A Toast to the Bloggers

by Shaun Hunter

A few months ago, I cleared off the second desk in my office. I wanted a new place to write, an environment conducive to moving my ink gel pen across a paper page. I knew I couldn’t pull off a full Franzen (he writes in an office on a computer with no internet connection). I could, however, put some space between my terrier self and the rabbit hole of the world wide web.

From Franzen’s diatribes against technology, I take this important caution: a writer must be alert to wasting the precious commodities of her time and attention by chasing the you’ve-got-mail ball and following the fresh scent of a Twitter feed. Save the terrier for writing.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

And so, I try to start the day at my new, old-fashioned desk: pen in hand, notebook cracked open. The only wires connect a lamp burning an incandescent bulb. When I look up, I see my backyard not a computer screen. This new arrangement has been good for me. Most days, I give myself the gift of an hour or two of undivided attention. 

Writing is solitary but I bet even Jonathan Franzen likes to hang out with a few friends after work. Some of the people I like to talk with, I’ve never met in person – bloggers I’ve sought out or stumbled upon. People whose posts I hate to miss. Some talk about books, others about how to tell stories. Some report from the trenches of mothering, others weigh in on the experience of being “other”: the artist, the curmudgeon, the university student far away from home. One inspires me to make something good for dinner.

I know I could break my Twitter and email habits, but I’d be reluctant to lose touch with this small group of bloggers. Life wouldn’t be nearly as interesting or enjoyable without them.

In this season of lists, I raise a glass to my favourite bloggers. You put yourselves out there – your passions, vulnerabilities and insights. You are bold and generous. You make life richer.

Calm Things

Shawna Lemay’s daily collage of poetry, photography and essay has become part of my morning practice. I’ve never met Shawna, but she feels like a kindred spirit.

Dinner with Julie

Julie Van Rosendaal is a good cook, and a great writer, too. I love hanging out in her kitchen. Sometimes, we eat the same thing for dinner.

Erika Dreifus

Thorough, dedicated, generous. Erika and her blog, The Practicing Writer makes me smarter and more informed.

Eugene Stickland

I missed Stickland after his Calgary Herald gig ended. A few months ago, I discovered that he has been blogging. The occasional cameo by Mr. Grumpypants is icing on the Stickland cake.

The Hot Mess Blog

Ali Bryan makes me laugh, she makes me cry. Her words crackle like spit on a hot pan.

The Least You Need to Know

Lee Martin is a gentle teacher. His weekly posts about writing are beautiful essays in and of themselves.

Lisa Romeo Writes

I always find something good in Lisa’s Friday Fridge Clean-Out. Her posts about writing inspire. It was an honour and privilege to be a guest blogger on her site in 2013.

My Ontarian Life

Neale Carbert, a transplanted Albertan studying in Ontario, writes from the head and the heart. She reminds me what it feels like to be twentysomething, poised on everything.

Pickle Me This

Kerry Clare talks about reading books, being a mom, and writing. Her blog post/essays regularly take my breath away.

Rea Tarvydas

I count on @afuckingwriter to shoot from the hip and call the bullshit.

Happy new year to you all.