Spring is over; it’s summer, it’s hot, and Toronto is overflowing with activities: this weekend it’s Pride, plus the arts festival Luminato, plus the Jazz Festival and God knows what else – a superabundance of interesting things to do. Good times. Anna wanted to take the boys to Pride yesterday, so we arranged to meet on Church Street. Pride releases people’s kinks in a way that can be quite shocking, so I wrote to her, “Are you concerned about what the boys might see?”
“We live in Parkdale,” was her reply. Enough said.
And it’s true, nothing astonishes her boys, who were more interested in the playgrounds nearby than in the nearly-naked people in bondage gear strolling around. Tonight, my old Ottawa friend Danny Aykroyd is fronting the fabulous Downchild Blues Band for a free street dance, and I might go. Though it doesn’t start till 8.30 – pretty late for this old bag.
I am settling back into daily life in Cabbagetown. The winter is a blur, and much of the spring too – the reno and travels to Europe and Vancouver, the conference, finishing work on the house, teaching. My friend Carol, who lived upstairs on the third floor for 5 or 6 years, is visiting from her home in Ecuador for the summer, staying here this week and for the month of August. She is knocked out by the renovation. “You’ve improved things yet it’s somehow the same, the character of the house unchanged,” she said. She’s out right now, grooving in the hot sun at Pride.
Mostly, now, my focus is finding time to get the memoir out, yet yet yet again. My student Margaret Lynch has taught me a lesson. She started writing in my class four years ago at Ryerson, took other courses and then the MFA in Nonfiction at King’s, which does a lot to prepare their students for publication. She has since published a feature in the Star related to her memoir, which I wrote about here, and has had a piece on the CBC which was turned into a beautiful video’d interview with her. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdBORLe8rXo
It’s been shared thousands of times. This is known as building your platform, which is how you interest publishers. Her methodical approach to publication is inspiring. My approach is to run at it with my head down and try to crash through, as I do most things. Methodical is not a word in my vocabulary. To my chagrin.
So the process begins anew – preparing a cover letter, a précis of the book, a resumé about me, figuring out where these things should go. This is the part of writing that I hate. I HATE it. Marketing is one of my least favourite words, up there with the words Doug Ford. But unless I want to self-publish again, I have no choice but to do this tedious thing, sending and re-sending and re-sending. Trying to sell myself. Trying to build a platform.
My actual platform – the deck outside my kitchen – was taken apart this week to inject it with termite poison. There’s surely a metaphor there.
However, in happier news: dancer Sara Porter, who’s an editing client and a fan of my writing book True to Life, has written that she’d like to use my chapter titles as prompts, not only for writing, but for dance. She’s thinking of using them in her next show.
Chapter 41 “Take your time”
Maybe that’s what I’ll encourage my students to do: get up and dance. Works for me.
And … Ben, who’s 3, graduated from preschool last week, with a mortar board and diploma. Extremely impressive. And, if I say so myself, extremely cute.