Redheads Writing in Cafes Unless It’s a Pub
Welcome to this week’s edition of Redheads writing in cafes, except, it was a bar patio and I had cider instead of coffee. For those of you who are judging me right now…
Many often joke that Canada has two seasons. Winter and patio season but, let’s be honest with ourselves here for a moment, the last couple winters we’ve had, haven’t been all that terrible. Compared to the year of the ice storm, they have been comparatively mild. Complain? We shouldn’t be, but as per standard, we will. It’s now mid-May and as I look around, I see trees filling out, and quite quickly over the last few days, happy people out on leisurely walks, people on bikes whizzing by, skateboarders, motorcycles and people browsing through the various tiny libraries, that are popping up on a steady basis, in my hood. Spring has sprung!
Yesterday and again today, we have been treated to a sneak peek of summer weather. Hot, humid, the threat of a thunderstorm and patios filled to the brim. Yesterday, I took advantage of such and found myself sitting on a patio in the Annex. Paupers Pub is probably one of the most popular patios in the Bloor/Bathurst area, especially now with all of the bars and restaurants of Mirvish Village disappearing due to the upcoming condo, erm…. apartment complex development. Paupers has always been a patio favourite of mine. The staff is a mix of Paupers veterans to university students looking for a quick cashflow to pay the rent.
The afternoon started with a coffee and vegan doughnut at Bloomers with our very own Life With More Cowbell, Cate McKim. Once we satiated our need for caffeine and a sugary, fried delightful treat, we made our way to The Annex. I’m talking about the doughnut you pervs…. Anywhoo… After parting ways, I decided to continue my stroll along Bloor and take the scenic route to my next destination, Paupers patio, where I was planning to do some writing.
During my wander along Bloor, two odd things happened. I walked into BMV and didn’t buy anything. I know, weird. Then…. Then there was the guy wearing the Obama Halloween mask. Living in Toronto, I have seen some very…. odd things. A lot of odd things in fact. Normally I wouldn’t be fazed by the guy in the Obama mask, if it wasn’t for the fact that he passed me three times within a matter of 30 minutes and each time staring me down. I don’t think he was singling me out, I observed him doing this exact same thing to others he passed. I think a normal person may have been creeped out by the guy, I just kept thinking, “Man, that must be really hot under a Halloween mask on a day like today.” Has anyone else seen this guy before?
I was able to get a couple solid hours of writing in before being joined by October for dinner and more drinks on the patio. I was able to do what I hope was the final edit on a short story that I am looking to submit on Monday to a literary magazine. I’ve been editing the story for two weeks now and feel it’s time to let the baby fly from the nest. I know for artists letting go of your work is hard to do. I always have a hard time with this, not because I’m worried about rejection, but because I want everything to be perfect. If you have the same issue or a solution please let me know. I’d love to hear your story as well.
Now that the weather is warmer, I am hoping to spend more time writing on patios. Sometimes with a coffee and sometimes a cider.
Redheads Writing in Cafes #4 and Why I Support Local Indie Artists
Just to warn you. There may be swears.
The last few days have been lovely. Wednesday, I hung out with my sister from a whole other family, October. Thursday, live music at C’est What with Neil Traynor and band. Had another productive cafe writing session with Heather Babcock and John Oughton on Thursday, Saturday, my fella and I crammed in watching Street Poetry in High Park, a second viewing of the cherry blossoms and then dinner and live music in The Junction. After an amazing few days of enjoying local independent art, music, and poetry with the people I love, fellow creatives, why do I not feel content? Why instead am I feeling contempt? Here’s why.
This has been nagging at me, scratching at my gray matter for some time now It’s been bubbling just below the surface, pulling at me, like that song, that sits on the tip of your tongue and it’s driving me mad. I have talked to others about it. I’ve occasionally posted status messages about it and tried to get people’s attention and their consideration for it. Now… now I’m at my wit’s end and I’m pissed. No, I’m fucking angry. It’s time to make a change.
Those were the swears. I can’t promise those were the last.
What initially pushed me to the brink was a group of four women who were in their early twenties. As we were having our writing session at a local Mom and Pop run cafe Thursday, these young women were standing in line waiting to be served. A long line. The cafe was busier than normal due to the cherry blossoms in High Park. When they were about three people away from being served, one of the young women loudly exclaimed, “I want to support local, but they are too slow here. Let’s go to Starf*cks.” (she didn’t call it that and used the proper name, I did. Guess who will never be sponsoring me.). Did these women not notice the cherry blossom festival chaos across the street and consider it might be affecting the businesses in the hood? If you really wanted to support local, wouldn’t you be patient? Wouldn’t you take how busy the shop was into consideration? I did.
This, however, isn’t what I want to talk about. It was what triggered everything. Thursday night, a good friend was playing with his band at a popular downtown venue. When it came time to pass the tip jar, we went around to everyone who was, what we thought, enjoying the music. We asked everyone to throw in a loonie or toonie to help support local music. Some put money in funds (mostly other artists), while the corporate types (I have another name for them, but won’t write it) declined — very rudely in most cases. This really bothered me.
I’ve put on many events and attended an even greater number of them. I’ve observed when the tip jar is being passed around, for the most part, artists will always put money in, even if it is whatever loose changed they have in their pockets. Artists will go out to other artists events without batting an eye. We support each other, promote each other, help out at each others gigs, artist supporting artists. This, sadly, does not help us grow, help us get noticed outside of our community and when we try to get others to come to events or if they are at an event, put a few dollars in the tip jar, they don’t or rather won’t and they make you feel awful for asking. On Thursday night, we received snarky comments and evil stares when we asked. I felt that we were asking for their first born (no thanks) or for a donation of blood. (again no thanks) It was frustrating.
Once upon a time, artists were revered. If this was the 1920s or 1930s we would be looked upon at a higher level, would make a nice living from our art and be respected. Why is it, in 2017, we are looked down upon, brushed off and disrespected? We are asked to work for free and when we do get paid, it’s for way less than minimum wage. We struggle to get anyone, who isn’t an artist to come out to events (when was the last time our families, workmates or other acquaintances came to see us). We work hard to promote our events, prepare for the events and then put on the show. How do we get people to start supporting local artists? How do we get them out to events? How do we get them to respect us?
This city is full of performers, writers, playwrights, theaters, bands, songwriters, singers, visual artists, photographers, poets, spoken word artists, designers, painters, sculptors, magicians, burlesque, comic artists, comedians — the list goes on. How do we get the average Joe to support us? How do we get the city and venues to support us? And speaking of venues, how to we keep the supportive ones going? I see my fellow artist struggling every day to get their art out there and to survive financially. I see musicians like Cynthia Gould trying to get awareness out there through her TO Rock Cult Facebook page. Yesterday I witnessed Street Poetry trying to raise awareness. I applaud these artists and all the others that are making an effort, but my question, the thing that is bothering me, nagging at me is how do we as one huge collective, make this happen on a bigger scale? How do we get the populous to once again respect and revere artists?
I will keep promoting, supporting and helping my fellow artists. I will continue to walk around venues asking everyone to put some money in a tip jar. I will keep posting and voicing out how much we need to support independent artists, but I need help. Cynthia needs help. Every person who is fighting to survive as an artist needs help! Here is where you can help. Everyone who reads this, please share it. If you see an artist’s having an event, go to it, buy their art, books, CDs, merch. Post about their events, tell your friends. Better yet, gather your friends and bring the to events. If you are an artist, keep promoting your fellow artists. Let’s, as one huge collective get the rest of the world to see us!
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Let’s make change happen.
SUPPORT LOCAL ARTISTS!
Redheads Writing in Cafes #3
After an amazing weekend of wandering around my hood Saturday and talking about creative projects on Sunday, I am back to regularly scheduled writing in cafes. Today’s cafe writing is in the very popular Junction writing spot and office for many creatives, Full Stop. In the summertime, you can enjoy the air-conditioned inside or the sunny back patio! It’s a wee bit chilly today for a patio, though I am looking forward to this alternative once it warms up a bit more. Who knows, there may even be a few posts of Redheads Writing in Cafes… on a pub patio with a cold, crisp cider replacing the cuppa joe.
As I mentioned, I had another amazing weekend with my fella, along with discovering or rather re-discovering some creative pursuits of days gone by. Many years ago on a planet far, far away, I went to college and got a diploma in Graphic Design and another in Photography. I especially adored black and white photography. Adored it! I loved every aspect from taking the photo to the dark room to the finished print. I was an avid photographer for a few years; until I had to make a choice. A horrible choice.
When you are an artist, you take on a variety of jobs to pay your bills. On many occasions, those jobs don’t pay enough and you have to either get additional jobs or sell things to be able to pay for essentials such as rent. When you are faced with possible eviction, you have a tough choice and in my case, it came down to selling my equipment. My thoughts at the time were, ‘I can always buy second-hand equipment again when I can afford it.’ Sadly, that never happened and I still regret that decision.
Fast-forward many years later, I started to get the itch again and began my quest to get a DSLR camera. Owning one would be two-fold for me. One part using the camera for vlogging and one part to start taking pictures again. My plan was to start saving funds and eventually when I could afford it, buy myself a camera. Apparently, the universe and three amazing people had other ideas and I received a camera for Yule. I had absolutely no idea I was getting this gift.
Since receiving the camera, I have been taking many photos and video footage around my home, mostly playing with all the of the settings on the camera. This weekend I took my camera with me for a stroll through High Park. The cherry blossoms on the Sakura trees were about to bloom and I wanted to get some shots and once my fingers gripped the body of the camera, it felt like there was nothing stopping me and something that was hibernating for quite a long time, woke up again. I shocked myself that I remembered everything about exposure, composition, lighting and other fundamentals. It was like meeting up a with an old friend again and everything just flowed again as if no time had passed.
Since reacquainting myself with my old friend the camera, my mind has been bursting with ideas. As I walked to Full Stop, I was putting together an idea for a photo project. As I stood in line waiting to order my coffee I was sketching out, in my mind, an outline. The moment I sat down at a table, I started writing it all down. I personally feel that photography and writing go hand-in-hand. Quoting a fellow writer and photographer John Oughton “They do go hand in hand. Both require sensitivity to the world and careful examination of its phenomena. If you look at the two Greek words that make up “photography”, it means writing with light.”
When I was originally learning photography, I was inspired by a photographer named Ruth Orkin. She was self-taught and passionate about her craft. I am once again reading and researching her and in awe of her legacy. Though her style is very different from mine, it’s her passion for her art that is truly my inspiration.
Owning a DSLR has opened up another route for me in my creative journey. Each day when I wake, I feel like I am bursting at the seams. I am excited to see where I go with this creatively. My style of photography and vision is much darker than the photos I am posting in this blog entry, those photos will come later. I feel that I still need to learn all the ins and outs of a digital SLR. Though much of the functionality of taking a picture is the same, there are many more bells and whistles. This, of course, is all part of the adventure.
Till next time. Fully caffeinated, this Redhead out!
Redheads Writing in Cafes #2
Guilt. Why do I feel so damn guilty walking away from that very large pile of laundry? Why is it taunting me, making me feel like a bad person for ignoring it? I swear it was staring me down as I walked away, it was yelling at me as I grabbed my laptop and exited the building. Why is there so much guilt?
Yesterday I had the honour of being photographed by the amazing and incredibly talented Lisa MacIntosh. Lisa is not only an intuitive photographer but a wonderful human being. She has photographed musicians from all over North America for her Great Hall Series and many inspirational women, including Amanda Palmer, for the ASK series. Being included in this group of women is the biggest compliment anyone has given me. She will be working on the ASK series for the rest of the summer, please keep checking her website to see who else she includes and for more information on the ongoing series.
Lisa and I are both full-time artists, who work for ourselves and mostly work from our homes. We chatted about this and how easy it is to become distracted by the many chores and tasks involved in our households. One of the greatest traps when working from home is this exact issue. When I ignore these tasks, I start to let my imagination go to dark, dark places that include German Expressionist Silent films ala Metropolis, where my laundry and dishes revolt. Remember the below scene. No one wants their laundry to animate and attack them. No. One.
When the weather is shite, being able to sit on your couch, or at a dining room table, desk or workstation of choice is comforting. You don’t have to deal with the rain, sleet, snow, ice, wind or unbearable heat and humidity. Better yet, public transit in the rain, sleet, snow, ice, the wind or unbearable heat and humidity. If it’s your thing, you can stay in your yoga pants, pajamas all day or in my 1930s vision, stunning dressing gown. Your time and schedule are your own… until the laundry starts yelling at you or the dirty dishes start wailing or… or… or… Just walk away! Cover your ears, your eyes and just… walk.. AWAY. Trust me, this is so much easier said, than done, especially when you are running out of clean underwear. This is why I’m in a neighbourhood coffee shop, writing.
Today I chose The Good Neighbour. A cafe that is a short walk from my home, that has cute, artsy baristas behind the counter. They also have delicious coffee. In a pinch or when I am too lazy to walk to the grocery store, I have picked up a bag of their dark roast beans. Bonus: free WiFi. The one downfall (or is it), they don’t have any vegan sweet treats (not to worry, Bunners is a two minute walk away). They do have sandwich items that can be made Vegan on request.
This week I am back to working on short stories. I have two new ones I am drafting and a couple older stories that I need to revisit and edit. I am hoping to get those out the door… erm… via cyberspace by next week. One of them may or may not include sharks. I am hoping by next week that it warms up enough that I can sit on a patio to write or head to the park with a book to read and a notebook to write out character sketches. Generally, I do all my writing via my computer, character sketches, I prefer to write out by hand. A bench in the middle of the trees and greenery or by the water, would be a perfect spot for that. I’m not sure if anyone else experiences this, but when I am sitting near water, my creativity opens up.
Sitting in this cafe, I have momentarily escaped from the laundry… I have not escaped from the shark that is currently stalking me. It might be time to feed. It. SHARK! I leave you with this Peter Benchley trivia. After the success of his book and the release of the movie Jaws, Peter became filled with dread and guilt over the fear he created towards sharks. He spent the rest of his life and his widow continues on with assisting with advocating for oceanic conservation.
Redheads Writing in Cafes #1
I’m a full-time writer. I work for myself. I don’t go into a Corporate office space. I create my own content. I work from home. I am my own boss. This is my perfect job. This is my dream. There is, however, one problem. When you are working at home, there are…. how shall we say, distractions. I don’t mean the television, Netflix, YouTube or other forms of entertainment. I mean laundry, cleaning, washing that sink full of dirty dishes, figuring out what to make for dinner, tidying up, re-organizing. As you look up from your laptop, you see all the things that need to be done. You still get writing done, but between the tasks that are staring you down and when you don’t complete them…. there is that pesky guilt. Now that the weather is nicer, I plan on finding my way outside my home to write. In the backyard, parks, cafes.
As a full-time artist, writing in a cafe every day isn’t great for the change purse… I am considering a Kickstarter to help finance this endeavor. Feed my coffee addiction. I’m sure others would be willing to give up a coffee a day to support my cup of coffee a day… right? No? Hmmmm…. All kidding aside, many well-known artists have written their novels, screenplays, plays and poems in cafes. There is a wonderful, addictive energy that fills the walls of cafes, not to mention the lovely wafts of fresh ground coffee beans and baked goods. Ok… now, I’m just making myself hungry. Focus. You need to focus.
The point of this new page is to write about what I’m writing about… while I’m in a cafe…. Maybe I could also convince other redheaded writers to guest write or join me in the cafe. I live in a neighbourhood that has cafes a plenty. I am going to try to choose a different one each time I write and let you know a bit about the cafe.
Today, I’m sitting in a cafe near High Park, looking out at the beautiful greenery, dreaming of the 1930s, listening to Edith Piaf’s beautiful voice, flow from the speakers. I am working on my novel as well as researching the 1930s. For some, being in a cafe would distract them. I drink in the energy that surrounds me, which is the complete opposite of when I am at home writing. At home, I need the sounds of televisions and stereos turned off, the windows open, so the sounds of the outside, find their way to my ears.
The cafe I’m in is Hannah’s Cafe and Bakery. They have a really nice dark roast and I’ve had their lattes. The staff is friendly and the cafe itself spacious. Recently we came here for a writing workshop. I’m Vegan and they have soy milk, they have some Vegetarian sandwiches and salads that can be made Vegan, however, the baked goods are not Vegan. Once you are done writing, you can hop across the street to High Park.
I’m lucky to live in such an amazing neighbourhood. I am a brief walk away from the best park in the city, shopping, bars, restaurants and groceries. The hood is also home to literary and art events. There are writers, painters, musicians, visual artists, burlesque dancers, and other artisans who call this area home. Most importantly, there are cafes a plenty and if you get lucky, you may walk into the one with the Redhead. That might be an idea for a treasure hunt. Find the cafe with the Redhead who’s writing.
Redhead’s writing in cafes.