Torch Passing

wfnb_logoYesterday I registered myself and my two 16-year-old nieces for the WFNB’s WordSpring event coming to the Miramichi next month. I am really excited to take them to this and to have them exposed to the NB writing community at such a young age.

I was in my 30’s before I found the WFNB and it completely changed my life in so many ways. Being a member and attending events, taking workshops, etc. gave me the confidence to write more and to think of myself as a writer, to give public readings and share my writing with others. Had I discovered some sort of writing community when I was a teenager, who knows where I might be now in my writing career.

Growing up I didn’t have a lot of encouragement when it came to writing or pursuing creative things, and sometimes I flat-out had discouragement from adults in my life. I mean they thought I had talent, but it was more of a cute hobby than anything that could translate into a real life career. I heard “You can’t do that” a lot or “Nobody does that.” I think this was more a sign of the times and my family background, the bird in the hand was worth two in the bush. It wasn’t stable to dream too big. Better to be safe than sorry. My parents wanted to protect me and my teachers wanted me to end up in a stable career. Everyone had my best interests at heart. And working in the arts as a writer or in the theatre or film, was just something that people didn’t do back then where I came from. It was foreign. A pipe dream. My school guidance counsellor literally said, “Kellie, you will starve to death! You’re a smart girl. You can do so much better.”

I mean, it didn’t make any difference anyway, because I was a rebel and if you said I couldn’t, I said “Watch me!” If you said nobody else does that, I said “Who cares?! I’ll be the first.” The surest way to get me to do something was to tell me you disapproved. But I made concessions. I studied journalism instead of creative writing, theatre arts or film, viewed as a somewhat more stable if still kind of lofty career choice. But I studied it in Toronto, which everyone was dead set against.

My nieces and nephew are being raised with a different perspective. The times have changed in our small community. Graduates from the high school have gone on to do great things. The world is smaller now because of the internet and satellite radio and television. My parents, their grandparents, have grown into this new world and it’s less scary than when they were trying to give their first child the tools to go out into a world they knew nothing about. Their parents are doing their best to help shape these kids into good citizens of the world. And yes, I am biased, but boy are they ever doing a great job!

All my nieces and nephew are so smart. They can do anything they want in life. They’ve always been encouraged to express themselves through writing, drawing, painting, photography, theatre, music, dance, cooking, and however else their heart desires. In an age where some kids are plugged into their devices every waking hour of the day, these kids have grown up playing outside, using their imaginations to create new worlds in the woods. But then they also have the added bonus of having the technology to record that world and create movies. I often wonder what it would have been like to have that technology when I was a kid. We used to make radio plays on cassette tapes, imagine having video capability! These kids read books, cherish their library memberships, and have bookcases filled in their bedrooms. These kids watch classic films and great television (yes, there are still some great television shows being made). These kids play complex RPG video games that challenge them intellectually. These kids talk to their parents, grandparents, and me about … well just about everything! When I think back to what I was going through at their ages, the way I felt, how little anyone knew about what was going on in my head … jeeze! Sometimes I wonder how I ever made it through. But then I know how I did. A lot has changed but one thing that is the same is the tight knit nature of our family. I always knew I had a family who loved me and would be there to support me.

So I am excited to expose two of them to the wonderful world that is the WFNB, to share that with them. I hope it is a weekend they will never forget! And the first of many WFNB events for them.

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