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A day in the life of Nikki Saltz, Micki Moore Resident

7am — I’m awakened by the sounds of a symphony of chirping birds. I bolt upright at the realization that a family of birds have gotten into my apartment. Wide awake with panic at the thought of the cost of a humane bird removal attempt, I jump out of bed. Then I remember that I’ve set my iPhone alarm to “Morning Birds.”

7:10am — I sit on the couch with my dog as we make our daily list of things we’re grateful for. I include things like “being alive,” “being healthy,” “the Micki Moore Residency,” “my amazing dog.” The dog, a paragon of ingratitude, has fallen asleep again by the time it’s his turn.

7:10am–7:30am — I squeeze in a podcast while eating breakfast in the bathroom and getting dressed and ready for the day. I like to think of my office look as “covered-in-dog-hair chic.”

Nikki and dogs

7:30am–8:30am — Dog walking time. I notice the squirrels in my neighbourhood seem to be orchestrating a well-organized effort to intentionally antagonize the dog. If they can work together to accomplish this, what else are they capable of?

8am–9:45am — I drop my dog off at doggy daycare and head to a local café to mark papers (in addition to my residency at TIFF, I also teach a class on story at York University).

9:45am–10:30am — More marking on the streetcar.

10am — I walk through the doors of TIFF Bell Lightbox and am immediately filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I get in the elevator and try not to look too excited, so as not to freak out the TIFF staff.

10:15am — I walk into my office and pinch myself that this is my office. I’ve been coming in for a month now, and it still doesn’t feel real. The office is a sacred space where I don’t allow myself to do anything other than work on scripts. Before this residency, I was a freelancer, which meant juggling an enormous amount of work and deadlines — and on the (very!) rare occasion that I had energy left at the end of each work day, I would write my own stories.

Now, however, I spend five to six hours a day working on my craft and doing what I love most. I usually begin the day by reading about mythology (a favourite subject), followed by a few pages of a beloved script — usually something by Billy Wilder, Budd Schulberg, or Todd Solondz.

Then I sit down at my typewriter, a gorgeous Olivetti Lettera (Cormac McCarthy used one throughout his career) loaned to me for this residency by Toronto Typewriters, and set to work on one of the two features I’m writing as part of my residency. Using a typewriter makes me feel connected to the long history of great writers who came before me and inspires me to work hard to deserve a place among them some day. It’s also impossible to be distracted by the lure of the internet when you work on a typewriter. I wonder when one of the people from the surrounding office space will complain about the clacking of keys from my office, but they seem to be a tolerant group (so far).

The hours pass in a dreamlike way, and by the end of my work day, I’m amazed at how much I’m able to get done now that I have the time and space to focus. When I finish up for the day, I tidy up my desk and turn out the lights in my new favourite place on Earth, thrilled by the prospect that I get to come back and do this all again tomorrow.

Nikki at typewriter

4pm — Back to reality, and more grading on the streetcar.

5pm — I pick up the dog from daycare. Although he doesn’t ask a single question about my day, he treats me like a returning war hero, and we go for another walk.

7pm — I grade more papers and do other work for my teaching job.

10pm — The dog and I take our last walk of the day. I get into bed and set the alarm, swearing to myself that, tomorrow, I won’t be fooled by those damned morning birds.


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