The Cascade’s guide to smoking

It was early August 2013, and I thought I had failed as a writer.



By Kodie Cherrille (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: May 20, 2015

It was early August 2013, and I thought I had failed as a writer.

I was taking a writing course at the time, and it was the night before the due date of the final project. We were given a lot of leeway for our projects, and mine was ambitious — especially because I had hardly started the thing.

I had one night to do it, but I had a plan: I was going to take up smoking.

I figured the nicotine would keep me awake and alert, and I’d have the whole night to work on my project. That must be why the image of a brooding, cigarette-consuming writer is so ubiquitous.

So I bought some smokes, and started getting to work at home, out in rural Mission. A little bit past midnight: okay, time to smoke.

I went outside, and because I live with my parents, I walked up my driveway to avoid being caught. I paced between my house and my neighbour’s, and took my first drag. I felt terrible: my lungs started to burn, and I got a headache. A distant summer storm flickered with lightning, and I was sure there was something rustling in the bushes. Why am I out here?

At that time, I wondered whether I even enjoyed writing anymore. I’d drive to UFV, go to class, and go home. I would put off the homework.

I grumpily stomped out the cigarette, went inside, and trudged through the project. The next day, I gave away the rest of the pack.  I passed the course, but I wasn’t happy at all with what I handed in. It’s terrifying when you go to university with a passion for something, just to have that initial drive dwindle with nothing to replace it. I needed grounding; brooding with a cigarette didn’t provide grounding.

When a classmate, Valerie Franklin, convinced me to write something for the paper, the spark began to return. I wrote some more — it was immediately rewarding to write about something relevant to university life. When I was hired as copy editor, I found a staff so supportive and close-knit that they became more like family than coworkers. I was addicted to being around so many talented, friendly, and creative people; sometimes I had no reason to be out here, but I would simply drive from Mission to the office in Abbotsford just so I could see everyone.

I got addicted to The Cascade, and now it has consumed my life. The editor-in-chief position requires you to eat, sleep, and breathe this newspaper. (“Congratulations on selling your soul,” said one keen editor.)

And while I am excited to guide The Cascade for the next year, I am also nervous to follow the act of  Katie Stobbart, who has been editor-in-chief for the last year. I have heard countless times how this newspaper has continued to get better and better, and there is no way that could have happened without someone as brilliant and daring at the helm as Katie.

At the same time that I feel nervous, I know that I have rediscovered a motivation that was lost somewhere — one that I can direct towards The Cascade, towards facilitating growth and greatness from students. There are so many skills, connections, and achievements from the paper that I would not have acquired in the classroom, and I want to give people the chance to make the paper mean something to them the way that chance was given to me.

And when I’m jonesing for something a little more, I need little more reason than “this paper is a part of me” to come to the office. I know exactly why I’m here.

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