Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Editing Small Magics

It is very late and very hot (ten degrees above seasonal), and I am no longer tired.

I have just finished editing chapter six, which puts me far behind where I wanted to be at this point, but beggars cannot be choosers as the saying goes, especially when it comes to time. I am working all day, as is my wife and we have a one and a half year old. Time is our most precious commodity right now, and I hoard it when I can.

First, hats off to Briana, who is my editor. She is doing a fine job of seeing the things I have missed and asking pointed questions that make me take long, hard looks at sections of my manuscript and ask myself "Why?"

Editing is a strange process. You are taking something deeply personal and subjecting it to the scrutiny of someone who does not know you, or your work, which is what makes them so valuable. They can see the garbage parts for what they are and say so.

I have a slight advantage with Small Magics. I have not truly looked at this book in a year at least. I have written another book since then, and am a third of the way through another one (the sequel to Small Magics, in fact). Nonetheless, it is still deply personal to me, and there are parts of my heart that cry out "Noooooo!" when I realize some things have to change to make the book better.

I have been putting two to three hours every evening into the edit, and the result has been an average of six or less hours sleep a night since the editing process began. Funny, I thought I'd be more tired, but you can get used to anything, really.

Of course, I may just be hallucinating at this point.

I am about eighty pages behind where I wanted to be, but I'm getting the rythm of it, and expect to be making up for lost time soon.

Briana, if you happen to chance upon this, keep up the good work.

Back to...

Ah, who am I kidding. I'm going to bed. I have to get up in five and a half hours.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I really didn't want a political blog...

I wanted a nice, fun blog where I could talk writing, books, authors, archeology and other neat science stuff, , how my latest book is coming, what workshops I'm running, how the editing process is going on Small Magics, and occasionally comment on current affairs.

But come on, Stephen. What are you thinking?

What are you? George Bush's Canadian lickspittle?

There is so much more to say, but I've wasted one evening on this already, so I'll make it short:

Stop doing stupid stuff so I can get on with my editing.

Anyway, my next post will be about the fun I'm having editing Small Magics, which will be on shelves in 2007. It has nothing to do with Canadian politics, and is a very good read. Click here for a preview, then rush out and order it so my publisher will like me.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

On reading Spike Milligan

I've just finished "Rommel?" "Gunner Who?" by Spike Milligan.

The man was mad.

Utterly mad.

And utterly brilliant.

Spike Milligan, for those who don't know, was a British musician, comedian, writer, and a member of The Goon Show (a brilliantly funny BBC radio program) along with Peter Sellers and Ned Secombe. He was also certifiably insane, and for part of The Goon Show was driven from the asylum where he lived and wrote to the studio to perform, then driven back again at the end of the show.

This book, written in 1973, is a ramble of thoughts and memories, paying only lip service to the idea of chonology, interspersing personal memories with scripts of imaginary performances starring Hitler and Winston Churchill and remembered nightmares so horrifying they had me in chills. It is funny and profane and horrifying without apology. The boredom, humour, fear, humanity, cruelty, absurdity and insanity of men at war spills out in a stream of consciousness that pulls the reader along with it.

It is one of the best recollections of war I have read in a long time, and I highly recommend it for those who haven't read it.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The New Budget: Harper's Hate Letter to Canadians

I've just read the lead-up to Harper's budget and I'm seeing red.

The basics:

Harper wants to give more money to the provinces to address what he calls a "federal-provincial funding imbalance." He is also going to spend $5 Billion on the military, and $2 Billion on his baby bounty (which offers you $1200 a year for each child you have under six).

So how is he going to to pay for all this?

Well, currently, thanks to federal taxes, the price of oil, and good fiscal policies on the part of the previous government, Canada is is running a $10 Billion federal surplus. Do you think he's going to use that?

No, because he's a Conservative. His job is to make those with money richer, and punish those who don't have it.

So, he's going to cut the Good and Services Tax by 1%. This means, if you can afford to buy stuff, it will now be cheaper. This will also take $5 Billion out of the federal budget. He's also going to cut taxes for those earning between $36,000 and $118,000, and taxes for corporations and small businesses (did you know that Canada already has the best corporate tax rate in the G8?). This will also take money from the budget.

So, where is he going to get the money?

Why, by cutting government programs, of course. The national childcare program, which was going to cost $1 Billion a year and created affordable daycare spaces across the country, is gone. The Kelowna Aboriginal Accord, which would have spent $5 Billion to provide housing education, health care and infrastructure for Canada's First Nations, is gone. The funding for the Kyoto Accord to stop global warming is gone. Other government programs will be gone.

And of course, there's one group whose taxes he will raise. Those who earn less than 36,000 a year got a 1% tax cut in the last budget. That's going to be rescinded.

I would love to say Harper is doing this because he is stupid, but that is not why. He is doing it because he represents the interests of business, not of Canadians.

Harper is using the exact same program that the Harris Conservatives used provincially in Ontario in the 1990's. Cut taxes. Cut programs to pay for those tax cuts. When the budget balances, cut more taxes. Cut more programs to pay for them. Explain how the government can't afford to supply Canadians with services, and hand it over to private industry to do it at a tidy profit. And if you're too poor to pay for those services, too bad.

The budget is going to be released this afternoon. If it is what they've promised (and what I have written here is they've promise), I will be writing to my MP to tell them to vote down this budget. I encourage you all to do the same.

Back to work.

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