About the Author

Glen Dresser is a novelist whose first book, Correction Road, was released in 2007 and shortlisted for the W.O. Mitchell City of Calgary book prize. He has also worked as a technical writer, information designer and web developer. He is currently focusing his efforts on his second novel and his first-born son, while assisting with UPPERCASE Magazine

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Twitter & 3-day novels

I'm now on twitter, @glendresser. Janine's been using it significantly and I've been constantly impressed by it, but it took a trip to the twitter headquarters in San Francisco (and their amazing cafeteria!) to finally get me off the fence. I plan to break in my account this weekend, tweeting about my 3-day novel experiences. Yes, I'm doing it again... although not officially entering the contest, just using it as motivation to get a first draft down for a young adult novel that I'm planning on. I've gone through the 3-day novel 3 times before, twice producing drafts that I could work on and revise into a longer novel, and once finishing with a manuscript that convinced me that a particular idea wasn't worth pursuing as a novel. That's one of the great advantages to the 3-day novel... you can spend a weekend and realize you don't want to pursue an idea any further, rather than spending months or a year getting to that point. Anyway, watch on twitter for updates. 


What I've been up to

So, today is a major milestone, as I'm wrapping up the main writing/editing phase of my current novel, and moving on to trying to find a publisher. While I imagine that there are still some edits that will yet occur, I couldn't be happier with the project overall; I remember specific themes and questions that I started out with about four years ago, and while some of those questions have changed a little, the book still captures what I had initially envisioned. Big thanks to Correy who's editing was amazing in terms of getting this book to a point where I'm comfortable with it. Now, I'm going to spend a bit of time getting my blog up to date...

I've been doing a lot of work for UPPERCASE in the meantime, both writing for the blog and the magazine. Most Thursdays, you can find my posts over at the UPPERCASE blog, where I've been writing about issues related to themes appearing in the magazine. 




The new UPPERCASE is out, and as is always the case, I've got a couple pieces in it. An article on forecasting and divination, a brief piece about the misfortune of the number 13, and an abecedary about weather terms. 

However, I also want to point out the piece written by Correy Baldwin, talking to Montreal writer Glen Rotchin, who used 99 Chabanel, the garment industry building that his family owns, as the setting for his wonderful Rent Collector novel. I was lucky enough to do a reading with Rotchin in Ottawa a few years ago, and he and I both immediately recognized some common themes between our work. I haven't read his more recent Halbman Steals Home, but will be doing so soon!



Evernote and XMind

Janine has been using Evernote for years at UPPERCASE to manage all of her content both for the magazine and blog, and had encouraged me to check it out. I hadn't really been able to see how it fit into my writing process, but after some people from Evernote came up to do a promo video with Janine, I decided to give it another try. Only a week later, it's already proving indispensible. 

I'm a huge fan of mind-mapping. I use it throughout my writing process, but particularly towards the beginning, when I'm collecting ideas and seeing how they relate to one-another. Evernote doesn't really support mind-mapping. It has a few integrations that export mind-maps into Evernote, but this doesn't really work for me, as I want a mind-map that I can edit throughout the writing process; I want the mind-maps to be an overarching structure for my information, not simply content within my information.

On the other hand, one of the problems with mind-mapping tools is that they tend to really do rich content, and editing individual nodes is often cumbersome. But I've been working out a process that combines Evernote with the mind-mapping tool XMind. These are both free tools at their basic level, which is all I need for this process. 

Here's the process: 


  1. I started by creating a hierarchy of tags in Evernote, such as a tag for characters, and then a tag for each individual character. Similar hierarchies for themes, locations, voices, type of content etc. These aren't really deep hierarchies, just two levels. 
  2. I start writing content directly in Evernote, ranging from actual scenes, to character descriptions, to summaries, to background info. Of course, I have tags for all these different types of content as well. This allows me to write a character description, and then tag it with the character's name, as well as a tag for the type of content: character description. I'll be able to sort through this content in a number of ways, using this tag. For example, I could bring up all scenes told by a particular narrator, involving a particular character. 
  3. Where this becomes really useful for me is when I start to use them with Xmind. XMind allows you to attach an HTML hyperlink to a node. When you click on the link, it opens an web browser window within XMind. So In this web browser, I log into the online version of Evernote, open my notebook, and then begin copying the URLs. Every node in the mindmap can be made to correspond to a note in Evernote, or even to an Evernote tag. 
  4. Once I've created a few nodes in XMind, I can start to link together themes and characters in the mindmap, making all the connections I need to sort through all my ideas; yet at the same time I can edit the content of my notes through the browser Evernote interface. 


This is the best system I've found for making technology work with the way my writing mind works. I can use Evernote to store and categorize ideas either when I'm at my computer or through my phone when I'm out; yet it also allows me to do the sort of complex association and visualization that can be achieved only through a mind-mapping interface. 



On the Peace Bridge

So I have to admit, the oh-so-controversial Peace Bridge is already becoming part of my life. Finley and I have walked it nearly a dozen times, and it's been open only a little more than a week. In all the hooplah and controversy, there's one aspect of this bridge that I'd like to put out there and offer my own opinion on. 

Of course, the debate is often framed in terms of priorities: inner city pedestrian traffic vs. commuter motorist traffic, with the Peace Bridge falling squarely in the former category. But it's not so clear-cut. Anyone who commutes from the NW can attest to the gridlock that occurs in the Sunnyside/Kensington area during both morning and afternoon rushhours. One particular two-block stretch in Kensington can take as much as a half-hour to travel. Unfortunately, none of 10th Street, or Kensington Road, or Memorial Drive can be expanded in any way. And at the same time, as part of the city's Transit Oriented Development strategy, some major condo developments are going into the Sunnyside/Kensington area, which will cause a spike in population in the neighbourhood. Now, imagine what happens to the existing traffic woes if a significant number of these new residents commute to work by car: it would push the neighbourhood's traffic infrastructure beyond breaking point. 

The Peace Bridge is a further step toward establishing Kensington/Sunnyside as a neighbourhood for downtown pedestrian commuters. When combined with the enhanced Bow to Bluff corridor, as well as the very necessary pedestrian crosswalk for the Peace Bridge, it will help shape the settlement of the neighbourhood and ensure that walkability to downtown becomes the major draw to the neighbourhood. While certain aspects of this project were unquestionably mismanaged, it will be an excellent long-term investment if it helps to shape the character of the neighbourhood to become increasingly pedestrian-oriented. 

*note: I originally wrote this in April, and then forgot to post it!