In 2009, I attended my first writing conference, SeaWords, held at the Haviland Club in Charlottetown. I was a late twenty-something English teacher with a manuscript and a dream.
I met writers, agents, industry pros. I met bloggers, marketers, emerging young creatives. A decade later, some of these young writers have gone on to have successful careers in their fields. I learned of the value of editors and first readers. More importantly than why to tell my story, I learned how to tell my story. I began to see what the publishing world could do for me, and to navigate the waters of change, at a time when print was meeting digital. I decided that weekend that I wanted to be a WRITER.
Although I haven’t always lived here, PEI has always been my home. This year I am honoured to serve as the PEI Writers’ Guild President, a small job inherited by most by of the island literati at one time or another. And by some means, through a manuscript on the heels of a first editor, then an MFA, and with some careful advisors, and eventually a publisher who believed in me, I have managed to join the ranks of published authors in Atlantic Canada.
Books themselves aren’t necessarily special to me anymore, they are just a cumulative aggregate of sentences you made better and better until some editor, somewhere, liked them. But it’s the process of being a writer that is special, a pathway created by figuring out your way in a content created world. It is the act of crossing over bridges that makes up pliable, of dashing through intersections, of squeaking through craggy rocks, of bolting madly up peaks to deadlines and of quietly sitting in valleys where dense fog occasionally rolls in. And you pitch. And you pitch. And you pitch.
In the meantime, there are tiny pockets of wonder; literary gatherings and movements of energy like Wild Threads that keep you going, each time to a newly inspired epicentre, up hills of gravity where the light bursts through, into strawberry fields, and determination, and to the place where you find your tribe.