Location, location

Writers are often asked where we write. It is a question as much about writing process as it is about location. What spaces provide inspiration, focus, or unblocks a writer?

When I’m in the process of writing a novel, it’s usually at home in front of my computer, or in a cafe. I write in long blocks or short breaks between appointments. My most productive writing has happened “on vacation” in a busy library in Del Rio Texas, just a block away from my father’s house.

First drafts of poetry nearly always happen in the moments in between stuff, when I’m alone and waiting for the next thing to happen. Buses are good, so are trains. Restaurants, too, when I arrive too early for my date.

I asked the November 2nd Brockton Writers Series writers to answer the question, to share something of their own writing process with the audience. Here are their answers:

Nehal El-Hadi writes “absolutely everywhere”. She often begins a piece on her cell-phone, texting herself bits and pieces of prose to work on later.

Carole Giangrande carries around a “crummy, old , battered notebook” to record her ideas.

Jules Lewis likes to write at the University of Toronto Libraries, “because it’s free”.

May Lui writes anywhere except in her apartment, where she gets easily distracted. She carries a tiny notebook to “scribble down brilliant sentences”.

So, where do you write?

A year of words and community

Conversations between neighbours in dog parks can lead to great things…

Just over a year ago, Melanie Janisse, local poet, artist and Zoot’s Cafe owner, and I were standing around St. Veronika’s schoolyard, watching our dogs sniff the ground. We started talking about the need to create a literary space in the neighbourhood, a space that would be welcoming of all writers and readers. A couple of months later, we began the Brockton Writers Series. Melanie offered her space, and I organized the writers. At first, we highlighted those who lived and worked in the neighbourhood, but soon requests from writers living all over the city, and even from out of town, began to flood in. Our audience grew too, and soon Zoots became just a little too crowded for our series.

So, in the spring, we were invited in by the Jeremiah Community at St. Anne’s Church a marvellous, historic church on Gladstone, just north of Dundas.

Another change came in September, when a few writers spoke about the need to chat with one another about the writing life. We now have a writers’ networking time that begins a half hour before the event so that emerging and established writers can talk about publishing, craft, funding, and promotion.

Over the past year, BWS has hosted over 40 featured writers and about 20 open mic writers as well, including Anthony De Sa, Claudia Dey, Carey Toane, Vivek Shraya, Rose Cullis, Salimah Valiani, Nora Gold, White Noise Machine (aka Mike Smith) and Adebe D.A., to name just a few.

As a writer and Brocktonite, I’m honoured to curate this series. Writers bring their best work. The audiences are respectful and friendly. People talk with one another during the break. I leave each night feeling just a little more connected and inspired.

Join us! ¬†Our next event will be on Tuesday November 2nd, 7-9pm (with writers’ networking at 6:30pm) at St. Anne’s Church, 270 Gladstone. The event is free, but donations for the writers are welcomed. Refreshments also by donation (to the Jeremiah Project) and books available for sale. November’s featured writers are: Nehal El-Hadi, Carole Giangrande, Jules Lewis and May Lui.


Farzana with Jasmine D'Costa, Sept 2010