Vincent Lam gave me some advice…

Have you ever had the opportunity to ask a question of one of the greats in your field of interest?  I have.

Canadian sensation Vincent Lam, former Scotiabank Giller Prize winner, has just been shortlisted for the $25,000 Governor General’s Literary Awards for The Headmaster’s Wager.  I was lucky enough to see him speak at The Ottawa International Writers Festival this past Spring – The Weight of History with Peter Hobbs, Ami McKay and Vincent Lam.

My friend Sarah and I were originally interested in attending the writer’s event to see Ami McKay, as we’d just finished her book, The Birth House.  To see that Vincent Lam was on the ticket for the evening as well was icing on the cake! 🙂

The three authors each spoke to the topic and did readings from their books.  I wondered at the time how that felt for them.  We grow up reading aloud in school, but what about when it’s your own published work?  Were they nervous? self-conscious? proud?  I think that I would be all three.

Afterwards, the audience was able to ask questions of the authors.  As a new mother, I asked the old-standby

“How do you balance writing with your day-to-day life?”

as it was what was swirling around in my own head – I particularly wanted to know what fellow mother McKay had to say.  She laughed and said that she wasn’t sure if she did have any balance but she revealed that she has a special place where she can write – a “writer’s studio” in the loft of a barn on her property which overlooks the Bay of Fundy.  How awesome must that be!

Vincent Lam, who works as an emergency room doctor in Toronto where he lives with his wife and children noted the importance for himself of scheduling time to write.  With the variety of roles he takes on it isn’t surprising that he needs to be organized and specifically carve out time for his writing.  There’s been frequent debate in the writing world about whether a timetable or inspiration should lead the writing process.  Though I feel very busy with an active 9-month old and my other hobbies and obligations, his advice helps to re-orient me to the task at hand – getting a final draft of my novel to publishers.  And I love Ami McKay’s idea of a “writing studio” – sure beats writing in a “home office”!

It was a fun evening with a great friend and I look forward to more Writer’s Festival events here in Ottawa.


Vincent Lam and the Governor General Literary Awards

Writer’s Festival Events