I Read Canadian

I Read Canadian Day, which is coming up on February 17th, is a day to celebrate Canadian books, to acknowledge the writers and illustrators who create them, the publishers who get behind them, and the independent bookstores where you can buy them. The I Read Canadian initiative takes place this Wednesday in homes, schools, libraries and bookstores across the country. All Canadians are encouraged to read a children’s book by a Canadian author or illustrator for even 15 minutes.  

The initiative began two years ago as a collaboration between the Canadian Children’s Book Centre; children’s author Eric Walters; CANSCAIP (the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers) and the Ontario Library Association.

The goal is to raise awareness of all Canadian books and to celebrate the richness, diversity and breadth of Canadian literature. And this year, as we seek to connect while remaining physically distanced, the goal seems to resonate even more deeply.

If you’re a teacher, librarian, home schooler or simply a lover of books, you can register to participate at the official website here: https://ireadcanadian.com/day/   And at noon EST February 17th, a series of videos called I Write Canadian will premiere on the CCBC’s YouTube channel, Bibliovideo. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoRQbrmtvSYMRm1emqkhP8Q?sub_confirmation=1

Set aside a few minutes to check out the presentations. And remember to read Canadian for even a few minutes on February 17th!

National Library Month

Here in Canada, October is National Library Month. It’s a great time to celebrate libraries and especially librarians. I’ve written before about the pivotal role librarians have played in my life. It was a librarian who encouraged me to learn to write so I could get that first (and all-important) library card (I had to be able to sign my name). It was a librarian who encouraged me to learn to read. And there have been many librarians over the years who have played a key role in helping me source research information for my books.

Because of Covid, visits to my local library these days are limited to picking up reserved titles at the door and dropping them through the slot when I’m finished. One of these days I’m sure (at least I hope!) we’ll able to go inside and browse the collections. But for now, this will have to do.

Libraries and their staff do a tremendous job serving all Canadians, whether we live in big cities or small communities. Does the picture below look familiar?

How many of you ever used a bookmobile? I did as a young child when I lived in Deep Cove, just east of North Vancouver. We weren’t exactly remote but back then, Deep Cove wasn’t as built up as it is today. We had a portable library for a while, and then a bookmobile when the portable was being switched to a more permanent building. At the time I didn’t think much of it, but today I realize the significance and importance of uninterrupted library service.

Here’s a shout out to all the librarians out there who are working hard during these unprecedented times to ensure we still have access to library books.

It Takes Time

I’m not particularly patient, nor am I especially self-indulgent. If I have a job to do, I like to get on with it quickly and efficiently.

Years as a journalist taught me the importance of meeting deadlines, getting words down, not making excuses. So, when I turned to novel writing, I brought that same attitude with me: Put your butt in the chair and get to work. I’m not the fastest writer in the library but I’m not the slowest one either. I’m a ‘steady as she goes, right down the middle’ kind of writer. It works; the words add up.

Or at least they used to. Lately, though, my writing has taken something of a backseat because I’m preoccupied with trying to help my sick father who lives across the country. I wrote about it last month: https://lauralangston.com/workarounds/

I struggled with the workarounds, though I did try. By the end of March, however, I realized that my writing output had slipped to an alarmingly low level. Barring the months postpartum with my kids, it’s the lowest it’s ever been. Acknowledging that sent me into a real funk. This isn’t how I work; this isn’t who I am.

A few days later, this blog post popped up on Live, Write, Thrive: https://www.livewritethrive.com/2019/04/01/when-slow-writing-leads-to-great-writing/

I don’t like feeling unproductive. A day or two is one thing but not for weeks at a stretch. The idea of slowing down and taking my time (or some days not having the time) feels incredibly frustrating as the Live Write Thrive post acknowledges.

I talked to a non-writer friend. She’s a geriatric and hospice nurse; her whole mindset is about people. She knows the circumstances of my situation and she also knows I have an intensely disruptive few months coming up. I’ll be flying back east at least once, maybe multiple times. She couldn’t fathom that I was even trying to write at a time like this. “You need to give yourself permission to stop,” she said. “Just stop and deal with the issues at hand.”

I’m not sure I want to stop writing for the next couple of months but I do need to give myself permission to go slowly. And I need to find the joy in it too.

Going slowly isn’t all bad. For instance, I love to cycle. It’s not the fastest mode of transportation, yet it’s a wonderful way to connect more intimately with your surroundings. Slow food also has its merits. My grandmother used to cook short ribs. They take forever (or it felt like they did) but that slow time is necessary to break down the connective tissue in the meat so they’re fall-apart tender and delicious. A good Bordeaux takes at least ten years to mature. A beautiful Bonsai can take five years to look like anything.

It may take me more time than I’d like to get my current novel written. But as long as I’m moving forward, I will get there. One word at a time.

Library Love Affair

publiclendingrightAnyone who reads my blog on a regular basis probably knows how much I love libraries. When I was a child, I learned to read and write because I wanted a library card. Back then, going to the library and wandering the stacks of books was one of my favorite things to do. When I became a writer, libraries (and the invaluable librarians who work there) took on added importance. As well as being a place of escape, I began to rely on the library for much of my research. I still do to some extent today.

Libraries nourished me as a child. They informed me as an adult. As a writer, they contribute to my income.

The end of February is when PLR (Public Lending Right) cheques are issued to authors. This year, more than 17,000 Canadian authors will receive money as compensation for free public access to our books through Canada’s public libraries. I’m always grateful when that cheque hits the mailbox. I’m also grateful for what it represents – our incredible library system and the acknowledgement of the role Canadian authors play in contributing to it. Thanks is also due to the Canada Council for the Arts which spearheads this important program.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the PLR. And for the first time since the program began, electronic books may be registered. If you’re an author and you’d like more information, go here: http://plr-dpp.ca/PLR/

And if you’re a reader but you haven’t visited the library in a while, I hope you check out your local branch soon!