March 30, 2015

A Writer's Journey by Susan Barclay

[This is a shorter reprise of the post I wrote for the June 2014 prompt, which must have been on a similar theme!]
My love of words and stories began early. My grandparents first took me to the library when I was three and introduced me to books and story times. From then on, you couldn't keep me away from libraries and books. I was at almost every library program offered, and devoured books voraciously.

Some of my first memories are of me sitting on our family's front porch and making up songs. I wrote quite a bit of bad poetry, but I'm still not sorry my mother kept it for me in binders that I can go back and re-read today. It makes me smile to see those budding efforts and to know how far I've come.

Not so great on paper (sample from grade 3)

In school, English and creative writing were my favourite subjects, and I excelled in them. My grade two teacher can still quote the closing line to a story I wrote for her class (okay, it must have been better than the grade 3 sample above). In upper elementary years I remember writing about subjects like Hernan Cortez for Social Studies and the colourful mandrill for Science. Later I fell in love with the pun and titled one junior high story Steph's Sweet, Swede Dreams (a play on 'sweet, sweet dreams' in case you don't get it). The plot was of a romantic nature and my protagonist in love with a Swede.

In high school I had an amazing English teacher, Mrs. Perle Michna. Her passion for literature heightened the flames of my own and I aspired to be like her so much that when it came time to choose my college affiliation at the University of Toronto, I chose Victoria, which I thought was her alma mater. Imagine my dismay when she told me her alma mater had been University College!

I enjoyed my years at U of T and Vic nonetheless. I had the good fortune to take a Shakespeare course with the illustrious Northrop Frye, although I confess I don't remember a single word he said (I do still have my notes!). I only remember feeling extremely self-conscious riding the elevator with him one day. Word had it that he had no patience for small talk. I don't know if that was true or not, but I certainly was too intimidated to initiate a more meaningful conversation.

After completing my undergraduate degree, I went on to get my Master of Library and Information Science. Had I known anything about a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, I suspect I’d have taken that instead, no matter how impractical. Writing was the job I always wanted. Ah well. I’m sure God had His plans, and my work in libraries has helped to pay the bills. The main thing is I’m writing now and my work is being published, not only here and on my personal blog, but in various anthologies.

So maybe that was more than you actually wanted to know, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!


For more of my writing, please visit


  1. How wonderful that you have those early writings!

  2. Susan,
    Thanks for sharing your story. I love reading how God draws people forward to their calling :)

  3. Susan, I enjoyed reading about your journey. I can totally relate to that sweet love of books from an early age.

    And, you even took a class with Northrop Frye--that's cool!


  4. I would have adored meeting Frye in the elevator (I almost went to UT, but picked my own English teacher's alma mater instead), but it's not likely I would have found words either. You might like this story about meeting someone else cool in an elevator: .

  5. Thanks for sharing the journey and love of books. Funny how it is still easy to get tongue tied, when we are intimidated with the elevator people.

  6. I love your journey! Thanks for sharing (and for sticking with it!)
    Pam Mytroen


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