National Mentoring Program [Fiction-YA]: The Nuances of YA

This novel was born out of my desire to write a story set in a young adult psychiatric ward that was filled with humour, with teachings, with love, forgiveness, acceptance, and mirrored the real experiences of people who are dear to me who spent time in them. This was also a chance for me to explore my own mental illness and what it was like growing up in the household that I did with the mental illness I have. This manuscript has been honed and rewritten countless times. I am ready to let it go into the world but it’s not quite ready to fly yet.

I am hoping the mentorship will allow me to gain some perspective on this project. I have been holding it so close to me for many years. I think that my mentor (Melanie Florence) is such a good match for me and I am super excited for her insight on what’s working and what can be refined. I am also excited for the end of this mentorship because I have faith that it will finally be ready.

I don’t think that I ascribe to any writing process. When I have time to write I do, even if it’s just in the notes section of my phone. When I don’t have time—or energy, I don’t write. I have started to give myself a break from the constant inner monologue of ‘you’re not writing and that means you’re horrible blah blah blah’. Now the work I do produce is better because I’m not doing it in a stress bubble of self-hatred.

It’s interesting to think of which author I would choose to write a book about my life as it has a myriad of answers. I guess it would depend on what kind of book I wanted it to be. If I wanted a slightly magical but real and kinda sad book I would say Heather O’Neil. If I wanted a full magical adventure Neil Gaimen. If I wanted something romantic and hazy Michael Ondatjee. If I wanted something dark and twisty I’d go with Chuck Palanhuick.  All would be super great books I’d love to read.

In my dreams, ten years from now I am in the third season of a TV show I created and writing. I’ve published my YA novel that I’m working on with my mentor in this program. My second poetry collection, and my second short story collection are both published after the success of my firsts. I am travelling more for pleasure and not only for work. I have started my publishing house for Indigenous youth and am still working with N’we Jinan the arts concentration program that I currently work with.

I would say the lowest point of my writing career so far would probably be what the lowest moments are currently, which is when I doubt that I should keep going. When I feel like I have absolutely no talent, that I am basically made up of rejection letters and no one will ever like my weirdo stories.

If I had the power to rule the world, a writer’s life would include a guaranteed yearly wage, enough so there wasn’t a constant worry and need to book as many contracts as you can to survive, and also with health benefits. And every writer would get a private soundproof studio to work uninterrupted. That would be pretty sweet. Imagine the books we’d get if people didn’t have to scramble to get enough money just to survive under the poverty line and actually had time to write!