The MACL program at UBC was an easy choice for me when I was trying to decide on a Master’s program. As an interdisciplinary program, it included four interconnected areas of study that stirred my passions: English, Creative Writing, Education and Library Science. It was flexible enough for me to work around my busy full-time teaching schedule, and contained a balance of academic study and practical application that made it not only intellectually stimulating, but also useful in my teaching and library practice.
The courses provided me with rich background knowledge of children’s literature, its history, influence, trends and economics. I was exposed to writers and writing styles I had never before encountered, and the intimate atmosphere of the faculty encouraged a sense of teamwork and belonging. By the time I was nearing the end of my program, I felt I carried a library in my head and had a network of academic and professional resources at my fingertips.
My final course was Creative Writing. The class encouraged experimentation, and I began a verse novel. With positive, constructive feedback from my instructor and classmates, I shaped it into my MACL Creative Writing thesis. At the suggestion of my thesis advisor, Alison Acheson, and my thesis committee (Rhea Tregobov, Judi Saltman and Alison Acheson), I sent the manuscript out for publication, and Fishtailing was published in April 2010 by Coteau Books (Regina). In November, the novel won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Literature (Text). It was shortlisted for the Forest of Reading White Pine Award, and received the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award for innovative storytelling. The awards have opened many doors for me, and I have been speaking to schools, community and academic groups and writing festivals. They have also enabled me to take time from work to complete a writing project.
Without the support, training and encouragement the MACL program provided, I would not be where I am today professionally or creatively. It changed my life.