When I was a little kid growing up in the 70’s I used to have an obsession with stationery stores.
Even before I could write a proper sentence I remember begging to spend any birthday money received from relatives not on toys, but on all kinds of ruled notebooks, colorful folders, and smooth writing, medium tip, ball point pens. I recall returning home from many a summer shopping trip with my grandparents, pulling out the dusty old Singer sewing machine from its corner of exile in the kitchen, and setting up a small ersatz desk with all of my purchases laid out carefully in front of me, ready to “work”.
The adults in my family, although used to my eccentricities (ok, I will say it, I was a little weird) were initially confused, they eventually came to the conclusion that I was playing “office”, or perhaps even “store”. The latter theory was added when I reached the age of 7 or 8, and started getting really ambitious. It was at that time that I began taking the large stack of Canadian Tire money that my grandpa always kept on a special shelf by the kitchen sink, carefully counting it, and then adding it to the top drawer of my sewing machine/desk before I began my day’s “work”.
As a creative only child I was quite used to having my intentions misunderstood by the grown-ups, so I decided early on not to waste my time with correcting their misinterpretation…and truth be told, I really dug having control over my own little secret.
You see, despite what the adults thought, I did not love visiting those stores because they sold office supplies that would allow me to practice becoming the best secretary that the world had ever seen. I loved those stores because they were filled with the tools I needed in order to WRITE! The smell of crisp, bleached paper and thick, black ink made me swoon as only a little kid can because I knew that with these things I could create my own stories, just like the ones that I read in any of the books that I could get my hands on.
Even at a very young age I knew that with these simple tools came the power to create worlds for myself that existed far beyond my small, sometimes frightening reality, and as a scared, lonely and bullied little kid the stories and plays that I wrote in those piles of notebooks were worth more to me than any of the dozens of Barbie dolls and tea sets that I ever owned.
Fast forward 30 years and I now find myself in a very different place. First of all, against all odds, I am very, very happy. Secondly, as I once again find myself setting up a makeshift desk in a small, dusty corner in preparation to write, the stories that I wish to tell now are not the tales of fantasy which I used to escape into as a child, but instead they are the real stories from my not-so-everyday life…because if growing up has taught me anything, it is that the truth can be stranger, and sometimes much more awesome, than fiction.
Oh, but wait…what was I using the Canadian Tire money for, you ask?
Well, once again I was a child of the 70’s, and while I did spend a lot of time reading I also had a second love, and that was the television. TV taught me many things over the years, but primarily I learned that if I ever wanted to have a glass of Chardonnay with Jack and Chrissy down at The Regal Beagle a modern woman was going to have to pay her own way…so my writing gig had to pay me something, didn’t it?
Uhmmmm, now that I am “back in business” do you think that the YBC accepts Canadian Tire money?