Island Writer launch on Wednesday

Former TSoW editor-in-chief Chelsea Rushton oversaw this issue of Island Writer, which features fiction by TSoW vice editor-in-chief Will Johnson.

Come out to Oaklands Community Centre on Wednesday, Dec. 1 at 6:30 for a great launch party put on by the Victoria Writer’s Society.

TSoW editors read at the Warren launch

The Warren’s launch party was on November 26 at Open Space Gallery, and it was a great night of music and reading. (Thanks to Liam Sarsfield, Amelia Nezil and Bryce Bladon, pictured above, for organizing an awesome event.)

TSoW editors Michelle Brown, Will Johnson, Katie Fritz, Jeff McAllister, Vincent Colistro and Meghan Bell read alongside former EIC Chelsea Rushton and Journey Prize finalist Eliza Robertson, among others.

Check out some pictures below:

UVic writer shortlisted for Journey Prize

Eliza Robertson has had a crazy year.

The fourth-year UVic writing student won three prestigious literary journals’ fiction awards in a 12-month period, picking up top prize from Prism International, The Malahat Review and The Fiddlehead. But she’s trying not to let the success go to her head.

Editor’s reading at Intrepid!

+ The TSOW Editor’s Reading will be taking place on November 18 at Intrepid Theater Club (1609 Blanshard). This yearly event is not only to showcase the fantastic editors for this year’s edition, it is a fundraiser to help towards the publishing costs of this year’s book. Drinks, (possible) dancing, and an open mic! Admission is 4$. Doors open at 7 pm.

Hope to see you there!

Submissions now open for 2011 issue!

Submissions are now open for the 2011 issue of This Side of West!

+ Fiction: 50-5000 words per piece, will accept multiple submissions up to a complete total of 30 double-spaced pages

+ Poetry: 4 poems max per author, with a total page count not exceeding 6 pages

+ Creative Non-Fiction: 4500 words max per piece, 3 submissions max per author

+ Drama: 25 pages max per piece, 3 submissions max per author

+We are looking for innovative, well-written pieces that not only steer clear of cliché, but challenge and illuminate the topic or subject.

+The deadline for printed submissions will be November 26, 2010 at 3 pm. All printed submissions are to be placed in a box that will be on top of the filing cabinet in the Writing Department office.

+ The deadline for online submissions will be December 3, 2010 at 12 am. All online submissions are to be attached as a .doc file and sent to mlbrown@uvic.ca

+ Important:

-All pieces must be formatted properly (as per genre submitted), and must not include the author’s name anywhere on the piece.

-All submissions must include a separate cover letter with the author’s name, titles of pieces submitted, and contact information (e-mail and phone number preferably).

– If the rules above are not followed, the submission will (unfortunately) not be considered.

Upcoming literary forum!

Hey guys!

Make sure to check out this literary forum on Saturday, Nov. 6. Four renowned Canadian writers (Don Domanksi, Anne Michaels, Jann Zwicky and Alissa York) will address the place of religion, spirituality and contemplative practice in literature and the writing life.

For more information, check out the poster below:

CSRS Literary Forum Poster

Greetings from the new Editor-in-Chief, Michelle Brown!

Photo by Will Johnson

I am so excited to be heading up the 2011 issue of This Side of West! This department, and this journal are very important to me, and I want to create an environment where everyone feels that they are not only welcomed, but appreciated. A few things:

+If you are interested in editing or submitting to This Side of West, taking on a leadership role in the department, or have any questions/concerns about the journal or the Writing Students Union, please come to the AGM on Friday, October 15, at 4 pm in FIA 203. There will be snacks! (Although they will probably be snacks that I bought from the grocery store).

+ I’m still taking applications for editors, especially for Fiction, Drama and CNF. Send me a writing sample, along with your preferred genre and a short paragraph on why you think you’d be a suitable editor for This Side of West. Final decisions will be made (if all goes well) by Oct. 15

+ Keep your eyes & ears open and peeled for the upcoming Editor’s Reading (where the selected Editors will have a chance to read from their work). I’m also hoping to have a featured “up and comers” section of the night, and I’d love to hear from any first-year students that would be interested in reading!

+ I’m always an email away (mlbrown@uvic.ca) if you have any concerns or questions. I also really like chatting about writing related things, so don’t be shy!

Michelle Brown
Editor-In-Chief

A Worthwhile Life

by Will Johnson

I think the reason there are a lot of novels about How Mean My Mother Was to Me and all that shit is because the writers may have learned something called ‘technique,’ but they’ve neglected to have a life. What the fuck are they gonna write about?” – David Mamet, GQ, April 2008

When you think of a writer, what do you see? Maybe an eccentric elderly woman, her librarian glasses perched at the end of her nose? Maybe a twerpy twenty-something hipster on the bus, carefully balancing his MacBook on his lap? Or do you still think of Ernest Hemingway, barrel-chested and drunk, with a shotgun slung carelessly over his shoulder?

These days, anyone can be a writer. Literally. We’ve never been so inundated with opportunity; whether it’s posting an angsty navel-gazing rant on your personal blog, writing an award-winning novel or just venting in your local newspaper’s letters section, it seems like writers are everywhere.

In his interview with GQ in April 2008, David Mamet talked about learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for the first time. He was in his sixties, and took up the martial art to research for his movie Red Belt. Over the course of a year, he grappled with and learned from some of the finest fighters in the world.

Mamet is almost as well-known for his crass, controversial views as for his prolific, award-winning writing career as a playwright and screenwriter. But you have to give it to the guy: he hasn’t neglected to live his life.

I read the article about him after my first year at UVic, as I was about to leave for the summer. I’d landed an internship with The Whitehorse Star, and I was suitably terrified to spend four months in the Yukon. I repeated Mamet’s words to myself as I boarded the plane. I thought about them when I was assigned to a four-day river trip, when I interviewed Jack Layton and when I smoked salvia for the first time on top of a rainy mountain in Dawson City. I thought about his words when I fell irresponsibly in love with a lesbian drifter I met in a hostel.

What entails afull life? Does it mean taking off for far away countries or putting yourself through grueling ordeals? As a writer, does it mean following in A.J. Jacobs’ footsteps, and using yourself as a human guinea pig? Or maybe it means taking a dangerous journalism assignment, like a tour in Afghanistan. You could spend a weekend sleeping on the streets of Vancouvers Downtown Eastside, so you can write a compelling editorial. Or, like Diablo Cody, you could take a job as a stripper—just to see what it’s like.

But there are the exceptions: Alice Munro is the first that comes to mind. Reading over her life story, you don’t see any crazy experiences or rough gigs. She got married a couple times, had some kids, flittered in and out of academia, and basically wandered from one coast to the other for the course of her writing career, which spanned over four decades.

Munro is easily the greatest living short story-teller we’ve got. Period. Her entire life is a defiance of Mamet’s hypothesis; rather, her stories map the extraordinary inner lives of some of the most fascinating and complicated characters ever conceived of. She’s not writing about celebrities or larger-than-life characters. She’s showing us housewives and university students. In her stories, Munro shows us the extraordinary beauty obscured by the mundane details of our day-to-day lives.

Ultimately, each of us has to decide what type of writer we want to be. Are you a Jack London? A Margaret Atwood? Maybe you’re a Chuck Palahniuk or a David Sedaris or even a Jeanette Walls. The longer you think about it, the more you realize that there is no such thing as an archetypal “writer”.

We each have our own lives to lead, and whatever other people think of us, we’re all looking to lead a worthwhile life.

-Will Johnson