July 17, 2003

Revisions complete.
Last night I packed up my revised manuscript to send it off to its first entrance into the outside world. (its first "once-over" from eyes who do not know me)
A big moment.

I also stuck a floppy disk into the computer and sent it whizzing through cyber space to my mother's email address. Although somewhat dissappointed that it wouldn't arrive physically at her door (all 3.5 pounds of it tied neatly with string), I was heartened by the fact that we are saving trees, time and money by indulging in this magical sort of technology.
A bigger moment.

This morning I sat up in bed and whispered the last words of a wonderful dream. (I had been constructing my next novel in my head as I slept.)
"It all turns out in the end."

After sharing a muffin with a sleepy-eyed toddler I discovered something else that had happened in the night. While I was preparing to make my entrance into the world of literature, Carol Shields was making her exit from this earth. I can only hope that the moment was as kind and graceful as her writing, as she was.

This past May I decided to write Ms. Shields a letter. My only hope was that it would reach her. As ill as she had been with breast cancer these past few years, I expected nothing in return. I was thrilled when a few days later a short note came, thanking me for my letter.
Here is the letter I wrote to her. Safe journey Ms. Shields.

May 26, 2003
Dear Ms. Shields,

Thank you. Thank you for sharing your words with the
rest of us. Thank you for spending countless hours
spinning, weaving, mending line after line of
language. Thank you.

I have thought about writing this letter on many
occasions, always second-guessing myself into putting
my thoughts aside for another day. Today they will
hopefully reach you and find you content and well
rested.

I suppose my message is a simple note of gratitude,
expressing my admiration for your courage in life and
words.

Four years ago I packed my belongings and moved from
Chicago to Nova Scotia. (For the love of a good
Canadian man and because I had finally found my true
‘home’.) Now with two small children and far too much
laundry, I challenge myself each day to find at least
a little time to write.

I was listening to CBC radio the other day and I heard
a recent interview at your home in Victoria. The
interviewer read a passage from your essay, "About
Writing". My husband, who was also listening,
commented that the excerpt shared the same sentiment
as a passage I had written a few days earlier, part of
a larger novel I have been working on for the past six
months. I’ll share it with you and then be on my way.

“I have the desire (and the right) to have something
that is uniquely my own, something beyond the whorls
of my fingertips. Poems on grocery receipts and café
napkins, the lazy canopy of a lullaby’s tune, the
hand-stitched map of the quilter’s square…through
instinct we gestate meaning, comfort, and life. We
create home.”

With affection,
Ami McKay