I like a challenge when reading or writing. When I was nine I read the whole of Dahl’s Matilda in one weekend, standing on my head. It’s a great book – even upside down with a headrush (and couch textiles imprinted on your face). Ever since then I’ve been contrived with my literary habits. I went through a phase of writing with a purple feather quill and after that I wrote only in intricate calligraphy – until my grade 5 teacher vetoed it.
These days I write on my laptop, initially with the screen turned off, to avoid censuring what I write. My most personal thoughts are freewritten in a journal. There I can dispose of overly emotional or petty thoughts without bothering anyone else. I write the very worst parts in Teeline shorthand.
I have some writing rituals that help me concentrate. The main ones are that I need headphones (no music), I like to be alone and I have to chew Stride Spark B6 B12 vitamin Kinetic Fruit gum. I start with two pieces and then pop another in when the flavour fades. The gum ball gets bigger and bigger and it gets easier to blow bigger and bigger gum bubbles. I like the SNAP noise when they pop and the suction sounds when I chew them in my molars. After a couple of hours the gum chewing gets furious and so does the typing. The faster I type, the faster I chew, SNAP-ing bubbles as I reflect on the next sentence. SNAP SNAP. I thunder on through.
A good bubble is satisfying, it fills out evenly, then tears and slowly expires. During a productive morning I’ll have seven or eight pieces of gum in my mouth, which blow such large bubbles they grow as big as a baseball. A beautiful petally peach baseball that looks like a deflated jellyfish when it pops.
Sometimes the bubble pops badly and sticks to the skin all around my mouth and I gurn wildly as I try to scrape it all back into my mouth. My skin feels sticky. Then chomp chomp chomp, I’m writing again and the pile of gum papers is growing.
The legendary Whistler Readers and Writers Festival returns October 12-14 to celebrate the art of storytelling with an all-star lineup of guest authors and top tier events that promise to make this year’s festival the best yet.
Headlining is Alistair MacLeod, one of Canada’s most distinguished writers, best known for his critically acclaimed collection of short-stories Island as well as his multiple award-winning novel No GreatMischief, which took home the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
Other guest authors include Lawrence Hill of the international best-seller and prize winning The Book of Negroes (published as Someone Knows My Name in the USA); short-story author and journalist Zsuzsi Gartner (Better Living Through Plastic Explosives); humourist young adult writer Susan Juby (Alice, I Think, The Woefield Poultry Collective); non-fiction and fiction writer Margaret Macpherson (Nellie McClung: Voice for the Voiceless, Body Trade); historical fiction novelist Jack Whyte (A Dream of Eagles, The Templar Trilogy); fiction and poetry writer Miranda Hill (Sleeping Funny) and celebrated poet John Burnside (Black Cat Bone). Local author and festival director Stella Harvey will also be debuting her new book Nicolai’s Daughters.
Read our blogs, pass them on, tell us what you think and come join us at festival 2012.