New Beginnings

Monday, 16 January 2012 19:43

The Talmud says that all beginnings are hard. I tell that to my writing students and I speak from experience. Both life experience and writing experience. This website, for instance. I’ve been turning the idea of having one over and over for the last couple of years, but taking the first step was daunting. All that gathering together of material from files here and there, reviews haphazardly organized, photo albums tucked away in odd corners—where was I going to find the time to do it?

I found the time. And casting a retrospective eye over my career wasn’t a bad thing: a writer should take stock from time to time. Pulling together the disparate threads turned out to be strangely energizing. A lot of that had to do with the pleasure of working with the Probase team of Cindy and Vince Murphy. A big thank you to them!

The launch of my website coincides with other new beginnings. Since 1998 I’ve led writing workshops in Creative Non-Fiction and Memoir at the Quebec Writers’ Federation. Over the course of that time, many participants expressed the desire to go beyond the eight-week session and keep on working with me. On January 18 we’ll finally take that step with a Level Two course for those who have studied with me before.

What’s creative non-fiction? The short answer: Borrowing the tools of fiction in the service of telling a true story. My books Journey to Vaja and Shoshanna’s Story are written that way. I’ll be leading a regular Level One version of the workshop in the fall at the QWF. Keep your eyes peeled: spaces fill up quickly.

In the News section of the website, you’ll find references to the airing of my documentary about William Notman on CBC Ideas. I’ll be musing about the back story to the documentary in the days ahead. Suffice it to say that getting started on that was hard, too.