Tag Archives: Thank You

Can*Con 2017

Can*Con is over for another year and we are all getting some rest. (for ‘rest’, read ‘back at our “real” jobs’) Notwithstanding a few minor crises, the weekend went really well and it was truly very gratifying to hear from so many people that they had a good time at the con and enjoyed what we had to offer on the program. I was personally very proud of some of the panels we put together, and it was wonderful to hear that people liked them and to see that so many of them went well.

I think the whole Can*Con team is doing a fantastic job not just running an entertaining, compelling SFF convention for readers and writers, but also reflecting the diversity of the fans and creators of the stories we love in the people we have as guests and the programming we do. It’s still very much a work in progress, but I think every year gets a bit better and it meant a lot to hear people say they were happy with what we had for them this time.

I always come away from Can*Con excited about writing and about my writing in general; it’s very affirming to be surrounded by people who thing that fantastic stories are important and valuable, and that writing is important and valuable. What I need to do now is make sure that I convert that excitement into words on the page/screen, but it’s an invaluable boost right at a time when I feel like I’ve cleared a major obstacle on the current WIP.

The only other thing I want to say is of a more personal nature. I think a lot of times we can feel like we’ve got roughly a billion connections to people through all our technology, and perhaps naturally, since they light up and/or make our devices make noise, they demand a lot of attention, and it’s hard to tell which are the connections that matter. I was reminded this weekend that the people who even at a moment when they’re super tired and have their own things they should be focusing their last reserves of energy on, will take some time to sit down with you and help you get your ship righted and feeling better about yourself, those are the connections that matter. Those are the people who are really ‘with’ you in a sense that has some significance, and those are the connections where our energy should go rather than some other stuff that isn’t anything.

Some people did that for me this weekend and I am truly very grateful. Perhaps I’ll pay my debt some day.

Thank you to everyone who came out to Can*Con and made the weekend a great success. It was great to spend time with everyone that I got to spend time with, and for those that I didn’t cross paths with, my apologies and we’ll do a better job of it next year. We’re already kind of excited about 2018. You should join us if you can.

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George Romero

Today we had some really exciting news (that I’m gonna write about for the regular Tuesday blog) and some sad news with the passing of George Romero. Romero will always be best known for his zombie films, and it’s safe to say that without those movies, and the people who loved them, we wouldn’t have had Walking Dead and Shaun of the Dead and all of the many zombie-themed video games, books, comics and shows that many of us have spent way too much time on. Even if you’re getting a little tired of zombie-everything, anyone who has had a hand in bringing so much enjoyment to such a wide range of people did pretty damned well as a creator.

I remember that I *heard* a lot about Romero’s _____ of the Dead movies long before I watched them, and in large part because of that I had assumed they were stupid. It was my loss. When I finally came to watch them – through my love of the work of John Carpenter, who was influenced by and greatly admired Romero – I was very pleasantly surprised.

Because yes, there are zombies, and yes they’re looking to eat brains, and yes there’s a lot of people getting killed. But there’s consistently *more than that*, too. Romero was using his zombies to talk about issues he saw in society, and did it very well. To me the most persistent theme in his zombie films is that the real problem isn’t the zombies. Most of the time, the real problem, the real threat to the protagonists and their survival, is other humans, and their selfishness or stupidity or intolerance.  That one point, made over and over again, probably influenced the way I think about monsters and the horrific in my own writing about as much as anything else.

Anyway, most of the time, if you want to find the real monster in a Romero zombie movie, it’s the people. The zombies are more a force of nature. By Land of the Dead, the zombies and the human protagonists even reach a kind of resigned tolerance. The zombies destroy the specific people who had been trying to wipe them out, and the (now-ex) zombie hunters let them walk away: “They’re just looking for a place to go. Same as us.”

So Romero wasn’t just (or even at all) making gorefests. He made horror movies that were supposed to scare you and thrill you, but he was thinking as he did it and wanted you to think too. I thought it was really impressive to have a guy who made monster movies encouraging his audience to see the monsters as the same as them, rather than just enemies to fight. That’s what I always think about when I write my own stuff, and that’s what I’m gonna think about the next time I watch one of George Romero’s movies.

Thanks for the tales, Mr. Romero. You had a lot to say, and you said it with zombies.

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In Praise of Readers

Late last week I sent out another (by which I really mean ‘the second’) chunk of the current WIP to some Eager Volunteers to see what they thought. I’ve been finding the writing hard going of late and I hoped this might help.

It did.

The Volunteers emailed back almost right away, one having read the piece while plagued by insomnia (which is a decision that’s possible to read in a couple ways, but never mind) and sent back their usual thoughtful response, which included some useful criticism, some questions, and some compliments.

On some level the praise is most obviously useful to me in my current situation. Everyone likes a pat on the head and having someone whose opinion I respect say that they’re enjoying what I’m working on will probably always feel good. So that’s a nice shot of positivity to encourage me to keep working away. It also helps to hear that someone wants to learn more about a particular character, or to know what’s going to happen; I guess obviously a writer is always hoping to generate interest and it’s both pleasing and a relief to know that in at least a couple of cases, I’m setting the hook okay.

The criticism is very nearly as useful, though, because concrete areas where the story needs work are better than a sense of generalized unease where I know there are things that aren’t right but not exactly what they are, much less how to fix them. It’s always easier to have something like a bullet list (har) of things that need to be taken care of than a vague idea that Stuff needs to be Fixed. Having people where there’s a strong enough trust that they tell me what they really think, and they know that I really do want to know what they really think, and not just get a pat on the head, is (as I am discovering) both rare and incredibly valuable.

The questions never cease to fascinate me, because the things readers are intrigued by and want to know more about seem always to include things that I never anticipated. I wrote a while ago about how a character in The King in Darkness that I didn’t think anyone would have any particular interest in ended up getting a scene added to the final draft to finish their story, because readers kept asking about it. So it already is with this piece, and what it mostly does is make me happy that what I’m writing can be interpreted and understood in a variety of ways (because if a reader understood it exactly the same way as I do, writing it, they wouldn’t have some of these questions), which is something I always enjoy when I’m reading and very much want to create when I’m writing. It also gives me ideas for things to do next, which is also very valuable.

All of which to say that the responses I get from my Eager Volunteers is a treasure to me as a writer, and makes my task in creating the story so much easier and the final project immeasurably better. I have had a good number of genuinely well-meaning people offer to take on the task and had it not work out (which I completely understand – if nothing else, it’s not easy to devote some of one’s precious store of free time to reading something they may not even like), so that makes the people who are willing to put in the time struggling through a rough-hewn story and then also take the time to share their responses and reactions to it with me a very special breed.

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank them once again, because I appreciate what they do more than I can say. Perhaps I’ll pay my debt some day. Thank you very much indeed.

I am also aware that I owe a similar debt to each and every one of my readers, without whom my stories would be silent words on the page and none of my characters, who I love very much, would ever have a chance to live. If you’ve read one of my stories, and thereby given some of my made-up people a home in your imagination, at least for a while, I thank you as well.

It is, of course, a truism that without readers there are really no writers in a meaningful sense, but sometimes it’s the obviously true facts that need to be acknowledged. I’m grateful to everyone who has ever taken the time to read one of my stories; I can think of few better compliments for a writer than ‘I would like to spend some time with your imagination’. I am especially grateful to the readers who let me know what they thought about what they read. A lot of it makes me better, and all of it helps me want to write more. Without writers, people have nothing to read, and without readers, it would be the next thing to impossible to call oneself a writer.

So once again, I thank my readers.

Now to try to do some more of my half of the bargain.

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Review

Ottawa author Brandon Crilly has posted a wonderful review of The King in Darkness over at Black Gate.  Black Gate publishes an amazing array of articles on things related to fantasy fiction, and you should check them out if you haven’t already.

Read Brandon’s review here.

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Leonard Cohen

Tonight, at the end of a week that has already been a pretty rough ride, we got the news that Leonard Cohen has died.  For a lot of us this is another blow, although I’m trying not to be too sad as I write this tonight.

Cohen lived, I think by any standard, an incredible life and from an interview he gave not long ago it sounded like he was at peace with nearing the end of it. He sounded to me like a person looking back at work well done, and I hope that’s true. I also like, and admire, that he kept producing his art right up until the end. Although a lot of his work was melancholy in tone (to say the least), my impression (not having met him, of course) is that the art was essential to him and a joy to him and I’m glad he never stopped doing it.

I’m not in any way qualified to comment on Cohen as a musician, but the man had a gift with words. He wrote lyrics, or poetry, or both, that stick with you and appealed to such a wide range of people. Other artists love them and want to make them their own. His audience has been massive, and it’s bigger than is frequently recognized. It’s kind of similar to Shakespeare – even if they don’t necessarily realize it, just about everyone knows a Leonard Cohen song, or part of one.  It’s hard to do much better than that.

As a writer, I am deeply awed by his skill with words and his ability to reach into you with language and yank a reaction out of your heart and soul. If I ever write something that is one tenth as good as a Leonard Cohen lyric, I will have done about as well as I could ever hope to do.

As a fan, I’m glad we had him with us as long as we did and that his art will live on.

It’s a great loss that there won’t be any more of it, but he leaves us a great treasure of words.

Thank you, Mr. Cohen.

Rest well.

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Word on the Street

This past Sunday was Word on the Street in Toronto, and I was there for the first time as an author, and for the first time at all in a very long while. The last time I went, the festival still took place on Queen Street, turning a segment of a major downtown road into a literary pedestrian mall. At the time, I also thought I wanted to be a journalist and that if I was going to write fiction, it would be cyberpunk. A lot has changed.

I don’t know all the circumstances (or, as one friend who visited me discovered, really any of the circumstances) that led to Word on the Street moving not once but (at least) twice, but to me the new location (sort of new – this was the second year on the site) at Harbourfront is pretty great. There’s lots of interesting spaces to wander around while meeting authors and sampling books from publishers large and small, and plenty of book-related events went on throughout the day. If it was a little brisk in the shade with the wind off the lake, it seemed a lovely day to walk in the sunshine and immerse oneself in books.

We were busy at the Renaissance Press table through much of the day, and it was great fun (as it always is) to have people come up and talk about our books and their own writing and things we both like to read. Some people took my book home with them and that is always a wonderful feeling. Some people picked it up, read the back, and put it back down again – I haven’t quite immunized myself to the little pang of rejection when they decide my story isn’t for them, or the desire to ask ‘WHY DON’T YOU LOVE IT’ like a crazy person. Of course that’s unfair, but I guess it shows something of how much of ourselves we pour into our creations, as artists. The King in Darkness, whatever strengths and flaws it has as a story, does have a little fragment of my soul in there. I doubt that having created it will keep me alive for all eternity, and there’s a little bit of vulnerability in putting yourself out before the public eye in such a way, but I don’t know another way to write. I imagine a lot of artists feel the same.

That got heavy.

In all seriousness it was a great day of meeting new people and seeing some old friends and playing the part of a Writer for a little while again, that I wrote about after Can*Con. So that was good. In some ways though that wasn’t the best part. Also that weekend, I ran into Hayden Trenholm from Bundoran Press on our way down to the big city, and we had as nice a chat as it is possible to have in a 401 rest stop. Maaja Wentz stopped by the booth to say hello. Peter Halasz of the Sunburst Awards and font of SFF knowledge came by and very nearly stole my sandwich. All of these people, and (to my great wonderment) an increasing number of others are genuinely interested in my writing (well, writing in general) and encouraging and supportive about the whole process of creation and dissemination of the written word. It is wonderful to be gradually becoming part of a network of amazingly talented individuals who really get why I feel like I have to write, want other writers to do well, and to help if they can. I hope I’m able to give a little of that back, and very glad to have these chances to be surrounded by these very supportive people.

Even if they do have designs on my sandwich.

Anyway, that’s not a feeling I had really had before this Word on the Street, so for that reason alone I’m very glad I made the trip down. If I can, I’ll be back next year, possibly more warmly dressed.

Thanks for reading.

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Farewell to The Hip

I had what I was going to write about this week all planned out and mostly written in my head. Then I watched the Tragically Hip’s farewell concert last night and even though I already wrote about Gord Downie a while ago, I’m gonna do it again this time too. I wrote some of these thoughts on Twitter, but as my long-suffering editors will know, my natural tendency is to write a *lot*, so getting things down to 140 characters is basically agonizing for me. This is my chance to do things more my way. (Sorry?)

It was, first of all, an amazing national moment. Obviously there are lots of people in Canada who aren’t fans of the Tragically Hip, but a big chunk of the country (I am now informed it was around a third of the nation’s TV sets) was gathered around watching one last show from a band they love Saturday night, which is a pretty amazing thing to think about. It was also very cool that most of the country (you needed a TV or an internet connection) could be a part of it, more or less free (see above) and without commercials. As lots of people pointed out, that’s why it’s good to have a public broadcaster. Thanks to the CBC.

It was the last time we’ll see the Tragically Hip perform. I wrote in my other Downie-inspired column that the Hip have been the soundtrack for big important chunks of my life, which has been wonderful and is a wonder to look back on. The band has been a great gift to me at times; perhaps most of all when I spent a year studying in England and Music@Work was my little piece of Canada that I could turn on whenever I needed to. And now they’re done. I’m too old to think about my youth ending (that happened, quietly, some time ago) but something has ended now that the Hip have finished their last tour. I got to see them live three times, I wish it had been more, and I’m grateful to have had the luxury.

Any band, and any artist, performing live is always a treat because you get to see an ongoing act of creation. I think artists never look more alive that when they are creating their art, and a concert is a chance to sit (and/or stand) and watch that go on. Downie is a special joy to watch because he loves to perform as much as he sings. He dances and fights with the mic stand and generally makes the stage his own. I have a tremendous respect and (as someone who constantly second-guesses whether I should say a thing or do a thing, until the moment has passed forever) envy for his confidence and his joy in performance that let him do whatever the hell he feels in a particular moment. It’s tremendous fun to watch.

I also loved that the Hip took a couple moments to share a message that is obviously important to them. Some people complained about ‘getting political’, (and it is jarring if you discover someone you doesn’t share your views on something) but I figure when you’ve reached the point where the attention is on you nation-wide, and this is your last moment in the spotlight, you’ve earned the right to say what you want to say. Downie chose to say something pretty powerful, too, calling out the Prime Minister and the nation as a whole to make things better for the First Nations communities that have been marginalized and ignored and kept in horrible conditions for far too long. As causes to give a signal boost too, that’s a pretty awesome one, and I thought it was great that the Hip used their moment to do that. (After I wrote this, a First Nations writer and artist I admire a lot, Jay Odjick, pointed out that Downie’s statement is really only a beginning and the next step is to listen to First Nations people about why things are bad for them and the solutions they need. I think it’s a great point and maybe having someone like Downie draw attention to things will put more people in a position where they’re willing to listen. I hope so. You can check out Jay’s comments starting here.)

I also thought it was great what an essentially optimistic conclusion Downie left about it. “You’re gonna figure it out.” Their songs have always showed a great love for their country, and I think Downie showed it again there, believing that this is a problem that will be solved. Now it’s up to us to prove him right, for all kinds of reasons. Among them now is that these artists who we chose to make into our voice expect it of us. I thought it was a very Canadian way of talking about this problem they care about. There was another nice moment later when Downie talked about the band’s beginnings and said, “Our idea was just that everyone’s invited.” If we ever want to change the motto on the Canadian coat of arms, we could do a lot worse than ‘Everyone’s Invited’. Now let’s make it true, every day.

Not long ago someone asked me which one of the characters from King in Darkness was ‘me’; that actually comes up reasonably often. (For some reason a lot of people assume I’m the grumpy professor) As always my answer is ‘none of them, and all of them’ because none of the characters are self-inserts, but every character I write has a piece of me in there somewhere. (Yes, even the bad ones) I doubt I’m unique in that, and watching Downie on the stage I can’t help but feel the same is true for him and his songs, the emotion and life that’s in the performance can’t mean anything else. He had a teleprompter on stage last night, apparently because one of the effects of his cancer is that his memory fails him sometimes. The idea of Gord Downie forgetting the wonderful words to his own songs is intensely sad. Fortunately he rarely seemed to glance at it last night. I’m very glad he got to do all the shows of this farewell tour more or less on his terms.

While there were a few moments where a little frailty peeked through – and honestly, the sight of his bandmates supporting him as he went down the steps off the stage was more touching than anything else – on the whole he gave a vibrant, powerful performance that went far beyond what I think anyone would have expected from someone dying of brain cancer. He stood up there and lived the idea of ‘rage, rage against the dying of the light’, and I admire the heck out of it. I imagine it helps him to do what he loves, but it was also a huge, courageous gift to his fans that I will always appreciate.

Downie always looks so very full of life when he performs, and full of the love of doing what he does. It seems impossible that he won’t be that way forever. He will be in our dreams, and I think all the Hip’s fans are profoundly grateful that he gave us one last glorious goodbye at a time when no-one would have blamed him, or them, for wanting to just worry about himself. I like to think it was good for Gord as well and I hope maybe they can draw some strength from all the emotion their farewell tour generated across the nation.

To reiterate a thought I tried to cram into 140 characters on Twitter: Downie’s talent for making words do cool, unexpected and memorable things is spectacular. In another age he would have been a poet who wrote for kings. His words would have been the ones furiously and meticulously copied with quill pens for audiences desperate to read and hear them. I’m so glad we got him in ours. Thanks for the words, Gord. I’ll treasure them.

All right that’s it – I got a little of what I was originally going to write about in there and hopefully there was some of it you enjoyed. If you want to kick some support towards the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer research, it’s a great cause and you can do so here.

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Limestone Genre Expo

I spent this past weekend at the Limestone Genre Expo in Kingston, and I thought I’d write a little about that today. Limestone is a very young convention for readers and writers of ‘genre fiction’ (which is one of those tricky terms I feel like I should write about sometime), in this case SF, fantasy, horror, mystery, and romance. By ‘very young’ I mean this was the second one, and to my somewhat untutored eye they’re doing very well indeed.

It was a really fun two days of excellent programming on writing and ideas I enjoy, as well as a chance to pick up some new reading material (which of course I did) and even engage in the dreaded Networking, at which I am awful but know I must persist at attempting. It’s a little concerning to be utterly useless at a skill (or set of skills) that we are constantly told is essential to our survival in modern society, but fortunately at conventions like Limestone everyone is fairly relaxed and many people are just as excited to meet you as you are to meet them. So I was glad to make some new connections and renew some previously-made ones.

I was also pleased at the opportunity to hone my conventioning (I just invented the heck out of that word) skills. What I mean by this is that when you watch certain people they know exactly how to be a good panelist – to contribute energy to a discussion without taking it over, and to talk about their ideas without talking excessively about themselves – or to be a good moderator, which seems to be mostly getting out of the way but knowing when to provide the occasional deft nudge to a conversation. (Unless you’re Derek Kunsken, in which case you rule with a mighty fist of iron) It’s subtly but significantly different from the world of academic conferences, and I’m still learning how to fill both roles as well as I might. It’s great that events like Limestone are there as proving grounds.

It was also great to see many people who are even younger in their craft as writers than I am getting inspiration and encouragement and advice in a welcoming environment. I hadn’t really thought about it much before Can*Con last year and now Limestone, but it is so wonderful to have events like these to help bring along fresh cohorts of writers. We will all benefit from their stories and I think smaller-scale events like Limestone are excellent places to start getting engaged with the wider literary world. I hope I may have been of some assistance to someone who is starting to find their way with their art.

I should also say that I also just relish the opportunity to participate in energetic, excited discussions about reading and writing with people who are just as into these things as I am. The cliche of writing as a very solitary, sometimes isolating pursuit is true, and it is good (for me, anyway) to get into a situation where I am surrounded by lots of other people who are excited about writing – both their own and other people’s – and to soak up (I guess) some reinforcement about the things that I am passionate about. There is a very battery-recharging effect from spending a day or several days immersed in a situation like this; despite some rather early mornings and a lot of driving I came away from Limestone vibrating with writerly energy. Now I need to take advantage of this…

So overall it was a really enjoyable weekend of superheros, monsters, readers, writers, and discussions of the merits of a Pokemon Go safari, and I’m very grateful to have been able to attend and for the opportunity to participate in the programming. I enjoyed meeting many new people and I thank everyone I spent time with for the energy top-up. Thank you in particular, of course, to Liz Strange and everyone who worked with her to make the Limestone Genre Expo a really superb weekend. I am already looking forward to the next one and looking forward to seeing this convention grow. Next year I think I won’t drive back and forth to Kingston from home like a maniac though.13692852_1313487415343258_7244713152967431233_o

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Bonhomme Sept-Heures

This week I have some exciting news: a few days ago, I received confirmation that Renaissance Press will publish Bonhomme Sept-Heures, the sequel to my first novel, The King in Darkness. I can tell you that having a second novel accepted for publication is just about as thrilling as the first time around. I imagine it’s inevitable, given the amount of time that goes into writing a manuscript, to put some emotional investment in there as well, and so the ‘yes’ to the piece of art is a ‘yes’ to a little piece of the soul as well. Given my own ever-present doubts about my own work, too, it’s wonderful to have a pat on the back from people who take books very seriously and have them tell me that they think mine is good.

Of course now there is a great deal of work to do to get ready to share the story with all of you; the next months will be filled with editing the manuscript so that it will show its best when it arrives in your hands. Having been through the process once, I now have a better idea of exactly how much labour there is to be done, and how much of a team effort it really is between the author and the editors. I think I may already have told the story here about how I didn’t expect there to be too much work to be done on King in Darkness after my own rewrites and feedback from the Eager Volunteers, and then I got thirty pages of notes from the first editor. It was a bit sobering, it was enlightening, and the book was very much better as a result.

At the same time, I am thinking of writing the Next Thing and hoping to regain momentum on my new project. I’d still like to have a first draft of it done by summer’s end, although somehow we are now already in June and I’m not sure it’s possible. I’ll have to see how it goes.

For now, thank you to everyone who has already read some or all of Bonhomme Sept-Heures and has helped me get it this far. Your ideas and your encouragement made it possible to make the story as good as it is and I am tremendously grateful. I’m also pre-emptively grateful to the editors at Renaissance who will be working with me over the next few months; I apologize in advance for the length of some of the sentences.

I don’t yet know when Bonhomme Sept-Heures will be released, although obviously I’ll keep you updated as the process goes on. I’m excited for you to read it, but I also want to make sure it’s worthy of your time when it gets to you. One final thanks today to everyone who read King in Darkness and told me that you wanted to read what happens next; the response to the first part of Adam Godwinson’s story was really encouraging and gratifying and I hope you’ll enjoy the next part just as much.

I look forward to putting the story in your hands and hearing what you think about it.

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This past weekend I was interviewed on the Sunday Morning Coffee podcast by my friend Scott Gardiner; although it is no longer Sunday morning, I’m pretty sure he’d still be all right with you giving it a listen. We talked about writing, my early experiences in publishing, and how goddamn old I am now. You can find the episode on iTunes or from the SMC website here.

Just like with your favourite authors, if you enjoy the podcast, it would be a great help if you left a review on iTunes.

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Running with my Grandfather

If (god help you) you are a long-time reader of this blog, you will know that one of the things I do in addition to writing is distance running. I started running for pure recreation (it being a kind of fitness activity that is incredibly easy to get started on) and over time this worked its way up to doing some organized races of various distances. I’m certainly nothing remarkable as a runner, but I enjoy challenging myself to do a little better and seeing if I can improve my own performances over time.

Spring here has been (and continues to be) very reluctant in really arriving properly, but it has (mostly) gotten warm enough that I’m back to running outdoors and getting ready for my first race of the season in a few weeks. I think I’ve mentioned before on here that I do a lot of thinking while running; I write things in my head and my brain wanders all sorts of places.

One of the things I think of most often is my grandfather.

My grandfather was way more of an athlete than I could ever hope to be; he did (and won) competitive bicycle races and canoe races and snowshoe races, as well as being a runner and speed walker himself. I remember when we would visit his farm in the summertime, sometimes on the drive in we would meet him on the road training. No gym or workout program for him, just hard miles on the road. I keep meaning to try using a bandana instead of a headband myself, sometime.

Sometimes on a difficult run I will think about my granddad and things from his athletic career and somehow whatever I’m doing doesn’t seem like such a big deal any more. Sometimes if I’m doing well that day I’ll also think about him and wonder if, somehow, a little bit of my performance has come down, through the slot machine of DNA, from him. I like to think Granddad might have been interested in some of the runs I’ve done.

He lived a very different kind of life than I have. He raised his family on a farm with no electricity and no running water, supporting them with his own hard labour. The last house he lived in, he built himself, from cutting the trees right through to the finishing touches. He went to war and came home. My grandfather was never wealthy, never had much in the way of luxuries or Stuff, but he lived a long, full, remarkable life surrounded by people who respected him (he held several local government offices) and cared about him.

I am constantly in danger of feeling hard-done-by in life and thinking that I’m not enough of a success and haven’t, I guess, racked up enough of a high score in life. My grandfather reminds me that basically none of it matters if you have what you need (and you need a lot less than you may think you do, and certainly less than you’ve been told you do) and that life probably doesn’t need to be as complicated as we are often determined to make it. I’m doing all right, and more than all right by most standards. I shouldn’t let other people’s standards and the loud, loud world take that from me. Granddad never did.

I keep thinking I should write a book about it all, except for one problem.

The thing I regret is that despite everything I’ve just written, I never knew my grandfather as well as I would like. When we visited, I remember him being very quiet. He would sit with us all (when not working), but usually silently, watching much more than he spoke. Every so often he would, quietly, share a story or a memory and then let the conversation slide away from him again. He had a broad smile that appeared infrequently.

I didn’t understand until much, much later that the thing was that Granddad was shy around people he didn’t know very well, and he certainly didn’t know me well, seeing me a couple times a summer. I’m not surprised, thinking about it now, that he wouldn’t have known how to relate to me, coming from a very different lifestyle than he had ever led, interested in all the weird things that have always interested me, and of course being shy and quiet myself, and so unlikely to reach out from the other direction. I hope that he was nevertheless happy to have us kick around the farm on our visits; certainly those visits will always be part of my treasured storehouse of memories and, I suspect, they continue to affect the kind of person I am today.

I do wish that we’d known each other better. I wish I had made a really good try to engage with him, once I was old enough to know what was going on, although perhaps that wouldn’t have worked out. Working out that Granddad had some of the same issues with people that I do made me feel a little closer to him, in the end, even if it maybe kept us from knowing each other real well in actuality.

I’m not sure where this particular entry is going except that I’m grateful to have known my grandfather as well as I did and to have had his example to draw on from time to time. I suppose I’ll always have some regrets about lost opportunities in the past, but I also have treasured memories that never fail to make me smile and glad I was there.

Thanks, Granddad. I’ll see you on the road.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve got for you this week. Thanks for reading.

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