In Death in the Afternoon, Hemingway wrote about his early struggle to identify the concrete actions or sensations that caused an emotion. The art of writing lies not only in describing external events but in noticing the emotions stirred by such events and identifying precisely what caused the emotion. Skilled writers can bring their readers to feel an emotion when it is accurately set-up in their story:

I was trying to write then and I found the greatest difficulty, aside from knowing truly what you really felt, rather than what you were supposed to feel, and had been taught to feel, was to put down what really happened in action; what the actual things were which produced the emotion that you experienced.

As a person who feels everything keenly, I appreciate the beauty of a novel based on how it transports me into the world of feelings and emotions. There’s only so much I care about the physical set-up of a novel as long as I can inhabit the emotional life of its characters. Hemingway’s advice to notice an emotion and work your way backwards to describe how it came about inspired me to start writing-up my own deeply felt emotions. It’s a writing practice that I find both soothing and enlightening.

The text below was born out of a moment of pure delight. A mere flash whereupon I felt the weightlessness one might feel at the top of a roller coaster. It came and went but it lives on in my mind as something I recall when I need relief from the oppression of everyday worries and blocked creativity.

The road strays through the highlands’ bedrock like a streamer unrolling, erratic. On the horizon, the yellow line dips, dives and disappears at the will of a curve, only to reappear farther and narrower. Cedar and Spruce line the granite cliffs, their roots gnarled around rocky crimps and crevasses. A turn reveals a clearing of rolling hills covered in the bright emerald of the windswept grass. In the car, the landscape runs like a movie to the sound of Castle on the Hill:

“Found my heart and broke it here

Made friends and lost them through the years
And I’ve not seen the roaring fields in so long,
 I know I’ve grown
But I can’t wait to go home”

Wooden fences and grazing cattle announce a homestead. Driving up a hill, the road takes another sharp turn as it descends along the soft roll of a field. The urgent guitar riff leads into the chorus as a teenager on a dirt bike bursts from beside a cedar cop, his hair dancing in the wind. For an instant, we drive side-by-side as the music beckons:

“I’m on my way
Driving at ninety down those country lanes
Singing to “Tiny Dancer”
And I miss the way you make me feel, and it’s real
We watched the sunset over the castle on the hill”

The music continues as we part ways but I keep the feeling of wind in my hair and the weightlessness of speed.

About Moi

Véronique Bergeron, by Herself

Véronique started writing and illustrating stories in elementary school when she discovered her father’s typewriter. Elementary school was not kind to this quiet introspective child: she became the bane of her teachers’ existence by learning to read before it was permitted. While everyone was learning vowels, Véronique was reading books by Sophie Comtesse de Segur and learning what fate awaited young girls with unbridled imaginations and a lazy streak. This was in the late ’70s in the Province of Quebec where the biggest classroom management issue was precocious readers.

Fast-forward to high school and Véronique is excelling in French, learning English by reading Agatha Christie and failing in math and science. A slow STEM death by a million unanswered questions: “If you were listening, they said, you wouldn’t ask questions.” Véronique graduated high school in 1991 with a diploma, a repressed creativity and the certainty that she was not as smart as people thought she was. She abandoned her dream of becoming a midwife and applied to Law School after getting a College degree in sex, drugs and rock & roll.

Law School conformed to the contours of her brain. For the first time, Véronique saw decent grades appear on her transcripts. To avoid taking Law School for granted {or maybe because she didn’t know how babies were made?} Véronique got pregnant the following summer. And again the following summer. And again just before graduating. In a strange twist of fate, she learned as much about normal pregnancy and childbirth in Law School as do most students in Med School.

In 1995, Véronique punched way above her weight and married the world’s last gentleman. It turned out to be the single best career decision she ever made.

With her law degree in hand, Véronique decided to stay home to care for her three young children. She hung her diploma on a nondescript wall and carried on the anonymous life of the mother of many, adding two more twigs to her fruitful family tree.

We are not sure if Véronique got bored by the quiet with 4 children or if she thought she could get a pee break by finding a real job but she applied for a Master’s in Law with specialization in biomedical ethics while expecting her 5th child and got accepted on her due date. When her infant son was 5 months old, she started commuting from Ottawa to McGill University in Montreal to complete her Master’s degree.

During her time at McGill, Véronique published two Scholarly Articles with Very Serious Titles, including My idea of natural childbirth is ‘no make-up’: {re-titled for publication The ethics of cesarean section on maternal request.} Her practicum were at the Montreal Children’s Hospital neonatal intensive care unit and the Children Hospital of Eastern Ontario neonatal intensive care unit. Her thesis topic was informed consent in neonatal intensive care through the lens of legal pluralism. Or something.

After graduating, she lectured in bioethics at St-Paul’s University in Ottawa and found work as a legislative assistant for a federal Member of Parliament, a job renonwed for requiring no education whatsoever.

Véronique had her sixth child while working as a political staffer. Shortly before the Canadian election campaign of 2011, Véronique got pregnant with her seventh child and accepted a position as her boss’s campaign manager because why the heck not. That’s when the universe thought “Let’s see what she does with that one!” and threw her a curve ball: in the thick the election campaign Véronique found out that she was expecting twins. Babies number 7 and 8 if you are still counting.

Véronique delivered a successful election campaign and won a pair of babies in 2011 {but was mostly noticed for paying more in childcare than she earned on the Hill}. In a spectacular feat of poor timing, Véronique was offered a bioethics consultant position for a healthcare institution in Montreal halfway through her twin pregnancy. She turned down this unique opportunity, fearing that her Master’s degree would end-up being giant money cigar. To avoid being proven right, she started writing a novel based on the adjoining worlds of law and medicine since it worked so well for John Grisham.

In 20-something, and the year after that, {it’s a bit of a blur thank goodness for journalists} Véronique was invited to participate in the Ottawa Human Library Project. In 2014 she gave birth to her 9th child {or so the papers tell her.}

While on bed rest hatching her twins, Véronique started her first personal blog Vie de Cirque (Circus Life), offering the no-nonsense perspective of a mother of many to a small but loyal readership. Vie de Cirque eventually morphed into Fearless Family Life. While her writing and ideas are often complimented, her Internet fame came from spending only $25 per kid on Christmas gifts in 2015 {but not for real}.

Véronique’s most spectacular failures include — but are not limited to — homeschooling her children and crowdfunding her creative work {on both Kickstarter and Patreon} . She came within a tenth of a point of graduating summa cum laude and has never won a single writing competition, including the CBC Short Story Contest. She will likely remain anonymous, remembered by no one but her family as someone who tried, but not quite hard enough, to become a writer. The dog will remember her as the person who fed her. Until someone else does.

Veronique has 9 children, all hers, all from the same father, aged 21 all the way down to 3 and works as a technical writer. She has been potty training for the last 19 years. She still hasn’t it figured out.




October skies

August stretches like a sleepy tomcat over early October days.
Encased in the emerald of an evergreen forest, the fields rest in the blush of the setting sun, exhaling the day’s heat like an aura. The earth glows in the evening light, returning to the sun its radiance.

~ Lanark Highlands, October 2017