Passion for creation

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: ERIKA FAUST
Aspiring writer and Fanshawe student Annette Dawm, left, shows off her book, Carl Goes to College, to Andrew MacDonald, a Fanshawe grad who came to campus in late February to talk about his writing career.

Fanshawe graduate Andrew MacDonald gave a short presentation on campus at the end of February to inspire up-and-coming writers to follow their dreams.

MacDonald began by listing off his many achievements over the past few years, such as being a finalist for the Journey Prize, winning the Western Magazine Award for Fiction, and receiving the inaugural Adam Penn Gilders Award for Best Thesis from the University of Toronto.

It was also mentioned that his writing has been included in journals like The Fiddlehead, Event, Prism International, The Pinch and Riddle Fence, and has appeared in anthologies including The Journey Prize Stories 22: Canada's Best Young Writers, and A Manner of Being: Writers and Their Mentors.

During the presentation, MacDonald read one of his short stories, called “Four Minutes,” which tells of a young man and his mentally disabled sister. MacDonald mentioned that he rarely uses information from his own life in his stories, but sometimes allows things in his own life to inspire his writing. For example, the story that he read aloud to the audience was inspired by one of his family members who suffers from a mental illness. He spoke of how he used his writing to release some of the anger and tension that was sometimes felt towards this person.

The bulk of his presentation was the reading of this story, but afterwards he talked about what it takes to be a successful writer. To MacDonald, “Empathy is the magic wand of storytelling. All good storytellers have to imagine what it is like to be someone else.”

MacDonald listed off a few of the previous jobs he had before finally becoming a writer, including a court reporter and a financial textbook writer. Although these were not his dream jobs or direct areas of interest, he knew that he had to keep working towards his goals of becoming a fiction writer.

Nowadays, MacDonald teaches a creative writing course in Toronto, and is working on a new fiction novel about a psychiatrist. He has come along way from the poem that he wrote for the girl that he liked in 12th grade. The courses MacDonald took here at Fanshawe, like a short-story class, helped lead him on the path to where he is now in his life.