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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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School Calendar Changes

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Island Rock Summer Camps

A rock camp will take place in Charlottetown this summer for musicians a....

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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

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PEIMHF Sites Open

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go!PEIpPrograms

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Water Safety Day Camps

Water Safety Day camps are held for children 5–13 yrs Island-wide. Thi....

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Summer Dance Camps

Dancers from 3-18 years are welcome to attend summer dance camps in down....

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at Macphail Woods

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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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“PEI Has Talent” Show

The “PEI Has Talent” show, to be held on July 25 at 7:30 pm marks th....

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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

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Brad Woodside to Speak at Rotary Luncheon

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Catherine Callbeck's Retirement

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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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Green Roof Workshop

Learn how to design and install a living Green Roof. The Legacy Garden t....

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Free Embroidery Workshops

Ode to a Tree: Free Embroidery Workshops in Honour of a Tree, a series o....

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Sustainable Water Footprint Workshop

With the recent debate and attention on the subject of irrigation for th....

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Ode to a Tree—FREE Embroidery Workshop

A significantly large tree was removed from Rochford Square park late la....

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Bedeque Area Historical Society AGM

The AGM of the Bedeque Area Historical Society will take place in the Be....

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Shedding the Shadows

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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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Free Stress Relief Class

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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 Thurs & Fri, July 18 to Aug 29
The Guild Off the Cuff ...

The Ballad of Stompin’ Tom

Cameron MacDuffee in the lead Tue to Sun, until Aug 30
Harbourfront Theatre Harbourfront Theatre Ar ...

1864: The Year We Celebrate

Exhibition curated by Boyde Beck looks at 1860s life on PEI until October
Eptek Art & Culture ...

We Are Canadian

Confed Centre Young Company Mon–Sat / Wed–Sat
Confed Amphitheatre / Celebration Zone A celebrat ...

Sunday Night Hoe Down

July 20 Peggy Clinton and Johnny Ross are teaming up to bring Sunday Night Hoe Down to the Souris S ...

Some of What's New

Meet Mark Fraser

Actor, director and artistic programmer Mark Fraser will be wearing three hats at the Victoria Play ...

Art Battle Waged

Charlottetown artists competed in a live painting event as part of Art Battle Day in May as more tha ...

RED: the Island Storybook

The latest issue of RED: the Island Storybook, #8, is now available. This current issue contains sto ...

Nudie Releases Stompin Tom Video

qNudie has released a video for a tribute song to Stompin’ Tom Connors. Written by Al Tuck, “Sto ...

Lost Dreams

A Colonel Gray High School student has won the PEI It’s Your Job young workers video contest for t ...