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I’ve always been skeptical of anything that hinted at being a “team”. It probably comes from my traumatized youth when I was always the last person to be picked for volley ball or hop scotch or Red Rover. Maybe if I had known then what I do now about sending positive energy out and getting it back, I could have convinced Donna Severance to pick me just once to be on her team. It would have been an instant inclusion in the most popular clic at St. James the Less Grade School. It never happened. I became a loner.

So now, here I was on my way to a meeting of my own “team”. I know it was the absolute best way for me to get this manuscript written—hey, I had even paid for it—but it didn’t mean that I felt committed to the “team” part of it.

I tried to talk to the cats about my misgivings. But they didn’t care. They were already practicing with their pom poms and cheers.

I decided I needed to arm myself for this meeting. I stopped at Midoco for a Clairefontaine notebook that came all the way from France. My friend Christina who has written every day of her life said these were the top-of-the-line-best-notebooks-in-the-whole world! Who was I to disagree? I chose carefully. Needed the right cover that said “I’m here. I’m serious.” It wasn’t easy. Finally, and because I was going to be late for the first meeting, I chose a purple and pink cover with embossed velvety flowers. I was ready.

Beth had chosen a cafe in our neighborhood for the meeting. I wasn’t sure about expressing my fears and frustrations in the midst of a crowded cafe. (The thought brought back my embarrassing rants (all justified) in crowded pubs against the murmuring-ex-husband. Just the memory of that is enough to bow my head in shame and make me vow to keep silent in public for ever more.) I didn’t have to worry.

Beth had thought of everything. This cafe came with a conference room! How sophisticated is that? For a nominal fee, you could remove yourself and your conversation away from the masses. That is, if you weren’t claustrophobic which I am. This conference room was the former vault of The Toronto Dominion Bank that had stood on this corner for years until they decided to replace tellers with money-spitting machines.

It was indeed a novelty. Here we were sitting in a narrow room with walls of bare grey cement (Think prison) with air being pumped in so we wouldn’t suffocate (Was it my imagination or did it just go off?), and the heavy, grey, steel vault door (Did it still lock?) propped open just outside the glass one. Just breathe, Annie, just breathe.

Beth and Nadine—a young editor in her office who would be working on our “team”—were organized and enthusiastic. There was an agenda. Expectations. “We” could do this. I opened my notebook and scribbled deadlines and meeting dates and editorial advice to get over this writer’s fears. Exactly one hour later when we crawled out of the vault (there wasn’t a lot of room), I was pumped, ready to write, convinced that 18 months was indeed enough time to tell my stories.

All I had to do now was write the rest of them…