When the Book Ninja (Glimpse, Whiteout, The Rush to Here) meets EdM (How to Get Along With Women) who knows what happens. I picture them reciting poems and whipping up hilarious narratives, sipping fancy coffee and making supper plans with local writers to discuss important things. Seriously though, I can’t think of a more CanLit-y couple. Not only are they both writers but they’re also tirelessly supportive of other authors, have decades of bookish involvement between them, and aren’t too hard on the eyes. That doesn’t really have anything to do with CanLit but it’s something.
Tell us a little about your partner’s writing process or writing habits.
EdM: We’re both adjusting to this new life we have here with one million children and commitments in it. Since January, there’s been more of a push for both of us to get some real writing done — for George, this mostly means getting out at least one night a week for an Adventure in Bar Writing.
George: Elisabeth’s process is to mull ideas in her head until she gets cranky and then sequester herself either in her office or at a remote location (B & B? Hotel? Fallout shelter?) and pound out a perfectly formed story in a day. For the novel, we try to get her to take a writing day once a week as well as a couple writing evenings. I imagine if she were working under a grant or a giant advance (ahem, publishers…), she’d get up, go for a run, make coffee, walk the dog, pound out a few thousand words, have a nice walk and a coffee downtown, come back, edit, take a nap, greet the homeward bound children, make dinner, sequester herself from 7 to 9 to write and edit more, read in bed, and start over the next day.
What are some of the pros and cons of living with a writer?
EdM: Lots of pros: we both basically care about each other’s conversation, haha. Double the books/double the bookshelves. We have all the same friends. I have a very trusted reader in George, and a fantastic promoter. A very good listener-to-all-my-ideas. The real pro is that of course he understands how important the writing is, and he makes my writing time a priority for the family. Cons: Double the books/double the bookshelves. HA. I can’t think of a con, actually. Of course, we don’t do the same kind of writing. Maybe if we were both poets, I’d feel some competition? Hard to say.
George: Pros: she takes what I do seriously. And I write poetry. I know. Cons: she takes what she does seriously. And it’s pretty intense. (This is also a pro)
How does living with another professional writer affect your writing?
EdM: The biggest way living with George affects my writing is that I like him too much, and maybe if I liked him less, I would be more inclined to sit off by myself every night and I’d get more writing done. (But that has nothing to do with being a writer.) The fact that he’s also a writer means I have a good listener and an indentured reader, right in my house. And George is such a fine poet, and a good editor, so that’s a good thing, because I feel that pressure to impress him a little bit. (Although I sometimes accuse him of being overly positive about my drafts.)
George: It’s great to have a skilled, sought-after editor on staff, er, in-house, er, here, to look at what I do as I need it. We encourage one another to spend less time on things like Facebook and the trivialities of life and more time on our art, and we provide context and advice for one another around successes, setbacks, and blocks. It’s kind of great. If we were working competitively, I imagine it’d be a little more tense, but luckily she gave up poetry (largely…) and I gave up fiction (largely…)
Describe your partner’s next project.
EdM: I’ll be keen to see which new project George decides to focus on: new poems? new aphorisms? a debut novel? These are all in various stages. His first book for children will be released in 2014. We’re also writing a children’s book together, but it’s early days yet where that one’s concerned.
George: A novel that is simultaneously literary, metaphysical, and scary as hell. The writing is so sharp line to line and the narrative is so compelling, it might actually do something most Canadian novels don’t: sell copies.
What do you wish for them?
EdM: Time. Lots of gorgeous, wasteful, generous time for thinking and writing and walking and talking. And, of course: Acclaim.
George: Time. Lots of gorgeous, wasteful, generous time for thinking and writing and walking and talking. And, of course: Acclaim.
What are you reading now?
EdM: I’ve been working through Joan Didion’s book of essays about the 60s and 70s; The White Album. I’m steeling myself to read Alice Sebold’s Lucky and Andrew Pyper’s The Demonologist. Am I supposed to correctly guess what George will say? I’ve seen him with one of Don Paterson’s books recently…
George: I am reading Don Paterson’s Selected Poems, Geoffrey Hill (as usual), Carol Ann Duffy, as well as the work of a bunch of students and friends. I exchange poems with some literary pals, like Mark Callanan, and read the novels in progress of other literary pals, like Dennis Bock. EdM is reading Joan Didion and a bunch of scary-assed books based in and around the time period covered in her novel, including Helter Skelter.