Our future–teen writing class

This is a photo of my students (aged 12-17) at the Mississauga Living Arts Centre on the last night of our Creative Writing Lab.  It’s always been a dream of mine to host a teen writing club and somehow, through a lucky twist of fate, I became the teacher of this group. These are kids who prefer “real” paper books–reading them is more relaxing–but nevertheless carry stories on all their devices: phones, iPads and computers so as to never be without something to read.IMG_2246

After a full day of regular classes, they chose as their extra-curricular to attend mine. Sometimes they stared at me blankly as I spoke on a variety of genres and writing topics, screenplay writing, poetry, character building, setting, but whenever I asked them to write, amazingly, they bent their heads and elbows to the task. Always made me smile.

The second last week one of the young writers asked me to edit a blog/job enquiry for a science website for students.  I was a little hesitant, not about the student so much as the website.  Was there some kind of scam behind it?

Sensing my hesitation, she continued, “Please tell me I’m not going to be one of those starving artists/bloggers who can’t make a living writing.”

The million dollar question. My mouth dropped open. I had no ready glib positive answer. “Send me whatever you want me to look at,” I answered finally.

Access Copyright, CANSCAIP, The Writers’ Union of Canada–I  belong to and support these organizations in the hope that there will be jobs for our future writers. I push for music, art and content to paid for and thereby validated and valued with these students in mind. No three month trial, or 10% “fair dealing” intellectual grab. Just because you love your work, doesn’t mean you should do it for free.

A week later, on our last class, I summon everything I have to answer honestly but aspirationally, “there will be writing jobs but we don’t know what they will look like yet. You are our future Margret Atwoods, you will shape the industry. I look around at you and have great faith and hope.”

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The Importance of Randomness–Your Public Library

IMG_1991Recently in writing an article on what libraries can do for writers, I encountered an attitude that’s increasingly popular in the service, entertainment and information industries and that is “we want to give the client what they ask for.”

So let me ask you this: do you know what you want?

In the work I do, I require backlist novels of other authors especially the out-of-print, defunct publisher material I can’t buy online. But I gather the average public wants multiple copies of the latest bestseller for their bookclub reading and so libraries must weed out what I need for blockbuster space. Okay, majority rules, I get that.

But never mind my small needs. What I really desire for myself and for my children and grandchildren, especially from the library, is randomness.


IMG_1986 Randomness is what inspires. Randomness shakes us out of our comfort zone and exposes us to new thoughts and experiences. Random stories, information and opportunity.

You may think your child only likes stories about dogs but what about a picture book on an armadillo visiting Paris? Your friends may want a room to knit and chat in but what about an Indigenous speaker talking in your library’s auditorium about native art? You may need the library Internet or Job Board but how about using an Expresso Book making machine to print out your memoirs. What about someone to show you how to use it?IMG_2065


All of what I have mentioned is available at libraries.  So let us continue to celebrate randomness. And libraries!  Visit your branch in person–not just online.  Chat with your librarian and ask her what’s new.

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