Take your heart’s candle and relight it

The first time I heard Old Man Luedecke‘s song I Quit My Job, I felt uncomfortable. Everything he sang resonated with me, about not letting them take the joy that you make. The assertion you could always live on rice and potatoes. The encouragement to take your heart’s candle and relight it. The pride in a community made of friends who work their dreams with their hands. By then I’d been working at CBC Radio for four years, happily. So happily. I’d found a place at Mainstreet, behind the scenes as producer and on air as a fill-in host. I loved the work I was doing all day. I couldn’t believe they were paying me to ask interesting people nosy questions about their lives.

But every time I heard that song, a little voice nagged at the back of my mind. My heart’s candle was only dimly lit. I’d been a writer for thirty years at that point, but I was most decidedly not engaged in working my dreams with my hands. Working on a radio show had never been my dream. It was a sideline to my true work of writing — and it turned out to be a pretty demanding sideline. Even more so when I became the permanent host in 2008. Who even knew that I was a writer? I didn’t exactly do a tonne of it. And working at the CBC meant I couldn’t share my opinion much — which I’d previously been very accustomed to as a newspaper columnist. I managed to write two novels, mostly against the odds, mainly by spending weekends, evenings, and early mornings hunched over my keyboard. A small grant from the province of Nova Scotia gave me two months to be a full-time writer of fiction and it was intoxicating. A glimpse of what my life could be.

But then, always, reality. We have a mortgage. And my spouse is a folk singer. They are not known for making a lot of dough. Though they do write songs that oughta be worth a million bucks. And anyway I loved my work, and I was pretty good at it, too. Maybe someday I’d get a chance to host a national show. I loved covering elections. And political scandals of all kinds. And I got to interview people like Mary Gauthier. And Phil Keoghan. And Burton Cummings. For some reason those are the three that come to mind at the moment. And who walks away from a job like that? Surely the best job in Halifax. Eventually they even made me staff, and I started paying into the pension program. Who walks away from a CBC pension, for god’s sake.

But that song. That exhortation to take your heart’s candle and relight it.

I am writing another novel. Slowly, so slowly. I need to go faster. I need to write more. I need to be free to be my whole self. It’s time to get back to my regularly scheduled life as an artist. To express opinions. To dance in the kitchen to Old Man Luedecke. To make rice and potatoes for supper. To work my dreams with my hands.

And so I’m stepping off this comfortable ledge and into the abyss. I don’t know what will be next, honestly, besides writing. I once again have a small but mighty grant from the province, so I’ll have at least a few months of writing fiction. And after that, I’ll be hustling, working when I need to at whatever I can.

It’s been an honour to be the host of Mainstreet. I’ve loved every minute of it. I’ll be revelling in the moments to come between now and mid-December when I’ll turn off my mic for the final time. And then I’ll just be here, relighting my heart’s candle.


15 responses to “Take your heart’s candle and relight it”

  1. Oh Stepahine……my heart just cracked in two. First Jian (oh, the shame), then Stan, now you. I’m forlorn beyond words. You are the best part of my CBC day, everyone in my family knows it, I wax poetic over you on a weekly basis.
    Good luck and as they say “onwards and upwards.” Thank you so much for….all of it.
    (crying in my beer now)

  2. I know your brilliance will light your way wherever you go! but I am definitely going to miss your voice on air….

  3. I love having Mainstreet on as I’m driving from office to office or sitting at my desk… I will surely miss listening to you. Best wishes in taking the walk off the plank… I’m sure your book is as interesting as your show, so you will do just fine. I’ll make a point of picking up a copy… Best wishes…

  4. Whew !! That’s some news!! I’ve been an admirer of your writing from afar, here in wee Perth, ON, the odd time hearing you on CBC locally and can only be admittedly selfish, knowing there will be far more of your writing genius coming my way…. Yahoo !! You are one brave Lass with a great partner in Kev and, together you’ll will make it all work … Bring it on, Stephanie !!

  5. Good for you Stephanie! I put in a 29 year teaching career which I loved then retired early to light my candle. I am grateful every day! All the best for what the future holds.

  6. I understand completely and applaud your courage in taking the path you need to follow for your writer’s heart and soul – but oh how I will miss you! I could take or leave Mainstreet under former hosts. Now it’s a ‘must have’ on the radio at home or my IPod. You have an extraordinary gift for connecting with the people you interview, for coaxing out the most interesting parts of their stories with the shy or reticent, and for not being intimidated by the brash or unwilling interviewees. I loved hearing about all the challenges you set yourself – such as running and learning to playing the piano. I chuckle over your witty banter with Bill, Kaylin and all the other regulars. We out in listenerland will cope but it will take a while to adjust. You leave big, big shoes to fill, Stephanie Domet. I will await the new book eagerly and follow your other adventures with interest. All the very best of luck – and thank you!

  7. Blessings Dear Stephanie, your courage, your strength, love of the word and what it takes to dive into words, stories, writing is intoxicating. thanks for being vulnerable, thanks for jumping into the abyss, thanks for honoring the writing process thanks for giving permission to others to be fearless too! bless up my friend. you will most definitely missed on the radio but your stories will be yet another huge light to the world. shine on!

  8. Oh, wow, Stephanie, this is exciting news. I’m one of the countless listeners who’ll miss you on Mainstreet. But I appreciate and admire your decision to spend more time on fiction. Your move from interviewing others to sharing your own opinion and your own voice through writing reminds me of a famous line from Edith Wharton’s Artemis to Actaeon: ”There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” I’m looking forward to reading your new novel. As you know, I loved the first two. So happy for you that you’re relighting that candle.

  9. The radio world is loosing a very awesome host, but the arts & writing world is getting an amazing person back. I love your writing and have been sidelined from reading Falsey Downsies for now. I’m a fan no matter what. A dream is something terrible to waste & im glad you’re not wasting yours!

  10. Stella!
    A friend posted this link, I love Old Man Luedecke, so I started reading…little did I know I’d find my old Palmerston roommate between the lines. I picked up a year ago, left my job, and moved up to Haliburton to get back to the woods, write, and chase love. Do it girl, jump off, you won’t regret it, even when it’s tough. So nice to hear an update on your life. All the best in your new directions…some Tallest Man on Earth goes well with such an endeavour! Xo

  11. Yes, I will miss you in the afternoon but I will have something to look forward to – Stephanie writing a book that I look forward to and Knowing that Stephanie is fulfilling her love – writing. Go girl!

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