Tag Archives: ” a father’s son novel

A Cracked Egg, Eating Disorders & Pigs

Image result for a pig and an egg

It’s a busy week. On the heels of Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk Day last week, which aims to help end the stigma surrounding mental health, that ridiculous Instagram egg is apparently feeling the effects — and pressure — of social media. The egg, it would seem, has cracked. It is also further proof that with each new social media site that goes up, we seem to be further devolving as online consumers. Click here to watch the video and accompanying article from the BBC.

We’re also at the tail end of Canada’s national Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW). Although many of us associate eating disorders with ultra-skinny models trying to reach that elusive -1 size waist, it’s actually a lot more pervasive throughout society than you might think (and something I wrote about through Ali in A Father’s Son). In fact, I was surprised to learn that 1 in 4 people who suffer from an eating disorder are male.

Finally, today marks the first day of the Lunar New Year, and unless you’ve been buried under a huge egg, you know that this is the Year of the Pig. I don’t put too much stock into horoscopes, but for that it’s worth, the pig is associated with winter, the energy of yin, and the element of water. It’s closest Western zodiac signs are Scorpio and Sagittarius.

Cat lovers will probably not be big fans of the pig. According to Chinese mythology, after the first 11 animals raced to greet the Jade Emperor, the rat riding in on the back of the ox before slyly jumping ahead at the last minute (which is why the rat is numero uno in the Chinese zodiac and often considered the cleverest of all the animals), the Jade Emperor sent the rat to fetch a 12th animal.

Originally it was supposed to be a cat, but the rat had other plans, tricking the innocent feline while ushering the pig to meet the Jade Emperor. A sad day, really, for cats everywhere.


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Quote of the Day

Image result for schopenhauer

“The effect of music is so very much more powerful and penetrating than is that of the other arts, for these others speak only of the shadow, but music of the essence.”

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860)

Or, to put it a little more bluntly like Friedrich Nietzsche did, “Without music life would be a mistake.”

I’d like to say I love Schopenhauer’s quote so much I bought the company, but the truth is much more prosaic: I merely included it in A Father’s Son.

Schopenhauer was a titan of philosophy, probably best remembered today for his work The World as Will and Representation. Although not as commonly known as other big names like Plato, Aristotle, and Descartes, for example, here are a few (relatively unknown) people he had a significant impact on with their own work: Joseph Campbell, Albert Einstein, Friedrich Nietzsche, Leo Tolstoy.

Yeah, I guess Schopenhauer was sort of important in the grand scheme of things.

Anyway, the above quote comes from a longer segment that I’m including here because (1) I agree with it; and (2) Schopenhauer explains it better than I ever could.

“Music…stands quite apart from all the [other arts]. In it we do not recognize the copy, the repetition, of any Idea of the inner nature of the world. Yet it is such a great and exceedingly fine art, its effect on man’s innermost nature is so powerful, and it is so completely and profoundly understood by him in his innermost being as an entirely universal language, whose distinctness surpasses even that of the world of perception itself, that in it we certainly have to look for more than that exercitium arithmeticae occultum nescientis se numerare animi [“an unconscious exercise in arithmetic in which the mind does not know it is counting”] which Leibniz took it to be…We must attribute to music a far more serious and profound significance that refers to the innermost being of the world and of our own self…

“Music is as immediate an objectification and copy of the whole will as the world itself is, indeed as the Ideas are, the multiplied phenomenon of which constitutes the world of individual things. Therefore music is by no means like the other arts, namely a copy of the Ideas, but a copy of the will itself, the objectivity of which are the Ideas. For this reason the effect of music is so very much more powerful and penetrating than is that of the other arts, for these others speak only of the shadow, but music of the essence…

“The inexpressible depth of all music, by virtue of which it floats past us as a paradise quite familiar and yet eternally remote, and is so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain. In the same way, the seriousness essential to it and wholly excluding the ludicrous from its direct and peculiar province is to be explained from the fact that its object is not the representation, in regard to which deception and ridiculousness alone are possible, but that this object is directly the will; and this is essentially the most serious of all things, as being that on which all depends.”


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Music for Writing

Image result for eyes closed, listening to music, looking at computer

Hey! I finally found a picture of my doppelgänger! Except I have a mullet of curly hair that men are jealous of and women swoon over. And my face is much more spatial – and palatial. Oh, and my back is always erect when I type. Always. Well, there’s also the hot issue of my eyes, which are not quite as beady and shine with illumination like a handsome dwarf star that’s run out of hydrogen to burn so begins collapsing onto itself. Hmm. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I am also a man, like the man in the picture, and I wear clothes and have a laptop computer.

My apologies for getting distracted by my doppelgänger. Now, onto today’s post!

Murakami Haruki published a memoir in 2013 called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. Oh, that Murakami is so quirky!

Anyway, it’s early Sunday morning here. I’ve been writing since 5 a.m., and I was suddenly struck with this idea to share What I Listen To When I Listen To Music While Writing.

We’re all unique in our habits and patterns, but for me I can’t write creatively without my earbuds firmly in my side head holes. I can write in public and in private; with chaos going on all around me or in perfect tranquility; inside or outside; at a desk, on the floor, or in transit; with or without my bikini mesh high-cut thong on; etcetera; and so on; ad infinitum.

But without my instrumental music forming the backdrop to my writing experience, I might as well be writing in Polish. Which wouldn’t go over very well because I know exactly zero Polish words.

Per the advice of an old friend who emailed me yesterday and insisted I stop quoting other people in my Quote of the Day posts, I’ll actually quote myself for the first time in more than four years of running this site.

There’s a moment in A Father’s Son when the father, Rick Maloney, is listening to Pachelbel’s Canon in D late at night and becomes unusually emotional. As he tries to explain the raw power of music to his son, Rick says,

“You know, Schopenhauer once said that the effect of music is so very much more powerful and penetrating than is that of the other arts, for these others speak only of the shadow, but music of the essence. I love that line: for these others speak only of the shadow, but music of the essence!” He opened his eyes and looked into mine. “I’m convinced that if angels do actually exist, they might very well have come down to Earth and inspired the great Baroque artist to write this canon.”

That’s kind of how I feel every morning after cruising into my “office” (coffee shop) and I  begin writing as I bask in the auditory splendour of these incredibly gifted musicians.

So, if you’re looking for some new music to write to or meditate to or, I don’t know, party to (?), click on the following links and see if they turn your crank.





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Writing Your First Book

Image result for the many, wyl menmuir

There was an interesting article in The Guardian a while ago titled “How to finish a novel: tracking a book’s progress from idea to completion.” It’s about a go-getter named Wyl Menmuir and an app he used called WriteTrack (now known as Prolifiko) to keep tabs on his progress/set daily goals over his journey to write – and finish! – his first novel.

The original aim was to complete a 44,242-word book in 124 days.

Before we go on, I have to point out a couple of things. To begin, I first wrote about a similar subject when I created a Page on this site called “Evolution of a Novel.” I described how much changes in the years (plural) it takes most authors to write a novel. I cut and paste a single paragraph, the opening to A Father’s Son, from its inception in 2006 to its completion in 2012 to its published form in 2013, and the differences between drafts is pretty staggering. Why? Because time had passed and I could go in with fresh eyes at each new stage.

The fact that Tolstoy and Ondaatje each only took five years to craft War and Peace and The English Patient, respectively, is insane. Arundhati Roy, who took home the Man Booker Prize in 1997 for her debut novel The God of Small Things, will be releasing her second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, next month. In case you lost count, that’s 20 years for her follow-up work of fiction.

My own second novel is scheduled to be published next spring. I began the first draft of The Immortal Flower in winter 2001. By the time it comes out, the writing/editing/publishing of that single book will represent 39% of my life. Ouch!

Second, since when did a novel fall under 50,000 words? Doesn’t that get tagged as a “novella” anymore? It’s my understanding that most novels – even in today’s age of hyperconnectivity – fall in the word count range of 80,000 to 100,000 words.

Than again, maybe I’m full of **** and **** because Mr. Menmuir ended up completing his novel in one year, 10 months and two days. In the grand scheme of things, I’d say that’s still pretty fast, especially for someone who’d never finished a full-length novel before.

The real icing on this gravy train of literary sweetness, though? Menmuir not only finished The Many, but he got it published. Amazing. But there’s more! He not only got it published, but he was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2016!

I therefore say to all of you out there who’ve been sitting on an idea for a book for years: Go do it! If you need an app, download it. Otherwise, read The Guardian article I linked to above and then tell yourself, I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. Set aside a single hour a day at first – even 30 minutes in the beginning – and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you may be able to impress even yourself.

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Paying Heed to Einstein, Cloaking Your Daggers

Albert E. once said, “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” I think about that quote almost every time someone asks me about my fiction. “I can’t believe you went through what you did!” readers will say after finishing A Father’s Son. “Your dad seemed like a really good person at heart. I’m sorry it ended the way it did.”

“Whoa whoa whoa!” I’ll say. “Hold the teletype machine. It’s a work of fiction.”

“Oh,” the person will reply, like this has unlocked some convoluted mystery for them even though it says “A NOVEL” right below the title on the cover of the book. “So is it based on truth?”

I was reminded of this anecdote recently when doing some background research on one of my favourite books, The Count of Monte Cristo. I think it goes without saying that Alexandre Dumas was one of the great writers of the 19th century and is a formidable presence in the Western canon of literature. However, the Count was essentially a retelling of what happened in real life to Pierre Picaud. Today, nobody remembers who this Pierre fellow was, but most people can tell you they’ve heard of Monte Cristo, either as the page-turning story of revenge or as a fried sandwich.

What was Dumas’ secret? Keeping his secret a secret! Journalists do it every day in the name of “exposing the truth.” Artists have been doing it since the beginning of time. The fact of the matter is this: No person is an island. We’re influenced and impacted by the events that unfold around us. The key to genius – at least artistically – is how to shape these events in such a way that makes them relatable and enjoyable and inspiring.

I think I’ll keep that in mind this morning as I return to my current work in progress and write about events and people that aren’t real, but will hopefully come across as completely believable to the reader.

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