August 22, 2005


Last week I had to sit down and write the acknowledgements for The Birth House. It was a humbling and emotional experience. (I walked around for two days in a state of perpetual gratitute before I could even put pen to paper.)Then I made a list...the names of all the people who had helped, cheered, and nudged me along during the writing process. By the time I had strung them all together with proper thanks, I was in tears.

A friend, who has been contemplating his own list recently said,
I find myself wanting to thank my primary school teachers (including those no longer with us)... Is that weird?


While I'm not going to post the final draft of my acknowledgements here, I will mention one important part of my writing journey that's been on my mind the past few days. (Mostly because I want people - the powers at the CBC included - to know about it.)

Not long after I had moved to Canada I attended a workshop on "writing for radio". It was held in the Legion Hall in Wolfville, NS. Dick Miller, then a network producer for CBC radio, (now a documentary producer for The Current) had given up an entire Saturday to come to this small gathering (of mostly letter-to-the-editor writing seniors) to share his knowledge and his love of radio. I was hooked within the first five minutes.

I started out by submitting a piece for First Person Singular. Producer, Karen Levine was warm and enthusiastic during our phone conversation when she told me my piece had been accepted and I was thrilled when I found out that Dick would be the one to produce the piece in the studios in Halifax.

It was a wonderful experience and in our conversation afterwards we talked about possible stories I could pitch to other CBC shows. Over the next few years I would end up freelancing and colaborating with Dick and other CBC producers for OutFront, Maritime Magazine, and The Sunday Edition. (In fact, one of my radio documentaries, Kitchen Ghosts, helped me to start writing The Birth House.)

Every one of the CBC radio producers I have ever worked with was professional, friendly, and giving. (poor Myfanwy Davies had to nurse me through the late stages of pregnancy and a nasy bout of walking pneumonia during my piece on jazz and scat singing!)Every one of them was (and is) committed to giving Canadians a voice, to bringing out the heart of a story, to making a difference. I can honestly say that I gained confidence in myself and in my writing through working with them. They have done their jobs and more...they deserve more.

Other Canadian novelists have started out working with the CBC...Miriam Toews and Elizabeth Hay to name two. I'm in good company. I know who to thank.
My gratitute and respect goes to: Dick Miller, Karen Levine, Myfanwy Davies, Iris Yudai, Angela Misri, Carmen Klassen, Lawrence Stevenson, and Steve Wadhams to name a few...

(In the background I can hear the buzz of my husband's razor mixed with the sound of the radio...Now we bring you Talking Books, from September 2004 - "Honey, could you turn it off?" buzzzzzzz.... "Honey, turn-it-off!")

The first lock-out podcast is up at CBC Unplugged. Have a listen. Then write your MP and tell them what the CBC means to you.

August 21, 2005

lock-out links

I'm posting a few links to go along with my recent post, "what a waste!"

All around good-guy, tech expert and podcaster, Tod Maffin has all kinds of nifty lock-out information, including a list of blogs by locked out CBC workers.
Tod Maffin's blog
i love

One of the most popular links from Tod's is a blog written by a 'supposed' manager calling him/herself "Ouimet", working (and blogging) from behind the lines.
Tea Makers

And...I can joyfully give you the link to CBC Unplugged, a group of locked out producers and workers who are coming together to have a 'say' via pirate radio, blogs, podcasts and more!
CBC Unplugged

what a waste!

Here I was, happily cruising through the summer months, listening to lots and lots of CBC radio (have you heard "Wire Tap" by Jonathan Goldstein? a wonderfully quirky listening experience that I highly recommend)and WHAM-O, (not like the frizbee making company of the 1970's, but more like the "holy-flying monkees, Batman" kind of Wham-o!) the CBC lock-out shut me out as well.

I'm with the CMG (Canadian Media Guild) on this one. The CBC isn't playing fair. Over the last few years the CBC has made it increasingly difficult for new talent to find reasons to stick around...they've been stringing people along in temporary positions with promises of permanent positions and some-day benefits. These people want to stick it out, they want to be part of the CBC's entrance into the techno-savvy 21st century, but they also want to have families, maternity leaves, job security and a future.
For the latest on the negotiations, (and a link to tell your MP how you feel about the lock-out) check out the CMG's web page:
CMG Lock-Out Update

As someone who has done her fair share of freelance work for CBC radio, I owe the CMG a big smooch and 'thank-you'. Because the CMG has negotiated the terms and conditions for freelancers in the past, I've always gotten a fair wage for my work. (And they are going to bat for freelancers yet again in these current negotiations by putting issues such as "ownership of intellectual property and compensation for re-use" on the table.)

For the love of _od, let's hope the CBC gets it right soon...Evan Solomon really needs a shave.

This week's CBC scedule in the Globe and Mail looked something like this:
8:00 am Two-bit weather reports from across Canada
8:01 am Crap
9:01 am Stuff I heard last month
10:01 am More Crap
11:01 am Stuff I heard last year
noon Crappy music
1:01 pm Stay tuned for more crap (you get the idea)

Speaking of crap...

Ian Brown, columnist for the Globe and Mail (and host of CBC radio's Talking Books)
has waxed knowledgeable (and even profound) on such topics as summer holidays by the sea and the enduring charm of the bowtie. A couple of weeks ago he lent his pen to the rarely chartered waters (or lack thereof) of the cottage country potty.

1. The Outhouse
2. The Beds/Holding Tanks
3. The Incinerating Toilet (a.k.a. the Incinolet) and last but not least

4. The Composting Toilet
The hot technology, beloved of islanders, literary types and the ecologically concerned.

My writing studio, my dear little perch, is in the loft of a gable roofed barn we built on our property a couple of years ago. It was during my first winter of 'commuting' to the barn that I realized how far a hike it was to trudge through the snow back to the house whenever I felt 'the need'. The solution....a composting toilet, of course. It is an elegant (and odourless - I swear) alternative to the water/electric hungry thrones most people have in their homes.
Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and hubby/writer John Ralston Saul have one at their cottage. Margaret Atwood has one as well.

Perched high on a composting toilet, you feel like you're doing your business on a homecoming float riding down Main Street.But you feel so righteous, you deserve to be in a parade anyway. - Ian Brown

I feel giddy, and little smug.
Take that, Suzie Sweetheart - you 1986 lip-glossed hussy of a highschool homecoming queen!