Today’s the day

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I feel like I should mark the moment somehow. Today, my third book and first novel, GIRL RUNNER, is officially published here in Canada. Dreaming of this day as a teenager in high school, plotting and hoping to become a real writer, what did I imagine it would be like? Feel like? I no longer know. There is excitement, but it is muted with a weight I probably wouldn’t have guessed, as a teenager. There is satisfaction, joy, even, but tempered by perspective, by years of struggle, by a kind of wondering at my own persistence and determination, and I don’t mean that in a self-flattering way — I mean, I wonder at my ridiculous, stubborn refusal to give up this singular dream, even when it made absolutely no sense, financially or practically or even artistically. I had to write a lot of very bad prose on my way to learning how to write like I wanted to be able to write.

I’m thinking this morning of writers I have admired. How I loved L.M. Montgomery’s stories of orphaned girls, soaked though they may have been in sentimental romance. I didn’t want to grow up to discover that Montgomery’s own life had been unhappy. I wanted her as happy as her heroines, as plucky, as daring, as beloved. There can be such a distance between what a writer puts onto the page and her own life. We may write what we wish to have been or done, we may write to seek forgiveness for a wrong or to seek peace, we may write to escape, because the imagination is powerful enough to carry us somewhere else, somewhere better, for awhile.

I’m not sure where I fit into this, exactly, as a writer and a human being.

I was thinking today that my ever-present theme is the connection between past and present, and how the past leaves its imprints on the present. I have an interest in history (thanks, Dad!). But it isn’t the interest of an historian, who tries to piece together from available evidence the most factually accurate narrative. It’s the interest of a story-teller, who needs facts only as stones tossed into a wide lake, so she can see the ripples spreading out across the disturbed surface of what only seems to be.

I’m going hifalutin’ this morning, I see.

I wonder how L.M. Montgomery felt when her first book was published? And her next, and her third? How did she feel when Anne of Green Gables became so beloved that the author herself was subsumed by her invented character? Isn’t it strange how these characters we create can come to seem more real than us? That is a possibility I’m considering this morning, as I think about Aganetha Smart, the girl runner in my book, and Juliet, of my JULIET STORIES, and the man with the hair hat, from my first collection HAIR HAT. I don’t know quite how to express this idea, but it seems those characters are more real, more knowable, more plausible than I myself could possibly be. I’m human, after all. I’ve done all kinds of things that make little sense, or don’t fit neatly into a plot or storyline. I’m contradictory. Sometimes I’m selfish, sometimes generous, sometimes oblivious, sometimes keenly attuned to the needs of others, sometimes a good friend, and no doubt, sometimes not. I’m trying, like we are all.

But my characters, they’re there, fully formed, on the page, comprehensible. Complete in a way I’ll never be.

Tonight, I’m going to the launch party for GIRL RUNNER here in Waterloo. It’s a party for the book, for the character of Aggie and all that she is, all of her accomplishments, and the richness of her life. I’m going to celebrate her existence. How she came to me, and came through me, is a mystery I’ll never know or be able to explain. This is not something I could have imagined, as an aspiring writer in high school — how separate from my creation I would feel. How grateful. How small. How glad.

Reading & writing
Celebrate good times

6 Comments

  1. Congratulations! I hope you are able to take in all the joy tonight and celebrate fully. I’m about 75 pages into Girl Runner, and am very much in love with Aganetha Smart. I love that you don’t know how you conjured her, and am very grateful that you had.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Marita! I’m loving reading your blog posts about how the book is entering your daily life.

      Reply
  2. Bought a hardcover copy of Girl Runner at Bertrand Bookstore on Park Avenue in Montreal. It’s so new that they had to get it from the back room! Congratulations!

    Ted Dettweiler.

    Reply
    • Wonderful to hear, Ted! Hope you enjoy the book.

      Reply
  3. Carrie- I just finished Girl Runner. Tears and laughter and joy and pride for you. So much more to it than I could have imagined. What a wonderful book. I know that you are not Aggie, but she is you. You bore her. Thank you. I loved it. Glad I waited until I could immerse myself in it. You are amazing. Xo

    Reply
    • Thank you, thank you, Janis. Thank you for posting this message right after reading the book, so that I could experience your immediate response like this. Thank you for bringing tears to my eyes. Thank for being there a year ago last spring on your front porch to talk me through that very difficult decision–to listen to me, really, more than anything. And thank you for reading with an open heart. xo

      Reply

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