Category Archives: Life

The Writer’s Alphabet vol. 17; “Q” is for Quitting


For two months earlier this year, I thought I had quit writing. I hadn’t written anything of significance and I couldn’t feel any ideas. I say feel ideas because if the writing doesn’t give me creative and literal goosebumps, I know I am not inspired to write it. I repeatedly read the adage commonly attributed to Picasso (“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.) Reading it was as far as I got. So I thought I had quit. I was wrong. Continue reading


2015 Summer Preview!

HEY! Here’s some writing and performing related stuff happening in my fair city of Toronto this – 2015 – summer and fall. I’ve also included events that have already passed (and that I was too dumb to get ahead of) so you (and I) can plan for next year. If you say you’re bored, it means you’re boring, or you just need to read a book or something. Go see some damn art damnit!

Stratford Festival: Stratford, Ontario is home to this 61 year-old theatre festival featuring the work of The Bard performed by some of the world’s best talent from APRIL to OCTOBER.

Shaw Festival: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario hosts performances of plays written by or written during the lifetime of George Bernard Shaw from APRIL to OCTOBER.

inspiraTO: The 10th year for this theatre festival held at the Alumnae Theatre from MAY 28th to JUNE 6th, that features blocks of 10 minute plays all revolving around a particular theme or concept.

Pedestrian Sundays: Literally walk in the streets of Toronto’s coolest neighbourhood every Sunday from MAY 31st to the end of warm weather.

Breakthroughs Film Festival: Short Film festival featuring emerging female filmmakers at the Innis Town Hall on the weekend of JUNE 5 & JUNE 6th.

EXEE: Great beers and live bands every night at The Only Cafe during the week of JUNE 13th to JUNE 20th.

Female Eye Film Festival: “Always Honest, Not Always Pretty”, goes the tagline for this film fest featuring female filmmakers and it runs from JUNE 16th to JUNE 21st at The Royal Cinema.

Open Roof Festival: Music and films for $15 ever Wednesday at 99 Sudbury from JUNE 17th to AUGUST 19th sounds like a pretty good deal to me!

NXNE: A music and arts fest that takes over the city in a good way from JUNE 17th to JUNE 21st.

Pride Toronto: The annual extravaganza of LGBTQIA culture revs Toronto up for the summer and features fantastically flamboyant marches, parades, performances, and other great “p” words at various venues from JUNE 19th to JUNE 28th.

Luminato Festival: Everything art and all in Toronto at a variety of venues and times all around the clock from JUNE 19th to JUNE 28th.

Toronto Fringe Festival: Awesome indie theatre killing it with reckless abandon, and an outstanding beer tent at venues and times that only awesome indie theatre can rock from JULY 1st to JULY 12th.

Shakespeare in High Park: Once again High Park is home to a double-bill of Shakespeare wherein the same cast performs a comedy (“The Comedy of Errors”) and a tragedy (“Julius Caesar”) on alternating nights at their outdoor amphitheatre from JULY 2nd to SEPTEMBER 6th.

ReelheART International Film & Screenplay Festival: Festival that features film screenings and script readings at various venues including The Carlton Cinema and the AGO from JULY 6th to JULY 11th.

Christie Pits Film Fest: Free/pwyc outdoor movie screenings at Christie Pits park every Sunday during JULY & AUGUST.

SummerWorks Performance Festival: SummerWorks has performers acting, singing, and dancing sometimes all at once at venues across the city from AUGUST 6th to 16th.

Toronto International Queer West Film Festival: Queer West features films from local and international LGBTQ filmmakers and promotes the beauty of diversity and creativity at The Revue Cinema from AUGUST 7th to AUGUST 9th.

Buskerfest: If you want to see someone ride a unicycle while juggling live chainsaws and holding a torch aflame in their mouth then check out Toronto’s Buskerfest along Yonge Street between College Street and Queen Street and this is now going to be a run-on sentence because I promised myself only to write one sentence per event to keep things simple and so I can’t confirm the fire-mouthed chainsaw juggler but there will be music, juggling of some sort, acrobats, food and clowns and depending on whether you like clowns or are terrified by them the clowns might be nice or sinister and the clowns and others can be found on Yonge from AUGUST 27th to AUGUST 30th.

TOindie Film Festival: Fantastic event featuring indie films from Toronto and across the world held at the local gem known as The Carlton Cinema from SEPTEMBER 3rd to SEPTEMBER 12th.

Toronto International Film Festival: A world renowned film fest featuring talent, both renowned and waiting to be rewound, from across the globe and at venues across the city from SEPTEMBER 10th to SEPTEMBER 20th.

The Word on the Street: Books, magazines, and literary “stuff” can all be at Harbourfront Centre on SEPTEMBER 27th from 11am to 6pm.

International Festival of Authors: Writers are everywhere but during this fest they can mostly be found at Harbourfront Centre talking and signing and talking and probably writing from OCTOBER 22nd to NOVEMBER 1st.

NaNoWriMo: Join authors around the world and write a novel of at least 50,000 words during the month of NOVEMBER.

In addition to all of this, there is the Toronto Festival of Beer, various street parties throughout Toronto’s diverse neighbourhoods, and Yonge and Dundas Square always has something going on!

Stuff I’ve missed because I am an idiot but check it out to plan for next year:

Inside Out: LGBT Film Festival; Doors Open Toronto; Canadian Film Fest; Canadian Music Week (CMW); CONTACT Photography Festival; Hot Docs; TOindie Shorts Festival (affliated with the TOindie Film Festival)


SOURCES: NOW Magazine; The Toronto Star; the various festival websites listed above; my massive head and the memories contained therein.

What I’ve (Re)Learned March 2015

People will surprise you.

Surprises still exist.

It really does only take a moment to change everything.

Don’t over think your reactions to things. If it’s the right time for something your reaction will be “right”.

January, February, and March are the prologue months to the rest of the year.

Puppies have a lot of energy.

Still loving those naps.

The Writer’s Alphabet vol.6; “F” is for Fuck

7rf F 11

Since I started this column I have been looking forward to writing this piece. Fuck, it’s the galactic president of words. Many arguments could be made as to why this is the case but I will stick to one or maybe two. Three if I get really inspired. Fuck is the grand champion because it is the most versatile word in any language in the universe. Is it a “bad” word? Sure, that could be true. I would say though, it is the greatest because of its versatility and is only bad if you use fuck with reckless abandon because it is a lazy choice. It can be used in so many different ways that it loses its meaning after a while.
Fuck you, you fucking fuck. A great sentence that also makes for a great t-shirt – one I am proud to say I own – but that sentence is also lazy as fuck because it simply relies on one (two) word(s). However! Brevity is the soul of wit and less is more and so it is also a beauty piece of prose because it doesn’t use more words than need be.
Due to its somewhat taboo nature, fuck is best used when it is least expected. Tossing a random fuck into an otherwise innocuous sentence will no doubt spice it up and keep your audience more intrigued by what might come out of your mouth or your page.
George Carlin wrote a piece about seven words you can’t say on television. While crude, I think it proves the point that fuck is the king can. The words are, “Fuck, shit, piss, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, tits.” First off, fuck comes first. Second, it’s mentioned twice and can also be used as a prefix or suffix to any of the other words, even motherfucker!
And on another unrelated note with respect to fuck. I took a writing class a few years back. It was a journalism course and the teacher posed a question in relation to point-of-view when it came to writing articles. “Who the fuck are you?” Is fuck necessary in this query? I would say yes, because it emphasizes the point being made. In good journalism, the writer should not be present. In a column – which is what I am writing right now – the writer is a part of the writing and thus, the use of “I” can be acceptable. But in writing about a subject, say a war for example, the writer should keep themselves out of it. Who the fuck is that writer to say, “I think (insert opinion here),” unless it is the very point of the article? So with respect to this column I will ask, “Who the fuck am I?” I am a writer working on a career by posting columns, links, and articles to this blog based on my experience in writing. It is up to you, the reader, to deem whether my experience and opinions hold any weight. I am jtkwriting and this is my blog so it is my voice. Thus, using “I” is acceptable. The only remaining question is, “Who the fuck are you?”
Having looked forward to writing this for so long I thought I would have more to say. Them’s the fucks of it I guess. Ah well. Fuck it.

The Writer’s Alphabet vol.5; “E” is for Eulogies

10232901-fire-alphabets-in-flame-letter-eE is for Eulogies.

I like to write eulogies. Not for people I know, but for my characters. It allows me to synthesize a character’s life in 500 words or less. Writing eulogies for your characters gives you the chance to write a different kind of profile. It plays with perspective and in this respect gives you the chance to view your character(s) in retrospective. A lot of what we do when creating characters is we think about how their pasts impact their futures as told in the plot, whereas with a eulogy it allows for the entirety of the character’s life – in its most important parts – to be profiled, both the portions that occur and impact the story and the parts that are external to it. It can be argued that the parts of the character that are external to the story don’t matter and this has some merit, however, writers must know their characters beyond how they relate to the plot. As Hemingway said – I’m paraphrasing here – a good writer knows what to leave out. This applies to description of setting but also characters. With respect to character, what matters in one story might not matter in the next, but it might matter further on depending how many times this character comes up in your writing – see prequels and sequels.

I keep the eulogies short because it provides a challenge but also it keeps things basic and to the only the most pertinent facts about the character and that character’s life. What mattered most? What were his/her biggest accomplishments? What would this character like to be known for? This gives me great starting points to expand on every aspect of this character and his/her life.

I don’t do this all the time but whenever I do it works and is a fun exercise. Good luck and enjoy! And if you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it! Also, I feel I used the words “parts” too much in this post. If you can pick the time I used the thesaurus because this annoyed me, you win absolutely nothing. It can be a fun exercise nonetheless though, no?

Meet bar & kitchen: Jonny Nadler

10455125_10152368558619531_2304748398080098274_nComfort, honesty, and love. These are the words that Jonny Nadler believes in. They are his managing philosophy and they are what he gives every guest of bar & kitchen when they cross the threshold into his latest hospitality venture.

Jonny has built this philosophy over a lifetime in the food & beverage industry which started under the tutelage of his father who, from the time he was a child, showed Jonny the hard work necessary to build a successful business. Since those early days, Jonny has gone on to manage establishments first in Guelph and then in Toronto. His experience at the University of Guelph led to work with the Guelph Storm and the historic landmark, The Albion Hotel, the latter being a major point of pride and touchstone of his life and career.

Arriving in Toronto, Jonny notes his time at The Mill Street Brew Pub and El Catrin as highlights, both of which allowed him to build his brand and philosophy. In August of 2013, Jonny arrived at Game Day in the Little Italy neighbourhood of Toronto. In the year that passed, Jonny’s passion for hospitality shone, building relationships with customers that he wishes to carry through as he takes his thirst for growth and evolution to bar & kitchen.

Comfort, honesty, and love. “The food is very honest, the people are very warm and the drinks give you a lot of love,” he says with a smile and wistful glance, no doubt, towards the future.

With this philosophy Jonny welcomes you to bar & kitchen where the feeling of community is prevalent. The investment in people and building honest, full relationships with guests is something he prides himself on, where gratitude comes not in the form of a pat on the back, but in having a guest return for more comfort, honesty and love.

NaNoWriMo 2014

Sophie-keep-calmSo it’s the middle of November and that means that it’s the middle of NaNoWriMo also known as National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a novel, of at least 50,000 words, during the month of November. This works out to 1667 words a day or 50,000 in one day, but no matter how you break it down, it’s a task to be conquered. I am proud to say that I did it but that’s not what this post is about. It’s about the beauty of what can come from completing the task.

First, you feel great because no matter how shit your manuscript is, you’re writing! I remember it was about this time of the month that I got lost in how to continue my own novel. So I just went for it. I just kept writing and the second half of the novel was so utterly bad I was embarrassed to read it, but at the same time I just went with it with the ethos that editing is the most important task besides writing.

So, second, you realize how important editing is! Even writing this post, I wish I had edited the last sentence so it didn’t end in a verb! The manuscript I wrote for NaNoWriMo has been edited through 10 drafts and I finally got it to the point where I felt comfortable enough to pitch to agents. It’s been summarily rejected so far but at least I’m doing it and it all started with NaNoWriMo 2009.

So, third, it can all start with NaNoWriMo 2014! It’s not too late to start. You have until December 1st! But even then, just because thousands of people won’t be writing along side you around the world, doesn’t mean you can’t make every month NaNoWriMo, or every week. Take December and write a short story every week or a short play, or whatever the hell you want.

The most important thing is to keep writing. Why NaNoWriMo is so important is that it breaks down a schedule for you to know what can be accomplished in a month. By writing 1667 words a day you can have a novel written in 30 days. And what’s better than that? Well, a lot of things but also maybe not!

Keep writing! Good luck!

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