So that’s it for 2014. The year was an amazing year, a difficult year, a beautiful year. First and foremost, my wife and I welcomed our fifth child into the world, James Willie Robertson (I’m not allowed to call him J-Dubs, even though he has already been called Jimmy James, Willie, Doctor J, and so on). He’s six weeks old now, and happy and calm and healthy. You always think when you add another baby it’ll be too crazy, but then the baby comes and you wonder what life was like without him. Sure, it’s crazy, but it’s your crazy and you love it.
Of course, this year I had seven books published (seven!! sounds nuts to write that). My new graphic novel series, Tales From Big Spirit, came out in early spring, and it’s been doing wonderfully in the schools. Tales From Big Spirit is a six-book series that focusses on heroes in Canadian history who were Indigenous, the changes they made for our country and for Indigenous peoples in the past, and what changes can still be made now and going forward. I’m very proud of the series and I worked with some incredible illustrators: Scott Henderson (the one and only), Wai Tien, and Andrew Lodwick. It was truly a team effort. Perhaps what I’m most proud of, however, is The Evolution of Alice. It was a bit of a risk to write the book, a book without pictures, a book for adults (well, late-teens and up), but it was the most rewarding experience. I worked with Warren Cariou on the book, he was my editor, and I learned so much from him, things that I’ve been carrying forward on anything new I’ve written since. I would have been proud no matter how the book did, but it turns out that people really enjoy it. It got great reviews from The Winnnipeg Free Press and CBC, and it even made the list of top selling books for the year from Manitoba writers by McNally Robinson Booksellers (#6!!). It truly was a dream come true.
I also was nominated for, and won, an award from the Aboriginal Circle of Educators for Research/Curriculum Development. I always joked that I got nominated enough, but never won. I guess I can’t say that anymore. But in all seriousness, I look at my work as educational, for youth in schools, and to win this award is humbling. I get to receive it in February 2015. I’m really looking forward to it.
The difficulty. I wanted to write this in November, because it was an awareness month, but now is as good a time as any. Not much in the way of details, but enough to let you know that, okay, I have anxiety. I’ve had it for several years. Sometimes it’s just kind of there and not bothering me, and sometimes it’s this, as Dexter would say, Dark Passenger. It’s truly this person that follows you, whispers in your ear, discourages you, makes you feel horrific, makes you think you can’t do things. The last quarter of 2014 was rife with anxiety, and it was tough to get through those months. You feel weak of mind and body, angry, frustrated, scared. I don’t know if you’ve been there or not, but I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. I’m working through it. I guess the worst thing you can do is hold it in. You have to get help. Help to help yourself would be the best way to put it. I’m still on the road, but it’s gradually getting better. I’m lucky to have family and friends that are there, especially my wife, who’s a complete hero. At any rate, sorry for that detour in this post.
What’s coming up? The new year promises things unexpected, as always, and things expected that I am looking forward to. Will this be the year my television show finally finds a broadcaster? The Reckoner has been waiting patiently for years now, and will continue to wait, but maybe, just maybe, this is it’s time. We’ll see. I have two books coming out for sure. One is The Runner, the seventh book in the Tales From Big Spirit series (a series my publisher and I plan as ongoing). It’s about an amazing man named Joseph Keeper, a runner who is still the best finisher in Canadian Olympic history in the 10,000 meter race. Also a war hero. Also a father. Also a hero to his community, Norway House. The second book is a new version of the Helen Betty Osborne story, a graphic novel I’ve always wanted another chance at, and a chance I’ve finally gotten. Simply called “Betty”, this graphic novel will tell Betty’s story with six years of storytelling experience on my part, with my frequent partner, the uber-talented Scott Henderson, holding the pencil, and in a way that will place her story in a more contemporary light, given all the attention now on our missing and murdered Indigenous women. I am so looking forward to this publication, and hoping it helps bring more attention to this national travesty. Other than that, I am writing a new novel with the help of support from Manitoba Arts Council. I should be finished it in the spring. I’ll keep it top secret for now, but hopefully you’ll get to see it on shelves at some point.
That’s it from me. Enough blogging, back to writing! I want to thank you for your support, and I wish you all the best in 2015.
With love and gratitude,