Saturday, 24 January 2015

Are writers born or made?

Aspiring writer at 9 years old ...

I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was 9 years old...

Is it true that we can know what we want to be from a really young age? Maybe. I certainly did. But if you told me then that my dream of being a writer was actually going to come true, I doubt I would have believed you.
That first flash of knowing what I wanted to do with my life happened the day I finished reading Charlotte's Web to myself. I put the book in my lap and decided then and there I wanted to do what the writer of that story did.
... and 40 years later.
I wonder how many other authors would say something similar? I'd love to know.

Fast forward 40 years ... and today I'm playing with my scanner and preparing an author presentation for grade 7 and 8s. I'll be touring Thunder Bay and Toronto with the Ontario Library Association for the Red Maple award this spring, with my 4th YA book, The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden. I sometimes  can't believe how lucky I've been with my writing career. It's been hard work, yes, but I also have a lot of people to thank, along the way. (And for the record, there are lots of ways to become a writer, and I think writers are both born and made).

So today, I've been wondering what I should talk to grade 7 and 8 students about? But looking at this picture of me from so long ago, maybe I already know: Who here wants to be a writer? You can do it. You might not believe it, but I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was 9 years old ...

Friday, 16 January 2015

A party in January, which I recommend

The annual Dundurn party, where this ...
Ahh, January, killer of holiday buzz. Mortality-reminder. Bringer of credit card bills. Brutal and nasty, you are. 
At least here in Toronto. You might not be so bad in Miami, say, or Vancouver. But here today, January, you are responsible for -17 C temperatures and bleak, snow-covered sidewalks. Man, some of my neighbours use WAY too much salt! There just isn't enough light to wake up properly, or to get much done. Even the dog can't  rouse himself from his perma-torpor.

.... turns into this. Nice of Will Ferrell to show up.
With Jennifer Dance & illustrator Shawna Daigle (with shoulder unicorn)
So, here's a shake of the fist in the face of January: last night I went to the Dundurn Press "After the Parties Party" at the Arts & Letters Club here in Toronto. A party in January, I recommend it. I have to say it was really fun to re-connect with my publishing family, editors, illustrators, publicists, publishers, fellow authors, booksellers and more. The beer-tasting and tarot readers were a hit, and the photo booth ... well who doesn't love wearing the sorting hat? (Hufflepuff, I'm afraid). Loved chatting with everyone. Thanks Dundurn, until next year!