I don't know which deity I blew in my sleep but the last few months have been superb.
After getting the write-in-residence gig at the Edmonton Public Library, I also got a column in Metro news. The weekend column is pretty broad but so is the audience. For the first time ever, I get email from readers. Can you believe it?! Of course, my real love is still magazines, and in the last few months I got to geek out on helium, live in West Edmonton Mall for three days, interviewed an anonymous blogger at a payphone for VICE and got my first piece in Alberta Views, a magazine I really respect. I also spent a week in Texas for a few travel pieces, which you'll see between summer and fall. Magazines have treated me so well that I got a few nods from the Alberta Magazine Awards, for my work on Temporary Foreign Workers and on climate change, but I'm also nominated for Edmonton's Emerging Artist Award this month.
So, I ask you again, which deity did I blow to deserve this?
I'm humbled to inherit the office of Jocelyn Brown, the Edmonton Public Library's current writer-in-residence, and spill coffee on the same desk as her, Marty Chan, Chris Craddock and other local writers before them.
Today, Dec. 9, it was announced that Natasha Deen and I would be the 2013 writers-in-residence — not only the first time two writers have served at the same time but in the EPL's centennial year, no less.
This year it's billed as the Metro Edmonton Federation of Libraries Writers in Residence. I know. A mouthful. But here's all you need to know: Natasha will rotate through library offices in St. Albert, Sherwood Park and Fort Saskatchewan, and I'll be stationed downtown at the Stanley Milner Library, while spreading my workshops throughout the city's many branches.
Natasha is the author of several novels and therefore a wise complement to my nonfiction expertise.
I moved to this city from Vancouver in 2006 and found Edmonton to be incredibly inviting, not just socially but professionally. Though my studies were to do with screenwriting, my passion is creative nonfiction. So it was upon the magazines of Edmonton that I built my young career, namely at Avenue where I was an editor and writer for four and a half years. I've become a bit an evangelist for magazines, so I'll be spreading my gospels through various workshops on the art of nonfiction narrative.
Another focus of my programming will be on digital literacy and publishing. Unlike those who might poo-poo what Facebook and Twitter have done to our quality of writing, let alone our social wellbeing, I think digital is the greatest thing to happen to writing since Gutenberg's printing press. More people are publishing — even if it's trivial — then ever before and I want to help patrons channel their creativity into the different digital platforms available. I'll of course have my office open for one-on-one mentoring and critiquing, for those young and old, amateur and professional, and will lend my editing expertise to help their stories shine.
My first few weeks will be spent meeting and greeting at the various libraries and finding out what you, the patrons, would like to see. Visit epl.ca for a schedule in late December/early January. Here are some of my ideas (very much subject to change):
— The One-week Magazine Challenge: I will work with patrons to pitch, write, edit, shoot and layout a digital, or print, a magazine in seven days
— 3-Day Novel Writing Challenge as Public Art: I just spent three days in the Mall, so why not the library? I want to go 3 days straight, sitting in the window display of the Stanley Milner Library, fiercely writing a novel to promote it as an attainable goal.
— Literary Nonfiction Workshop: Finding truth in facts
— Literary Nonfiction 2: The personal essay
— Literary Nonfiction 3: How to pitch an editor
— Digital Literacy: Which blog publisher is for me?
— Digital Literacy 2: Why we Tweet
— Digital Literacy 3: Which eReader is right for me?
— Oral Storytelling: Writing for the ear
— Screenplays: Writing for the eye
— Creative Writing: Writing for the senses
— The Art of Slam Poetry
— Youth Only Story Slam competition
November and December were particularly productive months for my magazine writing.
Quill & Quire - "About a Boy"
Avenue Edmonton - "The Winterless City Strategy"
Alberta Venture - "Special Delivery"
Leap - "Beyond the Blade"