Me and You and Me, Belonging

In the ten years since getting my BA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Concordia University, I have had a number of mentorships with established writers. What makes the DD long-form mentorship different is that the program is in fact “long-form.” Most formal writing programs allow for the drafting of one or maybe two short stories; however, Lauren Kirshner and I worked through my entire manuscript—the novella and all nine short stories—over the course of six months.

I had been working on the stories that eventually made it into You and Me, Belonging, individually and together, for many years and after a while, themes and patterns began to emerge, which led to the writing of even more stories. When I finally put the manuscript together, I was surprised by some of the pieces that made it in to the collection, and some that did not. I’ve been working on the novella, “Chasing the Tonic,” that ends the collection, the longest out of anything else in there; it is definitely the thematic heart of the book.

The mentorship process with Lauren went like this: I’d send two or three stories, depending on their length, and about two weeks later we’d discuss them, either over the phone or in person. Lauren would also send me the marked-up stories. The biggest change that my manuscript underwent was the new draft of the novella, which is now, among a myriad of other changes, twenty pages shorter than it was originally. The novella was one of those pieces that was came very slowly, in short bursts of writing as well as sustained work. Some of the shorter stories, like “Movies,” on the other hand, were written relatively quickly, appearing on the page in almost the same shape they ended up in after the drafting and rewriting process. Once I finish polishing the manuscript as a whole, I am looking forward to finding it a home.

The jacket blurb for my book might read something like this: “Among the nine stories and novella of You and Me, Belonging, readers will meet: three best friends smoking their way through Amsterdam as they digest what they saw and felt on their Birthright Israel trip; a rich Toronto businessman who becomes obsessed with a guitar prodigy; a headstrong Jewish waitress who has an affair with a Palestinian chef in a soup-and-sandwich restaurant in Montreal; and, in the novella, four young women who are following a jamband around America, chasing the music and that elusive sense of belonging all of the characters in these stories, in one way or another, are attempting to find, hold on to, and make their own.”

In terms of my future writing plans, my first collection of poetry, Arguments For Lawn Chairs, is coming out with Guernica Editions in Fall 2016, and I am already working on a new batch of short stories.