I’ve been tossing around the idea of doing a series of interviews with some lovely creative types I want to share with you. Since I’m heading to Alberta this summer maybe I have gold rush on my mind, but truly, each of the women I’ll feature here is a golden nugget of excellence in the career she’s carved out for herself! Therefore, I am delighted to present the inaugural:
Pocket Alchemy Nugget of Awesome Interviews: eight interviews with eight inspiring, artistic, self-starting women over the eight weeks of summer. I am proud to call each of them friend and am delighted to share them and their work here. Please note that I am replacing my regular Rearview Fridays posts with these interviews over the summer.
LINDSAY ZIER-VOGEL is my most familiar and regular artistic collaborator. She is also a wicked friend to me and an amazing cheerleader in both joy and trouble. We met in 1998 at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre where we studied together for 3 years. Lindsay hired me as a dancer, my first professional gig, in her dance work September Sentence. Since then I have made costumes for her, she has made choreography on me, we’ve made dances together. I edit her writing, she taught me to make books, we had a line of clothing together called Puddles in my Pocket (a combo of her Puddle Press and my Pocket Alchemy and yes, the acronym is P.I.M.P. We didn’t realize…) We taught workshops in schools on combining poetry and dance, we even rocked that workshop at Hillside Festival a couple of times! Whew. Lindsay’s an absolute force to be reckoned with, she’s got verve.
Lindsay Zier-Vogel is a Toronto-based writer, arts educator and bookmaker. She studied contemporary dance at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre and completed at Masters of English at the University of Toronto.
She is currently working on her second novel titled “The Opposite of Drowning,” where 20-year-old Bea Porter confronts grief as a lifeguard on the edge of Lake Ontario.
Lindsay has written text for various dance pieces including Susan Kendal’s Organ Stories and travelled to Saskatchewan for a three-week creation residency for Shannon Litzenberger’s HOMEbody.
Lindsay teaches writing and book making workshops and is the creator of The Love Lettering Project, a one-of-a-kind community-based love letter art project that was featured on CBC Television’s The National and deemed one of the top 50 reasons to love Toronto in Toronto Life magazine.
Pocket Alchemy Question: Tell me about your artistic work.
Lindsay Zier-Vogel: I do a bunch of different things – I’m working on a novel about a 20-year-old lifeguard named Bea, and have been writing the “scripts” for a bunch of dance performances this year. I am the creator of The Love Lettering Project, a community arts project that gets people writing anonymous love letters to their city. I also make limited edition hand-bound books and a Toronto Brunch Map.
I like juggling a lot of different projects as I find they often end up informing each other. I also love creating tangible “things” – books, baked goods, anything I can hold in my hand as novel-writing is a lot of sitting in front of a computer time.
PAQ: what is currently sparking your imagination?
LZV: Lake Ontario. I live close by and have set my current novel on its edge. I love that it looks like an ocean if you stand in the right place. I love how the light shatters off its surface. I love that it can blend seamlessly with the sky. I love that it is deep and dark and filled with seaweed and eels, and also swimmable.
And in terms of paper-y creations, my deep, deep love for this city [Toronto] I live in. For this year’s love lettering project, I’ve been hearing about what hundreds of strangers-to-me love about this city. It inspires me to no end.
PAQ: How do you structure and manage your days/weeks/months to get it all in? Do you have micro/macro plans that you stick to?
LZV: I write every morning, which means I have to get up way before I’d like to, but it’s when I get my best writing done, so sleep be damned. I also go (in my pjs!) to a coffee shop around the corner that has no internet, which helps me stay focused. I’ve also realized that I write in the mornings because I want to do the thing I love most before I do anything else. Even if the rest of the day goes sideways, I will have done the thing that matters most to me right off the top. I use evenings post-work to juggle grant-writing, website updating and love letter admin work.
I wish I had more of a plan, but I have an agenda that doubles as my Bible and I make sure it’s always as up-to-date as it can be to avoid double booking events. Sometimes looking at it gives me a panic attack, especially this last June.
I also try to make sure to write in upcoming grant deadlines a few weeks early to get the ball rolling early. Really, I just end up shoehorning in the time when it’s needed. Most of the time, I’m a little stunned and amazed that it all gets done…
PAQ: What is a current favourite resource or material?
LZV: Writing wise, it’s just me and my computer (with a side order of a mushroom identification book as my main character and her grandmother like to go mushroom hunting), lists of Rush songs (as Bea’s boyfriend is a big Geddy Lee fan) and an old lifeguarding manual (as Bea’s a lifeguard on the shores of Lake Ontario).
But for book making and love lettering, I’ve fallen in love with washi tape from The Paper Place. I also love love love the Nepalese paper they carry there. The colour is so rich and the paper itself is so forgiving – you can sew it, and bind books with it. I love teaching with it, because it’s just so kind to first time paper sewers and bookbinders.
PAQ: Give me 4 great songs to work to!
LZV: I don’t often listen to music with lyrics when I’m in the creation phase of writing, though I started my novel listening to Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago album and The Department of Eagles’ In Ear Park album on repeat, so anything from either of those albums immediately get me working again. But for editing, sewing, book making and general crafting, I need music to keep me going.
My non-stop working song right now (that’s perfect for editing/website-updating/kitchen dancing/watering the plants/etc) is Christa Couture’s newest single You Were Here In Michigan. I love that it references the creative process.
Whitehorse’s Emerald Isle is also perfect for working to. And sometimes, when it’s time to really buckle down, I put a ponytail on the top of my head (my “powertail”), put on my running shoes (strange, but it really makes me work faster!) and crank some Bring Da Ruckus by Wu-Tang.
PAQ: What about your work keeps you up at night (for good or ill!)?
LZV: Transitions! In the early days of novel writing, the “who” of my main character Bea kept me up at night, and then questions about her nan, and her boyfriend, Malcolm, but these days it’s transition – how to move Bea from one chapter to the next without losing key bits.
PAQ: How has your aesthetic evolved over the years?
LZV: I feel like you can answer this better than I can – you’ve seen everything from those early angsty hand bound poetry days I photocopied on the photocopier at my Parks and Rec job to now.
THE WRAP UP
Check out Lindsay Zier-Vogel and her Love Lettering Project, you can follow her inspiring projects and events on both sites. She’s out and about in the Toronto area this summer presenting The Love Lettering Project, I highly recommend it as a great city activity. And you might just catch some of her infectious, brilliant enthusiasm!
Check out the other Nugget of Awesome Interviews: