Curated by Josh P.
A writer’s life is not an easy one. It’s hours alone, pounding away on the keyboard and a near-existential fear your work will go by unloved. More than once you find yourself staring off, while Facebook notifications of what your friends are up to tug at your eyes, and asking yourself why am I doing this?
Yet by some miracle, we have people crazy enough to be writers and this month we asked the draft writers and collective for the upcoming Draft 12.3, what is it that shaped them into the writer that they are today.
The many opportunities I had that generations of women in the family before me didn’t receive—all led to this life of chasing words: Time as a reader. A local library. A feminist father. A new country. Archie Comics. YA novels. An English teacher in middle school. A guidance counsellor who encouraged me in grade eight. Translated works. Plays. Poems. Films. Pop culture. Graphic novels. Star Trek. Lit Mags. A love of language. Malapropisms. My friends. Difficult gatekeepers. Gifted instructors. Angels with editorial ability. Generous writers. And most importantly—Pixie dust.
Eufemia Fantetti is a graduate of The Writer’s Studio at SFU and the University of Guelph’s MFA in Creative Writing. Her first book, A Recipe for Disaster & Other Unlikely Tales of Love, was runner-up for the 2013 Danuta Gleed Literary Award and a winner of the 2014 F.G. Bressani Prize. It is available from Mother Tongue Publishing. She teaches English at Humber College and Creative Writing through the University of Guelph.
I think initially, as a young person, I was influenced by what was available to read in the library. I grew up in a small town, so the library was small, but there were several shelves devoted to myths, fairy tales, folktales, and legends.
These were wonderful.The world, as expressed in these tales, seemed extraordinary. There were so many different and fantastic ways to explain why things operated as they did, and the language employed was so vivid. The characters that inhabited these tales were simultaneously bold and complex. The narratives were sometimes straightforward, but often times surprisingly complicated and indirect.
Now, I keep books of myths and legends on the shelves alongside my desk, and I return to them frequently when I write.
Professor Clem Martini is an award-winning playwright, novelist, and screenwriter with over thirty plays, and ten books of fiction and nonfiction to his credit, including the Calgary Book Award-winning Bitter Medicine: A Graphic Memoir of Mental Illness and his most recent anthology, Martini With A Twist. His texts on playwriting, The Blunt Playwright, The Greek Playwright, and The Ancient Comedians are employed widely at universities and colleges across the continent. He currently teaches in the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary.
One Friday night when I was ten, I was staying over at my grandparents’ house. While I laid on the living room floor watching TV, my grandparents were in the kitchen with a couple they played cards with. I overheard the wife saying that her son had tried to stab her with a kitchen knife. He was schizophrenic and off his medication. I had never heard of schizophrenia, but the symptomatology sounded like demonic possession to a Catholic school kid. I needed to know more, so I turned to books.
I read that schizophrenia often manifests during adolescence. I read that Jesus had driven a legion of demons from a lonely man and into a herd of pigs, whereupon the pigs drowned. I did not want to become a teenager. I did not want to become someone responsible for the deaths of pigs. I was afraid I would become both. I started waking up at night, thinking I saw eyes in the shadows. Walking alone during the day, I counted cracks in the sidewalk in sets of twelve so I wouldn’t hear words in the murmuring of trees.
One night, I dreamt instead about a clear river barely contained by its banks. I woke up and wrote down everything I could remember about the river. I did not know if it was a real river, or if it was a symbol of something I could not otherwise understand. But I kept filling that notebook with everything that, like the river, seemed greater than my trepidations.
At twenty-seven, I no longer believe in demons, and I no longer demonize mental illness. I have other fears, other cathexes. And I keep a different notebook.
Jade Wallace is a Niagara writer currently doing community legal work in Toronto. Jade’s writing has appeared in journals includingThe Nashwaak Review, Feathertale, Poetry Sz, has been included in multi-author collections including Breakfast in a Day by Death Cookie Soup Press and Pac’N Heat: A Noir Homage to Ms. Pac-Man by AGP Books. Jade also has six chapbooks with Grey BordersBooks, most recently The Cosmic Squirrel Is On Your Side and Smiling Drunk Pufferfish, written in collaboration with Terry Trowbridge. Jade eschews any sincere use of social media but can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, as well as by postcards addressed to your nearest dead letter office.