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ART CLASSES. Take an art class with Anne Gallant. Learn many painting te....

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Art In The Open Survey

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Arthritis Awareness Month

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A Course in Miracles

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Fibre Art Workshops

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Albert & Crown Needs New Owner

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Island A Cappella

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Acadian Genealogy

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Bibliothèque J-Henri-Blanchard

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Kindred Spirits Quilt Guild

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MacNaught History Centre and Archives

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Fall Art Classes at Confed Centre

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Cinderella Performers Needed

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Submit to Farm Centre Exhibit

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Bennett Fall Birding Classic

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Alberton Museum Genealogy

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Bluefield Christmas Craft Fair

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G'ma Circle of PEI—Charlottetown Meeting

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Call for Directors/Stage Managers

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The Island Nature Trust AGM

The Island Nature Trust’s Annual General Meeting will take place on Th....

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Friends of the Library Fall Book Sale

The Friends of the Library are having their Fall Book Sale September 26�....

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"Give the Gift of Life" Walk

On Sunday, September 28, the Kidney Foundation of Canada, Atlantic Branc....

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CLEF Buddy MacMaster School of Fiddling Bursary

Thanks to fundraising efforts, a bursary has been established to send a ....

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Hook with the Shady Ladies

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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

Billy Bragg Comes to Charlottetown

Sept 24
PEI Brewing Company The Grammy-nominated Billy Bragg brings his mix of pop and politics to C ...

Acadian Harvest Festival

until Oct 2
Rustico The Acadian Harvest Festival takes place September 3 to 30 in Rustico. An exhibi ...

Shellfish Fest #19

Michael Smith will host Sept 18–21
Charlottetown Events Grounds The 19th annual Prince Edward Isl ...

Farm Centre Feasts

Sept 27 The PEI Farm Centre enters the Fall Flavours Festival for the first time with two Culinary ...

experiMENTAL

Sept 27
Springhead Studios As part of its 2014 Island Media Arts Festival, the Island Media Arts Co- ...

Some of What's New

PEI Singer Wins Maritime Idol

The Season 8 Grand Finale of Maritime Idol 2014 was held in Shediac, NB in July. 22 contestants (fro ...

Royal gift

Anne Gallant’s print of Kensington presented to Prince William A framed print of a section of Ann ...

UPEI Alumni Awards

The UPEI community honoured three graduates recently with the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award and th ...

A Song for Josh Wins Best Design

Cover design for Susan Rodgers book wins RONE Award The InD’tale Magazine sponsored RONE Award (R ...

Art in the Open Spinoff opportunity

The fourth annual Art in the Open Festival was recently held in Charlottetown, transforming the down ...