Size Does Matter, or, News for February at the Porcupine’s Quill

It seems fitting, this shortest of months, to recognize that, yes, as we are wont to hear in innumerable situations of varying degrees of appropriateness, size does matter.

man copying from a book using a quill

There’s something about a big, heavy book that just screams “Good morning and how much would you like to be overwhelmed today?”

Get your mind out of the gutter, Quill fans; my words and intentions are pure—and purely literary. (At least, they are this time.)

Like many readers, I have been known to pick up a heavy, thousand-page tome and think “meh, maybe next week”. Or I’ll start one, only to keep putting it down in favour of gobbling up shorter, more easily finished books. Sometimes I’ll put off reading a chapter or short story or article that’s longer than I can finish in one sitting, especially if my eyelids are drooping and my attention is waning.

These procrastinatory proclivities are by no means relegated to my reading life. When it comes to work, big projects can be overwhelming and all consuming. They can spit you up and chew you out and sautée your brain into a veritable stir-fry of overcooked grey matter. Twice a year, when title information sheet due dates linger on the horizon, I experience the combination of excitement and dread strangely redolent of picking up one of those aforementioned thousand-page tomes. And there’s nothing like the dreadful thrill of copyediting, when your desk is covered by hundreds and hundreds of pieces of paper that need minute focus and attention to detail.

Of course, no reader worth her salt wants to always avoid big books, and no self-respecting porcupette could afford to ignore looming deadlines, no matter how embattled. But sitting down and talking either in one go is largely impractical, likely unhealthy, and wholly unreasonable.

What, then, is a porcupette to do? Eat that elephant one bite at a time, of course!

Just as I parcel out my to-do list at work, I set a daily goal of reading just one chapter. If I’m able to read half a book in one day, fabulous—I’ve met my goal. If I’ve read one three-page chapter, still good! I’ve discovered that I need a “quick win” to get myself motivated. If I make it easy to achieve, I’m not tempted to avoid it or procrastinate. I don’t let myself get overwhelmed by what still needs doing. And when I do have that win under my belt, and I start to experience that richness of description, that depth of character, that sophisticated plot of a longer literary tome, it’s easy to buckle up and settle in for a long literary ride—provided my eyelids aren’t drooping of course!

(Need a quick reading win of your own? If you want something you can finish in one sitting, you might like The Hunting of the Snark—plus, it has artwork with a side of political satire.)


What’s happening this month.


We’re still hard at work trying to get Casting into Mystery into your hands as soon as possible. Plus, we’ve got proofs of several of our Spring 2020 nearing their final stages—we can’t wait to see them come to life in print!

In Cobourg.

Third Thursday Reading Series

Jeffery Donaldson, author of Fluke Print and Viaticum, will be the guest poet in the fabulous Third Thursday Reading Series in Cobourg. He’ll be joining the fun at Meet at 66 King East on February 20 at 7:30 p.m. This established event is sure to be a treat, plus, there will be books on hand if you need a signed copy.

In the world.

February 5th is Thank a Mailman Day. But do I have to if all they ever bring me is bills?

February 16 is Do a Grouch a Favour Day. As something of a grumpus myself, I wonder what that means for me….

February 29 is Leap Day. That’s right, 2020 is a Leap Year! Guess that means I’ll have to dust off a certain Amy Adams movie. (No shame.)


From the porcupette’s corner.

As you probably already guessed by my musings above, I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately. The past few weeks I’ve been inundated with tipsheets, copyediting, manuscript coding, grant applications, not to mention day-to-day details like answering emails and preparing social media posts and writing for the blog.

Slumbering child.

Sleep. I used to do that until I discovered the sleep substitute known as coffee.

But despite the hectic pace, I’ve enjoyed, as I always do, discovering the latest crop of PQL titles. I like putting in the time and mental gymnastics required to offer image ideas for the cover or come up with compelling product descriptions, or finesse author bios. It’s definitely a matter of chopping up the process into easy-to-manage chunks—although the manner of chopping likely makes sense only to me … and would make anyone wonder why in the heck I’m hopping to and fro between tasks like a distracted rabbit. But I, at least, feel like I’m making some headway—and you’ll see it, too, when we reveal our Fall 2020 list in a month or two!


PortraitThank you for returning here every month to see what we’ve got cooking. Be sure to like and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to get the full force of our bookish shenanigans!


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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.