Nadine McInnis on Ottawa’s Short Story, Poetry Scene

for blog

Sparks Street, Ottawa, ON.

Good morning readers!

Ottawa author Nadine McInnis decided to make the leap from writing poetry to short stories, utilizing the longer form, once characters in her poems formed a voice. Her stories demanded more space.

She continues to write both short stories and poetry today.

When we spoke, McInnis was prepared to ship a manuscript off, and her eighth book Blood Secrets was published in the fall. She’s also a professor for the professional writing program at Algonquin College.

Needless to say, she’s busy making things happen. Fortunately for me, she was willing to sit down for an interview and discuss being a fiction and poetry author in Ottawa.

I first wondered though how she conquers writer’s block.

“I let things percolate. I make [many] notes and I do research,” said McInnis. “I write when I feel it’s there for me to write…and then I’ll go off to a silent retreat and face it.”

McInnis said getting together with other authors is also beneficial for the process. Formally and sometimes at a pub or someone’s home, she’s met with other writers for the past 20 years.

“It’s really important to have a sense of shared community because it’s such an isolated task,” she said. “You just have more of a sense of creativity too when people challenge you and say that things aren’t clear to them in your writing or you talk about your passions or the next thing you might want to chase after.”

“What I find interesting about the fiction writers and poets in Ottawa is they do actually work with the history and setting…people think of Ottawa as very governmental and boring but writers can turn anything into something vivid and that’s what really impresses me about the writers that live here,” she said.

However, McInnis sometimes purposely writes her stories to play out in places besides the National Capital Region.

“People have a preconceived notion of what Ottawa is, people who don’t live in Ottawa,” she said.

In part because of personal connections to and an interest in other places, such as the Maritimes and British Columbia, she situates her characters outside Ottawa in an effort to combat the aforementioned prejudgment she feels readers have about it being a “polite” city – one she said sometimes turns readers off.

McInnis said she enjoys that Ottawa is a smaller city. Authors all tend to become acquaintances rather than form groups – something you might discover happen in larger cities.

She said she’s also thankful to have had access to Ottawa’s Cultural Funding grants and pleased to hear Mayor Jim Watson’s Jan.23, 2013, declaration that the arts would be a vital part of the mandate for 2013.

for my blog

Nadine McInnis, Ottawa-based author of short stories and poetry.

I hope you all enjoyed this inside perspective and have a wonderful weekend.

– Lucy

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