A friend and fellow writer and former student says to me in an email this morning, “I’m thinking that perhaps I am a writer of sorts.”

Don’t let him fool you. He’s a writer.

It’s easy for me to say from where I sit, outside of his head and about 75 km away.  However, I’ve listened to and read his stories and I’ve seen his peers respond to them with genuine enjoyment. He’s focused and comitted.  I do wholly understand his rather hesitating, roundabout way of sort of saying that particular thing. If that beating around the bush kind of saying something were to occur in one of his stories, I’d have been all over it with my 3B pencil.  But I get *that* one.

See, it’s a decision, really.  And my tongue-in-cheek friend has heard me say it numerous times while sporting my teacher hat: “Call yourself a writer.  Because when you do, things happen, the world changes. You start to see in a different way – with a writer’s eyes.”

Me – I made that decision sitting on a bus in downtown Detroit on my way to work one morning in another decade. I was looking out the window at that decrepit and beautiful city and its people and its myriad stories when I said it to myself, “I’m a writer.”

For some people, like me, it takes a long time to get to that point of self-validation. For others it was always there – it never had to be stated or authenticated in any way. Me, I had to validate. All my life I had been artistically disposed, and it was much encouraged as I was growing up. When I got to my later years in high school though, the encouragement began to be withdrawn, culminating in about 30 seconds, when I was told that really important people in my life thought I wasn’t good enough to be able to make a living at being an artist. Without going into the [obvious] psychological gold mine swirling around that statement, I will say I’ve nailed it down as the prime source of a subsequent life-long creative block. It’s a battle I fight to this day.

I’m not going to use this spot to blame and point and say “if only” because it’s my life and my process and on that bus ride in Detroit that day I claimed it back. Anyway, there are generations of situations and realities surrounding that moment which begat the internal thwarting of my creative process. But I will say that now I can acknowledge and understand that being artistic or creative is something that doesn’t have to produce a masterpiece every time (or any time) to be valid and worthwhile. And it doesn’t matter how many people say yes, you ARE good at it, but it sure feels great and is exceedingly motivating when someone does.

What matters is that you make your art a way of being.  Because then it becomes a way of seeing, and then it becomes a way of living with authenticity.  And with that you find living to be richer with more colour and meaning.  And you wonder why you had to dilly-dally around with the whole “validating” exercise in the first place.

Enjoy one of Jeff’s stories here.  Another one is scheduled to be run in the same spot in a few weeks.


kreative_blogger_awardMy new friend over at Menopausal Stoners has kindly issued me this award.  And as I said to her, this kind of encouragement from writerly peers is the best kind.  So my job, as it should be, is to pass it along:

… if I could, I’d give it right back to PENolan, the terrific writer who gave it to me.  I just discovered her blog, Menopausal Stoners  last week, and I think her honesty, critical perspective, humour and forthrightness is something we could all aspire to. 

But I will pass it on to two relatively new bloggers, Roscoe Dialogues and London Lives, as I like both their styles, they’re good at painting pictures of their respective worlds, and I hope they keep writing. 

And I’d give one to Wandering The Road Less Travelled because she’s a truly creative soul, raising a bunch of creative kids, and she’s always trying new ways to express herself and no matter what blog she’s writing on I keep following her, if only to look at her gorgeous photographs. 

And Joy Frequencies – because like PENolan, I detect a kindred spirit in her, and her positivity is something this world needs real bad. 

Now I’m supposed to list seven things I like, not including people:

  1. September.  Mellow, sunny September with its foods and luscious warm days and cooling evenings and all its promise of things new.
  2. Patios, decks and porches.  Sitting, talking, partaking, sipping, sharing, watching, sunning…
  3. Cities – there is always something to see, some hidden beauty somewhere, something to write about.  I have fallen in love with every great city I’ve visited, and I love my own.
  4. The country – the slowed pace and quiet and sense of freedom are divine.  I’m staying with old friends in the country this weekend and my soul gets happier and my shoulders are feeling more a little more at ease each day the weekend grows closer. 
  5. The summer harvest.  Eating local foods in season is all the rage.  Duh!  Who wasn’t eating foods in season before?  It’s a goldmine for the  mind, body and spirit.
  6. Public radio.  Usually Canada’s.  But sometimes NPR and BBC and other international ones, thanks to this ol’ internet thing and CBC Radio Overnight.  Public radio is a treasure trove of stories.  If I haven’t mentioned it before, I kind of have a thing for stories.
  7. Blogging.  I’m not being original here, I know.  But the feeling of setting a piece of writing free is powerful.  And when people actually take time out to read it, it’s gratifying.  And meeting like-minded writers and artists from around the world is exceedingly rewarding.  I love being a part of this big beautiful exchange of ideas. 

Thank you Tricia.