In case you are waiting with bated breath for the answer to yesterday's burning question (do dog sled teams get excited when another team of dogs shows up?) you are going to have to wait until next week. Sorry, folks! When I phoned my friend Mark last night in Nunavik, HE WAS OUT WITH HIS SLED DOGS!! We've now agreed to talk later in the weekend -- so look for the answer to that questionsome time next week.

I just got in from meeting up with a former student, Vivien Hum, now 22 years old and finishing her major in accounting at McGill. Vivien took my "Writing for Children" class at Marianopolis several years ago -- and though she has been studying accounting, she has continued to write on and off. When our conversation today turned to writing, I grabbed the napkin off our table and began taking notes, thinking you, dear blog reader, might find some of this stuff interesting. Vivien said that for her, the hardest part of writing is getting something started. Here's how she put it: "It's looking at the blank page. You don't know how to phrase it, especially the first sentence." I bet that many aspiring writers feel exactly the same!

So here's the advice I gave to Vivien: "Get it out!" I told her it doesn't really matter how good your writing is when you get started, the main thing is just to write write write and then write write write some more. Your work will get better as you continue writing. If you stop to judge every line, you'll get bogged down in worry and self-doubt. Remember how I said (was it yesterday or the day before?) that writing is an act of faith. Well, there's another example of it.

So Vivien and everyone who can relate to how you're feeling, quit worrying and angst-ing over that first line, SIT DOWN AND WRITE!! (How's that for an inspiring pep talk?) Hopefully, I'll get to read your books one day -- and don't forget to mention your old teacher on your acknowledgments page!!