It would have been a long shot for anyone at Newmarket District High School to predict that I would find my passion as a writer. English classes terrified me. Although I read extensively and enjoyed reading, I was completely unprepared for the keen observations that classmates had about protagonists, themes, metaphors etc. The course textbook covered grammar, not literary devices; the library, which I knew well, had no reference books to guide me. Had I been a confident girl I might have posed questions, but I was not and did not. Consequently I left class feeling stupid, inarticulate, and incapable of writing adequate book reports and essays. These early experiences may have been the motivation to pursue a career in the sciences.
It was not until my final year in the MScN program at the University of Toronto that I realized that I enjoyed writing. My thesis explored the factors underpinning “Hope” and their application to the nursing care of agitated cognitively impaired elders. It was a subject I found endlessly fascinating; my only struggle was to contain the number of pages.
After that, the act of writing happened easily: annual reports, abstracts, papers for conferences, submissions to journals, and letters to the editor. At a Canadian Nurses Association Conference in the early 90’s I was approached about writing a chapter for the first edition of Nursing Management in Canada. The writing experience was intense. It squeezed into the tiny spaces left between other roles as a new mother, a nursing director and wife. But I loved the writing and was disappointed when it was done. A few years later (and with the second babe in arms), I was asked to submit to the second edition. The die was cast.
Humber College’s distance writing program and the summer residency program buoyed my confidence and helped me to find my voice. It appears that my motivation for writing is embedded with the things that worry me: palliative care, elder care, learning disabilities, environmental threats, family health, disconnected communities, and so on. My husband and two sons worry that I may never stop writing; I hope I never need to!