Blog Archives

About the lack of posts…

I’m sorry. I was consistent for a really long time. 

So here’s the thing. I’m really busy. I’m really stressed. I’m sorting through some not-very-fun life things.

Thus, I do not have two spare brain cells to rub together. Don’t worry, I’m Doing Okay. Like I said, just busy. Just tired. And in the grand scheme of things, I love this blog, but there are very few immediate consequences to not doing it. Right now, my energy needs to go elsewhere. 

And that’s Okay. 

Slowly, surely, I’m convincing myself that it’s okay to not do everything. Every bird needs to roost eventually.

I’m also trying very hard to appreciate the little joys right now. Like this chair I bought. Look at this chair!

I saw this chair at my church’s rummage sale and fell head-over-heels in love. It’s a little thing with slim lines, probably late nineteenth or early twentieth century.
And it has a Green Man!!!

Look! Look look look! It’s a Green Man (disgorging type), right there! Also called “foliate heads,” these guys show up in a lot of Medieval English cathedrals. They’re probably a pre-Christian fertility symbol and I absolutely love them.

“How much is that chair?” I asked breathlessly.

“A toonie?”

I rummaged through my pockets. “I have a dollar and fifteen cents.”

“Done.”

After considerable logistical planning, it’s now in my kitchen and it brings me joy every time I sit on it, or catch sight of the motif. And that, honestly, helps immensely. When a lot is crashing down, the smallest joys make the biggest difference.

And I think I once again wrote a blog post by accident. There is probably a lesson there, too. 😉

Anon, 

KT

What I’m Listening To This Week

A long time ago, I learned the Irish variant of “Loch Lomond,” which is titled “Red is the Rose.” The Scottish version has very similar lyrics of grief and loss. I particularly like this arrangement, though: it’s got the grief and loss, but the “dai dat” harmony running throughout suggests a marching-on and hopefulness.

Which I kinda need right now.

A Precious Thing

I’ve been thinking about a conversation I had with a mentor a while back. Over a convention breakfast, I mentioned I wanted to move back into stage writing.

“Good,” he said. “Everyone wants to do screenplays…but you can always produce a play somehow.”

(I mean, mostly I write plays because film is a strange and frightening land to me. Theatre is my home country, where I cut my teeth. But he’s right, regardless. There’s some pretty incredible indie theatre in this city.)

Fast forward to last Tuesday, when I dropped in on a rehearsal for A Canticle of Light. At this point, I’ve met 3/5 of that cast. Then we had our first Six Stories, Told at Night rehearsal on Friday. We had a read-through a few weeks ago so I could tweak the script one last time; this was our first chance to get the actors on their feet.

Six Stories, Told at Night

 

Watching these plays come to life is magical. I’ve said it before: seeing my characters onstage is the greatest high I’ve had as a writer. And yes, hearing them in audio drama comes pretty close…but it’s not quite the same. Live theatre is such a different animal; it’s intimate in other ways. It’s a multifaceted beast that relies on many people, and it is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

I sit there in rehearsals and think – wait, really? You’re creating sets and lighting designs out of my words? You’re living in my characters’ skins? These people, my guys, who have only existed in my head?

We’re making them real?

It’s mind-boggling.

I mean, think of the way these stories start. For me, bits of mental lint stick together, growing larger until they’ve accumulated enough critical mass for me to start doodling notes. I write letters to myself.

And the ghost sister shows up sometimes, watching Rose.

It’s going to be dark and weird, I think. So far for characters we have five people: 2 M, 3 F.

This is the story of two girls…

Often the whiteboards come out:

“A Canticle of Light,” in its very early days…

 

It’s a very private, intimate, precious thing, this early dialogue between you and the story. And I’ve just realized: this is why I don’t like talking about new pieces until they’ve settled, until this part of the process is done. The early part is so fragile; it breaks like gossamer web, like dew in the dawning, like a faerie’s spell.

Whiteboards, notecards, random doodlings and crossings-out. Through all of that, the stories fatten with words. And eventually, they outgrow you. Even with prose fiction, other people get involved: beta readers, editors, illustrators, social media people, podcasters, readers. Plays go through a director’s interpretation, which filters through to actors, designers, publicists…

That’s the life cycle. All good.

Yet I get a prickle of nervousness when I realize that those midnight musings have somehow come this far. It’s almost like vertigo; I’m sure it’s partly imposter syndrome…

The best cure for vertigo?

Don’t look down.

Simple as that. Don’t look down. Just trust in the process and the people climbing with you.

Before I close out, I would like to introduce you to our casts. Missed Metaphor has the Canticle crew listed here. For those in Toronto, there will also be a fundraising event this Friday, May 11th. Pay what you can, doors open at 7:00. Live music, good food, general merriment – it’s sure to be a blast! Come say hi – details here!

And whilst we work on the Gangway! Theatre Co., website, you can have an early intro to the Six Stories cast here. We are very pleased to welcome Alexandra Milne as our Joëlle, and Isaiah Kolundzic as…well, all of the male characters, but mostly Coyote!

Until next time, my friends, be well.

KT

What I’m Listening To This Week

More Ralph Vaughan Williams! ALL the Ralph Vaughan Williams! This “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” is a beautiful journey that riffs on Tallis’ “Third Tune.” It’s a haunting melody that stays and stays…

Updates

Sorry, friends. I’ve got very little wit or wisdom to offer this week. Between the horrific van attack in Toronto, returning to the dayjob, and a swamp of work, it’s been a bit of a blur.

I did get out to the McMichael Gallery of Canadian Art, which is a wonderful place I visit far too infrequently. It was an absolutely lovely day—the kind that keeps you going through the slog.

“Double-Sided Shaman,” Karoo Ashevak (Collection of Christopher Bredt and Jamie Cameron).

 

“Iceberg,” F.H. Varley (ca. 1938).

 

Since we’re here, I’ll take this opportunity to remind the Internet that the “Six Stories, Told at Night” GoFundMe continues until Wednesday—and it’s been an incredibly humbling experience. We have well surpassed our initial goal and we both want to thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. Let’s see how far we can get by Wednesday night. (Our Faerie Queen needs her crown, after all!)

And with that, I’m off to the ravines for some much-needed time with my trees.

-KT

What I’m Listening To This Week:

I found this totally by accident, but it makes me think SO MUCH of A Canticle of Light. More importantly, it pulls me back into that family. I’m not sure that I’m completely done with those characters yet…

 

State of the KT

This was another hard week, at least in terms of my feeling like an effective human being. And so in lieu of a real post, here’s a quick State of the KT.

Six Stories, Doing Its Best: Rewrite’s trucking along, albeit with a tough knot to untie in the middle.

Apex Magazine Podcast: Both episodes recorded and scored, awaiting intro and show notes from me.

Auditions for Six Stories, Shouted by Day: The first round happened this past weekend, callbacks are this coming weekend. That is a blog post in itself, pals.

March Break Tomfoolery: DONE.

Beer Magic Novel: Currently sitting at 81k. Expecting this draft to hit 105k. Scrambling to finish before my Smoky Writers’ retreat.

Smoky Prep: I have gathered a collection of short story ideas and plots that will be interesting to explore through the week. I really want to do shorts again because I know if I don’t write them at Smoky, I likely cannot think about them until April.

Choice of Games: Removed from my February worrying. It’ll be tight, but I have a plan.

OAC Grant Application: IN. SUBMITTED. OUT OF OUR HANDS.

Mysterious Contract: Trucking along. In all honesty, it’s been a nice palate cleanser.

Gangway! Theatre Co. Shenanigans: I feel guilty that I’ve been less present than I would like, but Blythe seems fairly blithe about it all. (It’s funny, because it’s a pun.)

Henry Wallis, “Chatterton” (1856).

And so we go. It is entirely possible that I have bitten off more than I can chew, and as I’m looking at the calendar…the Mysterious Contract wraps just after Easter. I think I shall take the week between that and dayjobbery resuming to have a real, long, actual rest.

Onwards…

KT

What I’m Listening To This Week

I like Ralph Vaughan Williams’ work. He went around collecting and adapting folksongs from around the British Isles – some of his output is sacred, some secular. This is a secular piece, one of those classic “I will love you until the seas boil and the rocks melt” kind of songs. But it is very soothing and lilting and lovely.

Writing, Love, and Ethics

It seemed so easy. Write a 15-minute pantomime script. I’ve done that before. Use “East o’ the Sun and West o’ the Moon” as the base fairy tale. No problem. That’s my absolute favourite fairy tale (for those unfamiliar, it’s basically Norwegian Beauty and the Beast, with a polar bear). I know it backwards-forwards-and-inside-out, and hey, I’ve adapted it for the stage before.

Easy-peasy.

As you recall from last week, this November is Crunch-Month (although the To-Do list keeps shrinking), so the idea of a dead-simple project was great. Just bang something out real fast, and then get back to the mountain of edits, writing, and seekrit projekts.

As you can probably guess, it didn’t quite go that way.

I banged something out real fast. Unusually for me, I hand-wrote the first draft, edited in transcription, and then tossed it over the wall to Blythe. She made a few suggestions; I tweaked a few things. Then I sat in on the actors’ first reading.

“It’s really funny,” they reassured me. “It rockets along.”

It was barely 12 minutes.

“Man, you were ruthless with the source material.”

Ruthless? Really? The longer I sat and listened and took notes, the more dread started sinking through my gut.

I’d made a terrible mistake.

I’d taken my favourite fairy tale, and—because I was stressed, because it was Crunch-Month, because I was arrogant—I’d banged out something really fast. It was cheap, in every sense of the word. I felt cheap, when I realized. I’d taken something incredibly important to me, and excised everything I actually love about it.

You see, there is more to writing than making sure the plot and characters and sentences all square up. The story has to sit right with its creator, ethically. Art comes from our deepest selves; if it’s going to mean anything, it cannot be cheap. It cannot be inauthentic. Love is the wellspring—and there was nothing of love in that first attempt.

Then there is the whole separate issue of respecting source material. Maybe I could’ve skated by if this was pure parody…but it wasn’t. Pantomimes, for all the laughs, have a true core, which I completely ignored in my dash to the finish line.

So what does one do?

I took a little time to be angry with myself. And then I went back to the source. In my personal library, I have two versions of “East o’ the Sun.” I read both, then looked at the Kay Nielsen illustrations, and then put on the instrumentals for the opera libretto I wrote a while back.

I began again. I kept very little from the first draft. Because this—this—is what I love about “East o’ the Sun and West o’ the Moon.”

I love the brave girl and bear travelling north together.

My favourite image (Kay Nielsen, 1914).

I love the image of northern lights playing over sheer ice.

Cover of Edith Pattou’s novel “East,” by Stephen T. Johnson.

I love the brave girl accepting her mistake, and going off to save her prince.

“East” illustration by Kay Nielsen (1914).

I love the four winds.

Production shot from “East o’ the Sun and West o’ the Moon,” Canadian Children’s Opera Company, 2014. Photographer: Michael Cooper

I love her cleverness, her bravery, and her love.

“The Kiss,” by PJ Lynch, from a 1962 illustrated version. It makes even my stony little heart quicken.

The next script had much more of that. I breathed a sigh of relief.

As the girl discovers—mistakes can be fixed. Bears and princes can be rescued. The way can be found.

In writing—and “East”—it is love that will see you through. This was a good reminder.

-KT

What I’m Listening To This Week

I’m not sure why this popped up, but here we are. “Love Changes Everything” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love. Michael Ball has an utterly adorable, buttery singing voice. This is musical cotton candy, but sometimes, that’s what one needs!