I’m On Goodreads

It’s hard to keep everything together in one cohesive piece, and I realize that the only way anyone would know I’m on Goodreads is by being on Goodreads and searching for me by name, which is not exactly intuitive. So, yeah, I’m on that thing now. If you like Goodreads as a portal for books and readers, feel free to leave a review of either The Society of Experience or my two standalone “singles”, Snowshoe, and Second World. Thanks!

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So, Another Year (A Needle Pulling Thread)

2013 was good to me, which is not to say that it was without challenges. I suppose it was a cluttered year, and I will take that over barren, even if I’m feeling exhausted.

I had two articles published, on two topics that I took personal interest in: the shape of Kensington Market, and the 10th anniversary of SARS. They both involve Toronto, but aside from that they don’t hold much in common. I took great pride in writing them and each provided healthy challenges for me as a writer.

The biggest news, for me as a writer and an individual, was having my novel picked up by Hamilton publisher, Wolsak & Wynn. Of course, there is a lot of work to be done until its publication date in 2015, but it’s about the biggest milestone for me as a writer that I could have asked for (a big shout-out to my agent, Kelvin Kong, with The Rights Factory).

And yet it was also a year where my psychotherapy practice grew and broadened. This February will mark the completion of two years of private practice and I could not be happier with it, though like starting anything new and independent there are always going to be challenges. I began working with couples in the summer and found myself liking the dynamic very much, though working with the energy in the room can be taxing.

I’m not completely out of the woods with respect to the film industry. I started work on Bruce McDonald’s new feature, Hellions, as a post supervisor/consultant. It’s difficult juggling this type of work with therapy – two different parts of my brain which don’t always play well: the anticipatory, structure-based, logic-seeking left brain vs the open-ended, empathetic, creative right.

I would like to top 2013, but I don’t know if that will happen in 2014. I would certainly like to complete the first draft of my new novel. But it’s a tough nut to crack and doesn’t want to be rushed. My greatest challenge as a writer with respect to new work will be combining the worlds – and words – of therapy and writing: finding a project in which to write from the viewpoint of a therapist. I see this as an inevitability and I would prefer to jump in the pool rather than be pushed. I look forward to the days to come.

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Away

I’ve been terribly busy for the last three years: work, school, new career, new work. No complaints except that my non-academic writing has suffered considerably. I believe I’ve only squeezed out one, maybe two short stories during this time. Of course, the bevy of my attention was on revising my novel (and whatever energy I had left was spent on the subsequent one).

With respect to this here blog, I’ve been unapologetically negligent. I’ve had no choice. Blogging’s great, but it’s the odd man out when it has to compete for creativity-expenditure with other areas. For one thing, it doesn’t pay. Another drag on its sail is the competition that social media plays. Between posting stuff on Facebook and Twitter (between which I don’t consider myself a fanatic contributor), little is left for blogging and I think there’s a problem with that.

Twitter ends up being a Post-It Note for ideas which never get developed. You tell yourself: if I just jot this idea down I can come back to it later. The problem with this otherwise workable concept is that in Twitter-land what you post takes the form of its own singular effort – it’s a public communication unto itself which fulfills a basic function which makes me, the author, forget about what it was I was hoping to say (or develop the idea of) later.

And Facebook is just a mess of “seen this” and “done that”.

And so I come back to blogging, for now, to say firstly that I’m still here. Secondly, to say that I feel there is room for this format, out-dated and seemingly formal compared to Tumblr, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Soon (I think) I will be able to get back to saying things of note and interest.

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Swirl

I am trying (desperately) to avoid a “boy, it’s been a wacky ride these last few months!” post. It certainly isn’t for lack of things to talk about, news to update you with, opinions to confess/shout.

Thing is, I don’t know who you are. Sure, I know there are some of you who are semi-regular visitors. There are others who happen upon this place by accident (via Blogger or StumbleUpon). There are also those who come here via Google searches, either via my name or – most likely – a book review (which admittedly I haven’t done in, oh, a year or so *). And no, this isn’t going to be a “Matt wittily evading accusations of being a lazy bastard by turning the camera on the reader” post.

I’ve been posting artsy stuff, writerly stuff, industry opinion stuff. I don’t mind the randomness, so long as there’s no fluff. I do mind the lack of output. I wish, for one, that I could post more photographs (which is to say, I wish I had a better selection of photos to post **).

It comes down to the fact that I’ve been working like a dog since May (note: this happens every year that I’m working on a SAW film). When I come out of these periods, I feel like Rip van Winkle: a little dazed, slow on the up-take. Whereas last year this time I started teaching, this time this year I am a student (part-time) †. I have a small (but good) feature and a small (but good and potentially controversial) TV show on my plate from now till February. If funds allow, I also hope to have an editor working with me on my novel, with an eye to approaching a publisher or self-publishing if that doesn’t seem feasible ††. I’m collaborating on a musical.

My plate is full.

– – – 

* which isn’t to say that I’m not reading or that I don’t want to do any more book reviews. I’m reading a lot of non-fiction, thank you. Much of it either out of professional or academic interest. However, if only to improve my Google ranking, here’s a quick book review of Antwerp by Roberto Bolaño: What the fuck was that? (ISBN-13: 978-0811217170)

** another casualty of working so much is my photography. I still have the same roll of film in my camera that I’d loaded in June. I think I’ve only taken 4 exposures since then. Of course, my cellphone camera gets all the fun these days, unfortunately.

† I will be continuing teaching, but for only two terms this year as opposed to three (which was exhausting and… exhausting)

†† It needs a new name, for one thing. And I know this is going to drive me up the wall more than any changes to the actual content of the book.

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Why You Should See "SUCK" (And Why It Shouldn’t Have To Be On DVD)

In 2008/9, I worked on the indie feature, SUCK. It’s a rock-and-roll vampire road-movie comedy directed by Toronto’s Rob Stefaniuk and produced by Capri Films’ Robin Crumley. For a low-budget feature (and I realize that’s not the best way to preface a compliment) SUCK is well-written, well-cast, funny, and in places very funny.

However, despite being well received at both the Toronto International and South-By-Southwest Film Festivals, it was denied any interest in a theatrical release by Canadian distributors. The longer I waited for someone to pick it up, the more I wondered what the problem was. Sure, you could argue that vampire films have saturated the market lately, but that’s seeing things from the late-summer of 2010 (SUCK was completed over a year ago). It was a no-brainer, even for a limited release: who wouldn’t like a rock vampire comedy w/ cameos by Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, and Alex Lifeson (among others)? It’s the sort of smart-but-not-overly-self-conscious effort which seems perfectly balanced for a theatrical audience.

Nothing happened. Well, actually, less-than-nothing happened: a lot of crap was released in Canadian theatres instead. Crap like the widely-released and quickly forgotten Gunless, which begged the question: if nobody is interested in seeing Westerns in theatres, what could possibly have been the selling point of a comedy-romance-Western with (as you might have guessed) no gunfighting? The answer is that it doesn’t matter: this is Canada, and film distributors prefer to release crap like Gunless and GravyTrain than anything which could hold an audience’s sustained interest. Evidently, the point of film distribution in Canada is to go through the motions.

Well, it’s too late for Canada. While SUCK secured a limited theatrical distribution in the U.S., it’s out on DVD here (the US DVD release is September 28th). This means it will only be screened here through niche film festivals. While that’s not a bad thing, it pisses me off that a funny, well-produced film (rare creature that is) should be all but abandoned after a successful festival run. This situation is certainly not helped by SUCK‘s (pardon the pun) anemic website: it makes no mention of any upcoming film screenings, DVD release dates, or even contact information. Who the hell is the site for? This is what happens when you don’t have a distributor to help with publicity. Not even the local indie journals can help: NOW Magazine completely omits any mention of it, as a film or DVD release. How’s that for hometown support? Thankfully, The Toronto Star’s Peter Howell is the only mainstream film critic to put the DVD release of SUCK on public record (in glowing terms no less…and slagging Gunless ).

I want people to see this film. Not because I worked on it, not because I want to punish producers who keep banking on dead-brained populist Paul Gross vehicles, but because this is a worthy film. It’s not Sophie’s Choice, it’s not going to change your life. But you’ll laugh. I just wish it had been allowed the opportunity of a theatrical run, which it so clearly deserved. It works better in a theatre than on DVD: with a pumped-up audience rather than in the controlled confines of your livingroom. That said, I will be pleased if, by my writing about it, one more person will see this movie than if I hadn’t.

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Ryeberg

I should note that I’ve contributed a few pieces of work to an innovative website, called Ryeberg. The conceit of the site is user-contributed curated YouTube videos, narrated by personal essays on a variety of topics. I am in revision-mode currently, but when my stuff gets posted, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, feel free to visit.

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Dear Reader,

It may have come to your attention (those who visit semi-often) that I have not been posting here that often (aside from the Twitter-y things on the right column).

This is true.

I am a little swamped these days with non-Imaginary Magnitude-y things (i.e. work). I have not, I insist, lost interest.

Please stay tuned. I will eventually return with more consistency than what is currently on display.

Cheers,

Matt

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