I write to thank all of you who have shared with me your reflections after having read the book, by email, letter and in conversations. Let me share some “behind the scenes” activity that has been underway. I also write to ask whether I might use your note (or a future note) on our web site or social media?
Writing a book is lonely, with lots of insecurities and self-doubt alongside. “How will this book be viewed by others? You have never written anything like this before…what makes you think you can now?” And so on. Good questions.
But engaging with people after they have read it means everything. This was a labor of love – lots of both – over many years and receiving the many kind responses has given me the confidence to believe in the book even more than the passion that took me to writing it. I sense a “community” might build around Vikings on a Prairie Ocean and I invite you to be part of that journey.
As you know, Vikings on a Prairie Ocean began innocently on a blackberry over a decade ago and as the context expanded so did the journey and then took a sharp turn. My publishing advisers put it bluntly, “if you want this book to speak to many, not few, you must write your own life and career into it.” So began what became another five years rewriting the book with those lenses.
Throughout this process, I came to realize that this act of remembering and writing was giving me deep insights into who I am, what I do, and why. It was also enabling me to capture my “mysterious and elusive” calling in new words and ways, in what I hoped would be more accessible and with that, more compelling. I have been blessed with many great teachers and mentors, many of who are touched on in these pages, but it was the book itself which became my greatest teacher.
And you have now become part of that learning and my story. Let me tell you how.
Countless times I was grilled. “Who is your audience? Who are you writing this for? Some nostalgic Icelanders who lost their way onto the prairies, not in the North Atlantic where they belong? Is it a history book? Your family and friends? A professional colleagues? If you don’t know who you are writing for, why are you writing this?” I struggled to answer that, always inadequately I thought, but now, thanks to you I know.
The many emails I have received and conversations I have had confirm for me that the book speaks to many people, in many places, in many different ways. Almost every comment touches on some different aspect that resonates for them that is meaningful. I know now I should have answered yes to every question and then some. Most did not want to hear that. They felt it must have a crystal clear focus. I am now learning that being a writer today does not end with the publication, it is a new beginning. Now I am at a stage in this journey where the story can find new mediums through websites, Facebook, Twitter and the like which makes it possible to continue to grow in new ways and to invite the help of others in doing that. Hence this email.
Social media is also enabling me to build new relationships. Since the launch and the publicity surrounding it – a spot on CBC radio, articles in the Winnipeg Free Press and a review in Logberg – much has happened. Canada’s History magazine published, in the October edition, a piece on the book and included it within their Holiday season catalog. This reaches almost 1 million Canadians, I understand. I am collaborating with Arden Jackson in offering Vinarterta and Vikings as a holiday package. I also share with you my aunt Solveig’s remarkable gift in partnership with Canada’s History which saw a copy of the book sent to 370 high schools in Manitoba for their libraries.
In August, the Associate Editor, Karl Blondal, of Morgunbladid, one of Iceland’s oldest and most significant daily newspapers did a major piece on the Vikings following an interview. I am proud to say that my mother, Sylvia at 93, translated this orally for me and has now produced a 15 page impeccably hand written version soon to be posted. All of these developments are reflected on the website, which you might want to look at from time to time as I keep updating it.
Now I would like to build you into this network of relationships, either with your permission to include your comments on the website or to invite you to put a posting directly on the Facebook page, or both…always preferable!!
Additionally, if you know others who would like to comment please share a copy of this letter with them and invite them to do so. I am always interested in hearing about many peoples’ own memories that the book has triggered and given them great pleasure. And please continue to build the network by sharing the website with others.
As well, please keep an eye out for “Splashes from a Prairie Ocean” a “mini-series sequel” of short fictionalized but factual snapshots that did not make the final publishing edit due to space limitations, the first of which will be published in Logberg Heimskringla soon. “When Knowledge Came with a Knock” is the story of an encyclopedia salesman arriving in Hecla on the mailboat, Hamlet in the 30’s and his lively encounter with my Afi Malli (who you will likely recall form the book) who would buy his beloved Books of Knowledge that day.
Perhaps, if the spirit moves you to share your own similar stories, especially the few of us left who actually experienced in a real way, life on Lake Winnipeg and in its many fish stations in its heyday. There may be some possible collaboration that could grow around “Splashes”!!!!
One of my greatest ever Christmas gifts has been the response that the book has elicited. I now reciprocate with every best wish for the holiday season to you and your families near and far and deep thanks for your note and joining me on this journey.
A final note…. A special Christmas card will be posted on the website in the days before Christmas with some of the great characters in the book who have given me permission to post some of their prized portraits on the website so their stories can be relived through their images!!!!