responsible for the post, which doesn't sound quite so exciting]. i'd say that he definitely had the edge in the bouncy energy department.

many thanks to those who stopped in throughout the night to share in the tunes, the booze and the remarkably tasty nachos and a special thank you to the ska boss who stuck it out until the end of the night and gave our weary bones a ride home…

mental health mondays :: the plane truth

here we go again. it's sad enough to hear that nearly a hundred and fifty people died at the hands of an individual unwisely entrusted with a a potential missile, but now we get to observe the media circling and waiting for confirmation that the man who may have murdered them had a mental illness. and what a grotesque spectacle it is, because it basically consists of nothing but ominous insinuations that this co-pilot was depressed and so he flew a plane into a mountain, without trying to provide any larger context about the disorder or the millions of people who suffer from it.

to be clear, i don't have a problem with his apparent record of depression being brought up as a possible explanation for what happened. it's possible that there is a link. but smashing a plane full of innocent people into a mountain is not the act of someone who is merely depressed. there is a whole other level of illness going on there and, with the information we have thus far, it seems disturbi…

eat the cup 2018, part seven :: oh, lionheart

it all seemed so magical: england's fresh-faced youngsters marching all the way through to a semi-final for the first time since 1990. everywhere, the delirious chants of "it's coming home". and then, deep into added time, the sad realization: it's not coming home. oh england, my lionheart.

now, if we're being really strict about things, my scottish ancestors would probably disown me for supporting England, because those are the bastards who drove them off their land and sent them packing to this country that's too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. and indeed, shops in scotland have sold through their entire stock of croatian jerseys, as the natives rallied behind england's opponents in the semi-final. however, a few generations before they were starved and hounded from the lands they'd occupied for centuries, my particular brand of scottish ancestors would have encouraged me to support england [assuming that national football had even…