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July 5, 2011 / Melissa Yuan-Innes

Anne of Green Gables vs. Marilla Cuthbert

The CBC is not going to produce my medical drama series, Code Blues.


When I got the news, one of the first things that ran through my head was, “Oh, no!  I shouldn’t have told everyone.  Now they’re going to think I’m an idiot.”


This begs the question, is it better to sit on good news in case it turns into cow turds?  I have a friend who did not announce a book contract (and barely mentioned the book launch) for fear it might come to naught.


I understand.  As a kid, I sat around with my glass half-full, grimly waiting for the axe to fall.


Strangely enough, this made me think of Anne of Green Gables.


Anne Shirley: Don’t you ever imagine things differently from what they are?

Marilla Cuthbert: No.

Anne Shirley: Oh Marilla, how much you miss.


I always felt like a kindred spirit to Anne.  We both had wild imaginations and terrible tempers, apt to break chalkboards over the heads of the guys we later married.  We longed for bosom friends and wrote endless stories.


But my parents out-Marilla-ed Marilla.  They preached saving, skimping, working hard in school, then working hard at work and paying off your mortgage and salting away your RRSP.


So I ended up a hybrid, full of passion and imagination but assiduously applying my nose to the grindstone.


As an adult, I’ve seen plenty of axes fall (both as a doctor and as an axee) and I decided that I’d better celebrate the time in between axes.  My parents taught me financial security and it’s served me well, but it is also not much fun (except the part where money buys you freedom.  That part is excellent).


After the CBC sent me a contract, not only did I announce it on my blog, etc., but I cut off my hair, bought some new clothes, and purchased a bunch of gel pens.


I know.  Gel pens.  Trivial to most people.


But I really like them and they’re so impractical because they get used up quickly and dry up fast.  They also cost up to $3 each.


For the first time in my life, I went to l’Essence du Papier and bought one in nearly every colour.  I almost teared up at the cash register.  I know this sounds totally bizarre, but with this contract, I could finally take myself seriously as a writer and buy what I wanted.  Namely, gel pens.


Now that dream has dissolved, but I’ve still got my gel pens.  For a few days, I felt a pang when I saw them (“Oh, the gel pens of yesteryear, symbolic of a future never to come…”) until I said, “Screw it.”


I sent that pilot script to the BBC and some American audio theatre company.  I’m going to re-write it for TV and shoot it out there.


Because I am still a writer.  It doesn’t matter what the CBC says or what the (increasingly shipwrecked) publishing world says.


I am still writing and I am still Anne of Green Gables–and Marilla too.


A patient put in Rachel Naomi Remen’s Kitchen Table Wisdom said, “When you’re walking on thin ice, you might as well dance.”


Kate Braestrup’s second husband Simon said, “We have lost.  Now we love.”




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  1. cindie / Jul 5 2011 5:12 pm

    Best blog ever! Hell, no, you shouldn’t sit on good news. When you do, you deny others the joy of celebrating your courage. I don’t care if it pans out or not, I learn just from watching you go go go! It reminds me to take risks — and celebrate them. Consider those gel pens a gift — one from every one of us who marvel at you and all you do. Look at each of them and remember how many people follow your journey and know the happy ending is just waiting to be written. And we will celebrate you then too.

  2. melissayuaninnes / Jul 5 2011 5:43 pm

    thanks, cindie–for this and for tweeting my post! You are awesome and you’re right. It is a risk and I’m going for it. I love the idea of gel pens as gifts from other people. What colour do you wanna be? 😉

    • cindie / Jul 5 2011 5:48 pm

      Dark blue! You know that color when black is just too much and blue is too staid? Yeah, that blue.

  3. Karen / Jul 6 2011 6:53 am

    I agree – do not sit on good news and do not hold back from celebrating. Perspective please – you bought GEL PENS, not a new car!! If the CBC cancelled it, then the universe has something bigger and better in store for you. Keep those gel pens ready. I’m partial to purple, even though ‘purple prose’ is negative.

    I thought of you when i was in NYC last week. More excellent food, and a quiet hotel room this time. The train was late in every direction. Some things never change.

    Keep dreaming and hoping and stay open to the opportunity that is waiting for you!

    • melissayuaninnes / Jul 6 2011 5:07 pm

      Karen, I love your attitude. I did just have to buy a new car, BTW, because my van’s battery kept dying, but you’re right. Gel pens won’t break the bank one way or another. Purple, huh? I’m feeling shocking pink right now.

      NYC again, you crazy girl? What were you up to? And where was this mythic quiet hotel? 🙂

      Rock. On. I’m looking forward to hearing about your own dreams and news!

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