I haven't written a blog post in nearly a month.
That's the longest hiatus I've had since starting this blog, and I blame it on a few things: laziness, my lack of Internet access, and the Game of Thrones books. I'm almost finished the fifth one, and Darby is almost ready to break my Kindle. Turns out girlfriends hate it when you ignore them and read too much.
The upside: I've reached 50,000 words with my first draft of Sea to Sky. I'm hoping to have a complete manuscript in the next 2-3 weeks, if I can keep up my current pace. Then I'll spend a month (or six) editing and revising.
Anyways, I've struck up a correspondence with Halifax-based writer Kris Bertin this summer. I had originally hoped to visit him at the bar he works at, but I've been so broke and busy working at the campground, I haven't made it into town to visit yet.
I've been a huge fan of Kris Bertin's work since I checked out his story "The Girl on the Fire Escape" in The Malahat Review a few years ago.
This year his story "Is Alive and Can Move" was selected for The Journey Prize anthology, and may end up earning him a $10,000 pay-day.
(He's up against fellow Nova Scotia writer Trevor Corkum, who has also appeared on this blog.)
Kris has also made appearances in PRISM, The New Quarterly, The Antigonish Review and a bunch of other Canadian literary journals. You can find out more about his work on his website.
Kris has a lot of opinions, and he's not afraid to share them. A few months ago, when I was lamenting having to attend class at UBC, Kris offered this piece of advice: "DROP OUT!". And when I mentioned being excited for new episodes of Boardwalk Empire and The Walking Dead, he said "Throw your TV out the window!"
Anyways, I get a kick out of his worldview, and I thought you might too. I've posted some of his choice writing tips, life philosophies and observations below:
"No axe to grind, not about anything specific. Nothing to be mad about beyond the utter mess that life is, though this is arguably the funniest thing about it too. So. No axe."
"Was never religious and didn't believe in anything even as a five year old in Catholic preschool. Am atheist, but believe that the literal ascent from mud-bugs to guys playing basketball is magical, incredible. Encourage you to extend your disbelief into the greater world around you–there are more hoaxes and rackets around us than you can imagine. Patriotism, political ideology, bravery = all terrific hoaxes, rackets. Canadian literary scene? Massive racket, hoax (not joking here).
On publishing a book:
"Your book can and will get published. I'm sure it will be fine, and if it isn't, any book can get published in Canada. Your book probably won't make you any money or find you any acclaim. Mine won't either. It is what it is and your life will be no different except you can hold up a household object with your silly face in the third-to-last page. If this can satisfy you, you are lucky."
On his biases:
"While I do think academics is a waste of time (unless they pay you money), TV is for chumps and Real Work is the only thing that teaches you shit in this world, these are nothing more than a collection of biases and a serious manifestation of growing up poor in New Brunswick. Most of it amounts to superstition, hatred and should not be trusted as far as Major Life Decisions go."
"I do, however, think having a real job and being around people matters a lot as far as writing goes...University is an artificial thing where lots of people are lying to themselves, and most often, there are zero stakes to the lives of students. Fiction about university students is dreadful, because they aren't real people (yet). Your real life doesn't start until you get the fuck out of there. Your Chaucer term paper doesn't mean anything to you, your professor or Chaucer. Students (especially young students) have no frame of reference beyond school, and so produce work that has zero insight into anything."
"If you succeed, that success becomes a part of you and you take it for granted, and so it just doesn't mean anything anymore. Then it's on to the next thing that you expect to make you feel good, except it comes and goes and you're the same guy as before. Only your CV has changed, and is just a bit longer. Your dick, on the other hand, remains the same size completely."
"Not a misogynist. Love women. Encourage mutual respect and equal treatment, but nothing more. How quickly double standards can turn into clout and leverage over you. Not joking. A pretty face can make a man into a child (not joking, again). Loath the way we don't call out women on their bullshit because they're cute and we want to fuck. Loathe paternalism of all kinds. Loathe cutesy-doodleness."
That's all I've got for now. More updates to come, plus I've got a few interviews that should be showing up soon.