Into the desert

It’s not a metaphor. I’m in Arizona. Not quite the wandering-for-forty-years, Ben Hur, Bugs-Bunny-mirage-enducing, camel-train- type desert – more like urban sprawl, anti-immigrant sentiment enshrined in law, and forced lawns, green with better-used-elsewhere water, plunked in the middle of saguaro cactuses and mini-mountains that from a distance could easily be mistaken for large piles of dirt and rubble, waiting to be used for landscaping projects.

Just because there’s nothing to write doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write it

There was going to come a day when I had nothing blogworthy to say, when the fiddly administrative details of my day to day life were sitting their fat asses on my creative spirit, blocking my wind pipe. But you know what? Today is not going to be that day. And you know what else?  The fact that I’m swamped, overwhelmed and still in my pyjamas mid-day, ready to rip my head off, is blogworthy.

I know an old lady who swallowed a fly…

So here’s the trajectory. I take a year off to work on a novel and short memoir pieces. Then I start a blog in order to put something out there, get some attention. To push traffic to the blog I post my work and comments on facebook. Now in order to get more traffic to FB and the blog I’m told I should tweet.

Solitary Confinement

I’ve always been a very social person. Alone, I’m more inclined to phone someone to chat than I am to, say, think about things. I mean I like to think about things, but I’ll quickly call a friend or my mom to run it by them. Indeed this leaves the things I think about only so profound. How deep can you go if you’re constantly popping up to report on progress?

Writerly addictions and the evils of envy

In response to a funny and revelatory conversation my friend Lola had with herself about whether she was drinking too much, shared with those of us in her blogosphere (photo included), I felt compelled to w

Take a minute

When Jian Ghomeshi gave his preamble on CBC's Q the other day - set, as always, to evocative Enya-like music - he talked about the season, why it's magical, and why we should make it a time for reflection and gratitude. A time to look beyond the frenzy at the mall and take stock. He asked that we hear him out, lest we assume he’d simply fallen prey to the seasonal warm and fuzzies.

Tis the season

One day the writing about writing police will come knocking and tell me I’ve taken too many liberties with this blog. But until then…

Good lessons from assholes

Why can't we learn the lesson that cookie cutter dogma and political fidelity will rarely serve us well in identifying tyranny, then fighting it? 

Firing off in all directions or Avoiding one basket

This isn’t the first time I’ve discussed my compulsion to genre hop. Nothing as dire as drug or alcohol addiction. Maybe more akin to buying too many shoes. I self-diagnosed, and  determined I have Distraction Compulsion Disorder (DCD). But focused DCD.

Jesus Is Coming

For those of you who have been waiting for a story I will give you this little one. It went in to the Aspen short short story competition. It lined up, I’m told, against 4,500 others, which made me feel good.

Agree to Disagree

When I was in Junior High everyone knew that Franky Giblon’s father used to climb onto the ice during his son's hockey games and scream constructive criticism at him. Some families just work that way.

They “like” me – but do they really like me?

On CBC’s Spark the other day Nora Young interviewed David Plotz, the editor of Slate.  He

Not the Plan

Got into my running gear this morning with a plan. Walked my kid to school and ran into the moms in the schoolyard. I’ve always had this secret feeling there’s a mom gang that I’m not part of, and while they are always friendly when I walk up, I suspect they have mom-gang plans they wait until I've left to execute.

Being Aviva Rubin

No doubt one of the reasons Being John Malkovich was successful is because he’s a famous actor and people allowed themselves to believe they were entering his actual mind.

The fact I’m not yet famous might make this less compelling, but I can offer a peek into my brain. Being Aviva Rubin.

Occupy Yourself

My friend Wendy asked if I was planning to use the blog to write about bigger issues. We spend a lot of time talking about this troubled world, and she’s only got so much patience for circular introspection.

Space – the cluttered frontier

Figure everyone has been wondering how the desk is working. I don’t hide the fact that tidiness and organization are not my strengths. While I’m capable of starting at clean, my rate of deterioration is impressive.

Dear Diary…

It doesn’t happen overnight

 I’ve hit a bit of a wall. It’s 2:15 am and I’m up crying, well sniffling. Things are always worse in the middle of the night but in the middle of the night that logic is never helpful.

Can writing distract me from writing?

I’m learning all sorts of things about being a writer and one of them is that fall is grants season – a busy time. The first deadline I’ll hit is October 1, on the heels of Rosh Hashanah.

Is distraction the enemy of productivity?

As someone inclined to look up from my writing desk when anyone passes my second story window, to make tea, coffee and snacks multiple times a day, to pee more frequently than my ageing bladder demands, to peruse the Facebook photos of complete strangers I’ve allowed one degree of separation to approve: I have given much thought to this question.

Why the Library Matters to Me


I left graduate school when I realized I wouldn’t make a notable contribution to the world of ideas.

Word Garbage

Here's my piece published in the Free Paper being handed out around Toronto this weekend.

There is garbage everywhere. It’s at the curb, on the side of the highway, overflowing from bins, captured in video clips of stinking bulldozed mountains. What about word garbage? Is anyone trying to figure out if we can send our spam to Michigan? our e-mails (210 billion a day) to Wawa? our word-junk into space?

Listing Obsessions

One of the exercises we are given at the Star Island writing retreat is to document our obsessions on index cards. Joyce Maynard makes the request the first day for examination later in the week. Strangely, off the top of my head, I can come up with only two - my body and food.

Star Island - lessons in retreating

The day before I leave for Star Island my kids’ dad tells me a hurricane is on its way up from Haiti and will hit the coast off New Hampshire in the next day or two. I’m not sure what he expects me to do with the information so I do what I usually do and panic.

A Peek Inside - What's hard wired?

Things I’ve always wanted to be:
• A writer
• Easygoing
• Good-natured
• Self-sufficient
• Notably smart
• Focused
• Risk-taker – as in seize the day and follow your dreams!
• Patient
• Recognized
• Organized
• Careful and considered
• Neat freak(ish)
• Independent
• Undemanding
• 5’5”
• Able to say no when I don’t want to do something
• Thin (very un-feminist)
• Engaged (not to be married)

More thoughts on too little time or Tic, tic, tic…

I’m having a hard time with time these days, or just a hard time period, with no time to sort it out.

I’ve felt out of sorts since the school year ended and the kids went off to their various camps - a whole new set of drop off and pick up locations, start times, end times, supplies and belongings to misplace or lose, likes and dislikes to air.

Chasing the dream

I’ve been talking about writing since I was in my late teens. But I was one of those people who needed trauma or remarkable events as inspiration. Break-ups, crazy journeys, extraordinary people catapulted me into producing any number of pages, after which I’d sputter, slow, and come to a halt. Like millions of others I have folders of poems, the odd short story, and chunks of novels written over the course of 30 years. I rarely spoke about my desire to write for fear of being one of those people that goes on and on about wanting to be a writer and does nothing about it.

Whose voice is this anyway?

At a Toronto International Film Festival screening years ago when they weren’t yet calling it TIFF and were still using musty, rundown rep theatres with faint glimmers of past elegance - I showed up to a screening and grabbed my favourite spot on the left aisle about ten from the front, guaranteed to ensure a view regardless of height, hair or hat. Few people took this seat by choice, unless nothing else was left. But I always went straight to it.

It’s a process not an event…

I didn’t get the Ontario Arts Council grant. Fuck em if they don’t know a great thing. Well maybe a good thing, but one day it could be great.

Is there time to write and fix the world too?

Was listening to CBC the other day as I was driving home from Canadian Tire with a trunk full of potentially toxic items - blow-up boat, beach umbrella, picture frame hooks, Twizzlers, freezer containers, and heard Sandra Steingraber (a biologist, cancer survivor and environmental activist focused on toxins and kids) being interviewed about her latest book Raising Elijah

To the man who astounds and confounds me - Happy Father’s Day!

I’ve had a complicated and fraught relationship with my dad and often wonder why it is we still talk to each other. We fight about everything from the political to the practical – from feminism, to most aspects of how I run my day to day life, to why my front door is hard to open – “But it’s my front door dad!” My brothers and I all benefit from the jack-hammer-like insight he is incapable of not sharing. He claims to be an equal opportunity critic.

It doesn’t have to be perfect it just has to be great

Talked in my last blog piece about Huffpo’s Complete Guide to Blogging rule perfection is the enemy of done. I love that line. Wish I’d coined it myself. I secretly think I should have been in communications or advertising. I’ve come up with some great slogans and one-liners over the years.

Feeding the Beast

Was reading the Huffington Post's Complete Guide to Blogging. Some might argue it’s dated -3 yrs in the online world is a lifetime - but it tells great stories, offers fine tips - some obvious but worth revisiting, and speaks with humour and intelligence to what I consider the relatively unchanging business of getting started.

While you were sleeping

One of the good things about getting older (and I understand there are one or two) is that I need less and less sleep.

Here I am: Reject me.

Note: This is about literary rejection. I’ll save the other form for the memoir.

Last fall I applied for 16 Ontario Arts Council (OAC) Writer’s Reserve Grants. They require submissions directly to publishers that act as third party recommenders. I could have applied for 35. I decided to be selective and save on stamps and large envelopes.

“Read through the list carefully and pick the ones that sound like a fit,” my friend Rachel Zolf, an award-winning poet, told me. “Don’t worry about getting rejected. It’s part of the deal. I’ve been rejected tons of times.”

Eat, love, write – then pray

While writing about writing is still writing I thought I’d describe what else I’m writing. It's a memoir made up of short stories that aim to capture the humour, heartache and universality of changing directions, missing clear signs and making and repeating silly choices. It tracks the adventures and misadventures of my heart, on road and off-road. I know it sounds a bit self-helpish but that’s NOT the intention.

Space – the final frontier

Now that I’m no longer at work where I had my own cubicle I’ve struggled to sort out the geography part of my writing. I live in a tall, thin Victorian house, over a hundred years old with my girlfriend and my two kids. While there are a fair number of rooms, all of them are spoken for.

The truth about technology and me.

I proudly call myself a luddite, laughingly label myself a techno-wiener but really I’m embarrassed by my lack of technical savvy. It’s grounded in a set of fears that run long and deep, a complete lack of interest, and a sense of anxiety and exhaustion that comes over me whenever I am pointed to a set of technical instructions.