I am a strong believer of three things:
- writing is a privilege
- sometimes you get it wrong
- the best writing is in the revision
writing is a privilege
Two summers ago, I published an essay about my child and how the summers connected the two of us. I wrote about us sweating on walks, I wrote about our conversations on the couch while watching cartoons, I wrote about backyard BBQ’s, kindergarten classes, fried chicken and chips smashed to a million pieces. I wrote about tents in the living room, I wrote about flowers we never seemed to notice. I was so proud of the bond we had (one that I longed for with my mother when I was young).
sometimes we get it wrong
Shortly after the essay was published, my teen came out as trans and told me he now identified as male. Obviously I was in full support of him embracing an identity he so desperately wanted and needed, I was so proud. I helped him come out during my book launch in front of our whole family. He was happy. That smile…
It took a while before it hit me, but when it hit me, it hit me hard. That essay. I panicked. That essay I was so proud of, that essay where I wrote about me and “my little girl” that essay with the constant repetition of she, she, she … what have I done?
the best writing is in the revision
I owe it to him to get this right. Our memories haven’t changed. Our relationship hasn’t changed. Those summer experiences are still ours. Below is a redacted version of that essay. With permission from my son I share with you 14 things…
The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.
Chelene Knight is the author of the poetry collection Braided Skin and the memoir Dear Current Occupant, winner of the 2018 Vancouver Book Award. Her essays have appeared in multiple Canadian and American literary journals, plus the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. Her work is anthologized in Making Room, Love Me True, Sustenance, The Summer Book, and Black Writers Matter.
The Toronto Star called Knight, “one of the storytellers we need most right now.” In addition to her work as a writer, Knight is managing editor at Room, programming director for the Growing Room Festival, and CEO of #LearnWritingEssentials. She often gives talks about home, belonging and belief, inclusivity, and community building through authentic storytelling.
Knight is currently working on Junie, a novel set in Vancouver’s Hogan’s Alley, forthcoming in 2020.