I have been telling stories and writing fiction for pretty much my whole life. I wrote my first book, Killing Time, in grade eight —I imagine my mom still has it, somewhere. It was about two boys that built a time machine out of an old dishwasher. They traveled into the future. I recall there being creatures that had the bodies of men with the heads of wolves — perhaps they were the CEOs of corporations, or something to do with government, I don’t recall. I remember describing the fighter ships, which the boys got to fly, as looking similar to the ones on the original Battlestar Galactica. I lost marks for using a pop culture reference. There’s a double irony in that, considering I use pop culture references in Chill and that Chill is about a teacher that knew not of what he spoke.
I stopped trying to be a writer (but never stopped writing—it was a compulsion) when I went to high school and was told, flat out, that I could never be one. The reason was, that I was (and still am) a poor speller. But as Andrew Johnson (the 17th President of the United States) said, “It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.”
Negative statements are often said with greater conviction than positive ones, and since the person was a guidance counselor I reckoned, at 14, that she knew what she was talking about. Why would an adult discourage a kid from becoming something he/she had a true desire to be without a very good reason? Why would anyone do that to anyone? It was solid logic at the time, especially after growing up in a community where we could do pretty much anything. I think I was ten the first time I drove my Dad's blue Ford pick-up truck. My driving instructions were my Dad saying,
“You know the difference between the brake and the gas, don’t you?”
“Yeah,” I said.
“Well then, just put it in D and go.”
I ran into the rusty red Holland hay baler, which was pretty much the only thing in the field that I could run into. That, the square bales (stacked to look like little tepees) and the old grey Ford tractor; or maybe it was the red McCormick with the front-end loader, I don't recall. Regardless, there was no harm done and Dad let me drive the truck around the field later — after the baler was put away.
Always being drawn to creative endeavours I later thought of becoming a photographer and was told, by the same counselor, that my skills at drawing weren’t good enough. I still haven’t been able to figure out the link there, but at the time I reckoned she knew something I didn’t. When my marriage broke down, I went to see a counselor then, too. And, though I know I shouldn't generalize, it would seem that while I've changed in the last 23 years, counselors haven't. I ended up going to see a priest, even though, at the time, I wasn't a Catholic, or even overly religious (at least I didn't think I was) . . . but that's another story. The priest encouraged me to follow my own conscience and not let others unduly influence me. Which reminded me of Chill.
When I was offered the chance to write a book for Orca Soundings I asked myself, if I could go back, what would I tell a younger me? Chill was what came out of that.
I wanted to encourage students that maybe didn’t have a lot of encouragement coming from elsewhere. To show that words, most certainly, can hurt you. Not to let anyone take your dreams from you, to not forget about your friends when you pursue those dreams and that there's a lot of hard work involved in fulfilling them. And that opinion is just that, an opinion; no matter who says it or with how much conviction it's said; as the saying goes, it ain't gospel.
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life." -
" . . . truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you." - Matthew 17:20
"Do they not travel through the land, so that their hearts (and minds) may thus use reason and their ears may thus learn to hear? Truly it is not their eyes that are blind, but their hearts which are in their breasts." - Qur'an [22:46]
“The tongue like a sharp knife... Kills without drawing blood.” - Buddha
Follow your deepest heart, use your reason, and don’t let anyone break your spirit.
There is, after all, a vast difference between critical thinking and just being an idiot.
These are things I need constant reminders of myself.