Hamilton author Krista Foss took a fall off her bike while her daughter was in the back seat.
She saw life lessons in the fall and pulled herself together, in part by explaining what she felt was a humiliating tumble, in her essay Falling; Fallen. It was selected to be included in the 2016-2017 edition of the Best Canadian Essays anthology.
The essay first saw publication in the Humber Literary Review in their Spring and Summer 2015 issue.
It examines fallen women in literature while exploring the trials and hardships of single motherhood in the modern age and the injuries sustained in life that must be shaken off in order to carry on.
“Krista’s essay impressed me as a great example of a personal essay, one where she used a moment out of her own life and spooled it out to consider the idea of ‘fallen’ women in literature,” said longtime series editor of the Best Canadian Essays anthology Chris Doda.
Inspired by her daughter Fehn, Foss began writing while going through a tough time in life. She began learning how to cycle with her feet clipped into the pedals and suffered a hard fall with her then young daughter.
“I found the experience deeply humiliating but after that I began to explore the notion and idea of falling. It was an organic processes and it wasn’t before long that I was documenting every fall I had taken,” Foss said.
Foss submitted her manuscript as a submission on whim right before going on a vacation to Nepal. Sarah Armenia, then editor at the Humber Literary Review, contacted Foss while she was staying in a part of Nepal that had heavily reduced amounts of electricity by Canadian standards.
“It was definitely a unique experience,” Foss said. “With the reduced electricity I could only work on the essay during certain hours of the day and I was caught off guard at least once and lost all my progress when the power was cut.”
Armenia said it took a mere two weeks of collaboration with Foss to polish the essay into the final product.
“Krista was great during the editing process. She made herself available in Internet cafes and the like and worked very hard to make things go smoothly,” Armenia said.
The essay itself is a stark reminder that no matter the humility suffered in a fall, literally or figuratively, it is these very experiences that deepen our understanding of the human experience and show us what it takes to carry on through the pain.
Foss also published the novel Smoke River in 2014 through McClelland & Stewart.