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2014 Visitors Guide available

PEI’s 2014 Visitors Guide is now available. To assist you in planning ....

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Island Rock Summer Camps

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Recycled Book Exhibition

Colonel Gray students have spent several weeks of the new semester takin....

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Sharing a Love of Nature

Sharing a Love of Nature is back at Macphail Woods. Children can join in....

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PEIMHF Sites Open

All seven PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation sites are open beginning in....

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Water Safety Day Camps

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Summer Dance Camps

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at Macphail Woods

May 31, June 15, 21, 23–27

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Crapaud Hall Wants Performers

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Longest Line of Coins

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Acoustic Performers Needed

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Island Gymnastics Camp

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Art in the Open Needs Volunteers

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Art in the Open Call for Perfomers

Celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Slaymaker and Nichols’ Olympic ....

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IMAF2014 Call for Submissions

IMAF2014—the little film festival of big dreams—invites PEI and Atla....

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Prince of Wales Reunion

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Macphail Woods Workshops

On July 19 a workshop on Pruning Trees and Shrubs will be held at the Na....

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Free Embroidery Workshops

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Ode to a Tree—Free Embroidery Workshop

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Shedding the Shadows

PEI Family Violence Prevention Services (PEI FVPS) has launched an open ....

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Groove School

Young singers, horn players and rhythm section players will find their g....

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1864 Arts Camp

An 1864 Arts Camp for youth Grades 7-12 will be offered at Crapaud Commu....

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2014 PEI Intergeneration Story Contest

What does respect mean to you? Islanders of all ages are invited to submit ....

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Opening of the Eileen Oulton Genealogy Centre

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Time Travel Thursdays

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Free Stress Relief Class

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Kale Workshop

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Canada's Favourinte Bar - Vote!

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Dance Star Academy Registration

Fall 2014 semester registration is now open. The academy offers dance cl....

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Best Neighbourhood Ever Reunion

The “Best Neighbourhood Ever Reunion Kids” will be holding a childho....

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Home | Articles | Words | Becoming a Writer
November 2011
Becoming a Writer
Susan Buchanan pursues a literary dream

In Her Own Write
by Ann Thurlow

Susan Buchanan Susan Buchanan Susan Buchanan has always wanted to be a writer. In fact, she has been one—a writer of curriculum and magazine articles. But, really, that wasn’t the kind of writing she wanted to do. So, as she neared her fiftieth birthday, she decided it was time to get serious—to begin to write fiction and poetry. And that decision ended up earning her three prizes in the 2011 PEI Literary Awards: second place and honourable mention in the poetry category and first place for her short story, The Lake.

Not that she just sat down and met with such success. She credits (as so many do) a creative writing class she took from Frank Ledwell for her first, early inspiration. More recently Buchanan began to approach the craft of writing in the way any craftsperson would. She found a mentor she admired in Dianne Morrow. She received a grant from the PEI Council of the Arts so that she and Dianne could work together. She joined writer’s groups, which was an impetus for her to produce some work every week. She took workshops, accepted criticism, devoted every morning to her work. She has carved out a writing space in a bedroom—a desk next to a propane heater for warmth and a window with a view of the garden for inspiration. She tries to work three hours every day.

Given that writing is a notoriously lonely occupation and that writers are famous procrastinators, I tell her I admire her determination. She laughs. “I have a short attention span and I have projects all over the house—my knitting, art projects (she also paints) so it’s easy to get distracted,” she admits.

As well, she is president of the local Women’s Institute, runs a bed and breakfast with her partner Jeanne, and has a daughter in university. Focus was a problem until one important event changed her life.

Her beloved brother-in-law died young and unexpectedly. He had struggled with mental illness—his death was a terrible shock. To make sense of the loss, and to cope, she began to write poetry. Some of those poems became her award winning submissions. They are sad, full of terrors. But through that, there’s a kind of optimism, too.

Like frail bones, branches snap
the axe fells
heavy logs cleaved, fill the hearth
Sweet snap of fire burns in the grate
like ancient heroes cremated and piled
in a silver urn.

Her prize winning short story, The Lake, is darker still—a meditation on a life spent pushing people away. It’s an interesting choice for someone who has gleaned so much and benefitted from the mentorship of others. She is currently taking two writing workshops and studying painting at Senior’s College. She dreams of combining both in a book for children. She also has her eye on larger prizes—perhaps an Atlantic Writers award. She has submitted something there already. And though she didn’t win, she was pleased to get some feedback. Because if there was a prize for listening, for working hard on a dream, Susan Buchanan would win, hands down.

Some of What's Going On

Ladies and GentlemAn

Holland College SOPA grads create comedy Thursdays & Fridays, until Aug 29
The Guild Off the Cu ...

V’nez veiller Dinner Theatre

Tues to Thurs
Centre Expo-Festival Le Centre Expo-Festival presents its annual dinner theatre “V� ...

Tyne Valley Rocks the Boat

Jimmy Rankin, Alan Doyle and Blue Rodeo are headliners Aug 2
Green Park If you’ve ever been to th ...

New Highland Storm

July & August
College of Piping Throughout July and August, an all new Highland Storm production ...

The Tall Hat Chronicles

The comedy of Confederation Wed & Sat, until Oct 4
The Guild This summer learn the truth behind ...

Some of What's New

Anne & Gilbert Proud of its Young Company

When the cast of Anne & Gilbert takes its curtain call there’s always plenty of applause for t ...

Brick Clay

Jemina Adams Brick Clay, written by Jemima Adams and published by Friesen Press, takes place in Pri ...

Stompin’ Tom Musician Joins the Cast

One of the musicians set to grace the stage for the Summerside Harbourfront Theatre 2014 production ...

PEI Screenwriters’ Bootcamp

Just recently, 23 writers from across the region spent 5 days at the Haviland Club in Charlottetown ...

The Old Stock

Scott Parsons Internationally known Island musician/songwriter Scott Parsons is launching his 4th a ...