Artfully Edmonds: Author shares personal struggles in ‘Shame of Losing’

Sarah Cannon - author
Sarah Cannon

Local author Sarah Cannon is in the middle of launching her new memoir The Shame of Losing. Unlike many authors who can paper their walls with rejection slips, Cannon’s book was snapped up almost immediately by Red Hen Press.

Cannon will join the multitude of significant authors who have been published by Red Hen, including Rainer Maria Rilke, Brian Doyle and Tom Hayden.

Writing was not Cannon‘s first vocation. She received a degree in Spanish from the University of Oregon and taught for several years. It wasn’t until 2012, when she began to earn her MFA in writing from Goddard College, that writing became her primary focus.

Since that time, her essays have appeared in publications such as Salon, Medium, Bitch Media, Literary Mama, and the New York Times.

Sarah Cannon 3rd Place Books reading
Sarah Cannon reading at Third Place Books.

At a pre-release party at Hunni Company in Edmonds recently, she sold out of the 25 copies that she had lugged to the event. Since then, she’s already held reading and signing events at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, and at the Northcreek Event Center as a visiting author for UW Bothell. Considering that her book does not officially debut until Nov. 12, she’s off to a great start.

“It’s been exciting. But getting a book published is like birthing a child — this one took me three years. That part is excruciating,“ said Cannon.

In 2007, on the morning before Halloween, Cannon received a phone call that would change her life. Her husband Matt, an arborist, had been in a terrible accident. In the ensuing days, weeks and years it would become apparent that he had suffered a traumatic brain injury.

As much a memoir of growth as of loss, Cannon lays bare the impact of this horrific event with brutally honest, deeply felt, authentic prose.

“Even though it was a traumatic event, it was important to me to be honest. That’s an element that makes great art — we do a lot of hiding in this world. People respond to authentic stories,” said Cannon.

Interspersed with vignettes depicting parenting episodes, travel experiences and the struggle to continue with day-to-day living in the face of such a disaster, The Shame of Losing has some surprisingly lighthearted moments.

“I hope that the voices I’ve chosen will also be reflective of how much I truly love life,” said Cannon.

Ultimately, the eventual isolation precipitated by the event may have been what brought Cannon to begin writing Shame in the first place. She was able to draw upon her extensive journals, written while in the midst of the tragedy.

Although it was never her intention to write a book that would have a therapeutic impact, she’d be pleased if it helps someone understand what the experience is really like and benefit others in their personal struggles

Aside from living in Edmonds, Cannon spent a good chunk of her childhood in the Magnolia and Richmond Beach neighborhoods. Her memoir is chock-full of reminiscences from the local area. I found this particularly interesting.

Cannon gets a little exasperated when asked what she’ll do next. Right now she’s concentrating on the promotion of Shame. But it’s pretty clear that we’ll see more from her. With a twinkle in her eye, she says, “My next book won’t be a memoir!”

Look for her at noon Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Edmonds Bookshop, where she’ll be reading and signing. A little bird tells me that she’ll be celebrating her 44th birthday to boot!

— By James Spangler

When not actively scheming about ways to promote the arts in Edmonds, James Spangler can be found (highly caffeinated) behind the counter of his bookstore on 4th Avenue.


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