The high risk life of a writer

When you hear the words stock car racer, international spy, high wire acrobat, person who clips a cat’s nails – you think, those are high risk, dangerous, high adventure type jobs, right!?

When you hear the words author, writer and presenter you think …


Nice cozy comfortable jobs where the only risk is a broken lead in your mechanical pencil or a bruised ego from a rejection letter. We’ll I’m here to let you in on the high risk world of being a children’s author.

It all started when I was getting ready to go to the Young Alberta Book Society’s (YABS) annual professional development day, BBQ and AGM. YABS is an organization that promotes literacy through arranging school visits for authors, illustrators and performers and giving children the opportunity to express themselves through writing.

I packed up my pita bread and briefcase and got into my car. I then proceeded to drive into a fog cave where I was transported into an alternate parallel universe where pink was black, triangles were quadruples, north was west, and where a storm of white precipitation hammered a landscape of green grass and budding trees. I’m talking about the Voldemort of precipitation, the white precipitation whose name shall not be spoken – yes, a late (late spring snow storm). In this alternate universe it was no longer the end of May, the seasons reversed and I wasn’t sure what time dimension (or dementia) I was in.

Then the navigational deficit disorder kicked in. I made it to the town of Lacombe, Alberta fine, it was finding the farm house given that it was near white out conditions and white precipitation covered all the street/highway signs.

This is a conversation between me and uber artist/illustrator Georgia Graham as she talked me in as I drove (with another participant following in her car – it was a small tribe of the navigational deficits):

GG: do you see a tree nursery?

Me: (thinking of a large building that says gardening supplies on it) no! There’s nothing here.

GG: do you see rows and rows of trees neatly planted?

Me: Yeah, sure I do, I’m right next to that.

GG: That’s a tree nursery!

Me: curse that rural urban divide that keeps us from understanding each other! (This was the second and successful time I had shown up at the same house).

Once firmly ensconced in the leather hand chair that I claimed for myself. We commenced with the workshops.

There was one on copyright, copyleft and copywrong!? Social networking, linking your presentation to school curriculum, the AGM and lots of networking.

I met writers and illustrators I read when I first started writing children’s novels, like Cora Taylor and Tololwa Mollel. I networked with my writing/storyteller friends Dawn Ius, Karen Bass and Kathy Jessup, and met many more writers, storytellers and illustrators.

My attempts at stealing this chair were thwarted by my own unwillingness to haul it and stuff it into my tiny car. If anyone knows where I can get one please let me know. No writing room is complete without a huge hand reading chair (and then I’ll find a giant pencil to put in it).

After carefully washing my bowls and ceramic platter I promptly forgot them at Georgia’s farm – and who said a writing career was without danger!?


Jade said…
That chair is awesome! I want!!
Jan Markley said…
I know, right!? Me too! It was sooooo comfortable. Must find chair...!
Dawn Ius said…
Great post, Jan. You're not the first to want to steal that chair. Glad you made it home safe - Edmonton was covered in a blanket of white when we got home, as well.
Unknown said…
Ha! And I left my travel mug. Dangerous indeed.

The chair was wonderfully funky. However, I never got the chance to try it since someone jealously guarded it all afternoon...
deb said…
Glad you made it...and ya on the precipitation that shall not be named. May much?

Frankly I knew there was danger coming when I read, "I packed up my pita bread and briefcase." Oh man, too funny.

Thanks for sharing the day!
Jan Markley said…
Hey Karen and Dawn: Glad you both made it home safely. My chair strategy is to get there early and snag the best chair in the house and then leave my stuff all over it to 'save' it. Next year we'll have a battle of the butts to see who gets that chair!

Deb, glad you enjoyed the post, I checked out your blog - nice design!
Diane Girard said…
Ah yes! The life of the travelling writer is fraught with danger. I stay home to avoid those perils, and also because lately, no one has asked me to talk about anything.
The chair would definitely fit with my eclectic decor, if only I had any room.
Carol J. Garvin said…
Your escapade made me chuckle! Writing has its risks all right! I had readers questioning some of the incidents that contributed to a recent post of mine that mentions stockcar racing, snakes, etc.

Seriously, your post has inspired one of my own, on writers taking care of themselves, and I hope you don't mind that I've linked to yours.
Jan Markley said…
Thanks Carol, I'll check out your post!

Diane the travelling part wouldn't be that bad if it wasn't for the weather!