Writing is a solitary sport, with days and weeks and months often spent toiling away in blissful, heartbreaking, and mostly unacknowledged solitude, often staring at blanks screens and pages.
But not this week. This week has been a corker.
1. I received news that my novel SAINTS, UNEXPECTED has been shortlisted for a Hamilton Arts Council Literary Award. Winners will be announced on Nov. 27, so fingers crossed.
2. My essay "You'll See the Sky" was given an honourable mention for a 2017 Short Works Prize.
3. My short story "Drift, maybe fall" has won subTerrain's 2017 Lush Triumphant Literary Award (best prize name ever!), which nets me a nice cash prize and publication in one of Canada's coolest magazines.
4. I received my contributor copies of the sublime 2017 Short Story Advent Calendar (which is still available for yourself or the story-lover in your life—order by Nov. 15 to ensure delivery by Dec. 1!), got paid for two stories, have been asked to present an award, and am participating in a 6-Minute Memoir event.
It's amazing to have some recognition and a little extra cash to throw at the mortgage, but more importantly, this week I get to call myself a working writer, for which I'm humbled and grateful.
Thanks for the support, everyone.
The Puritan, one of Canada's best and edgiest literary journals, has published "Washed (Or, the Cleanest I Might Ever Be)," my creative nonfiction essay (you might recall that this piece was also longlisted for the 2015 CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize).
They've also done a complete redesign of their website, which looks great!
I'm really excited to be working again with The New Quarterly, one of Canada's best litmags.
This time, in my creative nonfiction piece entitled "You'll See the Sky," I explore the lasting impact of a horrific tree-planting accident I was involved in more than twenty years ago that resulted in a broken back, popped sternum, fractured skull, and uncounted stitches. But even more notably, how that experience has continued to echo in my life, as a newlywed on a long road-trip, as a new father weighing what could have been against the pink, bright newness of a baby girl, and as a person of faith in what some call a faithless world.
For the record, I'm not buying that our world has less faith: we're all searching for some greater meaning, a narrative we can attach to the big "why" of our existence. Even when we say--and how loudly and piously it can get said--that we don't believe anything.
So check out TNQ's Issue 137 and test yourself on the sacred, profane, and faith-filled. I'm excited to dig in, and feel privileged to have my work appear alongside another TNQ who's-who of literary craft.
I washed my hands before opening the thick, rigid, courier-style envelope and sliding out the paper inside. Fingerprints? Smudges? No way.
Pulled the tab, the plastic strip cutting through the cardboard end to end. Held the paper in my hand for a long moment, read the words, felt the weight of the expensive bond. Snapped a photo.
Boom. It be official, I posted online.
Finished my MFA coursework in July, slightly less than two years after I began. Creative Writing at UBC is a competitive, prestigious program, difficult to get in. Took me three tries. Then 36 credits of reading, workshopping, personality differences, lessons in diplomacy, the sublime experience of absorbing work better than my own. A degree conferred in September, permitting me to add Holds an MFA to my CV and website bio.
But I’d been waiting for the actual diploma, that incredibly expensive piece of paper, signed and sealed, to arrive. A flattened bit of pulped wood that signals to the world that I’ve become more than I was. Eligible to teach writing at college or university. Membership in a new kind of tribe. Hitting the literary world with a new gleam in my eye.
The confidence to say, most importantly, that I’m a better writer now.
The biggest payoff.
I am extremely grateful to the OAC for the Writers Works-in-Progress grant that appeared in my mailbox last week. (As an up-and-coming writer, there are few things more needed and appreciated than support funding that recognizes the value of artistic pursuit. Click here for specific details.)
Also, watch the Winter 1015/16 issue of The New Quarterly (an absolute gem of a literary journal with which I've had the privilege of working in the past) for "You'll See the Sky," a creative memoir about how a tree-planting accident that happened twenty years ago can still echo.