Canada Writes

Canada Writes Blog

David Tracey (Vancouver, BC)

David Tracey

Western semi-finalist 09

(April 6, 2009) It takes a big man to admit his mistakes. That's why I’m blaming my loss on someone else: ABBA.

I was fine until we reached the music challenge. I had to rewrite the lyrics to “Waterloo.” How many times did I listen to that profoundly annoying tune, trying to replace, “Oh yeah, and I have met my destiny in quite a similar way.”

Does that even count as rhythm? To anyone but some Swedish spawn of music hell?

Bad as that sounds, my version was worse. I morphed “Waterloo” into another French military defeat, the loss at the Plains of “Abraham.” But my theme was weak, the jokes thin and the metre clunked. The judges were right to put a fork in me.

Still, it was worth it. I had a great time. The cast were incredibly supportive, and the audience couldn’t have been nicer without getting weird.

My only regret was not making it to the lighting round. I had an idea for the complete-the-sentence challenge that might have “killed.”

 The beginning was: “Put down that rutabaga before…”

My ending: ...”you run into some Mounties who mistake it for a stapler.”

(March 6, 2009) If I had a nickel for every time someone said to me, “Dave, you write such wildly creative things, where DO you get your ideas?” I’d have…let’s see…hang on…

Okay, nothing. No one has ever said that to me. But if they did, I would know exactly how to answer: “Um, I dunno.”

And I would mean it. I really don’t know. When I heard about the Canada Writes contest, I figured, might be fun, why not? I checked the entry requirements, saw a choice of five categories, with topics open, and no restrictions beyond a 200-limit word count…and I came up blank. I had no idea, period.

But I started writing. Because that’s the thing. You never know where these ideas come from, the ether or the gods or some remote part of the subconscious, but unless you start writing they’ll just stay dormant. Probably that’s a good thing, for most of the ideas that might bubble out of our primordial thought soup, but never mind. One or two might click, and then you’re just a few rewrites away from something that might stick.

How It Works

  1. Write In!

    Out of hundreds and hundreds of entries, just twenty Canadians made it to the Short List and won themselves an audition with Canada Writes. Then eight semi-finalists were picked to play in the Eastern semi-finals and Western/Northern semi-finals.

    Read their winning songs, blogs, ads, rants and movie pitches!

  2. Tune In… or Join Us!

    On March 14th and April 4th, tune in to GO! on CBC Radio One at 10 am (10:30 am NT) for the Eastern and Western/Northern semi-final games in Halifax and Vancouver. The finals will be held in Toronto on April 18th. Or join us at any of the three shows to root for the contestants in person. Go to for tickets.

  3. Play Online!

    The Canada Writes 09 Online Challenge is now over. Thanks for playing!


(Toronto, April 25, 2009)

Canada Writes Finalists

It was a very tight race in the end. Our four finalists fought it out by blog, song, ad and a three-line story. First, they each drew a blog topic, from “the best hundred dollars I ever spent” to “one fact I would like to ‘un-know’”. Challenge number 2 was to re-write a song by Queen, with Valerie Stanois from the musical We Will Rock You bringing power vocals to their surprising new words. Then judges Geri Hall, Terry O’Reilly and Darrell Dennis sent Kaveh Mohebbi through the infamous Trap Door. Challenge number 3 was the radio ad. Clever ads for Cornhobbler’s Crematorium and Juice Bar (obviously not a real business) and Christmas greetings from the makers of Flank Chainsaws won Katie Sanders and Laurie Schwartz a last chance at writing glory, but it was Margaret Beach’s turn to go through the Trap Door. Finally, Laurie and Katie had to come up with the first two lines of a three-line story… on yellow writing pads on their laps…and in 90 seconds….

After weeks of effort and tension and achievement -- from the writing contest in January, through the auditions, the short list, the semi-finals and the finals – it was all over in a couple of minutes. Katie pulled ahead by a crucial point -- and became the winner of Canada Writes 09! Listen to the show! Read the blogs!

Canada Writes Judges

For more photos, go to

Winner of the Online Challenge! Ontario's Heather Smith is the winner of this year's People's Choice Award. Her winning entry was a re-write of the ABBA song 'Waterloo.' Take a look!