Posts Tagged ‘writing’

The Life She Wanted

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

I wrote this short story quite a few years ago in between edits of Conduct in Question. Sometimes I think that for a novelist, writing short stories can be similar to a painter making sketches for a large canvas. Have a look around the site. Enjoy.

The Life She Wanted

Martha Myles dusted the flour from her hands and wiped them on her apron. She found the beaters at the back of the kitchen drawer and pressed them into the electric mixer. Her new cookbook was propped open on the counter. With reading glasses perched on her nose, she stared at the recipe. Endless fine print ran across the page, obscuring what ought to be a simple task. (more…)

THE FIRST DRAFT: One trick to get there.

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

It’s a marvellous “high” seeing those three hundred pages stacked up on your desk-the first draft! How long did it take? Three months, a year, a decade? I remember when the last page chugged out of my, by then, wheezing printer that I gazed at that first draft in awe for at least ten minutes. It was the first glimpse of my new-born.

But how did it get there? It’s important to give that some thought, especially now that the real work of revising lies ahead. What did I learn from completing it? (more…)

EDWARD HOPPER: CAPTURING PRIVATE, SOLITARY MOMENTS

Friday, December 19th, 2008

AUTOMAT, by Edward Hopper

I have a fascination with the paintings of the American artist, Edward Hopper. Somehow-whether by technique, imagination or subject matter-he is able to create the most compelling and evocative scenes, which stir my imagination.

One of my favourites is Automat an oil painted by him in 1927.

A young woman with a yellow felt hat sits absolutely alone in a barren restaurant drinking a cup of coffee. I look at this and immediately feel her isolation and loneliness as if it were my own. Is she running away? What thoughts are in her mind as she stares into the cup?

Right away, Hopper has got us speculating, as he does with all his paintings. Where did she come from? Where is she going? You’re caught right in the middle of a story which you can “read” backwards or forwards in time. I was so taken with this painting that the woman in it became the inspiration for a character in a short story, The Thief, and now a novel which I am writing. Struck by her isolation and self-containment, I called her Celia.

I search the painting to see what emotions Hopper creates and how he does it. Behind the solitary woman is a large window, blackened by an impenetrably gloomy night. The lights or reflections of lights recede into the background giving a murky, tunnel-like effect, leading to nowhere. The radiator, crouching at the left of the painting, seems just as isolated as the girl in the composition, but almost looks more communicative than her.  The lonely,solitary moment is caught in time-permanently engraved on my mind.

Just think how many stories could grow from this one painting! Will someone, a boyfriend or family member enter that door, hoping to bring her back? If no one comes, where will she go as soon as she drinks her coffee? To a dingy hotel room? Onto a train to New York? That would be just like so many other Hopper paintings, which so often depict hotel lobbies, motels and railway cars. Or maybe she will change her mind and go back home.

Perhaps this painting speaks to me of the apprehension of the unknown as we proceed moment to moment through life. So often, we are unsure and tentative, fearing to venture out into the unfamiliar. Then again, maybe the girl is incapable of reaching out to others. After all, for me, Celia-the character in my story who was inspired by this painting- grew into a character that was desperate to get free of her self-imposed isolation from the world. And so, for me-art, painting, sculpture, and photography are so often an inspiration for writing. Of course, all art [whether it is painting or writing or music] speaks of its own time-that is, the time and place in which the artist lived.

Hopper painted much of his work in the twenties, thirties and forties of the last century, when rapid industrialization and urbanization were forcing people from their old dwellings and old ways of living. Consequently, so many people felt lost and displaced. And yet, the emotions evoked by his work are universal, whatever the time and place. Great art transcends time and place and touches a nerve in us all, which communicates those universal emotions and ideas to us. Just like a photograph, Automat is a permanent moment in time existing in a world which, at the same time, seems so transient.

And that is why such a painting as the Automat inspires me even today.

ON THE MAGIC OF TRAVEL AND WRITING

Friday, December 12th, 2008

Magic in travel? You must be kidding! All we hope is to get there and back safely. When we consider the long lines, the cancelled flights, the rude security staff and the cramped seats on planes, don’t we all feel a lot like cattle being pushed and prodded from A to B? Now you’re asking for magic? Isn’t that a bit much?

Perhaps it is a tall order, but I’m thinking of those moments-and they may be few and far between-when suddenly, on your travels, you see or experience something that makes you view the world in a new way, from a different perspective. The world opens up and that, in itself, may be magical. Isn’t that the real purpose of travel-unless we’re talking about business trips? (more…)

Death in Venice

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

Do you know the great novella by Thomas Mann, Death in Venice? If you haven’t read it, you may well have seen the movie. When I was in Venice, I was haunted by this story as I wandered through the narrow, twisting calles on my last trip more than seven years ago. In fact, I entitled the photograph below Death in Venice, which I took of a cafe on San Marco.

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A Romance

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Venice is filled with canals and Squares surrounded by ancient palazzos-perfect places to linger and reflect. Narrow fog-ridden calles run like silken spider-webs connecting the Squares and taking me ever onward in exploration of the city and myself. I am a writer and a photographer and I am in love with Venice. I walk through an archway from which blind gargoyles stare down upon me. (more…)

The Traveller’s Mindset

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

This is the second article in the Writing and Travelling series. Is there any difference between the traveller’s and the writer’s mind set?

Things to Think About Before Leaving-Still in Toronto.

I am a great fan of the writer and thinker Alain De Botton, and particularly of his book The Art of Travel.

In that book, he makes an excellent point which is relevant to my musings. Why is it that when we’re on a trip, we take such keen interest in everything we see. Our senses become acute and we photograph and take notes with great enthusiasm. (more…)

Welcome. What Do You Look for in a Novel?

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

I’d like to welcome everyone to The Osgoode Trilogy Blog, which is brand new to the site. As I am just learning my way around it, please be patient, but have a look yourself. If you have any comments about the novels, Conduct in Question, Final Paradox and A Trial of One, all part of the trilogy or suggestions about the site and future topics of interest, don’t hesitate to send me a message.

I began writing the trilogy many years ago when I was practicing law and raising a family here in Toronto. Looking back, it seems I’ve gathered together a lot of thoughts about writing and publishing, which I’m going to share 9-10 articles] in hopes we can get a conversation going. So, please don’t hesitate to respond. And check back regularly for articles, photographs etc. So, what do you look for in a novel? (more…)