One source of my inspiration as a writer has always been the lyrics of singer-songwriters, popular poets of the modern age. John Mayer refers at one point to having been “born in the arms of imaginary friends.” Another John – John Denver – earlier referred to having been “born in the summer of his twenty-seventh year, coming home to a place he’d never been before.” Both of these lines have special meaning for me.
Since I was old enough to read, I have wanted to be a novelist. I remember, as a child, drawing countless pictures in crayon in what would now be called a graphic novel format. Unfortunately, the study of literary criticism during my undergrad years stifled much of this burgeoning creativity. Life put paid to the rest – career, marriage, kids – I had given up every realizing my youthful dream. But I never gave up thinking about plot, setting and characters —about story-telling.
In the summer of 2010, I had just celebrated my fifty-fifth birthday. As the result of reading an ad for Continuing Studies’ Summer Writing School at U of T, I decided to bite the proverbial bullet and submit the first chapter of a novel as consideration for acceptance. My attendance at the workshop was approved, tuition paid, vacation arranged at work and off I went to the St. George campus for the first time in more than thirty years.
I loved it.
My instructor for the week was Susan Swan, who convinced me that my book idea had both commercial and literary potential. Together with my fellow students, an eclectic and extremely talented group that included two teachers, a financial analyst and two medical doctors (one of them also a ballerina, if you can dig it), we sweltered all week, both figuratively and literally, in a small Innis College classroom. The end of that workshop was a defining moment for me: I loved the writer’s life, the work, the camaraderie, the mutual support and even the prospect of loneliness and inevitable bouts of rejection no longer appeared so daunting. It was then that I realized that I am a writer – I always have been; it was what I was meant to be. I may not be in a position to write for a living, but I recognize the calling and will practice it for whatever time I am granted.
As a weaver of dreams, I have about twelve novels bouncing around inside of my skull. It’s time to get back to work.