It's doubtful that any fiction worth reading has been produced on a computer running Windows Vista.
I avoid writing about sex out of a certainty that no matter how grown up and matter-of-fact I might try to be, there is a snickering yet nun-terrorized 12-year-old-boy inside me who would at some point be certain to grab the reins in his hairy palms.
It's kind of sad, the way we've turned the entertainment of reading into a kind of psychic broccoli - something to feel guilty about if you don't force it on your face-making children while dutifully consuming a few token florets yourself.
I've never understood people who treat their loved ones worse and with less respect than they would a total stranger or minor acquaintance.
I should say I am not much of a gamer - anymore. The reason for this is that I have to make a living, and my body requires vitamin D, and I've come to value the heady pleasures of human interaction over the temporary exhilaration of reaching the 'next level.'
The one thing I've always done as an author is talk to my publicists. Because they have all the best stories - and they have all the dirt on other, more famous and important writers. They're not supposed to talk about it, but sometimes you can get awesome little tidbits from them.
Anger is one of those emotions that doesn't follow the letter of the law. It speaks before it thinks. It rears up on its hind legs and charges.
Formalized rules of manners were so great because they left no room for basic human haplessness. They allowed us to circumvent our natural boorish tendency to disregard the feelings of others.
A bunch of chairs lined up in front of a podium equals school.
You know the actor's nightmare is getting up onstage and not being prepared? I think the writer's nightmare is giving a reading and somebody standing up and saying, 'That's not your story.'
I come from a working-class background, and I thought I had to be studying something that would get me a job.
Occasionally, chewing over some random letter writer's dilemma, I'll find myself imagining scenarios where the problem could be sidestepped by an innocent fib or series of evasive manoeuvres. Then, I slap myself on the wrist.
Never use dogs to symbolize anything. That is ridiculous. Always ensure that any dogs are just dogs; i.e., characters in the story who happen to be dogs.
One does not become an atheist out of a desire for hassle-free Sunday mornings. People come to atheism because they have a problem with organized religion - usually a problem they consider to be of moral urgency.
When you're not sure your anger is justified, the thing to do is ask yourself exactly where it's coming from.
I've always been a sucker for any technology engineered primarily for the entertainment of the human race - even such technology as has been disguised as 'useful' or 'improving' when we all know the real virtue lies in its ability to distract and divert.
I would never have thought my collection of short stories would win the Giller.
I started out in the journalism program, but I got kicked out. I wasn't very good at it. It wasn't where I wanted to be ultimately.
What I've learned is that you get better at writing by writing, and that 'youthful energy' will only get you so far.
That's what fascinates me about these writers' retreats: You're in these small spaces with small groups of people, and all of the sudden, the spotlight is shining on you harder than it normally is.
Somewhere in our cultural subconscious, we crave these figures that are big and strong and unassailable, like masculine fortresses. It's like how the 9/11 firemen were venerated.
The novel, as a genre, was once considered a diversion every bit as frivolous as Facebook, but over the years, we've managed to convince ourselves that reading fiction is as important to our mental digestion as fresh fruits and vegetables are to the processes that take place a little further down.
Here it is, 2011, and I feel zero shame when I tell you I would like to marry my smartphone. It is a handful of pure delight.
The fundamentals for me are character and conflict. I put character first because readers will be indifferent to conflict if they are indifferent to the character who is experiencing it.
It makes me proud not just to be a Canadian writer but to be a Canadian, to live in a country where we treat our writers like movie stars.
We allow ourselves to unclench when we're home with our families, which is one of the truly wonderful advantages of human intimacy.
Filtering can be a very good thing when it comes to human relationships and familial harmony. Yeah, filtering is often an absolute necessity.
Most don't live inside their heads as a writer does, having conversations with her own ideas.
Keep a copy of 'Islands in the Stream' by Ernest Hemingway on the left hand side of your desk. Keep Fitzgerald's 'The Crack Up' on the right. When you get stuck, pick them up and pretend that they are having a fight, like you used to do with your GI Joes.
The thing about relationships is, the stronger they get, the more rapidly the realm of romance starts to overlap with the domestic.
My dad was a real man's man, and so were my brothers, in a small town where hockey is king. It's a masculine culture. It made me really attentive to what it meant to be a guy.
Flowers are an easy, eloquent expression of love at a time when words can seem clumsy and inadequate.
The creative process taps into our deepest subconscious, and we are each of us sex-crazed - products of a shame-based Judeo-Christian culture that has irrevocably warped us all to varying degrees.
I spent so many years in terror of 'making it legal' because the expression rang all too true - the wedding ritual struck me as nothing but a flowery front for the fulfilment of countless, tedious contracts and obligations.
I know what the Giller nominee effect is, but we'll see what the next level is.
I was always watching the boys and how they interacted. It comes with being a feminist, just somebody who thinks a lot about gender and how it plays out in society.
In the late sixties, when revolution and upheaval were everywhere, feminists were ridiculed for focusing on housework.
However long, it's definitely the presence of other people that brings out the weirdness - that collision of your own way of being with the everyday lives of others, the abrupt awareness - always a surprise no matter how often it's happened - that their lives are very different from your own.
We are all somebody's children, and when we're in pain, we regress, instinctively looking to our parents to make everything better.
When revising, consider whether you have written anything that will hurt or offend a member of your immediate family. If the answer is no, go back and add something.
Do not make the writer stand behind a podium. Anything but. A podium reeks of the lecture hall. A music stand, on the other hand, is nicely minimal and lends the writer - who usually needs all the help s/he can get - a musician's second-hand cool-factor.
Grownups, as a rule, should always be ready to pay for their own meals - or else ready to graciously accept their date's insistence on paying. The point is, one doesn't sit there batting one's eyelashes, fully expecting someone else to claim the bill.
I even felt like I liked guys better than women - that men were relevant and women weren't. It took me a while to realize I'd been socialized to have a slighting view of my own gender.
The masterstroke of male fraternity, I believed, was the practice of never speaking of anything remotely personal or related to one's emotions. That way, no one is ever made uncomfortable. Any such awkward moments can always be dispelled with a flurry of pretend-punches.
Now, as a writer, the whole world is your nail polish display, and what's more, you can help yourself. A thrilling, colourful array of gorgeous human peculiarity revolves before your eyes, and you still can't quite believe it's all yours for the taking.
Ever since 'Strange Heaven,' I haven't really reread my old work. Not so much because I don't like the writer I was, or because I find flaws in the writing, but more because I get so burnt out on a novel once I've finished writing, revising, editing and copy editing it that I genuinely never want to look at it again after it's gone to press.
Dating, like almost every other male-female interaction in present-day society, is based on outmoded and unequal social roles and expectations.
I still find the idea of a research-heavy or historical novel daunting. That's something I've had in mind for a while: like, would you research for a year and then start writing? I sit down, and I just don't know how to write it.
It's the typical mid-life crisis kind of thing, where you just stop and wonder, 'Should I go back to university and get a law degree?' I kind of looked around me and thought, 'What kind of idiot am I that I've just spent the last 10 years writing novels? Financially, I'm pretty much where I was when I was 28.'