Thursday, December 3, 2009

golden poop

I am a writer.

I am sitting in my brother's empty bedroom, now a makeshift office, chosen mostly because of its handy door (it shuts!) and location (away from the rest of the house!). I can still hear the TV downstairs, even though I just got up to shut the door firmly, and stubbed my toe in the process. "Fuck!" I said low. But still, I write. My toe throbs, but I write.

I am a writer. But you know? It was not always easy to say this. It seems like kind of a no-brainer, I know, given my seven years of blogging.

But I used to think that saying "I'm a writer" meant that in my next breath I had to list off my Pulitzer-prize winning published novels, as well as whip out the manuscript I was currently working on (even during the conversation in which I said "I'm a writer"!). One day, this logic went, one day I would finally have the time, the money, and the self-discipline to sit down and write out - perfectly, with no corrections to be made - those novels. Then I would just walk to the nearest publisher and hand them over and poof! My career would be made.

Turns out, that's not how it works. Turns out, it starts by saying to myself, "I'm a writer." If I want to write, no matter how badly I actually do write, I am a writer. I never said, "I am a good writer." Y'see how that works?

Last year, along with a charming librarian who is now a dear co-worker (woot Kate!), I started a writers' group here in my village. I put up posters. I made the tea. I guided and directed the meetings. It bore fruit immediately. Gathering other ordinary people, each with their own fears about calling themselves "writers", and then talking - passionately! - about writing, showed me that not only can you reach out and grab the title of writer for yourself, but you have to. That's the only way you're going to get it.

And you have to make the time. And you have to carve out the space. Right now, right here. Despite the cats meowing to be fed and the job that takes up all your time and energy. Learn the tricks (like taking a little notepad with you everywhere you go) and just write it, goddammit.

So now it's a year later, give or take. This past week we held our monthly meeting and one of my short stories was up. One of the two we review during a meeting. I got to hear ten different people tell me what they had gotten from my story, as well as where they snagged up and what they thought was extra, what didn't need to be there. I got to hear their ideas about what the theme was, where the story was going. In their voices, my characters came alive, became more than people living in my head.

"This is gold," I told them after.

Actually, it's shit. But don't get me wrong - it's the good kind of excrement - the kind that fertilizes gardens, that brings forth leeks and carrots. Short stories and poems.

And blog posts. And it feels good. It feels golden.


PS You can click on that photo above to see my little home-made montage bigger.

PPS A big shout-out to Kal "making it happen" Barteski, who just blogged about the month lead-up to her art show, and is now celebrating the aftermath. She is so inspiring, you really ought to check her out. Oven-fresh blog posts every day about art, babies, and lots more.

PPPS And then there's Canada Reads 2010. The CBC's ninth annual panel that decides what book Canada should read that year is hosted by my favorite radio host, Jian Ghomeshi, who just happens to have the same haircut as me. (That was seriously not on purpose.) Not only is Canada Reads awesome entertainment, BUT this year one of the five books up for consideration is Fall On Your Knees, by Ann-Marie MacDonald, which I blogged about just a few weeks ago! MacDonald is not only a fabulous Cape Breton girl, but a talented writer as well. First Oprah, now my blog - what's next?

(Ha, ha.)

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