Last week I had to sit down and write the acknowledgements for The Birth House. It was a humbling and emotional experience. (I walked around for two days in a state of perpetual gratitute before I could even put pen to paper.)Then I made a list…the names of all the people who had helped, cheered, and nudged me along during the writing process. By the time I had strung them all together with proper thanks, I was in tears.

A friend, who has been contemplating his own list recently said,

I find myself wanting to thank my primary school teachers (including those no longer with us)… Is that weird?


While I’m not going to post the final draft of my acknowledgements here, I will mention one important part of my writing journey that’s been on my mind the past few days. (Mostly because I want people – the powers at the CBC included – to know about it.)

Not long after I had moved to Canada I attended a workshop on “writing for radio”. It was held in the Legion Hall in Wolfville, NS. Dick Miller, then a network producer for CBC radio, (now a documentary producer for The Current) had given up an entire Saturday to come to this small gathering (of mostly letter-to-the-editor writing seniors) to share his knowledge and his love of radio. I was hooked within the first five minutes.

I started out by submitting a piece for First Person Singular. Producer, Karen Levine was warm and enthusiastic during our phone conversation when she told me my piece had been accepted and I was thrilled when I found out that Dick would be the one to produce the piece in the studios in Halifax.

It was a wonderful experience and in our conversation afterwards we talked about possible stories I could pitch to other CBC shows. Over the next few years I would end up freelancing and colaborating with Dick and other CBC producers for OutFront, Maritime Magazine, and The Sunday Edition. (In fact, one of my radio documentaries, Kitchen Ghosts, helped me to start writing The Birth House.)

Every one of the CBC radio producers I have ever worked with was professional, friendly, and giving. (poor Myfanwy Davies had to nurse me through the late stages of pregnancy and a nasy bout of walking pneumonia during my piece on jazz and scat singing!)Every one of them was (and is) committed to giving Canadians a voice, to bringing out the heart of a story, to making a difference. I can honestly say that I gained confidence in myself and in my writing through working with them. They have done their jobs and more…they deserve more.

Other Canadian novelists have started out working with the CBC…Miriam Toews and Elizabeth Hay to name two. I’m in good company. I know who to thank.
My gratitute and respect goes to: Dick Miller, Karen Levine, Myfanwy Davies, Iris Yudai, Angela Misri, Carmen Klassen, Lawrence Stevenson, and Steve Wadhams to name a few…

(In the background I can hear the buzz of my husband’s razor mixed with the sound of the radio…Now we bring you Talking Books, from September 2004 – “Honey, could you turn it off?” buzzzzzzz…. “Honey, turn-it-off!”)

The first lock-out podcast is up at CBC Unplugged. Have a listen. Then write your MP and tell them what the CBC means to you.

Miss Chatelaine

Pear Tree Planchette

a woman’s place

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