First aired on The Next Chapter (5/4/12)
Lynn Crosbie can elicit strong reactions from her readers, whether she's writing poetry. fiction or her regular column for the Globe and Mail. Her 1997 book Paul's Case, about the convicted murderer Paul Bernardo, caused one journalist to threaten to assault Crosbie if she ever met her. Crosbie is willing to take on tough, even taboo topics and deal with them head-on. She does it again in her latest book, Life Is About Losing Everything, which is a candid chronicle of her years of self-abuse, promiscuity and drug use.
Crosbie writes about the difficult times in her life because "that's how you get through those things," she told The Next Chapter's Shelagh Rogers in a recent interview. "If you're overly preoccupied with any of these things, you need to find an antidote in art or a way of understanding it artistically or if you're really lucky, making it beautiful through art." She began Life Is About Losing Everything in 2007 as a way to deal with the loss of two men she was once close to: a boyfriend who had died suddenly and a high school pal who, even though he had passed away several years earlier, still evoked strong emotions from Crosbie. "I started writing stories and then I just developed a voice," she said. "I took this great pleasure in having this voice to recast events in my life or just my day. I would come home and I would have that voice available to me and would just write something down."
This gave her the courage to tackle her inner demons through her writing. She writes to take ownership of the past. "The loneliness, self-loathing, the minute you write it you take possession of it and you control it and that changes it." Yet, she doesn't want Life Is About Losing Everything to be seen as "self-flagellating" or "twelve step-y." She just wants it to be read as a real woman going through some difficult times, but finding peace at the end of it all. Because now that she's past it all, and past the "grotesque adolescence" that is middle age, she's grateful for those years.
"It's important to go through those moments of real pain and to understand that the world isn't a happy, beautiful place," she said. "It's like you've been tied up and forced to stare at all these atrocities and someone unties you for a while and it feels amazing."