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Anne Bishop: Breaking Out At 65

Humber School for Writers grad Anne Bishop recently won the top prize for an unfinished manuscript in the Atlantic Writing Competition. She talks a bit about hearing the news and what it's like to be breaking out at 65.

On April 20th, I learned that I had won the 2016 HR (Bill) Percy Novel Prize, offered annually by the Nova Scotia Writers' Federation.

The news made my day, and it was certainly a day that needed making.

It was lambing time, and at five am I went to check the pregnant ewes. On the way, the dog encountered a stray creature his genetic wisdom told him he should herd toward his shepherd. The genetic wisdom of the skunk did not agree. It was on my list to reconnect the barn hose after winter storage, just not before sunrise. The dog got a bath and we both got wet and cold.

Onward with the chore routine until a young ram who has been responding well to halter training in preparation for a new home decided he wasn't so keen after all. He used his superior weight to take me for a run or, more accurately, a drag.

Next I spotted a barn cat I'd been treating for an infected wound. I caught her, found the first tick of the year on the back of her neck and pulled it. I had her restrained under one arm and was cleaning the wound with the other hand when my partner shouted down the lane that there was an email I might want to see right away.

Two weeks later I was reading from my manuscript at the NSWF's annual celebration of emerging writers.

I'm delighted to be emerging at sixty-five and grateful to the Humber College Creative Writing Correspondence program for giving me the guidance I needed to begin making the transition from non-fiction to fiction writing. That includes my mentor, Susan Swan, and the 2009 Nova Scotia Humber Students, Marla Dominey, Marina Harris and Bosko Loncarevic, who continued as a writing group for the following four years.

That nagging voice all writing apprentices know too well, the one that says 'I'll never learn to do this, getting a first novel published is next to impossible and surely the world doesn't need another mediocre novelist anyway' has, for the moment, fallen silent.

Now, if I could just get that terrible smell off of the dog.


Anne Bishop