After working in radio for a few years, I decided I needed a change. Not only was I not using my education but I wasn’t making nearly enough money to pay off my student loans and buy a house and do all the rest of those adult things that people do. So I accepted a teaching job at a college in Labrador. My spouse and I have been here for over two years and while we love the people and our jobs, the isolated vastness of the place has been a little hard to handle.
While there is a solid, thriving theatre scene, and the arts centre tries to promote all types of art, there is virtually no visible writing community here in Lab West. I haven’t heard of one visiting writer and I can count only one book event in the last couple years. Although disappointing it’s not surprising. We’re very isolated and it costs about $900 return from Newfoundland. If you prefer to drive, you’re looking at a couple days of bumpy travel over a partially paved dirt road, and finding lodging once you get here is no less than a pain in the ass.
One of the things I’ve learned that is essential to Labrador life is keeping yourself occupied, and if you’re not into snowmobiling or being outside in sub-sub-sub zero temps, most of those mind-occupying things relegate you to your home. One thing I use to spend my time is Book Fridge, and I’ve managed to showcase over 200 books, interview a bunch of successful writers, and give away many books and other prizes. Although Book Fridge isn’t exactly what I want it to be yet, it is getting there. Finding the time to do exactly what I want with it is another matter.
An instructor by day, I spend my nights and weekends doing bookish things. Right now I’m reading three books that I plan to feature on Book Fridge, reading two textbooks for three education courses that I’m currently doing in order to get a B.Ed. (a third
degree that I’m hoping to finish this summer), trying to write, promote my own book, move into a new house, have somewhat of a social life, reach other private goals, and be engaged in my personal relationships.
Book Fridge is something I do for interest only. I do not get paid for it. I do it as a hobby and all the costs to send books and prizes and purchase gift cards come out of pocket. In fact, I buy about 50% of the book prizes. I do, though, get things in return like promotional copies from publishers, random emails from like-minded book people, and I’ve been able to promote my own book. So while Labrador life is not for the meek it does have its benefits. I have made some lasting friendships, have met so many fantastic people who I am proud to call my friends and coworkers, and I’ve had one of the best professional experiences of my life. At the very least Labrador has provided lots of time. Where else would I have found the hours to host a self-indulgent, masturbatory website like Book Fridge?
Although I have the website and other things to keep me company, I do miss the literary events and bookstores of a bigger place. Maybe I should open a bookstore or organize a book event of some sort. Or maybe I should spend my time writing and stop being a baby. Maybe I should just wait it out and hope to get a good job somewhere a little less isolated where there are bookstores, signings, and regular readings. Until then, I’ll try to appreciate all that Labrador has to offer including the people, my job, and my books.
Thanks to all contributers, publishers, readers, writers, authors, and supporters for making Book Fridge’s first year a successful one.