Some Recent Writings

Whoa! It’s been a year and a half since I’ve posted anything here. That has to be a new record since I started blogging a long time ago! A lot has happened since my last post. I quit my day job at CBC. My second son was born. I completed the first draft of the sequel to Moon of the Crusted Snow. I got vaccinated against COVID-19. And so much more! I’ll offer up more details on all of those things when I can. But I’ve shared a bit about my recent life events in some fun freelance writings over the past year and a bit. Now that I’m a full-time author/sometimes freelance journalist, I have the freedom to explore some more personal and introspective kind of writing gigs, which has been fun. So I’ll highlight a few of them here, in hopes of prompting myself to write in this particular blog space a bit more. Here goes:

As the pandemic was intensifying in the Spring of 2020, the Toronto Star asked authors to write about how COVID-19 was affecting their lives. I chose to write about the impending birth of our son Ayaabe, and they published my reflection a little more than a week before he was born. It’s hard to believe he’s almost a year and a half already!

When I left daily journalism around the same time, the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police prompted widespread discussions about systemic racism in all realms and sectors. I couldn’t help but reflect on my career and experiences in mainstream Canadian journalism, and what I witnessed over the course of nearly two decades. I was invited by Robert Jago to contribute to a series he edited for the Walrus called Terra Cognita, so I wrote a letter to aspiring Indigenous journalists.

By last fall I was deep into developing the sequel to Moon of the Crusted Snow. I read and listened to a lot of Anishinaabe stories and history to keep my head in the world I was trying to create. And then I had a major revelation about oral storytelling and memory while watching an old video of an elder from my home community, and wrote all about it for the Globe and Mail.

Also for the Globe last fall, I got to interview my friends and mentors Eden Robinson and Cherie Dimaline about the genres our stories inhabit as Indigenous writers. It was a really fun conversation!

Another really fulfilling opportunity that came up since I jumped back into the writing world full-time is a regular column for Open Book. You can find all of my writings over the past year and a bit here, and for one specific and always timely example, here’s a column on Indigenous identity and the responsibilities of telling stories.

Just in time for their annual early exit from the NHL playoffs, I wrote about being an Anishinaabe fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the Walrus. Despite the loss, I really enjoyed looking back on my lifelong fandom, and the impact of George Armstrong on all of us Indigenous fans. Fandom for us isn’t always so straightforward.

Finally, with Indigenous history finally starting to be properly reflected in the mainstream Canadian psyche, I wrote about falling statues and changing names after recent events at my alma mater. 2021 was a year of significant change in this country’s awareness, and I was honoured to contribute to that discussion.

Those are just some of the writings I published over the past year and a half with Canadian periodicals. I’ll add another post in the coming weeks with some of the other projects I’ve been involved with since becoming a free agent. It’s been very rewarding to share these ideas and experiences far and wide, so big thanks to you all for your ongoing interest and support! In the meantime, you can always check my Facebook page for other writings and news.

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Moon of the Crusted Snow has arrived

Moon of the Crusted Snow

While it’s already been on shelves in many stores for weeks, today is the official publication date for my new novel Moon of the Crusted Snow. I’m very happy to have this story out in the world, and I can’t wait to share it with more and more people as I travel across the land this fall. This book has been a labour of love for many years now, and it’s both a relief and a thrill to have it finished and available to readers everywhere. My sincerest thanks to my wonderful publisher ECW Press for making this dream come true. For those unfamiliar with this latest endeavour of mine, here’s a synopsis:

With winter looming, a small northern Anishinaabe community goes dark. Cut off, people become passive and confused. Panic builds as the food supply dwindles. While the band council and a pocket of community members struggle to maintain order, an unexpected visitor arrives, escaping the crumbling society to the south. Soon after, others follow.
The community leadership loses its grip on power as the visitors manipulate the tired and hungry to take control of the reserve. Tensions rise and, as the months pass, so does the death toll due to sickness and despair. Frustrated by the building chaos, a group of young friends and their families turn to the land and Anishinaabe tradition in hopes of helping their community thrive again. Guided through the chaos by an unlikely leader named Evan Whitesky, they endeavor to restore order while grappling with a grave decision.

In the lead-up to the book’s release, I had the privilege of attending festivals in Eden Mills, Toronto, and Kingston last month to read and discuss it with some great audiences. The response at these events was very overwhelming and heartwarming, and I’m honoured and humbled to be able to share this story in these ways. And this tour is just getting started; I have more events lined up for the rest of the fall.

Moon of the Crusted Snow Tour

Here are details for the remainder of those dates:

October 13-14 – Calgary Wordfest
October 18-20 – Vancouver Writers Festival
October 27 – Toronto International Festival of Authors
October 28 – Ottawa International Writers Festival
November 2 – Wordstock Sudbury
November 10 – Parry Sound Books
November 17 – McNally Robinson Winnipeg

And there’ll be more to come in the winter and spring! I’ll post updates here as well as on Facebook and Twitter as more readings and events are confirmed, so please follow those accounts for the latest.

To coincide with the book’s release, I’ve been invited by the great people at Open Book to serve as their Writer In Residence for the month of October. It’s an exciting opportunity to write about the story’s origin, some of its wider themes, my writing and storytelling background, my thoughts and experiences related to publishing and literature in Canada, and more. They kicked off my residency with a fun Q & A, and my first post went up yesterday. I plan to write at least ten more entries before the month’s over, so please visit the Open Book site regularly. Hopefully it’ll inspire me to write more on this here blog 😉

I’ll also likely share more articles and other media connected to the book in the coming months, including both positive and negative reviews in the spirit of balance and accountability (here’s a nice little one from Publisher’s Weekly). Because I spend most of my time on the questioning side of the mic, being interviewed is always a little strange for me, but I’m always happy to have the opportunity to talk about the things I love to do. So hopefully there’ll be some worthwhile insights and interesting anecdotes in those forthcoming articles and interviews.

Having Moon of the Crusted Snow available to the world is a dream come true. I’m very thankful for all the guidance and support I’ve received over the years to get here. The growing interest in this story is truly humbling. It’s an honour to be able to share it with you all. Chi-miigwech!

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Helpful habits for the author with a day job

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For any author that relies on a primary career/day job for steady income, writing really is a labour of love. It means rearranging your life outside of your usual work routine to accommodate your passion for literary endeavours. That can result in sacrificing free time and activities to get writing done. But to better manage time and sustain a healthy, balanced, and happy life, I try to stick to a few simple habits that help me make progress and keep me creatively satisfied.

Make a routine and stick to it

Working eight hours or more a day can be daunting, and it’s sometimes hard to figure out when to write around that schedule. I’m very fortunate to have a creatively fulfilling career as a journalist with CBC, but after filing a story at the end long day, there’s not much gas left in the tank for creating fiction when I get home. So I set aside at least an hour for writing every morning before I go to work. The amount of words I get on the screen in that time varies – from as little as a paragraph to as much as a couple of pages – but I leave the house every day satisfied that I got something done. Depending on when in the day works best for you, try to stick to a set amount of time for writing as part of your daily routine.

Change up the venue

Because most of my writing happens in shorter spurts during the week, it can be difficult to transition into a longer, more relaxed pace on the weekend or a day off. I admit that my attention span isn’t vast enough to stay in one place all day, so when I have a wider window for writing, I like to work in different spots. I’ll start at home, and after taking a break to eat or for other obligations, I’ll head out with my laptop to a coffee shop, the local library branch, or a nearby pub. Breaking up those marathon sessions is always refreshing, especially if it takes me to a stimulating venue that caters to my mood. Give it a shot!

If you can’t write, think about writing

A daily routine can be complicated with a wide array of responsibilities, so outside of committed writing time, it’s often difficult to find ways to get words on the page or the screen. So I always make sure I’m at least thinking about writing when I can. Whether that’s on my walk to work (15 minutes in each direction), on my coffee or lunch break, in line at the store, or driving around the city, I’m contemplating where my story’s going and how I want to write it. I find that refining those ideas in my head makes a more efficient and effective writer when it comes time to sit down.

Get moving

Piling the creative process on top of a job and other life commitments can sometimes make everything very overwhelming, especially if you hit a wall in the creative process. When things get a little to stressful, I like to hit the reset button by going for a run, hitting the gym, or practicing martial arts. Blowing off steam is a great mental equalizer, and always clears my head enough to get back to writing. Even just a short walk through the neighbourhood does the job. As an added bonus, exercise can keep you healthy! Who knew?

Art begets art

Sometimes the greatest inspiration is enjoying someone else’s creativity. Whether it’s taking in live music, attending a reading, watching a play, or visiting an exhibition, an evening or afternoon out to enjoy the arts can help kickstart the internal word machine. I always make time for all kinds of shows, and I find when I get home, I’m always motivated to write. Also, having fun is always important!

These are just a few habits that keep me writing, and they’re by no means a perfect formula. But if you’re an author with a busy schedule, you may find some of these tips helpful. Write well!

I think I’m well beyond the halfway point now… #workinprogress

A photo posted by Waubgeshig Rice (@waub) on

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