Christine Barbetta is enjoying some long dreamed-of success with her writing. Yesterday her poignant short memoir “My Cemetery Misdemeanour” appeared on the Globe and Mail‘s Facts & Arguments page. (The photo above will make sense when you read her story.) This follows on the heels of another of her short memoirs, “An Act of Grace,” being named a finalist in the Writers’ Union of Canada Short Prose Competition for Developing Writers. And just days ago she was thrilled to learn that she’s been awarded a writer’s grant from the Writers’ Community of Durham Region. I asked Christine to share some background on her writing and reflect on this bounty of encouraging developments:
“With some astonishment, I received my first formal rejection letter at age eight, a gentle note penned by the editor of Reader’s Digest. He noted my careful penmanship and admirable efforts but regretted they could not accommodate the story about our family rabbit I had dedicated to my father for the June issue. I gave my father the rejection note along with the story for Father’s Day and told him I hoped to improve and one day to be a published writer.
A lifetime later I continue to work on that goal, sidetracked—with no regrets—by 30-year career working and primarily teaching adult and newborn intensive-care nursing in Toronto, and raising my four children. The stories experienced and witnessed with the patients and families I have been privileged to care for have found their way into my continued professional and creative writing.
I didn’t realize how long it would take me to start realizing the dream I had as an eight-year-old, but eventually I knew, with my children mostly independent, that I needed to begin to learn more about the craft of writing. I was so fortunate to discover and take Allyson’s online memoir writing course, Memories into Story, offered through U of T. With that foundation course completed, I signed up to continue to work with Allyson one-on-one in U of T’s online mentoring program. The essay that was published on the Globe‘s Facts & Argument’s page is one of several stories I worked on with her. Another story I submitted for Allyson’s feedback made the finalists’ list in the Writers’ Union of Canada competition. The individual support and feedback had been invaluable and brought my writing to a new level. This month, being awarded a writing grant from the Writers’ Community of Durham Region will allow me to continue to develop my writing skills.
So many stories, so little time! I’m now working with increased enthusiasm on a memoir of linked stories about my experiences in intensive-care nursing as well as a memoir of my sister’s journey through two double-lung transplants.”
CHRISTINE BARBETTA grew up in Toronto, but has lived for many years in Newmarket, Ontario, close to the York Regional Forests and horseback riding, during which her best writing contemplation is done.