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Word by word

In the fall of 1979, a then 19-year-old Larry Gaudet (BA’85) landed on the shores of Dalhousie University after having been recruited to play varsity basketball for legendary coach Doc Ryan. Like many new students, the Montreal native arrived in Halifax with no defined plan, only a vague notion that he liked to read.

“I arrived as a jock and with the idea that I could turn on the ability to read and to write and to do well in school,” he says now of those early days on campus. “My academic performance when I arrived at Dal—to say it was undisciplined or indifferent would be an understatement.”

And while it did take a few extra years to get his degree—taking a couple of breaks to earn some money and deal with the death of his mother—Gaudet has gone on to make good on the early promise an aunt saw in him when she dubbed him a great reader, and curious about everything and everyone. The Toronto resident, who also has a home on Nova Scotia’s South Shore, has made a career as a writer of many things.

After flirting with the idea of continuing on at Dalhousie in architecture or theatre, he took the Canadian Securities Course when becoming a stock broker seemed like a good idea. Then, the wannabe “literary dude” applied his machinist father’s blue-collar work ethic to the task of becoming a writer, taking early writing jobs for trade magazines, spinning out press releases and ad copy, crafting features for magazines like Equinox, developing speeches and IPOs for captains of industry, as well as penning three novels and three works of nonfiction. As well, he helped his wife Alison Smith research and mount exhibits at her Toronto art gallery. And now he also spends several months a year in Los Angeles pitching ideas for television shows to network executives.

As Gaudet puts it, he has spent his adult life in pursuit of writing good sentences, a talent that was germinated at Dalhousie, particularly in classes taught by professor Andy Wainwright. Their relationship has evolved into a lasting friendship. “Classes were small and there was something about the fact that you didn’t feel like you were being processed out in some way,” he says. “It was a good environment to appreciate something that you would come to love. There were a couple of teachers who were very good at what they did and opened the world up to you.”

Gaudet even gave up basketball after his first year at university with the notion he was going to be a poet—a career path, he laughingly admits, with very limited economic upside. “But learning to read and write, and having that nurtured, gave me an enormous advantage in the long-term in the competitive marketplace. I’ve made my living at this for a very long time.”

So what in this varied career has made Gaudet most proud? Well, all of it, he says. “The existence of the books, the scripts, the art projects, the journalism, even some of the brand work and speeches—that’s accomplishment enough. It’s also the plain fact of having survived as a writer, still eager for what comes next, especially creatively, that’s most meaningful to me.”