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Equation finds its way through

In The Equation, Lynn Easton explores “magic” and “science.” - Colleen Flanagan
In The Equation, Lynn Easton explores “magic” and “science.”
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan

When Lynn Easton was put into a creative non-fiction class while attending the Simon Fraser University Writer’s Studio, she was disappointed at first.

“That’s too close to what I do,” the former newspaper editor and columnist thought about the genre, which requires writers to use techniques used in fictional stories, and poetry to tell a dramatic story about real people and events and facts.

But Easton embraced the genre and fell in love with it.

Now the Maple Ridge writer has won her first Literary prize, The Malahat Review’s 2016 Constance Rooke Creative Nonfiction award, which came with a $1,000 payout.

There were 180 entries in the annual competition.

Her entry was called The Equation, a personal look at her daughter’s life.

“It’s really about magic and science,” said Easton, explaining that her daughter embodies both.

The story begins when her daughter was about  seven years old and how she would attempt to make solar energy in her spare time.

“She would come in and put on these little swim goggles and she would get tinfoil and she would get our spaghetti tongs,” said Easton, who would watch her, amazed at how different she was to herself.

“She would come in and do this after she played. This was her work. I think she thought of it that way. And then she would go back out again.”

Her daughter also had an invisible friend.

Easton follows her daughter’s story until she emerges as a young woman entering the male-dominated field of engineering, graduating from the University of Ottawa.

“[The story is] also about my fears of her becoming an engineer because I think young women, there’s very few [in the profession]. There was hardly any young women in her class,” said Easton.

“She just has always seen the world completely differently than I have,” she added.

Ultimately, there is an equation at the end of the story, one that her daughter believes is marvelous and is behind everything in the universe.

But a part of the equation is invisible, and for Easton this reminds her of daughter’s friend.

The Equation is one of 15 stories Easton wrote at the SFU workshop with instructors J.J. Lee and Wayde Compton.

Her stories are about feminism  and raising two girls in the current political climate.

They are also personal, one about her father and the passing of his brother, and another about a friend who passed away.

Part of the challenge of writing these stories is staying true to the narratives and also getting over the fear of writing the ones that were harder to write. Stories that she won’t publish until she has spoken to the people who are involved.

Easton loves telling stories in which the narratives follow the truth.

“You learn so much more if you just stick with the truth,” said Easton.

“Because something unveils itself that you didn’t know before.”

With The Equation, Easton hopes that despite all the fears and challenges in today’s world, especially for young women, that there is hope.

She has tried to figure the world out for her daughters and make sure they are okay.

But, “in the end they sort of, they find a way through it all,” said Easton.

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