My current book is THE PERILOUS TRADE, a history of post-war publishing in Canada by Roy MacSkimming. For some reason, I never considered publishing as a career. Maybe because I grew up near Vancouver, whereas the centre of Canadian publishing is Toronto. When I tried to do editing for a living, I found I had little tolerance for terrible writing.
(My lack of patience is actually the main reason I didn’t think I’d be a good teacher. But I’ve discovered it’s easier with kids. Unlike adults, they’re not supposed to know better.)
I just put the book down after finishing the chapter about Coach House and House of Anansi. Both were founded in the late 1960s (near Toronto, of course), and both started with experimental books—in both writing and design. Their origin stories are exactly what I expected: poor students making art with their friends, stumbling backwards into something like success.
It’s the same story I’ve been trying to write my whole life, except I keep trying to do it alone. Publishing doesn’t seem to work like that. There are too many pieces to fit together to make a book.
But after so many years of being alone, I don’t know how to do life any other way.