Bachelor of Arts (Hons.), Contemporary Studies and English, 2008
For me the actual process of writing is a militant one.
A writer’s mind is a curious place. There are a multitude of pathways and alleys. It can be a bit like where poet and short fiction author, David Huebert, wrote when he began work on his PhD at Western University in London, Ontario.
“It’s in a basement corridor,” he says, “with no windows and a lot of twists and turns.”
He called it the Labyrinth of Fruitful Pain. And it was a place where David could write without distraction. A thousand words a day or three hours, whichever came first.
“For me the actual process of writing is a militant one,” he says. “I (got) a lot done in that space,” including writing the winning entry to the prestigious 2016 CBC Short Story Prize. It is called Enigma and tells the story of a woman who has to euthanize her horse. It is just fifteen hundred words, a requirement of the contest, so each word has to work. One of his favourite lines is this: “Clinging to this beloved enigma as the dirt scuffs over us."
David’s interest in academic and writerly pursuits can be traced to the year he spent as, of all things, a dishwasher. It was the year after high school and David wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. He happened to go to a lecture on political philosopher Thomas Hobbes by King’s professor Simon Kow. The lecture he recalls made the subject matter “engaging and full of life”. And David was hooked.
“I liked the idea of sitting in Alumni Hall and going through these great texts. It seemed like a great place to learn.”
Even before attending his first lecture David read many of the Foundation Year Program (FYP) texts. And once in the program he started to learn the process of writing. But it wasn’t until he began a Master’s program at the University of Victoria that the creative Muse came to stay.
“I saw a poster for a poetry contest. I thought, ‘Hey I could do that.’ Then that poem won in the emerging poet category. It gave me permission to keep writing.”
And he has. He has won awards, published in journals, and in 2015 published his first book of poetry We Are No Longer The Smart Kids In Class (Guernica Editions). And just recently, David signed a contract with Biblioasis to publish his short fiction collection, Peninsula Sinking.
David’s PhD thesis looks at human-nonhuman love in American literature. He is studying the works of such authors as Jack London and Philip K. Dick. The academic life is interesting and satisfying and it also gives him huge flexibility. He has the time to pursue his first love, his creative writing.
“I’m a writer first,” he says. And while he’d love to teach writing it is the practice of the art that appeals to him as he says, “Because I believe in it more… One of the things that a good story does is that it gives voice to an experience that people can share. It serves as a communal abode where we can dwell together.”
Posted: Oct. 2016