Some people claim they would like to walk away from their lives. Shelley Leedahl had the nerve to do it. Was it an act of selfishness, or self-preservation? Provocative, candid, and engaging, these intimate essays explore the implicit complexities and contradictions when personal and professional lives both complement and clash. How can she be a good mother when her literary calling requires her to be away ? sometimes countries away ? from her school-aged children? How does she reconcile the fact she is often more comfortable with strangers in foreign countries than with her own kith and kin? Yet personal experiences ? including travels near and far, parental dilemmas, relationship breakdowns, new love, emotional chaos, and the care taken in creating gardens ? also inspire the work. Leedahl digs deep into her well, drawing upon childhood memories, hikes and road trips, her self-imposed exile to a rural Saskatchewan village (and the cutting loneliness that ensued), fortuitous meetings with strangers, and her habit of jumping off cliffs and starting over, again and again. A facility for gratitude and a generous capacity for awe permeate the individual essays in this assured collection. The subject of the writing life weaves through the book, and the interior life is revealed for what it is ? beautiful and hideous, joyous and forlorn, singular and relatable.
Multi-genre writer Shelley A. Leedahl assuredly shifts her creative focus between critically-acclaimed books of poetry, short fiction, novels, and children's literature. With the debut of I Wasn't Always Like This, the seasoned writer and popular presenter now adds creative non-fiction to her literary repertoire. Her numerous titles include Wretched Beast; Listen, Honey; Orchestra of the Lost Steps; The Bone Talker (with illustrator Bill Slavin); The House of the Easily Amused; and A Few Words For January. Leedahl's work has appeared in anthologies ranging from The Best Canadian Poetry in English, 2013 to Great Canadian Murder and Mystery Stories; Slice Me Some Truth: An Anthology of Canadian Creative Nonfiction; Country Roads: Memoirs from Rural Canada; and Outside of Ordinary: Women's Travel Stories. Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Leedahl has been calling that province as well as Alberta and British Columbia home over the last several years. Aside from literary writing, she also works as a freelance writer, editor, writing instructor, and an advertising copywriter for two Edmonton radio stations.