Word Processing = Writing

I think we’ve let a term slip through our collective defences against nonsense and foolishness. Programs like Microsoft Word and WordPerfect are referred to as “word processors”.

Word processing? Think about it. It’s the dumb term. An editor or writing application maybe. Have you ever told someone, “I’m not listening to you, I’m sentence parsing.”


A Series of Stolen Quotes from Douglas Coupland

Cover art of Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas CouplandThe Morning News is running an interview with Douglas Coupland. He designed the cover of his latest book, Hey Nostradamus!, himself (and did a fine job). I recently read All Families Are Psychotic (an apt title that is both timely for me and absolutely true). Microserfs is one of my all-time favourite books. I look forward to reading the new book.

The following are some quotes I’m liberally swiping from the interview at The Morning News (pushing the limits of fair use). Thanks to the Morning News for the fine interview and for being a fine site all around (despite breaking my cardinal rule of bullet lists).

When asked why he didn’t seem concerned with theorizing about the cause of shootings like this, Coupland answers:

“I think the killers get far too much attention.”

When asked about the international perception of Canada in light of our recent legal moves for marijuana and same-sex marriages, he opines:

“We went from being boring little Canada to a sexy country of sin overnight? We are not used to being trendy or hip.”

He also tells a remarkable story about how an ATF agent described the sound of cell-phones ringing at the Columbine scene as sounding like “tropical birds”. Coupland turned the idea into a powerful performance art piece during some of his speaking engagements.

“Yeah. So without telling anyone in the audience why, I said ’Okay, who’s got a phone’ and called them up. ’Now go to your neighbor and find out their number and phone them and they’ll phone you back or whatever. House, could you dim down the lights?’ Everybody thought it was ’hee hee, really funny.’ Or whatever, David Byrne-postmodern. And then it went on for a minute and it had its own texture. And then the lights came up and the phones turned off and I told them what I was basing this on. And there was this reaction like everyone had been kicked in the gut. Then in Paris, at the Parisian Literary Festival, I did the same thing except I told people in advance why I am doing it and they did it and then the lights came up and everybody was in tears. There was this gasp of astonishment. Like how often do you hear the singing voice of the human soul? That’s one of the few instances where visual stuff and written work have dovetailed so neatly.”

He calls The New York Times “the paper Google” and describes The Simpsons as “a New Yorker cartoon that goes on for 13 years”. He says that Law & Order is “like drinking. You know how you are going to feel. When you watch Law and Order you know how you are going to feel.”

On the state of creativity:

“If someone decides to be a musician now, it means because there is no hope of money at the end of it, it means they really want to be a musician. And if someone is writing now, there is no hope for money at the end of it.”


Deplaning – a short story

I was invited to read a piece of fiction on a segment called “The Write Lane” on the CBC Radio PEI show, Mainstreet with host Mitch Courmier.

We spoke a bit about how writing for a weblog differs from tradition creative writing. I chose to read from a work-in-progress short-story (that I secretly hope will turn into a novel) called Deplaning.

For your listening and reading pleasure:


Reading on the (real world) Radio

I’ll be reading from a short-story on CBC Radio PEI tomorrow. The reading is part of “The Write Lane”, a weekly piece featuring local writers. I should be on around 5:30PM Thursday, July 10.

If I can get my act together, I hope to post both the audio from the interview/reading and the text of the short-story.