Pen to Computer Screen (Originally Published with Digital Eve)
Writing and the written word have been a major part of Trecia Harley’s life ever since she could remember. As a child she loved to read and be transported to another world.
The magic of words was her main pastime growing up in Parry Sound, Ontario. Thus, writing became her favourite form of expression.
Trecia attended the University of Toronto where she studied English Literature, History and Celtic Studies. She also completed a publishing certificate course at Ryerson Polytechnic University.
“Throughout my entire education, I loved reading books, reading about the making of books, discussing the power of literature, and debating the need for it in daily life,” says Trecia. “To me, writing was, and will always be, THE ultimate form of connecting the minds of men.”
This lead Trecia to becoming involved with The Breath, an online magazine. The Breath was the brain-child of two men from Toronto: Shane Belcourt (Anthony) and Jordan O'Connor. Shane and Jordan are musicians and artists in their own right in Ottawa. Shane and Jordan saw the early possibilities of the Internet and were excited by the idea of forming an arts collective site which would house an e-zine and independent Canadian record label.
Shane and Jordan asked Trecia and her husband Craig to help out - and they were immediately hooked.
“I started copy editing material and Craig started designing the pages. What first began with an issue full of our own writing, and that of our friends, has turned into a literary showcase of work from writers, artists, musicians, photographers, and film makers from
Canada, the United States, and the entire globe! It's quite amazing what has become of a little idea Shane and Jordan had over Cheerios one morning.”
Trecia’s role as Editor of a non-paying zine that does not yet receive grant monies for assistance, her typical day involves receiving a few submissions by email. If she has the time that day (depending on work, family and other obligations), she will get a chance to sit down and read over the material.
“It's a great way to relax, get away, and enjoy something brand new someone I've never met has offered to share with us.”
Trecia is predominantly a closet poet who writes for herself.
“Though I don't use pretty ribbons to gather up my goods like Emily Dickenson, I do have somewhat of a "vault" and it's for me to fill it up in my own good time. The advantage to writing, is of course, quite extraordinary. You see, right now my writing is a way for me to express myself without critique or rejection.”
Trecia adds that writing is the best kind of therapy, of esteem-building or breaking, and like many poets before her, she revels in the joy of a completed work, a finished muttering.
“It's personal and fulfilling. Whether you put your work out
there for complete strangers to enjoy and take stock of, or whether you keep it to yourself and your close loved ones, it's the getting there that builds you. The working and reworking that summons up new offerings - offerings that could perhaps change the way people perceive the world!”
Writing, and the arts in general, is a challenging avenue if it's your
only form of income, says Trecia. She knows many people who have sacrificed their artistic standards because they have had to concern themselves with being able to pay for groceries only with "arts" earnings, and it seems sometimes a burden too heavy to bear.
“On the other hand, I know others who have simply made their standards more pliable, more realistic, and have, therefore, been able to make a healthy living. It's all about choices and a little bit of luck I suppose.”
Trecia eventually hopes to be able to fit more easily into one of the grant categories devised by the Canadian Council For the Arts to get money for The Breath.
“Although the Council does offer fantastic possibilities to many organizations and individual artists, we find that we are lacking the ‘proper’ boundaries in order to be considered. Financial assistance would, of course, be the next step to increasing our readership and actually paying our contributors for their labours - something I still have a problem with.”
Trecia finds it hard to present work by artists without paying them for their time and effort. That, in itself, is the most important goal she thinks.
“It's not enough for these folks to be recognized, they need to eat too.”
For the future, Trecia sees The Breath growing and changing with the times.
“We currently publish poetry, novels, short stories, political rants, social commentaries, music reviews, short films, screenplays, and photographic essays. The web is becoming endless in its resources and our zine will surely continue to sail on as its medium ebbs and flows.”
Advice that Trecia has for anyone else that may want to start an ezine:
“Advice? Hmmm. Do it 'cause you love it. Do it 'cause you are curious.
Editors ... have a ball but don't let your ego carry you away. You are featuring the work of others in order to heighten the experience of your readership, not to brag about what you know or what you like. Help your authors with any editorial advice you may have. Don't preach to them about what they should and should not do. Remember, they are the ones who had the guts to share of themselves. Respect their vulnerability. Writers ... Keep at it and enjoy it. Write what you know and keep reading those who inspire you. When you are stuck, they are the ones who will bring you home.”