Elizabeth Woods

In 1976, I lived in Miami, Florida, where I joked with friends that my next stop would be Prince George, British Columbia. It made for a good laugh. In 1978, I came to Prince George to visit friends I knew from college days in Iowa. And here I am today. No joke.

Elizabeth WoodsMy life has been marked by migrations. I was the first born of a family of four. My parents lived in Astoria, in the borough of Queens, New York City, third generation Irish on my father’s side and first generation German on my mother’s. When I was six, my family moved to Miami, Florida, where I attended grade one. My dad then worked for Campbell's Soup Company, and we were transferred to Atlanta, Georgia, where I attended grade two. We moved back to New York City for the next two year, and then I did grades five to nine in Detroit, Michigan.

There my grandfather gave me my first typewriter, a black hulking manual Remington. I created my first book of poems and wrote short stories. I wanted to be a writer. We moved again, and I finished high school in Roselle, a suburb just west of Chicago, Illinois. I graduated with a B.A. in political science from Central College in Pella, Iowa. I worked for a few years in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as an assistant buyer for Dayton’s department store, as a casual with Olsten’s Temporary Service, and later as a legal secretary. In 1969, my family moved back to Miami, Florida and I followed a few years later. There, I worked as a legal secretary and lived in a enchanted bungalow in Coral Gables. In the summer before I was to begin law school at the University of Florida, I took an extended holiday and headed my lime green Pontiac Ventura for Canada.

Today as a wife, mother and teacher, I like to write but spend too much time reading. A correspondence course offered by Carolyn Mamchur through Simon Fraser University renewed my desire to write, caused me to join the Prince George Writer’s Bloc, and finally follow through to become involved with the Federation of B C Writers. Pursuit of a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction led me to Lynda Williams. As a Senior Laboratory Instructor at UNBC, she became an advisor and then member of my review committee. Lynda introduced me to WebCT, which I used in my thesis: Writing on the Web: Online Technology and the Writers’ Workshop in the Junior Secondary Classroom. Our relationship grew beyond academic boundaries as we shared a love of not only writing but a love of science fiction. The Falll 2003 issue of Reflections on Water owes much to those conversations.

In the Fall of 2001 I attended the Creative Writing program at the University of Miami. There I had the good fortune to work with Sandra Jackson-Opoku, author of Hot Johnny and the Women who Loved Him, and Fred D’Aquiar, poet and author of Feeding the Ghosts. I returned in the spring of 2002 to join the staff of Prince George Secondary and had the opportunity to work with senior students in Writing 12, for the first time. The writing workshop, as prefaced in my 2000 study and modified by U of M practice, has electrified the classroom environment. This year, it was so successful that several students continued to meet every Wednesday at lunch time after the semester ended.

My work with students has increased my own fervor, and my own writing life has accelerated. Their creativity and ebullience are an elixir to help keep the demons of age at bay. A long and winding road to reach this time in my life, to be sure, but what a lovely place to be!

Appearances in Reflections on Water