Last night I mustered all my courage and stood in a line of other people who had mustered all their courage, at a wine and cheese at HarperCollins in downtown Toronto. We were lining up to speak to one of several very kind editors giving two hours of their time to students in the University of King’s College Master of Fine Arts program.

It would have been a lot easier and less frightening for me, in every imaginable way, to just eat yet more cheese in the corner of the crowded boardroom, and have fun with my friends. But I knew this was a great opportunity to get face-to-face with an editor at one of the English speaking world’s largest publishers. He was very kind and gracious. The editors had clearly and generously prepped for our gathering by scanning our bios and a bit of our work. He recognized my name as “the minister’s wife,” and even remembered a line from my Walrus article, “the life of the funeral and the death of the party.” Very cool. Then, he whipped out a book contract from his back pocket. HA HA HA HA! That did not happen. But I left cheered, like I think just about everyone from our class did, bellies full of Gruyère and heads full of dreams.

The writing life is full of highs and lows and sighing. But the big lesson I keep learning is to walk through the doors or climb through the windows (potentially very undignified, but it might move you forward), that are open in front of you. Risk taking is part of the package.

Later in our MFA schedule we had a session on how to write good grant proposals. One line really jumped out at me from the presenter: “There’s no point in being shy.” Indeed.