She worked as a journalist for over 30 years, but now is centered on her art and writing.
Here today we’ll learn more about her writing and Carol has generously allowed me to share her upcoming cover for her new book, as well as one of her poems.
Carol. Thank you again for your generosity and sharing.
Q: How did you secure your first agent or publisher?
I had rejection after rejection with my first novel.
I was inspired to continue after reading Stephen King’s book – On Writing– where he talked about encountering the same (rejection).
They published my first novel – Bearskin Diary.
Q: What challenges did you face during your early years of writing? Whether real or imagined.
Finding the time to write was a real challenge. I began writing Bearskin Diary while living in Yellowknife. I had afull time job, anchoring CBC North News at 6 pm and I was raising 3 children by myself.
The only time I had to write was at night, after my children had gone to bed. I rewrote that novel about a dozen times, maybe more, before it was picked up by Nightwood Editions.
After that publication, it was easier to find the time to write as I had left the media and returned to my home province of Saskatchewan, with the aim of making a living as an artist.
That part was tough to begin, as no one knew who I was as an artist, what I offered (storytelling in schools). Thankfully, I had some money saved because getting started was slow.
But I kept to the plan and now, I am happy to say, that opportunities come to me rather than me having to go out and look. It hasn’t been an easy road but it most definitely has been satisfying.
I am grateful that the novels and poetry that I have written has been recognized, and awarded.
People always talk about retiring. I never will and will continue to write until my final days.
Q: Are you familiar with “Imposter Syndrome”? (“the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s efforts or skills”) Has this doubt and/or insecurity crept into your psyche?
No, lol. Writing is work and I apply myself with the same diligence that I would pursuing any career goal. I feel blessed to be able to do the work that I do as a writer and an artist.
One of the best things to come from this pursuit is meeting and interacting with other authors and artists.
It is a joy for me to be able to sit with other writers and discuss ideas, storylines, character development and the process of writing. Early on in my media career, I was blessed enough to have met influential mentors who instilled a great respect for how to express ourselves, through the written word.
Q: Do you compare yourself to other writers? Whether in the way of creativity, the number of books sold/written, perceived talent, etc.?
No, I don’t compare myself to others in any aspect of my life. Although I love to read the work of others.
Canada has so many talented writers. I am blessed by their generosity in how they express themselves, be it poetry, fiction, non fiction or historical writing.
Q: What is your advice to writers starting out?
Advice? NEVER tell yourself that “I am not a real writer.” I hear this often when facilitating workshops. Of course you are a real writer, it’s why you are writing. Here are some other thoughts:
Truman Capote – I don’t write, I rewriteMe – Sometimes the words we write may be the very medicine that someone else needs.
Stephen King – Fear is at the root of most bad writing. Here is one thing you are NEVER allowed to say about yourself – “I’m not really a writer – but -”
I hear this too often, so beginning right this moment, believe that you ARE a writer. It is the reason you may be reading this now.
People always ask – what is your process? Everyone’s is different and unique to them.
There is no wrong way.
Great writers like Stephen King insist that you “must” have a schedule and write at least 2000 words a day. That’s not practical if you have a full time job and a young family.
So don’t feel pressured into doing something wrong if you don’t follow what works for someone else.
Q: What was the best advice you’ve ever received?
My friend Terri Boldt, who is more like a sister, always says “tits up and just keep going”. She is rude and wonderful and that is the type of advice she gives.
It is so easy to give up. And sadly, I have met people who say things like, “I always wanted to be a writer but it’s too hard.”
There is a line from the movie A League of Their Own – a movie about the first Women’s baseball league.
“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”
What we do, as writers, is give a piece of our soul to the reader, or at least we should strive for this.
We tell stories that need to be told.
We say things that need to be said, even if it is not popular or politically correct.
I remember once, facilitating a youth writing workshop, where I gave the young writers permission to use vulgarity in their writing, if what they were wanting to say warranted that language. Not for effect, but for a true use of how people talk in certain situations.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to add in regards to writers or the professional industry?
I remember when Bearskin Diary was released, which is story about finding our way after being a part of the 1960’s scoop. Another writer told me she was saddened because I had written an account of how difficult it was growing up disconnected from my culture and my Indigenous People.
She commented that she’d always wanted to write her own story about the scoop, but now that I had a book on the market, she worried that no one would be interested in what she wrote, “It’s already been done.” she said.
I had to remind her that every perspective is unique.
Is there anything that you’d like to add to new Indigenous writers who are struggling to find their voice?
Canada – after all this time – has finally begun to learn real history through the writings of Indigenous authors.
The stories of struggle and triumphant are being told, and it is a great source of pride for me to be able to sound my own voice and experiences.
There is no shame in admitting that, we as Indigenous Peoples, have been messed up by the system.
Acknowledge that pain and then let it go.
Do so through writing and expression in the Arts. We are alive and need to pay homage to our Ancestors, who are watching.
This is the cover of Carol GoldenEagle’s book of poetry entitled Essential Ingredients, set for release in spring 2021. She painted the cover.
This is an image honouring my own children, and a promise that they will
be raised with knowledge and respect for our Cree/Dene heritage.
The Cree syllabics in the clouds are the names of each of my children.
The manuscript itself is a compilation of memories about how much I have loved being their Mom.
The following is the first poem of Carol’s that I ever read. I’ll now be a lifetime reader. It made me weep (be warned). This is an homage to her adopted dad. Thank you for letting me share it.
Racist uncle knocks at the screen door
it is made of old wood that used to be part of a barn
torn down years ago after being damaged by wicked winds
seemingly ever present on the plains
Hey what’s up? Just put on a pot
come on in
the discussion with his older brother
amicable for a bit
gas prices are up
sure could use some rain already
did you know you can make soup from rhubarb?
But small talk comes to an abrupt end when racist uncle feels entitled
to foolishly venture towards the unspoken
Not still thinking about adopting that schwartze I hope?
Don’t call her that
No, I’m serious you are only asking for trouble.
I am warning you drop it
Be reasonable, I know she is like a pet to you but really.
She is my daughter you arse
She’s an Indian.
That doesn’t matter
What the hell? There is no need for you to take her in like this. For Christ sake even her own mother got rid of her.
I am warning you. Stop talking. Apologize for that. This is my daughter you are saying these things about
I’m not apologizing for anything. Shit! What’s wrong with you? Defending a goddam little Indian for Christ sakes?
this exchange lasts less than one minute
but stays with me a lifetime
and in my young life
I never saw anyone so upset they were shaking
both of them for differing reasons
Okay that is it. If you cannot say anything nice then get the hell out of my house and don’t come back until you can apologize!
With a slam of fists atop a round formica table
cold coffee splashing to mark the spot
mark the day
racist uncle wears a look of shock
and slowly turns to walk out the old wooden door
he never visits our house again
It is the first of many times I remember
Daddy stepping in
deflecting a hit
sheltering me from the harm and the hatred
I never got a chance to say
for carrying me on your shoulders
for lifting me out of those battles
the raging war where I never enlisted
but found myself living
I also thank Creator for showing me
love is colour blind
so was Daddy
ever my hero
never remaining silent
in times of need
I miss him
Rest in peace
I will tell good stories about you