I am not a Liar

This past week I had the privilege to attend the AWP writers conference in Washington, DC. I stayed at a swanky hotel and met all kinds of impressive people. This story, however, is not about one of those people.

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I was sitting in the hotel lobby trying to decide what to do with the rest of my evening. I was exhausted from a day of going to panels, navigating the book fair, and trying my best not to get lost but I wasn’t ready to let the day end.

I was approached by a man, maybe in his early sixties, who looked a lot like the Marlboro man if he’d bought himself a suit and snap on glasses. We began chatting, he told me he was in DC for business and asked what I do.

“I’m a writer.” I replied quite proudly. “I’m here for the conference.”

He immediately scrunched up his face and said “So you are a liar. You tell lies for a living.”

I laughed and smiled at him. This is something I hear a lot. I agreed with him and told him that he better watch what he says before I put him in one of my books and kill him spectacularly (that one never fails to get a laugh). As the evening progressed and other people drifted in and out of our conversation he repeatedly would make the joke “but she’s a liar. It’s what she does.”

To be honest, it started to get to me. I haven’t been able to get it out of my head for the last few days because I’m not a liar. I’m really not. Writers don’t write books to tell lies or trick people. Writers find creative ways to tell universal truths, ways to tell stories of the people who don’t have the language to do so. We write to find ways of entertaining you while touching your heart, teaching you about humanity; love, hate, passion, betrayal. These aren’t lies. Just because I invented the characters in the book doesn’t mean they aren’t people I know. In fact, they are always people I have met, stories they have told me, things I have experienced. I want to tell profound stories about amazing people, about funny people, about people who are you, who are me, who are all of us.

I am not a liar. I am just a girl trying to find a better way to tell the truth.

 

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It’s okay to let your phone die

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Trying to navigate 2016 is a complicated and daunting task. Many of us are still trying to figure out what it means to be a well rounded person in a day and age when technology tracks our every move and we’re constantly connected to everyone we know. These connections, however great they may be, can make it impossible for a person to take care of themselves.

On a daily basis when I wake up the first think I do is check my phone. Emails, facebook notifications, snaps, stories, tweets, retweets, instagram notifications, text messages; hell, it’s exhausting just listing them. From the moment I wake up I’m already thinking about what other people need from me, what other people are doing. Half the time I spend so long answering emails and messages that I’m unable to style my hair (to those who know me, this is a big deal).

Last month I went three weeks without a phone… I know, right? At first it felt crazy. How would I ever know where I’m going? How would I know what’s going on in the world? How would I even know what time it is? It was a rough transition for sure but after about a week I realized that I was a lot more relaxed. I was able to control when people asked me for things because I had to physically go to my computer and check. This didn’t mean I was slowing down, it just meant that I didn’t have to have my world revolve around everyone else.

It’s important to tune out the world once in a while, take stock of what you need and want from life, not your friends and coworkers. I’m beginning to learn that sometimes it’s okay to let your phone die and just live in the moment. Take things at your own pace, one step at a time. Read books, watch movies, enjoy a beautiful day, then get to that mess of notifications at the top of your screen. IT’S OKAY. The world will still be there when you’re ready for it, so take care of yourself before you take care of your emails. They aren’t going anywhere but if you’re not careful life might pass you by.

 

Why do it on your own?

There is something so cool about meeting people who want to do the same thing as you. This is especially true, for me, when I meet someone who wants to write.torontofilmLast night I had the privilege of answering questions at the Toronto Film School about their Writing for Film and Television program… and it was actually a blast. Sitting at the front of the room beside the ever impressive Adam Till, I found myself thinking back to a year ago when I had sat in the back row of 708 with my dad, scrutinizing every face and comment.

The people who I now call friends sat all around me, strangers. I’m trying to remember who I sat near but the whole day is a blur of paperwork and presentations.

Last night, looking at the eager faces of newbies, I found that all I wanted to do was tell them what an amazing support group they will have. When I did get around to my chance to speak, I  eagerly explained the tight-knit community of writers the program created for us. As I spoke, it was a relief to see that they were relieved. That, despite Adam’s amazing program, they needed to know that they weren’t going to be doing this alone.

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That’s the thing about writers, I guess. We like everyone to believe that we’re smart and confident, that we enjoy being alone and never wonder if our ideas are any good. The thing is– we struggle just as much as anyone else, maybe even more. The industry is, simply put, a bit of a bitch. Having the support of other people who are struggling to break into the arts is the only way you’re going to get there. Well, it’s the only way you’re going to get there and keep your sanity.

If you want to write, join a writing room, join a reading troupe, join a storytellers circle. Join a writers support group (I’m a member of The Insecure Writers Support Group on Facebook and it’s awesome!).

No one ever made it to the top without a little help, so why haven’t you reached out yet?

Why it’s Cool that Canadians Crashed the Census Server.

There have been a lot of jokes lately about how excited Canadians were to fill out the #Census2016 . By the way, it was due today.
stats I’ll be honest, when I got home and found that little notice in the mail I was pretty excited. I’m 26 years old and I’ve never filled one out before. I immediately rushed up to my apartment and opened my laptop– I couldn’t wait to tell the government what I’ve been up to.

So many Canadians felt the same way that within a few hours we crashed the server. Cue the endless jokes about how “nerdy” we are as a country.

But my question is, why is that a bad thing?

I’m incredibly proud to be Canadian. I cry when I hear O’ Canada. I always vote. I trust my government. Yes, you read me correctly.  The cool thing is, I think a lot of us do.

In a time when people like Donald Trump actually have a chance of being elected and raging civil war in Syria, I think us Canadians are really lucky. We have a leader who, despite what some may believe, is smart, capable, congenial, and (obviously) a gorgeous specimen. When people were excited to fill out the census, it really spoke to the nature of our citizens (sure, they only gave us 10 days to do it). It speaks to the fact that we have nothing to be afraid of and wherever you think our government falls short, that’s something pretty amazing.

So there it is, Canada. It’s cool to like your government, especially when you have one as awesome as we do.