Sometimes when I write, it takes a long time. I draw upon my daily interactions with the people and environment around me; my cultural teachings; books, magazines, newspapers, blogs, and websites; dreams; and divine intervention.
I read anything I can get my hands on. One of my favourite places to get books is the second-hand store. Lots of pulp fiction there to choose from. But what is really great is that you can get your hands on old magazines such as National Geographic. I don’t know how many I have at home. There’s always something in these pages that I can choose and respond to. And it’s also a great research tool.
Ideas take time, they have to simmer like a beautiful pot of stew. And if you love to cook as much I do, you know that some dishes take time. And you want it to take all the time it needs to so that all the ingredients meld together to create something mouth-watering. It’s almost like offering your respect to the food, to give it proper time. And it’s like writing. It takes time to let a story or a poem unfold. It’s like giving birth, you have to nourish and give time for it to develop fully.
There are writers who bring you into the story, a welcoming takes place, and then lead you to the hard topics and themes then the writer’s take the responsibility to bring you to a better place. A place of understanding, of love, or acceptance. This is why I appreciate so many Indigenous writer’s creative works. There is a definitely a unique style and way of storytelling. I urge you to read as many Indigenous writers you can get your hands on. Go to your public library and request these authors. This supports the authors as well.
Writing is also personal. What works for me might not work for everyone. But I think that there are similarities. Sometimes there are topics and themes that are hard to write about. This is when I take out the big guns. I grab a pinch of tobacco and I have a personal ceremony. I believe that writing is a gift. I welcome this gift and I ask for guidance. There are some of the poems that I wrote that were a gift and I have to honour them as such. Many artists, writers and creative people have this experience when they create. You enter a creative and a spiritual place. This is when magic happens with your writing. You become something more than a person typing or writing with a pen or pencil.
There are many writer’s who do this type of ceremony. Because you have to be responsible to those words you write. And how it affects those who read them. This I learned from my many teachers: Jeanette Armstrong, Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Lee Maracle, Marilyn Dumont, Armand Garnet-Ruffo, Dr. Donna Goodleaf, Beth Cuthand, Gerry Williams, Rasunah Marsden, and Witi Ihimaera. And each of these writer’s learned this from their cultural foundation, which makes them great writers and teachers.
In the end, I write as much as I can. Everyday I write. It wasn’t always like this though. It’s taken me a long, hard journey to get where I am right now with my writing. I had to learn to believe in myself as a writer with the encouragement from so many friends, family, teachers and peers. I thank them all: my Mom and Dad, Fred, JR, Patty, Kevin, Jonathon, Kristin, Leena, Nikki, Chandra, Karen, Gord, Dianne, Jason, Tanya, Sokaymoh, Marilyn, Kateri, Beverly, Linda, Dave, Jackson, Derek, Michelle (both of them), Larry, Storm and Grace, all my cousins, all my aunties and uncles and my ancestors.
And I am still learning. I will always learn something new. This is the exciting part. It will help develop and strengthen my writing as I grow with it. Chi-Meegwetch.
Next time I will write about re-writing and editing…