By Sucheta Singh, Marketing and Communications
It’s not easy starting over. But Carleigh Baker did it at 35 – an age at which most people she knew were settled in their careers.
“The thing that kicked it off – I was coming through a challenging time in my life which had me asking all the cliché questions like what am I going to do, what do I really want to do et cetera,” she says.
Carleigh was going through a divorce when she decided to take a couple of creative writing classes at Douglas to find inspiration for a new direction. It took her on a path that has earned her many accolades.
“I think I wasn’t good at writing right away, but I was excited about the prospect of getting better. Writing certainly helped me to understand some of the bad ways I acted at the end of my marriage and also towards my partner.”
Her first book, a collection of short stories called Bad Endings, has received many awards and praise, things that Carleigh says she hoped for but never expected.
“All of a sudden you’re pushed out into the public eye, and you’re so afraid of saying something wrong or just not showing people your gratitude in the right way. I wasn’t even sure how to act,” she says, laughing.
Carleigh’s book won the City of Vancouver Book Award last year. And this year it’s a finalist for the BC Book Prize. Her stories revolve around the end of her marriage, death and family ties.
Thinking back to her time at Douglas, she says it was the support from her instructors and classmates that helped along the way.
“There’s a lot of emotion in that book. There were times when I got teary in front of people. I was so embarrassed. Every time someone was willing to take me at my messiest and help me turn it into writing, I was so grateful for that.”
Nowadays, Carleigh is writing a book for her master’s thesis in Creative Writing at UBC. And as much as she has enjoyed her time in the limelight, she says her real goal is to help others. Carleigh is Cree and Metis, and she wants to give back to the First Nations writing community.
“As an Indigenous writer, it’s my responsibility and my pleasure to elevate voices of other Indigenous writers.”
Bad Endings is available in bookstores everywhere.