I hold a degree in magazine journalism from Ryerson University. I flourished in the applied arts program, coedited the literary journal and was features editor of the renegade student newspaper, Eyeopener. One of our finest moments of the year was when the Toronto Sun slammed us for our issue of the Toronto Scum, a sassy parody of their newspaper. My grad project, a profile of tough inner city reporter Rosie Dimanno, ran as the cover story for the school magazine, the Ryerson Review of Journalism.
I was hired out of university as features writer for the Guelph Mercury, a Thomson chain newspaper. I quickly discovered I was unhappy churning out thousands of words a week on topics as relevant as a day in the life of the town’s meter maid. Determined to find another way to live as a journalist, I returned to Toronto where I freelanced, worked as editorial assistant for Profit Magazine and as inner city reporter for a start-up called the T.O.
The TO had a tight staff consisting of a small group of journalism school grads who did everything from reporting to photography, features and essays for the publication. I wrote about psychiatric survivors, sex trade workers’ right, police violence and inner-city politics. I began to evolve a desire to support my journalistic subjects more directly than reporting would allow me.
At the time, I also delved deeply into creative writing. I wrote and produced a play for the Toronto Fringe festival, obtained Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council grants and wrote a series of short stories for young adults.
I moved to Vancouver in 1995 with little more than my short story manuscript, stowed under my seat in the airplane. In Vancouver I wrote (and eventually worked as co-editorial coordinator for) kinesis, Canada’s then national-feminist newspaper. I freelanced for the Georgia Straight, Herizons, Massage Magazine, Shared Vision. I had begun to teach writing workshops in Toronto and continued in Vancouver, through the school board and community centres.
To satisfy my desire to affect positive change in a manner more personal than through writing, I pursued a series of courses in complementary therapies, from Reiki through Therapeutic Touch, Healing Touch, Reflexology, body centred energy work and Shiatsu. I volunteered shiatsu at the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, worked at a healing centre during the day and taught acupressure for self care and intro to shiatsu in the evenings.
In 2003, writing called me back big time. I began Inkcat Media & Associates, the first formalized incarnation of my writing, editing and consulting business. I worked with a wide range of clients from individuals to colleges and universities on every conceivable topic in an array of genres. I wrote several features for the Straight on health issues: A cover story on women in prison in Canada, a feature on acupressure for addiction and a health issue story on facial acupuncture. I taught marketing and creative writing through self-employment programs, volunteered to teach writing in the prisons and taught acupressure in the downtown eastside.
I began to focus my creative energies on poetry and published Wildflowers at my doorstep (Karma Press, 2008). In 2009, Wildflowers won a silver medal in the Independent Publishers Book awards. I performed many of the poems on Vancouver stages, some with the accompaniment of an ensemble of dancers, choreographers and musicians called Bad Poetry.
By 2011, I had developed an obsession with teaching writing. I wanted to do it in bigger and better ways, and Inkcat morphed into Vancouver Writing Courses. I teach professional and creative writing workshops on-site for organizations, in private venues for the public and for people in recovery. I also taught through Langara College and have taught at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. I began Vancouver Writing Courses Meetup to organize classes in the community. I got my TESL certification and extended my teaching into the ESL community.
I also began work as communications consultant for the Canadian Federation of Co-operative Housing, a national nonprofit. Communications built on my journalism skills and challenged me in new ways. I wrote everything from annual reports to enews, white papers, speeches, feature stories and media releases. I undertook the highly detailed job of coordinating the annual update of the AGM website, under the direction of the manger of national communications.
I’ve delighted to announce the recent launch of Writing for Recovery! Through this service, I offer creative writing workshops for people who are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. I teach on-site at rehabilitation centres, privately and in venues throughout the Lower Mainland.
I have continued to write poetry and creative nonfiction since 2008, have one manuscript in circulation and four more awaiting my attention.
Perhaps linking to work on my own creative nonfiction memoir, in recent years, I’ve fallen in love with book editing. It’s an art of its own, and I can lose myself for days in a substantive edit. Like all editing, it’s a puzzle my mind loves, but with an added interpersonal component. Book editing provides me with an opportunity to support authors in a more profound manner than any other type of editing I do. I love working with memoirists for this reason – their writing journeys are courageous soul journeys I am privileged to bear witness to.