I have not written one of these things in a little while. A lot has happened this year. I got a job! Having a job means that this year has gone by faster than any year I can remember. It’s been a great job- probably the best I’ve ever had, and it makes time go by so fast.
Another thing I’ve realized with this new job is that the people I meet tell me that they’ve read my blog. I was not expecting this. I mean, I assumed some people would read this but I didn’t ever expect to come face to face with people who have read the things that I write. After telling me they’ve read my blog they usually look at me with really wide eyes as if they’re looking at someone with two noses and both of them are running. Anyway, it’s nice that people read this. It comes with the job. But my job will be over soon and then I’ll be unemployed again and then nobody will read this blog. It’s probably for the best. I’m going to miss the job though.
Things are happening. Things are happening in the world. Awhile ago I had this idea to print tiny stories and poems on coffee cup sleeves. Nobody told me it was a stupid idea so I went ahead with it. I printed six different stories and a poem by some great writers. I applied for a grant to help me with the costs but the grant people said No. They didn’t understand exactly what I was up to, which was fine. I wanted to do the project anyway so I paid for everything myself and then went and approached local coffee shops to see if they would carry the sleeves with stories on them for awhile. A lot of them said yes, which was nice. Elm Cafe, District Coffee, Burrow, Cafe Blackbird, all Transcend locations, and Cafe Leva proudly offered #yegwords coffee sleeves with their to-go cups. I called the project #yegwords for many reasons. First: yeg means Edmonton. Second: words means Words. Third: my group Words with Friends also uses the hashtag #yegwords for our events. We put on great events in the city that celebrate writing and literature and words especially. We’re having another event on December 7th. You should probably come.
The #yegwords coffee sleeves were a big hit. People liked them. People liked being on them. There were even some news stories about the project. This was really nice and it also helped get the word out about the project how I paid for these things myself. That first round is finished and I have just released the second round of sleeves with more great stories and poems on them. The very kind people at the Edmonton Arts Council gave me a grant after my second try and then some more good things happened. Edmonton’s Winter City Strategy group also reached out to me and offered to pay for a winter-themed round of coffee sleeve stories. I also received a grant from the good people at Make Something Edmonton. This is a group that encourages great made-in-Edmonton ideas like mine, and some others I guess. So the great news is that with the support of these groups I can now publish a few more rounds of coffee sleeve stories and poems and in turn support local artists and independent businesses as well. The other news is that I have a lot more work to do. The grant money pays for the printing of the sleeves and the shipping and it also allows me to pay the writers for their work. It’s just a little bit but I think it’s a good thing. That money does not pay for all the work that goes into sorting the sleeves and delivering them to all the cafes in town. Not to mention all the other work that goes into editing the submissions and getting them ready to print and also approaching other businesses to get them involved in the program. It’s obviously my plan to have stories on all coffee sleeves in the world by 2017. If you would like to help me with that please let me know.
I’m writing this blog today to thank all the people who read this blog and all the people who I have worked with over the last year. I will be unemployed in a month’s time and my biggest fear isn’t about finding another job, it’s the fear that people will forget that I am still around and still here to help them with their writing and their writing projects. Even though it won’t be my job next month it is all I really want to do, so I’m going to keep doing it. I’m also going to start writing again with more more regularity. By “writing” I mean playing Playstation in my basement. Lots of writing.
So thank you, Edmonton Public Library for this great job. Thank you to all the people who have come to see me this year or who have asked me to come speak at their school or writing group. Thank you, Edmonton Arts Council. Thank you to Matthew Stepanic, Marina Reid Hale, Laurence Miall, Michael Hingston, Thomas Trofimuk, Kristina Vyskocil, Lisa Martin, Mona Bacon, Jennifer Keller, and Patrick Swan for sending me such great pieces for the #yegwords coffee sleeve project.
Thank you, Winter City Edmonton. Thank you, Make Something Edmonton. Thank you anyone who has bought or will buy a copy of my 40 Below book (makes a great Christmas gift!). Thank you to my supportive family who bought me notebooks and pens and a tiny coffeemaker for my new office last year. Thank you to my love, Lamya. She is so supportive of me and all my crazy ideas and she works tirelessly behind the scenes to get everything done when I’m too busy worrying about money or people not replying to my emails.
Thanks to anyone who has supported me by attending an event I’ve hosted or bought a book I’ve been involved with. Thanks to anyone who has come to me to ask for help with writing because asking for help isn’t always such an easy thing. Thank you for trusting me. Finally, thanks to everyone who has asked me to write something for them this year. That has been a really fun thing to do. The truth is I would have done it for free. That’s how much I like writing things for you guys. If anyone out there would like me to write them something for free let me know, but remember, I will be unemployed soon. Money is a nice gesture sometimes.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.