Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Diaspora Dialogues Mentorship Program: The Physics Yardstick

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Martin Mordecai

Diaspora Dialogues' mentorship program connects emerging writers with established writers. Martin Mordecai writes about his experience a mentor and the effect his mentees had on his own writing. You can read more about the Diaspora Dialogues mentorship program here.

Diaspora Dialogues launches the sixth book in its TOK: Writing the New Toronto anthology series on April 20 at 7:30 p.m. See Open Book's Events page for details.

By Martin Mordecai

I felt myself, at one and the same time, well-suited and totally unsuited to be a ‘mentor’ to ‘emerging’ writers, when Helen Walsh asked me. For one thing, I’m something of an emerging writer myself, having published my first book – co-written with my wife Pamela, a real writer who’s been earning a living by writing for 25 years – at the age of fifty-nine; my first and so-far only novel appeared at age sixty-seven. Then Helen mentioned money and I was sold. I still don’t know why I was asked but I am glad for the experience.

Having grown up on the literature of the early- to mid-twentieth century — I’m not much for the Victorians excepting Dickens — my imagination and stylistic preferences are fairly conventional, even old-fashioned. And I confess to reading, shall we say, selectively in ‘modern’ literature, with little patience for theories, pre- or post-colonial. So to be foisted upon four very twenty-first century writers must have been somewhat baffling to them, but was a learning experience for me.

The different ways of telling stories that came at me from the mentees was, in a curious way, more affective on a manuscript page than on the page of a published book. My own storytelling style — to the extent that I write stories — tends to be fairly linear. But the story ‘Hunger’, my contribution to TOK 6*, which began as a completely linear concept (and got nowhere fast) started prisming as soon as I decided to abandon linearity and thereafter got written quite easily. Its quality is a matter for debate but it was a very liberating exercise, for which I thank them.

Read the rest of "The Physics Yardstick" on the Diaspora Dialogues blog.

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