We all feel like we have something to say. But only a select few of us actually go right out and say it. Why? Well, it’s hard work. First, you have to convince someone that your words are worth something. You could start with a blog. Or you could just go for it like Paul Aguirre-Livingston. He’s a Toronto writer. You’ve read his work. He writes a column for The Grid about “city + society / nightlife + parties / people + places” as described on his website. He’s also written for the Toronto Standard, Toronto Life, BlogTO, Worn Journal, and The Genteel.
It’s no surprise that Paul goes out a lot. He has to – it’s his job. We meet up at an art gallery opening in Liberty Village. Perhaps it’s because we’re both writers, but we open up to each other easily.
He recounts a tale about slogging through an entire summer of writing a weekly review column about a cheesy reality show. The commenters were vicious. At the end of the job, he bought himself a MacBook. Paying for it with his hard-earned cash was one of the most satisfying things, he tells me. At one point during our chat, the strap of his Marc Jacobs watch broke. This was the first splurge purchase that he made after becoming a full-time writer. It was clear that he wore the watch often. As he fiddles with it, he talks about how he values things like this so much more than when he worked a regular job.
It was clear to Paul early on that he wasn’t destined for a regular job anyway. He went to school for cognitive science, but switched halfway through first year, with encouragement from his editor at the York University paper, Excalibur.
Despite the fact that he’s established himself as a voice in Toronto’s writing world, he’s still learning. While Paul dislikes negative reactions, he likes to provoke readers to get reactions. But he is still learning to turn that voice on and off. He’s also working on longer projects, including an anthology of his essays that would include the “blood left on the cutting room floor” and an original screenplay.
“It’s about sex,” he says simply.
The biggest surprise for Paul about his career thus far is that it has led to interesting opportunities that he would never have taken if he wasn’t a freelance writer – from DJing events to becoming a cyclist in the city. I admired his bicycle as we walked from the gallery opening to another party, this one hosted for Dufferin Mall (really). We drank mojitos and champagne, talked to bloggers and PR girls, and participated in marketing stunts that left us with pictures on our phones of us mugging like a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde with our hashtagged signs.
Paul’s found a niche for his words, and that is what we’re all looking for when we finally screw up the courage to put our words down onto paper. Writing’s not an easy gig, but he makes it look like fun.
WORDS: OLGA KWAK
PHOTOS: ISAAC ZELUNKA