Meet Heather Babcock: Writer and Delighter!
Heather is a gorgeous ray of sugar and spice from the inside out. Smart, sassy and sweet in a delicious combination, she delights onstage and off. I am so grateful to experience her in both settings. 🙂
From her blog where she is Writing To Exhale… (brilliant!)…
Heather Babcock’s maternal grandmother worked as a housekeeper for Timothy Findley’s family in the 1950s. Heather continues the working class/literary connection by working as a secretary by day and penning her poetry and prose by night. She has had short fiction published in Descant Magazine, Front&Centre Magazine, The Toronto Quarterly, Truck, The Annex Echo newspaper and the Steel Bananas anthology GULCH (published by Tightrope Books in Toronto, 2009) among others. In 2014, Heather Babcock was one of The Toronto Quarterly’s featured poets as part of their Poetry Month celebration. Heather has performed at the Beautiful and the Damned, the Plasticine Poetry series and Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir.
What is your career? Is it the same as your passion? What is your passion?
I always say that writing is not what I do to pay the bills, but it is what I do to make my living. I am lucky that I have a great day job that allows me to focus on my career and my passion: writing.
What are the greatest challenges and greatest rewards of your career?
When I first started writing, probably the biggest challenge was finding my voice and then, in terms of publishing, finding the right outlets for my voice. The greatest reward – for any writer I would imagine – is seeing your work in print for the first time. Betty Smith perfectly captured that feeling – one of excitement mixed with pride – in her novel A Tree Grows In Brooklyn when the main character, Francie, publishes a story in the school magazine. Francie shows the story to her mother Katie who tells her that there will be other published stories and that eventually Francie will “get used to it.” Well, I’ve had a number of stories published myself now and I hope that I’ll never “get used to it.” 🙂
What is your advice to others embarking on similar career?
Toronto has a lot of amazing spoken word, poetry and art events. I’ve met so many incredible, supportive and encouraging artists through these events. Often a spoken word or poetry show will have an open mic. Open mics are a great way to “workshop” your writing – what connected with the audience? What didn’t? Everyone’s shy at first but the audiences that I’ve encountered have always been kind and encouraging.
What does it mean to be an artist?
The ability to see beauty where others may not even bother to look. A love for the unlovable. All of the artists that I admire, from writers Toni Morrison and Hubert Selby Jr., musician Paul Simon and painter William Kurelek, display a strong sense of empathy in their work.
5 years ago, did you expect to be where you are today? Why, why not?
5 years ago I read Helen Potrebenko’s 1975 novel Taxi! Being a working class woman, I could instantly relate to the main character and her experiences as a working class woman. I admired how Potrebenko unabashedly wrote about class struggle and I realized that I too wanted to incorporate my own experiences as a working class person into my writing.
So 5 years ago was when I started to discover my own voice as a writer. Since then I’ve had my work published in many different literary journals, featured as a reader at events such as Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir and will have a chapbook, a collection of my short stories, published by DevilHousePress this Spring.
Where will you be in 5 years?
I am currently working on a novel and I hope to have it finished and published by then.
What would you say to your 8-year-old self?
When I was 8, I took the bus to school every day. The bus driver was a tiny woman with a short temper and a nicotine infused voice. She’d constantly yell obscenities at any driver, or kid for that matter, who got in her way. Although I had no idea what they meant, I was fascinated by the passion of her words and incorporated them into my own vocabulary. I was frequently sent to the principal’s office much to the dismay of my parents who, funnily enough, didn’t know what half the swear words I used meant either. So if I could go back in time and visit my 8-year-old self, I’d hand her a thesaurus and tell her to find some new ways to express herself.
What would you say to your 80-year-old self?
I would hope that my 80-year-old self wouldn’t be able to hear whatever I would say over the crashing of the waves outside of the cottage that she lives – and writes – in. 🙂
How lucky are you and why?
I don’t know if I would call myself lucky but I am very thankful for the wonderful people that I have in my life.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
Perhaps that I’m very shy. I can get up on stage and confidently recite the most personal story in front of an audience and yet I’ll hide in the washroom at parties to avoid small talk.
What makes you laugh? What is fun for you?
My cat makes me laugh. She’s hilarious. The best kind of fun for me is just doing nothing with someone you love.
What makes you question humanity?
Deliberate cruelty. As Tennessee Williams wrote in A Streetcar Named Desire “Some things are not forgivable. Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable.”
Life is so fragile. Human beings are so fragile. We just need to be kind to each other.
What is your favorite quote?
Can I use one of my own?: “‘Working class’ should not be synonymous with ‘poverty’.”
Is there anything else you’re involved in that you’d like to plug or point our attention to?
I will be performing with Lizzie Violet, Arlene Paculan and Dottie Dangerfield at The Redhead Revue on Saturday, March 21st at Habits Gastropub. The show – a mix of burlesque, spoken word, poetry and music – will start at 9pm.
Please provide one of your favorite pictures of yourself and a link to something you are particularly proud of being involved in… and/or…. Something originating from someone else that you find particularly inspiring/empowering.
The photo I’ve attached is one that John Oughton took of me at the first Redhead Revue in September 2014.
I’d like to give a shout out to Bereaved Families of Ontario, a donor supported organization that provides free support programs to those who have lost a family member. When I lost my father and my sister, the mutual support groups at BFO were a safe and supportive space; one where my grief was both acknowledged and respected. I may have been alone in my personal grief but with BFO-Toronto, I was not alone on my grief journey. Their website is: www.bfotoronto.ca
And you can see her live at WonderFest 2015
Thursday March 5 at 3030 Dundas Street West
7:00 Doors 8:00 Show $10
Have a glorious day, everybuddy!