In this episode, Elora Fergus Podcast host Ryan Joyce chats with the award-winning columnist, Kelly Waterhouse. Her weekly column "Write Out Of Her Mind" for the Wellington Advertiser is an honest look into her life here in Centre Wellington.
We chat about a range of topics from what her family is looking forward to most after COVID-19, what they are doing during the pandemic and her process for writing. All this and more on this episode of the Elora Fergus Podcast.
On this episode with Kelly Waterhouse from Wellington Advertiser
Kelly shares what her family is doing during this COVID-19 pandemic and what they are most looking forward to doing after it's over.
How Kelly reliefs stress and why she has a lacrosse net in her backyard (note: no one in her family plays lacrosse)
Kelly shares some of the pandemic impacts at the Wellington Advertiser
She shares her process for writing a weekly column
Advice for writers
Listen below to Elora Fergus Podcast Episode with writer and columnist Kelly Waterhouse from the Wellington Advertiser
"What is your process for writing?"
Audio Transcript with Kelly Waterhouse
Ryan Joyce: Okay. So I'm curious, you are a, uh, award-winning columnist. We can say four and digital media content producer. How do you, what's your label? Officially? Kelly Waterhouse: No media editor. Ryan Joyce: Okay. Okay. And I have a copy of fresh off today's, uh, uh, publication. So I wanted to just read this one thing because I can relate to this. You're referencing the fact that here in may we just got dumped. What would I looked, maybe four, six inches of snow. It was ridiculous. And you're mentioning about the birds tweeting and essentially you'd be curious to know if you could understand their lay, their language. You say, I bet they had a lot of naughty exchanges that day. I shivered in my frumpy bathroom hugging my cup of coffee, expressing the words. Um, you can use English or bird jerks or those words, Kelly Waterhouse: you know, with the newspaper, you have to be there to lay it out. You have to be there to proofread it. So we go in the editor. I'm kind of an Island at the office. I'm not really part of any team. I, my own team. So I go in and support the editorial team right now. So I go in Monday, Tuesday, Tuesday we're there until about nine 30 at night. And then Wednesday I go in by myself and then Thursday, Friday I can do everything else. Ryan Joyce: Yeah. And what is this total size of the team there? Kelly Waterhouse: I think when we're at full capacity, we're between 45 50 people, but as soon as this pit we had to cut. Sure. So right now the newspaper has literally two reporters covering the entire County and then an editor. Ryan Joyce: Oh wow. Sure. I'll start with this. I'm FA, I'm figuring this is the Scottish litmus test. So these are just real fast. You don't have to dive you. Have you ever eaten haggis? Kelly Waterhouse: Yes. Ryan Joyce: Okay. And did you enjoy it? No. Okay. Have you ever worn a kilt and have you ever played a bagpipe? I was curious. I've never played one either, but I've, I've done, I haven't worn the kilt, but I've, I've eaten the haggis. How long have you been in Fergus Elora area? Kelly Waterhouse: 19 years. Uh, 19 it'll be 20 in January. Ryan Joyce: Oh wow. And where were you born? And raised in, Kelly Waterhouse: born and raised. Uh, I was born in East York. I was raised in Whidbey, um, which is a wonderful town. And then when I was 16, we moved to Aurora. Um, and then, uh, yeah, life adventures, uh, went to university and everything from Aurora. And then my husband and I before we were married, moved to Peterborough and that's where our daughter was born. Very fond of Peterborough. It's very much like here. And then we moved here when she was just about to turn one. And we've been here ever since. We're almost locals. Ryan Joyce: Is there an official cutoff? Is there a year marker for locals? I think you classify, Kelly Waterhouse: somebody told me 25 years. Ryan Joyce: Oh, is that the case? Okay. I squeak in there too. Okay. This is good to know. You've, you've lived all over Ontario. That's great. You've got a lot of, see a grand spectrum of, what would you say is one of the things that makes this area so special and compared to the other places? Kelly Waterhouse: The beauty. Yeah, I really think, yeah. Uh, we forget how lucky we are. Uh, so I've lived in both Fergus and Laura and I love them both. And I am one of the people who sees them as very different and I loved them both. I still more in the house we lived in, in Fergus. I loved it so much. Um, but we lived on highway six, so we had to get off the highway with small kids. Right. So we moved to Elora and the fact that the Gorge is like behind me and I can go there and trust and um, there's trails connecting everything and there's this beautiful river, half of which I've never even seen yet, but committed to this summer. Um, it's, and then there's, I'm a big farm fan, so there's countryside everywhere. Rockwood is just over there. Like both is the coolest city. It's right there. I can get to a lacrosse game in Toronto and under two hours. Ryan Joyce: Yeah. There is quite a lacrosse culture here in the area that is for sure. Uh, so do the family members play? Do you play? No, just enjoy it. Kelly Waterhouse: I have a net in the backyard. I do, and I go out when I'm frustrated or angry and I hit off a rebounder. But lacrosse is something I didn't discover until I worked for the newspaper. And I interviewed, um, local legend John level. Wow. Who was a high school teacher at Centre. Wellington I didn't go to Centre Wellington but, um, but I come from Whitby and Whitby, it's a, it's a religion, lacrosse. And so I never loved it when I grew up there. Um, I'm not an athlete at all, so Ryan Joyce: yeah, that's why I don't like sports. I don't like stuff I'm terrible at. Kelly Waterhouse: I don't like to do anything I'm not good at. And so I'm very limited, but I do. Ryan Joyce: So you haven't played yourself well. Okay. So, um, what is it that you are in the family I'm most looking forward to doing once this whole pandemic thing is a memory Kelly Waterhouse: road trips. I love road trips. I am famous for my, uh, car music and my, let's see how far we can go. Um, I believe strongly in chasing sunsets, um, with my kids. My husband, the carpenter is what I call him. The carpenter hates car rides. So the kids are looking forward to car rides and his big excitement is that the dump opens next week Christmas for the carpenter when the Dumbo open. Ryan Joyce: Isn't that we're very Fergus Elora right now. Yup. Yeah. Very true. And things are starting to slowly open up and thank goodness you guys over the Wellington advertiser are keeping everybody up to date. I'm sure. I mean I, I know just like everybody, you guys probably had to cut back, but I'm sure you're working around the clock because new cycle here is like, I mean, just refreshing every, every 10 seconds with updates. So what is it like over there at this point? Kelly Waterhouse: We are very, um, legitimately, I mean the newspaper relies on the community as much as the community relies on the newspaper. So we are very aware of the advertisers that have been able to support us. Um, we are not, we are a family owned newspaper. I don't think everybody really realizes that. And you have to figure, we put out more than my guess. We're around 40,000 papers across the County. Those papers are free. Nobody's paying. We don't have a subscription. Right. So we rely on our advertisers. And so the advertisers that have have been able to stick with us, and of course we're aware that not everybody could. So there's a real gratitude around, um, the community support. But there's also a serious responsibility on us to report not just the news, but fact we can't just say stuff. We have to back it up. We, we have to take that very seriously. Um, so it is nonstop with half the team. Um, my job is social media and website, so I have to keep up with the reporters. Uh, the editor drives the engine. It's not me. So I follow him, my job quite a bit. Um, our production staff, the people that build the ads and put the paper together, they've been cut in half. Uh, team-wise um, yeah, it's, it's every week when, so we went from 52 pages, which is average for us in a week two. And we also put out the community news, which is, um, Wellington North. That paper had to, had to be, I stopped production. So all of the Wellington North news is in the Wellington advertiser, right. So we actually lost an entire newspaper for it for a time. It will come back. Right. But that's a significant loss of revenue. Um, and then sort of, yeah, we can't, we can't miss anything. We can't, and we're not a daily newspaper, but we've had to operate as one. Right. We're on once a week newspaper, but right now we can't afford that. We have to keep going every day. So yeah. Uh, if anybody read the newspaper last week, we talked very openly about mental health and what it does. Um, I live here. So when there's bad news, chances are I know the person, right? When there's a crime, chances are I know the business. Um, I'm a mom, so when somebody is assaulted on my trail, I feel that very deeply. Um, when there is a tragedy in the community, it takes, it does take a tool. I have a good family behind me that keeps me grounded. But yeah, it's, it's, and then on top of that, you have a pandemic. Ryan Joyce: Yeah. There's this whole thing. It really has been challenging times for a lot of people. A lot of families. Obviously everyone's staying at home right now. Um, finding activities. What kind of stuff are you in the family doing together? Kelly Waterhouse: Uh, so my husband and I binge watch billions is my favorite TV show on Netflix. Uh, crepes. Sorry. Um, when I get too stressed, my son who just both my kids had a birthday in the pandemic. Um, so my daughter turned 20 and my son turned 18, so he'll go out in the backyard and throw a lacrosse ball around with me. I never catch it. So it's a long game. Uh, my daughter is working at the Wellington terrace and she had just started like three weeks before this happened. So keeping her inside and keeping her healthy and strong and then putting her in there and knowing that she's going to have to manage it has been a real maturity shown in her. Very proud of her. Um, my husband was playing for time, so he built garden boxes and anything. I've never seen anybody go through wood faster than a with Jack, but uh, when Chuck could and he did. So, um, family game night and Wednesday's we are pretty famous for that. Everybody wears a animal onesy and has to play cards against humanity. Ryan Joyce: Oh, great. Game choice. There should be like a virtual one. There should be like a, a Fergus cards against humanity zoom meeting sometime people would to play that game. Yeah, that's true. Maybe we shouldn't. Maybe maybe something should be kept on, on Zed. Going to your, your career side of it. Writing has always been a passion. So where, what was your first publication? Kelly Waterhouse: Well, so when I was a child I wrote ads for Barbie. So that's when I knew marketing was maybe my forte. Um, grade three, my mom took my short novel about Elfie the wonder elf and she laminated it and handed it back to me. And that was probably the best thing that a parent could ever do. Um, and then I went to, I didn't, I didn't have the grades to go to college. Uh, I wasn't, or university, I didn't have the grades. I probably had a learning disability that was undiagnosed. Um, so I went to Seneca for marketing because for tourism, believe it or not, ended up living in the best tourism place in the world. So, um, but a professor there, we had to take an English class and nobody wanted to take it except me. And it was short fiction writing and I don't know why it was a college, but I took it and the professor was a PhD from New York university and he said, that's it. This is it. You're doing this and I'm going to publish you so that you believe me that this is going to happen. And he did. And then he went and got the forms for university and sat me at a desk and said, you're not leaving until we fill these forms. And then went off to New York and I was accepted to the writer school there. Ryan Joyce: That's really incredible. Would you say, if you could boil your education here down to a few lessons for other writers might be inspired during the stay home time? What advice would you give? Kelly Waterhouse: So I ended up actually changing my major. After a year I went into Canadian history, which has always been a significant passion of mine and will always be. And I took a degree, uh, match that degree with Canadian studies, which no longer even exists, which is a very sad statement. So I focused always on Canadian writers, Canadian history, Canadian music, Canadian media, Canadian politics, those, I love all of those things. Wow. And I think my advice would be, I went through, I got into this writer's program. It was a very significant deal and a big honor and I was really excited. And then they started telling me how to write and I don't believe writing fits in a box. And we had a discussion about appropriation of voice. Here's a funny story I wrote. Um, it was during the Oka crisis. So I wrote the story of a little boy who was watching his brother, who was one of the warriors in the political movement, which was a gang and how his mother was trying to stop his brother from taking this role on. And I told it from the point of view of a five year old boy and, and the violence that he saw and the teacher loved this, loved it. She was so thrilled and I was so proud. And then we had to talk about appropriation of voice. And she naturally assumed, I guess, that I was Aboriginal and I am not, but I was dating someone who was. And so I had an insight at the time. And, um, when she found out that I wasn't, she changed her tune because she said I didn't have the right to speak on a agenda that I didn't live, but I wasn't a boy. So I also haven't lived that agenda and it changed me. Um, I did research. I knew what was going on. I had an inside voice. I had talked to people in the movement. So I, it was, it was a sore spot for me and I changed my major, which I was glad I did. But I would tell anybody who wants to write, it's a muscle and you just do it and you don't stop and you don't let anyone tell you what you, you gotta learn the rules to break them. But I encourage people to break them. Yeah,
Ryan Joyce: that sounds well, that sounds really good. Do you have a word that you commonly misspell? All the time? I always spell a handful of words raw. I'm pretty prolific speller. Like I'm pretty OCD about it. Do you have any words that you commonly would spell? Yeah, Kelly Waterhouse: I still can't spell counselors. Ryan Joyce: Oh, well that makes sense. Which, which version of it? Kelly Waterhouse: Uh, Ryan Joyce: counselors as in like the ELLs are there. Yeah. Well isn't there, cause there's the gear counselors at the township, but then there's also your like counselors that help you with, with an issue. Kelly Waterhouse: Right. And I, I'm not sure there's, there's a, another word that I get wrong all the time, and I can't think of it right now, but the editor or editor at the newspaper, it would just be like, Oh, Kelly. Like I always get into wrong. Ryan Joyce: So do you have a process for writing? Do you follow, you know, every week, this is sort of mentally the same thing. You go through each and every week, you'll get an idea crafted all out or how do you stab that? How do you go at that, Kelly Waterhouse: uh, pray, uh, ask the divine gods to give me something. Um, it's triggers, same as you said before, which was really good. And I actually maybe didn't realize that until you said it is. Um, I will be, uh, I write a lot about raising kids and being married and the challenges they're in. So, uh, my husband will say something at the dinner table and it'll make us laugh and I'll be like, I'll be right back and can go upstairs. Um, so sometimes it comes real easy. Uh, most of my friends know not to talk to me on a Tuesday because that's deadline day. And if I don't have it in by three o'clock, Chris is going to come into my office and be like, um, so where is it? Uh, I try. I used to write it religiously on Mondays. I that has not worked since this pandemic. So, um, you know, I have to hit 580 words. Mmm. I am very OCD about it. If I don't want to read it, you're not going to read it. Um, and a lot of it honestly is just hoping that the words will come and somehow they do Ryan Joyce: never questioned that. And how many years have you been writing for the paper? Okay. Kelly Waterhouse: Uh, for the Wellington advertiser, I think it's been around eight or nine years. Before that I was with the news express and I had a column there called home base. Ryan Joyce: So 580 words times 52 weeks times eight. That's a, that's a lot of words. How could people follow you and engage with you online? And of course the Wellington advertiser, how can they get ahold of you? Kelly Waterhouse: The Wellington advertiser is the Wellington, advertiser.com. And I have my own website, which is Kelly waterhouse.com Ryan Joyce: and social media. What's your favorite social media is choice. Choice. Kelly Waterhouse: Uh, I kind of, I love Twitter cause I like quick fast. Uh, I can follow my favorite, um, athletes and some of my favorite musicians. Ryan Joyce: We're not the only ones. They're not the only ones. A little lower Fergus that like Twitter. There's a couple of us, but I'm with you on that. I know why Twitter is my favorite. Kelly Waterhouse: Facebook is just very toxic. Yeah, there's a lot of anger. Twitter, it moves too fast to get angry. And I'm starting to like Instagram, but honestly, I don't need to know how much bread you baked while you were off, cause I didn't. Ryan Joyce: Well, I really appreciate the laughs of the words and the conversation here today. Thank you for joining me on the podcast. I hope you have a great rest of your day, Kelly. Thanks so much.