Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

On Doubt

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Doubts, by Henrietta Rae, 1886 (via Wikipedia)

It'll be your constant companion. You won't know a day without it. It will defy cold logic and your efforts to cultivate confidence. It will be haughtily contemptuous of your desire to focus on positives, and it will handily dismantle the techniques you learned during cognitive behavioral therapy sessions. You'll try to wait it out. It will prove more patient than you.

You'll have a few wins. Pieces published, a story nominated for a prize, kind words spoken publicly, a book released. A second book. It'll take those little victories and subvert them, making you feel that you've snowed everyone. It'll make those victories seem very small. It's not like you're saving lives, it'll suggest. They're just books. It's not as though you have any idea what you're doing.

It will grant moments of respite – hours, at best – before it ratchets down, vise-like, on your chest. When a piece goes live, or a compliment is delivered, or when you slide your pocketknife through the packing tape on a cardboard box, lift back the flaps, and let your eyes settle on a stack of your brand new book, you'll feel something approaching accomplishment, or what you imagine “accomplishment” must feel like to those more accustomed to it. But then it'll re-insinuate itself, an unwelcome guest, the talkative guy at the end of the bar, the sleeping dog roused.

Maybe there'll be a big one. A biggish one. An award you never imagined being eligible for, let alone nominated. Kind words will flood your inbox. That night, after you make dinner for the kids and then rush out the door to take your daughter to her floor hockey game and cheer her on, then get home and clean up the dinner dishes and try to get some more work done, you'll celebrate a little – popcorn and beer for dinner, a moment of satisfaction – before falling into a languorous sleep, certain that happy dreams await. But it'll wake you before the alarm sounds, before the sun has nudged over the horizon, guiding you down to the coffee pot on your way to your desk, and it'll show you what's waiting for you there: the blank pages waiting to be filled with the words that you alone are responsible for finding. What now, it'll ask. What do you do now?

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: Toronto.

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Andrew Forbes

Andrew Forbes’s work has been nominated for the Journey Prize, and has appeared in The Feathertale Review, Found Press, PRISM International, The New Quarterly, Scrivener Creative Review, This Magazine, Hobart, The Puritan, All Lit Up, The Classical, and Vice Sports. He is the author of What You Need, a collection of fiction, and The Utility of Boredom: Baseball Essays. He lives in Peterborough, Ontario.

You can write to Andrew throughout the month of May at

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