August 5, 2018


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There’s a pretty good feeling that comes along with progress. 

When it comes to massive projects like a novel or a large feature series for the newspaper, the feeling is a rare one, and hard to capture at times. 

I find myself in a constant battle to remind myself that with each word written, each interview done or transcribed, every little bit helps push closer to the eventual end. 

The same goes for the novel. Every morning spent writing is few thousands more words closer to the finish line. The same way that a single step doesn’t feel like it takes you that far along a 13km hike, it all moves you forward. 

It’s where I started my day today, in bed writing that is, not on a 13km hike, not that I would have complained about that. It’s more than halfway through 2018 and I have yet to visit Algonquin Park. I will definitely need to rectify that in the second half of the year. 

The day started early, as M’s alarm woke her up at about 5:30 a.m. for her morning shift. She kissed me goodbye about an hour later, me rolling over and flopping one arm over the bed, debating whether to crawl from the sheets or remain in their warm embrace. The sheets won the first round. 

At around 9:30, I pushed out of bed, put the kettle on for tea (we’re out of coffee), and hopped back into bed with my book. 

I read for almost two hours and through two cups of tea before exchanging the book for my laptop. 

My latest novel, which has yet to receive a tentative title, is a few weeks away from completion. There are only a few remaining scenes that need to be written, including the final climax. This morning, I moved the characters one more scene closer to that eventual end. I’m feeling pretty good about it. I know how the story is going to wrap up and I know just how I’m going to do it, so it’s just a matter of putting fingertips to keyboard and getting the words on the page. I’m holding myself to an end of August deadline. 

With the writing out of the way, and the mental weight lifted, I finally pushed myself out of bed for good and headed for the shower. After a quick rinse and a sandwich (not at the same time), I started to crave a real cup of coffee and packed up by work bag with my laptop and notebook and headed to the Starbucks on the corner. 

Living downtown Toronto has many perks, one of the biggest on a Sunday morning is the abundance of coffee shops. The downside is the abundance of people who usually fill all the seats in said coffee shops. However, with it being the August long weekend, there were several seats open, including a couple in my favourite spot at the bar that runs along the wall of windows as you walk in. 

I got a coffee and sat down to work on an unfinished story for this week’s edition of the paper. It’s a rather lengthy look at the municipal election coming up in October. The coverage seems to be getting play online so, we’re giving the people more of what they seem to be craving. As well, it all helps to fill the paper, and with our recent relaunch and our standard size now at 24 pages each week, it helps to be able to write about everything we can to fill those pages. Remember, there’s only two of us writing the damn thing.

A couple thousands words later, and the remnants of my coffee drying in the bottom of the paper cup, I tossed it in the recycle and headed out the door. 

The heat had really settled over the city at that point, and in the short walk back to the apartment I was able to build up a sweat and an appetite. I read some more of my book as I ate a bagel. 

Not wanting to get back to work right away, I flipped on The Office and giggled my way through a couple episodes before heading to the kitchen table for a couple more hours of work. 

This time, I wanted to turn my attention to my New York photos and narrowing them down to share on the website and Instagram. M and I travelled to Manhattan last week, and after about 60km of walking all over the island, I had hundreds of pictures to cull through. 

It was a task I’d started yesterday, and was able to make good progress on, even starting to colour correct and get a couple of them to a spot I’m rather happy with. Those taken atop of Rockefeller Centre are definitely my favourite. I also got some absolutely beautiful portraits of M while hiding from the rain in Central Park. 

Anyway, by the time I finished that M had returned from her shift and we made good on our plans to grab some dinner out in the city. 

All in all, it was a productive and organized day, a rare one for me over the past few weeks that have felt like north short of absolute bedlam. The recent changes at the newspaper and the launch of the new size have kept my mind in a constant state of flux, like a bouncy ball that has been thrown and just never settles down. 

Regardless, it seems to have finally slowed. 

For now. The rest of August is shaping up to be quite exciting. 

More on that later. 

Thanks for reading. 

J.J.W. 

P.S. Today is my older brother's birthday. Happy Birthday Kyle! Couldn't ask for a better older brother to look up to. Can't wait to celebrate with a couple beers next time I'm in Kitchener. Love you buddy. 

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Joel Wittnebel