I have always been envious of sentences. You know the ones. The kind that stops you in your tracks. You back up and start the sentence from the beginning. You read it again and then again. These sentences attack your senses like a painting by Gustav Klimt or like one of Auguste Rodin’s sculptures. You ask yourself “How is that humanly possible to put all those incidental bits together and come up with such a breathtakingly amazing collection of words?”
I’m not one of those writers whose sentences inspire that sort of awe. When I reread my sentences I wonder why the muddle, why do I always invert my ideas, why can’t I simplify…elegance, Sylvia, the most elegant way to say it is always the best. Why do I always bury myself in words and then have to dig myself out?
But I realized when I was very young that I could tell a good story. I loved telling stories. I loved listening to stories. Life is a story. So here I am.
Twenty-two years ago I decided I should write my stories down. But I’d never written. I’d never wanted to write. I didn’t like reading as much as I liked stories. But, in 1991, with my sister-in-law, Diane Harris from Stz’uminus First Nation, I had collected a huge archive of first-hand stories from former Kuper Island Residential School students and we had told them that we would write them so people would hear them. It was a heavy burden. Finally I “had” to do it. So I did, with the help of Rita Morris and Ann Sam. In 2001, Diane Morris, from Sono Nis Press, published No Time to Say Goodbye…my first book.
Over the past few decades, with my editors as my guides, I’ve taught myself to write. I’ve learned to love reading stories. I’ve learned how to write better sentences (sort of). And I’ve learned to love writing. I can’t get through a day without it. If Malcolm Gladwell is right, that after 10,000 hours of doing something you should know how to do it…then I should know something about writing, but I still can’t write those sentences…the ones that stop me in my tracks. Someday maybe.
WINNER Lieutenant-Governor’s Medal for Historical Writing Working With Wool
WINNER Bolen Books Children’s Book Prize Counting on Hope
NOMINEE Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize Counting on Hope
WINNER First Nation Community Read Which Way Should I Go
NOMINEE Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Snow Willow Award The Girl with a Baby
NOMINEE Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Snow Willow Award No Time to Say Goodbye
NOMINEE Adopted by the BC Teachers' Federation No Time to Say Goodbye