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Tuesday, 20 September 2011

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

Thank you, Friedrich Nietzsche for that little pearl of wisdom. Those would’ve been comforting words, if I hadn’t been so certain I was going to drop dead from a panic attack. They may even have given me an extra shot of courage, if I could’ve thought beyond; breathe, smile, look at the audience, and most importantly don’t talk at super-sonic chipmunk speed.

Yes, at last weekend’s Prairie Horizon’s CANSCAIP conference I drank the Kool-Aid and signed up for the Open Mike night. I was feeling the writer-love that our Saskatchewan hosts so graciously shared with me and my fellow Anitas. I must have suffered a rare form of selective amnesia, forgetting the audience included; the illustrious editor Kathryn Cole, the critically acclaimed author, playwright, journalist, and screenwriter Shane Peacock and the incredible talent of artist Georgia Graham

When I recovered from my Saskatchewan love-in, and remembered this detail, I almost baled and surrendered to my fear, but I was given some advice that resonated with me far deeper than would any rantings of a long dead German philosopher.

A fellow writer said to me, “It’s not about you, it’s about your story and it needs to be shared, or you wouldn’t have written it.”

In a nutshell, that’s what being a writer is about; having these stories inside us and a burning desire to share them. That seems more poignant when you write for children. What we write and the characters and worlds we create help foster creativity and imagination in our readers and if done well, can provide a place for children to feel included and accepted.

We certainly don’t do it for the money. Beyond the J.K. Rowlings and Stephen Kings, there are few independently wealthy authors. Most of us have day jobs that help pay to keep our passion alive. We're like the actors of literature; working to fund our artistic dreams.

With heart pounding loudly up my throat, I continued down the bumpy road to publication and read to my audience of fellow writers and famous people. They laughed in all the right places and it didn't kill me. I survived and I may possibly be stronger. Except for the ulcer, but there's medication for that.

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