The next excerpt from my PYI keynote in a series that started in December 2011…
That was “After English Class” from Hey World, Here I Am! by Jean Little.
In 1987, I had the welcome opportunity to travel with Jean in England, when the Canadian Children’s Book Centre organized an exchange of Canadian and British authors. Jean and I, along with Monica Hughes and Camilla Gryski – and Katherine Paterson acting as Jean’s guide dog – had tea with the legendary Rosemary Sutcliffe. We dined with Phillipa Pearce, Jan Mark, Jill Paton Walsh, and John Rowe Townsend. We had a grand time.
Years later, when Jean and I had books on a Red Cedar Award list, BC CANSCAIPer Ainslie Manson kidnapped us after the ceremony – neither of us won – and took us up to her cabin in the Cariboo.
Moments like these are important to me as a solitary craftsperson. I need time alone, to write, to muse, to stew – I need it desperately – but I need my community of like-minded people, too, people who will share the burden of my disappointments and celebrate with me my achievements, whether its publication of a book or the successful nailing of a single chapter. I didn’t know that, when Audrey McKim urged me to attend my first CANSCAIP meeting, back in the early 80s, or when Barbara Greenwood welcomed me, or when Claire Mackay began sending me clippings of reviews of my books. Or even when Claire delighted when Peter and I revealed to her, at a post Book Week party in 1984, that we were seeing each other. But I know it now. And thanks to CANSCAIP, that community extends right across the country. Ainslie Manson in BC has become one of my best friends, and it was at a CANSCAIP meeting that I first met Budge Wilson, a Nova Scotia writer who has also become a good friend.
It was also at a CANSCAIP meeting that I first met Nova Scotia writer Jill MacLean, when she came to speak about writing retreats. After that meeting, she applied to the Seaside Writing Workshop/Retreat that Peter and I have been offering for six years now. (She had actually referred to it during her talk.)
All this to say that joining CANSCAIP, as a Member or as a Friend, is a great way to expand your circle of like-minded, creative friends who will understand your ups and downs – and what’s important to you: your sock fluff.