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Archive for February, 2010

Aboriginal artists in British Columbia have been combining traditions for some years now. Preston Singletary, for example, has collaborated with Maori artist Lewis Gardiner, while Terrance Campbell is strongly influenced by the jewelry of the American Southwest. But I admit I was skeptical about the collaborations of Mike Dangeli and Don McIntyre. Maybe the problem was my own ignorance, but I wondered how much artists like Dangeli in the Northwest style and McIntyre in the Woodlands style could exchange, beyond good will.

Don McIntyre (left) and Mike Dangeli (right)

However, in practice, the mingling of traditions works much better than I expected in “East Meets West: Throwing Power,” Dangeli and McIntyre’s combined show currently at the art gallery in the Student Union Building at the University of British Columbia.

The main reason, I suspect, is the obvious closeness of the two artists. Dangeli and McIntyre share studio space and are adoptive brothers. They share such a sympathy that at times, they say, they have trouble remembering who painted which line when they collaborate.

The mixture of their style may be sometimes jarring, but it succeeds because, while both Dangeli and McIntyre show a firm understanding of their respective traditions, they are also concerned with adopting those traditions to contemporary urban life, often with a sense of humor that begins with the titles of their works and continues with their choice of subject matter. Despite the large differences in traditions, this similarity of outlook allows them to meet in the middle, as their paintings do literally in the galley.

If you look at a selection of Dangeli’s work with any knowledge of the northern formline style, it immediately becomes obvious that he is intimately familiar with the tradition. And some of his work does not stray very far from that tradition, apart from the selection of colors.

However, in many of his pieces in this show, Dangeli’s rendering of that tradition is a departure from the norm. In the classical northern tradition, ovoids and U-shapes are rendered as though from a template – in fact, in large scale projects like house-fronts, artists often work from stencils.

Dangeli does work in this tradition. However, just as often – and perhaps increasingly – he favors a looser, hand-drawn rendering of classical shapes – a sketch as opposed to a smoothly finished work. Often, too, he combines shapes in non-classical ways. The result is that, where in his tradition, formlines tend to flow together, dragging the eye through a work, Dangeli’s looser renderings sometimes seem fragmentary and disjointed.

Perhaps the effect is a stylistic commentary on the survival of the northern tradition in industrial urban life. If so, the style is well-suited to Dangeli’s habit of commenting on this lifestyle.

The titles alone indicate his on-going commentary on the modern relations between First Nations people and this lifestyle, for instance, “Bright Shining Lie,” “For Those Who Had to Hide,” and “We Will Not Be Boxed In. Often, the titles are referenced by the techniques in each work, so that “Surviving the White Wash” literally has a wash of white over everything, while “We’re Not Open for Business,” an anti-Olympic statement,” has the shape of a Closed sign.

Don McIntyre’s relation to his tradition closely resembles Dangeli’s. Like Dangeli, McIntyre sometimes produces a piece that fits comfortably within his tradition, as in “A Place to Come Back To.”

"A Place to Come Back To"

Yet even when McIntyre appears to be working in the tradition, first impressions can be deceptive. His apparently innocuous drum (shown above), if you look closely, shows the union of sky and earth as an act of sex, and his title for this depiction of creation is “The Big Bang.”

Yet, where many Woodlands artists continue to depict natural scenes that have little in common with the cities in which they live, McIntyre tries to advance his school of painting by transferring its traditions to what he sees around him.

At times, the difference is subtle. As he pointed out to me at the exhibit’s opening, “Natural Urbanity” could easily be a classical work, if the streetlights were replaced by trees. At other times, as in “New Counsel,” nature creeps into the cityscape only in small oases, like the log that the birds in the canvas cling to.

"Natural Urbanity"

"New Counsel"

And, as in Dangeli’s work, McIntyre often turns his extension of his tradition into social commentary. In “(Dis) Placed Illusions,” for example, McIntyre combines an inukshuk, the symbol of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, with a sleeping polar bear, drawing a line between cultural appropriation and global warming .

"(Dis) Placed Illusions"

Combined with their friendship, such similarities make Dangeli and McIntyre’s collaborations exactly what collaborations should be: not just a juxtaposition, but something that neither could achieve by themselves.

For me, the most successful of the several collaborations on display was “Ben Couver: Olympic Gluttony.” The central figure, with its extended belly, fits in well with McIntyre’s style, in a way that it would not into Dangeli’s.

Yet, at the same time, Dangeli’s image of broken coppers being thrown into the water adds its own dimension. Moreover, the combination of Dangeli’s self-consuming two-headed serpent and McIntyre’s Wendigo provide two complementary images of destruction.

“East Meets West” is a small show, but it is an ambitious one. To its credit, though, it convincingly draws parallels between the two traditions in the show, and produces intriguing art in the process. While the gallery may be obscure for many people, it is well worth searching out just to see this show.

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Four years ago, a doctor diagnosed me as having a mild case of osteoarthritis in my knees. I had run too many kilometers for too many years on blacktop, and now I was paying the price. My running days, he told me, were over, and the best I could do was light exercise. But trial and painful error has shown that the doctor was mostly wrong. If I was selective, I found, I could still do the kind of heavy daily exercise I’ve been accustomed to since I was eight. I simply had to make some changes in my routine.

The first change was to add some exercises to my daily routine. Half-squats, I’ve found, are ideal for building up the muscles around my knees to take some of the strain from them. I also do some stretching, one leg at a time, with a piece of surgical tubing while sitting on a bed or mat, and lie on the floor and walk an exercise ball up the wall.

For my main exercise, I’ve left the road for the gym. I now do repetitions on an exercise bike, varying the speed, tension, and duration from day to day and repetition to repetition to keep my interest up. The bike allows me a sweaty workout, but, because my weight is off my legs, pedaling puts very little pressure on my knees – in fact, even more than the exercises, it helps to reduce the aches around my knees. True, switching from running to cycling has changed the shape of my leg muscles, but that’s a small price to pay.

Recently, I’ve also added sessions on the summit climber. At first, I thought the motion would be too much like climbing stairs for me to manage, but the machine is designed to minimize pressure on the legs. If anything, the summit climber is even better than the bike for strengthening my leg muscles so I can work around my lack of meniscus. However, it is harder on the knees than the exercise bike, so I only use it in moderation.

Sometimes, too, three or four kilometers of walking is beneficial. I’ve never liked the slow pace of walking, but I can do it.

The doctor was right that I can’t sustain the sixteen kilometer runs that I used to do. I can run one without trouble, but on the second day, my knees start to give way. If I am stupid enough to persist for four or five days, my knees start to swell.

But I can manage five kilometers a day indefinitely, especially when they are added to my time on the bike and the summit climber. And, every now and then, for a change of pace when I’m feeling nostalgic, I can do ten or twelve kilometers. If my speed isn’t what it was – well, growing older was slowing me anyway.

At first, I worried that these exercises would hurry the degeneration of my knees. However, from experience, I doubt that is the case. My legs are stronger and my knees hurt less after a session on the bike, and I am now healthier and more active than I was when the doctor delivered his verdict of doom, and generally have much less discomfort in my knees, too.

Obviously, how active you can be with osteoarthritis depends on its severity. I’ve been lucky that my problems are relatively mild. But I’m convinced that the exercises I have discovered can not only help alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis, but also keep many of those with the condition far more active than they (or my former doctor) imagines. My only regret is that the doctor who diagnosed me has since moved away, so I can’t have the satisfaction of telling him that he was wrong.

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For many modern Northwest Coast artists, improving their skills means discovering their culture. Kaska/Tlingit artist Dean Heron is no different, except that he came to his art and culture later than most of his peers – and, that, in pursuit of both, last year he moved north to Terrace, instead of staying in the south where many NorthWest Coast artists now spend at least part of the year.

“I was adopted as a child,” Dean explains, “and grew up in a non-First Nations family,” mostly in Whitehorse, Kitimat, and Powell River. “I had grandparents who lived in Victoria, so we’d often go down to Victoria in the summer time. My parents always used to drag me to the Royal British Columbian Museum to look into my culture, but at that point I was six or seven, and I was more interested in riding my bike, playing street hockey – being a kid.”

Creating the Watchmen

Then, when Heron grew up, he worked as an assistant manager at a Milestones restaurant, and later in the IT department of the British Columbia Ministry of Health in Victoria.

Heron did have a general interest in art of all sorts, and he remembers a two-week survey of First Nations art when he was in Grade Seven in Kitimat. However, it was only after he met his wife Therese that his interest in his ancestral culture and art began to take shape.

“She was very inquisitive, always asking me questions about Tlingit culture,” Heron recalls. “We’d go down to the Royal BC Museum and she’d ask me all sorts of questions. And I was just blank. I didn’t really have any idea.”

Then, one Christmas in the early 1990s, when they were both students and short of money, Heron was pondering how he could give presents. “I had no idea. So Therese said, ‘Why don’t you create something?’ I think I laughed out loud, actually. I didn’t think I had an artistic bone in my body. But she went out and bought a book on First Nations art, and that was the beginning.”

Returning Sockeye

Making the artistic connections

Even then, for years art was more a hobby than anything else. Heron know no artists, but he received encouragement from Victoria gallery directors such as John Black and Elaine Monds. “I would take my early paintings down to Elaine or John Black, and get criticisms on them and come back and produce something else.”

At the time, Monds’ Alcheringa Gallery was displaying the works of master carver Dempsey Bob and his star pupils Stan Bevan and Ken McNeil, although most of them sold quickly. Heron also remembers visiting Vancouver to see the Inuit Gallery.

“But what really did it for me was a book that Dempsey Bob had produced with the Grace Gallery called Dempsey Bob Tahltan Tlingit – Carver of the Wolf Clan. It was this little catalog, way out of print now – I don’t know if you could even find it. There was a picture of a wolf forehead mask, and I had never seen anything like it. It was distinctly Dempsey Bob’s style – it was brilliant. And I just went, ‘Wow! That’s exactly what I want to be doing’ – although at that time I didn’t really know how I was going to do it.”

Moon Mask

Then, somehow, “it all just sort of fell into place for me.” A few weeks after his family moved into a house in Victoria, he met Dempsey Bob’s son and his family at a children’s birthday barbecue. A couple of weeks later, he met Bob himself, “and it changed everything.”

Bob invited Heron to Manawa – Pacific Heartbeat, an event sponsored by the Spirit Wrestler Gallery in Vancouver featuring Maori and First Nations artists from British Columbia. There, Heron says, “I realized just how rich the culture was, and just how much I’d been missing.” Near the end of the event, Bob mentioned that the Freda Diesing School was about to open at the Terrace campus of Northwest Community College, and invited him to enroll and learn to carve.

Finding roots in the north

Deciding to accept Bob’s offers “was a giant leap of faith for me,” Heron recalls. His children were six and one, and both Heron and his wife had jobs in the provincial Ministry of Health. “But I never looked back. I think it was the best decision I ever made.”

Killer Whale Comb

After Victoria, life in Terrace “was a huge culture shock. We had everything in Victoria. That’s probably what I miss the most – having a good theater and good restaurants to choose from,” Heron says.
However, the adjustments in daily life soon seemed unimportant compared to what Heron was learning about his ancestral culture and art. Suddenly, Heron was being taught by Dempsey Bob, Stan Bevan, and Ken McNeil – three artists he had admired for years.

Today, Heron praises them for their commitment towards art, their professionalism and work ethic, and their dedication. “Although established artists, they are always learning and pushing themselves forward – and thus pushing the art forward,” Heron says. “As well, they share all their knowledge with their students. Dempsey always says, ‘Why wouldn’t I share it? If I did not, we could lose all that we have gained in a generation – it is why I am here.’”

In the new environment, Heron found his relationship to traditional culture and art changing.

“Back when I was working on art on my own, I didn’t know the rules completely. Working with Stan and Ken and Dempsey, the whole idea is that you learn the rules and make them your own. Then, you can star innovating. But you have to work from a base of tradition, which the school does.

“The first eight weeks of school, all we did was draw ovoids and U forms and secondary figures. And they break down the components of the design, so they do wing design one week and they do head designs another week. Then they’ll do feet designs and tail designs, and then you put the pieces together. The first year, there were only seven [students], so it was a really tight group of friends.

SmallTlingit Portrait Mask

“Another thing that Stan and Dempsey have really convinced me of is [the value of] collecting books. At the time I was working on my own, I was looking at galleries and contemporary works of artists like Robert Davidson, Joe David, and Art Thompson, and I never really gave any validity to the old works that are in museums and collections. That was my mentality – that’s a long time ago, that’s history. But I think everybody’s who’s doing the art and is a professional will look at the old art. [The old artists] are still pertinent today. Their advantage was they lived the art. The art was around them all the time. They used the spoons, they used the bowls, and they saw the regalia all the time.”

The result of this discipline and re-evaluation, according to Heron, is that “I’m starting to realize that there’s a lot more rules involved in creating pieces. You can’t just go out and create a frog headdress without getting permission from chiefs or elders. I’m starting to learn a lot more of those rules, where before I just drew and painted what I wanted without any thought of the culture itself. Now, I’m more careful with what I’m creating.”

Killer Whale Plaque

This new attitude created a crisis of faith when Heron, perhaps motivated by his new sense of traditional culture, looked for his birth family. Although his biological mother declined to contact him, Heron did learn that he was part Kaska, not completely Tlingit, as he had assumed.

“I remember the day I found out, my first thought was, ‘I can’t practice the art. I’m tied to those Kaska roots.’ But I found digging into my family history that there was more of a Tlingit side. So I paint particularly in the Tlingit style.”

Today and Onwards

Now, Heron thinks he might explore the Kaska side of his heritage. “I’m starting to think that as a person I have the right to know where I’m from,” he says. “So I’m looking more into the Kaska side.” In the summer of 2010, he hopes to take his family to Watson Lake for Kaska Days.

However, whether he will explore Kaska art remains uncertain. “It’s much different from the coastal art. A lot of it is beading, and moose antler carving, drumming and singing. I think they were a more nomadic people [than the Tlingit]. There’s not a lot of information out there.”

Meanwhile, Heron is keeping busy. In the fall of 2009, he completed a mural for the Snowboard Pavilion at Cypress Mountain for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games. “I’ve had lots of people comment on it, via email and letters,” he says.

Snowboarding Mural, Cypress Mountain

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In addition, for much of the last year, he has been painting designs for a longhouse on the grounds of the Terrace campus of Northwest Community College. Stan Bevan is doing the formlines, and Heron and student Shawn Aster are doing the secondary elements. Currently, the interior screens are done, and the house front is being completed. The longhouse is scheduled to be completed in early May.

Dean Heron at work in the longhouse

When the longhouse is complete, Heron plans to continue carving his own work. In addition, “I have lots of images that I’d like to get printed.” He would also like to begin doing clothing designs, and learning jewelry-making.

Dedicating himself to art and moving into a community that was strange to him was a huge gamble, but Heron clearly feels that it has paid off for him.

“Growing up, I always felt that I was at the front door, but not right inside – always looking through the window and looking at these sculptures and not understanding the whole of them. I mean, I still don’t. And I think that’s part of the experience of being adopted and being First Nations. I’m at the point now where I’m straddling two different cultures, really. I have a non-first Nations family, so I’m getting an outsider’s point of view, but now I’m living in the community and understanding a lot more of it.”

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Well, that was unexpected.

Passing through downtown Vancouver yesterday on my last errands until the end of the Winter Olympics, I imagined I’d be affected by the games preparations in any number of ways. Not being a sports fan, I thought I might be offended by the waste. I might flee the crowds and the traffic prepared to be a hermit. I might be angry for the sake of the business owners who had to close down because the traffic restrictions mean that their staff can’t get in and they can’t get deliveries. I might even have been blown away by the spectacle and find myself looking forward to the games after all.

What I didn’t expect was to look around and feel that I had been dipped in tacky excess. Everything I saw was so over the top that it might have been orchestrated by Albert Speer.

The first thing that caught my eye were the banners covering a few of the buildings. Do we really need blowups of athletes six stories high? A Canadian flag ditto, covering most of two sides of a building? Boasts that the corporate owner of a building was an Olympic sponsor? Endless urgings to “Go, Canada, Go?”

Descend to the Skytrain stations, and the excess continued. So far as I can figure, three advertisers had each won the privilege of monopolizing a transit station, and responded by covering as much of their station as possible. At Granville, it was Coca Cola, at Burrard, Macdonald’s, and Acer Computers at Waterfront.

Junk food and cheap computers? How does Vanoc square these with the Olympic ideals of athleticism and excellence? And I wonder who first imagined that repeated the same half dozen ads fifty or sixty times in a confined space was effective advertising, instead of an annoyance.

And everywhere, there were the officials and athletes from out of town, wearing their team uniforms that were not only gaudy but usually with the manufacturers’ names as large as the names of the country. Again, the connection to the Olympics eluded me. The out of towners were so gaudy that they might almost have been wearing Hawaiian shirts.

Yet the out of towners were restrained compared to some of the locals. Well over three-quarters were simply going about their Sunday business, but a minority were as gaudy as the out of towners and jingoistic as well, with Canadian flags flying from their cars and the marquees on their buses giving us a “Countdown to Gold” and urging Canadian athletes on. It was like the hockey playoffs, only on a larger scale.

A two year old might be fascinated by all the bright colors and larger-than-life consumerism, but it’s been a while since I was a child. Surrounded by such general tackiness, I could only complete my errands as fast as possible, and get out of the downtown. Except, perhaps, to see the Aboriginal Pavilion, I don’t plan on coming back until after the Olympics, when the city is back to itself.

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If an artist has an apprentice work on a piece, are they dishonest if they sign the piece as though it were their own? By coincidence, two acquaintances have found themselves confronting that question. How each of them answered says something about how we regard art and the definition of authenticity.

In the first case, my acquaintance commissioned a mask from a well-known Northwest Coast artist (I am deliberately not mentioning names or any identifying details, because the issue touches on artists’ integrity). When the artist passed the mask to an apprentice to finish, my acquaintance was furious. I supposed my acquaintance would say that they paid for a work by the artist, not by the apprentice, although the fact that the artist gave the mask to the apprentice in front of them suggests that, the artist was not trying to be deceitful.

In the second case, an acquaintance bought a mask, and was contacted by the artist’s former apprentice, who claimed that the mask was theirs. The artist had frequently stolen their work, the apprentice claimed. However, investigation showed the matter was not so simple. The apprentice’s carving style was similar to the artist’s to begin with, and the apprentice had roughed out the mask, but most likely under the artist’s supervision. From the one picture of the apprentice with the mask, the artist seems to have finished the carving, painted the mask, and added many characteristic details. The result was far beyond the apprentice’s usual level of skill, and, according to one rumor, the apprentice had formally sold rights in the mask to the artist.

I suppose that, at some point, an apprentice’s work becomes extensive enough that they deserve credit on a work. Yet, while that should be true, the practice of having apprentices help with an artist’s work without receiving credit is extremely old. With many paintings done in the European Renaissance, the question of how much of a work is an apprentice’s remains a disputed point.

Similarly, in modern Northwest Coast art, it is an open secret that Bill Reid’s “Raven and the First Men” may have been designed by Reid, but was carved by Reg Davidson, Jim Hart, Gary Edenshaw and George Rammell, with Reid doing mostly finishing details. As for “The Black Canoe – The Spirit of Haida Gwaii,” Reid is supposed to have contributed only the design, partly because of his illness and partly because he knew next to nothing about bronze casting. Although these collaborators were chosen for their expertise, no one suggests that general credit for these works should not go to Reid, although many (including me) think that their contributions should be more generally known.

So why is the buyer in the first case and the apprentice in the second case angry? Part of the reason may be that, although collaboration is widespread in Northwest Coast cultures, especially on large projects, the idea persists in Euro-North American culture that fine art is done by one person. If the work is not the artist’s, then it must belong to the apprentices who worked on it.

A work on which more than one person deserves credit can easily be seen as inauthentic – and definitely not what the buyer paid for. And, possibly, a collaborative work will be less valuable than a work by a single artist, although that does not seem to have happened with the collaborations between Norman Tait and Lucinda Turner in Northwest Coast art.

Aesthetically, however, does who created the piece matter? I have not seen the mask in the first case, but the mask in the second case is an accomplished and sophisticated work, no matter who deserves credit for it. In this light, arguing over who deserves credit seems almost crass, even thought it might be the legitimate grounds for a law suit.

My own take is that the acquaintance in the first case has no reason to complain, given the traditional relationship between artist and apprentice. Letting an apprentice finish a mask may seem high-handed, yet it was done so openly that the artist probably did not intend to deceive. Nor does it seem likely that an artist would let an inferior piece out of their hands; to do so would affect their reputation. Before my acquaintance received the mask, it was almost certainly finished to the artist’s usual standards, no matter who did the work.

The second case seems just as clear. Although the apprentice’s hands may have been on the tools, the artist seems to have guided the making of the mask at every stage. Just as with the first step, conventional practice would attribute the mask to the artist, and not the apprentice.If the artist was feeling generous, they might acknowledge the apprentice’s contribution, but they are not obliged to.

Of course, in real life, the matter is not so simple. The buyer in the first case and the apprentice in the second might have a law suit over the expectations created by their positions. And possibly the apprentice might try to assert ownership and create a miniature nightmare for the buyer of the piece.

However, based on common practice, I doubt that either would get very far. If the facts are anything like those I’ve summarized, then by precedence, the art work should be attributed to the artist, and not the apprentice.

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A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by Robert Cleary, a member of an online group whose members collect copies of Wargamer’s Digest. I was not surprised to hear about the group, since the Internet has something for every interest imaginable. But what surprised me was that he wanted to hear about how I came to make my first professional sale to the magazine – a short article called “Fantasy – Battles for the Runestaff”. He sent me a copy of the article (mine not being easily locatable), and, once I had reassured myself that the article was not too badly written, I started to remember.

I like to say that I sold the article when I was fourteen. Strictly speaking, though, that’s an exaggeration. To be completely accurate, I pitched the idea when I was fourteen and it was accepted. I didn’t actually finish the article until I was sixteen, and it wasn’t published for several more years. Nor did I find out that it had been published until long after it appeared; I can only assume that the editor was as casual about such things as I was then. By the time I actually pocketed the $40 I made from the sale, the idea was well over five years old.

Fantasy readers might recognize a reference to a series of books written by Michael Moorcock. Set in the future, The History of the Runestaff series is the story of how a group of heroes centered around a kingdom in Provence resist the expansion of Granbretan, a feudal empire whose nobles wear metal animal masks and show a pathological fear of revealing their bare faces.

Looking back, I realize that to call the books in the series potboilers is to insult the kitchen industry. Even their author does not claim that they were literature. However, in my early throes of adolescence, they seemed heady enough stuff, and I re-read them at least three times.

While I was reading about the Runestaff (and every other fantasy or science fiction book I could find), I was also absorbed by board games and history. I collected at least a dozen Avalon Hill games, and was especially fond of Feudal, a chess-like war game that used 3-D figures of medieval warriors for pieces. Whenever the erratic magazine deliveries to the local hobby store allowed, I picked up Wargamer’s Digest. I painted countless figures for wargaming – mostly medieval, classical and fantasy – and devised the rules for games of my own imagination, in some cases even finishing them.

My one problem was that, if other wargamers existed in my neighborhood, I didn’t know about them. Today, a teenager like me could probably find someone to play against on the Internet, but, in the 1970s, my options were more limited. Occasionally, I dragooned a friend into playing, but those games rarely got finished. More often, I took turns playing one side then another.

Looking back, it wasn’t a bad education in how perspectives change with circumstances. But it wasn’t very satisfying. For one thing, I could never surprise myself.

At the same time, I had writing ambitions. What exactly I wanted to write, I was unsure, but, hearing how early some famous authors had begun, I thought I should get a move on. The summer I was 14, I knew, would probably be the last one I had free. With university starting to loom, I would almost certainly be working the next summer. I had one last chance.

Half-overcome by my own chutzpah, I submitted a query letter to Wargamer’s Digest. I chose the Runestaff series both because I was re-reading it when I made the query and because the magazine didn’t publish much about fantasy gaming, so I figured I had more of a chance with that topic than with one that was more mainstream.

My query was accepted, and I promptly had a failure of nerve for a year and a half. Then, timidly, after two or three false starts, I wrote to ask if the editor was still interested. He was, and over the Christmas holidays, I pounded my game notes on the Runestaff into what I hoped was a reasonable imitation of the magazine’s style.

Then – nothing. I received my first payment for my writing when a poem of mine took third place in the Alberta Poetry Yearbook. I graduated from high school and started university, and otherwise got on with my life.

Moving out of my parents’ house at the start of my third year in university, I came across my old stack of Wargamer’s Digest, and thought to query about the article. To my surprise and delight, it had been published some months before, and I had the profound pleasure of seeing my work in a magazine, and finding it, after all that time, not only free of typos, but more authoritative in tone than I had hoped.

I wish I could say that the experience was the start of my professional writing life. But the truth is, the experience was so fragmented and so drawn out that it proved to be a false spring. It was another seven years before I ventured into writing articles again (although I did sell the odd poem and story), and another decade before I started to make a living as a freelance journalist).

The fault was mine for not following up, I realize now. Still, I wonder what might have happened if I had. Would the early success have given me the courage earlier in life to freelance? Impossible to tell now, but I still get a small thrill re-reading my long ago article in PDF form and wondering how it fits into my early life.

Fantasy-battles-for-the-Runestaff

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