Wis­dom of the Ages

ZOOMER Magazine - - CONTENTS -

BE­LIEVE ME, I have draw­ers full of short sto­ries and un­fin­ished nov­els,” says jour­nal­ist and au­thor Ce­cily Ross, 65. This spring, her first novel, The Lost Di­aries of Su­sanna Moodie, was pub­lished. As for those draw­ers, those ear­lier ef­forts didn’t go to waste. “Writ­ing them was a nec­es­sary learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that has cul­mi­nated in this book, the fic­tional di­ary of a Cana­dian pi­o­neer whom I have been fas­ci­nated with for more than 40 years.” You could say Moodie, a Bri­tish-born writer who moved to Canada in 1832 and wrote about life in the “bush,” was also a pi­o­neer for women writ­ers like Ross. The au­thor worked as an editor and writer at the Globe and Mail and has con­trib­uted to Maclean’s, the Toronto Star and this mag­a­zine. Adds Ross, “As a mother, sis­ter, wife and daugh­ter, as a woman, I am hum­bled by what she en­dured and by her de­ter­mi­na­tion to write.” No longer the On­tario wilder­ness, Ross and Basil, her sec­ond hus­band of 20 years, live qui­etly in Creemore with their lit­tle dog, Banjo.

What ad­vice do you wish you’d given your 25-year-old self? Brace your­self. You’ll never be a dancer. Keep writ­ing.

What ad­vice would you give your 80-year-old self? Brace your­self. You’ll never be a dancer but you wrote a novel, fi­nally.

What do you know for sure? Noth­ing. Oh, ex­cept that you get way more chances in life than you might think. That money ru­ins peo­ple. That the more you prac­tise,

the bet­ter you get. That a room of your own is es­sen­tial. That all you need is love.

What have you learned? That I should talk less and lis­ten more.

What will you never learn? To keep my mouth shut.

Best piece of ad­vice? From my mother: “Don’t drown the gin.”

Did it work? Oh, yes. What in­spires you? I think there is great beauty and truth in sad­ness. We are born to die and yet we go on. In the words of Wal­ter Ben­jamin, “It is the im­ages of melan­choly that kin­dle the spirit most brightly.”

The moment that changed ev­ery­thing? When my daugh­ter Leah was born. And then again the birth of her sis­ter Meghan.

Hap­pi­ness is … my life with Basil. Three lit­tle grand­sons. Per­fectly poached eggs on toast. The song of the north­ern car­di­nal. Writ­ing fic­tion.

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