Short Fiction and Prairie Gardens

I’ve been ruminating on short fiction. Teaching introductory creative writing this past fall, winter and another class pending in spring, the template I use for the course – the elements of short story – seems to superimpose itself, not only on my writing, but on everyday life. To everything, there is a beginning, a trajectory, a pivotal moment, and a resolution. Well, maybe not a resolution, and maybe life is one long middle with a lot of bumps and hinges, but the yearning for the perfect ending never goes away.

And that will be the focus of a weekend fiction workshop I’m scheduled to teach at the Alexandra Writers Centre in June.

Teaching seems to have become as big a part of my writing life as the time spent in the chair pounding my own words onto the page. I’m approaching the end of a ten week class with a particularly fine group of new writers, and have been thinking to myself how lucky I am that someone will pay me to spend time with people whose excitement just keeps re-kindling my own passion for the wondrous possibilities of fiction. The more I’m allowed to spend time talking about craft, the more sure I become that no matter how many tools we acquire, they are only as sharp and as useful as the intuitive hand that guides them. And there’s the pleasure in teaching – discussing the possibilities of a story, and watching the writer’s vision and intuition guide them through the process.

One more CWI course at the U of C in spring session, the AWCS fiction workshop, and then I plan to spend the summer on my knees in my garden.( If you saw the depth of snow in my yard – must be a record for March – you’d be in awe of my optimism.) There is no better metaphor in my life for writing than the short cycle of a prairie garden, and nothing that comes as close to (sometimes exceeds) my pleasure in writing.

Fall 2009 – back to teaching, a three month WIR position at the Memorial Park Library, the launch of Delivery. Time to start thinking about a reading tour. As soon as the garden is in bloom, I’ll get on that.