Tuning In by Pauline Gauthier

I have kept most of my writings. Even stories I wrote over ten years ago. “Your Missal” (as in prayer book, not rocket ship) was special to me. It was a tribute to my late father and was accepted for an anthology entitled “Gifts of the Fathers.” But, at the last minute the editor made some cuts and “Your Missal” was discarded.

Disappointed, I considered other markets. It was clear to me though that I needed a special place for this piece. As an avid listener of CBC Radio, I stumbled on to a new show called “Out Front”. They wanted freelance writers for their 15 minute slot. I listened to their shows faithfully and was struck by the variety of work they showcased. Though I was uncertain if they would accept a quiet piece like “Your Missal” I queried with a brief description of my story. There was some interest with a warning that quality of writing would be the determining factor. In the end, it was accepted and what an experience it was!

I worked on the music with the sound man who took my suggestions seriously and added good ideas of his own. I enjoyed narrating this piece and received excellent advice from the producer. Later, this producer gave my name to a coordinator who was looking for short stories to launch a new Internet site called the Great Canadian Story Engine. I have two stories on this site and was one of many interviewed for their Grand Opening.

After “Your Missal” aired, I received a call from a T.V. Reporter who told me how moved he was by my story. He suggested I have it made into an animated short film. Days later, Out Front contacted me to say I had been short listed for the New York Radio Awards. I didn’t win, but I was honored. Since then, I have produced other pieces for radio: Out Front, First Person Singular and two pieces for Commentary with an invitation to send something in around Christmas.

Now, I sift through my old works, do some revision (sometimes only enough to meet the word count) and send them out. The results are surprising. One poem won first prize in the Aylmer Library Poetry Contest and another was awarded an honorable mention and publication in Grist, an anthology of short stories which will be distributed this Fall.

Sometimes I think it’s serendipity that led me to radio. Still, I know I helped things along by finding a special place for “Your Missal”. The domino effect came after that. Was it serendipity or just good networking? Probably a bit of both.

What I have learned is this: If you have a piece that is special to you, wait until you find the right market for it. It could also open other doors.

Follow your heart and take a risk. Although I love listening to CBC radio, it never occurred to me to send something in until I heard Out Front. It also seemed the perfect place for “Your Missal” because my late father was a devoted radio fan, starting and ending his day with his favourite programs.

Don’t discard old stories. On re-reading mine, I discovered I still liked them. It was just a matter of finding the right markets. Over time and with experience I was getting better at this.

Keep writing. Keep sending things out. Oh, and stay tuned to the radio if that’s what you like. More importantly, be in tune with yourself and your surroundings. Follow your heart.

Pauline Gauthier can be reached by email at: Lanarklore@aol.com