We promised we would open the flip-top lids of our favourite writers’ brains, and let you in… We all have our obsessions, the topic we revisit at the water-cooler, the spot in the laundry room we keep circling back to, all the better to whisper with our favourite ghosts.
So here’s the first installment of responses to the question: “what is the word that explains your writing?”
Mike Berard: Discourse: The intent behind my writing is often to provoke dialogue, to open up conversations, to engage people in discussions. Whether it’s as insignificant as a boring debate within the ski community (skiing vs snowboarding, racing vs freesking) or my thoughts on the bigger themes in life (love, virtue, craft brewing), I use writing to push people toward the basis of their own opinions, even if it takes them out of their comfort zone. It’s easy to find your stance on an issue early in life and stick to it beyond examining the reasons why you inherited it. Constant discourse is healthy for humanity, even if it’s only on the subject of ale vs. lagers.
Stella Harvey: Loss. I write about it obsessively even when I’m not trying to, even when I think I’m writing about something else, even when I make a conscious effort to write about something else. Also for a control freak like me, writing is about giving myself permission to let go (there’s that word loss again sugar-coated as something else), sink into the muck without fear and see what happens next. I do my best when I allow this to happen without fighting it, organizing it, making sense of it, compartmentalizing it and doing all those other obsessive compulsive things I do to avoid, wait for it, loss.
Allie Jenkinson: Anxiousness. The tension between where a person is and where they long to be, physically or emotionally. We know that moderation stops a plot in its tracks because all of the rough and effective emotions come from imbalance. From too much or too little. From fatigue or from boredom. From unbearable pain or joy that cannot last. From loss of love or fear of closeness. Being content is a nice idea, but it’s a quality you are unlikely to find in an intriguing character (or, arguably, a passionate writer). Striving towards contentment is when all of life’s beautiful moments happen. A life worth writing about is one that aches.