Category Archives: Writing

Let’s be serious – fossil fuels are here to stay for a long time

(The following article appeared on the Opinion page of The Province newspaper in Vancouver on February 14, 2019.) When I moved to a South False Creek apartment in Vancouver last year, the manager explained that the owners rarely renovated the units or updated appliances in the 30-year-old building. “But you can save money on heating,”… Read More »

How our dog died

When the vet rang the front door bell, Colville sprang into action. He woofed his way down the steps, tail in high motion, and then stood at the door wiggling with excitement as he waited for me to open it. Colville had met Dr. V before and knew he was a friend because every human… Read More »

Why I sail

The sky over Georgia Strait is a threatening canopy of black and gray as the wind suddenly picks up, pushing my sailboat faster and faster towards Bowen Island. It’s 4 o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon in late April and I’m alone on the water, no boats in sight in any direction. The boat groans and… Read More »

What we can learn from a Barack Obama speech

Even his fiercest critics admire Barak Obama’s superb skills as a writer and speaker. His eloquence was in full display this week in the speech he gave during the memorial service for the victims of the Dallas police shooting. But what exactly do we mean by eloquence and how does Obama achieve it? The dictionary… Read More »

How much does a writer need to know?

You might think this is an odd question for a writer to be asking, but it isn’t, really. We might assume that the more a writer knows about the subject matter, the better. And by “more”, I mean more facts, more information, more context and ideally, more wisdom and understanding. Generally this is true for… Read More »

Conquer your fear of the empty screen

I work freelance, so I often ask clients to write LinkedIn recommendations for me. Recently I asked a client to do this. He agreed. When nothing appeared after six weeks, I gently reminded him. He apologized and then said something that surprised me. “I have a terrible time with writing,” he said. “I never know… Read More »

Let us now praise William Tyndale

All great writers wield influence, although it may decades or centuries to fully measure the scale and scope of that influence. Hemingway’s short stories and novels took a streamlined journalistic style and made it into a still dominant North American literary style. With Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger invented post-war young adult fiction. James… Read More »

How much is a writer worth?

Writers have an odd and sometimes disturbing relationship with money. I once described to a creative writing friend some ideas I had for novels set in the world of business and money. (Did you know, for example, that every year in Canada there is a least one prosecution of a Madoff-style Ponzi scheme – usually… Read More »

My top 10 grammar pet peeves

I like to tell my writing students that I have exactly 4,345 pet peeves that involve incorrect grammar, sloppy expression and all-round bad writing. Some smile when I say this. Some look quite disheartened, perhaps thinking I am going to list them all on the board. Herewith, my top ten grammar pet peeves: 1 Its… Read More »