Story

Autobiography of Barbara Joyce-Hawryluk

Writing is in my family. I still remember the day that my Dad took me aside and offered his advice: “I really think you should start writing ... fiction.” I was fourteen and I had just fabricated a terrific story about a knitting lesson at a friend’s house because I needed to account for my whereabouts on the previous Friday night. In reality, my girlfriends and I had been cruising with boys on Henderson Highway, with the music of the Stones and the Beatles blasting from the radio into the warm, summer evening. The music was loud enough to capture my Mom and Dad’s attention as our Mustang glided past my parent’s Plymouth Valiant at a rather brisk clip.

Barbara Joyce Hawryluk

My father, Stanley Joyce, was an elected officer to Winnipeg’s first Writers’ Group in 1961. He was also a regular winner in the annual Lady Eaton writing contest and one of his stories, “The Dice” was selected for reading in the national CBC radio series Short Stories with John Drainie. Dad strongly suggested that I put my propensity for “being economical with the truth” to good use.

His prompt was the start of my fictional writing career. One of my teachers thought my ability to twist the truth was so agile that she covertly entered some of my English assignments in a few writing contests. You can imagine my surprise when I actually won some, including the 1967 Pan-Am Literary contest and the Canadian Women’s Temperance Essay contest! The latter was sweet revenge for the two week grounding I tolerated because of the maverick car ride. The story was about a young girl who was traumatized by her parents’ addiction to alcohol. Apparently, the narrative was so believable that the Principal of my school felt compelled to bring my parents in for a “friendly” interview to see how the family was doing.

High School and University came along after that, and eventually a career in Social Work. Since fiction and drama were not encouraged in this profession, my writing took on an academic slant. In addition to becoming prolific in documenting patient charts, I also produced a video and companion hand-out for The Manitoba Stroke Foundation, published an article for the Canadian Welfare Journal, and a Masters thesis entitled, “Elder Abuse: A Practicum Study in a Geriatric Rehabilitation Extended Care Hospital.”

It wasn’t until after the death of my parents (only seven weeks apart from each other) in 2004, that I truly appreciated their legacy – the intangible gifts and the tangible ones. In addition to love, loyalty, a strong moral compass, and a true sense of what is important in life, my mother gifted recipes, household items and beautiful articles of knitted clothing. My father left a box full of short stories and unpublished novels. It was time for me to leave something tangible for my children.

Since knitting lessons were confined to teenage prevarications, and since I didn’t inherit my mother’s cooking gene, the logical choice was writing.

With so many people of my generation taking pen to paper (computers are as intimidating to us as the VHS machine was to our parents) and chronicling family memoirs, it occurred to me that a life story would be a good place to start. There was only one problem. My life was generally pretty boring, and one of my three children hated reading anything without an Indiana Jones adrenaline charge to it.

And that’s how Wounded was born. The characters and plot are drawn from actual experiences in the social work and law enforcement world, and are blended with my innate ability in being “economical with the truth.” The men and women in the manuscript tumbled out of my mind, eager to reveal their stories, and share the oftentimes lonely and tragic realities facing law enforcement officers. I hope you enjoy their company as much as I have over this past year.

Barbara Joyce Hawryluk



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