I thought that I would change up my blog a little this week. I’ve focused a lot on environmental issues and broad social topics for the most part, but today I would like to post something a little more personal. I’ve recently started to write a children’s book. It has been difficult, but I’m finally starting to feel proud and excited about it. My children’s book is about growing up in a small northern community – Apex. It has got me thinking about writers in general. I never though of myself as a writer. I left that to the really talented writers in my family, but when my friend asked me to contribute to benefit the children of Nunavut by producing some literature that was pertinent to their lives and available in Inuktitut, and to give southern children a window into Arctic life,how could I say no? But the reason that I decided to write this post today isn’t to talk aboutmy book, it’s to talk about writing in general as a great outlet. And reading as well. Literacy is such a privilege, and it makes me sad to see how limited peoples lives are, who never learned how to read or write. I have family who are illiterate and it’s so difficult for me to undersand how they carry on everyday in utter confusion with all of the text that we encounter throughout our lives.
I, as a dyslexic person, have always struggled with my love of stories and the difficulty I had with reading them. So it took me a long time to really find a book that inspired me. I liked a few books here and there in school,some noteables (in chronological order) are: The Lorax, The Chronicles of Narnia, A Wrinkle in Time, The Rats of Nimh, Out of the Silent Planet, Catcher and the Rye. But it wasn’t until my second year of college that I really related to an author and was amazed that I was so affected by a book. The book was Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson. I was taking a Canadian Literature English course and this book wason our reading list. Its a story about a Haisla girl growingup in her aboriginal community in the 80s and 90s. Although it wasn’t set in the Arctic, the parallels were close enough for me to be able to relate some of my experiences as a young aboriginal woman. This book ignited my thirst to become an avid reader, something I had never been motivated to do before. Robinson also has other books,Traplines which is a collection of short stories, and her newest book Blood Sports, which I have not finished reading, but is about the difficulties of ex-junkies trying to clean up their lives in East Vancouver.
I’ve also lately started to read Sherman Alexie’s blog at www.shermanalexie.com and I really like it. My brother (an exceptional writer and artist) has always liked Alexie’s books and I only recently decided to read some of his stuff, starting with his blog. His latest book War Dances has just come out. I plan on picking it up soon. Anyway, as usual my point is lost in many tangents. What I wanted to say, is that it took me 26 years to realize how much strength you can gain through reading and writing. Not only intellectual, but emotional as well. As I said, I never considered myself a writer because I was surrounded by such talent and I had other, stronger skills, but I am and always will be a story teller. From telling ghost stories in the abandoned blue building beside the IODE Hall in Apex, to the strange stories I would write and then read to my friends at lunch in high school. I remember being particularly proud of one story, and so I readan excerpt of it to my dad. He asked if he could read it and I hesitated and said it was more for my friends and then he said “there’s sex in it isn’t there?” I was embarrassed but admitted there was a little making out, and he waved me off to bed.
Writing is a great outlet, and I’m writing now to encourage all you young northerners to try it. We need people to understand our perspective. We want people to hear what we have to say, so say it already! I’m sure most of you got bored about two paragraphs ago, but even if you don’t want to show the world your perspective, try it just to let out some feelings. You don’t need to show anyone ever. Just write. I’ve written a lot of crap when I’ve been down and out, and it helped. It didn’t cure me of my depression at the time, it wasn’t award winning prose, but going back and reading how awful I felt always gave me perspective and made me think “at least I don’t feel like THAT anymore.” And I could move on to the next day. And when I couldn’t write, I could always escape into another world for a while in a good book.What an amazing talent literacy is! Man this post felt good.
“The world, even the smallest parts of it, is filled with things you don’t know.”