clock on tower

Big Ben Clock (4 Nov. 2010

Is it worth it? After two years of putting out Canadian Writers Abroad (CWA), that’s a question I have to ask myself. The other question is: should I continue? CWA eats time. Considering that time devours mountains, according to The Hobbit riddle, that is serious. What would I do with this extra time? Write more or better fiction? In addition, for posts that get no feedback, it feels like I am writing into the void. But so would I be with fiction, which gets no feedback until it is either critiqued or published.

Compared to the rewards of editing (and writing most of) CWA, those negatives are mere trifles. Research has led me into new territories. CWA has caused me to do things I have not done before, such as give a paper to an academic conference. I have gained new skills or refreshed old ones: interviewing authors, soliciting submissions, editing reviews, researching online, and using a new software (WordPress). I’ve played a mad game of catch-up on Canadian Literature. (Living abroad makes one easily out of date with contemporary culture.) Through CWA, I have met writers, publishers, agents , archivists and scholars (not all face-to-face) and renewed old friendships. New places, new experiences, new people, all of which have skewed my life in a new direction – sounds like an adventure.

Has CWA been of service to Canadian Literature? While this is not a scholarly publication, CWA offers: insights into the writing life abroad, intriguing connections (boffin!), a new style of book review (Wilson), and authors whose work you wouldn’t otherwise have discovered (image of readers tearing off book covers). A fresh look at old books. Thoughts on dialect and place. Interviews, the questions of which could be a little more probing…

Carry on? I think so. Lots to do yet. More adventures ahead.

Bilbo Baggins and new friends

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Photo by James Fisher – © 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. (US, Canada & New Line Foreign Territories)

Posted by Debra Martens

author, editor


  1. I’ve been keeping your post in my email inbox for almost a month now to remind myself of 1. your heartfelt words, and 2. how deeply your post resonated with me. I’m happy to see all the notes of encouragement above and I agree wholeheartedly. And I will continue to keep your post in my inbox for those days when the ‘best post I ever wrote’ gets no comment or like.


    1. Thanks Libby. Just to let you know that CWA and I got other positive feedback by e-mails. A new year full of posts ahead for us.


  2. Hello from another from Whoville!
    Since retiring from teaching and trying to write again after burying my tender talent in the stuff of life I have sought out other writers. I’ve tried several things and had some luck finding that support. At best, a few writers have grabbed my lifeline and hauled me along to the point where I now feel I know my writer self has surfaced again. Your blog has been part of that rescue.


  3. As a Canadian fiction writer who lived for some years in northeastern Spain and whose books, primarily A Destroyer of Compasses (Guernica Editions), reflect the tumult of the years immediately following Franco’s death, I am very interested in reading fiction by Canadian writers living abroad. I do hope you continue your blog.


  4. Happy to hear you will be continuing! I appreciate the attention you paid to my novel and have enjoyed discovering the work of other Canadian authors who live beyond the country’s borders. I knew there were many of us out here and always thought it would be a good idea to tie us all together in some way, to give us a common place on the internet that we could call “home” – which is what CWA does. At least it does for me. Thanks, Debra!

    As for feeling as though you’re writing into a void, you’re not alone. I think most bloggers feel this way. We just have to hope someone out there is actually reading what we write, even if they never take the time to comment.


  5. Glad you will continue! Don’t imagine that lack of comments means lack of readers. If I don’t have anything meaningful to add I don’t comment. And since I am usually learning something new, I don’t really have insights to share. I’m sure I am not alone. As the Whos on the dust speck said to Horton, “We’re here! We’re here! We’re Here!


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