I first begin to ponder the idea that creative success--that elusive thing I have been driving toward since I was 8 years old and first decided I wanted to write books--might come with a best-kept-secret shadow side when I finished the novel I'd been working on for many years. I was supposed to be happy, I expected to be happy, and I found myself devastated. Depressed, actually.
The shadow hit again when I won Chatelaine's creative non-fiction contest and, preparing for a publication more visible than any previous publication, I experienced a dose of fear, dread and shame at least as big as the joy and pride.
I was in my shady back garden at the end of last summer when I emailed dear writer friends Sarah Henstra and Suzanne Alyssa Andrew: do you think this is a thing, this idea of a shadow side to creative success? Is this just me? And do you think anybody besides me might want to talk about it?
Fast forward nearly a year, and you will see us above, along with Carrie Snyder and Maria Meindl, talking about this very topic at the Canadian Writers' Summit to a standing-room crowd. The energy was honest and vibrant, with a real feeling that we were hitting a nerve and speaking things that needed to be spoken. There was a lot of head-nodding. There was a lot of note-taking. It was so good, so real, so resonant. And I was awed and delighted and humbled that an idea I'd wanted to explore for myself had (as usual, of course) turned out to be an idea that others wanted to explore too, that a woman who'd come from Rochester, NY would tell me afterward had been worth the trip to the conference all on its own, that people would be drawn to from other tents just to see what all these people were so engaged by in Market Tent B. Oh, it was good.
And there is to be a Shadow Side part 2: the written version. Maria, Carrie, Suzanne and I have created a written interview piece, which will appear in The New Quarterly likely sometime in 2017, and I'm very excited about that.
And until then, writer Melanie Marttila put together her notes from the panel and has generously shared them here if you want to check them out.