Canada Day

As it is Canada Day today, and I sit here in my apartment in Ottawa feverishly avoiding all things outside, I thought a blog post about Canadian Writers would be appropriate.  Which of course leads to the inevitable problem — how do we really know who the Canadian authors are?

There are the ultra-famous of course – the Margarets (Atwood and Lawrence), Leonard Cohen, Farley Mowat, Mordecai Richler, Pierre Berton, Michael Ondaatje.   These are the ‘greats’.  Or so they say.  I’ve read something from every one of these authors.  I’d say most Canadians have, if only because our education system forced them to.  I’ve loathed, and loved, and liked in equal measure (for example, I suggest you spare yourself “Beautiful Losers” by Cohen.  The man is a master of poetry, no doubt.  But whatever drugs he was on when he wrote this novel were clearly the good ones).

There are also the ‘middle-weights’, or so I like to deem them.  While the stranger next to you on the bus may not have heard of them, chances are your book-loving, voracious reader friends have.  Douglas Coupland, Vincent Lam, Terry Fallis, Miriam Toews, Yann Martel, are just a few of those names.

While it’s damned near impossible to even imagine becoming one of the greats, achieving something in that interesting middle area is really not so far out of reach.  Just look at Terry Fallis for example.  His debut novel “The Best Laid Plans”  was originally self-published due to lack of publisher interest.  It went on to win the Stephan Leacock Medal in 2008, got picked up by a traditional publisher, and is now being made into a CBC mini-series.

Success like that is every writer’s dream.  Well, it’s mine at least.

So while this post began as a way to pay tribute to the Great Canadian Writers on this lovely Canada Day, it has also given me hope, and motivation.  I can’t get a CBC mini-series if I don’t write something first!

2 thoughts on “Canada Day”

  1. The publishing industry, as an industry per se, has really only been around for about 200 years while writing has been around for thousands. Authors have almost always wealthy and self-published (Wordsworth, Lord Byron, etc) or been patronized by wealthy supporters.

    I feel like self-publishing is cheating but I think I have been conditioned to feel this way by the publishing industry. I am starting to think that self-publishing may be the more historically appropriate form of publishing.

    1. You know it’s funny, because I’ve never looked at it from a historical perspective. Like you, I tend to feel like self-publishing is cheating. But it’s a very interesting point you raise about writing and traditional publishing.


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