A Writing Story

(No this is not Tuesday. It’s Friday night. But next Tuesday I will be doing research..)

Recently I had a chance to go back to the country – not to visit friends or restaurants, or to enjoy the country breezes – although we often do that. This time I went back to give a talk about my writing. I was invited by a writers’ group that I had helped organize back in about 2007. While it’s still on my mind, I want to share some of the highlights of my writing “career” with you, dear readers. This is not the stuff of best-selling autobiographies, but it has some funny parts.

I started writing as a young girl in grade 8, when my teacher asked me to be the editor of the class yearbook. Of course I saved that yearbook; printed on an old duplicating machine which gave off those heavenly alcoholic fumes; now faded and tattered. The contents are very amateurish, full of errors and omissions. But that experience gave me the love of the printed word. I didn’t stop to think that writing is not a lucrative career – which is a good thing!

Grade 8 yerbook

The next step in my writing career began in university where I started a quarterly newsletter on my floor in residence. My last name was Allcock at the time so I called the newsletter Allcock and Bull. It was full of gossip and stories about life in residence, and it was copied using carbon paper, 2 pages at a time. After graduating, I abandoned writing for a while, but when my kids were born and we lived in a family neighbourhood, I began writing a similar kind of column for our quarterly newsletter, the Henry Farmer. I did that for 15 years and got a lot of positive feedback. But no salary.

As an educator I wrote a few articles for professional journals and got paid about $150 per article which works out to around 1 1/2 cents a word. I also answered requests in the Toronto Star for material such as “Describe your experience moving from a house to a condo.” I especially remember that one because a photographer came to my condo to take a photo. He asked if my cat could be in the picture with me; apparently the cat was much cuter. But I got $100 anyway.

When I moved to the country to live with Peter, I became an editor of a local arts magazine, King MOSAiC. It was great fun. I wrote a few articles and enjoyed interviewing the various neighbourhood celebrities. But this role wasn’t lucrative at all. In fact one time I interviewed the owner of a popular restaurant whose specialty was butter tarts. As we talked, I could see the yummy butter tarts in the display case nearby. I guess the owner didn’t notice me salivating all over my notes, because the interview ended with only a handshake.

In 2018 Peter and I moved back to the city and I searched around for another opportunity to get my words on a page somewhere. And that’s when I came up with a 21st. century idea – a blog! I still love writing Seventy In The City, which is now 3 years old, and I know you enjoy your Tuesday morning fix because I get a lot of positive comments. But again, no $$$.

On my days off, Wednesday to Monday, I have been doing some other writing. My husband Peter, aka Pietro, loves to tell stories. And, after 15 years together, I know them all by heart. Peter’s life has been propelled forward by education, and a lot of the stories have a school focus. One day I thought: a compilation of these stories could actually become a book, with a theme. And so Pietro Goes To School was born.

Then I had another thought: maybe I could Sell this book. Maybe I could even make some money! Maybe I could become a best-selling author!! OK so maybe I was getting ahead of myself…

Anyway, after many rejection letters from publishers, I had the book published by a Toronto Public Library service and began to distribute it. And I think I may have found a buyer! A school is considering using my little book as resource material for adult students. This would be the best: a tribute to Pietro and his commitment to education and, after all these years, a little remuneration for me.


PS This piece is not meant to solicit funds from loyal readers. Honest!

6 thoughts on “A Writing Story

  1. And here I was about to send you a donation. I enjoyed reading your history as a writer and now that you’re a published author we await your next book.


  2. Hi Sue. I enjoyed reading your sojourn as a writer sans$$. I think it is terrific that you will be getting some recognition for “ Peters book”. As you know, I have read it and loved it. Congrats


  3. Che bello, Sue! Posso avere una copia del tuo libro quando vieni in Italia? Mi piacerebbe leggere le avventure di Pietro! Baci baci


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