During one glorious year before university, I finished 119 books in a single year. Which, having quickly done the math on a calculator, is a book done every 3.06 days.
Then university started. And it beat the life out of my reading. Suddenly, and over the course of the next five years, I was extremely lucky to even read 40ish books: including all of the desperately counted texts like “Introduction to Contemporary Linguistic Analysis” and the “MLA Handbook.”
When school ended in May, I was honestly so burnt out. I was scared for a long time that school had beaten the love of reading out of me. That it was a mistake to have taken a degree in a subject that I loved because it had turned it into work. I hardly read, and if I did read, it was out of a sense of obligation to my identity as a Lit Nerd that I would resentfully pick up a book and read as little as possible before setting it back down.
Thankfully, my ambivalence to reading has been steadily fading. I have been fortunate already this year to have read a number of fantastic books. And I was so very very very excited to look at my Goodreads Reading Challenge today and see that I have officially read nine books in January alone. I’m doing a little dance, which makes me very happy I live alone, because I’m a terrible dancer.
Mostly, I’m just excited that January has been the month of SO MANY books because nine in a month is more than I would have gotten read in an entire semester while I was in school full time.
I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed by a student at the University of Alberta, the wonderful Colleen Penton, about my writing as a member of the Alberta Writer’s Guild.
Please take a look a the link here. Below is one of my favourite parts of the interview.
C: How did you get into writing? What made you decide to pursue a degree in writing?
B: I have had a love of reading for my whole life and read voraciously before ever considering writing. My degree is in English Lit and I did not initially intend on going as deeply into writing as I did. I went into the degree with teaching in mind and found that the writing classes were becoming the highlight of my degree. I started writing stories probably around the 8th grade and have gotten significantly more invested in writing in the last three years of my degree in terms of both poetry and fiction.
I’ve always loved talking about my writing and Colleen was extraordinarily kind to interview me with regards to my work. I am thrilled to be able to share the interview, which is part of a series of interviews with members of the Writer’s Guild of Alberta to show the huge variety and diversity of writers in the province. To wrap up the interview, Colleen says:
Breanna brings a different perspective to her writing because she spent so much time as a student working in a more emotionally vulnerable situation that most do during their studies. Working with the residents she did gives her an edge to her work that you won’t find elsewhere. Reading her short poetry was enjoyable for me because you feel very connected to the writer because she has this ability to form a connection through her work, which will bring readers back for more.
“You look like you’ve been living in a stables,” Adeline said, wrinkling her nose at Acacia’s never brushed hair and dress that would have been lovely had it not been shredded from climbing the ship’s rigging.
“And you look as though you’ve been vomiting for a week,” Acacia said, grinning broadly. “What ladies we’re growing up to be.”
When I was brainstorming ideas for my honours thesis, my initial plan was to create a discussion around the representation of young girls in middle-grade literature. Although I ended up going another way with my thesis, the idea stuck with me. Specifically, two sisters kept whispering story ideas in my ear.
When I was a young reader, there was not a lot of writing that showed girls as the lead characters in their own lives and stories. Hermione (although more interesting, in my opinion) was a side character to Harry’s story. Wendy lived in Peter’s shadow (the metaphorical one, not to be confused with his actual shadow, who is a sassy bitch). Even Lucy Pevensie’s adventure is commandeered by Edmund, who just HAD to have that Turkish delight.
Although there have been enormous steps made in middle-grade lit since I was a tween, I want more. I want girls to see themselves front and centre in as many stories as boys do.
And so these two girls, Acacia and Adeline, who have been whispering in my ear for almost two years now, are starting to take shape. I am so excited to be actively working on the first draft of the MG story that I needed growing up.
Thank you for 2018.
Thank you, mum and dad, for being understanding when wanted to be a lawyer, then an SLP, then a teacher, then a lawyer again, then a basket weaver, then a basketball coach, then a cat farmer.
Thank you, my friends, for sticking with me through a year of enormous change and for creating such beautiful new memories.
Thank you, to the new friends I’ve found, especially those in the writing community, who have been so supportive of my writing and so inspirational with their own work.
Thank you to the various communities of poetry and writing for accepting me like a new family.
Thank you to the works of art, movies, books, music, poems, and performances of this year, for reminding me again and again of the beautiful things in this dystopian hellscape.
Thank you to the very nice professor who let me move into her basement this year in order to write some questionable poetry.
Thank you to myself. For finishing a degree this year when it was looking bleak for a minute there. For taking a year off to work, and to rhyme, and to go a full month without writing an essay on feminist criticism in literature.
Thank you for 2018. ⭐