A couple months ago, I was enjoying a London Fog in The Savoury Café on Oak Bay Avenue when I had a bit of an epiphany.
The back story: when I first moved to Victoria in 2011, my office was right across the street from Savoury so this tiny café provided about, oh, 50 per cent of my caloric intake. I became buds with owner Alan Pang in the process of all my eating and drinking and kvetching.
Nowadays, I only visit Savoury every couple of months — and somehow every time I do get there I end up talking a mile a minute for about two hours (let’s just say Alan has this way of getting people talking. It’s like a freaking confessional booth in there.)
Anyway, back in October I paid Alan a visit and got chatting about The Vic Life with everyone in Savoury (as you do). At one point Alan just turned to me and said: “Woa, you really love writing, don’t you?”
My brow furrowed, I took a deep breath and I replied: “Hmmm, yea, I guess I do.”
I’ve told this story to a few friends whose responses have mostly gone something like this: “Well no shit, Emma, of course you love writing. It’s what you do.”
But here’s the thing: when you do something for work for a decade (I started working as a copy editor at the Calgary Sun in 2006), no matter how much you loved that thing in the beginning, sometimes you lose the magic. My gusto for writing had been waning.
Just before my fateful visit to Savoury Café, I’d read Screw Finding Your Passion by Mark Manson. Manson wrote: “If you’re passionate about something, it will already feel like such an ingrained part of your life that you will have to be reminded by people that it’s not normal, that other people aren’t like that.”
Alan had reminded me that writing for your day job, freelancing in the evenings and weekends and then deciding to start a blog on top of that was not normal. Talking non-stop about all the best bits of Victoria and treating it as your personal mission to try every new place in town was also not normal apparently.
Well, while not normal, starting The Vic Life this year was without a doubt the best thing I’ve done in a long time.
“Remember back when you were a kid? You would just do things. You never thought to yourself, ‘What are the relative merits of learning baseball versus football?’ You just ran around the playground and played baseball and football. You built sand castles and played tag and asked silly questions and looked for bugs and dug up grass and pretended you were a sewer monster. Nobody told you to do it, you just did it. You were led merely by your curiosity and excitement,” Manson wrote.
Well, The Vic Life is my adult version of collecting caterpillars in an ice cream pail (ewww, why on earth did I do that?). I’d been talking to friends about it for close to a year (the blog, not caterpillars), I had a little notebook full of ideas for articles, I’d scoured the Internet for other Victoria city blogs and, perhaps most importantly, I absolutely delighted in sharing all my favourite spots in the city with anyone who would listen. My friends called me a walking, talking Yelp. This passion was right under my nose.
Even better, I had tons of friends who also delighted in sharing their love of our sweet island paradise. And they all had their own takes on the best bits of Victoria — foraging, crafting, playing music, going for bike rides. My passion sparked their passion; their passion sparked my passion. Something had to be done before it turned into an X-rated movie.
As Manson wrote: “The problem isn’t passion. It’s never passion. It’s priorities.”
I knew some little time fairy wasn’t going to come along and tap me with a magic wand and say: “Here, spend two months setting up The Vic Life.”
So I did it on my summer vacation and on the weekend and in the evenings. Hell, I’m writing this at 3 a.m. from an airport hotel in Santiago, Chile. See? Passion. And jet lag. Possibly more of the latter (please forgive me if that’s the case).
I had to accept that it wasn’t going to be perfect. And quite possibly nobody would read it aside from my mother. And maybe people would secretly snivel at how few Facebook likes we have (just go and like us already, mmmmkay?).
But I was also reminded of that tingly feeling you get from writing just because you feel like it. And the joy of reading what someone else has written just because they feel like it.
Honestly, the best thing about this little project so far has been seeing how generous our talented contributors are with sharing what they love about Victoria.
I must say a huge thanks to all of our early writers: Shari Stewart, Sarah Pollard, Eric Swanson, Celine Trojand, Sutton Eaves, Carol Linnitt, Kathryn Juricic and Peter Gibbs. You all have day jobs just like me and I am immensely grateful that you’ve chosen to share your insights and talents via The Vic Life.
So what’s in store for 2016? Now that most of that annoying technical stuff is out of the way (and I’m getting a grip on what the point of Instagram is), I’m hoping to write more of those articles from my little notebook. And publish many more insightful, amusing blogs by other proud Victorians.
So far, we haven’t had much chance to feature the people who make Victoria such a cool town and we’re really looking forward to doing more of that.
Our promise to you, dear readers, is that we’ll continue to provide an insider’s take on Victoria through articles that are above all else genuine (as in they tell you when something kinda sucks, as well as when something’s totally awesome) and written with a lightness of spirit (after all, there’s enough depressing news in the world).
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Thanks so much for reading — and a happy new year to each and every one of you!