Being a writer, and being—at this point in life—so much better at expressing myself on paper than in person, I always get tongue-tied when people ask me, “So what’s your book about?”
I have my elevator pitch prepared, but the words come out rehearsed and flat, my cheeks flushed. After an initial, “Oh, it sounds interesting,” the conversation invariably flutters on to other things. Which is 100 per cent my fault.
So when I hear shows on CBC like The Next Chapter or Writers & Company, I listen in awe as writers talk on and on. How can they have so much to say? And how can they speak so seriously on a topic they simply made up?
For they don’t sound like they speak with a flick of the hand, as I do, shrugging off the book they may have taken years to write. They don’t mumble about the characters as if they’re frivolous inventions.
They speak as if their work, and the characters in it, mean something. As if they’re real. As if they didn’t make the people and situations up, but as if they existed all along—on some higher plane of meaning—and the author was simply a witness, a best friend, the reporter who stumbled upon the story and helpfully wrote it all down.
I’m hoping that this attitude and ability will rub off on me as I do my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, where I’ll aim to explore not only how I write, but what I write and why. So that instead of dismissing my work as, oh, it’s just for fun, I’ll be able to expound upon its significance—which it does have; I just don’t know how to articulate it yet.