Day 1, Prompt 1

Here we go with the first writing prompt of the year. I don’t expect anything wonderful to come out the first few times I write these, but things improve with practice.

The first prompt I’ve chosen is,

What can happen in a second?

A snap judgement, for better or worse happens in one second. The instant you lay your eyes on someone, your brain has decided its figured that person out. Clothes. Hair. Facial expression. Body language. Visual cues can give a person everything they need to know about someone. Financial situation. Marital status. Personality type.

It doesn’t mean that snap judgement is accurate.

Judgement is good. It prevents the young girl from wandering onto a dark street alone.
That one second is also very dangerous.

It convinces you that you don’t need to get to know the person. It convinces you that you’ve learned everything you need to know. One second. One impression. It took me longer than it should have that a person is more than a first impression.

Judgement is good. It helps you recognize danger.
Judgement is also bad. It destroys the potential in a person before you get the chance to learn anything else.

Judgement called one of my best friends loud before I got to see how incredibly strong and independent and thoughtful she is. It told me not to make eye contact with the girl who I would grow to have the most in common with. It convinced me a classmate was snobby when she is one of the sweetest people I’ve come to know. I wouldn’t have any friends now if I’d gotten stuck on that one second of judgement.

There is one instance where my snap judgement was right.
I saw him on the bus – glasses, reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Smart. Bookish. Maybe shy.
In that instant I wasn’t wrong. But because it wasn’t a negative judgement, I opened myself up to the opportunity to learn so much more about him.

Maybe I’m not getting as hooked on that one second as I used to.
Maybe I need to start having more positive judgements.
Maybe that’s what’s more important.



We were perfect,
But we weren’t.

We didn’t want the same things,
But I wanted you.

I loved you far more than you could reciprocate,
But I loved you.

Our lives weren’t even entangled,
But you were my life.

We were happy,
But we weren’t.

The Kite and the String by Alice Mattison: Book Review

The Kite and the String: How to Write with Spontaneity and Control--and Live to Tell the Tale

Obtained: Penguin Random House Canada, ARC
Pages: 256
Publish date: August 16, 2016
Rating: ★★★

The book’s full title is what got me interested – The Kite and the String: How to Write with Spontaneity and Control, and Live to Tell the Tale. I consider myself a writer because I think in writing. I see something happen and imagine how it would be described in a book. I capture moments in words as they settle in my mind. But it’s been quite a while since I’ve put pen to paper and written fiction. As a NaNoWriMo participant a couple of years ago, I got to stretch that skill, but recently, it’s been slipping through my fingers. Enter Alice Mattison and her book about helping writers to perfect their craft.

Firstly, Mattison begins by explaining that this book isn’t for people who want to learn how to write; it’s a book for writers who want to learn further technique – which I appreciated. She gives quite a lot of great tips that I have taken note of in my phone for now to explore as I write this year’s NaNoWriMo novel.

She explains that when building a character, the writer shouldn’t base them off of a person they know entirely. It’s best to stretch the imagination and create completely new characters and let them drive the plot (no, they’re not two separate things). She also brought up a lot of issues that I find myself stumbling into as a writer of fiction and how to overcome them, such as describing the fact that a character is thinking of something (unnecessary), or giving the okay to write sentences that are informative (they’re not boring if they’re about something you’d want to know).

One thing Mattison wrote that I didn’t agree with was that breaking chronology of the story distracts from the story itself and focuses too much on the writer and the medium of the book. As a reader, I don’t find myself getting distracted from a story because it isn’t told in a straight narrative from beginning to end. I quite like a style that isn’t too linear. I don’t write that way typically, but I really appreciate the writers that do.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this book. I got a lot of quality tips from it that I can use in my writing, and now I’m super motivated to write a great book for NaNoWriMo, avoiding all of the bad writing traps I often fall into.

The Kite and the String is available online at Chapters Indigo, Book Depository, and Kobo.

Interview: Irvine Welsh on Writing

Some people find their calling in life right away, and others have to try many new things before they discover their passions and talents. I was fortunate enough to speak with Irvine Welsh, author of the iconic novel Trainspotting, over a cup of tea, and ask him how he found his own distinct voice as a writer.

It interested me to learn that Welsh dabbled in a variety of jobs before settling comfortably into music. “I would write songs – ballads,” Welsh explained. “But I thought I should take the music out of the ballad and just write a novel.” It even surprised Welsh how naturally writing came to him. “It’s like I’m getting paid to do a hobby,” he admitted quite humbly.


In writing his first novel, Trainspotting, Welsh was able to experiment as a writer until he found his voice – the stylistic voice that drew many readers to his work in the first place. “I tried writing it in plain English first,” said Welsh. “But it didn’t sound at all like the characters.” The heavy Scottish accent and slang that comes through in his writing was born from his background in music; Welsh wanted to write with rhythm. The previous evening, Welsh spoke at the TIFF Bell Lightbox for the Books on Film series and told the audience, “[Trainspotting] is a story that I hope the readers would want to read out loud to themselves”. This kind of oral storytelling tradition grew into the tempo we now expect when reading a novel by Welsh.

When asked which authors were his own personal favourite with regards to style, Welsh mentioned Dostoevsky and Canadian writers such as Alice Munro and Craig Davidson. “[Munro] writes short stories that are so dense, it’s like reading a novel,” he voiced.

Welsh expresses that he hasn’t been able to stop writing ever since he started. His new novel, A Decent Ride, just hit shelves in May 2015, but he revealed that there is another novel to be released next year, and he is also working on a screenplay as he produces another film, as well.

Welsh was in Toronto to promote A Decent Ride, but also to support the TIFF Books on Film series, where he spoke about Trainspotting and answered audience questions. In the spirit of this event, I asked Welsh which of his other novels he’d like to see on the big screen. Welsh mentioned loving the adaptation of his novel, Filth, but replied quite quickly in saying, “Glue. The characters, like Juice Terry, would be interesting to do like the cast of Trainspotting.”

Irvine Welsh’s novel A Decent Ride, along with his others, are available online at Chapters Indigo, Book Depository, and Kobo.

Photo taken by Michelle @

I won NaNoWriMo 2014!

I’ve said this to a bunch of people in the past couple of days, as I finished writing my 50,000th word on November 28th. And I find that people who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is are congratulating me on writing the best novel. So first, I’m going to explain what winning means, and then I’ll go into my experience with the writing contest!

When someone says that they’ve won NaNoWriMo, what it means is that they finished writing all 50,000 words. So it’s not like someone sat there and judged all the novels and gave out prizes based on subjectivity and quality of novel. I won because I finished. Which is still no small feat. When’s the last time you wrote a 200-page novel in a month? Exactly.

I’ve never participated in National Novel Writing Month, so this was my first year, and I had an absolute blast!

I call myself a writer, and I have notebooks filled with ideas, but I’ve never finished an entire novel before. So when I finished the last words of my acknowledgements page, I had this wave of relief and accomplishment wash over me. Like if I did this in one month, I could finally unpack all of my other novel ideas as well, and be a real writer who writes novels (as opposed to a writer who thinks a lot and jots down some stuff).

Now that NaNoWriMo is complete, I actually miss it. As stressful as it was throughout the month to have this giant project looming over my shoulder, nagging me every time I sat down to relax, I miss the writing now that it’s over. All of that time I set aside for writing feels like I have so much time to do other things, maybe I can read or catch up on Doctor Who… but all I want to do is come up with another story idea and write some more.

I wonder if that’s what I got out of NaNoWriMo – it showed me the rewards of getting your writing done, and it’s got me wanting to write even more. Even if I hadn’t finished, I don’t think that would have discouraged me. Getting any amount of writing on paper was what felt so good. Perhaps I’ll spend this Christmas holiday working on my next novel…

To Mark or Not to Mark? On Personalizing Your Books.

I find that when it comes to books, there are two types of people: there are the book collectors who like to keep their pages clean, and there are the readers who like to mark up their pages. I am one of the latter.

I’m not biased one way or the other. I don’t hate on people who want to keep their books perfect; I get that. But I’m the kind of person who just likes to write things in the margins. I make notes. I highlight portions that I find particularly witty, funny, or philosophical.

A lot of people, even the marker-uppers, will disagree with me, but I love bending my spines. I love seeing those creases and saying, “Yes, I read that far into the book”. It’s making my mark on the novel, proving it’s my own. But again, it does ruin the spine and if you choose to read it multiple times, you’ll probably end up splitting your prized novel in two halves. I tend to not re-read my books, so I don’t mind so much.

I also love having people write in my books. I want to go through and write my name on the inside of each book. If the book was given to me by someone, I’d love for them to make their mark and sign the inside cover.

So I clearly like to personalize my books, no matter what damage it may cause. Though I completely understand why others disagree and try to keep their own books in mint condition.

Do you keep your books unmarked, or do you personalize?

My Inspiration: Gregory House and James Wilson

I’m kind of in a House MD kick right now, and these two characters have really been helping me through a rough time. Both House and Wilson, though completely opposite characters, share a common trait that inspires me to power through each day, and that trait is determination.

House and Wilson may have complimentary personalities to one another, but they both go through some horribly life-crippling experiences. Before the series even starts, House loses the use of his leg and becomes a cynical, sarcastic man who needs handfuls of Vicodin to get him through the day, while Wilson has suffered through three divorces due to his resentment for each woman which develops simply because he is too nice and wants to give them everything they want. And their misfortune only extends throughout the series.

Everyone has things that they must overcome, and they must do it in their own way of dealing with things. For House, it means popping pills with every breath and focusing on the patient-puzzle at hand, for Wilson, it means putting on a happy face and looking toward the future for better things. However it’s done, the determination and will power to continue doing what they love regardless of anything else is truly inspiring.

Both House and Wilson, despite the terrible things they have to put up with, are two of the best doctors in the country. They study hard about the topics of which they are passionate and when the going gets tough, they have each other to lean on. Their friendship is further encouragement. They are both so vastly different, yet find comfort and loyalty in one another, even though they have gone through hardships between themselves.

House and Wilson are huge inspirations to me. Whenever I think life is getting too tough, I just focus on my writing, like they focus on their practice, and the other problems seem to wither away. And if writing doesn’t help, I know I can always depend on my friends to put a smile on my face.

Like my favourite TV doctors, the inspiration and motivation for my work comes from the pain I endure in day-to-day life.