The Writers Helping Writers slogan in action in our branch.
Some of us were there to watch the seed of Kit Flynn’s idea planted at one of our monthly CAA meetings.
The guest speaker, Laurie Fyffe, spoke about the art of playwriting and how it differs from other forms of writing. During discussions at the end of the meeting, Kit mentioned some plays she had received as an inheritance from an aunt. Her great-aunt Mary Flynn from Pembroke, Ontario had written the plays over her lifetime as a school teacher and well-loved community member. Before that CAA meeting, Kit had kept the plays as honoured gifts, but had not thought about writing about them.
Laurie Fyffe planted a seed.
More of us were there to see Kit’s idea sprout and shoot out a few tendrils at our CAA Summer Social in June. That evening Phil Jenkins sang songs and read excerpts from his books. Jenkins dislikes the term “creative non-fiction.” He prefers “poetic documentary” and he spoke about how the term gives him a feeling of creative freedom.
Kit carried Phil Jenkins’ insight home with her.
I was there when Kit’s idea blossomed at the Canadian Writers’ Summit in June. There she met our CAA National Chair, Margaret Anne Hume, who wrote Just Mary: The Life of Mary Evelyn Grannan. She and Kit talked about the art of writing about someone else’s life. By this time Kit knew she would write her great-aunt’s story.
Kit bought Margaret Anne Hume’s book to use as inspiration.
Back in Ottawa, Kit began to research her aunt’s life and reach out to people. An article in the Pembroke paper sparked an outpouring of response to her request for memories of Mary Flynn. The number of responses and the depth of emotion in the tellers of the stories let Kit knew for certain that she had to share the stories, and that she an audience for a book. Kit reached out to Margaret Hume by phone to seek more advice. In a long and generous call, Hume gave her more information from her about permission forms for interviewees and helped her flesh out some of the challenges or obstacles Mary Flynn might have faced during her time in history.
Kit’s idea is growing, blossoming and bearing fruit.
One small action led to a connection, and then another, and then another. “That’s writers helping writers in action right there,” Kit says. Variations of Kit’s story play out on our CAA Facebook page, at workshops, at meetings, during webinars and at the national conferences.
We share information, we spark ideas and we grow our writing together.
The Canadian Authors Association will be one hundred years old in 2021. For almost a century writers have been working together through this organization. In her report for 2017-18, national chair, Margaret Anne Hume, wrote: “While we face competition from other writing associations, we do have some special characteristics that set us apart. We are open to
aspiring writers and all genres of writing, and we have a national presence as well as a local one at our various branches and twigs. Our motto of Writers Helping Writers continues as our focus. We learn from each other both in the giving and receiving of help.” That’s what makes CAA special. May we all take advantage of all the opportunities the organization