When I was first accepted into the Arts program at UWaterloo in 1996, I loved language, I compulsively devoured books, and one of my greatest dreams was to become a published author.
At the same time, that nineteen-year-old version of myself was determined to be practical, so instead of pursuing my passion for writing, I majored in Psychology with an option in Legal Studies. After graduating, I spent a year traveling around Australia, worked in Residence Life at McMaster (where I met my husband) and then at UWaterloo (a homecoming of sorts), and finally, put down career roots by going into teaching, which re-connected me with my passion for English. I have been teaching English to grade seven students ever since.
Seventeen years after completing my Honours Arts degree, I have also finally realized that long-ago and once seemingly unobtainable dream of publishing a book. In fact, the first time I held an actual copy of my debut picture book, The Little Boy Who Lived Down the Drain, I found it hard to believe that I was looking at my book. One memory that still stands out to me from my university days so many years ago is sitting in a class taught by professor Eric McCormack, thinking: He’s written a book! I remember being impressed (perhaps even awed) by the fact that he was an author, a genuine, bonafide author, and he was teaching me about writing. So it seems surreal, now, to be able to call myself an author, too.
Even more surreal, perhaps, was learning that The Little Boy Who Lived Down the Drain was nominated for the 2018 Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading Blue Spruce Award and that it was also selected by the OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation to be part of their Rainforest of Reading program. As a result of the latter, in March I will be traveling with the organization to St. Lucia to participate in three days of festivals, designed to promote literacy and a love of reading, involving thousands of school children from across the island. The opportunity to be included in a venture like this is both thrilling and humbling.
When I think back to my undergrad days at UWaterloo, I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had chased my dream of being a writer sooner. And then I realize: it doesn’t matter. Because I wouldn’t want my life to be any different than it is right now. So, moving forward, I will continue chasing my dreams, polishing the latest draft of what I hope will be my next picture book, working on two separate novel manuscripts, and dusting off my passport!
Visit Carolyn’s author website at: http://carolynhuizingamills.ca
For more information about the OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation: http://oneworldschoolhouse.org