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How I Found Out You Didn't Have To Be Dead to Write a Book

by Jean Freeman, almost 3 years ago

Born and raised in a relatively small Saskatchewan community, starting out in the Dirty Thirties and growing up "using up, wearing out and making do", I learned about the magic of the local library early on! My mother was a staunch advocate, since the books were FREE, and my supply was almost unlimited.

I parlayed my reputation as a book-lover into snagging an almost-job with our elderly librarian, Mrs. Griffin. Because I was pretty much always in the library after school and on Saturdays, she let me re-shelve books for her, and tidy up the daily papers and such. Which also gave me free rein to read whatever I thought looked interesting. That list leaned rather heavily toward titles I'd seen on book lists or in learned manuals -- things like "Moby Dick", "War & Peace", anything big and solid looking.

I was also able, of course, to read all the catalogs and promotional material that arrived regularly (along with the National Geographics and their naked pictures) which led me one day to recommend to Mrs. Griffin a book that I thought our library should have. She read the blurb, agreed with my 10-year-old assessment of the tome's potential, and went before town council for permission to purchase "The Stork Didn't Bring You!" Our first (and perhaps only) foray into sex education.

The book had to go on the "locked" shelf, of course. But since I knew where the key was, I got to read it. It wasn't a literary masterpiece, but I figured it was really quite important in its own way, anyway, even if not in "Moby Dick's" league!

It was soon after that when my appreciation and understanding of books and the literary world got a sincere jolt. My best friend came to school with a new book that she wanted us to read. She said her uncle Bill had written it.

I was dumbfounded! All the books I had ever read at the library were by dead people! I knew her uncle Bill wasn't dead. I had sat on his knee!! Marilyn and I sat on the school steps and started reading, while my mind was in a turmoil. A real person had actually written a book that I was reading! About Saskatchewan! You didn't have to be dead to do that!!

Obviously a seed was planted at that time. It took root and sprouted over the past eight decades, and turned me from a fixation on words to being a worshipper of the minds and creations of Canadian (and especially Saskatchewan) writers. I write myself, always have and always will. And I bless and praise the small-town book stores and librarians for what they continue to do.

Did I mention that Uncle Bill's other name was Mitchell?? W.O. Mitchell of course. And the seminal book was "Who Has Seen The Wind?"

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