1. “I’m a fan of the short story. I don’t see it as a warmup act for the great novel-writing career. People say that you have to escape the limitations of the short story to move on to the broader canvas of the novel, but there are possibilities in short stories that are not there in the novel.”
- Alexander MacLeod
Anyone else hoot and holler at the Giller Prize shortlist? Not one, but two short story collections! Sarah Selecky’s This Cake is for the Party and Alexander MacLeod’s Light Lifting bring the oft-maligned, neglected, and misunderstood literary form to the public eye. Like other Canadian short story writers, these two authors ride on the shoulders of such giants as Alice Munro, Mavis Gallant, and my literary hero, Alistair MacLeod. And well Alexander MacLeod might have been influenced, particularly by the latter, whose shoulders actually contain 50% of Alexander’s own DNA. Woo-hoo!
2. “If you know exactly what you’re going to do, what’s the point of doing it?”
- Pablo Picasso
When I first read the above, I let out a loud cheer. It’s taken me a while to make peace with this way of thinking, but here’s the thing about my approach to writing – or is it writing’s approach to me? Anyway: I go at it instinctively, with no plan or plot in mind. Usually I follow whatever hints the characters toss my way as they creep out of the shadows. Sometimes the recognition is instant; other times it takes months, even years for me to get the picture. On rare occasions the picture never fully reveals itself, but fades away. And that’s just the way it is.
3. “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
- Albert Camus
Hooray for my favourite season, a bit late this year owing to some weird tropical weather we’ve been having. But today dawned brilliant and crisp, leaves quivering red and gold in the burnt-smelling autumn air.