Cloud shadows slink among verdant hills
As winged scorpions speckle the air.
The modest murmur of breeze and wave
Is punctuated by staccato calls
Of feathered sentries, alarumed
By movements both broad and subtle.
A sudden stillness hijacks all,
Water rent astride by bow and oar.
A lone traveller, immune to life,
Slices the water in a multihued dugout;
Eye set on the horizon, oblivious
To anguished muscles and sinews,
Passing through the natural world
And yet so much a part of it.
Eddies left behind are enveloped
Quickly by unseen currents;
And all that was before
Is as it was again; peaceful, silent.
What follows are a few thoughts on why I write…the moments in my life that led me to embrace my passion. It is an incredibly personal story and I hope it doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable, but rather helps them reflect on why they embrace their own passions.
I need to be creative on my terms.
When I was younger, it was all about acquiring knowledge and being recognized for having acquired that knowledge. In hindsight, I’m not exactly sure what I was planning to do with that knowledge.
In some respects, it was about solving a puzzle, which could range from how does this alarm clock work to how does the universe work. On another level, I think it was about control. Knowing how the universe worked meant knowing that there was a broader sense of organization out there; that the laws of physics and mathematics still held even when my own life seemed in constant flux. The subtle irony of entropy only occurred later.
But it was also about control in the sense that I couldn’t be expected to come up with answers, with solutions, until I had all the information I needed to make that decision. The aggravating reality of that method of control is it only works when you’re the one asking the questions. Nobody else is willing to wait until I have all of the info I need.
At the same time, I needed the safety of analysis and knowledge, I’ve also had a need to be creative. A need that has only recently blossomed as a regular part of my life.
When I was young, I was constantly creating new worlds through my stories. First, as play scenarios and then as the written word. I constantly developed short stories that took me in a million directions. Again, this might have been an attempt at control.
When I wrote, I was the master of my universe. I was the one who decided who lived and who died, who was allied and who was the enemy. I was the protagonist and the antagonist.
It was in 1977, as I started high school, that I first noticed the strength of my writing. That summer, my life changed with the release of Star Wars. So deeply effected was I by the characters and the story, that I immediately went home and started working on the sequel. My version took a very different turn than George Lucas’s—although there were some subplot overlaps—but over the next few weeks, I hand wrote 400 pages of dialogue.
I shared the script with my Grade 9 English teacher, who was impressed with the volume if not the content (my words, not hers). It was in her class that I first realized the power of my words to still and disturb an audience.
On day, Ms. Philp gave us a writing assignment that started with the sentence “I couldn’t believe it when I heard that sound.” It was supposed to be an in-class assignment, but I was onto something and asked if I could take it home to finish it. I guess she sensed something—that this was important to me—and she said yes. While I didn’t finish the story, I did hand her several pages the next day.
After reading the story herself, she decided to read it to the class. Whereas most people had written stories about funny sounds, spooky sounds or weird sounds, I had written about a man who comes upon a murder in an alleyway, first by the sound of bone and sinew breaking, and then by sight. I wrote about the fear and indecision in the witness’s heart as the murderer sees him and he flees for his life.
As Ms. Philp read the story aloud, there was silence in the room—a room of 14 and 15 year olds. No one said a word until she was done reading. It was magical for me.
I wish I could say that there was a rousing round of applause at the end and that this was the day that I decided to become a professional writer. There was no round of applause—although my class seemed to appreciate my story—and Ms. Philp continued to be supportive of my efforts, but there was no effort to foster this creative desire in a young boy struggling to define his world.
The opportunity was there. Everything was laid out for someone to recognize, but nobody tapped into it. Writing continued to be a strange little quirk of my life. I guess it was just easier to find ways to support my interest in science and history by buying me more books, taking me to the Science Centre.
What do you do for a budding writer? Get him a pen and a notebook? Buy him a typewriter?
Eventually, someone did buy me a typewriter—a vehicle to do my homework. But it quickly became the vehicle for my creative outlet, much to my mother’s chagrin. The muse hits me when I have time to be alone with my thoughts. When my day isn’t cluttered with requests for attention and responsibilities. Unfortunately, in my childhood home, those times only tended to occur when my family was asleep.
Routinely, my mother would yell down from her bedroom for me to stop wailing away at the keys. Loudly pounding them into submission. Watching the letter hammers get stuck because the thoughts occurred to me and be translated through my fingertips faster than the typewriter could accommodate. She wanted to be supportive, but not at the cost of a good night’s sleep.
It took no time at all before I had an incredible portfolio of work—half-finished thoughts, short stories—but they languished unread by anyone other than me. I had given voice to the creative urges in my soul but no one heard that voice. It was the proverbial tree in a forest. With no one to even acknowledge the existence of my efforts, did they really exist.
Where was my mentor to guide me through this process? Someone to help me hone my voice. To make my stories better. To help me get my voice heard.
To be continued…
Well, aren’t I the lucky fellow?
I have been nominated for the Sunshine Award by fellow blogger Kira Lyn Blue, a self-describe overanalyzer, ninja squirrel wrangler and urban fantasy author. On that last one, I’m not sure if that means city-dweller who writes stories of the fantastic or if she writes stories about urban fantasy’s like clean air, functional infrastructure, no traffic and mayors who govern rather than politic.
Based on her request for more pics and poetry, it would seem that Kira Lyn is a fan of my less pedantic offerings, which is completely acceptable to me. In fact, because my photography and poetry is more of an artistic endeavour, I am highly flattered that she has asked for more.
And, if I understand correctly, the award is recognition for those who positively and creatively inspire other bloggers, so I am doubly humbled by the honour she has bestowed on me.
So, apparently the rules of the game include: posting the logo (lovely it is); linking to my nominator; answering 10 questions (see below); nominating 10 others (including links and comments) and informing them they have been nominated (see further below).
I give you these fifteen—oy—TEN, ten commandments, I mean questions:
Favourite colour: Orange…Hallowe’en is the bomb!
Favourite animal: Ferret…because I think I identify with an animal that can be extremely smart and stupid at the same time.
Favourite number: 13…anything that irrationally unnerves people is incredibly sexy to me.
Favourite non-alcoholic drink: Coffee…although I’ve seen plenty of alcoholics drink it, so I don’t know if it counts.
Favourite alcoholic drink: Beer…preferably porters or stouts.
Facebook or Twitter: Twitter…would have said FB, but liking the discipline involved in 140 characters, only a third of whom are funny
My passions: Humour, love, being…not to be all flower-child, but it took a long time for this answer not to be Nutella (which still runs a close 4th)
Giving or receiving gifts: Always giving…but not above receiving.
Favourite city: Montreal…sorry to my home of Toronto, but we stick-up-the-ass Ontarians need to learn how to relax and stop destroying our frickin’ heritage.
Favourite TV shows: Your Show of Shows, The Black Adder (series), House (the early seasons)
And now for something completely boorish…bloggish!:
Storiesbyfrancis – this woman has a beautiful soul and constantly makes me smile
Drawings, Paintings and Other Art – amazingly delicate artwork that lets the viewer bring their own thoughts to the table
Leanne Cole Photography – stunning architectural photos
Ned’s Blog – Unnervingly amusing and would have been a competitor in a previous life (the bastard!)
Julian Froment’s Blog – his zeal for reading and writing is infectious
Licht Years – incredibly delicate and uplifting photography
Abandoned Kansai – photographing the echoed lives of dead places
Pondering It All – poetry of great simplicity and yet incredible depth
Victoriously – a beautiful woman bravely sharing her personal demons with the world
Honeydobliss – 3 young women pre-emptively taking on midlife crises to do it right the first time(s)
I write because I love playing with words.
I write because my head will explode if I don’t.
I write to explore ideas.
I write because I’m interested in a lot of stuff.
I write because I’m a narcissist.
I write because the stories flow through me.
I write because I’m funny (some of the time).
I write because I have thoughts worth expressing.
I write because the blank page beckons.
I write to release my pain.
I write to share my joy.
I write to add beauty to the world.
I write to keep moving.
I write to share the magnificent visions I see.
I write to exorcise and exercise the voices.
I write to play.
I write because I am a writer.
Why do you?
I have doubt.
Not in my skills, thank goodness, or the belief that with the right guidance, I can improve them steadily, but I have doubt.
I have doubt that I will find the right people to see the merits of those skills and help me to convert them into something meaningful. A video, a television program, a film, a novel, a photo exhibit. Something that I can share with all the world. Something that will touch the souls of others as the gestation and creation of the work has touched mine.
I have doubt that I can hold on to my new fantasy life and that reality, oh harsh reality, won’t poke its head into the mix and throw me back to where I was. That I will need to find resources to live, and that the need will draw me away from my art. Perhaps irreparably tearing me from it and setting me back upon the course I once journeyed of discontent and pain.
I have doubt that I won’t continue to find supporters and friends—my oh so wonderful friends—who will hold my hand on this journey. Who will provide a tether to keep me connected and yet free enough not to anchor me to the world.
I have doubt about what is around the next corner. About the shadows in the darkness. About the approaching ground in my free fall through life.
I have doubt.
But I will not let that change what I am doing. I cannot allow my doubt to prevent me from living the life I have finally discovered.
If around the corner is an oncoming train, in the shadows lay a vicious monster, and on the approaching ground shards of glass, I will not allow doubt to slow or still me.
I may not succeed in achieving my goals, but in overcoming my doubt, I will have succeeded in my journey. And for that, I will be eternally grateful and find peace.