This month I’m tasked with describing my greatest triumph as a writer, and how I got there. If this was the story of my life, what would be the grand finale?
I remember how I felt the first time I had a story published. When I heard the news I was sitting at my desk. At the time my writing area was a shrine of post-its and papers and books and photographs, and every library card I’ve ever owned stuck to the wall. On this fateful day I sat and looked out the window at the mountains as my good friend told me over the phone I had won the Terrace Writers’ Guild Fiction Contest, which included publication in a BC magazine. I remember feeling light, as if my whole body had been absorbed into the moment. I’m usually a happy person, but that was a feeling of pure absolute happiness I have seldom experienced.
Was that my greatest triumph? Has everything since been smaller?
Earlier this year a creative non-fiction story I’d written was accepted and published in the Journey issue of Room Magazine. The day I got the email I would have understood if someone had asked me if I was high. A story I’d written was going to be published in a well-known magazine that came out all across Canada? I was untouchable. I flew through the day–not that it happened quickly, but I felt like my feet didn’t touch the ground. Did it compare to how I’d felt when I found out about my first publication? You bet it did. I don’t think I lost any enthusiasm over the years. I think I may have found some.
It’s clear that I gauge some of my success as a writer by publication. This won’t be the same for everyone, and it shouldn’t be. The writers who never show their work to anyone will have very different writing triumphs than my own. For me, I want my work to be read. These two successes reveal how much it means to me. And though I love international success, it’s no coincidence that both of these publications were Canadian-based. For all my travels and all the wonderful people I’ve met, I still think of the bookstores where I grew up, like the Chapters on Douglas Ave in Victoria, and that’s where I want my stories to be found.
I was asked to describe my greatest triumph. If this were the story of my life so far, I think the movie would start with that first publication, with the moment I found out, and it would finish on the day I heard about Room Magazine. But I was also asked how I got there, to my triumph. And so this is it, this is what the whole movie would be filled with (which is why it will likely never be made,) and the big secret is:
I just kept writing.