What is life-changing?


I’m home.

This is good. I’ve got the third load of laundry already spinning in the drier, I’ve swiped mud and leaves and dog fur off the floor with a rag, focusing on a few critical areas, and I’ve been through every room and soccer bag and countertop looking for dirty socks, library books, and notices from school. The house is in good shape and everything looks under control. My family is awesome!

I still haven’t seen the kids. I can’t believe I have to go out and teach almost as soon as they’re home after school, but we’ll get through it. It’s a PD day on Friday, so we’ll have time to reacquaint ourselves before this weekend’s events take me away from home again. (It’s the Wild Writers Festival here in Waterloo, and I’m going to Uxbridge to read with Frances Itani at Blue Heron’s Books & Brunch).

I had a lot of fun yesterday evening. I did not win. The prize went to Miriam Toews’s All My Puny Sorrows. I’d expected her book to win, and therefore did not approach the event with any expectations of my own, aside from the desire to be intensely present, open, and filled with gratitude at being witness to this moment in time. I was so grateful to have a ceremony to attend, no matter the outcome. All of my publishing people were with me from House of Anansi, my agent Hilary, and Kevin too. We went out for a feast afterward too. It felt like the moment had been marked, when all was said and done.

I do like to mark the moment. So thank you, thank you, those who helped me mark this one. I am blessed.

I’m glad to be home.

I had a thought while sorting laundry in the basement, just now. I thought: “this hasn’t been life-changing.” Then I wondered what that meant, and what exactly “it” might refer to. I think I was thinking of the prize and being a finalist. It isn’t life-changing, not in the way we think of things as being life-changing, and I wonder, would it have been life-changing to have won? I’m not convinced. Maybe it’s because I do not wish or want my life to be changed. Maybe it’s because I’m certain that prizes do not define any of us, that to be who we are — more precisely, who we want to be — is a constant commitment that is poorly served by reliance on external recognition. The peak moment fades. We go on, you know. We do.

I think life is as it is, and I am who I am, no matter what scenes I move through or what clothes I’m wearing. Don’t misunderstand, please: It’s been loads of fun. I take none of it for granted, and I’ve relished every opportunity to be here now. I’ve met or been reacquainted with many many many writers, and have had many memorable conversations, be they funny, happy, silly, serious, insightful, kind-hearted or all of the above. I feel a part of the “class of 2014.”

Now I want to get back to the work of writing another book. I want to get back to discipline and routine, family and friends, soccer and music. That’s not contradictory, I think, I hope.

xo, Carrie

PS Calgary’s Wordfest produced an audio play of the first chapter of Girl Runner. It’s beautiful. If you want to hear Aggie’s voice, young and old, listen here.

Notes on prize day
Eternal present


  1. Tudor

    I know what you mean, Carrie, and I often think about this very thing – about would my life change if I suddenly sold a million copies of my book and, more importantly, would I want it to? The answer is no, I wouldn’t in terms of my day-to-day duties, and role, and responsibilities and small joys.

    On the other hand, I look back a year – even less than a year – and I realize my life has completely changed. Not my outer life, or even my life as it relates to my love for, and enjoyment of, my family. But my satisfaction, and happiness with my career, and with being an AUTHOR. I’ve found the path forward for my writing, and that’s an indescribably reassuring feeling.

    So, sort of like you, I’m a happy writer who still does lots of laundry, and makes lunches, and keeps the house clean(ish), and does a fair bit of writing from the side of a pool, or curling rink, and those are things I wouldn’t want to change. (Although the world knows much more about you, than they probably ever will about me – CONGRATULATIONS on your recognition this year).

  2. Diane Schoemperlen

    You’re so right, Carrie. I’ve been doing laundry too, also yard work, groceries, vacuuming, kitty litter, etc. Funny how after all the book gallivanting, I am finding real pleasure in doing these “real life” chores that I usually complain about bitterly! It was great talking with you at the IFOA and I’m looking forward to seeing you in Waterloo this weekend. (We will both have clean clothes, if nothing else!)


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