Today, I set off to Denise’s class, called “Enjoying the Short Story,” with my baby in tow. Actually, I was interested in hearing their stories. I’d sent off the following e-mail:
I hope to see you all on March 25th, and not just because it’s worth 15% of your mark. I think it’s great that you’re taking a course about enjoying the short story. To quote from Dead Poets Society, “medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”
This is a copy of my story, “Indian Time,” which I am giving to you for free on the condition that you do something in return for the arts, for native culture, or for both. I don’t care what it is (writing a story, going to the Casino and looking at it with new eyes, whatever) as long as you do it and you come prepared to talk about it.
Matt, my husband, said, “Aw, they’re just going to go to the movies.”
I said, “I don’t care. That’s art, too.” But I thought they’d probably get more creative than that.
So today was D-day.
Right off the bat, and most importantly, several students offered to hold Anastasia. Annie not only held her first and got her to drink a little, but she had researched native recipes and stewed some strawberries as her creative act. Ten points!
Then I was absolutely blown away when Tesha said that she had designed and made a ribbon dress for Anastasia. She used to make a lot of dresses for her own daughter, who is soon having her first birthday. Happy birthday, little one (whose name means “bringer of the seeds,” if I remember correctly). Tesha reluctantly appeared on the video (yup, they taped it) to say that she wanted to make something for my daughter because I had accurately portrayed her culture in my story. I cannot think of a higher compliment. I kind of wanted to cry and hug her, but that would have embarrassed everyone.
At home, Anastasia performs her debut concert in her new dress:
One student wrote a short story. Another wrote a poem. I look forward to reading them.
Quinn is hosting a Dream catchers workshop and a box lacrosse workshop next Wednesday, starting at 12:30, at St. Lawrence College. I would really like to try both, but I’d need someone to hold Anastasia during the lacrosse.
Another student is writing a song that will incorporate some native themes, like hunting. I think he said it was death metal. Awesome.
In their honour, I have officially checked off a new category of writing goal: Someone else makes something beautiful, inspired by my work.
As part of my enlightenment, I have a new take on the title of the course. I realized that I hadn’t fully enjoyed my short story publications because they were “only” short stories, not novels. That was dumb.
Of course I want my novels out there. But the number of people reading and responding to this story–that’s as good as a reaction as I could ask for, no matter what the length is. The one who was telling me I wasn’t good enough, that I wouldn’t be a real writer until I got those novels published–that was me. And now I can laugh about it.
So for the writers out there, some of whom were in that class, please write. And please don’t stop or undervalue yourself. Just do it.
Thanks again to everyone, including Joel for asking lots of questions and Denise and Julie for inviting me. Sorry if I got anyone’s names wrong.