I was lucky enough to get a spot in the one measly writing course McGill’s English department offerred in my third year. Admission was based on an application and writing sample, so the class was, delightfully, full of people who really wanted to there. At the start of each workshop the instructor would throw out the question: “Lines we liked?” It was a kind way to begin a critique session, and the phrase eventually became the title of the anthology of our short stories published at end of term.
There must be lines you like. Lines that are sooo good/heavy/punchy that you keep them with you always. Things you have underlined, tabbed, shouted at people, made into goofy art projects, and kept close to you over many years. Most of mine are advice-like. For instance:
- “Slashes bespeak laziness” – Professor Alan Hepburn, on writing good sentences. Being a lazy writer was the worst crime you could perpetuate against Professor Hepburn.
- “Cultivate joyful integrity” – I don’t know, but via Jessica Duffin Wolfe. Isn’t that nice? I like to be reminded that integrity is a process, and I especially like you be reminded that it can and should be joyful
- “Harmony is easily withheld” – I can’t remember…I think The Atlantic? A good nudge to maturity in interactions.
There are so many, and I will probably feel the urge to post more of them here soon. Short posts containing no context coming your way!
(I used to write and now I don’t. I’m sorry and disappointed in myself for it, and I think publicly announcing this might shame me into doing more of it.
A hurrah and thank you to the lovely Kate Blair (Belcher) who is a finalist for the CBC literary awards, and who came second in the Toronto Star‘s short-story contest last year. You are a good kick in the pants, among other things!)