Stuff and nonsense

Ed Smith
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From where I lie in my trusty bed, I can see two of my bookshelves.

There are roughly 100 books on those shelves, and I swear I've given away another 100 from the same shelves. I think they're reproducing. Given some of the titles there - the "Kama Sutra," for instance - I wouldn't be surprised. I'm surprised I'm not reproducing myself.

Outside, in my study, there are two more full shelves, one dedicated to Newfoundland books and the other to religious philosophy and the like. About 150 titles there. And we haven't even gotten to the bookshelves in the living room yet.

I'm sure there are many of you who have far more books in your possession than that. What I want to point out is the probable difference between you and me. I bought every one of those things, other than the ones given me, for one express purpose - to read! And perhaps you did, too. That's not the difference.

The probable difference between you and me may be that you actually read your books. I do not, and it's a matter of great frustration for me. My problem, you see, is that I don't get the time. Honestly. Every week I have column deadlines to meet, and my dear, you wouldn't believe the ogres some of those editors are. Miss a deadline by five minutes and they're all over you like a Navajo rug.

What do editors do? I'm not really sure. They read the columns I and others send them. They do some editing of those columns, although I have to say they leave mine strictly alone most of the time. They insist that international writing standards be met at all times. Some say they have no heart. Other than that they see that we writers are paid regularly and ... and. ...

Holy mackerel, that's right! And I have to say right here and now that editors are probably among the finest people you could ever hope to meet. They are patient and co-operative and always forgiving of even big mistakes - like missing a deadline. God bless 'em every one!

Apart from column deadlines, people keep sending me books and manuscripts that they want me to look at and critique and pass judgment on. I have three on my desk right now. In the meantime, for the first time in more than a quarter-century of writing, I haven't been able to keep up with emails from readers.

Many of you have written me in the last three weeks and not heard anything back. I really do apologize for that. I'll get to you eventually, if not sooner.

Most of those were in response to my column on Lily, the elderly lady in Prince Edward Island who became my friend. Some of you had personal stories and touching comments. How I appreciate you!

While I think of it, thanks to all those who rushed to your trusty computers and entered my little contest of a couple of weeks ago. My, but you were an eager group! The first response came in at 8:58 a.m. on Saturday morning, and they continued all through the weekend into Monday.

As promised, I'll let you know the winners in my New Year's column. Don't despair if you were late getting your response in. Some of those who were very early were also very wrong.

We were talking about books, at least I was. What I wanted to say was that at the moment there are some marvelous books by Newfoundland authors. I haven't read them all, of course, but I know many of the writers and they are excellent at their craft.

The people I'm talking about are incapable of producing a book you won't enjoy. If you find one that does not measure up to the standard, that's not my fault. You should have bought one of mine.

It's time, I'm told, to blow my own horn. Some very frustrated people of my acquaintance are almost demanding that I do more of that. So, here goes.

"From the Ashes of My Dreams" - in addition to being the book of the year in Newfoundland and Labrador when it first came out, and being a Canadian bestseller - is now being used by Brock University in St. Catherine's, Ont., in their health-care programs.

The Centre for Nursing Studies in St. John's has made it a part of their curriculum for several years. Each fall, Other Half and I are invited to speak to well over 100 first-year nursing students to discuss the book in more depth. It's one of the most rewarding things we do anywhere.

A few days ago, I got an email from the University of Prince Edward Island. They, too, want to use that book in their nursing studies.

Might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, as my father would say. So, carrying right on with this blowing my own horn bit, I may as well add that the Ashes book is now available online, and my novel "The Seventh Day" will shortly be an e-book. If you don't know what that means, you need to get someone to tell you.

I don't mind blowing my horn too much. Granted, like most authors, I'm rather reticent about talking about my own work. I'm sure you've noticed that. Newfoundlanders are also a very shy group; witness the likes of Rick Mercer, Rex Murphy and Randy Simms. So, you mix a writer with a Newfoundlander and what you have is shyness personified.

Besides that, it occurs to me that I don't get paid to blow anyone's horn, especially my own. I get paid to be humorous and funny.

Those same editors about whom I was waxing eloquent a short time ago, and who make sure I get paid, will read this stuff and immediately be struck by one unassailable fact.

"This stuff isn't funny. Why should I pay him to advertise himself?"

Unfortunately, it's a legitimate question.

Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale. His email address is


Organizations: Brock University, Nursing Studies, University of Prince Edward Island

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, St. John's Springdale

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