Friday, January 25, 2019

student success story, Russell Baker, Diana Athill

I just had a welcome call from a student who took my course about ten years ago. She phoned to say how much the course meant to her - that it helped her find her voice. She also took my garden workshop where she met Wayson who influenced her greatly. She entered a short story she wrote for class in the Writer’s Union of Canada competition and was a finalist, and eventually received a big Ontario Arts Council grant for a work in progress. 

Her book Philipovna: Daughter of Sorrow, about her mother’s survival of the Ukrainian famine, is being published by Guernica Editions and will be out in a few months. One more thing: Valentina accomplished all this despite being blind.

How nice of her to call so I can celebrate her success. Brava! Heartening news for a frozen day.

Last night was heartening too - my home class, seven superb writers reading, listening, supporting, helping. So fine. And more great news: the shutdown has ended in the U.S. with the defeat of the giant orange blowhole and another arrest of an associate. It's as if he's trembling inside the shelter of a stockade, while gradually the enemy, circling outside with flaming arrows, is poking holes big enough to enter. Have at him, gentlemen. And Nancy. And Alexandra. 

Had a welcome lunch with friend and neighbour Gretchen, whose house is also being rehabilitated, albeit for a more sinister reason too long to go into here. Much commiseration. Drywall still going up, still many decisions to be made and many, many disagreements to be had. 

I've just spent twenty minutes trying to get wonderful quotes from writers Russell Baker and Diana Athill, who both died recently, he at 93 and she at 101, to fit in the blog, which for some reason did not work. So I can't share them with you. Suffice to say that both were marvellous, witty writers who left a grand legacy and will be missed.

As Baker so wisely said once, "Writing a book is quite different from telling amusing anecdotes over the second bottle of Bordeaux, as I discovered."


Last bit of heartening news for today: Non-fiction seems to be good for longevity.

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