Gillian Cornwall, c. 2015
"Show me!" I beg the page. I coax it forth with my pen, massaging word upon word unto the paper or, hands hovering over the keys as though it were some mystical Ouija Board, spiriting the truth from the world beyond.
"I believe you!" This is what I say to the universal energy, for whom I am made the conduit of my stories. For it cannot be me, can it, that writes this stuff, when the rare gems issue forth? I am not swathed with approval from an institution issuing degrees of ability and confidence. I have a diploma in recreation from a community college and a life's worth of books travel through me, intertwined with the path I have walked through this life. From this, I learn and write.
I have decided my way must be baccalaureate enough for me. The late Richard Wagamese, who passed on March 11, 2017 - just yesterday, as I write this - spoke of his life as a writer when receiving the 2015 Matt Cohen Award. Watch it here. He captures it perfectly. He speaks of his formal education ending at Grade 9, but says this:
"The only thing I have taken is the open opportunity that lay between the covers of a book."
We read and we read more and we live our lives and we reflect upon our experiences and we engage with the artistry of the writers we admire and we learn and our writing grows and we create our own way of storytelling combined with the gift that flows through us. I must only be willing and present and open to that aspect of the process.
To me, books are hope and connection. They are solace and friendship. They are meditation and encouragement. My novel is very close to completion. I suppose I will begin the task of contacting agents. I really have no idea how one goes about all of this but I will wade into the water and keep swimming.
I dedicate this post to the late Richard Wagamese. It is not just his books that inspire me - I am quite new to his work, though they do inspire me, especially now as I read through Embers, but it is the man himself, as well, for not stopping his work at the absence of formal education, for not making excuses, for his ability to lift up all of those around him as he does so well in his Matt Cohen Awards speech. He wrote and he wrote well and his stories live inside us all.
Rest well, Richard. May the next chapter fill you up the way you have filled us and brought us together through your stories. Thank you for your many gifts.
-Gillian Cornwall, c. March 12, 2017
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2015.